You’ve met the man or woman of your dreams, you’ve fallen in love, and you’ve gotten married. Because same-sex marriage is now legal nationwide, the laws and regulations that apply to married straight couples will apply to you as well. But if you or your spouse is not a U.S. citizen, these rules might not be what you would expect when it comes to receiving gifts or inheriting from each other.
When planning any kind of an event, nothing is more important than putting the right person in charge. And when the “event” is as personal and important as your own funeral, it’s essential to have it managed by someone who knows what would be meaningful—to you and the loved ones you leave behind.
So who will plan your funeral? Will it be someone who wants to honor your life appropriately and has your best interests at heart? Each of us would like to think so, but as members of the LGBT community, we need to take special care to ensure that the right person oversees our final arrangements.
“It ain’t what they call you,” said W.C. Fields. “It’s what you answer to.” The hard-drinking American comedian knew what he was talking about. Throughout his life, Fields would answer to many names, including Otis Criblecoblis, Mahatma Kane Jeeves, and Uncle Claude.
Many of us in the LGBTQ community are also fond of “stage names,” which our friends may use out of affection or sheer playfulness! A legal name, on the other hand, is an important part of our identity, and taking on a new name is usually done only for serious reasons. Often, these reasons include major life events.
“My friends are my estate,” said Emily Dickinson, the reclusive American poet. Many of us can appreciate the sentiment. When asked about writing a will, we shrug. “What have I got to leave anyone besides a little Subaru and a lot of student loan debt?”
The truth is that estate planning is just as essential for the rich as for the unrich because a properly drafted plan does more than simply divide up your worldly goods. It ensures that people you trust are in charge in case something should happen to you, and it protects any children you may have. Here’s how it works: