When it comes to protecting your rights as a member of the aging LGBT community, you should consider consulting an estate planning lawyer who can help you make the right choices. We hear horror stories of life-long partners who are denied access to one another, who lose their homes, or who don’t have access to inheritances upon the death of their spouse or significant other. Planning in advance can help minimize the chances for these injustices.
There are different ways to protect your partner upon your death.
- Domestic Partnership – As the states go through the rigmarole of determining what does and does not constitute a marriage, there are still some designations that can protect your assets. In some cases, this is the domestic partnership. This type of legal declaration can provide the ability to inherit and to make medical decisions. With the stringency of HIPAA regulations, the designation of “spouse” can be a very important one.
- Power of Attorney – A Cary estate planning lawyer who is familiar with LGBT concerns will likely advise you to go beyond the domestic partnership and also put powers of attorney in place. These provide even more legal recourse that allows one partner to be responsible for the other in emergencies. There are both health powers of attorney and financial powers of attorney, and both may be necessary for full protection.
- Wills – In order to circumvent the negative repercussions of a family that is unwilling to deal fairly with a surviving partner, a last will and testament can be an important legal document. It can also help speed up the probate process and help ensure that your affairs are dealt with in a timely manner. For even greater privacy and protection, you may also want to establish a living trust.
- Beneficiaries – When setting up a bank account or insurance policy, be sure to clearly name your partner as beneficiary. Otherwise, biological family members (or even previous legal spouses) may have rights to the money, leaving your partner out in the cold.
Of course, these are just some of the situations that may need particular attention from members of the LGBT community. There are many, many concerns that need to be considered by all members of the aging generation. Consulting a Cary estate planning lawyer is likely the most efficient and intelligent way to deal with all of these issues.