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Same-sex couples should now approach estate planning differently

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Before the landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage across the nation, attorneys for Illinois same-sex couples had to be especially creative in their estate planning efforts. Now, the same federal level benefits that married heterosexuals enjoy are within the reach of same-sex couples as well. However, it is time to act now, especially if you put an estate plan in place before the Supreme Court's ruling.

For those who are new to estate planning, here are a few essential documents you can choose to include in your plan:

-- A last will and testament

-- One or more trusts

-- Powers of attorney

-- Advance health care directives

-- Instructions addressing the care of family pets

If you already have an estate plan and are part of a same-sex couple, now is the right time to review your documents. This is important because at least part of your existing estate plan could be obsolete. It may seem like a lot of trouble to deconstruct all those carefully-planned documents, but not doing so could potentially produce undesirable results and cause legal complications.

At the same time, you and your spouse still need a sound estate plan going forward. Even if you have been with your partner for decades and function well as a family unit, you may still require specialized solutions to avoid negative legal and financial ramifications.

You can get the services you need to create a secure plan by working with a qualified estate planning attorney. Assistance from a lawyer gives you peace of mind and the security of knowing your estate plan is valid in Illinois.

Source: Investopedia, "Estate Planning and the Gay Marriage Ruling," Mark P. Cussen, CFP®, CMFC, AFC, accessed April 28, 2016

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