Since same-sex marriage and partnerships are not recognized by the federal government and most states (see Where is Gay Marriage Legal?), gay couples are not granted hospital visitation rights or the right to make medical decisions should one partner be injured during a natural disaster. In the case of death, couples without legal partnerships have no legal claim to make burial decision for each other. Neither are they awarded automatic inheritance rights to property or assets (see The Legal Benefits of Marriage). Also, because the federal government does not recognize gay couples as spouses, partners cannot receive each others' federal disaster relief benefits.
No one wants to think about the worst case scenario, but you never know when tragedy may blow by. Protect your home, your partner and your family by:
- drafting a last will and testament designating the distribution of your assets (no matter how big or small)
- designating your partner as your beneficiary on health, work compensation and life insurance forms
- listing your partner as an emergency contact at work
- adding your partner to your renter's, homeowner's and auto insurance policies
- making sure your respective families have your partner's contact information
- setting money aside in case of emergency
Also, here is a helpful checklist from the National Hurricane Center to help you prepare for natural disasters.