Hello everyone, Happy Pride Month!! Last month was Elder Law month, and we discussed different aspects of Elder Law such as elder abuse and neglect, the importance of caregiver agreements and long-term care insurance, and reasons why even a young person should consult with an Elder Law Attorney! The month of June was chosen as LGBT Pride month to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of 1969, so throughout the month of June, will talk about estate planning consideration for the LBGTQ+ community. Regardless of sexual orientation, everyone should have an estate plan that includes some or all of the following:
- Asset Protection/Distribution Plan
- Burial Plan
- Long-term Care/Medicaid Plan
- Guardianship for Children
- Incapacity Plan (in case of sickness or injury)
- Advanced Healthcare Plan (what treatments to receive in case of an emergency situation)
While estate planning for LGBTQ+ families is very similar to estate planning for heterosexual couples and families since the legalization of Gay Marriage in the United States, there are still some unique issues to consider. This week, we are going to focus on developing an asset protection/distribution plan. Traditionally, an asset protection plan is intended to protect one’s assets from creditors. However, for LGBTQ+ individuals and couples, asset protection and distribution may have an entirely different meaning. Some LGBTQ+ couples who have been committed for decades choose not to go through a ceremonial marriage. As far as they are concerned, the institution of marriage was never created for them. Because they’ve considered themselves family longer than it’s been recognized, they refuse to allow anyone else to define their level of commitment to one another. While I chose to marry my wife to ensure we get all the state and federal benefits of a legal marriage, I can’t blame anyone for believing the institution of marriage was not created for them.
However, without proper estate planning, you should be aware that assets will go to your blood relatives based on your home state’s “intestate succession” laws. Unless your partner is your legal spouse or is recognized as a common law spouse under state law, “intestate succession” laws will not protect or provide for him or her in any way. So, in order to protect your assets from random family members who may or may not be supportive of your lifestyle, and ensure they are distributed to the person or people you choose, makes sure you have your ducks in a row.