This weekend Ben and I will travel to Bourbon country in Kentucky for our annual Octoberween vacation. Every year around this time, we and a friend from DC take an annual vacation somewhere to celebrate fall and our friendship. This year we picked Louisville, home of many great Bourbon distilleries. (If you haven’t noticed, Ben and I love great whisk(e)y.)
The trip and all of this talk about estate planning reminds me of a very important travel tip for you same-sex couples. Some states may not recognize your relationship, legally married or not. And this lack of comity can lead to huge problems if an accident were to occur in one of these states.
For example, if we get in a car accident in Indiana, and I’m hurt, Ben might not be allowed in my hospital room because of the state’s hospital visitation rules. Fortunately for married, straight couples, spouses automatically have visitation rights and a spouse automatically becomes the agent for the other when one spouse becomes incapacitated. The same rule won’t apply to gay couples in those states that don’t recognize same-sex marriages.
We have guarded against this type of situation by obtaining the Durable Power of Attorney of Health Care that I discussed yesterday. This document allows either one of us to make medical decisions for the other, in case of incapacity. You can also create a hospital visitation authorization from. This form informs your doctor and hospital staff who is allowed and given priority to visit you.
Here’s a quick guide to hospital visitation rights. Make sure you’re covered. Have a copy of your paperwork with you in case of an emergency.