While some states have enacted marriage equality laws, others are not offering the same rights and privileges to same-sex couples. In either situation, however, most estate planning lawyers can tell you that there are still important steps to take to protect your right to make medical decisions for your partner. In Maryland, as in other places, it all starts with a power of attorney.
A medical power of attorney is used to specifically name the person who can make your medical decisions when you are unable. Sometimes this document may be referred to as a health care proxy. By naming your same-sex partner, you are providing him or her with the legal rights needed to step up and make those choices. In cases where a power of attorney for healthcare has not been created, it’s not unheard of for the same-sex partner to be barred from the room while the patient’s parents or siblings are given the responsibility of making medical decisions.