Estate plans are crucial for any adult. Having legal documents in place such as a will, a power of attorney and a health care proxy can protect your wealth and ensure that your loved ones know your final wishes if you should die or lose capacity unexpectedly. For members of the LGBTQ community, estate planning comes with slightly different challenges than it does for heterosexual individuals.
The unique challenges for same-sex families
Under Florida law and federal law, LGBTQ individuals have the same rights and protections as heterosexuals do when it comes to estate planning, estate administration and probate. With that said, creating an estate plan can come with unique considerations that many heterosexuals do not have to address. For example:
- Beneficiary designations
Same-sex partners are less likely to be married than heterosexual couples are. If one spouse in a marriage passes away, their assets go to their next-of-kin: the other spouse. If you pass away but you did not marry your partner, your assets might not transfer to them. You need to designate them as a beneficiary in your will.
- Paternity, adoption and parental rights
The children of LGBTQ couples typically share biology with only one parent. You and your co-parent can establish paternity or adopt the child to ensure that their rights are protected. If you decide not to do this, then your estate plan should address which assets, if any, your child inherits.
- Powers of attorney and health care proxies
If you lose the capacity to act in your own best interests, the responsibility typically falls to your spouse. If you are unmarried, you need to name your partner as your power of attorney or health care proxy to ensure that they can make medical decisions for you, access your bank account and make other choices on your behalf.
Keep in mind that, unfortunately, some people still have a prejudice against the LGBTQ community. An estate plan will protect your rights if someone biased against you tries to withhold assets from your partner, refuses to grant your partner access to your hospital room or does not recognize the legitimacy of your child. If you need more guidance, talking to an estate planning attorney can help you decide your best option.