Estate planning is essential for all couples, and this includes same sex couples. Now that same sex marriage is recognized throughout the U.S., some estate planning aspects have been simplified. However, there are still issues that must be considered.

Same Sex Couples with Children

Estate planning becomes even more important – and more complicated – when children are involved. This is especially true for same sex couples.

In many same sex families, both spouses share an equal role in parenting. However, when only one parent is the biological parent, custody disputes and legal complications can result.

Unmarried Same Sex Couples

Although same sex marriage has been legally recognized in the U.S., not all same sex couples have tied the knot. According to the Pew Research Center, only 10.2 percent of LGBT Americans were married in 2017, two years after the Supreme Court decision that made same sex marriage legal throughout the country.

Unmarried same sex couples will face additional estate planning issues regarding taxes, the transfer of property, Social Security benefits and other legalities.

Family Disputes

While the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized same sex marriage, not all of your family members may agree. Family disputes can complicate estate planning for any couple. For same sex couples with relatives who disapprove of their marriage, this may be even more likely.

Retiring Abroad

According to the Pew Research Center, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize same sex marriage in 2000. Since then, 28 other countries and jurisdictions have allowed same sex marriage, including the U.S.

However, same sex marriage is still not recognized in many countries. Same sex couples who plan to move abroad, possibly to retire, must consider how same sex marriage is viewed under the law.

Outdated Documents

Even before same sex marriage was legally recognized throughout the country, many same sex couples understood the value of estate planning. They may have created estate plans that helped them deal with the difficulties caused by same sex marriages not being recognized. Now that same sex marriage is allowed, these estate planning documents may need to be updated.

Estate Planning Tips for Same Sex Couples

  • Don’t put off estate planning. You need a will, beneficiaries, an advance directive and other essential elements of estate planning.
  • Contact an estate planning attorney for help. This way, you can rest easy knowing that you haven’t left anything out.
  • Review your estate plan regularly. You should update your estate plan, especially after major life changes.

If you need estate planning assistance in the Portland, Oregon area, contact us.


9600 SW Barnes Road, Suite 125
Portland, OR 97225
Phone: (503) 719-6603