LGBT Couples – The Ins and Outs of Legacy Planning
Written by Cindy-Marie Leicester on August 28, 2017.
LGBT relationship law is constantly changing and evolving, at very different paces around the world. If you are an LGBT family, staying aware of relevant law changes and rights is vital. However, as fast as the law can change, society moves much faster.
There are some areas of law that change very little. Will and estate planning law is one of those areas. For example, UK will writing is still based on the Wills Act of 1837. Slow paced indeed. So regardless of any uncertainty around other areas of your life, LGBT couples can act now to plan their legacies with some certainty.
There are many reasons for making a will and estate plan, with or without the benefits afforded by being married. For a same sex couple or for partners raising children who are not formally adopted, making a will ensures that they are provided for in the event of either partner dying. Whether you are married or not will also have a big impact on your plans. Many countries inheritance law is marriage orientated and without a will your partner may not receive the legacy you wanted to leave under the normal distribution provisions.
As your will is going to reference longstanding legal precedents, it is important that your will expresses your wishes clearly. The archaic legal language in use may not currently have the terminology to express why you are leaving your estate to your life long partner, not blood relatives or a spouse. Your will writer will need to acknowledge this and minimise any family opposition that may be raised by addressing it formally in the text of your will.
Your will is a good place to express your guardianship wishes for children. However for same sex couples where it is possible only one parent has biological rights, adoption may need to be part of your estate plan to legally confirm the relationship of the child and parent. For LGBT families requiring second parent adoption, a specialist lawyer will be required.
An LGBT estate plan may need to extend further than just a will for each partner. Consider living wills and power of attorney for both partners. In the event that you become incapacitated, your partner may not be included in any legal decisions without having been afforded that right by you when you could.
If, as an LGBT couple, you were planning to wing it, and write a DIY will or use an internet template, my advice to you is get advice! It is rare that these forms are sufficient for any situation, least of all one where the law is still evolving to meet your needs. Everyone's estate planning situation is unique and should be treated as such.
I have helped expats all over the world with their wills and am well-versed in the unique considerations for same sex couples. If you’d like to discuss your will writing and estate planning needs, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to set up a complimentary, no-obligation consultation.
Cindy-Marie Leicester provides will writing services as a third party professional adviser and Infinity Financial Solutions Ltd takes no responsibility for the goods and services provided by any third party to whom clients are referred.
In no event shall Infinity be liable to you, or any third party, for direct, indirect or consequential damages, cost or loss of profits arising from your use of third party referral services. Infinity may receive a referral fee from third party will writers for introductions.