Under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex marriage is now legal nationwide. This historic victory provides many new legal rights. The attorneys at Semmes, Bowen & Semmes can help you make the most of these rights by preparing an estate plan to protect you and your family in case of death or disability.

Even with the legal right to marry, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community face special challenges that call for strategic estate planning. Making informed decisions today about your Will, Financial Power of Attorney, Advance Medical Directive, and other essential matters can help you protect yourself and the people you care about most. Whether your needs are simple or complex, we can guide you through the planning process and recommend the options best suited to your circumstances.

The backbone of any estate plan, a Last Will & Testament is especially important for gay and lesbian couples. If one partner were to die without a Will, the courts would apply the “default” rules of intestacy to determine how to distribute the estate. If the couple had never married, the surviving partner would be considered a legal stranger with no inheritance rights. Even for a couple who had married, the surviving partner could be entitled to as little as half of the deceased spouse’s estate. Estate taxes could also cut deeply into your children’s inheritance. By preparing or updating your Will, the attorneys at Semmes can prevent problems like these.

A financial Power of Attorney and Advance Medical Directive are equally important parts of your estate plan. If you can no longer manage for yourself, these documents allow you to name someone you trust handle your medical and financial decision making. Disagreements among well-intentioned family members are not uncommon at such times. Properly drafted documents can help resolve such conflicts by making your wishes clear and can eliminate the need for a court-appointed guardian.

A well-crafted estate plan takes the potential hazards into account. It helps to ensure that your partner and any children are provided for, that estate taxes are minimized, and that difficult times are made easier.

Semmes offers estate-planning services in a comfortable and welcoming setting. Call or email us today to find out how we can help you. Our services include the following:

  • Wills
  • Financial Powers of Attorney
  • Advance Medical Directives
  • Domestic Partnership Affidavits
  • Children’s Trusts
  • Disclaimer and Bypass Trusts (to minimize estate taxes)
  • Special Needs Trusts
  • Revocable Living Trusts
  • Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs)
  • Charitable Trusts
  • “Dynasty” Trusts
  • Pet Trusts
  • Generation-skipping Trusts and Taxation
  • Gifting
  • Business Succession Planning
  • Corporations and Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
  • Prenuptial Agreements
  • Domestic Partnership Agreements
  • Real estate deeds