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LGBTQ Estate Planning Services

Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark case that legalized same-sex marriage across the nation, was a long overdue victory for the LGBTQ community and their supporters. While that victory did make estate planning easier for many LGBTQ individuals, it did not resolve all of the complex legal issues that members of the LGBTQ community face. The reality is that full legal equality remains lacking, and discrimination still exists, resulting in a heightened need for comprehensive estate planning by members of the LGBTQ community in Reno NV and beyond.

Anderson, Dorn & Rader, committed to providing the help that you need with LGBTQ estate planning in Reno NV so you and your loved ones are always protected. Our legal team can assist you in identifying the unique issues that you face and can advise you on making effective use of legal tools to protect yourself and your family.

Ongoing Concerns for the LGBTQ Community

The nation’s highest court finally took on the issue of same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges finally declaring that states must allow same-sex couples to marry and must recognize same-sex marriages from other states. While this is undisputedly good news going forward, it also created a legal quagmire for some LGBTQ couples. Same-sex couples who previously married in a state that recognized same-sex marriage and then decided to end their relationship in a state that did not allow same-sex marriages may not have been allowed to go through a legal divorce. Worse still, they may not even realize they are still legally married now that all states must recognize same-sex marriages. Conversely, couples who entered into a civil union or other quasi-marriage prior to the decision in Obergefell may assume their civil union was converted to a legal marriage; however, it may not have been. As you can well imagine, a mistake in your marital status can wreak havoc with your estate in the event of your incapacity or death. Fortunately, a well thought out estate plan can erase any doubt as to your wishes and intentions.

The right to marry now gives your spouse rights to many state and federal benefits to which you are entitled, such as veterans benefits and Social Security retirement benefits; however, it does not completely open the door to all such benefits. Moreover, the right to marry cannot force family members or even businesses to accept and acknowledge your relationship. If your family opposes your relationship, or worse, refuses to acknowledge it, they could try very hard to shut your spouse out of the decision-making process entirely in the event of your incapacity or death. The result may be a costly and emotionally exhausting legal battle that could have been avoided with careful estate planning.
lgbtq estate planning

How can estate planning help lgbtq in reno nv?

Every adult should have a comprehensive estate plan in place. As a member of the LGBTQ community, estate planning becomes even more important to ensure that your wishes are clear and to avoid contentious and costly legal battles. Some common estate planning tools that can help include:
Last Will and Testament — Your Will lets you gift assets to anyone you choose, including your spouse/partner. You also have the ability to appoint someone to administer your estate in the event of your death and nominate a Guardian for your minor child if one is ever needed.
Joint ownership — Using the right type of joint ownership (with rights of survivorship) to title real property ensures that your legal ownership interest in the property will automatically transfer to your spouse/partner upon your death, avoiding the need for the property to pass through probate.
Advanced directives — An advance directive gives your designated Agent the legal authority to make healthcare decisions for you in the event you are unable to make them yourself. When family members are less than supportive of your relationship, an advance directive effectively stops a legal battle over the right to make decisions for you in its tracks.
Revocable living trust — If you also want to ensure that your spouse/partner has the legal right to control your assets in the event of your incapacity, a revocable living trust lets you shift control of assets held in the trust to your spouse/partner by naming him/her as your successor Trustee.
Funeral planning — Incorporating a funeral planning component into your estate plan ensures that your wishes will be honored after you are gone and, of equal importance, that the person you designate will be in charge of any decisions that need to be made regarding your funeral and burial.

Contact a Reno NV LGBTQ Estate Planning Attorney Today

The day will come when complete equality exists for everyone; however, until that day arrives, it is imperative that you remain vigilant with regard to your estate plan if you are a member of the LGBTQ community to ensure that your wishes are respected and honored. The LGBTQ estate planning attorneys at Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd. in Reno NV are dedicated to helping you create a plan that protects you and your wishes. Contact us by calling (775) 823-9455 or contact us online today.
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LGBTQ Estate Planning FAQ

Why is estate planning especially important for the LGBTQ community in Reno NV?

LGBTQ estate planning has traditionally been absolutely essential in Reno, NV because of the fact that same-sex couples in long-term committed relationships could not get legally married in the eyes of the law. There are certain inherent protections that married people enjoy that did not extend to unmarried couples.

Since the landmark Supreme Court ruling in the Edith Windsor case, gay marriages are recognized by the federal government, so the unfair dynamic no longer exists.

What are these protections?

Even if you were to die without any estate planning documents, if you are married, your spouse would receive an inheritance in accordance with the Nevada intestate succession laws. A spouse would also be able to make medical decisions on behalf of his or her incapacitated partner.

The Supreme Court case revolved around another issue that would fit into this category. Windsor was forced to pay the federal estate tax when she inherited a large sum from her partner, Thea Spyer. They were legally married in Canada, but the United States federal government did not recognize the marriage.

There is an unlimited marital estate tax deduction that allows you to transfer unlimited assets to your spouse free of the estate tax. Windsor sued because she felt as though she should be able to use the marital deduction, and eventually, she won the case.

Is a will the right asset transfer vehicle if you are not very wealthy?

In most cases, a trust will be a better choice. The revocable living trust is a very versatile estate planning tool that is ideal for a wide range of different people. You don’t have to worry about surrendering control of assets in a living trust, because you can act as the trustee and the beneficiary while you are living.

When you establish the trust declaration, you name successors to assume these roles after you pass away. After your death, the trustee would follow the instructions and distribute assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes.

These distributions would not be subject to probate, which is a costly and time-consuming legal process. A will would be admitted to probate, so the probate avoidance factor is a major benefit, but there are others.

In addition to the living trust, there are other types of trust that can be used to satisfy a wide variety of different objectives. The right choice will depend upon the circumstances, and this is why it is important to discuss your unique situation with a licensed estate planning attorney.


Yes, you should prepare for possible latter life incapacity. If you have a living trust, you can name a disability trustee to act as the administrator if you become unable to make sound decisions.

You could add a durable power of attorney for property to empower someone to manage assets that have not been conveyed into the trust. With a living will, you can state your preferences regarding the utilization of life-sustaining measures. Another document that should be added is a durable power of attorney for health care decision-making.

LGBTQ Resources

Human Rights Campaign (HRC)

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBTQ citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
Visit The Human Rights Campaign

The Advocate

The Advocate is a US-based national gay and lesbian newsmagazine. It includes the GSK pride guide, forums, and links related to articles.
Visit The Advocate


GLAAD is a non-profit organization, that’s been at the forefront of cultural change and acceptance for the LGBTQ community for over 30 years.
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