3 Tips to Follow for LGBT+ Estates and Wills

LGBT+ Estate Planning and Wills

LGBT+ folks have fought for significant progress over the last decades. Nowadays, although still culturally taboo to some people, adoption is not just limited to opposite-sex couples. This is of course a lot different than how it was back in the day. Now, while the law has changed regarding marriage and adoption, there are still a few things that need to be discussed so that LGBT+ couples and parents don’t face tough situations. LGBT+ couples need to be attentive of properly handling their estates and wills. This is where estate planning comes in.

What is Estate Planning?

Preparing for your own or a loved one’s passing is what is known as estate planning. This means protecting and managing assets, property, and the settlement of an estate. An estate could consist of property like a house, a car, or maybe valuable items. It also includes stocks, assets, and savings. If you want your estate to be properly distributed or managed in the event of death, then hammering out all the details with an estate lawyer is crucial. 

Estate planning also involves legally giving a loved one certain rights for certain situations. We’ll discuss these in our 3 essential LGBT+ estate planning tips below. 

Tip #1: Preparing for Estate Planning

Giving your partner, spouse, or even a child the authority to make a decision on your behalf is an important first step in sorting out your estate. People often relate this to Power of Attorney (POA) but there are other legal avenues you should know about. Here’s a quick overview of different types of POA:

  • POA for finances:

    • An agent has the power to make decisions relating to their partner or spouse’s finances. They have access to their assets in the event they’re incapacitated. 
  • POA for healthcare:

    • Like the POA mentioned above this power of attorney is for when an agent (spouse/partner) has to act on your behalf to make healthcare decisions. 

Powers of Attorney are not the only legal powers than can be established for a situation in which a person is incapacitated. There are also other documents that need to be discussed when planning for the future. Here’s a short list:

  • Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care (GADHC): 

    • The GADHC permits an individual to detail their preferences for medical treatment if they are in a permanent state of unconsciousness, persistent vegetative state, or is dying from an incurable disease. This document further permits the individual to designate another person as their agent in order to make medical decisions for the incapacitated individual. This document will instruct your health care providers and all other pertinent parties that the person you appointed as your agent is the person you want making care decisions for you, including the decision to remove you from life support, and handling your funeral arrangement.
  • HIPAA:

    • Establishing this authorization gives anyone you designate full access to your medical records and health condition. 
  • Living Will:

    • A living will gives instructions to healthcare professionals about whether or not you want life-sustaining intervention in the event of a terminal condition or are in a persistent vegetative state. 

Tip #2: Establishing Guardianship over Minor Children

In the event of an incapacitation or death naming, a guardian over minor children is an important step to take, especially for LGBT+ parents. Your partner or spouse might already have legal rights over your children but it’s important to also name a secondary or “back up” guardian. Without these safeguards your children, if minors at the time of the event, might end up at the hands of the court or family members you don’t necessarily see fit as guardians. 

Tip #3: Preserving Assets

Working with an attorney to sort out all the details, both big and small, of an estate plan is important. Not just because they can properly guide you towards what the most secure plan is, but also because they can advise about how to best preserve assets and property. 

A will and a trust are two ways to pass along inheritance and protect assets. There are pros and cons to both options. Wills are straightforward and more economical but they can be subject to probate. Trusts on the other hand protect assets and property better but they can be more expensive and complicated. Whichever option you chose you should consult an attorney with experience handling these sensitive and complex matters.