When Obergefell became law in 2015, same-sex couples instantly received the same legal benefits guaranteed to heterosexual couples, including many property protections. Many raced to the altar, but marriage is not the only option for same-sex couples to protect their assets.
Here are some asset protection strategies for both married and unmarried same-sex couples.
Assess pre-Obergefell documents and contracts
If you or your partner entered into a domestic partnership agreement or civil union with an ex prior to Obergefellin a state that converted civil unions to legal marriages, you could be unknowingly married to an ex-partner. This could jeopardize your current partnership and assets. Make sure you are divorced before combining assets with your current partner.
If you or your partner purchased real estate prior to Obergefell, you should consider updating your real estate documents to reflect joint ownership.
Prepare a will or trust
A will is a tool that allows you to distribute your assets to persons or organizations of your choosing. A living trust is similar but allows your beneficiaries to avoid the probate process. Neither of these documents requires you and your beneficiary to be legally married. Both married and unmarried couples benefit from creating a will and/or trust. The advantage for same-sex couples is that blood relatives will not be able to contest the validity of your partnership or marriage as it pertains to property rights. In addition, these documents will protect married couples’ joint assets if Obergefell heads back to the Supreme Court.
Both married and unmarried same-sex couples can benefit from basic asset protection strategies.