Legal Docs Can’t Always Protect Same-Sex Couples

The Huffington Post is reporting on Lon Watts, who has been prevented from seeing his partner of 34 years, who has Alzheimer’s Disease, by his partner’s sister. The sister also took possession of their home and evicted Watts. The couple thought having power of attorney would protect them from such situations, but, as Huffington Post notes, this isn’t always the case:

Feeling that a power of attorney would protect him was Watts’ first mistake, according to Lori Burch, a Dallas-based attorney who specializes in estate planning for same-sex couples.

Texas overwhelmingly approved a ban on same-sex marriage back in 2005. This means, legally, Watts has few options. In a guardianship proceeding, only blood relatives or spouses are eligible, according to Burch, so even a sympathetic judge will find that his or her hands are tied.

“Even if [the judge] wants to honor a same-sex relationship, they are not in a position where they can in Texas,” Burch told HuffPost, explaining that guardianship supersedes Watts’ power of attorney rights, giving the sister full control.

This case highlights the legal inequity in a state that does not recognize same-sex relationships, according to Burch.

“If Texas had recognized [Heath and Watts’ relationship], the sister could have thrown her hat in the ring, but the judge would have been able to look at the other evidence,” she said.

These are the “horror stories,” Burch said, noting that she deals mostly with younger same-sex couples, who come to her to try to prevent this type of situation from occurring.

Read the full article

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