Estate Planning Can Give Same-Sex Families Much Needed Legal Protections
As the head of a LGBT household, did you know that a thorough estate plan can provide a remarkably sturdy legal framework for ensuring your wishes are known and honored? Until there’s equality in marriage, there are things you can do right now to provide peace of mind to your loved ones and ensure that you are the decision maker about what happens to you and your resources if something happened to you. A sympathetic lawyer can help you make sure your beloved has the right to make medical and financial decisions for you and your children and ensure that your kids are cared for by the people you and your partner choose.
Unmarried couples can enter into a domestic partnership agreement that will give them a many of the legal rights that married couples enjoy. However, to broaden the scope of legal protection, LGBT couples should look to an estate planner to make vital decisions about:
Inheritance. One of the most important instruments for unmarried partners that wish to leave assets to each other is a will. Without a will, your partner will not inherit, no matter how long the relationship may have been. You also need to name a partner as beneficiary on retirement and investment accounts using the plan provider’s beneficiary form. Bank accounts can pass to a partner by executing a Payable-on-Death form at the financial institution where you bank.
Healthcare. Providing each other with legal rights when it comes to making healthcare decisions requires that unmarried partners execute a durable power of attorney for healthcare. This will enable partners to make medical and financial decisions for each other, in case one becomes incapacitated and is unable to do so.
Financial. A Durable Power of Attorney for Finance can be executed to give each partner the right to make financial decisions for the other in case of incapacity.
Retirement. Using trusts to pass on retirement benefits is also an option for unmarried partners. Many employers’ plans do not allow unmarried partners to be named as beneficiary; creating a trust enables the retirement assets to go to that trust after a partner dies, and then to the surviving partner as beneficiary of the trust.