Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples: Addressing Unique Challenges and Leveraging Digital Tools

Estate planning for same-sex marriages

Estate planning is a critical piece of the puzzle for anyone leaving a financial legacy, but same-sex couples can face unique questions and challenges.

That’s because while same-sex marriage is now widely legally recognized, couples can still encounter hurdles that can complicate estate planning. Financial advisors at trusted institutions such as credit unions and community banks are in a great position to help.

While it’s always the right time to build relationships that benefit both clients and providers, Pride Month is an excellent time to examine how trusted advisors can help meet the unique circumstances that committed same-sex couples—legally married or not—might encounter.

These can include:

Legal Variability: Despite federal recognition, state laws can differ significantly, impacting inheritance rights and spousal benefits.

Family Dynamics: Same-sex couples might face resistance or complications from family members who may not recognize their relationship, leading to potential disputes over assets.

Parental Rights: Establishing and maintaining parental rights can be more complex for couples with children.

Health-Care Directives: Ensuring that medical decisions are honored often requires clear, legally binding health-care directives, which can be particularly crucial in jurisdictions less supportive than others of same-sex relationships.

While everyone’s situation is unique, and there are limits to what a financial advisor can do to address matters beyond finances, there are some very good ways to help provide peace of mind to same-sex couples regarding their estate planning.

The Necessity of Wills and Trusts

To protect their rights and ensure their wishes are honored, same-sex couples should prioritize creating wills and trusts. Here’s why these documents are indispensable:

Wills: A will ensures that assets are distributed according to the will creator’s wishes, reducing the risk of disputes and helping to ensure that partners and non-biological children receive their intended inheritance.

Trusts: Trusts offer additional benefits such as avoiding probate, maintaining privacy, and providing for complex family situations, such as ensuring ongoing care for a partner or children.

Power of Attorney: Establishing power of attorney is critical for managing financial and healthcare matters, particularly in emergencies where one partner may be incapacitated.

DIY Estate Planning Tools: Empowerment and Efficiency

Naturally, many couples are interested in using the internet first. A feature-rich online estate planning solution allows clients to do what they want independently. At the same time, you stand ready to provide individualized, in-person assistance whenever they need it.

This dual approach begins with powerful, sophisticated, and user-friendly estate planning tools like those from OneDigitalTrust. The platform’s features include:

User-Friendly Interface: Clients can easily navigate the process of creating wills, trusts, and other essential documents.

OneDigitalTrust allows LGBTQ+ users to:

  • Choose a marital status specific to their state, including registered domestic partners, civil union or legally married under state laws

  • The platform notifies users of elective share information that may apply per state-specific laws on minimum inheritance requirements including relevancy to same-sex couples

  • Accurately reflect gender pronouns for people in the system designated as “non-binary”

Comprehensive Support: Advisors can assist clients at any stage, from initial planning to finalizing documents, helping to ensure that all legal requirements are met.

White-Label Solutions: Financial institutions and advisors can customize the platform to reflect their branding, reinforcing their role as trusted advisors.

Securing Their Legacy While Growing Your Bottom Line

Careful estate planning, including airtight legal documentation, is crucial for all couples to ensure that rights are protected and wishes are honored.

Digital platforms like OneDigitalTrust not only simplify the process, including for same-sex couples’ challenges, but also enhance the client-advisor relationship by offering accessible, efficient, and comprehensive solutions.

Financial advisors who embrace these tools can better serve all their clients, helping them meet the desire to financially protect and support loved ones that is common to all of us regardless of sexual orientation, racial identification, religious affiliation, or any other demographic.

OneDigitalTrust’s technology achieves this while also giving your organization a double bottom line: you’re helping your clients secure the execution of their final wishes while generating a reliable flow of fee income for your organization.

170M Americans need an estate plan. OneDigitalTrust offers a white-label, turnkey estate planning platform with pricing options tailored to the needs of individual credit unions and financial advisors.

Contact us today to learn more!

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