Estate Planning for the LGBTQ Community: 6 Documents You Need

The 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage made basic marital rights available to the LGBTQ population, making the process of estate planning significantly easier. However, LGBTQ couples still must ensure that their documents are in order—if one spouse becomes incapacitated or passes away, the other party saves valuable time and minimizes their stress if they have all necessary documents on hand.

1. Living Will and/or Trust

Couples should have a living Will or trust, depending on their estate planning goals and needs. These documents outline how assets are to be distributed and answer other important questions, including guardianship of children and final arrangements. With a revocable trust, individuals may be able to protect their loved ones from the expense and time of the probate process.

2. Health Care Power of Attorney

Generally, spouses do not automatically have the right to make health care decisions for each other. Each partner should have a health care directive that allows the other party to make health care decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated. Having these documents saves valuable time if one spouse is incapacitated, as they prevent disputes with other family members over who should act on the incapacitated individual’s behalf.

3. Financial Power of Attorney 

Financial power of attorney is a separate form from the health care power of attorney. This form permits one spouse to protect the other’s accounts and assets when one is incapable of doing so.

4. Documentation of Final Arrangements

Many individuals choose to document their final wishes in a separate document, which may be known as a disposition of remains directive or funeral directive. This may not be necessary if it is included in the will, which is why it’s important to review estate documents with an estate planning professional.

5. Guardianship Documentation 

While many states now allow both same-sex parents to be listed on the birth certificate and automatically have parenting rights, some states still only list the biological parent on the birth certificate. Couples may have to go through additional steps to ensure that the other party is legally considered a parent. Ensuring that this paperwork is in order can help prevent a custody battle if one spouse passes away unexpectedly.

6. Beneficiary Documentation

Many accounts and policies automatically pass to the spouse when an individual dies, but some do not. It’s important to verify that the spouse is listed as the beneficiary on insurance policies and retirement accounts.

A solid estate plan can help you feel confident that your assets will continue to provide for your loved ones after your death. Start working on your estate with the team at Schlegel Livingston, LLC—call us at 954-771-8929 to get started.

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Schlegel Livingston LLC

Schlegel Livingston, LLC is an established real estate and probate/estate planning law firm in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We pride ourselves on being a very hands-on law office who will help our clients by any means necessary.

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