Only 58% of LGBTQ+ couples are married according to the 2020 Census. These couples may have unique needs when it comes to Life and Estate Planning. While we have come a long way, and same-sex marriage is legal in most states, LGBTQ+ couples who live in a state where same-sex marriage is not legal are at an enormous disadvantage when it comes to laws and protections regarding Estate and Life Planning. It is important for couples to have the right tools and plans in place as they age.
A durable power of attorney and joint bank accounts can ensure if something happens to your partner they will be able to access finances. Unmarried partners may not be legally entitled to assets in the case that anything happens to their partner without a durable power of attorney. Additionally, without a will in place, unmarried partners may not be legally entitled to any joint assets. Without a living will, healthcare decisions cannot be made on someone’s behalf in the event that someone becomes sick and unable to make their own decisions. There is also an important distinction between civil union and same-sex marriage domestic partnership. The federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage, only marriage between a man and a woman, so it is important to be aware of your local state laws when it comes to your rights.
If the LGBTQ+ couple has a child it is often the case that only one of them is the biological parent and from a legal perspective that parent will be the only one with rights, even in some cases if the other parent is listed on the birth certificate. It may be a good idea to name the other partner or spouse a legal guardian.
Seek Out Expertise
While this article has highlighted some important things to pay attention to for LGBTQ+ couples in Life and Estate planning, there are a lot of nuances, especially regarding what state you live in and what your unique situation is. It is our advice you hire an experienced estate planner to ensure proper precautions and preparedness plans are in place for the future as many aspects of planning can be confusing and involved.
If you have questions about planning for your future, do not hesitate to reach out to the experts at the Deliberato Law Center either by calling our office at (216) 341-3413 or writing us using the contact form on our website.
Contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at Deliberato Law Center