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Estate planning for Michigan same-sex couples: Creating a will

In our most recent blog post, we discussed an issue that might be on the mind of many Michigan residents: estate planning for same-sex couples. As we discussed, a number of legal matters become complicated for long-term couples who do not have a legally recognized marriage.

Although the previous post delved into powers of attorney for same-sex couples, there are other potential complications in the realm of estate planning. In particular, it may be of critical importance to create a will.

Without an enforceable will in place, a person's assets and property would likely be distributed according to Michigan's intestate laws. Since the state currently doesn't recognize same-sex partners as next of kin, assets would be given to blood relatives in accordance with the law.

Of course, this could create major problems. For those who have been in a long-term relationship, it makes sense that assets would be passed between partners in the event of death. The law would be indifferent to this desire, however, which could cause lead to an unintentional beneficiary.

It's natural to wonder if a will naming a same-sex partner as a beneficiary would be enforceable, even if the couple was legally married in another state. Much like powers of attorney, individuals have the ability to create and execute legal documents regardless of their sexual orientation. Unless the will could be contested on other grounds, including a same-sex partner in an estate plan likely wouldn't prevent a will from being enforced by a Michigan probate court.

Source: GLAD Answers, "Legal Planning for Same-Sex Couples: Preparing for the Unexpected," accessed June 9, 2014

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