Our firm is very sensitive to the needs of the LGBTQ community. Estate planning is one of the core responsibilities of adulthood, and you should definitely have a plan in place as soon as someone else is depending on you.
Traditionally, estate planning was especially important for same-sex couples in long-term, committed relationships. There are certain protections that are afforded to married people, even if you do not have estate plan in place, but the inability to marry was an impediment.
A woman named Edith Windsor challenged the status quo with regard to same-sex marriage laws when she filed a lawsuit. She contended that the provision in the Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as a union that can only take place between a man and a woman was unconstitutional.
The case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, and the highest court in the land struck down the provision in 2013. Two years later, another decision was handed down that put an end to bans on same-sex marriages in every state.
This has provided some base protections for married people, but estate planning is still a must even if you are legally married.
You have to arrange postmortem asset transfers when you plan your estate, and a will is not always the best choice. A lot of people think that the administration of an estate is simple and straightforward when a will is utilized, but this is really not the case.
If you create a will, you name an executor in the document to act as the administrator. After your passing, the will would be admitted to probate, and the court would provide supervision during the administration process.
This is a time-consuming procedure that will take about eight months at minimum in most jurisdictions, and no inheritances are distributed during this interim. Probate costs consume a portion of the estate before it is distributed, and this is another drawback.
Probate records are available to the general public, so anyone that is interested can pry into your final affairs. This loss of privacy is disconcerting in a general sense, and the information can potentially cause acrimony among interested parties.
You can avoid probate if you use a revocable living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan. There would be no loss of control of the assets because you would act as the trustee while you are alive.
After your passing, the executor would distribute assets to the beneficiaries outside of probate. This is one of the benefits that living trusts provide, but there are others.
In addition to the living trust, there are other types of trusts that can be utilized to satisfy specific objectives. The right choice will depend on the circumstances, and this is why you should discuss your options with a licensed attorney from our firm.
Every estate plan should include a component that addresses possible incapacity. With a living will, you state your preferences regarding the use of life-sustaining measures like feeding tubes, artificial hydration, resuscitation, and mechanical respiration.
The document can also include organ and tissue donation designations, and if you have comfort care medication preferences, you can add them as well.
This is an advance directive for health care, and the other directive that is especially important for LGBTQ community members that are not married is the durable power of attorney. In this document, you name someone to make medical decisions on your behalf that are not related to life-support.
Because of a provision contained within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), doctors are not allowed to share health care information with anyone other than the patient. You can sign a HIPAA release to give your health care representative access to your medical records.
We Are Here to Help!
If you are ready to work with a Memphis, Tennessee estate planning lawyer to put a plan in place, our doors are open. We have attorneys on our staff that are licensed in Arkansas and Mississippi, so we have you covered if you live in one of these fine states.