Non Traditional Families: Legal Topics

In Domestic Partnership Agreements, Adoptions, Real estate Closings and Estate Planning Matters.

Q. What documents do gay and lesbians need to protect their families?

A. If you and your partner are not married, you will need a durable power of attorney for property, a durable power of attorney for health care, and a carefully drafted will. You may also want a partnership agreement, living trust and a living will.

  • A durable power of attorney for property allows you to name your partner as the guardian of your property. If you are incapacitated, this ensures that he or she will have access to your home and assets. Without this document, he or she won’t be able to pay bills, and may be forced to leave your home.
  • A durable power of attorney for health care allows you to stipulate that your partner can make decisions regarding termination of life and health care, and make funeral arrangements in the event of your death. Without this document, your partner may not be admitted to the hospital, may be excluded from the funeral, and won’t have the right to make any essential decisions if you are incapacitated.
  • A will allows you to leave all your property specifically to your partner, and establish your partner as the legal guardian of your minor children. Without this document, your biological family will be granted your property and be allowed to make essential decisions regarding your children over your partner’s objections.
  • A partnership agreement establishes each partner’s rights and obligations as owners of real estate, retirement funds, and investments you have acquired. Alternative families are not covered by domestic relations laws, so creating your own contract of these terms is absolutely necessary to end all confusion and prevent litigation.
  • A living will is an older document than a durable power of attorney for health care, and still has a unique place in providing protection. If your biological family is homophobic, litigious, and differs in their view about end-of-life decisions, this document can provide a clear statement of your wishes.
  • A living trust is another way that property can pass to your partner after your death. It remains more private than a will, allows for a faster property transfer, and provides less opportunity for your biological family to litigate your decisions.

 

Q. Can your firm help same-sex couples in Pennsylvania with second parent adoptions to ensure both the parent and child have the full protection of the law?

A. Yes, Pennsylvania laws permits adoptions in households of gay couples and we handle all aspects of gay adoptions, including preparing clients for the home study and other procedures.

If you would like to inquire further about any of the above legal matters, please contact one of our attorneys at Petrelli Previtera at (215) 523-6900 to arrange a consultation.