Have you considered how families today come in all shapes and sizes? Many LGBTQ+ families may need estate plans that take a variety of factors into account, as each state may have different rules about intestate inheritance, guardianship for minor children, and what types of relationships outside of civil marriage are legally recognized. Let us review some tips for families in the LGBTQ+ community.
1. Married Co-Parents. If you are in an LGBTQ+ family and are married to the other legal parent of your child, you may not need to take any steps outside of what other families would do in order to protect your spouse and child. If your child’s other parent is not his or her biological parent, though, you should make sure they are your child’s legal parent. This may mean a second parent adoption has to take place after your child is born.
2. Unmarried Partners. Every state in the US is required to recognize the child of a marriage, no matter whether the child has a mom and a dad, two moms, or two dads. If you are not married to your partner but you are committed to each other and have decided to have children together, however, there may be some considerations for each of you. If only one of you is biologically related to the child or children you have, then the other parent may need to formally adopt your child as their own. This way, the non-biological parent retains the same responsibilities and rights as the biological parent. This can be important for estate planning purposes because some states may have a preference for biological relatives when it comes to guardianship arrangements if the biological parent passes away.
3. Children From Other Relationships. If one or both of you are bringing children into your family from a prior relationship, it may be important to meet with an estate planning attorney to discuss how you would want your financial and other assets divided if you were to pass away while your children are still minors. For example, if your former partner would have physical custody of your shared children, would you also want them to oversee their finances, or would you want your new partner to play a role in this? Or perhaps another family member? While these questions are not unique to LGBTQ+ families, they are important to consider.
For further guidance on these matters and others, please reach out to our office to schedule an appointment.