All individuals in Pennsylvania should have a comprehensive estate plan that includes, at a minimum, a will and power of attorney. LGBTQ+ individuals will have special estate planning considerations to keep in mind, to ensure their wishes are met.
Documenting your wishes through estate planning
Not all LGBTQ+ individuals are fortunate enough to have healthy relationships with their relatives, especially if their relatives do not understand or approve of their sexuality. Some LGBTQ+ individuals might find they are closer to their spouse and certain friends than they are to their parents and siblings. For this reason, an LGBTQ+ individual might wish to have their spouse or friends inherit their estate or make medical and financial decisions on their behalf if they can no longer do so.
If so, it is essential that these individuals record their wishes in the appropriate estate planning documents, including a will and power of attorney. If they do not have a will, their estate might be inherited by a relative that the LGBTQ+ individual would not choose to receive an inheritance. Similarly, in the absence of a power of attorney, courts might turn to parents or siblings, rather than friends, to serve as an LGBTQ+ individual’s agent should the individual be incapacitated.
Stay abreast of changes in the law that might affect estate planning
Positive strides have been made in recent years to ensure LGBTQ+ individuals enjoy equal rights. However, laws that might affect LGBTQ+ individuals are constantly in flux. So, LGBTQ+ individuals will want to stay abreast of any changes in law that might affect their estate plan. Sometimes this means they might need to amend their estate plan to ensure it still reflects their wishes should certain laws change.
LGBTQ+ individuals, just like anyone else, might have estate planning preferences. It is important that they document these preferences in a will and power of attorney and amend their estate plan in the future if necessary. This way they can ensure their wishes will be met upon their incapacitation or death.