Scriber Law Group, LLC.

Estate Planning for Same Sex Couples

The needs of LGBT families in Georgia are particularly complex and the need for a well-drafted estate plan is very high. As a member of the community and an experienced practitioner, Stephen Scriber and the rest of our law firm can handle these unique needs with honesty, integrity, and sensitivity.

We can handle issues relating to Domestic Partnerships, Estate Planning, Wills & Powers of Attorney, Probate, Adoption, Name Changes, and Birth Certificate Amendments.

What is the Status of Marriage Equality in Georgia?

In 2004, Georgia voters passed Amendment 1, making it against the state constitution for the state to recognize or perform same-sex marriages or civil unions. The text of the amendment states:

(a) This state shall recognize as marriage only the union of man and woman. Marriages between persons of the same sex are prohibited in this state.

(b) No union between persons of the same sex shall be recognized by this state as entitled to the benefits of marriage. This state shall not give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other state or jurisdiction respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other state or jurisdiction. The courts of this state shall have no jurisdiction to grant a divorce or separate maintenance with respect to any such relationship or otherwise to consider or rule on any of the parties’ respective rights arising as a result of or in connection with such relationship.

However, in 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled in United States v. Windsor that the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages valid in the state they were performed. This means that same-sex couples can receive protection from the federal government in many areas, including the following:

  • Social Security
  • Immigration
  • Federal Income, Gift, and Estate Taxes
  • Veteran’s spousal benefits

Regardless, same-sex couples in Georgia face specific legal issues.

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Scriber Law Group, LLC.

Get your questions answered - Call for a complimentary strategy session at (404) 939-7562.

What Can Georgia Same-Sex Couples Do To Protect Their Families?

Due to the lack of marriage equality in Georgia, same-sex couples have to be aware of the necessary legal steps needed to secure and protect their families. Not doing so will leave them vulnerable to legal issues upon the death of one partner, where the law favors the biological family over the life partner. Further, it can lead to legal conflict should the couple choose to breakup.

In addition to our services providing counseling so that you can determine whether an out of state marriage is a good option, tax planning, and succession planning, our firm can help you prepare vital legal documents to protect your family and to determine who makes key legal, medical, and financial decisions for you should you lose the capacity to do so on your own.

These documents include a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, Georgia Advance Directives for Healthcare. Depending on the couple’s circumstances, they may want to consider documents governing ownership of joint property, and the legal parentage of children.

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Georgia Last Will and Testament

A valid Georgia Will, allows you to determine who receives your personal property and real estate through the Probate process. This is critical for same-sex couples as Georgia law only recognizes opposite-sex spouses and biological family members when a person dies without a Will. Not having a Will could lead to a partner being left out of the estate, potentially losing property he or she contributed to during the deceased’s life.

Additionally, a Will allows you to nominate a guardian for any minor children you have. For couples that have not completed the second-parent adoption procedure, this is a key way to make sure the child remains with their remaining parent.

For more information visit the Georgia Wills page.

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Revocable Living Trust

It allows you to make longer term plans with your estate, add conditions to beneficiaries, and have a Trustee manage assets for minor children. This can be powerful tool to allow someone to control how their assets are managed either while they are incapacitated or for generations after they have died. Unlike a power of attorney, assets held in a trust can be managed by partner, friend, or other third party Trustee even if a biological family member gains a guardianship.

For more information visit the Revocable Living Trust page.

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Georgia Power of Attorney

A valid Georgia Power of Attorney allows you to have a person, typically a spouse/domestic partner, close friend, or family member to manage your affairs should you be either temporarily or permanently incapacitated. This person would have some responsibility for managing your affairs unless a guardianship is sought in probate court. While a potentially useful option, there are other limitations to its usefulness that should be discussed with your estate planning attorney as well.

For more information visit the Georgia Power of Attorney page.

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Georgia Advance Directives for Healthcare

The Georgia Advance Directives for Healthcare allows you to decide what medical treatment options, if any, you would like should you become incapacitated. It also allows you to choose a person to exercise those decisions for you. Moreover, you can use this document to authorize unmarried partners, friends, or other people not legally related to you to visit you in the hospital, ride in the ambulance with you, claim your body after death, and direct the disposition of your remains.

For more information visit the Georgia Advance Directives for Healthcare page.

Contact Us

When you are ready to move forward or want to talk with an attorney about your family and estate planning needs, we would like to hear from you.

If you have any questions or would like to get started, call our office at (404) 939-7562 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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Scriber Law Group, LLC.

Get your questions answered - Call for a complimentary strategy session at (404) 939-7562.