Although the nationwide recognition of gay marriage has made LGBTQ estate planning easier, LGBTQ individuals still face challenges in planning for a secure future and in planning to leave behind a legacy. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals can all benefit from getting legal advice on estate planning from an attorney who understands the unique issues faced under the law.
Vitt Law Offices, PLC has long been offering assistance with LGBTQ estate planning. Our experienced attorneys are here to offer personalized advice and to answer general questions which you may have including:
- Why is estate planning important for LGBTQ individuals?
- How does LGBTQ estate planning work?
- How can a Charlottesville LGBTQ estate planning lawyer help?
Why is LGBTQ Estate Planning Important?
LGBTQ estate planning used to be absolutely essential because homosexual couples didn’t enjoy the benefits that marriage could automatically bring. Loving partners were kept from their partner’s bedsides, not able to make medical decisions in the event of serious illness, and often not able to inherit money or property without incurring significant estate taxes.
Today, it is possible for gay and lesbian couples to marry so they can benefit from protections like the ability to leave assets to spouses without incurring estate taxes. Still, not everyone opts to get married. If you don’t, you will need to take many steps to provide protection for your partner.
Even if you do marry, or do not have a partner, there are steps you need to take both to secure your own future and to protect the people that you care about. Estate planning involves much more than just deciding who gets your assets after you are gone. If you want to ensure that you can have the appropriate name used at your funeral and on your headstone – an issue for some transgender people with unsupportive families – or if you want to make sure you don’t get unwanted care at the end of your life, you need a plan.
How Does LGBTQ Estate Planning Work?
LGBTQ estate planning involves finding an attorney who understands the unique issues faced by lesbians, gay individuals, bisexual individuals, and transgender individuals. You not only need a lawyer who understands general estate planning laws, but also an attorney who can handle more complicated situations such as shared non-biological children who have not been adopted, or property owned separately before gay marriage became legal.
Once you have found an attorney, you should carefully discuss your goals and your concerns. If you are worried that your family won’t recognize your true gender identity, or if you are concerned about your will being contested or guardianship of your children being challenged, you need to discuss these issues with your lawyer. An attorney familiar with LGBTQ estate planning can also help you to raise concerns that you may not be aware of and to identify the important legal tools you can use to protect yourself.
Once you have set goals, your attorney can help you to make a comprehensive estate plan to achieve your desires for security both during your life, as well as after you are gone. With the help of your attorney, your plan may include:
- Naming a guardian for your children.
- Setting up a trust or otherwise providing financially for children in case of an untimely death.
- Making an incapacity plan to ensure assets are managed by a person of your choosing and to ensure a person of your choosing can make health choices for you.
- Creating an advanced plan for your funeral so you can be remembered with your true gender, rather than your birth gender.
- Creating a retirement plan, which may be especially important if your marriage was delayed due to unjust laws and you do not qualify for social security on your spouse’s work record.
- Creating a legacy plan to ensure money and property are left to family and causes you care about.
These are just a few of many things which may be included in your estate plan. You need to ensure you have a plan that is personalized towards meeting your needs and achieving your goals.
How Can a Charlottesville LGBTQ Estate Planning Lawyer Help?
Vitt Law Offices, PLC is ready to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals with the creation of a comprehensive estate plan. Whether you are married, single, or in a committed non-marriage relationship, we will help you to plan for incapacity and end of life issues, to protect your assets, and to establish a plan for your legacy. Give us a call at (434) 971-3025 or contact us online to learn more about the assistance that we offer and the ways in which we can help you.