Further protecting your same-sex marriage

Many in our community are concerned about the future of same-sex marriage and our civil rights.
If this is you, let’s do something about it. Take the following steps to legally and financially protect your relationship as much as possible.
Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship
Put your assets in a Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship. Joint tenancy means that when one of you passes away, the other automatically and fully owns of all your assets.
This protects against others’ claims to your assets.

Each of you should draw up a will that spells out the owner of your assets when you pass away. Unless you come to another agreement, inherit your assets to each other. In the unfortunate event that you both pass away at or about the same time, include a per stirpes clause to outline the sequence of inheritors.
Designate an executor, likely each other, to oversee the division of your estates. If you have children, designate non-biological parents as their guardian.

Update all the beneficiaries on all ac-counts to be in line with your will unless you and your spouse agree otherwise.
This technicality catches many by surprise, but beneficiary designations supersede wills. For this reason, update your beneficiaries annually when you file your taxes.

Second-Parent Adoptions
If you have or will have children, non- biological parents should legally adopt and be listed on their birth certificates as the second parent.
This will be hard in some states, as some state constitutions have outdated language that prohibits two people of the same gender on the same birth certificate.

Powers of Attorney
Designate each other as both financial and medical powers of attorney. Financial powers of attorney designate an agent to handle financial needs. Medical powers of attorney designate someone to handle medical needs.
Choose a durable power or springing power of attorney.
Durable powers of attorney authorize an agent to immediately act on your be¬half, including if you become temporarily or permanently incompetent or incapacitated. The authorization ceases when you pass away.
Springing powers of attorney authorize an agent to act on your behalf and only goes into effect if you become permanently incapacitated, as authorized by a medical doctor. This, too, ceases when you pass away.

Living Wills
Living wills outline medical and end-of- life wishes, if you cannot speak for yourself. Specify DNR (do not resuscitate), the use of feeding tubes, respirators, dialysis and blood transfusions instructions.

Contact Information
Document important contacts, such as doctors, accountants and attorneys, and their contact information should you become incompetent or incapacitated.

Store important documents and information electronically. DocuBank electronically stores legal documents and information on an easily accessible card the size of a credit card. This is helpful when you must access information on the fly, such as when medical professionals question your rights to visit your spouse in the hospital.
Even if some of these steps are redundant, they provide added protection in case the legality of our marriages are questioned.

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