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Estate Planning is vital for all families. However, LGBTQ families face some unique challenges when planning their estate. Surviving spouses are often left with a lengthy and expensive probate process due to inadequate planning.

Although same-sex marriage is now legal across the United States, it’s not what all couples want. In fact, only about 10% of LGTBQ households have married couples.

Even if you’re married, the estate can enter probate. Regardless of your marital status, an estate plan is the best way to ensure things go as planned if anything were to happen to you.

Stafford Law Firm’s compassionate team is here to help make sure you have considered everything when creating your estate plan. We understand the difficulties LGBTQ families face when planning for their future and want to make this process as easy as possible.

If you, a loved one, or anyone else in your community are looking to begin estate planning — Give us a call.

Why Is Estate Planning Important For LGBTQ Families?

If you are a member of the LGBTQ community and have a family, you should have an estate plan.

Estate plans help protect what you love, your family, the ones who rely on you to be there for them. You want there to be a plan in place for when your family needs you most.

LGBTQ families with children must ensure that their estate plans are VERY specific. Many things can be easily overlooked, only to learn when it’s time to execute the plan.

Surviving spouses are left to fight for their own property. Joint assets like vehicles, homes, and insurance plans can be held up in probate court awaiting litigation.

We’ve seen non-biological children be inadvertently disinherited because they were not mentioned in the trust. Children are deprived of assets that they should have been entitled to, that you would have wanted them to have.

Another important thing to remember is the changing of laws. This is especially true for LGBTQ families. State and federal laws are always evolving… and sometimes regressing, which can impact your estate plan. If it is not written in accordance with the most up-to-date law, it may not be recognizable in court.

Regardless of what community you come from, one thing is certain: Hiring an experienced lawyer to help you with your estate planning can be life-changing.

Planning For Anything That Can Happen In The Future

You want to find a lawyer that’ll take the time to develop a personal relationship with you. They should really understand what it is that you want for your family’s future. Find out what your real hopes are for your family’s future.

There is an unimaginable number of scenarios to try and prepare for in your estate plan.

If you were to become suddenly ill and unable to take care of yourself, what would you do? Who would take care of you? Who would make important health decisions for you? Without an adequate plan, your surviving spouse may not even have visitation rights to see you at the hospital. Families must decide on a health care power of attorney while they are still able to.

Another commonly unforeseen issue is other family members contesting a will or a trust. Many people may think, “my family would never contest my will,” they would respect the decision that I made when I was capable of making them.

That’s not always the case. Family members may become dissatisfied with how it appears your surviving spouse is handling the estate and create an altercation. Dragging everyone involved in a lengthy, unnecessary public court process.

Custody arrangements involving children can often be heavily disputed among family members who have just lost a loved one.

Stafford Law is here to help ensure you have thought of everything that the future could hold for your family.

Keeping Your Estate Plan Up-To-Date With The Law

In 2015, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage all across the United States. Before then, many states did not legally recognize same-sex marriage. Texas was one of them.

This is a great example of how laws can change that impact your estate plan and how quickly it can become outdated.

It’s a positive change for LGBTQ families looking to begin estate planning. For those who have created an estate plan before those laws changing, you need to update your estate plan if you haven’t already.

It is essential that you conduct regular checkups with your attorney to ensure your estate plan stays up-to-date. Typically every 3 to 5 years, you will want to reassess your plans unless you’ve had some other major life changes such as marital status changes or high-value asset transfers.

Compassionate Legal Services For LGBTQ Families

Your estate plan needs to evolve with you, your family, and the law.

Allow us to help you create a plan that will be there when your family needs it most. LGBTQ families are at a greater risk of dealing with court and conflict issues while administering the estate of their loved one.

Regardless of what your family tree looks like — Stafford Law can help you prepare for the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

Although you do NOT have to be legally married, it certainly doesn’t hurt. In Texas, common-law couples can be granted the same rights as married couples in the right circumstances. If you want to avoid probate altogether, your best bet is creating an estate plan with your partner in mind.

The only persons that can make health care decisions for you, should you be unable to care for yourself, must be previously noted as a health care power of attorney in your estate plan. Otherwise, your partner may have a difficult time even being allowed hospital visitation.

All couples should have an estate plan; unmarried couples face some greater risks by not having an estate plan or as detailed an estate plan. Especially when there are children or high-value assets involved in the relationship.

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