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    Estate Planning Doesn’t Have to Be a Drag

    By Brandon Miller, CFP–

    Hear ye, hear ye, my friends!  I’m going to climb up on my soap box once again to remind you all how essential estate planning is. You are good planners, right? Be it planning fabulous vacations, Drag Race watch parties, or upcoming nuptials, I know you have opinions. Well, this is your time to shine!

    First off, let’s debunk a myth: estate planning isn’t just for the ultra-rich or elderly. It’s for anyone who wants to make sure their assets are protected and their loved ones are taken care of, regardless of age, wealth, or whom you love.

    So, what exactly does estate planning entail? Well, it’s all about making decisions now to ensure your wishes are carried out later. This means drafting a will, setting up trusts, designating beneficiaries, and maybe even considering end-of-life care preferences. It’s also a huge gift not to leave a mess behind for your loved ones to contend with.

    For non-traditional and LGBTQ+ folks, estate planning can be especially crucial. Why? Because, unfortunately, our legal system hasn’t always been the most welcoming or understanding when it comes to our relationships and identities. Without proper planning, your assets could end up in the wrong hands or your partner may not have a say in important medical decisions.

    But fear not! There are steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones given the unique legal landscape and potential family dynamics for our community.

    Create a Will

    This is where you get to call the shots on who gets what when you’re gone. For non-traditional families, this is even more critical. Without a will, the state will determine how your assets are distributed based on default inheritance laws, which won’t be your partner or chosen family unless you state as such. It’s key to explicitly outline your wishes regarding step-children, ex-partners, or chosen family members who aren’t legally recognized as relatives.

    Establish Powers of Attorney

    Then there’s the matter of healthcare directives and powers of attorney. These documents give someone you trust the authority to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so yourself. For LGBTQ+ individuals, especially those in states or countries where our rights are still up for debate, having these legal protections in place is crucial.

    Name Beneficiaries

    Ensure that your retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and any other accounts with designated beneficiaries are up to date. This ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and avoids potential conflicts.

    Consider Trusts

    Trusts can be useful for avoiding probate, maintaining privacy, and providing ongoing support for loved ones. They can also be used to minimize estate taxes. Trusts can be particularly important for LGBTQ individuals who may face challenges with family acceptance or legal recognition of their relationships.

    Review Titling of Assets

    Make sure that the ownership of your assets (such as property, bank accounts, and investments) aligns with your estate planning goals. Joint ownership or naming beneficiaries can help avoid probate and streamline the transfer of assets.

    Update Legal Documents

    Review and update all legal documents, including your will, trusts, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives, regularly or whenever there is a significant life event, such as marriage, divorce, or the birth or adoption of a child.

    Consider Guardianship for Children

    If you have kiddos, it’s crucial to designate guardians who will care for them if you are unable to do so. This can be especially important for LGBTQ individuals who may face custody challenges in certain situations.

    Document Your Wishes

    Clearly communicate your wishes to your loved ones and ensure that they have access to important documents and information. This can help prevent misunderstandings and disputes during difficult times.

    I know this might seem like a lot to take in, but trust me, it’s worth it. By taking the time to plan ahead, you can ensure that your legacy reflects who you are and what you value most. Plus, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of when the time comes.

    So, go ahead—pour yourself a glass of wine (or your beverage of choice) and get to planning. Your future self, and your loved ones, will thank you for it.

    Brio Financial Group is an SEC registered investment adviser. SEC registration does not constitute an endorsement of Brio Financial Group by the SEC nor does it indicate that Brio Financial Group has attained a particular level of skill or ability. This material prepared by Brio Financial Group is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to serve as a substitute for personalized investment advice or as a recommendation or solicitation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Opinions expressed by Brio Financial Group are based on economic or market conditions at the time this material was written. Facts presented have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Brio Financial Group, however, cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source. Brio Financial Group does not provide tax or legal advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as tax or legal advice. Please consult with your tax professional regarding your particular situation before implementing any strategies discussed.

    Brandon Miller, CFP®, is a financial consultant at Brio Financial Group in San Francisco, specializing in helping LGBT individuals and families plan and achieve their financial goals. For more information:

    Money Matters
    Published on March 21, 2024