While laws have changed in recent years and there has been a shift towards providing more protections and benefits to LGBT individuals, those who are lesbians, gay, bisexual or transgender still face many unique legal issues. Estate planning is one of the areas where LGBT individuals face challenges.
Creating an estate plan involves thinking ahead to protect and preserve your legacy and to provide for loved ones when you are no longer around. Because there were limits for so long on the rights of LGTB individuals, this estate planning process can be very complicated.
Schomer Law has a long track record of providing the type of legal advice LGBT individuals need to navigate a complex system of legal tools and to overcome limitations. Our Los Angeles LGBT estate planning lawyers have helped clients to protect their partners and their legacies since long before recent Supreme Court decisions legalized gay marriage nationwide.
We know that marriage equality has not solved all of the unique challenges faced by LGBT individuals and we understand some of the lingering complexities which may be involved in your estate planning process. We are up to the task of helping because of our extensive experience in the area of LGBT estate planning. Give us a call to get personalized assistance and advice, and to get answers to questions including:
- Why is LGBT estate planning important?
- What is involved in LGBT estate planning?
- How can a Los Angeles LGBT estate planning lawyer help?
Why is LGBT Estate Planning Important?
Before gay marriage was given nationwide legal recognition, gay and lesbian couples had to jump through many hoops just to make sure their partner would inherit, and to make sure their partner would be able to be present in a hospital and make health decisions. While marriage can now provide some benefits and protections, there are still many legal issues that need to be addressed.
Marriage laws allow your spouse to inherit and give your spouse certain rights, like the right to visit when you are injured or ill- but not everyone wants to get married. If you opt out of marriage despite legalization but want to ensure your partner has rights, you’ll still need to go through the full steps of creating a legal plan that gives you the perks that marriage automatically brings.
Even for LGBT individuals who do marry, marriage is not the panacea solving all issues. The specific steps you’ll need to take to protect your partner and plan for the future will vary depending upon your financial and emotional connections.
For example, if you owned property separately before marriage was legal, getting married is not automatically going to make the property belong to both of you. Likewise, if you are raising a child together, the child is not automatically considered to be the child of both partners, even when a marriage takes place. Formal adoption would need to occur for the non-biological parent to have parental rights and full parental responsibilities.
Ensuring your rights in regards to children and to shared property are just some of the steps that make LGBT estate planning so important.
What is Involved in LGBT Estate Planning?
The specific steps involved in LGBT estate planning will differ depending upon your marital status, whether there are children involved, and many other factors unique to your situation. Some of the things which you may wish to address include:
- Guardianship and care of children in the event of the death of one or both partners.
- Your wishes for your funeral and burial, which can be a particular issue for transgender individuals who have not formally changed their name and whose families may not be supportive
- Inheritance issues, control over property, and transfer of property
- Estate tax issues
- Who will have the authority to make medical decisions and manage assets in the event of incapacitation
These are just a few of the many different issues you may wish to address. A Los Angeles LGBT estate planning lawyer can provide comprehensive guidance on all of the legal tools that you can make use of to ensure your partner and your legacy are protected.
How Can a Los Angeles LGBT Estate Planning Lawyer Help You?
Schomer Law helps LGBT individuals and families to understand the legal issues they face when it comes to property ownership, shared children, and inheritance issues. We can listen to your goals and concerns, identify the legal steps to take to protect yourself and your family, and assist you in creating a comprehensive estate plan. Give us a call as soon as possible to speak with a Los Angeles LGBT estate planning lawyer to learn more about the personalized service we can provide.