What to Look for in an LGBT Estate Planning Attorney

Tax law, corporate law, family law — each area of law is complex, with its own vocabulary, norms, and processes. Our firm specializes in LGBT family law, which is centered on relationships between family members. LGBT estate planning falls under this umbrella, and it includes a host of services with the goal to protect you, your loved ones, and your assets, in the case of your incapacitation or death. If you’ve never worked with an estate planning attorney before, deciding which one to choose can be overwhelming. In this post, we’ll cover a few items to consider when searching for an attorney.

Knowledge in all areas of estate planning

An effective attorney should be familiar with every aspect of LGBT estate planning, in order to give you the best options that are most suitable for your needs. The most common components include: wills [including living wills], trusts, end of life care, healthcare directives and HIPAA authorization, and healthcare and financial power of attorney.

True expertise in these areas include not only legal knowledge, but also a good understanding of certain components of healthcare systems and financial management. Of course, an attorney is neither an accountant nor a healthcare professional, but they should be familiar with the workings of items such as HIPAA, investments such as real estate, endowments, and so forth.

Experience in LGBT cases

On top of the knowledge areas mentioned above, having specific experience with the LGBT community matters. Holding a deep understanding of local, state, and national legislation affecting LGBT individuals and families is critical, particularly since this legislation is frequently updated through case laws, and interacts with other legislation in complex ways. Knowing these nuances can ensure that you are protected against discrimination, whether now or in the future, and that your relationships and decisions will be respected.

It is also important that the attorney knows and uses the correct LGBT vocabulary, to ensure that no mistakes are made, and that you and your relationships are correctly identified. Lastly, and most importantly, having an attorney that treats you and your loved ones with respect and understanding makes a world of difference.

Easy to work with

An LGBT estate planning attorney can have all the knowledge in the world, but if they are difficult to work with, it will all be for naught. Whichever attorney you choose, they should respond in a timely manner and be well-organized. Communications are also important — they should be able to “translate” legal vocabulary into everyday terms that are easy to understand. This is important, so that you’re able to make the best decisions in an informed manner. Of course, the attorney is not counselor, but they should not leave you feeling overwhelmed or distraught. In contrast, your interactions with them should leave you feeling more certain in your decisions, with a clear plan forward.

Our estate planning attorneys have decades of experience working with LGBT individuals and families. We’re also a proud member of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Contact us today to see if we’re the right fit for you LGBT estate planning needs.

Image by Melinda Gimpel