For LGBT families, it can be incredibly hard to experience a period of mourning, loss and grief, and then also be forced to navigate the legal complexities and probate and estate planning and try to determine these complicated issues.
Fox 17’s recent article entitled “Estate planning can be complicated for LGBTQ+ families” explains that when someone passes away without a will, they’re considered to have died intestate.
States all have different laws that apply, when someone dies intestate or without a will.
State law typically says that blood relatives have priority, if you’re not married. Therefore, if you’re in a same-sex relationship but not married (or any relationship but not married), the result may not be what you want.
There are several specific estate planning documents that everyone should have in place to make certain that their loved one is protected and provided for, in the event of their passing or being incapacitated.
This means that every adult should have a basic estate plan that includes a will, perhaps a trust and a set of healthcare documents that plan for incapacity during their lifetime.
If you don’t have a health care directive, and you’re in an unmarried relationship, your partner may not have any legal rights to care for you or make decisions on your behalf.
You can state your wishes in a medical power of attorney or healthcare directive.
If you fail to have these documents squared away, a partner could even face difficulties caring for an adopted child, in some situations.
There are many cases of same-sex couples where there’s one biological parent, and the other parent is not a biological parent but hasn’t yet legally adopted the child.
Without that legal adoption in place, that non-biological parent may not have any legal rights to care for those children, if the biological parent were to pass away.
Don’t let unfortunate and even disastrous circumstances result from your failure to plan your estate.
Speak with an experienced estate planning attorney today.
Reference: Fox 17 (Grand Rapids MI) (June 18, 2021) “Estate planning can be complicated for LGBTQ+ families”