Estate planning for LGBTQ people is essential because their goals are often very different from the results created by the default statutes. The basic estate planning documents needed by LGBTQ people and straight people are essentially the same – a will, trust, medical directive and financial powers of attorney. However, the drafting of these documents can look considerably different for them and may need to consider factors that many straight people are not concerned about.
What are the additional factors that LGBTQ people need to consider while developing their estate plan?
- Relationship status
- Defining family, children and other beneficiaries
- How assisted reproductive technology may impact their estate plan
- Providing for changes to name or gender identity in their estate plan
- Using medical powers of attorney to name authorized hospital visitors and requiring use of designated LGBTQ-friendly treatment facilities
What happens if I am not married to my partner?
Estate planning is especially critical for unmarried LGBTQ couples. If you are not married to your partner, no matter how long you've been together, the law of intestacy (i.e., dying without a will or trust) considers you to be legal strangers without any rights to inherit property from each other unless you have an estate plan. Instead, your biological family will be named the legal heirs of your estate.
If I'm not biologically related to my child, can my child still inherit my estate?
With an increase in assisted reproductive technology, it is becoming more and more common that neither parent, or only one parent, is biologically related to a couple's children. When a child is genetically related to only one parent, and those parents are not legally married, it can be advantageous to do a “second-parent adoption” that allows the non-biologically related parent to be legally recognized as the child's other parent.
What about my unsupportive biological family?
If you have any biological family members who are unsupportive or openly hostile toward your identity or your relationships, you need to establish an estate plan that overrides the default statutes that are based solely on biological relationships. By creating your own estate plan, you can ensure that they will not be able to control your assets, make medical decisions for you or inherit from your estate.