Unique Challenges in LGBTQ Estate Planning

For many years, same-sex couples were not afforded the same benefits under the law as heterosexual couples in Arizona (AZ). Not being able to marry legally or to have marriages performed in other states recognized in Arizona presented challenges for LGBTQ estate planning. However, since the legalization of same-sex marriage in Arizona in 2014 and across the United States in 2015, LGBTQ+ couples can execute their estate planning goals more easily. 

However, that doesn’t mean that challenges no longer exist for LGBTQ+ clients who wish to create a comprehensive Arizona estate plan. While all couples and individuals may face complexities in crafting their estate plans, the LGBTQ+ community encounters discrimination that creates challenges in various areas of life, and this can include estate planning.

Bernard Strass understands and is sensitive to the unique challenges of estate planning for LGBTQ clients. Here’s what you need to know about LGBTQ estate planning in Arizona and how a skilled attorney can help. 

How an Arizona LGBTQ Estate Planning Attorney Can Help 

An LGBTQ estate planning attorney in Arizona can work with clients to create their life and estate plans. Your attorney can assist you with creating a will, which details your wishes for how your assets will be distributed or who will legally care for your minor children after you pass away. Wills are of particular importance for unmarried LGBTQ couples; without a valid will in place, state law governs the distribution of assets.

Your Arizona estate planning attorney can also set up a trust to protect your assets and durable powers of attorney to designate who will handle your finances should you no longer be able to do so. Likewise, your attorney can establish a health care power of attorney to make medical decisions on your behalf. Also known as a “medical power of attorney,” this document gives you the ability to control who makes these important decisions if and when you cannot.

Common Issues in LGBTQ Estate Planning

Determining the best methods and tools for estate planning involves a thorough analysis of your assets, property, and personal circumstances. An LGBTQ estate planning attorney can help you sort through the options and create a plan that will serve your interests and wishes. For same-sex or gender-fluid couples, here are some common issues an estate planning lawyer can help with:

Making Sure Your Beneficiaries Are Up-to-Date

Having up-to-date beneficiaries is important because otherwise, your assets could go to an ex-partner, a family member, or someone you would prefer not benefit from your estate. For LGBTQ or gender-fluid couples, this could mean someone who is unsupportive of your lifestyle—and that’s the last thing you want. 

An attorney can help you determine your chosen beneficiaries and update all paperwork, policies, and accounts accordingly. This includes but is not limited to your will, powers of attorney, bank accounts, life insurance policies, and retirement accounts. Your lawyer can also explain how the Respect for Marriage Act, passed in 2022 to provide protections for same-sex couples, applies to estate planning and your specific situation.

Creating a Plan With Your Family of Choice

Unfortunately, many estate plans become complicated by family members wanting a slice of the pie, so to speak. This example relates to how your assets are distributed.

This problem isn’t exclusive to LGBTQ+ couples, but it is one they may face more regularly.

For example, if you are on life support and wish to terminate end-of-life care, who do you want to be the person to fulfill your wishes? Without the right legal tools in place, the wrong person could be making these decisions for you.

Likewise, if you are gender fluid and prefer to use they/them pronouns, and/or if you have changed your name, dictating this in your care and end-of-life plan is a great way to ensure your wishes are carried out and you are acknowledged in the ways you choose.

If you or your chosen family believe you are being discriminated against, you have rights as outlined in the Equality and Fairness for All Arizonans Act.

Working with an LGBTQ Estate Planning Attorney in AZ Doesn’t Have to be Stressful

Words like “funeral” and “end-of-life care” are emotionally loaded. It’s because of this that many people delay creating estate plans. However, doing so causes more harm than good. Review this great checklist about getting your affairs in order, offered by the National Institutes of Health. Then, work with an attorney who respects the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

Working with a caring estate planning lawyer to plan for your future ensures that you have the information you need to make the right decisions now and the support you may need during the probate process. Doing so also ensures that your chosen family will be taken care of. And that’s really at the heart of all estate plans.

Contact Arizona Attorney Bernard Strass to Create Your Estate Plan

Don’t risk running afoul of legal requirements by going it alone. Desert Rose Estate and Elder Law is here to make the estate planning process both easy and effective. Call Bernard Strass to discuss your unique needs today at (602) 644-1406 or fill out this online contact form to set up an LGBTQ estate planning consultation.