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Same Sex Couples

Amendment One: How does it affect my dying wishes?

English: Gender symbols, sexual orientation: h...

English: Gender symbols, sexual orientation: heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality. Česky: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The media is abuzz with speculations about how amendment one will change laws for homosexual couples in North Carolina. There are no clear answers and a lot of debate. An area of sensitivity revolves around dying wishes.

Now that Amendment One has passed, can my (same-sex) partner make those decisions related to my last wishes for me? The answer is yes and no.

The new amendment states that only a “marriage between a man and woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State . . .” .  The term “domestic legal union” has yet to be defined by the courts; however, from earlier uses of the term “legal union”, domestic legal union can be defined as a relationship that embodies the same privileges as a marriage.

When it comes to determining who will make decisions for the funeral and burial, North Carolina law states that “ a person who has exhibited special care and concern for the descendent and is willing and able to make decisions about the disposition” is placed behind other surviving relatives. Making disposition decisions is NOT limited to spouses and therefore, a person who has demonstrated “special care and concern” can make those arrangements. However, if your family members aren’t happy about your sexual orientation, your partner could be in for a fight.

 What can I do to ensure that my estate is in the proper hands?

If you do not have a last will and testament, then your property would go to the next of kin, first a spouse and then children and grandchildren.  Amendment one prevents your (same-sex) partner from inheriting your estate because this is an “exclusive right” of married people.

  •  With a Will?

The amendment would not change anything should you have all of your matters appropriately addressed in a Last Will and Testament.  It is always best to have a Will drawn up by an attorney so that all of your property can be handled with care and concern for your wishes.

If you want your partner to be able to make decisions for you about life prolonging medications or equipment you should create a living will specifically detailing who should make these decisions.

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