Estate Planning for Same Sex Couples in Georgia: 10 Extremely Common FAQs (Part One)
“Life moves pretty fast,” as Ferris Bueller famously says.
Love moves pretty fast, too: Barely a decade ago, a national newspaper was putting the phrase gay marriage in scare quotes. But just a few days ago, Pew Research told us that even our most conservative brothers and sisters are coming around.
Given the pace of changes, no one would blame LGBTQ couples for feeling a bit dizzy as they build, protect and plan for their families. That’s why I’ve put together this guide to help with questions I regularly hear in my office.
- Is same sex marriage legally secure?
There are never guarantees, but most experts agree that the Supreme Court’s historic Obergefell decision will stand. That doesn’t necessarily mean that things will go smoothly at the margins: During the last week of June, the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments about whether private businesses can refuse services to LGBTQ families based on religious objections.
- My partner and I are thinking about having a baby. Will we both have equal parental rights?
There may be some good news there. The Supreme Court has just ruled that both names of same-sex couples can be placed on a baby’s birth certificate, even if they aren’t the biological parents. Most people believe this is another huge advance for LGBTQ families.
- We’re already married. Doesn’t the law automatically take care of our estate planning issues?
Georgia law has clear lines and mathematical formulas for who will inherit and why, and how much: Money is divided first between a spouse and children, and then may continue to other blood relatives. But things can get complicated in court, and it’s best to leave as little as possible up to still unsettled state law.
- Do we have to be married to make an estate plan?
No. The law allows you to craft your estate plan to your wishes. Keep in mind, though, that Georgia doesn’t recognize civil unions. The less formal your relationship with your partner is, the more concrete you may want to be in your planning.
- Do we really need a will?
A will won’t keep your estate out of probate court, but it can certainly make things easier for your survivors. If you have young children, for instance, you and your partner may want to make clear who will raise them, if you’re both gone, or how they’ll be raised (religion, schooling, etc.). And if your niece would really appreciate having that old painting you picked up in Vienna, a will can help make sure she can get it.
Given all the uncertainty and change, talk to an experienced lawyer and to get help putting together concrete estate plans for you and your family. Reach out to our experienced attorneys today.