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Are You Your Mother’s Keeper?
If you live in California or 27 other states, you may very well be responsible for your parents’ support and care. The concept of “filial responsibility” is the law in these states, and, although not often enforced in most of them, it shouldn’t be ignored. Coming out of the recession, many states are struggling with debt and budgets that won’t balance.
At the same time, our population is aging, and a majority of us will require long-term nursing care and other assistance. The federal-state Medicaid program (called MediCal in California) is likely to grow rapidly as seniors run out of their own funds to cover expensive assisted living and long-term care. Some states have begun to eye the adult children of these older Americans as a source for recouping some of the state funds that have gone toward their care.
If your parents are indigent after outliving their assets, you could be responsible for contributing toward their care. A state agency may require you to make a contribution, or regular monthly payments toward their expenses. A court could garnish your wages or put a lien on your property if it finds you can afford to pay, but you refuse or fail to comply.
Should you worry about this? Is it likely to happen to you? It would be wise to assess your parents’ financial situation, and your own, to see what might happen if the future does bring new enforcement of filial responsibility laws. How can you help your parents prepare for the possibility of running out of money to pay for needed care? Discuss these issues with an experienced elder law attorney, who may be able to help you prepare for possible future shifts in public policy that could affect your pocketbook.
Building Families in the LGBT Community: A Growing Interest in Fertility
As same-sex marriage and civil unions become more common in the U.S., and gay and lesbian couples feel more accepted and comfortable in their cities and suburbs, many are considering building or adding to families through egg or sperm donation and surrogacy.
Anonymous egg and sperm donation through medical clinics under professional supervision are subject to Food & Drug Administration guidelines, which include a discriminatory ban on gay men as sperm donors unless they have been celibate for the preceding five years. This is unnecessary, and not required of heterosexual men. Sperm donation is already subject to procedures to assure safety, including stringent testing for sexually transmitted diseases, certain inherited diseases, and a 6 month wait-period before sperm can be used in assisted reproduction.
Licensed, LGBT-friendly clinics are available in many areas of the U.S. to provide appropriate reproductive services, and it is very important that plans and possible outcomes be thoroughly reviewed by an attorney familiar with state laws regarding same-sex couples and the legal status of any offspring they might produce.
California’s Domestic Partnership Registry
Registering as domestic partners in California is an easy process. Fill out a one-page Declaration of Domestic Partnership form, attach a check for the fees of $33, mail it to the Secretary of State, and, in a few weeks, receive your Certificate of Registration. You and your partners are now listed in California’s Domestic Partnership Registry.
But dissolving a domestic partnership is far more complicated. In most cases, it requires the same court procedure as getting a divorce when you are married. A judge will review the assets and income of both partners and approve a settlement agreement, as long as it is fair to both parties. A dissolution takes a minimum of 6 months, if things move along smoothly.
An interesting note: Once registered as domestic partners, you can’t become “unregistered.” California law provides no way to remove your names from the Registry, even after an official court dissolution.
In 2008 the American Medical Association issued a resolution calling on private and public health insurance companies to remove discriminatory exclusions of care for gender transition-related medical care. Although support is growing among some large, LGBT-friendly businesses to provide trans-inclusive insurance, there is still a very long way to go. Some states have attempted to remove transgender medical care decisions from doctors through misguided or biased legislation, and many insurance carriers and businesses still view such health care as experimental, cosmetic or unnecessary.
Fortunately, courts have reviewed decades of medical data and are now finding that failure to provide transition-related medical care is discriminatory.
This article was originally published HERE.