by Ken Schneck, Editor
These days, it can be a bit difficult to find things to celebrate, so let us provide one for you: Happy National Estate Planning Awareness Week!
We sat down with Siobhan Boyd-Nelson, Director of Development and External Relations at Equality Ohio, to talk about the importance of estate planning and a new (and free!) tool that will support the process.
Happy National Estate Planning Awareness Week!
Thank you very much! We all need estate plans. They’re important.
Tell us why estate plans are important.
Estate plans allow you to have some control over a part of life that you really can’t control. For many of us in LGBTQ+ community, estate plans are particularly important because the law is set up with certain assumptions about who we are, who our families are, who our loved ones are, and who should receive the proceeds of the hard work of our lives. Those assumptions don’t always align with the realities of LGBTQ+ people.
Creating an estate plan, even a simple one, is our opportunity to be sure that the proceeds of our lifetime of our hard work are being shared with those who we truly love and who we want to share in those proceeds.
How can Equality Ohio support this process?
Equality Ohio is helping by offering a free tool called Free Will. We were introduced to this tool from another equality organization in Florida and saw it as really unique way to get people thinking about their estate plan. We vetted Free Will over a period of over 6 months, talking to them, looking at what they have available, and looking at the way they approach LGBTQ+ individuals. We offered suggestions on how to make it a more LGBTQ-friendly tool and they were enthusiastic about those suggestions.
We are offering this tool as a way of engaging in estate planning, everything from using this as a jumping off point to start a conversation with loved ones to—after 20-25 minutes—having a complete, legally valid estate plan.
If you were planning a party for National Estate Planning Awareness Week, other than Free Will, what would that party look like?
If there’s anything I have learned from Equality Ohio staff members, it’s that it isn’t a party if there’s no cake. So there would be a giant cake there and the cake would say, “Thank you for making a plan.” It really is an act of love to yourself and those around you.
Ask yourself, “When I leave this life, how can I do so with as much dignity as possible for both myself and those that I am leaving behind? How can I equip them to go through this next stage of their life without me in a strong, confident, and dignified way?”
It’s almost like we’re all planning our own individual parties and inviting the folks we love. Invite your favorite people, let them know you’re thinking about your estate, and make sure that everyone feels really confident for when that moment comes, because it’s a tough moment.
If you know a professional estate attorney, invite them to the party too. This is not to replace these professionals who have been doing this work for a number of years. This is just one important step in legal wellness.
- Start thinking about estate planning and check out Free Will.
Ken Schneck is the Editor of The Buckeye Flame. He is the author of Seriously, What Am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew (2017), LGBTQ Cleveland (2018), LGBTQ Columbus (2019), and LGBTQ Cincinnati (2020). In his spare time, he is a professor of education at Baldwin Wallace University. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.