When one spouse passes away, there is an absolute right belonging to the surviving spouse, to decide what to do with the deceased spouse’s body and to make all funeral arrangements. The same is not true for same sex couples who live in states where their unions are not legally recognized. The good news is, an estate plan that addresses these and other issues concerning gay couples, can be a very easy solution. Having the right plan in place will make it so that your same-sex partner can decide how to dispose of your remains.
The status of same-sex couples in California
In 2013, California became one of the rising number of states in our country that has legalized gay marriage. This means that gay couples who are legally married in the state of California, will have the right to make the same decisions for their spouses as heterosexual spouses have always enjoyed. This includes deciding how to dispose of their spouse’s remains after death. Yet not all gay couples choose to legalize their union. What are the options for those same-sex couples who do not have the same legal rights as married couples?
How to obtain the right to make important decisions for your partner
There are many different estate planning instruments that can be used to give same-sex partners the ability to make the most important decisions for each other, whenever it becomes necessary. These estate planning tools are known as Advanced Directives. A durable power of attorney for health care is the most common way to achieve this goal.
With a durable power of attorney for health care, you can give your partner the authority to make decisions concerning your, not only your funeral arrangements, but your medical care and treatment, as well, should you become incapacitated. This document can be created to take effect at any point when you are no longer capable of making your own decisions. With this legal document in place, same-sex cannot be excluded from hospital rooms, for example. You can bestow upon your partner all of the rights and privileges of a legally married spouse, by expressing your wishes in a written document that must be honored.
Let us know if you need help
As California estate planning attorneys, we understand the diverse needs of the LGBTQ community. Our firm is very sensitive to those needs. As the laws regarding same-sex couples continue to transform, the LGBTQ community will be faced with many challenges created by the dissimilar treatment of their relationships in each state. Issues relating to estate and tax planning, probate, gifts and more, will be of great importance.
If you have questions regarding advanced directives, or any other LGBTQ estate planning needs, please contact the Schomer Law Group either online or by calling us at (310) 337-7696.
To learn more, please download our free LGBTQ relationship recognition in California report here.
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