Living Wills and Other Documents for Lesbians & Gays that were used prior to Obergefell v. Hodges

Select your topic of interest regarding legal documents for same-sex couples in Connecticut:

Living Wills in Connecticut
Health Care Representative in Connecticut
Combined Documents 
Hospital Visitation Authorization in Connecticut
Custody & Control of Bodily Remains and Personal Effects in Connecticut
Designation of a Decision-Maker/Representative in Connecticut 

If there is a valid marriage then living wills, wills and powers of attorneys are recommended as part of an estate plan for spouses.

 

Living Wills in Connecticut
(Documents Concerning Health Care and Withholding or Withdrawal of Life Support Systems)

A “Document Concerning Health Care and Withholding or Withdrawal of Life Support Systems” (often referred to as a “Living Will”) is a document that allows you to choose, among other health care decisions, which life support measures you wish to have administered if your medical situation warrants it.

For example, you may choose to accept or reject:

  • CPR;
  • Artificial Respiration;
  • Artificial means of Nutrition & Hydration; and
  • Other life support measures.

Public Act 06-195 made some important revisions to the previous statutory sections concerning advance directives. Those changes, effective October 1, 2006, effect statutory definitions as well as other factors.

PA-06-195 sec. 65, amending C.G.S. 19a-575, reads, in pertinent part, “Any person eighteen years of age or older may execute a document that contains directions as to any aspect of health care, including the withholding or withdrawal of life support systems. Such document shall be signed and dated by the maker with at least two witnesses . . .”. (emphasis added).

Under PA-06-195 sec. 70, amending C.G.S. 19a-579, a Living Will becomes operative when:

  1. The document is given to the attending physician, and;
  2. The maker (you) is determined by the attending physician to be incapacitated.

PA-06-195 sec. 71, amending C.G.S. 19a-579a, provides that:

  • A Living Will may be revoked at any time and in any manner by the maker (you), without regard for the maker’s mental or physical condition.
  • Your attending physician shall make your revocation part of your medical record.

In the wake of the Terri Schiavo case (in which a Florida woman who had not executed a Living Will was sustained on life support systems until the Courts determined what Schiavo’s wishes would have been regarding life-prolonging procedures), the need for a Living Will can not be over-emphasized.

 

Health Care Representative in Connecticut

Previously, the Connecticut statutes allowed you to designate a Health Care “Agent” (your life partner or another trusted person over the age of 18) to make medical decisions for you when you are incapacitated and to enforce the instructions in your Living Will. Connecticut Public Act 06-195, effective October 1, 2006, changed the title of this important role to Health Care “Representative.”

The new language, set forth in Connecticut PA-06-195, sec. 67, amending C.G.S. 19a-576(a) reads, “Any person eighteen years of age or older may appoint a health care representative by executing a document in accordance with section 19a-575a, as amended by this act, or section 19a-577, as amended by this act, signed and dated by such person in the presence of two adult witnesses who shall also sign the document. The person appointed as representative shall not act as witness to the execution of such document or sign such document.”

PA-06-195, Sec. 66(b-e), amending C.G.S. Section 19a-575a, requires that:

  • An appointment of a health care representative may only be revoked by the maker of the original document (you). Such revocation must be in writing and must be signed by the maker (you) and two witnesses. [Except as provided in C.G.S. section 19a-579b, which states that, “The appointment of the principal’s spouse as health care representative shall be revoked upon the divorce or legal separation of the principal and spouse or upon the annulment or dissolution of their marriage, unless the principal specifies otherwise.”]
  • The revocation of an appointment of a health care representative shall be made part of your medical record by your attending physician or other health care provider.

It should also be noted that:

  • The revocation of an appointment of health care representative does not, of itself, revoke your Living Will.

Under PA-06-195 sec. 70, amending C.G.S. 19a-579, an Appointment of a Health Care Representative becomes operative when:

  1. The document is given to the attending physician, and;
  2. The maker (you) is determined by the attending physician to be incapacitated.

At any time after the appointment of a health care representative, the attending physician shall disclose such determination of incapacity, in writing, upon the request of the person named as the health care representative.

It is important for every individual to execute an appointment of a health care representative; however, it is even more important for lesbians and gays — especially if you have not entered into marriage or a Civil Union that converted to marriage by operation of law on October 1, 2010. Absent a legal marriage or Civil Union, your life partner is not considered a spouse or blood relative and will have no legal say in your health care at a time when you want and need it most. Additionally, not all states and foreign countries will recognize your marriage or Civil Union, again making you legal strangers in those jurisdictions. If you want your life partner to be able to communicate your wishes to your physician/health care professional and to be able to make important decisions based upon your wishes, it is important that you execute an “appointment of health care representative” document. A licensed attorney can advise you on the nature and importance of this document.

For more information on Health Care Representatives and your legal rights, contact an attorney at Gryk & Frolich LLC in Manchester, Connecticut.

 

Combined Documents 

PA-06-195, Sec. 66(a), amending C.G.S. Section 19a-575a, reads, in pertinent part, “Any person eighteen years of age or older may execute a document that contains health care instructions, the appointment of a health care representative, the designation of a conservator of the person for future incapacity and a document of anatomical gift. Any such document shall be signed and dated by the maker with at least two witnesses…”.

