What Every Same-Sex Couple Should Know About LGBTQ Estate Planning
Same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states. However, challenges continue to cause gay and lesbian couples to delay their nuptials and, if one partner should unexpectedly die before they make their union legal, this could make settling the deceased partner’s estate quite complicated unless they have a detailed estate plan. There are a few documents everyone should have in their estate plan, but some additional steps can be made to ensure that the assets are transferred to a partner in a same-sex relationship.
Last Will and Testament
This is the cornerstone of every estate plan and can be especially important for same-sex unmarried couples with children. This document not only tells the executor where to find other important papers, it also appoints a guardian for their children and details who will inherit assets. This is where a person can dictate their wishes. A simple will could be prepared without legal assistance. However, a lawyer who has experience with LGBTQ Estate Planning issues might be able to answer important questions regarding the transfer of assets or guardianship.
Many people would like to avoid probate. However, privacy is typically not available unless the deceased had a very small estate or they transfer all of their assets to a trust while they were alive. A trust is one of the most common LGBT Estate Planning tools simply because it offers privacy during a very emotional time. Surviving partners shouldn’t have to answer questions about their personal relationship while they are grieving.
Power of Attorney
These types of documents are particularly useful tools used in Estate Planning for LGBT community. They allow a person to appoint someone else to handle their financial matters or discuss their medical care with their doctors. Durable powers of attorney are effective even after the person who authorized them is unable to assist in these decisions because they are incapacitated. Young, as well as older people, need powers of attorney because there’s no way to know when a critical accident could happen. If a younger unmarried person is unconscious without a power of attorney, the medical facility may turn to their parents for guidance related to their care and not their partner.
Although many attorneys have experience with these documents, working with an attorney who focuses on Estate Planning for Gay couples might ensure that the unique needs of unmarried same-sex couples are met most effectively. By preparing for an unexpected death, a couple can spend more time focusing on their future together.