Do I need to change my will if I have a civil union? 18 Answers as of September 26, 2013

I'm in my late 70’s and thinking about having a civil union. Don't want anything to change in my will even after I do that. Do I need to make a change in my will specifying that even if I get married I still want to leave everything to my children?

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Christine Sabio Socrates Attorney at Law | Christine Socrates
In order to leave everything to your children and not your spouse, if you should choose to get married, you would need to do more complex estate planning beyond a simple will. A legal surviving spouse can always elect to take against the will and inherit a percentage of assets. You can prevent that by executing a trust and provide that only the children inherit. You should talk to an estate planning attorney to discuss this in further detail and talk to you about your specific situation. Good luck!
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 9/26/2013
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
Yes. See a lawyer about this. It is interesting that you use the term "civil union" instead of "domestic partnership " are you in Oregon? This whole question of marriage, civil union, same-sex marriage, it's all totally up in the air at this point and a very, very careful plan needs to be put together.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 9/26/2013
Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
Yes. You definitely need to clarify your intent. Even if you do this, marriage could affect the terms of the Will. You may need to consider a pre-nuptial agreement or a trust.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 9/25/2013
Donald T. Scher & Associates, P.C.
Donald T. Scher & Associates, P.C. | Donald Scher
You do not have to change your Will, upon forming a civil union. Make sure that your will was validly made and executed and that the persons named to serve as your personal representatives or nominated to serve as your guardian and/or conservator are the ones you want now to serve in the future.
Answer Applies to: Arizona
Replied: 9/25/2013
Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
The laws of the state determines whether your civil union gives anything for the "forgotten spouse." Otherwise, there is no need to modify your will.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 9/25/2013
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    Yes. This is critical; you need to be very careful here. Please obtain the assistance of a probate lawyer to amend your will to reflect what is happening with the potential of entering a civil union and the future distributions to your children.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/25/2013
    Danville Law Group | Scott Jordan
    This may sound a little strange depending on the size of your estate, but you should consider a pre-marital agreement ("pre-nup"). This will clearly state that each of your separate property will remain your separate property and not subject to community property inheritance rights.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/25/2013
    Peters Law, PLLC
    Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
    It wouldn't hurt to change the will. Your bigger problem is that your spouse may have rights to your property despite the will. Therefore, you probably need to consider a pre-nup before entering into the civil union.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 9/25/2013
    Law Office of Edward M. Burgh, APC | Edward M. Burgh
    According to the Supreme Court and the IRS a civil union (if registered with CA) is treated the same as a marriage so you'd have to do what a married couple would do.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/25/2013
    Durham Jones & Pinegar | Erven Nelson
    Yes, you should update your will. Better yet, you should have a trust to avoid probate.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 9/25/2013
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons | Patrica A Simmons
    When there are life changes, such as a death, marriage or birth of children, you should update your will. Contact an estate planning attorney to discuss your concerns regarding your children and the addition of a new spouse.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/25/2013
    James Law Group
    James Law Group | Christine James
    You should make mention in a codicil to your will but in addition you will need to keep all of your property separate so your partner has no claim to it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/25/2013
    Law Offices of Robert H. Glorch | Jeffrey R. Gottlieb
    You need to talk with an estate planning attorney. Civil union? is marriage for Illinois law purposes. This means that your civil union spouse can renounce your Will and take a forced share and that your civil union spouse has all of the rights of a married spouse.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 9/25/2013
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    Yes, but you should get a prenuptial agreement because spouses are provided rights in Nevada regardless of what the Will says, unless there is a prenuptial agreement. If your probate estate is under $100,000 it all goes to your spouse in Nevada regardless of what your Will says. Consider a prenuptial agreement to avoid surprises, also this can prevent Medicaid issues,. Speak to an attorney about your next steps. This information is only intended to give general information in response to an inquiry. It does not establish an attorney client relationship. This response is only based upon the limited facts presented and is merely intended to assist you in determining if you should contact an attorney to provide you with legal advice.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 9/25/2013
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    It's always good to update a will when you have a major change in your life. However, you may be able to add a codicil to your will addressing this issue rather than drafting an entirely new will.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 9/25/2013
    Law Office of Pamela Braynon | Pamela Y. Braynon
    Civil unions are not recognized in the state of Florida. The courts will follow your will regardless.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 9/25/2013
    Richard J. Keyes Attorney at Law | Richard J. Keyes
    Please make the change to your will. If your civil union is recognized under the probate code with your partner being your spouse, the partner could elect to take against the will and get a share of your estate.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 9/25/2013
    Davis Law SC | D. Nathan Davis
    From your question, I assume your intending to be married by a justice of the peace, Notary Public or some other official authorized to perform weddings who is not part of a church or religion. A marriage, whether performed in a church or a civil ceremony or even a common-law marriage gives to a spouse certain rights to inherit from their spouse. There are numerous ways to avoid this outcome, but, you need to see an attorney or your spouse will have the option of claiming that portion of your estate at your death. These steps need to be taken before you are married as it is much more difficult to accomplish your goal after marriage.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 9/25/2013
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