The short answer is in some ways, yes, and in some ways no.
Estate planning for individuals and families boils down to the protection of assets, avoiding taxes, and making sure your “stuff” goes where you want it to go. To that end, the planning is the same, in that the goals tend to be the same and the documents we use to get there are basically the same, such as a Last Will or a Power of Attorney. However, there are special issues that members of the LGBTQ+ community face, and our planning tools are designed to solve those issues.
Does your Firm have experience in LGBTQ+ estate planning?
Yes! Here at Monteforte Law, our goal is to be allies to the LGBTQ+ community. We have extensive experience dealing with all types of relationships, orientations, and identities. We help with all estate planning and elder law plans, regardless of our client's race, gender identity, sexual orientation, relationship/marital status, or whether the clients have children together. We can make sure your assets go where you want them to.
Are there common problems with LGBTQ+ planning?
Sadly, there are. Not all families are accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, and it’s heartbreaking to us whenever we hear that. As a result, there are occasions when our clients expect their families to possibly contest their Last Will, or at least be very unhappy about it, especially if the property is left to a significant other from a relationship that the rest of the family doesn’t approve of. As sad and horrible as it is to hear such things, at our firm we take the neccessary steps to make the documents as ironclad as possible so that they cannot be discarded or ignored. Our goal is to make sure that the client’s wishes are met and followed.
Does it matter if I am legally married or not?
A legal marriage does influence your estate plan. In fact, if you are married and don’t have a proper estate plan, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts decides how much of your estate is given to your spouse. It’s important to let us know if you are legally married, or not, and how you want your spouse incorporated into your plan. If you are in a relationship but are not married, it is paramount that the estate plan is done properly, so that the individual can be included and receive part of your estate if that is your wish. Being unmarried does not change our ability to leave your estate the way you want it.
What if we have children together?
Your documents should detail what happens to the children if you or your partner were to pass away. If your children are minors (under age 18) guardians should be selected and informed. You may also want to leave their inheritance over time, rather than all at once so that children of a younger age cannot spend it all before they learn how to manage money. We often use Family Trusts to make sure that the children’s inheritance is left to them and them alone, without giving the guardian the right to spend it on themselves.
What about different pronouns?
We know that many of our clients want to see the proper pronouns used in the documents, and we are happy to do that. As far as the validity of a document like a Last Will, the pronouns are not legally relevant. The law doesn’t use pronouns to describe masculine, feminine, or otherwise, so the pronouns themselves don’t affect the legality of the document. However, many clients take pride in their pronouns and find them to be meaningful. If it is important to the client, it is important to us, and we have expensive experience incorporating the client’s chosen pronouns in their estate planning documents.
How can I find out more about LGBTQ+ Planning?
Call our office and schedule a Strategic Planning Session with us, or book a session online. We can go over your specific concerns as well as our tools for alleviating those concerns. Rest assured that we have done it before, many times, and we can unburden you from this issue and the stress that goes along with it. You can also give us a call at 978-657-7437 or email us at [email protected] to learn more.