Consulting with an estate planning attorney familiar with LGBT issues is critical to ensure that your rights are protected properly, and in the face of continuous changes. There are still awful stories out there of long-term partners denied access to doctors and hospitals in an emergency, being denied benefits or inheritances, losing child custody after a death or losing the family home. Advance planning with an experienced estate planning attorney can protect you, your partner and your family against discrimination. The most important documents for you are:
1. Will and living trust. These documents will clearly specify who you want to have your assets, raise your children, and also will prevent your estate from going through the agony of probate.
2. Powers of attorney. Having proper powers of attorney for health care/medical decisions as well as management of your assets will ensure that the proper person is making decisions for you if you cannot. In addition, a HIPAA release will allow your partner to get access to your medical records without any problems.
3. Proper beneficiary designations. You must make the correct beneficiary decisions because you cannot expect the default to protect you, your partner, and your children. Don’t leave assets to your minor children, and make sure your designations are updated if your relationship status changes.
These are just a few of the specific concerns for the LGBT community in estate planning.