New Guide Helps Gay and Lesbian Elders Safeguard Rights

[This article was originally published on July 10, 2009.  The links were updated on August 16, 2018.]

The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) has published a manual to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) elders and their families and caregivers navigate legal issues.

The Center estimates that there are between 3.5 and 4 million LGBT persons age 65 and older in the U.S. Many of these individuals confront institutions and public policies that do not recognize their needs or acknowledge their families, or that discriminate against them based on their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

Planning with Purpose: Legal Basics for LGBT Elders provides basic information about areas of the law that are important to LGBT elders, especially individuals and couples who are age 55 and over, based on NCLRs experience advocating for LGBT elders. The guide includes information on relationship recognition, finances, health care, long-term care, planning for the care of minor or disabled children, inheritance, elder abuse, and discrimination against LGBT elders. It covers many areas where rights, benefits, and protections are generally provided to heterosexual people based on spousal status, but are denied to same-sex couples, even if married or in other legal unions. It also highlights issues unique to transgender elders.

The manual states that its purpose "is to give you some legal information, and to help you think about 'planning with purpose' and how to best protect yourself within a legal system that does not yet provide equality to everyone."

The NCLR is a national non-profit, public interest legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of LGBT people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and education. The NCLRs Elder Law Project has been in existence since 1999. Visit the NCLR's Elder Law Project page.

Read an article on the NCLR's Elder Law Project.