Regardless of your age, race, gender, or sexual orientation, properly protecting your future and your loved ones will require a plan. If you are an LGBTQ couple, you’ll need to factor some specific details into your estate plan. Each couple is unique, and you’ll want to ensure that your wishes are carried out and that no one else dictates what should happen with your money, property, or children.
Existing Estate Planning
If you have estate planning documents prepared already, review them periodically. If your estate planning documents were signed prior to 2015, you’ll need to have a qualified estate planning attorney review them, as same-sex marriage has been recognized in all fifty states since that year. If you are now married, this recognition will open up new planning opportunities and obligations that may not have been available to you in prior years.
If you are not married already, now may be a good time to decide whether you and your partner should tie the knot which will mean facing estate planning and tax considerations. Depending on your situation, we can sit down and make sure that your estate plan ensures all of your wishes—emotional or financial—will be carried out.
If you have biological or adopted children, you will need to name someone to take care of them should something happen to you. Without the proper appointment, the court could end up placing your children with someone you would not have chosen. Alternatively, if you would like to provide for your partner’s children, but you have not legally adopted them, you will need to make sure that your will or trust specifically states what you would like the children to receive.
If you don’t have a strong estate plan in place, state law will fill in the gaps by defaulting to your spouse or blood relatives. For unmarried individuals, these could be the last people you want acting on your behalf or receiving your money and property. If you and your partner are not married and do not plan to get married, you will need to make sure that your estate planning specifically appoints them to the roles (e.g., personal representative/executor, trustee, agent under a financial power of attorney, or agent under a medical power of attorney) that would otherwise have been handed to blood relatives. If you have good friends that you consider to be your family or causes that are close to your heart, you will need to have an executed estate plan to protect and provide for your true “family,” whether or not they are related to you genetically.
If you are estranged from your family, proper planning can ensure that estranged members will have no involvement in your affairs after your death, reducing the possibility of contests. This can be done if you use a trust to distribute your money and property so that the court is not involved. Only those named in the trust will have access to the necessary information, because you will have explicitly stated which family members are to receive nothing, and you will have included no-contest provisions in your documents.
We are here to help you navigate this sensitive issue. Estate planning can provide you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your wishes will be carried out in the way you want after you are gone. Please contact us so we can schedule an appointment and help you protect your loved ones.