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Navigating Estate Planning for LGBTQIA+ Individuals and Families

Estate planning is a critical aspect of financial and familial security, ensuring that everything you've built for yourself and your family passes on the way you want it to. However, for LGBTQIA+ individuals and families, estate planning often entails additional complexities and considerations compared to traditional families. In this blog post, we'll delve into some of the unique aspects of estate planning for the LGBTQIA+ community and offer insights into navigating these challenges.

Legal Recognition and Protections:

  • Unlike heterosexual couples, LGBTQIA+ couples may face challenges in having their relationships legally recognized, especially in countries where same-sex marriage or civil unions are not fully legalized, or the right to marry is under threat.

  • Estate planning documents such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney become crucial for LGBTQIA+ individuals to ensure that their partners and chosen beneficiaries are legally protected.

  • Consultation with an attorney well-versed in LGBTQIA+ estate planning is essential to understand the specific legal landscape in your jurisdiction and to draft documents that accurately reflect your wishes.

Parental Rights and Guardianship:

  • LGBTQIA+ individuals and couples who are parents may encounter obstacles in securing parental rights, especially in cases of adoption, surrogacy, or assisted reproductive technologies.

  • Estate planning should address issues related to guardianship, custody, and inheritance for children within LGBTQIA+ families.

  • Clear documentation of parental intentions and legal arrangements for guardianship can help safeguard the well-being of children in the event of parental incapacity or death.

Healthcare Directives and Medical Decision-Making:

  • LGBTQIA+ individuals may face discrimination or lack of understanding regarding their healthcare wishes, particularly in cases where family members or medical professionals may not recognize or respect their chosen relationships.

  • Advanced healthcare directives and durable powers of attorney for healthcare allow LGBTQIA+ individuals to designate trusted individuals to make medical decisions on their behalf and ensure that their wishes regarding medical treatment and end-of-life care are respected.

Protections Against Discrimination:

Despite progress in LGBTQIA+ rights, discrimination and prejudice still exist, including within legal and healthcare systems.

  • LGBTQIA+ individuals should consider including provisions in their estate planning documents to address potential discrimination or challenges they or their loved ones may face, such as selecting LGBTQIA+-friendly executors, trustees, or healthcare agents.

  • Especially in the trans community, LGBTQIA+ people should focus on making sure that how you wish to be presented at death is carried out. This includes having funeral plans made in advance, and also appointing someone you know and trust to carry out those wishes.

Estate Tax Planning:

  • LGBTQIA+ couples may encounter disparities in estate tax treatment compared to heterosexual couples, particularly in jurisdictions where same-sex marriage is not recognized.

  • Strategic estate tax planning, including the use of trusts and gifting strategies, can help minimize tax liabilities and ensure that assets are transferred efficiently to intended beneficiaries.


Estate planning is a vital tool for protecting the interests and well-being of LGBTQIA+ individuals and families, offering essential safeguards against legal, financial, and familial challenges. By working with knowledgeable legal professionals and addressing the unique considerations faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals, you can create a comprehensive estate plan that reflects your wishes and provides peace of mind for you and your loved ones. Remember, estate planning is not a one-time task but an ongoing process that should be reviewed and updated regularly to accommodate life changes and evolving legal and societal landscapes.

Our office is always ready to help. As an out and proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community, Attorney Andrew J. Mertzenich knows the ins-and-outs of estate planning for queer couples. Schedule a consult today by going to or by calling 815-420-8261.

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