If a member of the GLBT community fails to properly plan, the result can be devastating to his or her partner and family. Having no estate plan, or relying upon a Will, Joint Tenancy, or Tenancy in Common as an estate plan, is tantamount to giving up control of one’s estate and management of one’s well-being in times of incapacitation.
This need for an estate plan is critical in case of an accident or illness that renders the partner incapable of making decisions or managing his or her affairs. Without a proper estate plan, the other partner could be legally precluded from having any role in the decision-making of his partner’s care, managing his or her affairs, or even having access to the incapacitated partner.
A GLBT couple can avoid numerous problems through proper estate planning:
- A Living Trust can establish the client’s domestic partner as the trustee, i.e. manager of the client’s affairs (if he or she so desires) if the client becomes incapacitated through illness or accident.
- The Medical Power of Attorney can also avoid the potential problems of the client not maintaining control over his or her health care decisions and the domestic partner not having access to his or her partner during a period of incapacitation.
- A proper estate plan will ensure the client’s assets are distributed to whom he or she wants, when and how he or she desires.
- The Living Trust guarantees privacy, through avoidance of probate and its process of opening court records. This is especially true for clients and their domestic partners who wish their sexual orientation to remain confidential, for fear of a disruption in family relationships or harassment or discrimination in the workplace.
- Proper estate planning assures that any surviving minor children are raised by the person designated in the plan.
- Finally, although there are no spousal benefits for GLBT couples (compared to those of heterosexual married couples) proper estate planning will ensure correct strategies are used to avoid penalties, extra taxation when possible, and the court and attorney costs of probate.
Our law firm strongly believes that a wisely drafted, carefully executed estate plan is the critical component of an individual or a family’s wealth management. Our firm’s guiding principle is to provide families with quality estate planning services tailored to each client’s specific needs and goals. We offer free, no obligation consultations for any family who has experienced the loss of a loved one. Click here to request a free consultation with a qualified estate planning attorney.