LGBT Estate Planning

Maryland Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual
& Transgender Estate Planning

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

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.

What is love? With Valentine’s Day upon us, it’s worth grappling with this age-old question. In its truest sense, love isn’t a warm feeling or a tender moment. Love is taking action to help someone who matters to you. “Don’t just tell me you love me,” the saying goes. “Show me.”

On Valentine’s Day, many gay and lesbian couples do take action to show their love for each other—and we often take great pleasure in doing so! Whether we have been together a few months or a few decades, we cook romantic meals, send beautiful flowers, and exchange heartfelt cards to honor our relationships.

Couples who have promised to stay together “til death do us part” should consider going a step further by having “sweetheart wills” prepared. These documents will ensure that if one partner dies, the survivor will be provided for by inheriting the entire estate. The provisions in both partners’ wills would mirror each other, so the outcome would be the same regardless of which one of them died first.

For example, couples without children sometimes decide that when they are both gone, their combined estate should go to their nieces and nephews and a few carefully selected charities. The charities may have an LGBT focus, or they might promote higher education, animal welfare, or the arts.

Many of us in the LGBT community were happy to see 2016 come to an end. Last year we felt the shock of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. We mourned the deaths of David Bowie, Prince, and George Michael. And we suffered a setback in the march toward equality through the election of Donald Trump.

This last event has left many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans feeling no more optimistic about the year ahead. The LGBT community hasn’t been the primary target of Mr. Trump’s animus, but Mike Pence, his vice president, is decidedly anti-gay. Their rise to power—and the formation of a Republican administration—has worrying implications for 2017 and beyond.