As we continue to explore the unique circumstances common in blended families, we certainly want to address issues experienced by LGBTQ+ individuals, couples, and families. We would like to recognize our LGBTQ+ family and friends on Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day,and help bring some attention to their specific legal and financial needs.
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.
More than 39 million people in the U.S. are age 65 years or older including 2.4 million people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). As the baby boomer generation ages, the older adult population will increase from 12.8 percent to an estimated 19 percent in 2030.
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. LGBTQ+ seniors often face double discrimination due to age and sexual orientation or gender identity.
While this group is still facing many hurdles, 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. Often LGBTQ+ seniors are part of blended families which include multiple family members such as biological, adopted and stepchildren. There are times when a person comes “out of the closet” later in life after being married and having children. More people in the ‘mix’ can sometimes lead to more problems.
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.
These are some suggested 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 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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