The Importance of LGBT Estate Planning

By Chris Tymchuck
Founding Attorney

Q: Why do LGBT couples need estate planning?

After years of steady forward progress in the fight for equal rights, the LGBT community in America is now worried and anxious about its future and fears the possible loss of those hard- earned legal gains. It is absolutely critical that LGBT couples seek the help of a lawyer skilled in LGBT estate planning and its complexities.

Unlike heterosexual married couples whose marriages are universally- recognized virtually everywhere across America, the legal status of same-sex couples’ relationships vary widely from state to state. Some couples are married, others are registered as domestic partners, and yet others’ relationships may be recognized under a civil union statute.

The status of a same-sex couple’s relationship is important in estate planning because it affects:

  • who will make your medical and financial decisions if you become unable to do so
  • where your property will go if you die intestate (without a will or estate plan) and
  • income tax consequences during your life– and transfer tax consequences at death.

Married spouses have rights under the intestacy statute – – the laws that govern how your property is distributed if you die without estate planning documents, like a will or trust. Non-married partners do not have these rights. So it is critical that LGBT couples seek legal counsel, understand their legal status, and put a comprehensive estate plan together to ensure the surviving partner and the children will be taken care of and their property will be distributed in accordance with their wishes after they’re gone.

Comprehensive estate plans will differ on a case-by-case basis, but generally include a last will and testament and/or trust which provide for the distribution of assets upon death; a financial power of attorney and health care power of attorney and/or living will all of which impact decision-making power or contain end of life directives in the event incapacity strikes. Beyond these basics, other sophisticated estate planning tools are available for more complex situations.

If you lie awake at night worrying that  when you or your partner die the survivor will not be provided for, or that the state will determine your rights over your child you owe it to yourself and your family to establish a rock solid estate plan now.

Unique Estate Law–Minnesota’s lawyer for the LGBT community– is a gay-owned and operated law firm with both professional and personal experience in various legal matters that affect the LGBT community, including estate planning, adoption, and more.

Call us today for a consultation at 952-260-2043. From within Hennepin County, we represent both LGBT and non-LGBT clients throughout Minnesota.

About the Author
As a Minneapolis Estate Planning and Probate attorney I help build and protect families through the adoption, estate planning, and probate processes. I also have experience working with families on issues related to their small businesses. I know how difficult it is to find time to plan for the future and I am here to help walk you through it.