Overland Park Life and Estate Planning Attorney for Domestic Partners
Domestic partners are more of a candidate for a Trust and estate planning than even married couples or singles with children Why? Because most (if not all) states’ intestacy laws do not account for domestic partners. You are treated as if you died single regardless of what you consider yourself in your relationship. A married person in Kansas or Missouri who dies without a Will usually winds having all of his property passing to his surviving spouse, so the danger of not having a Will is less extreme for that person.
For domestic partners, same-sex spouses and their children, proper Kansas and Missouri Domestic Partner Estate Planning is crucial not only to ensure inheritance rights, but also to establish objective proof of the existence of a domestic partnership, as distinct from a more social relationship, and to overcome the many gaps in the legal recognition and status of their families of choice.
A precarious scenario for domestic partners would be if one of the partners died and the natural surviving parent of the child was unknown (e.g., the child was adopted or the child was the product of in vitro fertilization). Who would be named as the guardian of the child? Some state laws contain a list of persons entitled to be named, starting with the surviving parent, then grandparents, then siblings, and so on, but there is no mention of a domestic partner. If a sibling of the decedent asserts a claim to be guardian, it could result in a very costly court battle. A Will and/or a Designation of Guardian in Advance of Need could eliminate this problem.
Another situation that could happen is something called incapacity in general or incapacity for medical purposes. If a domestic partner becomes incapacitated, some laws do not provide for the incapacitated’s partner to be appointed Guardian of the person or estate. Nor does it provide for a partner to be able to make medical decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person. These could be resolved easily through a general power of attorney and medical power of attorney in favor of the partner.
It’s also important to remember that non-probate assets need to be considered when structuring a domestic partnership estate plan. Any beneficiary designations on an IRA, life insurance policy, annuity, or employee benefit plans should be updated to reflect the partner as the primary beneficiary (if that is desired). Other miscellaneous items to also remember are things such as putting the partner as a signor on the safety deposit box or providing for a joint bank account, and providing for a partner to have the right to dispose of the body either by cremation or burial on their partner’s death.
At The Dorsch Law Firm we take on the role of trusted adviser to help you structure your Kansas or Missouri domestic partnership estate plan. Contact our office today or call (913) 685-9190 with your questions and concerns and we will respond with the utmost respect and guidance.