What do LGBTQ+ families need to know about estate planning?
To be clear, every person reading this post right now should have an estate plan. Full stop. Though, for LGBTQ+ families, this estate planning need can be critical, especially as LGBTQ+ families are more likely to be unmarried and have children with a biological parent that is not in the relationship. This means that an effective and legally enforceable estate plan can make all the difference if one should die or become incapacitated.
By the numbers
It is no wonder that LGBTQ+ families tend to be unmarried. After all, it has only been legal in all 50 states since 2015, so many long-term couples do not see a need to get the marriage certificate if they have already been together for decades. Though, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, almost 60 percent of same-sex households report being married, so that trend may be changing.
For the kids
For LGBTQ+ couples with children, generally, only one spouse will be the biological parent, or neither parent may be the biological parent. This could be as a result of adoptions, surrogacy, etc. And, while both spouses may feel like the parent, legally, the biological parents have all the legal rights, barring some legal documents that state otherwise. This means that part of an estate plan should include ensuring that there are legal mechanisms in place now that ensure both parents are legally parents because, sometimes, even if both parents are named on a birth certificate, that may not be enough.
Remember, unmarried spouses are not entitled to anything from their spouse, if that spouse should die. Legally, the two are strangers. This is where a will is used. The will (also known as, a last will and testament), outlines how one’s assets should be divided after death. It also names a guardian for minor children. But, keep in mind, simply naming a guardian will not override a biological parent’s parental rights.
Durable power of attorney
These documents essentially make someone a guardian over their finances, should they become incapacitated or otherwise, unable to make their own decisions. This means they can access bank and credit accounts to pay bills, and sell assets as needed to pay for medical care or care for family. This will ensure that one’s unmarried spouse will not get evicted or foreclosed on.
Of course, this is only a few types of estate planning documents. There are many others, like health-care proxies, which are essential. This is estate planning should be done with a Bluffton, South Carolina, attorney.