If you’re in an LGBTQ+ partnership (married, civil union, common-law marriage, or long-term relationship) you NEED a will…like yesterday.
Don’t get us wrong, as an estate planning firm, we think having a plan for your future is imperative for anyone in any relationship. However, there are a few very specific things you need to consider adding to your will if you are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and you need an experienced estate planning attorney who will treat you with dignity and respect.
LGBTQ+? 5 Things You Need to Add to Your Will and Estate Plan
Transfer of Assets and Investments:
Investors within the LGBTQ community must have a will to protect their assets and investments. If you are married and die without a will, your assets and investments will likely automatically transfer to your surviving spouse. However, if you are not married and don’t have a will, intestacy laws will control who gets your assets, most likely a blood relative.
Whether or not you’re married, including your partner in your will and establishing a trust for them will help safeguard them from it being contested.
Specific names including gender identification:
In today’s society, inclusivity and equality matter. These values also need to translate within your will or estate plan. Being transparent and specific about whom you are naming as designated financial and medical POA and inheritance beneficiaries are vital to prevent confusion if your will is contested. This means not only including full names but also specific gender pronouns to which your partner and children identify in all documents in your estate plan.
What should happen to frozen embryos and gametes?:
The LGBTQ community is more likely to choose assisted reproductive therapy (ART) for family planning. When ART is used, embryos and gametes are frozen and stored for future use. But what happens to these when one or both spouses die?
This is a complicated issue with confusing wording, so it’s advised not to rely on pre-made templates for such a sensitive matter. Hiring a knowledgeable estate planning attorney will help you outline your desires in your will and estate plan in the event embryos and gametes are left behind after your death. It’s essential to answer these questions within your will:
- Will your surviving spouse/partner be able to use frozen embryos or gametes?
- If both spouses/partners die, what will happen to what you have in storage?
- How will storage fees be paid?
- Will there be a time limit to include a child born posthumously as a beneficiary of your estate?
End of Life Care:
Estate planning goes beyond what happens after you die. It also includes what your desires are if you become too ill or injured to make health and financial decisions for yourself. Oftentimes and unfortunately, these designations are more challenged when it comes to same-sex partners, so clearly identifying your designations is incredibly important. Designations to keep in mind:
- Durable Power of Attorney
- HIPAA Privacy Authorization
- Living Will
- Designation of Healthcare Surrogate
Guardianship for children:
Know all of your rights when it comes to designating permanent or temporary guardianship for your children. If you and your spouse have children, but only one is biological, and you don’t have guardianship designations in your will and estate plan, the courts will be left to decide who the best guardian will be for your children if you or your spouse die, or are too ill to care for them.
Ultimately, who you choose to have a family with is your choice and we respect and serve families from all walks of life, but remember, providing for and planning for your family’s future is your choice as well. It’s too risky to make the choice to live life without a plan in place.
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