Everyone needs estate planning. Protecting your future and your loved ones requires a plan, regardless of your age, race, gender, or sexual orientation. Each couple is unique, and it is our goal to ensure that your personal wishes are carried out and that no one else is dictating what should happen with your money, property, or children. For LGBTQ couples, you should consider a few things when crafting an estate plan.
If you already have prepared estate planning documents, you should review them periodically. If your estate planning documents were signed before 2015, it is crucial to have a qualified estate planning attorney review them, as same-sex marriage is now recognized in all fifty states. This recognition could open up new planning opportunities that may not have been available to you in prior years if you and your partner are now married.
As previously mentioned, with same-sex marriage recognized in all fifty states, now is an opportunity to decide whether you and your partner should tie the knot if you are not married already. While there are a lot of emotions behind marriage, there are also estate planning and tax considerations. Depending on your situation, we can sit down and ensure that your estate plan is drafted to provide all of your wishes—emotional or financial—will be carried out.
If you have biological or adopted children, you need to name someone to take care of them should something happen to you. This is especially important if your partner is not the children’s legal parent. Without the proper appointment, the court could end up placing your children with someone you would not have chosen. Alternatively, suppose you would like to provide for your partner’s children but have not adopted them. In that case, you will need to make sure that your will or trust states explicitly what you would like the children to receive since they would not be entitled to anything otherwise.
Absent estate planning executed by you, state law will fill in the gaps by defaulting to your spouse or blood relatives. For some unmarried individuals, these could be the last individuals you want acting on your behalf or receiving your money and property. Suppose you and your partner are not married and do not plan to get married. Your plan needs to clarify the roles (e.g., personal representative, trustee, agent) you want each person to serve and who receives your assets on your demise. If you have close friends or causes that are close to your heart, you will need to have an executed estate plan to protect and provide for the important people in your life whether or not they are blood relatives.
If you are estranged from your family. Proper planning can ensure that they will have little or no involvement in your affairs after your death, reducing the possibility of contests. This can be done by using a trust to distribute your money and property so that there is no court involvement and only those named in the trust have access to the necessary information, by explicitly stating in your will which family members are to receive nothing, and by including 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 give us a call so we can schedule an appointment to get you on the path toward protecting your loved ones.