There is a legal hurricane blowing for LGBT couples. Starting with the fall of DOMA in June of 2014, the law surrounding gay and lesbian couples can’t seem to settle. On one hand, we have oral arguments set in the US Supreme Court which, I believe will result in paradigm shifting change in the law for gay and lesbian couples, and on the other hand, we have a law in Indiana which many argue is state sanctioned discrimination. Clearly, the issue of gay marriage and the legal status of same sex couples is not going to settle down anytime soon. It is this uncertainty that makes estate planning so important.
I heard a story the other day from a woman whose brother had to sit outside his partner’s hospital room since the hospital said that he had no legal authority to make any medical decisions. No authority to be consulted. No authority to make any of the end of life decisions that any heterosexual couple takes for granted. Without planning, he was nothing. This is not an isolated story. Until laws change, LGBT couples will time and time again be shut out from some of the most important decisions that spouses make.
However, there is a solution. With careful estate planning, stories like this don’t ever need to happen again. LGBT couples and families should talk to their financial planners, insurance agents, and attorney to make a comprehensive estate plan so that their partnership can be treated with the respect and dignity that it deserves.