When you sit down with your attorney to flesh out your estate plan, you may be under the impression that the usual information about financial assets, property, bequests and the like will be sufficient. You will be talking about things like wills, trusts and patient advocate designations, and you think you have everything covered.
However, there may be parts of your life or beliefs you hold that could be relevant in terms of estate planning. Consider the following points, and if any apply to your situation, you should share the details with your attorney.
Do you have a close personal relationship that your family is not aware of? Are you involved in a civil union or domestic partnership? Do you and your loved one have a same-sex marriage? Unless you have a traditional marriage, no outside relationships, and you plan to leave everything to your spouse when you die, you will want to have a frank discussion with your attorney. Legal obligations come with other types of relationships, and your attorney can help you understand how they might affect your estate plan.
You may have given someone a large gift of money for one reason or another, possibly against the wishes of your spouse. Keep in mind that if that gift was more than $13,000 in any one year, you need to report it on a federal gift tax return. Your attorney can give you advice about this if you intend to make similar gifts in the future.
Have you mentioned that you are going through a gender transition? Your attorney will need to know about this to ensure that all your legal documents are in order. These include but are not limited to your driver’s license, social security registration, passport, professional licenses — and your birth certificate.
Pulling the plug
You need to think about the quality of your life and the point at which it might inexorably decline. In that case, what instructions do you want medical professionals to follow regarding your care? This is another of the somewhat uncomfortable topics you should discuss with your attorney in order to develop a well-tailored estate plan that will cover all the bases in your life.