LGBTQ couples know that getting a marriage recognized by the state is only a small portion of solving the legal hurdles to their relationships. Until every state and federal law recognizes the relationship, there will always be potential challenges that LGBTQ couples need to plan around in their estate plans.
If you are in the hospital, the law lets doctors communicate with your spouse about your health care decisions. However, if you go on vacation and have an accident in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage, you cannot rely on the hospital staff in that state to recognize your spouse and communicate with him or her. That doesn’t mean that the hospital staff are prejudiced or discriminating against you and your spouse. They have medical privacy laws that they must obey and they may not know the legal status of your out-of-state relationships.
You can protect your interests in that scenario by having a Health Care Power of Attorney that gives your spouse the authority to make your health care decisions when you are unable to make them. It’s a good idea for all married couples to have them, but it is essential for same-sex couples. Talk to an estate planning attorney about other ways to protect your LGBTQ relationship.