More than two-thirds of all Americans don't have a will. This is something that must change. People often take the approach that what they have will just go to their spouse or their children if they were to die, so a will isn't needed. This might work out alright for some people, but those who are in a same-sex partnership might not have the legal right to marry and although many states are starting to sponsor same-sex marriages and civil unions, these unions aren't recognized on the federal level.
States that recognize these unions might allow many of the same rights as opposite-sex marriages. However, if a couple is not in a legally recognized union, estate planning might be considered essential to make sure their estates are handled properly after they die. Without a will, a person's estate will be passed onto their legal spouse or children. It is important that same-sex couples list their partner in their will. Other estate planning documents can help same-sex couples avoid legal problems in an emergency or the passing of a partner.
A power of attorney is another important document to have in place. This document can ensure that if one partner is unable to care for themselves, the other spouse can handle their financial and medical needs. Without a power of attorney a person might not be able to visit an ill partner in the hospital or their children.
While many rules and regulation are continuing to evolve on the issue of same-sex partnerships, it is important that people have proper legal documents in place. These documents can help ensure couples the right to manage each other's affairs should one of them pass away or be unable to care for themselves.
Source: Daily Finance, "Financial Planning for Same-Sex Couples: 5 Tips You Can't Afford to Ignore," Nov. 9, 2012