Hearsay, The BLF Blog

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Same-Sex Married Couples Must Avoid Intestacy

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Nearly three-quarters of the U.S. population lives in states that recognize same-sex marriage and grant such couples the same rights of inheritance granted to traditional married couples.  

What happens when such a couple moves to a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage and does not grant such couples the same rights of inheritance granted to traditional married couples?
 
Consider the following possible scenarios:
 
Bob and Tom, legally married in California, move to Georgia, where same-sex marriage is not recognized.  What happens to Bob’s estate if he passes away intestate – without a valid will? 
 
If Bob resided in California at the time of his death, his estate would pass directly to Tom because he was Bob’s spouse. 
 
However, because Georgia does not presently recognize Bob and Tom’s marriage, under Georgia intestacy laws, Tom would be precluded from receiving Bob’s estate.  In the absence of children, Bob’s estate would pass to his parents or siblings.  
 
Same-sex married couples residing in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage should put into place a proper estate plan, explicitly naming each other as the rightful beneficiary of the other’s estate in a valid will. 
 
Estate planning is not required, but it facilitates the transfer of wealth.  Proper planning allows you to direct the distribution of your assets without the state’s intrusion.  If you are interested in planning your estate, we at The Becker Law Firm would be happy to answer your questions and help you.

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