By Kendra Holliday | August 7, 2016
Back in April 2015, Shameless Grounds hosted an important event for people in non-traditional (poly, kinky, non-married) relationships.
If you fall into traditional social norms and are legally married and something happens to your spouse, you are protected by law. You have rights. But if you are not married to each other, you are screwed – unless you have other legal documents in place.
Lawyers were on hand at a poly-packed Shameless to educate the community and distribute paperwork for protecting yourself and your partner(s) in the event of hospitalization or death. The event was inspired by a tragedy that happened to one of my polyamorous friends – she was banned from her partner’s hospital bedside by his family. She found out about his death by seeing his obituary. Never in a million years did she think this would happen to her – she got along great with his family before he fell ill. And now, during this time of crisis, for whatever reason, they turned on her. She was devastated to her core.
My partner Matthew and I don’t have plans to marry or move in together, but we’ve been together eight years and trust each other with our lives. So, in lieu of legal marriage documentation, we finally have the official paperwork in place, notarized and witnessed: Hospital Visitation Authorization and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Directive.
And when I say finally, I mean FINALLY. I’ve been carrying the folder of paperwork around with me in my laptop bag for the past sixteen months!
I kept trying to coordinate phone calls to the lawyer, having a meeting with my partner to fill out and sign the papers, going to a notary public to have them officiated, and then having two witnesses sign them. Plus, all kinds of kid stuff, events, and other duties and obligations kept getting in the way.
It took a couple weeks of calling the law office for me to get answers from them on the steps I needed to take – they were super busy. So I’d be glad to recommend them to you, but you may want to do a search for Probate and Estate Planning Lawyers in your area. Since our focus was on healthcare directive and not on finances or property, we were able to utilize state forms you can find online here. (I got the Hospital Visitation Authorization Form from the lawyer.) But if you have more complicated needs or have an estate worth over $40,000, you should definitely meet with a lawyer to cover all the bases. Keep in mind that MO law is different than IL law, so stick to your state.
We filled out our paperwork one morning over breakfast, then took it to his bank, where a guy notarized it in ten minutes for free.
Then, we scheduled a date with a couple we know and trust, and they witnessed our little makeshift ceremony over drinks and cigars. And then we celebrated a little bit more… 😉
DONE! We knocked out something hanging over our head for over a year in two days! It took way more time and effort than it did money.
We’ve made copies and have them in our cars and homes. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. I also have final wishes paperwork, and I’m writing my daughter a love note to have when I die – I always hear about people yearning for a message from their loved one. And of course I have life insurance in place for her.
Now, I can focus more on my parent’s final wishes. Born in the 1940’s, they are both ailing and have unusual requests – they want to go to the Body Farm in Knoxville, TN! My mom has loved true crime all her life, and would like to give back. 🙂