Times are changing for the same-sex couple in the United States. There are now 13 states and the District of Columbia that allows same- sex marriages and the Supreme Court has made landmark rulings affecting federal benefits and social security in 2013.
What about Texas? Same-sex marriage is not legal in Texas and Texas will not recognize valid same-sex marriages performed in other states. How can you and your same-sex partner protect yourselves and your properties as a couple until you will have the right to be recognized legally as a married couple in Texas?
The best protection for Texas same-sex couples would be a Domestic Partnership Agreement. In order to provide more complete legal coverage, you should also supplement it with the following documents:
- A will with a designated executor to handle execution and distribution of all assets
- A durable financial power of attorney
- A durable medical power of attorney, directive to physicians, and a HIPPAA release form.
- Parental rights documents
- Partnership agreement to set out and clarify property rights, define ownership and related issues upon dissolution.
Matters that may be dealt with in a partnership/domestic agreement include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The right to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property;
- The rights and obligations of each of the parties in any of the property of either or both of them whenever or wherever acquired or located;
- The disposition of property on separation, partnership dissolution, death, or the occurrence or nonoccurrence of other events;
- The making of a will, trust, or other arrangement to carry out the provisions of the agreement;
- The ownership rights in and disposition of the death benefit from a life insurance policy;
- The choice of law governing the construction of the agreement; and
- Any other non-marital matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty.
Cohabitation and Domestic Partnership Agreements may be as creative as a party determines necessary. However, care must be given to see that such agreements protect the party, keep with public policy, and adhere to current Texas family law and applicable contractual law.