LGBT Planning

Can my partner make medical decisions for me if I'm sick?

Will my partner be appointed guardian of my minor child?

Is a Living Trust a good idea for a LGBT person?

Our families are really supportive - Do I really need a Will?

What is gay estate planning?

Q: Can my partner make medical decisions for me if I'm sick?

No.   Your partner cannot make those decisions for you. State law will give power to make decisions to someon related to you by blood or marriage (e.g. parent or adult child).  However, you can override state law and give your partner the authority to make such decisions by signing a Health Care Power of Attorney. With such a document, when you are unable to make your own medical decisions, your partner can step in and speak for you.

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Q: Will my partner be appointed guardian of my minor child?

It depends on whether your partner is considered a legal parent of that child. Unless your partner has adopted your minor children, a court wll decide guardianship based on what it considers to be in the child's best interest. Typically, your family of origin and that of the child's other biological parent are given preference by the court. However, you may nominate your partner to be the guardian for your minor child in your Will. The court will then give weight to your suggestion while weighing what is in the child's best interest.

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Q: Is a Living Trust a good idea for a LGBT person?

Yes. A Living Trust offers enhanced protection for your estate. If done properly, it can eliminate teh need for a lengthy, costly and public probate proceeding. Further, a trust allows you to plan for both incapacity and death within the same instrument and crates a loophole that allows you to get around the laws that fail to recognize the importance of your domestic partnership.

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Q: Our families are really supportive - Do I really need a Will?

Under current Minnesota law, if you die without a will, your property will go to your closest relatives.  For those in “traditional” relationships (legally married with no prior children), their entire estate will go to their spouse.  But, if you have a blended family – children that are not also your spouse’s – your property will be divided between your spouse and those “other” children.  If you do not have a spouse or children, then your stuff will be distributed in the following order: grandchildren; parents; siblings; and then to distant relatives.

Further, if you are in a committed relationship with someone to whom you are not married, your partner may not even know that your assets at death were given to someone else because your unmarried partner is not entitled to receive notice of the probate proceeding involving your estate

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Q: What is gay estate planning?

I often hear other attorneys say that an estate plan created for a gay couple is not that different from an estate plan for any unmarried couple. In some ways that's true -  the law gives special rights (e.g. tax benefits, inheritance preferences etc.) to couples who are legally married - leaving out such rights for anyone who is not married.  But, estate planning for gay or lesbian families has some added nuances.  For instance, there may be a higher risk of challenge by disgruntled - or disapproving - family members. Also, an attorney must be sensitive to the fact that the LGBT community may be more reluctant to share certain private information. 

Further, there are those who don't feel there is much difference in estate planning for LGBT families than for straight families - but that's not true.  There are differences related to tax planning, retirement benefits, inheritance rights and even the rights granted to someone in a power of attorney.

So, if you want to involve someone unrelated by blood or marriage (to leave your assets to or allow to make medical or financial decisions) you must meet with an attorney experienced in such matters to be sure your family is protected.

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From within Hennepin County Unique Estate Law represents estate planning and elder law clients throughout Minnesota, including Minneapolis, Edina, Bloomington, St. Louis Park, Minnetonka, Plymouth, Wayzata, Maple Grove, St. Paul, and Brooklyn Park. The Minnesota law firm of Unique Estate Law focuses on all aspects of estate planning, including specialized wills, trusts, powers of attorney and medical directives for married couples, young families, blended families, single parents, gay families and those going through a divorce. Unique Estate Law also handles probate administration, asset protection, Medical Assistance planning, elder law, business succession planning, adoptions and cabin planning.

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3800 American Blvd., Suite 1500, Bloomington, MN 55431
| Phone: 952-955-7623
333 Washington Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401
| Phone: 952-955-7623
5775 Wayzata Blvd., St. Louis Park, MN 55416
| Phone: 952-955-7623

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