Many times the family of a gay partner in a marriage believes they have the right to inherit all of his or her belongings, but in most cases the inheritance is awarded to the marriage partner.
El Paso, Texas (PRWEB) September 09, 2013
Susan Eisen, author of “The Million-Dollar Dishrag: An Effective and Powerful Plan to Avoid a Family Inheritance Battle After You Die” and authority on avoiding inheritance squabbles within families, finds potential new trouble areas for same-sex couples in the selection of an executor of a will.
When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act on June 26, 2013, thereby giving federal recognition to same-sex marriages, the decision set into motion transformative legal changes in estate planning, inheritance, and heirloom distribution.
However, one important area that has not received as much attention is estate planning for same-sex or gay couples is the distribution of heirlooms such as art, jewelry, coins, antiques, and other collections. According to Susan Eisen, author of “The Million-Dollar Dishrag: An Effective and Powerful Plan to Avoid a Family Inheritance Battle After You Die,” it’s never too early for committed couples of any gender to broach the subject of what happens to an individual’s heirlooms in the event of death or divorce. “Family inheritance issues and potential family battles with survivors are not unique to same-sex unions,” Eisen notes, “but the same concerns that can arise among siblings over parents’ estates can be even more problematic with heirs in what many families see as non-traditional or gay and controversial marriages.” Many times the family of a gay partner in a marriage may believe they have the right to inherit all of his or her belongings, but in most cases the inheritance is awarded to the partner in marriage. This can cause great strain to the families involved and bitter battles may ensue. For that reason, careful inheritance advising and planning is necessary for the same-sex couple.
Eisen recommends in her various speaking engagements to groups that couples be very clear with each other and with each other’s families – parents, siblings, and in some cases, ex-spouses and children – about their wishes for not only estate planning and financial holdings, but also for treasured items such as jewelry, artwork, collections, antiques, and heirlooms. “Among the first decisions to discuss is the selection of an executor in the will for the estate,” she advises. “While you are in good health and long before such a person is needed, think about what you wish to happen to your belongings and who you wish to appoint as your executor. Discuss your wishes with your partner, who may end up being your designated executor, and family members from both sides of the families.”
While many same-sex or gay unions have children, most do not, a situation that can make appointing an executor more complicated. Your partner may be your first choice as an executor – or may not. An executor has a variety of legal responsibilities in the division of an estate, but also has to remain sensitive and supportive of survivors as a will is processed. The selection of an appropriate executor is one of the most important elements of estate planning and many neglect to treat it as such. Eisen, a jewelry, art, and collectible appraiser recommends that the executor be impartial, and be someone who is accepting of the same-sex relationship and who will not change their position upon the death of a loved one. As an inheritance advisor, Eisen recommends outside professional help can make the choice easier and trouble free.
Whether an individual is leaving behind a fortune or a modest estate, everyone needs to make a choice for an executor: his or her partner, a trust officer, an attorney or other trusted professional or a family member. Eisen recommends first consulting professionals in estate planning, such as a trusted attorney and accountant, to help in the selection of an executor for a couple. The choice of an executor could still end up being a close friend or relative. But whoever you choose, be sure that the person is committed to do what’s best for the deceased and their family and is not looking out for their own personal interest.
About Susan Eisen
Since launching her art and jewelry gallery and appraisal practice in the early 1980’s and sharing her desire for inheritances to become a positive family event, Ms. Eisen has become a sought after advisor for attorneys, CPAs, bankers, estate planners, private collectors and consumers for the valuation and distribution of family heirlooms. She has worked with thousands of clients on their collections of jewelry, gemstones, silver, fine art, coins, and other precious treasures and has helped hundreds of clients avoid having once-loving family relationships turn into fierce family inheritance battles. She is credentialed with many appraisal organizations including the American Society of Appraisers, the International Society of Appraisers, the American Gem Society, the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers, and the Accredited Gemologists Association and is a consultant, speaker, advisor, and expert witness in her industry. She has been interviewed and quoted in over 160 articles in national magazines and is a respected inheritance expert to her clients who live all over the world.