Legal relationship definition

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    Mar 24, 2007 12:14 PM GMT
    I had a thought last night. The hospital thing - you know, how your partner can't get in to see you or hear about your case because he's not family.

    What about legal adoption as brothers? Is that even possible? If I had a male lover, I think that I might tend to think of him in some twisted way as a brother. That would make him legal family, and last name could be changed to match, I suppose.

    Is this a really stupid idea or something to think about?
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    Mar 24, 2007 1:20 PM GMT
    If you adopted your "lover" and then had sex with him, it would be incest. You can't circumvent the marriage laws by adopting.

    You can give your partner the right to receive health information, make health decisions if you are not able, and grant access to you in the hospital by written autorization. I am an attorney and have prepared Advance Directives and Health Care Proxies specifically authorizing the same sex partner complete access.

    Without this written authorization, the hospital would be within its rights to deny access to all except the immediate family according to it's policies.

    I advise all people, straight or gay, to have an advanced directive. Any attorney can prepare such a document but, I urge everyone to consult an attorney specializing in Trust and Estate Law. I would ask the attorney if he or she has dealt with same sex issues.

    One thing most people don't consider is who has rights to the remains of a deceased partner. The Anna Nicole Smith debacle illustrates this. Most states recognize the next of kin as the lawful custodian of the remains. I say custodian because the person charged with the remain must dispose of them in a dignified manner according to state law. Whether a person can control who the custodian is after theirown death is still a matter of debate.

    Every person should have a will, some kind of power of attorney granting authority to another in the event of incapacity, and a health care proxy and directive. These are only pieces of paper. But without them, well, Anna Nicole's legacy show just how important such documents are.

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    Mar 24, 2007 3:02 PM GMT
    Thank you for the important information provided by the member who is a seasoned attorney.

    The case I put onthe forum was a true case, except that this person was my surrogate Dad.

    He had a health care proxy, his neice at the time. But he was abandoned and his family even stole all his $ when he was still alive (his sister came to the ICU when he was confused and sick and had him sign a lot of papers, and this man spoke very poor Englosh, did not knw what he signed, he trusted his family.)

    We talked bout changing health care proxy, but the procedure was so complex, having to involve the social worker, the previous health care proxy, and an attorney, was too much for the old man who is already tied up on a dialysis machine 3 times a week.

    The nursing home where he was at used to welcome me when I made my usual 2 times a day visit, they also knee full well I was his sole financial provider at the time. ONce after the fall, they just fed him opiods and never did a proper exam. And then the HIPPA law all the suddent came through, they would neve tel me anything and made my visits very unplesant, watched me like a hawk.

    It turned out he broke his neck a C2 fracture, but spinal cord is just pressed on, not severed, and suffered horrifc pain for 10 days before I called 911. At our hospital he was further mistreated, no nursing care and he does not like sit in his own crap so he would walk to the abthroom by himself. They let him fall 2 more times witha broken neck, breaking his hip the 2nd time.

    The hip surgery was a sucess, but he soon caught pneuomonia and had to be intubated. During the intubation process he could not move his left arm anymore, and of course cannot talk, or hsake or nod his head because of the brace. Physicians were pushing to disocnnect, and did not bother to ask him because they say he is confused.

    His niece came up and disconnected him. He fought the sedatives and kpet opening his eyes, it took them 4 times the dose of morphine to know him out. Extubated, it took him 8 hours to first flat line, then his heart re started spontaneously, beat for another 5 min before he flat lined for good. Do you think he was ready to go?

    So the moral of story, listen to the attorney, get all that done beforehad, but choose someone you can trust. Choose CAREFULLY.
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    Mar 24, 2007 5:49 PM GMT
    There are many horror stories like this one. If all papers are put in order, this can prevent an expensive and emotionally costly guardianship proceeding. In New York, the process is daunting and not for the faint of heart.
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    Mar 25, 2007 7:22 AM GMT
    What a horrible story NYC. It beggars belief how badly people behave and treat each other.

    I am sorry for your father's suffering and hope he's at peace now and that you don't carry this in a too negative way (though I'm not too sure how you can't feel very bitter about it).

    I think this case and many others and the excellent legal advice from our friend here just goes to show us that we have to protect ourselves and our loved ones, and not take continued good heath and the decency of family for granted.
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    Mar 25, 2007 1:45 PM GMT
    Thank you Gem01 and Laurence.

    This reply originally came about in response to a member's dismay at legalized gay marriage in the US.

    During my time working for as a health care clinician (I am an orotho PT but currently working for a hospital system) I have seen a lot of gay male in their 60's, parents and close friends mostly all deceased, with no childeren, and the only family is the long time companion. These patients definately do NOT get the same treatment as those patients with wifes and childeren, even just a distant next of kin, especially if this person is also in the health care as some kind of clnician. They have to give you IV, meals, and clean you if you made a mess in your pants. However, if you have no "legal" next of kind, or a "legal" married partner, and you have trouble expressing yourself because of sickness, they do not have to serve your meals with a smile or re-heat it if you were asleep or late from a test, or perform the IV with attention to create the least amount of pain, or clean you up immediately after you made a mess in your pants but only until after 3 bowel mishaps... You are at their mercy...

    Horrible things happen to patients with no "legal" family members looking after them all the times. What the clinicians document, is just that, what they choose to document... In many settings where notes are still hand written, we have seen residences (MDs in training, with no license yet but practices under the license of an attending MD) making mistakes and then going back to alter or
    even taking out a whole page of notes, getting the nurses in trouble (this makes the nurse look like they are doing things without MD ordere.) In my case, for example, my surrogage Dad needed a new line for his meds as all his previous lines failed (he is a diabetic on dialysis.) The residences originally "failed" to creat a new line, saying they tried for 2 hours but his veins were to small... To an ordinary person, that would be end of story, no questions. But any clinician would know that just does not make sense, the resident probably tried to do it without ultrasound guide. I had to keep asking, they got pissed at me, but then the next day an attending MD did the same task within 20 min, of course, this time with ultrasound guide.

    Now if you do not have a "legal" next of kin pestering for your cause, like I said earlier, you are at their mercy.

    And how many of us actually have an assigned legal health proxy and a will written when we are in good health? This should be done by all of us, straight or gay, but for legaly married couples, some of these rights are built in the marriages...

    Just remember, a straight couple who is legally married would not be treated this way as easily because the law gives them MORE rights than us. Whenever I see an older patient, who is dying from AIDs, getting substandard treatment as compared to his straight neighbor who has a wife and kids, and his partner having no legal rights with the quality of health care provided, angry and frustrated, I cannot help thinking that could be me or many of us down the road...
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    Mar 26, 2007 8:58 AM GMT
    Prior to the domestic partnership law in California, my previous partner & I had the various directives, wills & trusts drawn up by an attorney well-versed in same sex issues. It was a great comfort to know that everything was under control.

    Now that California has domestic partnership registration and its various benefits and obligations, the situation is handled while we're IN California.

    I wonder whether or not those arrangements would be honored if, for example, one of us was injured in an accident in Oregon or Arizona. Should we put the other documents in place to cover that possibility? It seems to me that since the states are rejecting the Full Faith & Credit clause, they could reject my access to my partner in an emergency. Any thoughts?