Same-sex marriage still up in the air

Same-sex couples and domestic partners in California may have something to worry about as they wait to hear how the Supreme Court's rulings may determine whether Proposition 8 will go into effect. In addition to this impending landmark decision, the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, is under court scrutiny at the same time.

Same-sex domestic partners and their loved ones and families may have to reconsider their estate plans and partner benefits if the Supreme Court's decisions yet again change the legal landscape for same-sex couples and married partners.

The issues raised in the DOMA and Proposition 8 cases impact not only same-sex partners in California, but also touch upon many other seemingly unrelated issues. For example, lawmakers in Washington, D.C. are now weighing new immigration reform measures, but are stuck on the issue of same-sex immigrant partner rights until the Supreme Court can conclude how to treat the issue in the broader context.

By moving slowly on the question, more harm than good may come, and the patchwork of varying state, city and federal policy and law will only continue to get more and more confusing without a stable foundation. However, same-sex issues are extremely important to Californians and millions across the U.S., so by no means is a rash conclusion ideal. Instead, domestic partners in California will have to wait for clarity, but can still take steps to make sure that their loved ones are taken care of.

For example, same-sex couples need to make sure they can avoid probate if one of them dies, but without a will the court will not likely recognize the inheritance right of a partner or perhaps even a same-sex spouse. It's important for same-sex Californians to protect themselves, and an experienced estates and trusts attorney can provide answers to these challenging questions.

Source: LGBT Weekly "Moving slowly on marriage equality is a step toward chaos," Joel Trambley, May 9, 2013

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