How can same-sex couples protect their assets?
While the Supreme Court did recently rule on two important gay marriage issues, same-sex marriage still isn't legal in Texas. Thus, unmarried couples' assets may not be subject to the same treatment that a legal married couple's might.
How can a same-sex couple protect their assets in Texas? Here's an overview of what one's options may look like after a break-up, or even after a death.
After a Break-Up
Many couples will choose to cohabit, rather than marry. For gay couples in Texas, marriage is not a legal option. This doesn't mean that some protections aren't available. For gay couples in Texas who are living together, you may want to consider drafting a cohabitation agreement to protect each person's respective interests, in case a break-up occurs.
Couples who enter into cohabitation agreements may often receive palimony as part of protecting financially vulnerable partners during a break-up. Much like spousal support or alimony, palimony is court-ordered financial support from one person to another after a non-marital relationship ends.
However, palimony is not an official legal term. It is not a right that exists outside a cohabitation or palimony agreement. Therefore it is in a couple's best interest to enter into such an agreement that dictates, ahead of time, the agreed-upon support post-break-up. This way, courts will likely be more inclined to enforce the support.
What if, instead of a break-up, someone dies? To protect you, your assets, and your partner's assets in case of death, it's best to draft a will. This way, you can designate who exactly you want to be the beneficiary of all your assets. Without a will, your assets may fall into intestate succession, which will likely not include your partner.
Because the law does not fully protect same-sex couples as it does married couples, it's especially important to ensure that your assets are protected. For questions about your will and alternative estate planning methods, make sure you consult a local, experienced attorney who can help you create a document that best reflects the needs and wishes of you and your partner.