Domestic Partners and GLBT
Our Domestic Partners and GLBT Practice
Estate Planning For Domestic Partners
Although domestic partners do not have all of the rights and benefits as heterosexual married couples most of the problems that same sex couples face when one domestic partner is sick, dying or has already died can be eliminated through proper estate planning.
Estate Planning for Domestic Partners
If you want your domestic partner to have some or all of the same rights and benefits that a spouse normally would, a proper estate plan can do the following:
- With the use of a Health Care Power of Attorney you can avoid a situation where you are incapacitated and the medical community and/or your biological family members will not allow your domestic partner contact with you and/or to make decisions for. The health care power of attorney allows you to grant your domestic partner access to you and the authority to make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated through illness or accident.
- With a Living Trust you can avoid having the probate court appoint a party other than your domestic partner as guardian of your assets. In a living trust you can appoint your domestic partner as successor trustee, to manage your financial affairs if you become incapacitated through illness or accident.
- In general the Living Trust guarantees privacy, through avoidance of probate and its process of opening court records. This would be beneficial if you and your partner wish for your relationship to remain confidential.
- With a Durable Power of Attorney you can grant your domestic partner the authority to handle all of your legal and financial affairs for you if you become incapacitated through illness or accident.
- If you and your domestic partner have a minor child(ren), proper use of a will can assure that your partner is allowed to continue raising the child(ren) after your death. This is particularly important when the child(ren) is not the biological or legally adopted child of your domestic partner.
- A proper estate plan will avoid the situation where your domestic partner is not provided for after your death because he/she was not next of kin under Vermont’ intestate laws. A proper plan can ensure that your assets are distributed to whom you want, when and how you desire.
- Finally, although there are not as many spousal benefits for Domestic Partners couples compared to those of heterosexual married couples proper estate planning will ensure correct strategies are used to avoid penalties, extra taxation when possible, the court and attorney costs of probate and that your domestic partner is not given the consideration, respect, interests and rights that you wish him/her to have.