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Legal marriage means new estate law options for LGBT couples

The ruling that marriage is legal for same-sex couples opens a great many chapel doors for ecstatic brides and grooms, but it also opens a variety of legal doors that are worth considering. Whether you're planning to keep your relationship as is or you're opting to tie the knot, now's a good time to have a serious conversation about the future.

With legal marriage possible, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual couples might need to consider estate planning. In many cases, the same laws governing married different-sex couples in this area are now relevant for LGBT couples.

It's always been important for LGBT couples to have a will, especially since the survivor after a death wouldn't previously have been covered by spousal protection common in each state. Even though married LGBT individuals are now officially considered spouses, wills are still important. A will helps reduce probate issues and ensures assets are distributed as you see fit within some parameters of the law. Various states do have requirements on how much of a total estate must go to spouses and children, so that's important to consider.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual couples planning their estate might also want to consider creating power of attorney documents and trusts, just as different-sex couples should consider. You might also want to consider a prenuptial agreement, especially if you are entering into a marriage with a large number of assets or your own business. Such an agreement can protect you and your other heirs in the event that the marriage ends before you pass away.

Understanding how the change in marriage equality impacts other legal options is important. Consider talking with an estate planning attorney to understand all of your estate-related options.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Estate Planning Tips LGBT Families Need To Follow In 2016," Melissa Chapman, July 13, 2016

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