Christopher S. Nudo
Basic Estate Planning Documents for LGBTQ Couples
In 2015, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 U.S. states and Washington D.C., marking a long-sought victory for the gay community. With that ruling came sweeping legal benefits previously attached only to heterosexual marriage, such as estate planning techniques.
Even with this historic move in marriage equality, legacy planning for LGBTQ couples comes with unique considerations and challenges. With a bit of due diligence, professional assistance and calculated decision-making, same-sex couples can overcome these nuances to legally define and customize the distribution of their assets in the event of one or both spouse’s death.
Key Estate Planning Documents for all LGBTQ Couples
The first step in family-focused estate planning is to understand your options, along with their respective benefits, disadvantages and functions. Here are several of the most common techniques:
A living trust, specifically a revocable living trust, is a legal document that places your assets— such as investments, bank accounts, real estate, vehicles and valuable personal property—in trust for your benefit during your lifetime. This living trust also spells out where you would like these things to go upon your death.
A Will is a legal declaration of a person's wishes regarding the disposal of his or her property or estate after death especially.
A Living Will is a written statement in which each partner outlines their wishes for end-of-life care. This document must be created while both partners are of sound mind.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
A Healthcare POA or Healthcare Proxy is a document that designates a specific person as your medical representative. The person chosen for this role is given authority to speak freely with your doctors, access to your medical records, and make decisions on your behalf.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney
One of the most essential documents alongside the Healthcare POA is a Durable Financial POA. This is a document that grants rights to oversee your estate to the person(s) of your choosing. For example, if you are setting up a trust, a Durable Financial POA allows your partner to discuss with your banking institutions the transfer of assets and funds pertaining to this trust.
HIPAA Privacy Authorization Form
Personal privacy laws restrict even the closest relative from being able to speak to your doctors, access your medical records, and obtain information regarding your current healthcare. A HIPAA Privacy Authorization Form removes the red tape that may legally keep your family or partner from accessing such information in the event of an emergency. The power of a HIPAA Privacy Authorization Form is often complementary to a living will and is sometimes required to determine whether you can manage your own estate or if decisions need to be made by your designated representative.
Death and tragedy are often unforeseen, leaving a wake of confusion and legal discord for the surviving spouse or family member if the right documents aren’t in place. The best way to protect your assets and your beneficiaries is to legally define your wishes as soon as possible.
Understanding the basic estate planning techniques is just the beginning of actual estate planning. There are many considerations hitched to each strategy and choosing the one that is best suited for your family often requires professional assistance.
We are here to any questions you may have about estate planning. It has been our pleasure to serve the LGBTQ community to help same-sex couples ensure that their future is secure, and their legacy protected.