Posts filed under 'GLBT Couples Marriage Elder Law & Medicaid'
November 10th, 2012
Voters in Washington, Minnesota, Maryland and Maine had the opportunity to vote on same-sex marriage on November 6th. Here are the results:
Question 1 – a vote to legalize gay marriage – passed in Maine. Maine is the first state to approve same sex marriage by voter initiative on the ballot.
Question 6 – a vote to uphold a bill passed by the legislature earlier this year that legalizes gay marriage – passed in Maryland.
Amendment 1 – an amendment the state’s constitution to define marriage as one man and one woman – was rejected by the voters of Minnesota.
Referendum 74 – a vote to uphold a bill passed by the legislature earlier in 2012 that allows gay marriage – passed in Washington.
Washington, Maryland and Maine join the six states – Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont, plus Washington D.C. – that have legalized same-sex marriage.
The legalization of same-sex marriage in New York has allowed Elder Law attorneys to employ spousal planning strategies for same-sex couples in Medicaid or estate planning matters. Medicaid rules have been specifically designed to protect certain property, assets and income of the spouses of Medicaid recipients.
Same-sex couples residing in New York, or any other state that has legalized same-sex marriage, should review their long-term care plans and estate plans with an Elder Law attorney to be sure they are aware of the benefits that may be available to them.
July 14th, 2011
New York’s recently-enacted gay marriage law is a great emotional and symbolic victory for New Yorkers, and for gay couples everywhere. It also has significant practical benefits in many areas that touch the legal rights of married persons. For those of us concerned with the health care, and particularly long-term care, of seniors, New York’s law will have a significant impact. For example, gay couples who marry will have spousal rights under the Medicaid laws to make exempt transfers of money and property to their spouses, and to claim the benefits of the Community Spouse Resource Allowance and the Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance. To find out more, contact your Elder Law attorney.
April 24th, 2010
New rules are being issued by President Obama’s health secretary that give same-sex partners more hospital visiting rights. The rules will also make it easier for partners to make medical decisions on behalf of their loved ones.
The new rules will establish that same-sex partners must receive visiting privileges that are equal to those of immediate family members. The rules will apply to any hospital that participates in the Medicaid or Medicare programs.
Before the formulation of these rules, gays and lesbians, as well as children of gay and lesbian couples, were routinely denied the basic right to visit their partner’s bedside at hospitals throughout the country. Even partners who were the designated agent in a Health Care Proxy were routinely denied access to their loved ones.
These new rules protect the rights of same-sex couples, and also expand the rights of others whose closest companions are not immediate relatives.
December 8th, 2009
On Wednesday December 2nd the New York State Senate voted down a bill that would have legalized gay marriage in the State of New York.
The bill was rejected by a 38-to-24 vote, which was a much greater margin than most advocates and supporters expected. The 30 Republican senators unanimously voted against the bill, and were joined by eight Democrats.
The bill had passed the Assembly and was supported by Governor Paterson, who promised to sign it into law if approved by the Senate.
Gay rights advocacy groups are expressing frustration but are continuing their efforts to win passage of a bill in 2011 when a new Legislature will be put into office.
Currently, when one or both partners in a gay relationship are in need of long-term care, they cannot benefit from the rights and options available to married couples. However, planning options do exist for gay couples. For a discussion of these options, click here.
November 11th, 2009
On Tuesday November 3rd Maine voters repealed the state’s marriage equality law. The law was passed by the Maine legislature last spring and would have legalized same-sex marriage. However, the law was put on hold when it was followed by a petition drive to repeal it by voters in a referendum. On Election Day, a referendum was held and Maine voters rejected the law by 53 percent of the votes.
The outcome of a same-sex marriage law in New York is still unknown. Governor David Paterson put the issue on the Senate’s agenda and is asking Senators to vote on the issue. The gay-marriage legislation has already passed in the Assembly and is supported by Gov. Paterson. However, it is unclear whether or not there are enough votes to pass the bill and when such a vote will actually take place. While Paterson is pushing for a vote, legislators are currently negotiating and may put the issue on hold for an indeterminable amount of time.
October 23rd, 2009
Governor David Patterson has previously directed New York State agencies to recognize same-sex marriages that are legal in the states and countries in which they were performed.
Now, the Governor is pressing New York legislators to make gay marriage legal in New York as well. Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirstin Gillibrand, are all in favor of the proposed legislation.
Hopefully, New York will soon follow the trend being set in other states that have legalized gay marriage, such as Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire.
With legalization of same-sex marriage in New York, members of the GLBT community would gain significant financial advantages in circumstances involving debilitating illness and long-term health care options.
For example, if you are married and become ill and in need of long-term care, you can transfer your assets to your spouse and become immediately eligible for Medicaid benefits. Such transfers are exempt, and are not subject Medicaid’s “look back” and “penalty” rules. This makes it possible for cash, investments, real estate and other valuable property to be preserved within the family unit. For GLBT couples confronting serious illness, valid marital status would make it easier to preserve the assets that the couple has saved up over a lifetime.
When the same Elder Law strategies that currently work so effectively for married couples can be utilized on behalf of gay partners, it will unlock the full spectrum of planning for long-term health care.
All that being said, there may still be challenges even if New York votes same-sex marriage into law. There will likely be conflicts with existing Federal law, particularly the Defense of Marriage Act, which does not recognize same-sex unions and may be an obstacle to achieving eligibility for Medicaid benefits. Nevertheless, legalization in this state will move us one step closer to equal rights for GLBT couples.
You can learn more about Elder Law planning approaches for GLBT couples here: Gay and Lesbian Couples – Elder Law Planning
Now, the Governor is pressing New York legislators to make gay marriage legal in New York as well.
Governor David Patterson has previously directed New York State agencies to recognize same-sex marriages.