LGBT couples rejoiced on June 26, 2015 when the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal across the nation. The ruling has allowed LGBT couples the same rights as heterosexual couples when it comes to protecting their assets.
Couples wanting to safeguard their assets have a variety of options available. These methods are available to all couples, LGBT and heterosexuals, and they can help resolve many of the issues that non-married couples will come across.
Note: A qualified estate planning attorney should be consulted to discuss your unique situation.
Advanced Health Care Directive
An Advanced Health Care Directive allows a partner to be able to control your health decisions if you’re incapacitated. For example, if you’re in a car accident and fall into a coma, this directive will allow your partner to make medical decisions on your behalf.
When you’re mentally and physically able to make your own decisions, you’ll be back in charge of your health decisions.
Primary and contingent persons can be added to the directive. You’ll also be able to add:
- Organ donation preferences
- Living arrangements
- Personal care preferences
You can request the level of care you receive if you’re incapacitated, too.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is different from a Durable Power of Attorney. You want to make sure that you have a Durable Power of Attorney designated. This will allow you to name your partner to take charge of your finances upon your death.
The person will be in control of your:
- Bank accounts
- Medical care
This one estate planning tip isn’t enough to protect your assets if you die. You’ll also want to ensure your partner is financially stable, and if you don’t do the following, your partner will not be entitled to your:
- Life insurance
- 401 (k) plans
- Retirement accounts
All of these documents should list your partner as the beneficiary. Keep in mind that this should only be done with the right person. Never rush into naming a beneficiary that you’ve just met. Long-term partners should be included only – not someone you’ve just met.
There is a durable power of attorney for finances and health care.
A HIPPA Authorization form is a form that allows your loved ones to obtain information about your current health. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), your health information is protected and private.
In essence, your partner will not be able to learn about your current health condition and state.
You’ll be able to designate your partner to be able to speak to your doctor and health care professionals that are in charge of your medical care. Otherwise, your partner may not know the state you’re in.
Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament is another form of protection wherein you’ll appoint your partner to handle your estate. This document can also list who should be given certain assets, and the issue with having just a will is that it can be contested.
Larger estates are often better having a trust formed to avoid probate and challenges to a will.
If you’re married, many of these benefits will pass on to you automatically. But if you’re not yet married to a partner you plan on staying with for the rest of your life, you can protect them from unforeseen hardships that can occur when you’re incapacitated or die.