Every individual should have a unique estate plan because everyone has different needs and challenges in life. Members of the LGBTQ+ community face different challenges – for example, uncertainties surrounding how to leave assets to your life partner or how to secure the custody of your children may leave you somewhat fearful.
These unique challenges can make estate planning seem like a complicated prospect. But it doesn’t have to be. Let’s look at some of the estate planning topics that are of particular interest to those in the LGBTQ+ community.
Power of Attorney
Unfortunately, not everyone finds support when they let family and friends know that they are members of the LGBTQ+ community. Sometimes, your decision to live a life based on your true self creates a divide between you and your relatives. If you find yourself in that kind of situation, and you no longer want your relatives to handle the details of your estate, you should seriously consider creating a power of attorney document.
A power of attorney allows you to choose someone you trust to be responsible for financial matters on your behalf if you become unable to do so yourself. Several things can cause you to be unable to handle your own finances. Some of those things are Alzheimer’s, dementia, a coma, or an incapacitating accident, among other illnesses.
The benefit of having a power of attorney in place is that someone you trust will have power over your finances. Having a legal, state-specific power of attorney document on file will help to prevent the court from appointing a guardian over you to handle your finances. You can be at peace knowing that you have chosen someone you trust implicitly to handle these matters.
Health Care Proxy
Long-term care, like that needed for coma patients, could have a court deciding who makes your decisions. If you can’t make decisions for your own healthcare, the courts will take over making those decisions for you if you don’t have the proper health care documents in place. Not having a health care proxy can leave emergency treatment or end-of-life care to an unknown medical provider rather than someone who knows you and your wishes.
Unfortunately, if your family is less than supportive of your lifestyle, you may not trust them to make medical decisions for you. This means it’s imperative that you create a health care proxy. With this document, you can appoint the person you want to make medical decisions for you if you aren’t able to make them yourself.
Nomination of Guardianship
If you are co-parenting a child with your LGBTQ partner, you may have legal issues regarding custody of your minor child. If your children are adopted by you both, decisions regarding their custody won’t get left up to the courts. However, if only one of you has legal custody or guardianship of the children, the other parent could face custody issues if that parent passes away unexpectedly.
If only one of you has custody of the children, you should consider creating a nomination of guardianship document. Most states recognize these documents that allow the parent or guardian to appoint someone they trust to be their child’s guardian if they can no longer care for the child. This allows you to guarantee that your children and partner won’t be separated should something happen to you.
If you pass away without a will, your assets will probably be passed to your next of kin. If you are in an LGBTQ+ relationship, your partner may not be recognized as being your next of kin, so it is essential to have a will if you want them to inherit from you. If you don’t have a will, your estate will go into probate, and the court will decide who inherits based on state laws.
A will allows you to name your beneficiaries. By creating a will, you can ensure that your partner is one of your beneficiaries and that they will inherit what you want them to when you pass away. You can also choose to exclude people from your will if you wish to do so.
Estate planning is an unpleasant thought, but it’s something that is necessary to ensure your family is cared for after you pass away. If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, having an estate plan in place is especially important, so your family inherits and is cared for the way you envision.