Throughout June we will see many celebrations of Pride month. We honor LGBTQ+ voices and experiences, and also highlight some of the issues members of the community still face.
In June 1969 a gay club, The Stonewall Inn in New York City, was the site of a police invasion that was a catalyst for ensuing riots and protests. This event is often credited as sparking an increase in LGBTQ+ activism and is also the reason Pride month is celebrated in June.
Over the years we have worked with many LGBTQ+ clients and are still often surprised and saddened by additional issues they may face while aging. Many of these issues come in the form of emotional isolation and fear. We have had some cases where the senior has lost their family support or chosen to continue living ‘in the closet’ due to fear of coming out to family, friends, co-workers and caregivers.
LGBTG+ Seniors and Aging
LGBTQ+ people are twice as likely to age alone and four times less likely to have children to support them than their straight peers. LGBTQ+ seniors often end up caring for other LGBTQ+ seniors. At times, they may even put off needed healthcare services for fear of being mistreated. Luckily marriage equality changed the nature of planning for LGBTQ+ seniors. Married couples now have full access to tools and tax savings. They are also now eligible for the marital deduction and can avoid estate taxes by leaving everything to their spouse.
Unique Estate Planning Concerns for LGBTQ+ Seniors
Everyone over 18 should create a proper estate plan which includes a Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare, General Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters and a Will. However, this is especially important for LGBTQ+ people. Sadly, same sex couples are more vulnerable to sabotage by unsupportive family members. Examples include contesting a will or interfering in medical or financial decision making.
There are also quite a few legal cases which involve non-biological children. Sometimes, there are custody battles over these children in the event of the biological parent’s death or incapacity.
Another big obstacle is when someone doesn’t have a reliable decision maker in place. This can be the case if a spouse or partner is deceased, or a person is unsure if their designated decision maker will fulfill their wishes. There are also times when someone is not able to identify a decision maker for themselves. Hurley Elder Care Law’s Aging Ally service can be quite helpful in these situations (click on link to learn about Aging Ally).
These are some smart estate planning strategies for LGBTQ+ seniors.
- Make sure you have properly drafted documents that include language consistent with current law
- Make sure your documents have proper pronouns and robust relationship information.
- Develop trusted professional partners to ensure that you have a team to handle things like medical decision making and financial tasks.
At Hurley Elder Care Law, we are experienced estate planning and elder law attorneys who pay close attention to the special needs of all of our clients. We offer a warm and caring environment. Our expert attorneys, social workers, intake coordinators and public benefit experts work together as a team to provide the best legal, financial and emotional support. Call us today at 404-843-0121 with any questions or to schedule an appointment.
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