Laurie Flynn is a Financial Advisor with Smith Barney and is a supporter of Queercents. She’s written a few posts these past weeks on the topic of investing. These are her words…

Smith BarneyDomestic Partnership Checklist

Create a Financial Plan—Together
The best overall strategy is to create a financial plan, addressing your long-term goals and asking the difficult “what if” questions. Then, speak with your legal and tax advisors about preparing these important documents:

Make a will
If you own your house jointly, don’t assume that your partner will automatically receive it if you die. A will and/or a trust confirming your intentions can help ensure that your assets pass as you desire. If you die without a will, intestacy laws will not leave your assets to an unrelated partner.

List beneficiaries
Many assets, such as life insurance, 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts, are transferred outside the will and are not subject to probate. Thus, same-sex couples may wish to list each other as beneficiaries on individual accounts and policies. On non-retirement accounts, consider establishing Transfer On Death (TOD) provisions where permissible under applicable state law.

Make a property agreement
If you put your partner on the title, you may be making an irrevocable gift. Another approach to consider is creating a property agreement or joint tenancy agreement in order to address the possibilities of death or separation.

Make a cohabitation agreement
If you are going to mix money, share assets, financially support each other and incur debt together, a living-together agreement documents how you wish to handle your assets while you live as a couple and if you part.

Make a durable power of attorney
A power of attorney gives a person financial authority to act and sign on your behalf. You may wish to give someone that power in case you become incapacitated.

Make a Health-Care Proxy and Living Will
Often, in medical emergencies, hospitals and doctors do not recognize a same-sex partner as a family member. Therefore, you may wish to have a health-care proxy, which designates an agent (such as your partner) to make medical decisions for you in the event of your incapacity. The living will outlines a person’s wishes with regard to feeding and other life-sustaining measures.

Designate a POD beneficiary
A number of states have payable-on-death (POD) laws. A POD beneficiary designation lets you transfer investments and bank accounts at death without probate.

Make a Joint Custody Agreement

Many states allow second-parent adoptions. If your state isn’t one, consider a joint custody agreement in order to help ensure a partner’s rights to see a deceased partner’s child.

This is one article in the Building Financial Security Brochure available to you free of charge. Please contact Laurie for your free copy at (800) 624-0292 Ext. 2315 or if you prefer: laurie.flynn@smithbarney.com