Until LGBT marriages, domestic partnerships, and civil unions are recognized by the federal government, LGBT and alternative families will have to depend on some combination of a Secure Couple LLC ™ and other legal documents to gain even a tiny percentage of the 1,300+ legal and economic benefits available to married couples.
Some of the benefits denied to same-sex couples:
1. No joint filing of tax returns at the federal level, despite the fact that they filed joint returns at the state level.
2. Loss of more than $8,000 each year on average in Social Security benefits if the higher earning spouse dies first.
3. Without marriage, a couple requires several legal contracts to create even a few of the protections bestowed upon traditional married couples in the event of death of one partner. Specific tax benefits are denied to unmarried couples.
4. No right to petition for a foreign same-sex spouse - and his or her children that qualify - for Lawful Permanent Residence ("green card") status.
5. No estate or death protections offered that permit a male-female married spouse to bequeath assets to the other spouse - including the family home - without incurring taxes.
6. No guaranteed right under most state laws and regulations to manage healthcare decisions on behalf of a partner in a medical crisis. The legal "next of kin" assumes these duties and makes decisions with or without the partner's agreement.
7. No equitable ownership of joint assets or debts in case the relationship dissolves (unless you have an LLC or other legal agreement). No states have adopted legal guidelines to divide property when domestic partnerships break up.
8. Certain business entities such as family limited partnerships are not available to LGBT couples.
9. May not be able to be incorporated into a spouse's health insurance unless the corporation adopts an enlightened policy. Continuing insurance policy coverage (COBRA) may not be available if the insured spouse loses his or her employment.
10. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 provides individuals up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off to care for ailing spouses, or the children and parents of a spouse. Does not apply to an LGBT "spouse".
11. Can be denied the right to visit a partner in critical care/ICU. Incidents in some hospitals such as Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, have led to more enlightened visitation policies.
12. No automatic rights or responsibilities for joint parenting, adoption, foster care, custody, or visitation.
13. Same-sex partners do not inherit in the absense of will, as do surviving spouses when their partners die intestate.
14. No survival or spousal remuneration for retirement pensions, Social Security, Medicare, or annuities. Protections intended for one spouse’s vital financial resources such as the capacity to reside in the family home when the other partner requires Medicaid long term nursing home care are denied.
15. In cases of wrongful death or serious injury, partners and children of partners have no standing to file a lawsuit in state court for damages.
16. Cannot claim certain judicial immunities such as the right not to be a witness against a spouse.
17. Next of kin will have control over funeral and burial arrangements, not the same-sex partners.
18. No SSM benefits offered to military families including medical, dental, housing, educational aid, vocational training, home mortgage guarantees, relocation assistance, housing allowances, survivors' benefits, and veteran's benefits.
19. No survivor's benefits for spouses of federal employees, including lost wages, workers' compensation, health insurance, and retirement benefits.
20. Lack of other state civil causes of action such as loss of consortium, crime victim recovery reimbursement, and domestic violence protection orders.
LGBT partners would be wise to consult their attorneys in order to prepare legal documents to duplicate as many benefits as possible that traditional married couples obtain automatically. The 20 denied rights above are only the tip of the melting iceberg.
Documents you may wish to discuss with your lawyer include:
- Limited Liability Company for asset protection and distribution - Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare - Co-Habitation Agreement - Co-Parenting Agreement - Simple Will - any number of trusts for additional asset protection
Many states, including Florida, will accept properly written cohabitation agreements. A fundamental purpose for same-sex cohabitation contracts is that the chief rationale cannot be to enforce a sexual arrangement. Moreover, sex cannot be offered in exchange for money or other financial consideration. These kinds of contracts are void as against public policy.
Each situation is unique, but many of these agreements are advantageous for male-female married couples also. Protect you LGBT relationship with an LLC until and even after SSM discrimination ends.
LGBT and alternative families will have to depend on a combination of a Secure Couple LLC ™ and other legal contracts to gain even a tiny portion of the 1,300+ legal and economic benefits available to married couples.
Claim your free Secure Couple LLC ™ ebook and learn how to register an LLC to proclaim your commitment, set up your joint finances, and guard your future until the federal government and the several states eliminate marriage discrimination against SSM and others who choose not to marry - http://securecouplellc.com/formscllc.pdf
Charles F. Lamm is a retired attorney now working with Secure Couple LLC - http://securecouplellc.com