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Estate Planning and Living WillWith same-sex marriages now legal throughout the United States, many queer couples have solemnized their unions through formal ceremonies and made other preparations to build a life together as spouses. It is important for married and unmarried queer people, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary, genderqueer, intersex and pansexual persons, to tend to their death arrangements as soon as possible. While it may seem macabre to plan for death in advance, the reality is that death is unavoidable, unpredictable and often comes suddenly. It is critical that your plans are formalized and documented to avoid undesirable situations.

Take Care of Estate Planning

The best way to make sure that your wishes are respected in death is through estate planning. You don’t have to worry about assignment of a next of kin or hostility from family members who don’t respect your sexual orientation and/or gender identity when you have an estate plan that covers all the details:

  • Drafting a Will: Without a will, your assets are divided according to the state you lived in. If you want to leave your possessions to an unmarried partner, you need to create a formal will.
  • Developing a Living Will: If you are in a medical situation and unable to communicate with a doctor, a living will specifies who can make decisions about your treatment and care.
  • Considering Taxes: Consult a tax attorney or expert who can help you make decisions that maximize tax benefits and minimize tax liabilities to the recipient(s) of your inheritance.
  • Caring for Minor Children: If you have custody of minor children, you can name a guardian for them in the event of your death. You don’t want to leave a custody battle behind for your partner and kid(s) to deal with.
  • Indicating Funeral Wishes: A funeral directive also dictates the details of your funeral, including who can make decisions about these details. This is a must-have to avoid a fight between your LGBTQ+ partner and family members who may or may not acknowledge your partner.

Watch for Religious Funeral Rules

The legalization of same-sex marriages allowed LGBTQ+ couples to legally marry, but various religions still have their own rules governing official ceremonies. If you or a queer spouse want to have a funeral ceremony in accordance with a particular faith, it’s important to have that conversation up front. The last thing anyone wants is to discover that they can’t find a particular minister to officiate due to certain religious or denominational rules that forbid an ordained person to perform last rites for queer people. Consider making plans for a non-religious ceremony to avoid this situation.

Choose a Queer-Friendly Funeral Home

When it comes to preparing a body, it’s important to work with a funeral services provider that is queer-friendly and respectful of the wishes of all people. Gender identity and sexual orientation are just as important in death as in life. The right funeral home will not only honor the deceased’s wishes but also provide top-level service.

  • Honor the gender identity of the deceased: This includes using the appropriate binding and apparel.
  • Maintain confidentiality: The deceased may not want to reveal that he/she/they were queer, including status as a trans or intersex person.
  • Honor the deceased’s wishes: The recently departed person may have chosen to be cremated instead of buried. A good funeral director or provider of services will help you fill out the important documents in advance.

Death is a certainty for everyone. As a queer person, there are additional things you need to consider, especially if you’re not legally married to your partner. Estate planning helps you check many of the boxes that you need to, but it’s also important to discuss these decisions with a partner, friends and family to avoid unnecessary conflicts.

Category: Funeral

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