Marriage and domestic partnership checklist

Create your investment and estate plans — together

When assessing your financial future, it is important that you and your spouse or partner address your financial values, priorities, and goals. With those discussion points in mind, you can then begin to develop an investment plan. Your plan can help you and your spouse or partner outline your long-term financial goals; decide how to save for large, anticipated expenses (such as buying a home or providing for college tuition); and determine your path to retirement. Your plan can also help you address those difficult “what if” questions.
Your overall planning strategy should encompass most, if not all, of the following:

□ Execute a will and/or a trust

□ Have you been very clear, very precise, very specific in making your wishes known?

□ If you own your home as tenants-in-common, have you specified your intentions to ensure that the house and other assets transfer to your spouse or partner?

□ Have you named a guardian for any minor children?

Note: Because of variations in state law, you cannot count on the applicability of “default” rules that are designed for those who fail to plan, and distribute property based on relationships (for example, to a “spouse” or “child”).

□ Execute a durable power of attorney

□ Have you given your spouse or partner power of attorney (financial authority) to act and sign on your behalf in case you become incapacitated?

Take note: You can use a power of attorney to authorize your spouse or partner to make financial or business decisions for you (e.g., selling your car, cashing your paycheck) if you are incapacitated. A durable power of attorney becomes ineffective when you die.

□ Execute a health care proxy and living will

□ Have you executed a health care proxy to designate someone (e.g., your spouse or partner) to act as an agent and make medical decisions for you in the event of incapacity?

□ Do you have a living will that outlines your wishes with regard to feeding and other life-sustaining measures?

Take note: It is especially important for unmarried LGBTQ individuals to have up-to-date Durable Powers of Attorney, for financial matters, and for health care decisions, to specify in advance who could act or speak for you.

□ Review your beneficiaries periodically and update as needed

□ Have you listed both primary and contingent beneficiaries on such assets as IRAs, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, annuities, etc.?

Take note: It’s important for unmarried LGBTQ individuals to be very specific when naming beneficiaries. As long as you name a beneficiary for a retirement plan or IRA, you can be confident that assets will go to the named beneficiary.

□ Designate a transfer on death (TOD) or pay-on-death (POD) beneficiary

□ Have you considered TOD or POD account registrations, and discussed with your estate attorney?

Take note: Deciding how to structure ownership of assets is a major issue for same sex spouses and LGBTQ couples. Account titling and beneficiary designations will impact how assets are distributed upon death, and should be coordinated with your estate planning documents.

□ Make a property agreement

□ Have you considered creating a property agreement in order to address the possibilities of death or separation? A premarital agreement can be discussed with your attorney if you are considering marriage.

Take note: If you put your spouse or partner on the title, you may be making an irrevocable gift.

□ Create a joint custody agreement

□ If you and your partner have adopted a child (or if a child has been born naturally to one of the partners), have you created a joint custody agreement to ensure that both you and your partner’s rights are upheld in the event one of you dies or you separate?

Take note: Consult your attorney about an arrangement that ensures that both you and your partner’s rights to seeing the child, continuing guardianship or custody, and continuing agreed-upon living arrangements are upheld.

□ Make sure your business will pass on to your life partner

□ Have you obtained legal counsel that specializes in LGBTQ business and estate planning issues?

□ Has your attorney drafted an appropriate business succession plan as part of your overall estate plan that can minimize any obstacles that might occur as a result of the loss of one spouse or partner?

□ Have you gathered information about your business and shared it with your spouse or partner to maximize your network of support and guarantee the future of the business?

Take note: Since many states do not have legal protections for unmarried partners when it comes to issues of survivorship, we recommend obtaining legal counsel that specializes in LGBTQ business and estate planning issues.

To contact Wells Fargo Advisors for a consultation with a Financial Advisor, visit

Wells Fargo Advisors and its affiliates do not provide legal or tax advice. An estate plan should be reviewed by an attorney who specializes in estate planning and is licensed to practice law in your state.

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC, Members SIPC, separate registered broker-dealers and non-bank affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company.

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Moran Wealth Management and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network are not a legal or tax advisor. However, we will be glad to work with you, your accountant, tax advisor and or attorney to help you meet your financial goals.