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Estate Planning for Same Sex Couples in Georgia: 10 Extremely Common FAQs (Part Two)

Let’s continue our discussion of most commonly asked questions about estate planning for same sex couples.

  • What is a living will, and do we need one?

Sometimes called an “advanced directive,” a living will lets you lay out in advance what kind of life support you’d like, and the circumstances under which you’d like your care to end. Without one, it can sow confusion and put enormous pressure on your loved ones—at one of the worst possible times.

  • What is a durable power of attorney, and how does it help?

A durable power of attorney allows you to choose someone to make medical or financial decisions for you, if you’re unable to do so for yourself. Without one, your family and friends could wind up in probate court, asking a judge to decide who is the best person to make critical decisions for you. Note that durable power of attorney designations often accompany living wills.

  • What is a revocable living trust and how does it work?

A revocable living trust is a way to transfer your assets to someone else. It can get complicated, but essentially, you’re transferring ownership of all your assets to this new entity, a trust. Given that, through the trust documents, you retain control over the property, but you technically no longer own the property. Then, when you die, the trust becomes irrevocable, and the assets are distributed according to your instructions. Therefore, a well-written trust can bring clarity to an estate plan–which then help your loved ones avoid probate court and may even reduce inheritance taxes.

  • Who can I appoint as trustee?

Many people often appoint themselves as trustees during their lifetimes. Beyond that, people usually also might appoint a list of successor trustees, so that there is a clear chain of command and control. You want someone responsible, who can manage money and property. (Attorneys are frequently trustees of an estate.)

  • What happens if my partner or I die without an estate plan?

Those who die “intestate”—without a will—have their estate moved to probate court, where a judge will decide how to distribute your assets, based on pre-defined state law. The judge has no discretion in these decisions. Therefore, if a couple remain unmarried, but both partners intended on the other inheriting everything, their promise is unenforceable: Blood family members would get it all, because that’s what the statute requires.

Even if there is no conflict over inheritance, though, probate cases can take time to be resolved. That’s why many people find an experienced probate lawyers to help them in advance.

LGBTQ families have come a long way in a short time. But our experienced attorneys have been doing estate planning for a long while. If you want to ease your family’s peace of mind or secure your legacy, reach out to us today.

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