Same-sex marriage is federally recognized in the United States and is legal in Illinois. However, many LGBTQ couples were in relationships before same-sex marriage was legalized, and have not become legally married. Although same-sex spouses are legally protected by law, same-sex partners may not have the same rights as different-sex married couples. Estate planning is an important tool for same-sex couples to make sure their wishes and their assets are protected in case of their death or if they become incapacitated.
1. Living Wills
A living will is a document that decides what is to be done if you are left incapacitated because of a disease, injury, or simply old age. Same-sex couples who are not married need to make sure their partner is legally considered by any conditions of your living will.
2. Health Care Power of Attorney
If you become ill or incapacitated, do you want your partner to be able to make medical decisions on your behalf? A Health Care POA allows you to name a family member, friend or another person called an agent, to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make and communicate decisions for yourself at a later date. The decisions covered in a Health Care POA include withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures. The Health Care POA also allows your agent to choose whether to donate your organs and make burial arrangements.
3. Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is used to allow the designated person to handle your financial and other business affairs if you are incapacitated or unavailable, such as due to travel.
4. Beneficiary Designations
Your beneficiaries are the people you’ve said will receive assets that allow you to specifically designate an heir, such as retirement accounts, bank accounts, life insurance policies, wills, trusts and other accounts.
5. Guardianship of Minor Children
Whether you have a birth or adopted child, if your same-sex partner is not the legal parent of your child you will need to designate your partner as their legal guardian in the event you die or become incapacitated.
Proper estate planning is important to ensure that LGBTQ couples protect their partner in the event they are incapacitated or die. If you have questions about same-sex estate planning, contacting a knowledgeable attorney may be a good next step. An estate planning lawyer can help same-sex couples understand their rights and special circumstances, and the best options to protect your family. Contact Estate & Probate Legal Group in Illinois today at 630.800.0112.