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As the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 continues to spread, the current pandemic has many people worried about their ability to access health care, and about what will happen if they are suddenly incapacitated. Many are also finally making time for the estate planning that many attorneys have been encouraging for years. Advance planning is important for everyone, but because LGBTQ people are more likely than their straight and cisgender peers to rely on families of choice, advance planning is the only way to ensure that they receive respectful health care, and that life-and-death decisions are made by people they trust.

Careful estate planning can avoid dire consequences, such as when a transgender man receiving medical care at an emergency room found that hospital staff failed to call him by the name on his identification and insurance card, and instead used his former legal name because it was listed in old treatment records that pre-dated his legal name change. Without advance planning, people who rely on support from a friend or chosen family, or on an unmarried partner, may be at the mercy of estranged relatives. And less than two years ago, when a transgender woman died without written funeral directions, relatives with authority over her funeral, who had refused to accept her identity while she was alive—held services that erased her female identity.

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