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The Time Is Now

by August V Martens

19 April 2010

You hear the reasons for delaying estate planning all of the time: "I have a long time to worry about that." "I don't have a lot of money or assets to put in a Will." "I don't want to think about dying. That's morbid."

When it comes to the GLBT community, the need to execute proper estate planning becomes more pronounced. Because Louisiana law does not recognize same-sex marriage, there are no legislative provisions to look after one's partner after the otherís death. All assets, not previously bequeathed to one's partner or children in a Last Will and Testament, will likely be divided among the decedent's surviving siblings and parents.

Similar principles apply in other jurisdictions where same-sex marriage or civil unions and registered partnerships are not recognised in law.

But, there is another, more immediate reason for the GLBI individual to engage in estate planning.

Of the employers and insurance companies that offer benefits to the partners in same-sex relationships, most require that the employee furnish a Domestic Partner Affidavit. In this document, the employee affirms that:

  1. the employee is the age of eighteen years, or older;
  2. the members of the domestic partnership are not related to each other;
  3. the members are cohabitating in the same household;
  4. the members are financially and legally responsible for each other; and
  5. the members have been in an intimate, committed relationship for at least six months.

In order to extend benefits to the non-employee partner, employers and insurance companies often require additional proof that the same-sex couple is in an "intimate and committed relationship." Estate planning documents, such as the Last Will and Testament, Powers of Attorney, Declaration of Desires Concerning Burial, and a Provisional Custody by Mandate, all provide evidence of the couple's commitment to each other.

The benefits of having these documents in place can be realized during oneís lifetime, and the time to plan them is now.

"This article is not a substitute for legal advice. Neither the information contained herein, nor the receipt of such is intended to create an attorney-client relationship. Because the law constantly changes in this and other areas of practice, the reader is urged to consult professional legal counsel regarding the issues of law opined in the above article."

The Author

August V Martens is an attorney practising in Metairie, Louisiana, with expertise in Wills and Estate Planning, Powers of Attorney, Successions, Same-Sex Partnership Agreements, Same-Sex Provisional Custody By Mandate, Intra-Family Adoptions, Name/Gender Change to Birth Certificate, Personal Injury, Family Law