Same-Sex Couples Could Face Estate Planning Roadblocks

When same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015, many legal issues that same-sex couples faced were ratified. But other areas, like estate planning, could still be problematic.

Elena Lidrbauch, certified elder law lawyer attorney at Hickman & Lowder Co. in Cleveland, Ohio, and Joy Savren, at Savren Legal in Cleveland, said that there are many ways estate planning could differ for same-sex couples – like how it relates to trusts, wills, healthcare, or power of attorney.

Both attorneys say that the biggest issue that same-sex couples could face is who would get custody of a child after a partner dies. Savren says that same-sex parents should be asking themselves questions when it comes to estate planning, like if they had children while married or before or if they had children from a previous marriage. Lidrbauch says that it comes down to whomever is the custodial parent. She says that before same-sex marriage was legalized, you couldn’t have same-sex parents listed on a birth certificate – it had to be one mother and one father.

Other issues that same sex-couples face include money issues, especially if one is earning more than the other and would have trouble functioning if the partner died – especially if the same-sex couple is unmarried, according to Savren. She says if they want to protect the partner that earns less, the estate owner should name them on non-probate assets.

Lidrbauch says that her biggest piece of advice for same-sex couples is that everyone be on the same page, including their estate planning attorney. Contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC, 708-482-7090 or