As a member of the LGBTQ community, you must remember three important things when it comes to estate planning: anticipate, plan and succeed.
Same-sex couples must understand the legal challenges that may confront them in estate planning scenarios. In some situations, a partner may find themselves shut out from inheriting the assets that they rightfully deserve. Do not let that happen.
Discuss, create and update
Here are some critical estate planning moves that same-sex couples must make:
- Start with discussions: Talk with your spouse or partner about your plans and what you hope to achieve with your estate plan. Some topics may prove to be sensitive but is it important you promptly tackle this.
- Create or revise your will: Doing so will ensure that your spouse or partner inherits certain assets from your estate. If you have children from a previous relationship and no will, your children stand to inherit your estate. This may leave your spouse or partner with nothing. The same goes for if you had an old will. Your previous spouse – if named in the will — may inherit your assets.
- Update beneficiaries within your retirement plans: Review your IRAs, 401(k)s and life insurance policies to ensure that your spouse or partner is the beneficiary. The beneficiary designations in these plans take precedence over a will.
- Ensure that your spouse or partner has powers of attorney in health and financial matters: There have been occurrences when same-sex partners were blocked from medical and end-of-life decisions because they did not possess legal authority.
- Clarify guardianship issues: In some cases, when same-sex couples have a child, courts may only legally recognize one of them as the parent. A possible result: the other person loses their parental rights. By naming your partner as guardian, you may avoid this situation. Another solution would be if your partner pursued adoption.
These issues surface, sometimes, and may be magnified due to the hostility from family members who never accepted you and/or your loved one(s). By organizing your estate plan, you can avoid this.
Retaining a comfortable life
Take the right steps to ensure a solid estate plan. You want your spouse or partner to continue to lead a comfortable life with the assets that you have provided.