Happy Pride Month Everyone! As stated in Planning With Pride – Part 1 Estate Planning for LGBTQ+ individuals isn’t all that different from Estate Planning for anyone else. However, there are still some unique issues to consider. This week, we are going to talk about how important it is to have powers of attorney, burial plans, and other advance directives in place. These documents should be part of everyone’s Estate Plan! However, they are an absolute must for LGBTQ+ individuals, even more so for those who are unmarried.
Powers of attorney – Several documents fall under this umbrella, including the non-durable power of attorney, durable power of attorney, special or limited power of attorney, medical power of attorney, etc. These documents are important no matter who you are because they allow you to appoint someone to manage financial and other affairs. If you are unable to manage or direct others to manage your affairs, having the right documents makes it easier for your loved ones to take care of your business. With proper planning, you can decide how your business is handled, and who gets to handle it if you are incapable of doing it yourself. Most importantly, the person you choose can step-in and ensure continued and orderly management of family and business affairs, without the costly and often time-consuming guardianship process.
Advance Medical Directives – A number of documents fall under the advance medical directives umbrella, including the living will, durable power of attorney for health care / health care power of attorney, “Do Not Resuscitate” orders, Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, etc. These documents are important no matter who you are because they ensure a person’s wishes are protected if medical issues arise, and/or you become incapacitated. If you are unable to communicate your wishes, they serve as roadmaps for your loved ones, care-takers, and healthcare professionals.
Burial Plan – As morbid as it may sound, having a burial plan is beneficial in many ways. Here are a few:
- You want to assume the financial responsibility for your funeral. Planning ahead enables you to make financial arrangements to cover your funeral and minimize costs.
- You want your family to benefit from your meaningful funeral. Having a plan will allow your family time to grieve and find closure.
- You want your final wishes to be followed. If you have specific preferences for the disposition of your remains and the type of funeral you want, having a burial plan will allow you to outline your wishes clearly.
You may thinking: Well…What’s the worst that could happen if I don’t have these documents in place? Well…Let’s talk through it. What if you become ill, and unable to manage your affairs, would you want a family member who hasn’t been in your life for many years, and probably don’t even know the real you, to pop up and start making decisions for you? None of us like to think about our own death, but it’s inevitable. So, if you died tomorrow, would you want blood relatives, who may or may not know much about your wishes, to plan your funeral? What if your significant other or others you loved and cared about weren’t allowed to contribute or participate in the celebration of YOUR life? What if they refused to acknowledge the person you are today; would it matter to you? Unfortunately, situations like this happen every day! That is why it is so important to have a plan and to leave clear instructions for your loved ones. Believe it or not, people are not thinking about what and how you would like things done. You probably already know this, but you won’t get everyone to support your choices. Be proactive, so you can leave the legacy your choose, and not one chosen for you.