LGBT Estate Planning

Maryland Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual
& Transgender Estate Planning

500 E Pratt St, Suite 900, Baltimore, MD 21202-3133 • 410.332.8626 • info@mdlgbtestateplanning.com

June is LGBT pride month, and this year the need to raise the rainbow banner seems surprisingly urgent. Gone is the thrill of seeing the White House illuminated in the colors of the gay flag. Gone too is the administration that helped to expand the rights of same-sex couples and other members of the LGBT community.

In this unsettling climate, participating in Pride Day reaffirms our dignity, our equality, and our sense of community. It also reminds us—and those who oppose us—that we will meet new challenges with new resolve. For as long as necessary, the struggle toward equality will be taken on in our lifetimes and by succeeding generations.

As the writer and actor Bob Paris put it, “Every gay and lesbian person who has been lucky enough to survive the turmoil of growing up is a survivor. Survivors always have an obligation to those who will face the same challenges.”

Part of this obligation, and part of what it means to take pride in ourselves, is to provide for the next generation in whatever way we can. This can mean contributing to LGBT organizations, whether as donors or volunteers. It can mean raising awareness by telling our story at work, among our families, and in our communities. It can also mean looking after each other when we can no longer manage for ourselves, or when we make our final exit.

An inheritance is sometimes called a “legacy,” and receiving one can be a blessing—or a curse. On the one hand, there is the temptation to think like a lottery winner and imagine a life of easy indulgence. On the other, there is the instinct to do the “right thing” by paying off debts, investing wisely, and saving for the future. The fact that many lottery winners ultimately file for bankruptcy should be sufficiently instructive as to which course you should take.

Whether an inheritance is large or small, the best approach is to avoid extravagance and opt for discipline. Without careful and deliberate planning, a lifetime’s worth of accumulated wealth could be squandered in a matter of months. The following steps will help put you on the right path.

Tax season is upon us, and most people’s first question is what they can do to pay less. The key to a lower tax bill is reducing your taxable income. Several financial maneuvers will achieve this result. For example, you can top off your 401(k) or IRA contributions, sell off losing investments from a taxable account, or ask that your employer hold off on paying you a bonus until after December 31.

Another excellent way to reduce your taxable income is to donate to charity. If you itemize your deductions and give money or property to a qualified organization, the value of the contribution can be deducted from your income.

In addition to giving during your lifetime, you may also want to include one or more charitable bequests in your will. This is a noble gesture, regardless of the amount, but chances are it won’t reduce your tax bill after you are gone.

Roberto and Ian never left anything to chance. They ordered their movie tickets online in case the show sold out before they got to the theater. They always bought trip insurance, on the off chance their vacation plans didn’t pan out. They flossed daily, replaced smoke-detector batteries annually, and changed their furnace filters every six months.

Their friends George and Julian often teased them about being so conscientious. But then George and Julian took a different approach to life. When George got a flat tire and needed to use the spare, he discovered that it was flat, too. The couple once ran out of heating oil because Julian forgot to order more. And they still laugh about the time they missed their cruise ship after enjoying one too many rum swizzles at a pub in Bermuda.

These differences extended to the way they approached estate planning, too.