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Assisting Domestic Partners With Their Estate Planning Needs

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.

At Michael A. Sawamura, Attorney at Law, in Sacramento, California, I can assist you.

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 several benefits and responsibilities similar to those of marriage, including the right of inheritance.

Estate Planning For Gay And Lesbian Couples

Any adult should have an appropriate estate plan, but comprehensive 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 simple or complex 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 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 create and establish a trust. I can work closely with your accountant or financial adviser 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.

Estate Planning And The Dissolution Of A Domestic 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 email my office to arrange for an appointment.