For the most part, LGBT families have the same worries about their futures as all other families do. They want to make sure that their partners and children are taken care of after they die. However, LGBT families have some issues that other families don't. That can include things like access to partners while they are hospitalized and custody of children. Property rights after the death of one partner can also become a huge issue. While these issues and problems are getting better in some places, they can still be a major issue and need to be prepared for. An estate planning attorney who specializes in LGBT issues will be able to help navigate these tricky waters.
Living Will/Advanced Directive/Medical Power of Attorney
Estate planning isn't just about wills and who gets what after someone has died, it's also about who gets to make medical decisions for a person when they aren't able to. It's also about laying out what a person wants to happen at the end of their life. Generally, the person who is able to make those decisions is the next of kin. For legal purposes, that counts as spouses, children, parents, and siblings, in that order. In an LGBT family, the partners may not be legally married and so don't have the same legal rights. That means that they don't have the right to make the medical decision for their partner. They may not even be able to get into the hospital to see their family member. However, living wills, advanced directives, and medical powers of attorney are legal documents. That means that the named person, and only the named person, has the legal rights and responsibilities to make all the decisions. That person cannot be barred from the hospital by other family, no matter what.
It's important to make sure that these papers are written by and filed with lawyers. The papers should also be kept on file with all appropriate doctors, so they are aware of all the decisions to be made and who is to make them as well.
In LGBT families, there are times when only one partner is the legal parent of children. If something happens to that partner, then the surviving partner may not be able to keep custody of their child. One way to prevent this is to have a lawyer draw up airtight guardianship papers. That way the children can stay with their surviving parent without any problems.
While LGBT families are getting more and more legal rights, there are still some serious issues when it comes to estate planning. Making sure that the family works with an attorney who deals with these issues will help everything to go off as desired. Speak with experts like Stuart W. Moskowitz, Esq., CPA for more information.