Real estate law firms like this one in Illinois are revamping their practices to include strategies targeted toward clients with unique needs like same-sex couples. Across the U.S., lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples face a number of significant challenges to owning a home together, which often require complicated legal instruments to attain the same benefits and rights that legally married couples have. Other challenges, especially in states where same-sex marriage isn’t recognized, include survivorship and inheritance, credit and tax liability and other issues. Utah real estate attorneys are taking note of this situation as their state awaits the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.
Joint home-ownership is just one aspect of same-sex marriage rights that LGBT advocates say is unnecessarily complicated and cumbersome for couples without equality under the law. Families headed by same-sex couples disproportionately encounter legal struggles with kinship claims, adoptions, parenting rights, and property ownership, and Utah real estate attorneys who understand this challenge as an opportunity are beginning to address these disparities. As states across the nation legalize same-sex marriages at varying rates, couples in “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships” are rapidly being conferred enormous privileges regarding joint property ownership. So even while same-sex marriage is still on hold for their state, Utah real estate attorneys looking into this population realize the opportunities to provide much needed counsel to these individuals.
The purchasing power of same-sex couples on a national scale is titanic—billions of dollars. And having historically been legally left out in the cold, same-sex couples are becoming and more and more valuable clients for Utah real estate attorneys who can provide advice on how buying a home is different for unmarried couples. For example, structuring mortgages and property rights for clients that ensure designated survivability in the preferred way for each purchase is integral to developing a practice targeted specifically for the LGBT population.
Utah real estate attorneys also understand how critical developing online resources is for potential unmarried partners. Again, historically oppressed or ignored, many couples continue to choose potentially less threatening ways of obtaining information and consultation on individual situations, and the internet is a great medium for this. Modeling on other LGBT friendly or dedicated law firms, real estate lawyers in Utah could also consider hosting free informational events. Panel discussions featuring experts like tax lawyers, mortgage specialists, local Salt Lake City and surrounding area real estate authorities, and community leaders could offer insight and answer questions posed by LGBT buyers and sellers directly.
Without a moralized or value-ridden agenda, Utah real estate law firms could capitalize on the tremendous opportunity offered by the LGBT community as it continues to struggle for legal recognition and equality under the law in every aspect. By responding to challenges that could prove mutually beneficial, attorneys could empower members of the thriving Salt Lake LGBT community while tapping a specialized market. Law firms working with integrity to gain the trust of the population could foster loyalty and continue to meet the population’s changing needs as the legal status of same-sex marriages continues to evolve in Utah.