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Pennsylvania LGBT Estate Planning


Married Couples:
Governor Tom Corbett’s announcement in May of 2014 that he will not pursue an appeal of U.S. District Judge John Jones’ decision in Whitewood v. Wolf means that same-sex marriage is here to stay in Pennsylvania. Same-sex married people will be now treated the same as opposite sex married couples. The result being that same-sex couples are now free to examine all the estate planning techniques described elsewhere in my website without worrying about a twist. Enjoy the freedom!

For more ideas, read my article, Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples in Pennsylvania.

Unmarried: The same-sex marriage victory is impressive, but not everyone is married.

Below are several estate planning concerns for unmarried members of the LGBT community:

If You Have No Will, You Have No Say: If you die without a will in Pennsylvania your assets are divided up under the Pennsylvania intestacy rules. If you have a significant other, they will receive nothing under the Pennsylvania rules. If you are an unmarried LGBT person in Pennsylvania, you are free to leave your assets to whomever you wish through a will, so make sure your things end up with the people or person you want, not whomever the state rules dictate.

Complete a Living Will/Health Care Power of Attorney: If you become ill and cannot communicate with your doctor, whom do you trust to decide what treatment you receive, select the best doctor to treat you illness and, if necessary, authorize the doctor to stop giving you medical care? Without a living will or health care power of attorney, the person who will step in for you will be determined by the hospital or, if necessary, the court. If you have an LGBT significant other whom you trust to make these decisions, you can name him or her your Surrogate, removing the guesswork.

Avoiding Funeral Conflicts: In your will, you have the power to name the person or persons who control the details about your funeral. Such details include planning the memorial services and selecting the location of your burial. If you fail to nominate a person, the responsibility falls to your relatives. If you are in a long-standing LGBT relationship you may wish your significant other to handle these details, while family members might try to exclude your significant other. Avoid potential conflicts by appointing in your will the right person or persons to hold this responsibility.

Tax Planning: If you plan to leave your LGBT significant other an inheritance, consulting with an estate planning attorney might result in significant tax savings. For example, Pennsylvania does not tax any life insurance you might leave your partner, but your IRA would be subject to both income taxes and the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax. A little planning might result in huge tax savings.

Trusts to Protect Your Significant Other: If at your death you leave assets outright to your LGBT partner, those assets are available to his or her creditors, future spouses and will be subject to additional taxes at your partner’s death. Instead, your estate planning attorney can craft a protective trust to hold the asset for your partner sheltered from creditors, future spouses and which will help avoid future inheritance taxes. There are many types of trusts, and your estate planning attorney can help determine which best fits your situation.

Guardianship for Minor Children: If only one member of a long term LGBT relationship has custody of a child and the desire is that if the custodial parent dies, the other partner will serve as the child’s guardian, this intent need be documented in a will. The custodial parent need document clearly the surviving partner’s nomination and either in the will or in a separate writing the reasons for the nomination and why the partner is the best choice.

Please contact Klenk Law for a free consultation for any LGBT Estate Planning needs.

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The Klenk Law Blog



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