The U.S. Supreme granted the right to same sex marriage in the United States in 2015 and almost 58 percent of couples in the country’s 980,000 same-sex households are married. Married same-sex couples should have effective estate planning. But the need is even greater for non-married partners who do not have legal rights to health and financial information and the ability to make decisions on their partner’s behalf.
For LGBTQ+ couples, only one or neither parent might be the biological parent of their children. A surrogate may have carried their child or there may have been an egg or sperm donor. Typically, the biological parent possesses the legal rights over the child unless there is other court documentation.
Sometimes, a birth certificate with both parents’ names may be insufficient. Parents should seek a court order, such as an adoption or parentage judgment, naming the children’s parents.
Without a will, an unmarried partner is not entitled to receive any inheritance. Wills are an important estate document that sets forth who receives assets after a person dies and names a guardian for minor children.
Family members may be confused or engage in disputes if there is no clear plan governing inheritances or care of minor children. A will can help prevent these problems.
Power of attorney
People may become incapacitated and unable to make financial or health care decisions. Separate powers of attorney authorize an agent to make these decisions on another person’s behalf.
A durable power of attorney authorizes an agent to make financial decisions if you are incapacitated. Typically, these agents have access to bank and financial accounts and may pay taxes, and mortgage, bills, rent and other expenses. Agents may handle your business matters.
A health care power of attorney, or health care proxy, allows a person to make decisions about your medical needs when you are unable to. This helps assure that your wishes are followed.
An advanced directive, more commonly known as a living will, contains your directions and wishes for end-of-life medical care. The directive outlines your instructions on the care that is permissible for keeping alive.
Estate plans should be updated after major life events and changes in the law. Attorneys can assist you with developing a plan that meets your needs and draft the necessary documents.