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Wills are vital estate planning tools for Texas same-sex couples

Nearly everyone in same-sex relationships in Houston are well aware that there is no legal recognition for their relationships at the state level. This can certainly provide a host of problems, especially when it comes to estate planning. If one partner dies without a will, his or her estate will pass along to a relative, not his or her partner. In a worst-case scenario, a couple could live in a home in one partner's name alone and if he or she dies without a will leaving the home to the other partner, the surviving partner may suddenly find him- or herself without a home. Had they been legally married, however, the estate would pass to the surviving partner without a problem.

Though it didn't happen in Texas, the story of a man who died without an appropriate will prepared has disinherited his partner of more than 18 years is easily one that could happen here.

It is not that the man died without a will, it's just that his will was filed in 1990 and never updated. Even though he later met his partner and they started living together in 1995, he never changed his will, which left his estate to his siblings. Instead of inheriting his deceased partner's $819,000 estate, including a beach home worth $574,000, the surviving partner has been cut off by the man's brother who serves as the executor of the estate.

While it is unlikely that Texas will legalize same-sex marriage any time soon, same-sex couples can protect themselves by working with an estate planning attorney to prepare appropriate wills and other estate planning vehicles.

Source: ABA Journal. "Gay man asks DC court to declare him common-law husband of deceased partner," Mark Hansen, Aug. 20, 2013

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