Law Wine &
by Albert Coke Roth, III, Esq.
Attorney and international wine judge Coke Roth blends personality with GLBT legal insight & wine recommendations
I could detail the virtues and short comings of the Washington Domestic Partnership Law, but the two brochures available on the web* succinctly summarize our 2008 legislature's best efforts to award rights to GLBT relationships marriage, without legalizing marriage. In short, qualified same-sex cohabitants can publically register with the Washington Secretary of State and thereby are entitled to several preferences allowed to married folks; like the ability to direct medical care for a partner, handle post-mortem details, inherit property acquired during the domestic partnership and . . . experience the pleasure of divorce (family) court when they move on! Please do not misunderstand me; I greatly applaud our legislature for this extremely positive move. However, legal entitlement to marriage still requires people to seek legal advice for relationship planning, planning for incapacity and postmortem planning. And, do I have news for you! Remember that actor, Lee Marvin? Well, he cohabitated with a woman and when they parted company, she sued for part of his property and won. This principle, called the "Meretricious Relationship Doctrine" took firm hold in Washington and was extended to same-sex couples in 2004. So,
regardless of sexual orientation, anyone that cohabitates while romantically involved runs the risk of compelled sharing without pre-relationship planning; for different sex couples, a pre-nuptial agreement, and for same-sex couples, a Relationship Agreement of some sort (Cohabitation Agreement, Meretricious Relationship Agreement, Domestic Partnership Agreement, etc.). These contracts define what each partner (or spouse) enters the relationship with, what they contribute, and what they are entitled to if the relationship fizzles - it is literally agreeing to liquidated divorce damages. So, before you register as a domestic partner, seek legal advice from a lawyer who focuses on estate planning, and strongly consider getting a relationship agreement, even if you register. Accordingly, as married folks get wills and durable powers of attorney, so should members of the QLBT set. Wills give away your property after you die. If you do not have a will, the state has one for you. As a side-bar, our laws of descent and distribution were created during medieval times, so if you die without a will, called "intestate," you can smile with the comforting thought that your money and possessions will be sprinkled to your heirs under the oversight of the state administering laws created about 1,000 years ago... less than desirable. Picking the right Personal Representative (f.k.a. Executor/ Executrix), agents for health care
| December 2008 | Q View Northwest - Spokane Edition | www.qviewnorthwest.com