GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The conversation about being prepared for the passing of a partner can be difficult to have, but navigating the issue can be more complicated for LGBTQ+ families.
“There's no other way to go about it, it can be incredibly difficult to have a period of mourning, of loss, of grief, and then on top of it, have to be dealing with legal complexities and probate and estate planning and figure out these intricate details,” said Patrick Hicks, head of legal for Trust & Will, an online legal document preparation company.
When someone dies without a will in place they are considered to have died intestate. Each state has different default laws that will apply to somebody who dies in this scenario.
"Those default laws may say, blood relatives have priority if you are not married, and if you are in a same-sex relationship, but not married, or any relationship but not married, that may not be the results you want," Hicks told us.
There are several specific documents he says everyone should have in place to ensure their loved one's security in the event of their passing or being incapacitated.
“We firmly believe that every adult needs a basic estate plan that includes a will, and a set of healthcare documents that plan for incapacity during your lifetime,” Hicks said.
“If you do not have a health care directive and you're in an unmarried relationship, your partner may not have any legal rights to care for you or make decisions on your behalf, you must have that documented.”
Hicks says without these documents squared away, a partner could even face difficulties caring for an adopted child in some scenarios.
“There are many same-sex couples, where there's one biological parent, and the other parent is not a biological parent, and they have not yet legally adopted the child," Hicks said.
"Without that legal adoption in place, that non-biological parent may have no legal rights to care for those children if the biological parent were to pass away.”
Trust & Will offers these services via their website.