Gay & Lesbian clients- additional items to discuss at estate planning interview
In the absence of a Will or other legal arrangement to distribute property at death, an unmarried partner cannot receive any assets and cannot administer the estate. The result can be lengthy delays and other problems. Individuals in gay or lesbian relationships need properly drafted Wills and estate planning documents more than straight persons. The probate laws generally provide if a person dies without a Will, their property goes to family, rather than a partner they had a relationship with for years or decades. Moreover, without a Power of Attorney, they cannot assist a partner who becomes disabled. If there is not a Living Will, marriage or civil unions, many hospitals deny admittance if someone is not a next of kin. The parent of the hospitalized partner may try to ask the hospital to bar the other partner from visiting. We recommend preparation of Wills, Living Wills and Powers of Attorney.
IF YOU HAVE NO WILL:
If you leave no Will or your Will is declared invalid because it was improperly prepared or is not admissible to probate:
* State law determines who gets assets, not you
* Additional expenses will be incurred and extra work will be required to qualify an administrator
* Possible additional State inheritance taxes and Federal estate taxes
* If you have no marriage, Civil Union , spouse, or close relatives the State may take your property
* The procedure to distribute assets becomes more complicated-and the law makes no exceptions for persons in unusual need or for your own wishes.
* It may also cause fights and lawsuits between your partner and your family
Have a Power of Attorney prepared. In the absence of a Power of Attorney or other legal arrangement to distribute property if you become disabled, your partner cannot pay your bills or access your assets.
Have a Living Will prepared. In the absence of a Living Will, marriage or other legal arrangement if you become disabled, your partner generally has no say regarding medical care or life support. Your partner cannot access your assets. Your partner cannot receive information on your medical status or medical care. Advance directives are very personal documents and you should feel free to develop one, which best suits your own needs.