How Same-Sex Couples Can Protect their Assets STAFF PICK

James Whittingham Spencer

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Estate Planning Attorney

Contributor Level 8

Posted over 5 years ago. 5 helpful votes

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1

Consult An Attorney that is Knowledgable of Same-Sex Partnership Issues

Finding a good gay or gay-friendly attorney is key. Your attorney shouldn't be confused by the concept of a same-sex couple, and should demonstrate to you sensitivity to LGBT issues. The best way to find a good attorney is to ask your friends. If that isn't possible, check with your local LGBT chamber of commerce. If none exists, try gayellowpages.com or other similar online listings. Just because an attorney is LGBT doesn't necessarily make them the best attorney for your matter. Interview some candidates, straight and gay if you'd like, and gauge for yourself just how effective they will be for you.

2

Talk with Your Attorney about Your Families and Needs

Your attorney will be best-equipped to protect you if they know all about your families. Are you concerned about relatives trying to muscle-in if something should happen to you? How about visitation in the hospital if you are ill? Do you own a home together? Equally? Being open and honest with your attorney will help him or her figure out the best set of documents to draft in order to protect you as a couple.

3

With Your Attorney's Help, Select the Best Set of Documents for Your Needs and Goals

Your attorney can advise you on any of the following estate planning vehicles to help protect your assets: wills, powers of attorney, health care directives (living wills, directives to physicians), revocable living trusts, domestic partnership agreements, ownership agreements, and/or community or separate property agreements. Your attorney will likely advise the use of several of these to make sure that you are protecting your interests and clearly fulfilling your desires when it comes to who gets your property and when.

4

Help Your Attorney Be Efficient!

Respond to her questions when you get them, and come to meetings prepared to make decisions. Your attorney is only as efficient as you are. There are a lot of tough decisions to be made in the process, but making a decision is better than not making one, and those decisions are rarely irrevocable (except, perhaps, in the case of a domestic partnership agreement where you BOTH have to agree on changes!).

5

Once the Documents are Ready, Execute them Right Away

In order to be effective, the documents must be properly executed. A good attorney will make sure that this happens. Don't sit on it, the survivor of you will be very unhappy if you die and everything goes to your long lost aunt Ruth.

6

Keep Your Documents Safe and Up-To-Date

Your documents should be stored somewhere safe yet accessible. Your attorney can advise you as to the best place, and he or she may volunteer to hold onto them for you. The laws in this area are evolving VERY rapidly. Check in with your attorney at least annually to make sure that you are keeping everything up-to-date!

Additional Resources

LGBT Seattle Estate Planning at Spencer Anderson & Buhr, PLLC

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