With the back and forth legal rulings regarding California’s Proposition 8, the issue of same-sex marriages once again dominated headlines around the country. For same-sex couples, the legality of same-sex marriages profoundly affects their legal and financial rights.
Estate planning for same-sex couples continues to be the only way to document preferences and make them legally enforceable. For an attorney, one of the goals for representing gay and lesbian clients is to ensure that if they become disabled and unable to control their finances or make their own medical decisions, they have say over who will step in and make these decisions for them. For most same-sex couples, a durable (financial) power of attorney, health care power of attorney, living will and healthcare directive, and hospital visitation directive is prepared along with wills and/or trusts. In some cases, a domestic-partner agreement, cohabitation agreement or custody agreement is also prepared as part of the estate plan.
Of these documents, clients are most likely to require emergency access to the healthcare directives, durable powers of attorney for healthcare, and hospital visitation directives. And while attorneys typically advise clients to keep such documents readily accessible at all times, the need for access to these documents is most acute among non-traditional couples. This is because unlike traditional unions where spouses are routinely bestowed certain rights when visiting each other in the hospital, same-sex couples are often required to produce a hospital visitation directives and/or health care powers of attorney before they are given any information, access or right to make decisions on behalf of their loved ones. As such, it is important that documents be accessible 24/7.
To ensure that LGBT individuals are protected amidst swirling controversy and volatile marriage laws, our law firm offers online document storage through LegalVault which allows 24/7 access to a person’s estate planning documents, including their healthcare documents.
LegalVault allows you to store all of your healthcare and legal documents in one central location which can be accessed anywhere and at any time. By offering secure online document storage, our clients can get at their documents when they need them most.