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While challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) wind their way through the legal system, same-sex couples and domestic partners still need to take measures to protect themselves in case of death or disability with some basic estate planning strategies.

This is because a relationship not recognized by the law is also not covered by state intestacy rules, meaning those not related by legal marriage or blood will probably not inherit unless steps are taken for those couples to provide for each other through a will, a living trust or other legal instrument that allows property to pass to a partner.

There are also certain assets – including retirement plans and life insurance – that require special planning. Who inherits retirement plan assets is governed by beneficiary designations made by the plan participant. If no designation is made, the assets are distributed according to the guidelines of the plan administrator.

Partners can use a life insurance trust to avoid income and estate taxes on the proceeds paid to a named beneficiary, and can protect the right of a partner to inherit if a will contest is a possibility.

Partners also need to execute the proper powers of attorney to ensure they can make financial and healthcare decisions for each other in the case of disability. An Irvine estate planning attorney can assist same-sex couples and domestic partners with creating an estate plan that will provide the proper legal and financial protections.</p>

The Flanigan Law Group provides Southern California residents with personal attention for estate planning, administration and litigation legal services. When disputes between families, arise, they are very successful in resolving legal estate issues quickly and efficiently while preserving financial and emotional resources. Contact the Flanigan Law Group at 949-450-0042.