Advanced directives, also known as health care directives or living wills, are common estate planning tools that can be used by anyone. Although the importance of creating an advanced directives is applicable to anyone, it can take on heightened importance for members of the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Transgender, or GLBT, community.
State laws determine whether advanced directives are recognized within the state, and if so, what form they must take, what may be included, and what limitations apply. The basic concept, however, is the same in all states where they are recognized. An advanced directive is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so. An advanced directive may become active because of a physical incapacity or because of a mental incapacity. You may also be able to make certain health care decisions ahead of time such as whether or not to agree to life sustaining measures.
For members of the GLBT community, executing an advanced directive may be a simple solution to a complicated problem. Even if you were legally married in one of the few states that recognize same sex marriages, you may now be living in a state that does not recognize that marriage. You could also be injured or become gravely ill in a state that does not recognize your union. Even a legal spouse may not be able to make health care decisions for a spouse, as many states require court approval in the absence of an advanced directive. In order to avoid the need for court approval, and the risk that a court will not give your partner the authority to make decisions on your behalf, consult with your estate planning attorney about executing an advanced directive