In recent decades, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other (LGBTQ) people have seen significant progress when it comes to their legal rights. Today, same-sex couples can marry and adopt children, something that was unheard of not long ago. While the change in laws that protect LGBTQ families have led to better protection should one member of a couple pass away, there are still legal nuances that could cause problems if a partner does not have a will in place. Thus, estate planning for LGBTQ partners is critical.
Transfer of Assets
When you pass away, you want your assets to transfer according to your wishes. If you are married, in some states, assets automatically pass to the spouse. However, if you are not married, and there are statistics to show only about 10 percent of same-sex couples are married, the intestacy laws of your state will control who gets your assets. In Florida, if you die without a will, the closest blood relative will inherit all your assets. If you are concerned that your family will contest a will that leaves assets to your same-sex partner, you may also consider creating a trust which may eliminate that issue.
End of Life Care
When it comes to estate planning, most people immediately think of wills, but it goes beyond that. Same-sex couples, even when married, are challenged more often when it comes to end-of-life care. It is important to have a Durable Power of Attorney, a HIPAA Privacy Authorization, and a Living Will and Designation of Healthcare Surrogate that directs who makes decisions regarding any end-of-life care.
Care for Your Children
A child, whether biological or adopted by a same-sex couple, must be identified specifically throughout any estate planning documents. Without a will, the courts will choose a guardian and determine who the biological parent would want to raise the child – and they may not choose your partner. If your children were adopted, they are your legal heirs and your assets can be legally passed down to them, even if you do not have a will. However, if you gave birth to your children and your partner did not adopt them, your partner may face a custody battle should you die without a will.
As an LGBTQ couple, it is critical to establish end-of-life plans when you are healthy and of sound mind. Attorney Cathy Blackburn and our entire team at LifePlanLaw.com – Blackburn Law Firm, PLLC have experience helping couples just like you create life plans that protect both partners as well as children.
Contact us to learn more about estate planning by calling 727-826-0923 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org today.