Same-sex marriage has been federally recognized since 2015, thanks to the Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges. This landmark decision afforded the same automatic legal protections to LGBTQ couples as heterosexual couples receive—but that doesn’t protect you if you choose not to marry.
If you’re part of an LGBTQ couple, you likely already know the challenges that come along with the territory: unwelcoming relatives, difficulties seeing your partner when they’re in the hospital, and more. If you have children, it can become even more complicated. That’s why it’s crucial for you to make an estate plan. Here are four of the main considerations when estate planning.
Don’t Die Without a Will
More than half of Americans die without a will. If you’re relatively young or you don’t own any assets, you may be putting this off, too—but you shouldn’t. If you die intestate (without a will), state law determines who gets your property. If you’re not married to your partner, your assets default to your parents (if living), then siblings (if living) and so on. In many cases, LGBTQ couples have estranged family members. If you don’t want them to benefit from your assets upon your death, you need a will.
Provide Care for Your Minor Children
A will is particularly important if you have minor children. Married or not, you and your partner need to determine who will take care of the children in the event you both die. If there’s anyone you don’t want to have custody of your children, you’ll need to specify that as well. An attorney can help you make your wishes clear and as binding as possible.
Set Up a Financial Power of Attorney
What happens if you’re incapacitated—or simply out of town when a financial situation comes up? Consider making your partner your financial power of attorney so they can make decisions on your behalf if you are unable. (If they’re not good with financial matters, it may be prudent to appoint another trusted loved one.)
Write Out Advance Care Directives
Estate planning also affords you the opportunity to write out your advance care directives, including a medical power of attorney. Your attorney will help you write what you want in case you can’t make your own medical decisions, and other important issues.
No one likes to think about their own death, but estate planning is for the survivors. Working with skilled estate planning attorneys like the team at Dworken & Bernstein can help you take care of your loved ones. Call today to learn more.