After the U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor last year extended fundamental federal rights exercised by married couples to same-sex couples, many states subsequently legalized same-sex marriage, but the Texas Constitution and Texas Family Code disallow the recognition of same-sex marriage. Couples married in other states often operate under the false assumption that they are protected as a married couple for all purposes; however, they need to execute a proper estate plan via six key areas to protect their interests.
1. Wills: Wills serve as the foundation of practically every estate plan. They save time and permit the direction of assets to friends and family, avoiding reliance upon the strict intestacy laws. The only difference for same-sex couples is that they must execute a will in order for their partners to receive anything. Since Texas does not recognize the marriage, the state treats the parties as single individuals when it comes to intestacy. Intestacy involves more parties, prolongs the distribution process, and generally costs more than probating a will that outlines the wishes of the deceased.
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