Estate planning can be an emotionally and legally fraught issue for LGBTQIA+ families. For many, it’s important to understand the differences in local state, county, and city laws regarding domestic partnerships and marriage. While most married couples can proceed with estate planning without any additional considerations, couples in a domestic partnership need to understand state-specific laws regarding how these relationships are treated under probate law.
A lot has changed in the last few decades regarding LGBTQIA+ rights, but some eternal truths remain the same: Family dynamics play a pivotal role when determining key issues such as who should inherit your estate or care for your children if you are gone. In some LGBTQIA+ families, it may be critical to have these wishes carefully legally drafted rather than relying on statutory law which directs assets and guardianship responsibilities to the next of kin.
Of course, all couples who aren’t legally married or in a domestic partnership should pay particular attention to the vital importance of estate planning to ensure that their life partners are cared for in the way they wish.
Estate plans are meant to fit the values and culture of the client, not the attorney. Identifying and interviewing an attorney who is comfortable with LGBTQIA+ issues and family structures is a good first step but making the commitment to get these powerful documents in place is a giant leap forward.
Extending your legacy beyond your lifetime by protecting those you love is a huge win!