Legal Basics for LGBT Couples in Mississippi

Published on August 28 2008 No Comment

In Mississippi, gay and lesbian couples have no automatic legal protections that are automatically provided to married couples. Under Mississippi law, you lack legal protections as a couple. If a medical or court issue arises, you may be missing the needed protections.

In general, most legal advisors recommend gay and lesbian couples execute common legal documents for protection.

Below, you will find the common legal documents that are recommended for LGBT couples:

Power of Attorney for Health Care

A power of attorney for health care decisions allows you to appoint another person to make health care decisions for you in the event you are mentally or physically unable to make health care decisions yourself. Unless you limit your agent’s authority, your agent has authority to stop your doctor from giving you treatment, or stopping treatment to keep you alive. Chose a person you believe has the same or similar views as you do on health care treatment, and in continuing or discontinuing treatment if you have a terminal illness.

Sample Document

Living Will or Advance Directive

An advance directive tells your doctor what kind of care you would like to have if you become unable to make medical decisions (if you are in a coma, for example). If you are admitted to the hospital, the hospital staff will probably talk to you about advance directives.

A good advance directive describes the kind of treatment you would want depending on how sick you are. For example, the directives would describe what kind of care you want if you have an illness that you are unlikely to recover from, or if you are permanently unconscious. Advance directives usually tell your doctor that you don’t want certain kinds of treatment. However, they can also say that you want a certain treatment no matter how ill you are.

Sample Document

Power of Attorney for Finances

A legal document that gives someone authority to manage your financial affairs if you become incapacitated. The person you name to represent you is usually called your agent or attorney-in-fact.

Medical Emergency Card

In an emergency, getting vital health information to medical personnel quickly may be critical. Carrying a medical emergency card keeps your important personal profile with you at all times. A medical emergency card may detail allergies, previous medical conditions, etc.

Relationship Agreement

These are written agreements between people in a relationship setting forth how you will handle money and the ownership of property as well as how to handle debts. This agreement must be kept separate from any agreement with regard to sexual matters.

Three basic frameworks are (1) “Share everything”; (2) “Everything Separate”, and (3) “Some sharing and some separate”.

These are not the only models, but the most frequently found patterns. It is important that such agreements be in writing. Verbal agreements might seem “nicer” but memories change in time and usually verbal agreements lead to disagreements and arguments.

Will

A document in which you specify what is to be done with your property when you die and name your executor. You can also use your will to name a guardian for your young children.

Funeral Arrangements

LGBT partners may be excluded from making funeral arrangements by family members. This discounting of relationships can have a tremendous, painful effect on the gay men or lesbians involved. It is important to make specific arrangements for your funeral if you wish to have it executed properly and as you wish.

Living (Revocable) Trust

A living revocable trust (or lifetime trust) is used to avoid the probate process upon your death. By placing all of your assets in trust, all of the assets will automatically pass to the beneficiaries upon her death. With a will, the executor must submit the will to the local surrogate’s court to prove the validity of the will, get named executor by the court, and then proceed to distribute the assets as per the will. A living trust is another way to protect your assets in the case of your death.