5 Key Considerations in Estate Planning for LGBTQ Couples
Everyone needs estate planning. Regardless of your age, race, gender, or sexual orientation, properly protecting your future and your loved ones requires a plan. There are a few specific considerations to keep in mind when it comes to estate planning for LGBTQ couples. Each couple is unique, and it is our goal at McDonald Law Firm to ensure that your personal wishes are carried out and that no one else is dictating what should happen with your children, money, or property.
5 Factors that Weigh into Estate Planning for LGBTQ Couples
Existing Estate Plans
If you have already had estate planning documents prepared, you should review them periodically. If your estate planning documents were signed prior to 2015, it is crucial to have a qualified estate planning attorney review them, as same-sex marriage is now recognized in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. This can have a major impact on estate planning for LGBTQ couples, and could open up new 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 now recognized in all fifty states and the District of Columbia, now is an opportunity to decide, if you are not married already, whether you and your partner should tie the knot. While there are a lot of emotions behind marriage, there are also estate planning and tax considerations. Depending on your situation, at McDonald Law Firm we can sit down with you and your spouse and make sure that your estate plan is drafted in such a way that ensures all of your wishes—emotional or financial—will be carried out.
One of the most critical considerations in estate planning for LGBTQ couples is children. If you have biological or adopted minor children, you will 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, if you would like to provide for your partner’s children, but you have not adopted them, you will need to make sure that your will or trust specifically states what you would like the children to receive since they would not be entitled to anything otherwise.
4. Your “Family”
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. If you and your partner are not married, and do not plan to get married, you will need to make sure that your estate plan specifically appoints them to the roles (e.g., personal representative, trustee, attorney-in-fact under a power of attorney, or patient advocate under a medical power of attorney) you want them to have and designates what your partner is to receive at your death. 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 blood relatives.
5. Reducing Conflict
Additionally, 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 little to 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 you’re disinheriting, and by including no-contest provisions in your documents.
WE ARE HERE TO HELP.
At McDonald Law Firm, we are here to help our brothers and sisters of the LGBTQ community navigate any hurdles in establishing a solid estate plan. 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 Andre O. McDonald, a knowledgeable Howard County, Montgomery County and District of Columbia estate planning, special-needs planning, veterans pension planning and Medicaid planning attorney a call, at (443) 741-1088 or (301) 941-7809, so we can schedule an appointment to get you on the path toward protecting your loved ones.
DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION POSTED ON THIS BLOG IS INTENDED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT ENTENDED TO CONVEY LEGAL OR TAX ADVICE.