Even though the 2015 Supreme Court ruling was a landmark event concerning gay marriage, it has not solved all of the issues that may crop up. When it comes to estate planning, many same-sex couples may mistakenly believe that such planning will be similar what opposite sex couples face. Unfortunately, even though New York has many protections, it may be beneficial to ensure that there are as many documents prepared as possible.
In a heterosexual marriage, the laws of most states provide a means for heirs to inherit whether there are formal estate plans in place or not. However, in spite of the Supreme Court ruling, not every state will ensure that same-sex couples have the same rights. Regardless of whether a couple plans to remain in New York, it may be advisable to ensure that all bases are covered when it comes to providing for both surviving spouses and other heirs.
There are many concerns for same-sex couples. One is providing assurances that any shared children will have the desired guardian in the event that one spouse dies while the child is still a minor. Many states do not recognize same-sex parents, especially if both are not listed on the birth certificate. Likewise, it may be difficult to leave an inheritance to a non-biological child if the required documents are not drawn up. Furthermore, the proper use of survivorship along with beneficiary documentation can ensure that a surviving spouse or partner will be in control of certain assets or property.
The most important aspect to consider when a same-sex couple is undertaking estate planning is that not having any plans could lead to one's wishes not being honored. Though there are many laws that are in the works that will provide further protections to same-sex families, there is still much uncertainty concerning inheritances and guardianship of children. New York couples who are in the process of making these important final plans may seek the input of an attorney who routinely handles these important matters.
Source: goqnotes.com, "The intricacies of estate planning for same-sex couples", David DuFault, Jan. 26, 2018