June is Gay Pride Month, when the LGBT community takes pride in its fight for equal rights. But if you’re a boomer or senior, and a member of the LGBT community, you’d better start thinking about your “aging” rights, too!
The only thing that can guarantee anyone’s aging rights is comprehensive estate planning, so that you’re prepared for any type of eventuality. However, the process can be much more complicated for non-traditional couples.
State inheritance laws won’t apply to unmarried couples. Their partners will not be entitled to the same estate tax deductions as their married counterparts. And without the proper legal documents, their partners will have no decision-making ability. So you’d better create the proper legal documents…before you need them!
It’s vital to have current – and legally-executed – advance directives, such as living Wills, Health Care Surrogates, and Durable Powers of Attorney. Each of these documents is a way to ensure that your wishes – not your relatives’, and not the state’s – are the ones adhered to in matters such as life-support decisions. And make sure both your doctor and your financial advisor also have copies. In addition, we do a few “special” documents just as more insurance for protecting the partner.
Without these documents, family members can block access to a sick partner, or make healthcare decisions that may differ from yours. They can even make funeral arrangements without the partner’s consent or input. Only a few years ago, someone in a same-sex couple was denied access to her partner, because they were not legally married…and because the partner’s wishes had not been expressed in specific legal documents. The patient died shortly after. And the couple was denied precious time together.
You may want family members to make decisions. In this case you need to make sure you properly exclude and partner in a way that is both legal and thoughtful.
In the best of cases, estate planning can often be very complicated. In the case of non-traditional couples, it’s even more so. And the only person who knows the way through this potential legal nightmare is an Elder Law attorney.
At The Law Offices of Alice Reiter Feld & Associates, we are Elder Law Attorneys. And over the past 33 years, we’ve walked many same-sex and non-traditional couples through the Elder Law maze…with comprehensive estate planning, will, trusts, powers of attorney, long-term care plans, asset protection plans, and assistance with Medicaid and the VA.
We know the way. We’ll get you through it. And we’re just a phone call away.
Estate Planning For Non-Traditional Couples: Part 1