Yes, if you are married or in a registered relationship and in a state which recognizes that relationship. However, if you’re unmarried and either, 1) not in such a registered relationship, or 2) you are in a state which does not recognize that relationship, then default state law allows your partner’s family of origin rather than you to make those decisions. However, if your spouse or partner designates you as agent under their Health Care Power of Attorney, then you would be able to make such decisions.
LGBT Estate Planning
If you are married or in a state that recognizes civil unions or domestic partnerships and you register as such, proof of such marriage or registration would be sufficient. Otherwise, you would need to have your spouse or partner designate you as agent under their Health Care Power of Attorney. The agent also can limit other visitors.
If you are in a marriage, registered domestic partnership, or civil union, your spouse or partner can make those decisions for you. If you are not in a registered relationship, then state law would recognize your family of origin to make those decisions. However, you can override state law and give your partner the authority to make such decisions by signing a Health Care Power of Attorney. With such a document, when you are unable to make your own medical decisions, your partner can step in and speak for you. Further, this document will designate your partner as your choice to be guardian for you if one needs to be appointed. Without such a designation, your family of origin would have priority for such an appointment.
No, you have to do estate planning in order to allow your spouse or partner to have that authority. Specifically, by designating your spouse or partner as agent under a General Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney, he or she can make decisions on your behalf regarding financial matters.
You will be treated as “legal strangers” for purposes of state and federal laws. As a result, if you do not have an estate plan, your partner would not have the right to inherit from you, have preference to be appointed your guardian, or many other rights you would assume a spouse would have.