Oftentimes, estate planning can be a taboo topic that we do not want to have to think about. Talking about our Estate Plan means acknowledging our eventual passing, which is not an easy thing to discuss. Although it can sometimes be a heavy conversation to initiate, estate planning is important for everyone and should not be put off.
When it comes to estate planning for LGBTQIA+ couples living in California, there isn’t a cookie-cutter approach. Every couple’s Estate Plan will look different than another’s. Trust & Will, a leader in customized online estate planning services, understands the varying priorities that each and every couple wants to address in their Estate Plan. It can be tricky trying to identify which specific needs should be included in your Estate Plan, which is why Trust & Will was designed as an easy-to-navigate tool that makes online estate planning for LGBTQ couples in California easy!
As an LGBTQIA+ couple, sitting down together to write a Will and deciding how assets and property will be divided upon death is an important first step in providing security for the people you love and care for most. There are state-specific Estate laws regarding the handling of property transfers, taxes, and gifts for same-sex couples in California, therefore, it will be important to create a state-specific Estate Plan that takes into account the laws in your jurisdiction. At Trust & Will, we take the guesswork out of estate planning so you can protect your assets and your loved ones.
Keep reading to learn some important tips on estate planning for LGBTQIA+ couples in California:
Protecting Your Home and Other Assets: Wills and Trusts
One of the most common concerns among LGBTQIA+ couples in California is who will receive ownership of your assets when you pass away. Your assets can include anything from cars, to houses, property, jewelry, retirement accounts, and much more. More than likely, your bigger assets are the ones you may share with your partner. In the state of California, if you are either married to your partner or have a domestic partnership, your partner will be able to obtain ownership of your shared home after you pass away. However, this only applies if you have estate planning documents, and does not apply to other significant assets such as cars. The best way to ensure the protection of your assets and who will receive them after you die, is to create a Will or a Trust.
A Will is a legal document that allows you to name who you would like your assets transferred to after you pass away. Having a Will can significantly speed up the probate court process, which is where your assets will go to be settled after you pass. A Will will help the court recognize your final wishes when determining how to distribute your assets.
A Trust is a fiduciary arrangement that permits a third party - or trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries. There are many types of Trusts but in general, a Trust is a legal arrangement that specifies exactly how assets are to be passed to the beneficiaries. One of the most significant benefits of a Trust is avoiding costly and lengthy probate court proceedings. Additionally, a well-written Trust is less likely to be contested in court than a Will. It is important to note that if you are the Grantor, or the creator of the Trust, you are permitted to name yourself as the Trustee so that you can maintain responsibility of all assets within the Trust until you pass away.
Granting Power Over Finances - Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to name a trusted individual to manage your finances. For example, with a Power of Attorney document, you can name your partner as your Power of Attorney. In doing so, you will be legally granting them permission to manage your finances, pay your bills and any necessary medical procedures you may require.
In California, as in all states, it is important to have a trusted individual who will be in charge of your finances in the event you can no longer make financial decisions for yourself. In the tragic case of an accident, illness, coma, or Alzheimer’s disease, it may be necessary to appoint someone to manage your finances. For LGBTQIA+ couples, appointing a POA could help fend off legal challenges that might arise should extended family members seek to take control of your finances while you are incapacitated. If this is a scenario you would like to avoid, have your partner legally appointed as your POA to protect the handling of your assets.
Giving Medical Authorization: HIPAA Authorization Form
In all states, including California, hospitals are not allowed to release medical information unless the patient has granted permission to do so. This can be a huge concern for the LGBTQIA+ community. Should you experience a medical emergency whereby you are unable to communicate, you may assume that your partner will be able to discuss your diagnosis and treatment options with your medical team. Because of privacy laws, hospital personnel can deny sharing your medical information with them. The solution to this issue is to create a HIPAA authorization form. A HIPAA authorization form for LGBTQIA+ couples is a legal document that states your consent to allow named individuals access to your medical information. Including a HIPAA Authorization Form in your Estate Plan will keep your partner in the loop if ever you are in need of medical treatment and consultation and can not advocate for yourself.
Estate planning can often seem complicated. Couples may delay creating their Estate Plan because they think it will be a complex and time-consuming endeavor, especially when you take into account your individual needs and rights as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, plus the varying state laws you have to contend with. That is why Trust & Will’s mission is to make estate planning easier for everyone. With our online estate planning services, you can create your state-specific Will, Trust-Based Estate Plan, and Nomination of Guardianship documents all from the comfort of your home.
Don’t let the fear of not knowing where to begin keep you from protecting yourself and your family. Estate Planning for California LGBTQIA+ couples has never been easier. Visit our website today and take our free online quiz to get started securing your assets - and your peace of mind!
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Trust & Will is an online service providing legal forms and information. We are not a law firm and we do not provide legal advice.