In recent years, the LGBT community and their supporters have experienced important, and long-awaited, victories in the fight for equality and acceptance. While importance of those victories should not be underestimated, there is still work to be done. In the meantime, as a member of the LGBT community, a properly drafted and comprehensive estate plan remains the key to protecting you, your assets, and your loved ones. The LGBT estate planning attorneys at McGee Law Firm understand the legal and societal issues faced by members of the LGBT community and we are dedicated to helping you create an estate plan that protects all that is dear to you.
Why Does LGBT Estate Planning Remain Important?
Until recently, same-sex couples throughout the United States were denied something that others have always taken for granted – the right to legalize their relationship through marriage. In Obergefell v. Hodges the Supreme Court of the United States made history when it declared the right to marry to be a fundamental right and by making marriage equality the law across the nation, meaning no state can prohibit same-sex marriage. While the ability of same-sex couples to legally marry has eradicated some of the legal issues faced by members of the LGBT community, many remain which is why comprehensive estate planning continues to take on a heightened importance for members of the LGBT community. Some of the common legal issues that LGBT estate planning can help resolve include:
- Left-over uncertainties – the decision in Obergefell was undoubtedly a long awaited victory; however, it also created a legal quagmire for some LGBT couples. Same-sex couples who previously married in a state that recognized same-sex marriage and subsequently ended their relationship in a state that did not recognize their marriage may have been prevented from legally divorcing. Worse still, they may not realize they are still legally married. Conversely, couples who entered into a civil union or other quasi-marriage prior to the decision in Obergefell may assume their civil union was converted to a legal marriage; however, it may not have been. A mistake in your marital status can wreak havoc in the event of your incapacity or death.
- Decision-making authority – do you want your partner to have the legal authority to make crucial health care related decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself? Granting that authority ahead of time in an advanced directive is particularly important if you believe an unsupportive family member might not recognize your partner’s status in your life and, instead, try to assert his/her authority over the decision-making process.
- Children – if you and your partner/spouse have decided to become parents, adoption and/or some type of assisted reproductive technology will likely be involved. To ensure that both parents have equal legal rights to your child, and that your child is recognized as an heir to both estates, LGBT estate planning is critical.
- Challenges by family members –sadly, some members of the LGBT community still encounter unsupportive parents, or other family members, throughout their lifetimes. Knowing that any “interested party” could decide to challenge your estate plan, unsupportive family members become more threatening, which makes the need for a rock solid estate plan crucial.
- Transgender issues — if your gender does not match the gender on your birth certificate, issues could arise both with your health care in the event of an emergency, and in your wishes with regard to your funeral and burial planning at the end of your life. Fortunately, LGBT estate planning tools and strategies can stop these potential problems before they truly become problems.
At the McGee Law Firm we understand the numerous and varied legal issues faced by members of the LGBT community. Fortunately, LGBT estate planning can prevent most of those issues from becoming true problems for you and your loved ones. Contact the team today by calling (817) 899-3286 or fill out our online contact form.