Up until recently I don’t know that I was a believer in the need for marriage for same-sex couples. Even with the Husbear and I having been together for 15 years, in my brain it didn’t seem like something we really needed. But because of recent events, I’ve reconsidered that. Probably not for the reason most people do however.
There is one major reason I think marriage of same-sex couples should be legal: because I don’t want to have to deal with death differently than legally married people do.
Let me explain.
When one half of a legally married couple dies, the surviving half has certain rights and benefits automatically extended to them that help protect that person during that time of distress and after. But when one half of a not legally married couple dies, things can—and often do—go downhill quickly for the other half in regards to decision making and their future.
One shouldn’t have to be thinking about “what happens to our stuff” or “where am I going to live” before the funeral is over. And yet, that happens time and again to many same-sex couples.
Until that day comes when same-sex couples can be married with legal recognition throughout the entire country and have these same legal rights, I urge you to hire an attorney and get whatever legal documents you need to have for the state you reside in to have the legal protection similar to what legally married couples get automatically: a Last Will; Living Trust; Power of Attorney; Living Will; Disposition of Remains.
You can get an idea of what some of those do here.
And I know this sounds odd, but make sure you have the paperwork drawn up and signed separately. You don’t want your partner’s family members saying you forced your partner to sign them under duress and contest the paperwork. It happens.
Someone has to take care of your possessions and finances after you are gone. The only way to make sure it’s your partner is to declare that in a Last Will. Or better, a Living Trust.
And while it sounds morbid, decree what you want done with your body and what kind of funeral you would like. A funeral should be a reflection of that person’s life, not what someone else thinks it should be. Do you really want to subject friends to a religious-themed funeral if you are an atheist, all because a family member gets to decide after you are gone? Do you want your body to be cremated but instead someone has you embalmed? Do you want certain songs played? These are things you can declare in a Disposition of Remains, or similarly named document in your state.
Who would have thought death could be so complicated?
And the paperwork exists not just for when you are dead, but before that as well. Who will make medical decisions when/if you are unable to? Or I should say, who will be legally allowed to make those decisions for you? That’s what documents like the Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney are for.
Once you have the paperwork, make sure you keep it updated as your life changes. And ALWAYS carry copies of it with you at all times—as well as your attorney’s phone number—because you never know when it’s going to be needed.
Until next time...