Although no two marriage ceremonies are the same, most couples emerge on the other side with a sense that “the legal stuff” is handled… right? Well, not exactly. Changes in a variety of federal laws, recent decisions from The Supreme Court, and the ongoing, unsettled feelings from many of our friends and neighbors in the LBGTQIA+ community have prompted a lot of questions from clients.
Our goal at DLO is to ensure that our clients and their spouses have as many of the rights they deserve even if things get weird in Washington, D.C., so we have made some changes to the language we include in our estate planning documents.
Right now, our standard estate planning document package includes the following documents:
- Will – this document tells those you leave behind what to do with your property
- Power of Attorney – this document tells other institutions that certain people have the lawful right to make decisions about your accounts and property
- Health Care Directive – this document tells your medical providers and family what your wishes are for end of life including your physical, emotional, and spiritual care
Most of our clients list their spouse as the person who will make decisions for or about them and what they leave behind. Out of an abundance of caution, and because we just don’t know if or how the decision-makers in Washington, D.C. will decide to change the recognition of same-sex couples, we no longer rely solely on the legal definition of spouse/wife/husband. Instead, we clarify that a person’s spouse/wife/husband will retain that role regardless of whether or how the law recognizes the legal relationship.
Although we here at DLO are working really hard to ensure that the people we send to D.C. are allies who will vehemently defend love as the law of the land, we’re not willing to leave it to chance. We hope that changes to the definition of spouse never come to pass, but if they do, we’re ready to stand and fight.
3 responses to “A Spouse By Any Other Name”
If a couple had such a document package drawn up before they got married, do they need to change anything about them now that they are married?
Great question. Marriage does change things and a best practice would be to have someone review the documents and ensure that what was intended by the documents is still what would happen, or make suggestions about what might need to be tweaked.
OK, great. Thanks for all you do!