two gay men sit together in bryant park looking at each other affectionately

Planning has gotten a lot simpler for some of us as marriage has become more inclusive, but the laws regarding healthcare and marriage have been in flux for a while. Of course, changing laws don’t immediately change people’s attitudes – and that’s especially anxiety-inducing when it’s your healthcare team or nursing home roommate who’s giving you trouble.

Questions to answer today

  • Are you the next of kin for hospital visitation and emergency medical decisions?
  • Do I need to keep all this paperwork on me all the time, just in case?
  • Could your partner’s family step in and make their medical decisions and even bar you from visitation?
  • Can you be covered under your partner’s health insurance?
  • Can you qualify for Medicaid or Medicare through your partner?
  • What happens to our kids if one of us dies?
  • Can you transfer property to your partner?
  • Do you qualify for FMLA for your partner or their parents?
  • Do you qualify for bereavement leave if your partner dies?
  • Would you qualify to file a wrongful death suit?
  • Can you inherit your partner’s pension or recieve Social Security survivor benefits?
  • Will you be required to pay taxes on your residence or partner’s savings when they pass away?
  • Could your partner’s estranged family step in to make memorial decision and claim their assets?
  • What do I do if someone refuses my partner care?

Thankfully, the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging has great articles and guides to help you navigate long-term planning and protecting your family from discrimination.


federal law provides at least 1,138 tangible protections, rights, and responsibilities with marriage — and that doesn’t include state and local law, and employers, or the intangible security, dignity, and meaning that come with marriage. – Freedom to Marry

Legal basics for LGBT elders and their loved ones [PDF]

Planning for LGBT individuals and couples: estate planning, healthcare, & retirement [PDF]

Guide to LGBT caregiving [PDF]

Affordable housing for LGBT adults [PDF]

Housing rights for transgender adults [PDF]

As they try and take care of each other and their families, they have the same sets of economic decisions to make as everyone else. But same-sex committed couples experience numerous economic injustices directly connected to their exclusion from the protections marriage provides under the law. – Freedom to Marry

Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock.com

Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock.com

Trans & genderqueer resources

Transgender elders face major discrimination in long-term care. Choosing LGBT specific long-term care facilities and senior housing has its own pros and cons.

By using the wrong pronouns or names, a staff member essentially negates a lifetime of struggle. – National Resource Center on LGBT Aging

They’ve created a short guide on how to word end-of-life care documents to ensure your loved one’s identity is respected [PDF].


Freedom to Marry has a great overview of the importance of marriage equality as a factor of economic justice [PDF].

Want to locate age-inclusive LGBT resources in your area? The LGBT Aging Center can help.

Are you a healthcare professional? Learn how to create an inclusive environment for everyone, including LGBT people [PDF].

Written by Cori Carl
As Director, Cori is an active member of the community and regularly creates resources for people providing care.

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