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Navigating Estate Planning for the LGBTQ+ Community
Estate Planning 101

Navigating Estate Planning for the LGBTQ+ Community

Learn how to navigate estate planning challenges unique to the LGBTQ+ community and safeguard your personal wishes.

For the LGBTQ+ community estate planning can be a unique challenge. One must navigate obstacles such as the risk of people managing your estate who do not understand or do not agree with your personal circumstances and identity, under default laws regarding common law spouses.

The good news is that there are ways to help mitigate these risks. One is to document your wishes in a Will and in powers of attorney. These documents will help to ensure your personal dignity is upheld, you are protected while you’re alive and that your wishes are met after you pass.

As important as these documents are, most people don’t know where to start when it comes to planning for possible incapacity/late life and estates. We’ve compiled a few ways to help you navigate estate planning:

Provincial laws

Each province has different laws and many treat married and common law couples differently, including when it comes to right to inherit. With many LGBTQ+ couples in common law relationships, it’s important to name your common law partner in your Will if you wish for some or all of your estate to be passed to them.

An estate plan tailored to your needs

Being proactive ensures your incapacity/end-of-life care and your wishes for your estate have a higher chance of being handled the way you want. To get started, gather important information regarding your personal and financial needs, and write down your wishes. For example, how you want to be represented, including choosing long-term care facilities and services that are supportive of the LGBTQ+ community, and funeral arrangements.

Your chosen family

Your loved ones play a pivotal role in providing emotional support. Smart planning includes gathering and communicating your needs to those you know will be there for you in the event of a severe illness or death.

The right executor and attorney

As an LGBTQ+ individual, you want to choose executors and attorneys (for your powers of attorney) who you are confident will honour your wishes. These individuals hold a lot of power, so it’s important to choose wisely and appoint someone who is trust-worthy and supports your identity, and to tell them explicitly what your instructions are.


Having alternatives named in your documents can help mitigate any risks that can come up if your primary executor or attorney is not able to act or continue to act in that role. If you do not have an alternative named there is a risk that someone—like next of kin—who you wouldn’t choose will end up settling your estate or making your health care and financial decisions.

For more on this topic, listen to the Estate planning tips that can help protect LGBTQ+ individuals episode of the Matter’s Beyond Wealth podcast.

RBC Royal Trust and RBC Wealth Management are business segments of the Royal Bank of Canada. Please click this link www.rbc.com/legal/ for further information on the entities that are member companies of RBC Wealth Management. The Companies and the Royal Bank of Canada do not endorse or recommend any information, content or services offered on any third party website. The content in this publication is provided for general information only and is not intended to provide any advice or endorse/recommend the content contained in the publication. ®/TM Trademark(s) of Royal Bank of Canada. RBC and Royal Trust are registered trademarks of Royal Bank of Canada. Used under license. © Royal Bank of Canada 2024. All rights reserved.

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