Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June is Gay and Lesbian Pride Month!

Since 2000, June has been declared Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.  This designation is based on the principle that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) individuals should be able to live openly, without discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

At Kristel K. Patton, P.C., we believe that this is also a good time to consider estate planning needs that are unique to members of the LGBT community.  Certain legal documents, for example, should be drafted differently for LGBT individuals or couples (e.g., in states where a couple cannot be legally married.)  And still other documents take on added significance.

On this latter point, we advise all our LGBT clients to have us prepare advance healthcare directives, the legal documents needed in a hospital emergency to make sure one's healthcare wishes are honored.  We do this because we know that without these documents, our LGBT clients could be prevented from having the person of their choice as their medical decision-maker.

On a positive note, as mentioned in our previous blog post, there has been some recent legal progress on healthcare equality for LGBT folks:  As of last fall, hospitals are now required to permit all patients to have any visitor they choose, including a same-sex partner or other non-relative.  Nonetheless, if the patient can't speak for him or herself and hasn't put these wishes in writing, the door is still open for a family member to try to ban a same-sex partner and others from visiting at the very time when they are need most--at the patient's bedside.

At Kristel K. Patton, P.C., we also recognize that creating advance directives is not enough.  It's a known fact that most people do not carry these documents around with them.  And, it's also a known fact that they can be needed quickly, especially for an LGBT patient.  This is why we provide all our clients enrolled in our Empowered Legacy Planning process with membership in the DocuBank Healthcare Directives Registry, free of charge.  With this registry, a wallet card provides immediate access to our clients' healthcare directives 24/7/365, so that documentation can be produced and the wishes of each of our clients can be protected at a moment's notice.

It's also worth noting that the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) recently announced its new status as an LGBT Affiliate of DocuBank.  The largest LGBT civil rights organization in the nation, HRC has team up with this registry to help its members ensure that they can produce the legal proof of their wishes when it counts.

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