HRC Blog

The Importance of Life & Estate Planning

Estate Planning for LGBT AmericansPost submitted by David Wexelblat, HRC Estate Planning Legal Fellow

Life changes require you to think about your future, and we are committed to helping you plan for the future. For example:

  • Have you started a new job?
  • Are you in a new relationship?
  • Are you engaged or considering marriage?
  • Have you welcomed a new child into your life?
  • Have you recently moved to a new state?

These changes, and many others, affect your plans for ensuring that you, your loved ones and your assets are protected if you are incapacitated and after your death. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has published Protect Yourself and Those You Love: A Step-by-Step Guide to Life & Estate Planning for LGBT Americans and Their Families, which you can download for free.

“Life planning” lets you prepare for the possibility that, for health reasons, you may not be able to make your own medical or financial decisions, or take care of your dependents and loved ones. "Estate planning" lets you ensure that, upon your death, care of your loved ones and distribution of your assets happens the way you want it to.

Life and estate planning is important for everyone, but especially crucial for the LGBT community. Because life and estate planning is controlled by state law where you have your permanent residence, people who live in states that don’t recognize same-sex relationships or offer strong protections from discrimination are particularly vulnerable. For example, if your state doesn’t recognize your relationship, and if you become incapacitated or die without a plan in place, your partner or spouse may not be able to make important medical decisions on your behalf or may not inherit your assets.

But even same-sex couples living in a marriage equality state have unique life and estate planning concerns. For example, if you go on vacation with your spouse and children and have a medical emergency in a state that doesn’t recognize your marriage, will that state allow your spouse to direct your medical treatment and care for your children?

Our step-by-step Life & Estate Planning Guide explains these and many other issues the LGBT community faces, and walks you through the process of developing your plan. Please visit our website at www.hrc.org/planning to download your free copy and begin the process today.

As you develop your plan, please consider leaving a legacy gift to HRC as part of your estate plan. More information is available in the Guide, or feel free to contact Adam Swaim, HRC’s Director of Estate Planning, at adam.swaim@hrc.org or (202) 216-1563.

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