LGBT Estate Planning

Maryland Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual
& Transgender Estate Planning

111 South Calvert St, Suite 1400, Baltimore, MD 21202 • 410.783.6349 •

Fans of the folk group Peter, Paul & Mary may remember this lyric: “Home is where the heart is, no matter how the heart lives.” Later in her career, Mary Travers’s voice may have aged, but she still sang this message of gay equality with undiminished gusto.

Home is where the heart is, especially for those of us in the LGBT community, who might not fit the traditional definition of family. The most important people in our lives may be bound to us more through emotional connections than legal ones.

Bonds of affection do make a family strong and cohesive, but they may not be enough to sustain it in a crisis. This is especially true for our children. The blending of families through adoption or remarriage can complicate the legal connection between parent and child. Being a loving parent means taking advantage of every benefit the law provides to protect this essential relationship.

William Wordsworth said that the best part of a good man’s life is “his little nameless unrememberd acts of kindness and of love.” In this spirit, many of us work to fill each page of our life’s story with small deeds of compassion and helpfulness. One such deed we might not have considered is planning our final farewell.

Anyone who has arranged the funeral of someone who has died knows what a challenge it can be. A funeral is the one event where the guest of honor has no say in what it should look like, where it should take place, or who should have a role to play – unless he or she plans ahead. Providing even a brief outline of your wishes is an enormous act of kindness to the people you leave behind. And this is one aspect of estate planning that doesn’t require a lawyer.

Rather than calling themselves single, some folks would say they’re in a long-term relationship with action, adventure, and fun! After all, the single life has much to offer. Those of us who are unattached may enjoy a greater sense of freedom—and the chance to sleep uninterrupted by the drone of a partner’s snoring or the kick of their restless legs.

But even with this greater freedom, we still have a responsibility to ourselves to plan for the curveballs and unexpected outcomes life can deliver. Being single means there is no obvious person to step up to the plate in an emergency. Planning ahead is therefore essential.

Considering these four questions will help you prepare for whatever lies ahead.

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.