The Supreme Court decision of 2015 recognizing marriage equality made life much easier for the more than a million LGBTQ couples in the U.S. Nonetheless, members of the LGBTQ community still face unique hurdles, including in the area of estate planning, and therefore require the services of a highly skilled estate planning attorney.
Spiro J. Verras, lead attorney of Verras Law, founded his practice to be inclusive and continues to provide outstanding legal representation for LGBTQ clients in Tampa Bay, Palm Harbor, and St. Petersburg. With decades of successful experience behind us, Verras Law is well-prepared to offer all clients who come to us a broad range of services tailored to meet their particular needs. Contact us now for the personalized attention you deserve.
Why All Couples and Families Need Estate Plans
No matter what their backgrounds or lifestyles, our clients require our help to:
- Create wills in order to designate beneficiaries, personal representatives (executors), and guardians for their minor children
- Set up one or more trusts, each designed to serve a particular purpose, e.g. avoid probate, protect assets from excessive taxation, creditors, and lawsuits, protect family members with special needs, or make charitable donations
- Prepare for potential incapacity by ensuring their future eligibility for Medicaid if they require long-term nursing care
- Set up an efficient protocol for business succession
- Create foundational documents to deal with health emergencies and end-of-life care
Why LGBTQ Couples and Families May Need Special Attention
Unfortunately, according to a Pew Research Survey, LGBTQ couples are more likely to:
- Have their wills contested by a relative who refuses to accept the validity of their union if they are an unmarried couple
- Have disputes with relatives over custody of non-biological children after a spouse or partner dies or becomes disabled
- Face interference from family members who get in the way of medical or financial decisions made by the in-law spouse
Having served LGBTQ clients for many years, Spiro Verras is familiar with the problems you may encounter as you plan for your future and is ready to handle them efficiently and effectively. Once you contact Verras Law, you will be happy to feel the comfort and reassurance of working with a professional who fully understands your needs and concerns. We will help you handle the following issues as they pertain to your situation:
- Adoption by non-biological parents — Because in LGBTQ families there is a greater likelihood that only one parent is blood-related to the couple’s children, adoption by the other parent offers the greatest protection of the parent-child relationship.
- Making sure that your spouse/partner is the named guardian of your child — whether or not your partner is a biological or adoptive parent.
- Dealing with strained family relationships — Sadly, there are too many families in which one or more members are still unaccepting of an LGBTQ family unit, so we recommend you use special care in choosing your personal representative, trustees, and guardian(s) of your children.
- Updating legal documents created before 2015 that may no longer be valid as written.
While the documents drafted and executed for all estate planning clients are similar, at Verras Law we are sensitive to the fact that the documents of our LGBTQ clients may be more vulnerable to misinterpretations. Therefore, we are extra careful in reviewing and updating such documents to ensure that the language is precise and consistent with current laws.
Trust Verras Law to Protect You and Your Family
Whether or not you and your partner are married, our legal team will:
- Make Sure You Have a Will. Dying without a will (intestate) makes you more vulnerable when it comes to having your primary beneficiary questioned, especially if you are unmarried. To potentially make things worse, LGBTQ couples are (for unknown reasons) more likely to remain unmarried to their partner and more likely to die intestate — creating a double risk that their wishes won’t be carried out.
- Make Sure You Have the Documents to Protect You in Medical Emergencies. Though it is painful to contemplate sudden serious medical crises derailing your plans, it is realistic to prepare for them. When an accident, assault, or medical event causes you or your spouse/partner to become suddenly incapacitated, it is critical to have in place documents that will protect your family’s rights. Our sharp estate planning lawyer will see to it that you have all of the following ready:
- Durable Power of Attorney — to designate the person you choose to handle your legal and financial affairs if you are out of commission
- Advance Directive (Living Will) — to state which types of end-of-life care you want or refuse to receive (e.g. ventilator, feeding tube) if you are unable to speak for yourself.
- Health Care Proxy — to name the individual you want to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are too injured or ill to do so. This is especially important for LGBTQ couples whose unaccepting family members may try to interfere in healthcare decisions.
- HIPAA form — to name the people you want authorized to have access to your doctors and personal medical information if you become incapacitated.
- Ensure that Your Spouse/Partner Will Inherit Your Home. We will discuss the legal options that guarantee your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets will be followed, and help you arrive at the best option for you. Often the most practical way of ensuring that your home is inherited as you wish is to have both names on the deed or arrange for joint tenancy with the right of survivorship.
Contact Our Competent, Caring LGBTQ Estate Planning Attorney Today
Although everyone needs a well-informed estate planning attorney to successfully map out their future, as a member of the LGBTQ community your path may be more challenging. Choose a legal advocate who is attuned to your particular needs and committed to protecting you and your family. Contact Verras Law now.
Verras Law provides estate planning services for LGBTQ clients throughout Tampa Bay, Palm Harbor, and St. Petersburg communities.