In Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court held that there is a nationwide right to gay marriage. This joyful and long-awaited decision has made estate planning easier for lesbian couples and gay couples who have made the choice to marry. Even with legal marriage, however, there remain some estate planning issues which LGBT individuals face that may differ in important ways from heterosexual couples and cisgender individuals.
Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC understands the unique issues faced by LGBT individuals and we know how to make sure the law works for you so you can protect yourself and your family with the creation of a comprehensive estate plan. Give us a call today at 802-879-7133 to get personalized help with LGBT estate planning in Vermont and to get answers to questions you may have including:
- Why is LGBT estate planning important?
- What needs to be part of my estate plan?
- How can a Vermont LGBT estate planning lawyer help me?
Why is LGBT Estate Planning Important?
Estate planning is something everyone must do, no matter what their sexuality and no matter what their gender identity. This is because you need a plan to provide for your family, declare how your assets will be distributed, decide what should happen with your medical care in case of incapacity, and make a plan for the management of your assets if you can no longer be in control.
While LGBT individuals face the same issues as anyone else when it comes to a need to plan for nursing home costs, estate tax avoidance, incapacity issues, and the transfer of assets upon death, you may also have other issues as well which are unique to you.
For example, many people who are transgender worry about whether non-supportive family members will recognize their true gender identity in funeral and memorial planning. You may also have non-biological children who are under your care who you haven’t formally adopted, or you may be worried that family members will contest your will if you plan to leave money to a partner.
Whatever your concerns are about your estate plan and about how to protect yourself and those you love, those concerns should be addressed as soon as possible. You never know when illness, injury, or untimely death will strike and you do not want to be unprotected and put your family in a difficult position.
What Needs to be Part of Your Estate Plan?
When creating your estate plan, your attorney will discuss your assets, your family situation, your goals for the future, and your concerns about end of life issues and inheritance issues. With a clear understanding of what you hope to achieve for yourself and your family, your attorney will help you to make full use of estate planning tools. These tools could include:
- Trusts, joint ownership of property, and other techniques to allow assets to transfer outside of probate in case you are worried about a will being contested.
- A power of attorney to make clear who should be in charge of managing your property and making healthcare choices for you in the event of incapacity.
- Advanced directives which can provide details on what kinds of medical care you wish to receive and do not wish to receive.
- Trusts to protect assets and to allow for estate tax reduction, which can be especially important if you are not legally married or are not leaving assets to a spouse.
- A retirement plan, which can be especially important in situations where there was a delay in the recognition of your marriage and you do not qualify for full benefits under your spouse’s work record as a result.
- A last will and testament so you can make provisions for who will inherit assets and who should be guardian of your children if you pass away.
- A plan for your funeral to make sure you are remembered as you see fit.
These are a few of the key components of an estate plan that Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC can help you to create.
How can a Vermont LGBT Estate Planning Lawyer Help?
Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC will tailor the estate planning process to you so you can use all of the tools available under the law to have a secure plan for incapacity, for the end of your life, and for your assets and loved ones after your death. Our Vermont LGBT estate planning lawyers offer legal advice and representation statewide, including in Burlington, Essex Junction, Montpelier, Rutland, White River Junction, St. Johnsbury and Newport. Give us a call today at 802-879-7133 or contact us online to learn more.