Facing our legal issues
By Justin Nichols, QSanAntonio.com, September 8, 2012
QSanAntonio is proud to announce that attorney Justin Nichols will
be writing a monthly column about the legal issues the LGBT community
faces because of our inequality under the law. In this introductory article
he talks about the important documents each of us should have in order
to protect our partners and our families. As we go forward we invite our
readers to send in their legal questions so that we can all benefit from
We hear a lot about this ballot initiative, that court case, or that new
policy. But what does it all mean to LGBT folks? Living in Texas, we know
all-too-well the state doesn’t offer many protections for LGBT people.
It’s easy to feel vulnerable and at the mercy of a discriminatory
boss or the unaccepting family of a partner. But I want to help fix that.
My goal working with QSan Antonio is to help readers address the unique
legal issues faced by the LGBT community. And, I promise, no question
is too small or stupid. Most lawyers will tell you some of the seemingly
oddest questions can be the issues dozens of people wonder about but are
too worried to ask. So bring em’ on!
First things first, there is a certain set of documents every gay and
lesbian person should have – especially if you have a partner. These
documents should be readily available to the entire community, regardless
of your economic status. So here it goes. Download these forms (keep a
few blank copies for updating later) and get to it!
Hospital Visitation Authorization
The last thing you want is for there to be a fuss over who can see you
in the hospital, if God forbid, you’re sick or injured. Complete
this form, have it notarized, and make copies. Give a copy to your friend
or partner, your doctor, and throw one in your glove box just for good
measure. Click here to hospital visitation
If you die without a will the law decides what happens to your stuff.
The law doesn’t care if your dad was a judgmental ass or if your
sister beat you when you were kids. If you die without a will, here’s
where your things go: first to your spouse (of a Texas-recognized marriage,
so those Massachusetts marriages don’t count…yet), then to
your children, then to your parents, then to your siblings, and finally
to your next of kin. This is a very simplistic version of a will, and
should only be used if you want to give everything you have to one person.
You have to execute the will in a certain way – you need a notary
and two disinterested witnesses. If you need a notary and witnesses, call
my office and come by. We’ll do it for free. Click
here to download this form.
A General and Medical Power of Attorney
There are two types of power of attorneys. One is a general power of attorney
which gives a person you designate to handle your personal business affairs
(bank accounts, insurance, etc.). The other is a medical power of attorney
which gives a person the power to make medical decisions in the event
you’re incapacitated. You can simply complete these forms and make
sure you give a copy of the medical-related form to your doctor, and a
copy of the general power of attorney to any important business entities,
and keep the original on hand in case you need it. Click
here to download general power of attorney. Click
here to download medical power of attorney.
Of course, if you have any questions about the forms it’s best to
talk to an attorney – or heck, send me the question and maybe it
will appear here in QSan Antonio. Wills and estate planning can be very
complex, so if you have any questions at all, it’s best to ask someone.
The forms I’m providing are not intended to be a substitute for
individual legal advice by an attorney.
I’m looking forward to answering your questions, and I think we’ll
both learn a lot in the process. Dove season just started, so happy hunting,
and I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Justin Nichols is a sixth generation Texan. He was born in San
Antonio, attended Plano public schools, received his bachelor’s
degree from Southern Methodist University, and attended law school at
St. Mary’s University. He now owns The Nichols Law Firm, PLLC,
which focuses on family and consumer-related legal issues. QSanAntonio
readers can send their questions to Justin at firstname.lastname@example.org.