Same-sex couples gained several benefits from marriage equality, but there are still many ways that effective estate planning can protect LGBT+ couples and their families. Not all couples wish to be married, and there are still complicated legal issues for those who are, such as the assumption of parental rights. If you are an LGBT+ couple hoping to protect each other’s rights and the financial and personal interests of your family, you need an experienced estate planning attorney.

There are several benefits to estate planning. These include:

Providing Your Partner With Important Legal Rights

Many LGBT+ couples remain unmarried. Even those who are married have the unfortunate reason to worry that this right may be removed. It can give couples comfort to provide each other with the important rights automatically provided to married couples, including the right to make decisions on each other’s behalf and the right to inherit. Basic estate planning documents can provide these rights. Some important documents include:

  • Will: Your will lists how your estate will be distributed, the executor of that distribution, and guardians to your minor children.
  • Healthcare Directives: Also called a living will, this provides guidelines for your medical care if you are incapacitated.
  • Powers of Attorney: There are usually two issues that powers of attorney address: financial and medical. Each power of attorney provides an individual you trust with the power to make decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. The financial power of attorney can allow someone to make financial decisions, and the medical power of attorney can enable them to make healthcare decisions.
  • Trusts: One or multiple trusts can give you even more control over how and when your estate is distributed after your death, and it can keep assets from entering probate court. This can save your loved ones significant time and money.

Creating multiple estate planning documents with the help of an estate planning attorney means that they are more likely to be legally valid. Therefore, they are more likely to provide you and your family with their intended benefits.

Protecting Your Children

LGBT+ parents often have adopted children or those who are only one parent’s biological children. Depending on your familial situation, you may want to ensure that your children have the right to inherit and that they are properly cared for if you become unable to.

In a will, you can name a guardian for your children. Even if you and your partner are married, the court may name another individual the guardian, as your spouse may not be considered the legal parent. Not all states have martial presumptive parent laws, and these often do not apply to same-sex couples. If you and your partner are not married, it is even more likely that your partner will not receive guardianship of your children.

A will can ensure that your partner is named as the preferred primary guardian of your children. This is especially important if you are on bad terms with your biological family and you believe that they would keep your children from your partner. In addition to naming your partner as the guardian, you should consider additional guardians in case something happens to both of you.

Your will or trusts can also provide assets to your children in case they would not legally inherit from you.

Preventing Family Interference

An estate plan could limit the interference and disputes raised by your biological family members. It can make your wishes clear, but only if the document is legally valid and enforceable. When your estate plan is valid, contests are very unlikely to succeed.

In some states, you can add a no-contest clause to your will or trust. This does not prevent contests, but it may discourage family members from contesting it. If they contest the document and lose, they lose the right to inherit anything from the estate. Although this will not always be applicable, it may limit the chances of a contest.


Q: How Can LGBTQ+ Couples Begin Estate Planning?

A: An LGBTQ+ couple can begin estate planning with documents such as a last will and testament, a revocable or irrevocable trust, and a living will. With the help of an estate planning attorney, couples can determine what their goals are as a couple and how specific documents can help with those goals.

Unfortunately, there is frequent uncertainty about equal rights laws, and an estate plan can give LGBTQ+ couples a sense of peace and security that their estate will pass to their spouse and children. It can also ensure that their spouse has the legal right to make important decisions for them.

Q: Is Estate Planning Less Important for Unmarried Couples?

A: No, estate planning is not less important for unmarried couples; in fact, it is more important. A couple may not wish to be married for many reasons, but marriage provides significant legal benefits to spouses. With an estate plan, a couple can obtain these rights manually without getting married.

For example, an estate plan can ensure that:

  • A surviving partner receives part or all of the couple’s estate.
  • A non-biological parent receives guardianship rights.
  • Both partners can make important medical or financial decisions if the other is incapacitated.

Q: Why Do People Avoid Estate Planning?

A: People often avoid estate planning because it feels morbid or too distant to think about their death, what happens after their death, or potential incapacitation. These are not easy topics to think about, much less consider objectively enough to put a plan in place. Estate plans can also be complicated to create.

It’s important to consider the many benefits of an estate plan for yourself and your loved ones. If something sudden were to happen, you would want to be sure that you and your family were cared for.

Q: What Is the Cost of an Estate Planning Attorney?

A: Creating an estate plan with an attorney may cost between hundreds and thousands of dollars. This depends on the number of documents within the estate plan and how simple they are to create. An attorney’s fees rely on their skill, experience, and how complicated your assets or needs are. Creating just a will may be a flat fee, but more complicated and lengthy documents may be charged at an hourly rate.

Contact Stange Law Firm

The attorneys at Stange Law Firm can help you create an estate plan that meets your family’s unique needs. Contact our team today.