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The definition of family has changed drastically. Same-sex couples can now marry legally in Arkansas as in all states and are able to access all the estate planning tools and advice that have been available to their heterosexual counterparts for years. But many have yet to take advantage of it.

Having a will is one of the most important aspects of an estate plan. If partners aren’t married and one partner in a same-sex couple dies without a will — or intestate — the surviving partner will not automatically be recognized as the heir, so having a will is necessary. The more comprehensive an estate plan is when it comes to same-sex couples, the better. Writing down last wishes succinctly and legally according to the state may save a surviving partner much more grief than he or she is already going through.

As with heterosexual unions, life doesn’t stop for same-sex couples and changes happen. Those changes should be reflected in any estate planning documents, so revisiting the topic every three to five years may be a good rule of thumb. Ensuring all issues are covered — like retirement accounts and trusts — is crucial.

An Arkansas attorney may be able to help a client in a same-sex partnership or marriage to write a legally-binding estate plan. The lawyer can offer insight into the many aspects of estate planning , including things like gift giving. Those in the LGBTQ community may find that speaking to a lawyer who is knowledgeable about what challenges estate planning may bring to same-sex couples might be a step in the right direction in the first foray into that planning.