LGBTQ+ couple works on finances while their kids play on the couch.

Estate and Retirement Planning for LGBTQ+ Americans

Estate planning is critical for everyone who wants to protect their assets and loved ones, but it’s even more vital for LGBTQ+ couples.

That’s because although same-sex married couples have access to the same estate planning rights and tools as opposite-sex couples, there are still unique dynamics and considerations that must be made. And for any unmarried LGBTQ+ couple, estate planning is an urgent matter that can help ensure the relationship is legally recognized after one partner passes.

In celebration of Pride Month, let’s explore four LGBTQ+ couple estate planning essentials.

1. Living Will, Medical Power of Attorney & HIPAA Privacy Authorization Form

It’s vital to have legal paperwork established that details medical care preferences if a person is unable to make decisions, especially for an unmarried person who wants to ensure their partner will be making decisions about their care. This should include:

  • A living will, which details medical care wishes if a person is incapacitated
  • A medical power of attorney, which names someone to make medical decisions if a person is unable
  • A HIPAA privacy authorization form, which allows doctors or other health care professionals to disclose health information and records to one’s medical power of attorney

2. Durable Financial Power of Attorney

In the same vein, this document designates someone to handle a person’s financial affairs if they become too ill or incapacitated. Without this document, a judge could decide that a person’s relative should be the one to handle their financial matters rather than their partner.

Related: Your Guide to End-of-Life Planning

3. Will or Living Trust

There are key differences between wills and living trusts, but both can help give LGBTQ+ couples peace of mind knowing their assets will be distributed according to their wishes. If an unmarried person dies without a will or living trust, their state’s laws of intestate succession will determine who inherits their assets, and their partner could end up with nothing.

For LGBTQ+ people who are estranged from their families or expect family conflict, a no-contest clause added to a will or living trust may help prevent family members from challenging the validity of the will in some states.

A last will and testament can also be used to appoint a guardian for minor children, other dependents or pets if a person passes away. Having formal documents that lay out a couple’s wishes is particularly important for LGBTQ+ couples if only one partner is the biological parent. However, experts recommend adoption to establish a legal relationship and help avoid custody battles with relatives if the biological parent dies. Talk to a family law attorney if your situation is complicated.

Related: 5 Essential Estate Planning Considerations

4. Insurance Products

The right insurance products can be an important part of retirement and estate planning for an LGBTQ+ couple.

Work With LGBTQ+ Knowledgeable Professionals

LGBTQ+ people face unique estate planning challenges, so it’s important that they work with LGBTQ+ knowledgeable attorneys and experts who are able to provide tailored advice and strategies that address the challenges.

Want more? Check out our blog, Leaving a Legacy: 4 Types to Consider, and our beneficiary guide. 

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