8 Ways to Prepare Your Estate
As an LGBT individual or couple, it’s especially important to work with an attorney to document your wishes and identify someone you trust to speak for you. Your attorney can also help you develop an estate plan that addresses your unique needs so your assets are distributed as you wish.
1. Develop a Will
Should you die without a will, the laws of the state in which you live will determine who your heirs will be and how your assets will be distributed, regardless of your wishes.
2. Name a Guardian
If you have children, and if something happens to you or your partner, you’ll want to ensure that your children are raised by the person of your choosing, especially when one partner may not be recognized as the legal guardian.
3. Create a Durable Power of Attorney
In the event you become incapacitated, a Durable Power of Attorney permits the named agent to act on your behalf, typically with respect to financial decisions.
4. Create a Health Care Proxy
The agent named in your Health Care Proxy can make health care decisions for you.
5. Develop a Priority of Visitation Document
Even with the April 2010 signing of a presidential executive order granting gay and lesbian visitation rights if their partner is in the hospital, a Priority of Visitation document allows you to name the people you want to have visit you if you become hospitalized.
6. Get an Advance Health Care Directive or Living Will
If you are ever seriously incapacitated, you may be unable to make medical decisions about your care. An Advance Health Care Directive or Living Will allows you to specify the particular treatments to be provided or withheld.
7. Consider Creating and Funding a Living Trust
It’s important you have in place legal direction on how you want things handled both during your lifetime and at your death. A living trust can be used to transfer assets at your death, and assets owned by the trust avoid probate. Plus, you can designate yourself the trustee, access the trust assets during your life and elect your partner as the successor trustee.
8. Look Into an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT)
If you own a life insurance policy and you want to exempt the policy from your estate’s total worth for estate tax purposes, consider using an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT).* For more affluent individuals, this life insurance can provide liquidity needed to pay taxes and other expenses at death.
Interested in learning more? Just fill out the contact form on the right to have a MetLife representative who is experienced in assisting those in the LGBT community contact you.
* If a donor gives away or releases any incident of ownership in an existing life insurance policy, the entire death benefit will be pulled back into his/her taxable gross estate if death occurs within three years of making the transfer.
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