Estate Planning for Same-Sex Married and Unmarried Couples: Latest Developments

Optimizing Estate, Tax and Family Planning Opportunities in Recognition and Non-Recognition States

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Course Materials

This CLE course will provide estate planning counsel with a review of divergent state and federal laws on recognition of married and unmarried same-sex couples. The panel will discuss the impact of recent court decisions, outline best practices for drafting key documents, and explore opportunities for estate, tax and family planning for partners living in either recognition or non-recognition states.


Same-sex couples whether married or not, confront many legal uncertainties due to the varying degrees of protection afforded by federal and state laws. Differing laws create a patchwork of protection for these couples. Due to recent court decisions, there are new considerations for practitioners when drafting documents.

Comprehensive planning—whether the couple is married, domestic partners, in a civil union, or are not considered related under state or federal law—is essential to protect inheritance rights, property distribution, and medical and final arrangement decisions. Tax planning and retitling are necessary to avoid unintended consequences.

Lacking consistent and reliable boilerplate language, practitioners must exercise caution in drafting documents to ensure that their clients’ objectives and goals are met and their interests are protected in our mobile society that lacks any uniformity at this time.

Listen as our panel examines best practices for counsel to assist their same-sex married and unmarried partner clients with estate planning and tax planning and drafting key documents in light of recent court decisions.



  1. Overview of the Perry and Windsor decisions
  2. Relationship recognition in a mobile society
  3. Divergence of states’ relationship recognition and the effect on estate planning
    1. Recognition states
    2. Non-recognition states
  4. Estate planning and documents that best protect same-sex families
    1. Medical directives
    2. HIPAA documents
    3. Hospital visitation authority
    4. Powers of attorney
    5. Wills and trusts
    6. Trusts
    7. Beneficiary designation
    8. Final arrangement documents
  5. Gender change orders
    1. Ethical issues
  6. Family planning with children
    1. Adoption
    2. Pre-birth orders
    3. Parentage
    4. Joint custody orders/conservatorships
    5. Documents
    6. Ethical issues
  7. Income and estate tax issues in estate planning
  8. Medicare, Social Security, Beneficiary Designations
  9. Wealth transfers, tax planning, retitling and special considerations for legally related couples
    1. Community property states
    2. State planning—married or not
    3. Federal planning—does DOMA still apply?


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What tax planning techniques can be utilized to alleviate disparate tax treatment for married and unmarried same-sex couples?
  • What estate planning techniques should be considered to optimize the planning for inheritance rights for same-sex married and unmarried couples whose relationships are not recognized by state or federal governments?
  • What key clauses should be utilized in drafting documents to protect inheritance rights, property distribution, children, and medical and final arrangement decisions of same-sex married and unmarried couples?

Following the speaker presentations, you'll have an opportunity to get answers to your specific questions during the interactive Q&A.


Deb L. Kinney
Deb L. Kinney

DLK Law Group

Her practice focuses on estate planning, trust administration and probate. She specially serves the needs of and...  |  Read More

Michele Zavos
Michele Zavos

Zavos Juncker Law Group

With over 30 years of experience, Ms. Zavos' practice is particularly focused on developing legal protections for...  |  Read More

Lorie L. Burch
Lorie L. Burch

Law Office of Lorie L. Burch

Her practice focuses on trust and estates, counseling both traditional families and unmarried couples. She has...  |  Read More

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