LGBT couples often face challenges during estate planning and find trouble navigating through the U.S.’s complex legal system. Here’s what you need to know about estate planning for LGBT couples.
There is a common misconception that estate planning is reserved for people with extensive wealth. That is not true. In reality, estate planning is something most of us can benefit from. Unfortunately, estate planning is not always easy. This is especially true for members of the LGBT community.
Despite progress in LGBT-related laws, same-sex couples still face challenges when it comes to estate planning. Some of these challenges include:
Married v. Unmarried Status For LGBT Couples
Many states now recognize same-sex couples and provide the same estate planning options afforded to opposite-sex couples. However, couples who are not recognized as legally married are still limited in terms of property transfers, taxes and gifts.
During estate planning, it is important to consider whether your marriage is legally recognized in relevant states. If you or your spouse becomes ill or dies in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage, then you may face challenges in making decisions and handling their assets. For legal counseling regarding your state’s estate planning laws, contact an estate planning attorney.
Even if you and your partner have discussed your wishes, if you do not have a healthcare directive naming him or her as your power of attorney, then they cannot legally make decisions on your behalf. This can be traumatic for same-sex couples whose marriage is not recognized, or whose partnership is questioned. Having a healthcare directive and power of attorney allows your spouse or partner to make decisions on your behalf.
To ensure your healthcare directives are in order, contact an estate planning attorney. LGBT couples often find themselves financially impaired after a loved one’s death due to confusion regarding their healthcare directives. It is between you and your loved one to decide who has a healthcare directive and power of attorney.
The status of a “spouse” does not on its own give your spouse the legal ability to make financial decisions on your behalf. LGBT couples can overcome this challenge by establishing a financial power of attorney. This allows your spouse the ability to make decisions.
With same-sex marriages legally recognized in all 50 states, many people wonder why there are still challenges for same-sex couples. Unfortunately, while the government can create a law, there are cities, businesses, and people who still refuse to recognize these couples. The result is unnecessary challenges for couples who simply want equality and do the right thing for their family.
If you or a loved one is seeking to plan his or her estate, contact us at Pride Legal to get in touch with one of our LGBT estate planning attorneys. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.