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Estate planning for LGBTQ families is essential

LGBTQ families

Attorneys explain what you need to know when creating such plans

Estate planning is essential for families hoping to plan for the future. LGBTQ families are no exception. That’s the focus of a recent CNBC News story about this important topic. Estate planning attorneys in Arizona who deal with these issues every day agree.

Same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015 in all 50 states due to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision. Since then, 58 percent of the 980,000 same-sex households in the country have married, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Just because a couple is married does not automatically mean their rights are protected, including the rights of same-sex couples.

“There is an assumption that estate planning is only for those with an exorbitant amount of wealth. It is for all people, regardless of wealth,” said Chase Vedrode. Vedrode is a Chicago-based financial advisor with Northwestern Mutual.

What legal issues need to be taken into account?

Several important legal issues often need to be taken into consideration when dealing with estate planning. This is especially the case with LGBTQ families. This is the case regardless of whether they’re married or simply living together in the same household. Such legal issues include:

  • Financial planning – Couples should carefully consider how they want their financial assets distributed in the event of the death of either spouse, a medical issue involving either one or other significant circumstances. Unmarried partners are often not entitled to inherit anything if there is no will in place. Even married couples can encounter difficulties without a will since someone’s estate can be tied up in probate for months. This is why many couples choose to create a last will and testament. There are also often other options available. This includes creating a particular type of trust, a durable power of attorney or other legally-binding agreements.
  • Parental rights – If a same-sex couple has children, legal issues involving parental rights can sometimes come up, even if both spouse’s names are listed on the adoption papers or the birth certificate for a child conceived by one biological parent.  “The bottom line is what you really, really need is a court order that says these are the parents,” said Gina Nelson. Nelson is the head of fiduciary services at Chilton Trust Company in Palm Beach, Florida.
  • Medical issues – Estate planning can help couples address legal issues that can arise if one spouse or partner develops serious medical issues in which they can no longer speak for themselves or make important medical decisions. Many couples choose to create a living will as part of their end-of-life planning. This allows couples to clearly spell out their wishes in the case of a medical emergency. This includes designating who is each person’s health-care proxy.

These are just some of the legal issues that can arise involving same-sex couples dealing with important legal matters involving their finances, medical issues and children. Whatever type of legal issues your family may be dealing with or anticipate in the future, make sure you and your spouse or partner fully understand your rights and the legal options available to you. Talk to an experienced estate planning attorney licensed in your state as soon as possible.

How can a lawyer help with estate planning?

An experienced estate planning lawyer can help couples avoid many of the legal issues they might encounter in the future due to life-changing events. Whether it’s certain inheritance taxes, probate or having the freedom to make important medical decisions about each other, estate planning can be an important tool for same-sex couples in a variety of situations.

The experienced attorneys at The Law Firm of Brown & Jensen in Arizona thoroughly understand the state and federal rules and regulations related to estate planning. Our in-depth knowledge comes from years of working with families just like yours. We help them create effective estate plans that anticipate their future needs and goals. Learn more about how we can help you. Contact our law firm and schedule an appointment today. Our firm has several offices conveniently located throughout Arizona, including offices in Mesa, Tucson and Scottsdale.

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