The importance of estate planning cannot be understated for anyone. The importance of creating a comprehensive estate plan for members of the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender, or GLBT, community is crucial. Because members of the GLBT community find themselves in significantly different legal positions from one state to another, the legal authority and recognition that your partner is given may be questionable at best absent pre-planning on your part.
- Power of attorney: A power of attorney can be used to give your partner the legal authority to act as your agent in legal transactions. If the POA is made durable, this authority will also survive your incapacity in most states.
- Pay on Death Accounts: Financial accounts and titles can often be converted to “pay on death” accounts. Typically, this means that ownership of the asset will immediately transfer to your partner upon your death. In the case of bank accounts, the funds held in the account will be payable to your partner upon your death.
- Last Will and Testament: This is your chance to leave specific items or assets to your partner in the event of your death. You may also wish to appoint him or her as executor of your estate.
- Trust: A trust can potentially be used in a variety of ways. It may allow control of assets to pass to your partner in the event of your incapacity. It can also provide a direct route for assets to pass upon your death without the need for them to go through probate.
- Living Will: Sometimes referred to as an advanced directive or healthcare directive, a living will allows you to legally appoint your partner to make healthcare decisions for you in the event of your incapacity.