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Domestic Partnerships

Sacramento Attorney: Domestic Partnership Estate Planning

Domestic partners face unique challenges in estate planning. Since federal law does not currently recognize a same-sex partnership, some strategies used by married couples to avoid inheritance taxes are simply unavailable. Moreover, one partner or both may have hostile relatives who refuse to recognize the partnership.

Is your domestic partnership registered?

In California, registered domestic partners have many of the same rights as married couples. As your lawyer, I will explain how you can take that important step — registration of your domestic partnership. Registration brings with it a number of benefits and responsibilities similar to those of marriage, including the right of inheritance.

Domestic partnership estate planning for gay and lesbian couples

Any adult should have an appropriate estate plan, but estate planning is even more important for a member of a nontraditional family. In California, the law provides registered domestic partners with some spousal privileges, but it is still critical to have your attorney prepare the following documents:

  • A will that directs distribution of your assets, appoints a guardian for your children and appoints an executor to carry out the terms of the will
  • A durable power of attorney (POA) that names a person to manage your financial affairs in the event you are unable to
  • A living will (advance health care directive) that names the person responsible for decisions about medical care if you are unable to communicate for yourself

Depending on a number of factors, including the size of your estate and the nature of your assets, it may be advisable for you to establish a trust. I can work closely with your accountant or financial advisor to see that the instruments are in place to provide for the private and automatic transfer of your assets in the event of your death.

Domestic partnership estate planning and dissolution of a partnership

If you are about to or have gone through a dissolution of a domestic partnership, it is important that you redraft your will, POA and living will to reflect your current situation and have any trust repaired or redrafted.

As your attorney, I will evaluate your goals and resources and help you determine what is appropriate for your situation. If you would like to discuss domestic partnership estate planning or have another question about my firm, please call (916) 248-4465 or e-mail my Sacramento, California, office to arrange a consultation.

Michael A. Sawamura, Attorney at Law

My Sacramento law practice, Michael A. Sawamura, Attorney at Law, focuses on wills, trusts and estate planning law in addition to business law and corporate defense services. My clients include professionals, government employees, small businesses, blue-collar workers and national corporations.