  • Appointment of a Health Care Representative
  • Designation of a Conservator of the Person for Future Incapacity
  • Document of Anatomical Gift

This means that you have the option of executing one comprehensive document including the aforementioned instructions and designations, rather than multiple documents. For the reasons stated in the last section, it is particularly important for lesbians and gays to execute such a document, in order that your life partner may be allowed to make critical decisions for you when you are unable to do so on your own. A licensed attorney can assist you in determining which documents best meet your individual needs and circumstances.

For more information on combined documents and your legal rights, contact an attorney at Gryk & Frolich, LLC in Manchester, Connecticut.

 

Hospital Visitation Authorization in Connecticut

In the absence of a valid marriage or Civil Union (that converted to marriage by operation of law on October 1, 2010), your life partner may not be allowed to visit you in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a hospital because such visits are normally restricted to spouses and immediate family. If an immediate family member insists that your life partner not be allowed into the ICU, the hospital staff is required to comply. Sadly, there have been many cases in which a person expired in the ICU while her or his life partner was forced to wait in the hallway. You may execute a Hospital Visitation Authorization to prevent such a tragic event from occurring.

Do I need this document if I have entered into a valid marriage or Civil Union?

Under existing Connecticut law, your valid marriage or Civil Union affords you all of the rights enjoyed by spouses. However same-sex marriages and Civil Unions are not recognized by all 50 states at present and they are not recognized by all foreign countries. If hospitalization is required while you are traveling in a state or country that does not recognize your legal relationship, this document will become necessary. Therefore, even with a valid marriage or Civil Union, this document may be necessary when traveling outside of Connecticut’s boundaries.

You should speak to a licensed attorney about executing this document. Feel free to contact an attorney at Gryk & Frolich, LLC in Manchester, Connecticut.

 

Custody & Control of Bodily Remains and Personal Effects in Connecticut

In the absence of a valid marriage or Civil Union, your life partner does not have the legal right:

  • to claim your body upon your death;
  • to claim any of your personal effects (such as a commitment ring);
  • to make and execute your funeral arrangements; or
  • to write and publish your obituary.

By contrast, your legal next of kin (biological family members) do have these rights. In some instances, the family members of lesbian and gay individuals have refused to let the deceased’s life partner participate in any of the funeral or memorial service arrangements. Some families have even refused to allow the deceased’s life partner to attend the services. In other cases, family members have gone against the wishes of the deceased that were expressly stated to her or his life partner. For example, family members have interred the remains of the deceased in the ground when the deceased’s wish was to have her/his remains cremated and placed in a double urn that would later also contain the remains of her/his life partner. Yet other families have refused to publish the name of the deceased’s life partner in the text of the obituary, in spite of the couple having spent decades together in a committed loving relationship.

By executing a document authorizing that custody and control of your bodily remains and personal effects is granted to your life partner, you can prevent these devastating events from occurring.

Do I need this document if I have entered into a valid marriage or Civil Union?

Under existing Connecticut law, your valid marriage or Civil Union affords you all of the rights enjoyed by spouses. However, same-sex marriages and Civil Unions are not recognized by all 50 states at present and they are not recognized by all foreign countries. If death occurs while you are traveling in a state or country that does not recognize your legal relationship, your spouse may be forced to produce this document in order to claim your bodily remains and personal effects. Therefore, even with a valid marriage or Civil Union, this document may be necessary when traveling outside of Connecticut’s boundaries.

You should consult a licensed attorney for more information on this document and how it should be drafted based upon your individual needs and circumstances. For more information, contact an attorney at Gryk & Frolich, LLC in Manchester, Connecticut.

 

Designation of a Decision-Maker/Representative in Connecticut

Connecticut statutes allow a person over the age of 18 to designate another person over the age of 18, who is not a blood relative, to serve as her or his decision maker/representative in a variety of important situations. Absent a valid marriage or Civil Union, this document will grant your life partner certain rights and responsibilities not authorized by the other documents described on this page.

Some of these rights/responsibilities include:

  • the right to accept a phone call (as your emergency contact) related to your death or injury at her/his place of employment when such phone call would be restricted to a spouse or immediate family member;
  • the rights, responsibilities and authority to act as your designee under the Patient’s Bill of Rights;
  • the right to be your designee in the event that you are a crime or homicide victim; and
  • any and all rights, responsibilities and authority accorded to a spouse or next of kin, as available by law.

You should discuss this document with a licensed attorney to determine if it meets your legal needs. For more information on your legal rights, contact an attorney at Gryk & Frolich LLC in Manchester, Connecticut


You might also be interested in:

Adoption and Sperm Donation
Civil Union Pre/Postnuptial Agreements and Property Contracts
Connecticut Same-Sex Marriage Guidelines
FAQ: Wills & Testamentary Trusts
Requirements for Dissolving (terminating) a Marriage or Civil Union


Disclaimer: The information presented here is only meant to offer a brief guide to the law in Connecticut for gay and lesbian couples and individuals. It is not and should not be construed as legal advice. Questions about your individual circumstances should be discussed with a licensed attorney. An attorney at Gryk & Frolich LLC can assist you with these issues.