Preventing Disasters: Estate Planning for Older, Unmarried LGBTQ Couples in Illinois

Produced on: June 04, 2018

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 60 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

In addition to ushering in new laws, the marriage equality push over the last decade provided an opportunity for researchers to investigate the issues confronting older LGBTQ couples who remain unmarried. The reports and case law emerging from this research yielded a resounding conclusion: the vulnerability inherent in being a member of the LGBTQ community who is growing old means that marriage is a more important construct for older LGBTQ couples than older straight couples. Without proper estate planning, the net effect of this vulnerability can be disastrous economically, emotionally, and physically for not only the couple, but also any non-blood-related loved ones. Thus, it is incumbent upon estate planning attorneys representing the LGBTQ community to seek to provide the maximum protections that legal instruments, services, and creative problem-solving can offer.

This program, taught Max Elliott, will cover these critical and life-altering estate planning issues for LGBTQ couples in Illinois. Ms. Elliott is principal and founder of the Chicago-based firm, The Law Offices of Max Elliott. Her firm practices estate planning and wealth preservation for the LGBTQ community, women, and small business owners. She is a member of the Chicago Bar Association Trust Law Executive Committee, the U.S. Trust Center of Influence on Estate Planning, and an American Bar Foundation Fellow. Max has also presented several times to bar association and community groups on estate planning topics such as marriage equality, and the intersection of retirement and estate planning.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Review marriage equality jurisprudence and the landscape of legal protections afforded by marriage, including the qualitative and quantitative benefits
  2. Become familiar with issues affecting older couples, such as elder abuse and exploitation, and how it manifests inside and outside the couples’ residence
  3. Distinguish between estate planning and elder law, and understand how the changing legal needs of older couples determine their legal needs
  4. Identify estate planning instruments, provisions, and operations of law that can support protections needed by older, unmarried, LGBTQ couples and the loved ones that provide them support


Max Elliott

The Law Offices of Max Elliott, Ltd

Maximillienne "Max" Elliott, our firm's Principal, practices with the compassion and sensitivity required to maintain family harmony for her clients. She is licensed to practice in the State of Illinois and has represented clients with large and modest estates, challenging negotiations, multi-jurisdictional probate matters, guardianship involving minors and disabled persons, and family-owned business planning.

Max routinely speaks to lawyers, students, and community groups. For years, she was a staunch supporter of marriage equality, educating colleagues and the public on the adverse effects of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and was elated to celebrate the Supreme Court's historic ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that established marriage equality across the nation for all LGBTQ couples.

Max is a volunteer faculty member for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE), member of the U.S. Trust, Bank of America Center on Influence on estate planning, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Chicago Bar Association Trust Law Committee.

Before launching her practice, Max was a law clerk in a boutique tax litigation firm, assisting the principal in probate, domestic relations, corporate records, non-profit corporation compliance, and estate planning.

In addition to her legal experience, Max has more than 20 years of non-legal employment experience, including many  years in the American Bar Association's International Liaison Office in the President's Office and several years with Fortune 500 companies.

Throughout the years, she has also assisted entrepreneurs in creating viable business planning solutions. This experience and her compassion for the philanthropic efforts has also guided Max to become General Counsel of The Bernie Mac Foundation.

Max has received numerous awards for her commitment to the community and is an active volunteer member of several legal organizations: the Black Women Lawyers’ Association; the Cook County Bar Association; Chicago Bar Association; Illinois State Bar Association; and American Bar Association.

Also, because of her strong commitment to public service, she also supports Chicago Women’s Health Center, a women’s medical collaborative center providing healthcare services to women living alternative lifestyles and those in the LGBTQ community, IntraSpectrum Counseling a mental health treatment organization for the LGBTQ community; and Marillac St. Vincent, which serves low income families throughout Chicago. Max additionally serves on the Women’s Board of Heartland Alliance, and the Board of Directors of the DePaul Law Black Alumni Foundation.

Living in Chicago, Max is happily married with 2 charming stepsons and a darling niece.


Catherine E.

Very well organized presentation and rundown of current lines of legal decisions in this continuously changing area. While I personally believe that this should be a states' law area (like abortion), "it is what it is" and we attorneys have to deal with the existent legal realities on the ground.

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$ 59 Family & Matrimonial Law In Stock


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