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The Legal Documents Every LGBT Older Adult Needs
What you need to put in writing to protect your financial, health care and end-of-life decisions.
LGBT people often rely on caregivers who are not legally recognized, such as partners and families of choice. Because of this, these caregivers can be excluded from decision-making on a loved one’s medical care and end-of-life plans, unless there are specific legal arrangements in place.
Everyone should have legal documents to ensure that their end-of-life wishes are followed. If you become incapacitated or die without certain documents in place, state law gives decision-making authority and any inheritance to the "next-of-kin"—either a legally recognized spouse or blood relative. This could result in surviving LGBT partners or other loved ones being unable to carry out funeral and burial wishes, being shut out of an inheritance, forfeiture of a family home, and other dire consequences.
Here is an overview of the legal documents you need to ensure that your financial, legal and medical wishes are respected. Please note that state laws vary widely, so it is best to consult an attorney when putting together these documents. Visit findlegalhelp.org, a tool of the American Bar Association, to start your search for an attorney in your state.
Medical Power of Attorney/Health Care Proxy
Financial Power of Attorney
Real Estate Ownership
Hospital Visitation Directive
Please note that in April 2010, President Obama passed a mandate to extend visitation and medical decision-making rights to LGBT partners and families of choice. This mandate applies to all medical facilities that receive Medicaid or Medicare funding (which covers the vast majority of medical facilities in the country). You must still complete a hospital visitation directive, which the hospital must then follow. For more information on the mandate, read the "Presidental Memorandum – Hospital Visitation."
More Legal Resources:
ACLU’s LGBT Project
Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders
National Center for Lesbian Rights
Sylvia Rivera Law Project
Transgender Law Center
Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund
U.S. Living Will Registry
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