Estate planning is more than just preparing for the inevitable; it’s about securing your loved one’s future. This holds even greater significance for LGBTQ+ couples, where legal progress intersects with personal complexities. Although same-gender marriage is recognized nationwide, lingering biases can create hurdles. Whether married or in committed partnerships, here are three crucial estate planning challenges LGBTQ+ couples should consider:
Beyond marriage: Protecting your partner’s future: While the legal landscape has progressed with same-gender marriage recognition, challenges persist due to familial or political opposition. This can impact even the strongest relationships. A key concern arises when unsupportive family members contest or undermine estate plans, potentially jeopardizing your intentions. This could lead to disputes over inheritance or custody matters, particularly concerning non-biological children in case of a parent’s passing.
In situations where animosity prevails, critical decisions about medical care might be taken away from your partner if you face incapacitation. Furthermore, if you’re unmarried, the absence of proper planning can expose your partner to unexpected difficulties if you become incapacitated or pass away.
A will alone might not be enough: If you’re not married and pass away without a will, your assets could be distributed according to state rules, potentially leaving your partner without a say. While having a will is a good start, relying solely on it might not offer enough protection. This is where the idea of having both a will and a trust comes into play, especially if you’re a married same-gender couple.
However, a will doesn’t cover everything. In the event of your incapacity, a will doesn’t help your partner access the necessary funds for urgent needs. Moreover, when you pass away, a will takes your estate through probate, a time-consuming legal process. On the other hand, a trust allows assets to transfer smoothly to your partner without the probate hassle. This approach becomes even more important if there’s a possibility of family disagreements.
Furthermore, a trust goes the extra mile by safeguarding assets from creditors, potential future relationships and unexpected legal issues. This extra layer of security can be crucial for ensuring your partner’s stability.
Power amidst incapacity: A vital imperative: Estate planning goes beyond death—it’s about preparing for incapacity due to illness or injury. Designating someone through a medical power of attorney is key. Neglecting this could lead to court decisions. For unmarried individuals, this could mean relatives taking charge, sidelining partners from important medical choices and visitation rights. Even married couples might face uncertainty due to family opposition.
To ensure your partner’s say, granting medical and financial power of attorney is vital. Include a living will for end-of-life care wishes and HIPAA authorization for medical records. These steps give partners the ability to make informed decisions and handle financial matters securely.
In LGBTQ+ estate planning, addressing these vital considerations is essential. Proactive preparation, including a will, trust and comprehensive power of attorney, safeguards assets, rights and the bond of loving partnerships.
In the second part of this series, we will delve deeper into additional estate planning nuances and strategies tailored to the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ+ couples.
This article is provided by your local estate planning attorney, Corina Colan.
The Law Office of Corina I. Colan / (909) 265-3315 / [email protected] / www.colanlegal.com