There are those who go through life with the misguided notion that estate planning is something that you do not have to concern yourself with until you reach a particular age. While it is true that the average life expectancy in the United States right now is 78.4 years of age, people of all ages die each and every day.
In reality, when you look at it objectively estate planning is not something that you do for yourself–you do it to protect the well-being of your loved ones should you pass away. So the risks you take place them, not you, in jeopardy. So there are no guarantees, and it is important to prepare yourself for any eventuality so that your family is not left in the lurch should the unthinkable happen.
Though the above is absolutely true, the fact is that if you were to pass away without having an estate plan in place and you are married your spouse would assume ownership of your possessions. At the same time, if you become incapacitated due to illness or accident your husband or wife would be the individual who would naturally be empowered to make medical decisions in your behalf. So though the ideal scenario would be to have carefully planned your estate beforehand, having your spouse inherit your property and be empowered to make health care decisions for you is probably going to be largely consistent with your wishes.
However, same-sex couples need to be proactive in asserting their wishes because they are not protected by standard legal rules of descent. Even if you have been in a committed relationship with one individual for half a century your partner has no legal authority to act as your agent in any financial or medical capacity. So in the final analysis, estate planning is important for every responsible adult, but for gay couples in a committed relationship, it is an absolute must.
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