Typically when people think of estate planning, they picture heterosexual married couples with children. However, estate planning is is crucial for people from all walks of life. Though they were denied these services for a great period of time, in the present-day, members of the LGBTQ+ community can create an estate plan with their partners.
The latest U.S. Census Bureau figures estimate that there are 980,000 same-sex households in the U.S. All families, regardless of their sexual orientations, need an estate plan. And given that there are so many LGBTQ+ families in the U.S., it is important that these families are made aware of how estate planning can benefit them.
The estate planning legal documents you create and maintain are the only way you can ensure that your wishes are carried out in the event something happens to you. This includes important things such as the type of health care you will receive during your lifetime and how assets will be distributed after your death. Without these documents, your life, and that of your partner, along with any children you may share, will likely become very complicated very quickly.
Have you ever wondered what would happen to you if you became ill, injured or incapacitated to the extent that you cannot verbalize your wishes? If you have an idea of what kind of health care you would like to receive, it is important to fill out the proper documents to ensure you receive the type of care you want. In order to do this, you need the following documents in place before such an event occurs:
- A Living Will ( known by some as an “advance directive”) a document that allows you to specify what medical treatments and interventions you want and those you don’t want
- Health Care Power of Attorney, a document in which you designate the person(s) you want to make health care decisions for you in the event you cannot make them for yourself
- Financial Power of Attorney, a document in which you designate the person(s) you want to handle your finances in the event you cannot make them for yourself
- HIPPA Privacy Authorization, a form in which you authorize the person(s) of your choice to talk to your doctors and other health care providers and vice versa, as well as to have access to your medical records
Protecting Your Partner
If you would like to leave your assets and a percentage of your estate to your partner, it is essential that you include in your estate plan:
- Last Will and Testament, a document in which you list the assets and what percentage of the estate you would like your partner to inherit from you
- Designating them as a beneficiary on your life insurance policies, retirement accounts, investment accounts, etc.
- Designating them as a beneficiary for a Payable-on-Death account or Transfer-on-Death account so that they may receive all of your assets such as bank accounts, vehicles, etc.
Protecting Your Children
For families with children, creating an estate plan can be used to protect their children. When it comes to LGBTQ+ families, there are many cases where only one parent is biologically related to the child(ren). In these cases, it is crucial that the non-biological parent is designated as a legal guardian.
Often this designation can be made in your Last Will and Testament. However, the best solution is for the non-biological parentto legally adopt the child(ren). This way you have an official court document declaring parenthood.
Obtaining Legal Help
Learn why you should create a comprehensive estate plan if you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community and how to go about doing so. People in the LGBT+ community face potential problems that heterosexual couples don’t, particularly with regard to children. A properly constructed estate plan established with the help of AmeriEstate Legal Plan, Inc. can solve these problems before they arise.