Two beautiful adult females embrace in love and happiness. Visual concept for legal blog discussing essential legal documents all LGBTQ+ Adults should have.

Estate planning is crucial for everyone — but it is particularly important for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Whether or not you are married to your partner, having the proper estate planning documents in place can help ensure your wishes are carried out at the end of your life and after your passing. It can also give authority to a caregiver, who might not otherwise be legally recognized, to make decisions on your behalf concerning your finances and healthcare.

What Estate Planning Documents Do LGBTQ+ Adults Need?

The LGBTQ+ community has unique needs when it comes to estate planning. For example, you may or may not be legally married to your partner. If you are not, you must have legal documents in place to provide for them when you pass away. However, even if you are married to your partner, you should not rely upon intestate law to distribute your property — having an estate plan in place can help avoid probate, minimize estate tax consequences, and perhaps most importantly, ensure that your assets go where you want them to.

Whether you’re married or not, you will want to make sure that your partner has the authority to be able to make decisions for you. There is a wide range of legal documents that can be used to meet your objectives and ensure your goals are met. Every LGBTQ+ adult should consider having the following legal documents in place as part of their estate plan:

  • A last will and testament — A last will and testament is the foundation of every estate plan. If you pass away without at least a will in place, Minnesota intestate law will determine how your assets are distributed.
  • A financial power of attorney — A financial power of attorney can give your partner or someone else you choose permission to make financial decisions for you in the event of incapacity.
  • A health care directive — A health care directive is a legal document that combines a living will declaring your health care preferences, and a healthcare proxy that names your partner or another individual of your choosing the authority to act on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself.
  • Trusts — There are many different types of trusts that can be used to protect your assets during your lifetime and pass them to a beneficiary of your choosing when you pass away.
  • Beneficiary designations — A beneficiary designation is a legal document that names a person who will receive assets from a financial or retirement account upon your passing.

Importantly, there may be other documents you need to have in place, depending on your specific situation. But it’s vital to understand that by failing to take measures to plan ahead, your assets may not be passed to your partner or other person of your choosing.

A No-Contest Clause

If you are not on good terms with your family and expect that there will be a conflict over the property you are distributing to your partner, consider adding a no-contest clause to your will or trust. This states that if someone challenges the validity of your will, and they lose, they will not inherit anything from you. The purpose of this mechanism is to cause a potential challenger to pause and consider whether legal action is necessary or frivolous.

Guardianship Documents for Children

In the case of same-sex couples, a child is usually the biological child of only one of the parents. In such cases, the non-biological parent would not have any custody rights in the event the biological parent passes away, unless the child has been adopted by the non-biological parent. This is why it is critical to nominate a guardian in your will and name the person who will care for your child upon death or incapacitation. If there are no documents to specify your custody determination, a court would be required to decide the matter — and the outcome may not be what you would have intended.

Contact an Experienced Minnesota Estate Planning Attorney

If you’re an LGBTQ+ adult, a comprehensive estate plan can protect both your partner, your family, and carry out your wishes. There are a variety of estate planning tools that can be used to help you meet your goals. A skillful estate planning attorney can assist you with creating a tailored estate plan that will give you peace of mind. Located in Maple Grove, Mundahl Law works with clients throughout Minnesota for all their estate planning needs. To learn more about how we can assist you, or to schedule an appointment, contact Mundahl Law at 763-575-7930.

We invite you to visit our LBGTQ Family Law page for more information on the Minnesota Family Law services we provide for the LGBTQ+ community.