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What can be done to protect a same sex marriage partner or an unmarried partner in Kentucky?

What is Kentucky's law regarding same sex marriages?

Kentucky Revised Statute 402.020(1)(d) provides that marriage between members of the same sex is prohibited and void. This law is consistent with Section 233A of the Kentucky Constitution which provides that “(O)nly a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.” Even a marriage between members of the same sex which was solemnized in another state “shall be void in Kentucky” and “any rights granted by virtue of the marriage, or its termination, shall be unenforceable in Kentucky courts.” (KRS 402.045).

Is Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage enforceable?

The Respect for Marriage Act of 2022 is a landmark federal law passed by the 117th Congress and signed into law by the President. Despite Kentucky's ban, this law protects not only same sex but interracial marriages as well, those now solemnized in Kentucky and those marriages acquired out of state.

What can a Kentucky estate planning lawyer do to help domestic partners?

Domestic partners are often referred to as parties of a “common law marriage.” Unmarried cohabitation is living together as husband and wife, but without the formality of a ceremony or oath mandated by state law. (KRS Section 402) Kentucky does not recognize these informal domestic unions within the state but will recognize them if a common law marriage was established in another state.

Protecting unmarried partners through estate planning involves several steps to ensure that your partner is provided for and your wishes are respected.

What strategies are used in Kentucky to protect domestic partners?

1. **Wills**: Draft a will that explicitly names your partner as a beneficiary. Specify what assets and property you want them to inherit. Without a will, your assets will be distributed according to the Kentucky intestacy laws, which does not recognize unmarried partners.

2. **Living Trusts**: Establish a living trust to manage and distribute your assets. You can designate your partner as a beneficiary and trustee, which can help avoid probate and provide privacy and continuity in the management of your assets.

3. **Beneficiary Designations**: Ensure that your partner is named as a beneficiary on accounts such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts (like IRAs and 401(k)s), and payable-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) accounts. These designations take precedence over wills and can provide direct access to funds.

4. **Joint Ownership**: Consider holding property and bank accounts in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship. This allows the property to pass directly to your partner without going through probate.

5. **Durable Power of Attorney**: Appoint your partner as your durable power of attorney for financial matters. This allows them to manage your financial affairs if you become incapacitated.

6. **Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will**: Name your partner as your healthcare power of attorney to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. A living will can outline your wishes regarding medical treatment and end-of-life care.

7. **Regular Updates**: Regularly review and update your estate planning documents to reflect any changes in your relationship, financial situation, or relevant laws.

Why is it important to contact a Kentucky lawyer for same sex or domestic couples?

Consult with a Kentucky estate planning attorney at Fred Simon Law who is experienced in handling the needs of unmarried couples. We can provide personalized advice and ensure that your unmarried partner is protected and your estate planning goals are achieved.

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