LGBT couples need to be aware of the legal documents that can protect them in the event of a medical emergency. Unlike heterosexual married couples, whose rights to visitation and to make medical decisions are unquestioned, LGBT couples – and unmarried heterosexual couples – are not afforded the same rights. This is why it is essential for couples to understand the importance of power of attorney and living wills.
Many LGBT couples want the right to visit their loved one in the hospital, and want their loved one to have the right to make critical healthcare decisions. The solution is a living will with healthcare power of attorney.
A living will is a document stating an individual’s wishes in the event of a medical emergency resulting in incapacitation. A living will explains what procedures one does and does not want in an end-of-life medical situation. It can contain directions concerning artificial resuscitation, pain medicine and life support procedures.
A healthcare power of attorney document is a way for an individual to appoint another to make those medical decisions. It has the effect of giving LGBT couples the decision-making rights that are already afforded to heterosexual married couples.
Even gay and lesbian couples who are married in their state need to consider a living will with healthcare power of attorney. Though a couple may live in a state that recognizes gay marriage, these documents may be of crucial importance when traveling out of state.
What documents are important for LGBT couples:
- A living will states a person’s wishes in the event of a life-threatening medical emergency
- A healthcare power of attorney assigns healthcare decision-making power to a particular person
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