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McCurrie McCurrie
& McCurrie, L.L.C.

680 Kearny Avenue
Kearny, NJ 07032-3010
Phone: (201) 467-4180
Fax: (201) 997-9567
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Livings wills important for same-sex couples in New Jersey

Imagine that the person with whom you have spent your life is in the hospital, and you are not being allowed to visit him or her. More than that, family members who have not spoken with your partner in decades are being entrusted with the health care, financial and possibly even funeral decisions that are rightfully yours to make. Even in New Jersey, where same sex marriage is legal, gays potentially run a higher risk of being shut out by unsupportive family-of-origin members. How can you avoid this nightmare scenario?

Having an estate plan can help you navigate these treacherous decisions. In fact, if properly implemented, a living will is a binding legal document. Health care providers may be charged with a crime if they do not abide by the patient's directives.

Living wills allow you to state preferences about medical treatment in the event that you become unable to do so. They also let you authorize a specific person to make medical decisions on your behalf and to communicate with healthcare providers to help ensure that your wishes are being followed.

The latter part is particularly necessary for couples in non-traditional unions. Ideally, it will preclude the possibility of a painful court battle about control of your life and death decisions. Certainly these decisions should be made by the person they most affect: you - and the person that you choose to trust with control of your life.

To learn more about how to navigate these decisions, watch in future posts for more about the new "Five Wishes" pamphlet, which is distributed by the Hospice of New Jersey and contains helpful information about making end-of-life decisions on behalf of your parents, your spouse or partner, and for yourself.

Source: News Room Jersey, "Livings wills: Critical for same sex unions," Carol Abaya, 11 February 2011

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