LGBT LIFE PLANNING
The answer to this question, in the area of Life Planning, is – nothing and everything. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people use the same planning documents as anyone. In that sense, nothing is different about Life Planning for LGBT people. However, LGBT people face challenges that heterosexual people do not face. And, this requires using the same planning documents in different ways.
Like it or not, and aware of it or not, most people make assumptions about what others want for themselves and their lives. For example, most people believe “blood is thicker than water.” In the area of Life Planning, this translates into assumptions such as: blood relatives know best how to care for an incapacitated family member, blood relatives will best care for an incapacitated person, everyone wants their blood relatives to step in and make decisions when they are incapacitated, only legal spouses and blood family count when there is an emergency, same-sex marriages mean less than opposite-sex marriages, an unmarried partner is merely a sexual or dating partner who cannot be trusted to care for an incapacitated person, friends and community do not matter when one is ill or incapacitated, and others. Many people make these kind of assumptions, and the law makes them.
For LGBT people, assumptions are sometimes compounded by family members or blood relatives who disapprove, are overtly hostile to, or unaware of their partners, friends, or community. In these circumstances, an illness, injury, incapacity, or death can lead to significant difficulties and outright tragedy. It breaks this lawyer’s heart to see loving people separated from their spouses, partners, and communities when they need them most, even when this happens innocently without any intent to cause harm. It triggers this lawyer’s passion for justice when a spouse or partner is cut off from the life, lifestyle, or assets he or she worked so hard to build, or the person’s values and choices are disregarded after death.
IMPORTANCE OF LIFE PLANNING DOCUMENTS FOR LGBT PEOPLE
The stark fact of life today is that “default” laws and common assumptions do not fit the needs, choices, and desires of many LGBT people. Marriage equality gives same-sex spouses the same rights and responsibilities as opposite-sex spouses. But even opposite-sex spouses do not know many “quirks” of Florida law. For example, did you know that half your assets will go to your spouse and half to your children if you die without a will (and the children are not children of both you and your spouse)? Did you know that your spouse will receive at least a life estate in your homestead – even if you own it in your individual name? Do you know what a “spousal share” is and when it applies? For non-married persons, the closest blood relatives will inherit all of your assets if you die without a will.
For LGBT people, only carefully crafted Life Planning documents will ensure that each person’s values and choices are honored in times of need, his or her lifestyle continues in the face of illness, injury, or incapacity, and assets are distributed according to his or her wishes upon death. At Blackburn Law Firm, every Life Plan is a personal life plan, prepared to meet the needs and fulfill the purposes of each individual. Call Cathy now to schedule an appointment for a Life Plan that will bring you peace of mind and ease no matter what circumstances you may face.