With DOMA now overruled and LGBT Law in flux folks are left wondering how it will affect their wills and trusts. One of the biggest worries of same-sex couples has always been planning their estate so that their lover is the person who is “first in line.” Unlike married straight couples, gay people had no protection under the law as to whether their lover would be the one who made their medical decisions, received their assets or even plan their funeral. AND IN ARIZONA THIS IS STILL THE TRUTH. This makes seeing an estate planning attorney who focuses on LGBT Law as important as ever.
While the death of DOMA will provide many benefits to LGBT residents of every state (such as social security survivorship benefits, VA benefits, tax benefits and even food stamp benefits) it will do nothing for those who live in Phoenix, Tucson or any other part of Arizona when it comes to estate planning. This is because the laws surrounding wills and trusts are governed by the individual states. So even if an Arizona same-sex couple goes to another state and gets married, when they return to Phoenix or Tucson Arizona will not recognize their marriage. Unless they see an LGBT estate planning lawyer to get proper documentation drawn up, the marriage will mean nothing when it comes to some of life’s most important matters: who will make the decisions regarding health-care, finances, funeral planning and who will receive the assets of the person in the relationship who passes first?
Don’t get me wrong, the death of DOMA was an amazing victory for the LGBT community. But it is the beginning, not the end. Arizona still not only prohibits gay marriage in the state constitution; it refuses to recognize any type of same-sex relationship. This means that it is essential that young or old, rich or poor, those in same-sex relationships have their affairs in order so the person they want making those essential decisions will actually be the ones making the decisions. Otherwise it will be someone else…and that someone else is written into the law. By our legislature.