The National Center for Lesbian Rights has released a new planning guide for LGBT Elders called Planning With A Purpose: Legal Basics for LGBT Elders. Download PlanningWithAPurpose. This booklet provides basic information about how the laws affect the rights of LGBT elder's in terms of financial issues, health care decisions, long term care planning, and estate planning.
The book points out the importance of having a durable power of attorney for finances, a health care proxy to appoint someone to make health care decisions for you, and a living will (also called a life support statement or medical directive) that lets your health care agent know what decisions you want made. It also talks about a Hospital Visitation Authorization. I use a HIPAA release form in my practice to accomplish this. The HIPAA release allows doctors, health insurance providers and other medical professionals to communicate with the people named on the form regardless of whether the person who signed the form is incapacitated. This is useful when calling to check on a health insurance claim for a partner, or if family members from out of state want to call the hospital and get information about your condition.
The booklet also deals with planning for minor children and children with special needs, and touches on long term care planning.
One of the nice things about this booklet is that it stresses the importance of visiting an attorney to review all these issues and to draft the documents you need to make sure your wishes are honored. Prepackaged forms or do-it-yourself kits often end up costing ten times as much as a plan with an attorney would have when it is challenged or turns out to not be legally binding. And by working with an attorney, you make sure that there is someone for your partner or family to turn to if and when the documents need to be amended or used.
Reviewing this booklet and starting the conversation about your property, the important people in your life and your plans for the future will give you a good foundation for your visit with the attorney. And you can rest assured knowing that your estate plan will ensure that your needs will be met and your wishes will be honored.