All couples should think about doing an estate plan. Same-sex couples more so because even though the United States Supreme Court said all states must allow same-sex marriage does not mean all states recognize that marriage. Allowing states to ignore the laws that were enacted to protect married couples and their possessions. By having an estate plan clarify the exact nature of the relationship for those that don’t understand or approve.

By having an estate plan deals with legal issues such as who gets what when one partner dies, who has the legal right to make medical decisions if a partner becomes ill or unable to give information. In the straight world the laws protect spouses with tax breaks when inheriting from the other spouse. In the LGBT world everything needs to be documented and estate planning set down exactly what their wishes are and can be legally binding.

The norms of society differ between those of unmarried heterosexual couples and LGBT ones. Friends, family, and medical professionals are more likely to see heterosexuals as a couple than those who are LGBT. Having an estate plan can tell everyone that needs to know that the other person is your partner and they need to be treated as such especially when it comes to knowing what your wishes are. Which can become important for LGBT couples with families that are unaware or don’t support the partnership for decisions that don’t need legal support.

An example would be a final arrangements paper which is not part of the estate planning but it does lay out the final wishes of the partner. Giving the remaining partner an account of what the wishes were and has more authority than a partner stating that “They wanted their body cremated.”

Estate plans can be done without help but seeing an same sex estate planning lawyer that specializes in LGBT issues in your state can help to strengthen your estate plan.