Civil Union Couples – Estate Planning

Civil Union Couples – Estate planning is now essential.  With the passage of the HB 2234, ptherwise known as the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act,  a person who has entered into a civil union shall be included in any definition of use of the terms:  SPOUSE, FAMILY, IMMEDIATE FAMILY, DEPENDENT, and NEXT OF KIN, and any other terms that designate a spousal relationship as those terms are used throughout the law.

Thus, in Illinois, civil union partners can inherit as if a spouse in a marriage. 

Less clear:  The impact of civil unions on federal estate taxation.  Many couples who engage in estate planning create trusts for the surviving spouse to take advantage of the marital exemption and the  annual exclusion amount  in order to reduce estate tax.  Without further amendment to the Internal Revenue Code, the impact of the civil union act on estate taxation may not yield significant advantages.

That being said, it is imperative for civil union couples to engage in at least basic estate planning.  Execute wills, and Powers of Attorney for Property and Healthcare.  For protection of a surviving spouse, establish Revocable Trusts with designated beneficiaries, and utilize a pour-over will to further fund the trust upon the death of the first spouse.

It may be a bumpy road for the next few years, especially related to federal estate taxation, but hopefully, the feds will fall in line and recognize civil union spouses as having the same marital exemptions as traditionally married couples.


For more information, or to schedule a free consultation with for civil union couples estate planning: