Wills, Second-Parent Adoption, and other protections for your LGBT family — The Bump
LGBT Parenting

Wills, Second-Parent Adoption, and other protections for your LGBT family

I found myself getting a little soap-boxy on the 2nd tri board today, and realized I was talking to the wrong crowd.  A woman asked if it's a good idea to have a will, and I wrote an emphatic yes, explained why they're especially important for my family, and suggested some specifics that she and her husband should include.

As I was thinking through all of the hoops that my partner and I had to (got to?) jump through to protect our family, I was reminded about how lucky we are to live in a state/county that grants second-parent adoptions.  Since we're all from different areas, I'm curious about the specifics of your state.  As I ask these questions, I'll answer them for my state too.

  1. What state are you in?  *Washington*
  2. Do you have access to domestic partnership or civil marriage?  *Yes, limited domestic partnership, currently under expansion to "Everything But Marriage" pending possible referendum.*
     
  3. Do you have access to second-parent adoption?  *Yes, in select counties*
     
  4. Have you already written/filed a will that covers your partner and future child(ren)? *Yes, our attorney required us to have wills before she would start our second-parent adoption paperwork.  I adopted our daughter in 2004.*
     
  5. When your child(ren) are born, will their birth certificate reflect birth mom only, birth mom and donor, or both moms?  *Unless this has changed since 2004, birth mom only on the first birth certificate.  The adoption decree included a request for a new birth certificate to be issued, with "Parent" and "Parent" lines reflecting both of us.*
     
  6. If you don't have access to second-parent adoption, have you (or do you plan to) formalize a parenting plan with help from an attorney? *N/A*
     
  7. If you and your partner were to split, are you confident that your parental rights would be protected/enforced?  *Yes, I have equal rights to custody and equal responsiblity to pay child support.*
     
  8. If your partner were to die, are you confident that your parental rights would be protected/enforced?  *Yes, in addition to my place on Kiddo's birth certificate, I am named as the intended guardian in my partner's will.*
     
  9. Do you have any areas of the country where you fear to travel with your child?  *Yes, Florida.  I worry that all of our paperwork would be disregarded in an emergency situation.*
     
  10. What major loopholes doe you feel you can't protect your family from?  *My partner can't receive my SS survivor benefits if I predecease her, but that's a federal issue.*

Okay, sorry this is so looooooong.  I'm curious to read your answers!

Re: Wills, Second-Parent Adoption, and other protections for your LGBT family

    1. What state are you in?  California
    2. Do you have access to domestic partnership or civil marriage?  We are married in the state of California and are looked at as a married couple with all of the same rights
       
    3. Do you have access to second-parent adoption?  We dont have to worry about that because any child whom is born to either me or DW is considered ours.
       
    4. Have you already written/filed a will that covers your partner and future child(ren)? We do not have wills, but should draw one up.
       
    5. When your child(ren) are born, will their birth certificate reflect birth mom only, birth mom and donor, or both moms?  I believe both moms
       
    6. If you don't have access to second-parent adoption, have you (or do you plan to) formalize a parenting plan with help from an attorney? *N/A*
       
    7. If you and your partner were to split, are you confident that your parental rights would be protected/enforced? Yes
       
    8. If your partner were to die, are you confident that your parental rights would be protected/enforced?  She is considered a legal gaurdian to any child we have.
       
    9. Do you have any areas of the country where you fear to travel with your child? A lot...
       
    10. What major loopholes doe you feel you can't protect your family from?  None so far, we were lucky enough to marry before the Nov. 4th election that passed Prop 8. in california banning all same sex couples from being married. In March it was decided in California that all 18,000 same sex couples whom were married before the election would still be valid and married and have the same rights as a heterosexual couple.
    IF History in Bio

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    1. What state are you in?  CT
    2. Do you have access to domestic partnership or civil marriage?  Yes, our marriage is recognized by the state, but obv not the country 
    3. Do you have access to second-parent adoption?  yes, and we'll absolutely seek one out. IMO, until marriage is recongized federally even those couples who are legally married should be getting second parent adoptions 
    4. Have you already written/filed a will that covers your partner and future child(ren)? no, but its always been our plan to do wills when we have children 
    5. When your child(ren) are born, will their birth certificate reflect birth mom only, birth mom and donor, or both moms?  i'm not sure...since marriage is relatively new in CT i'm not certain that they've updated teh certificates 
    6. If you don't have access to second-parent adoption, have you (or do you plan to) formalize a parenting plan with help from an attorney? n/a  
    7. If you and your partner were to split, are you confident that your parental rights would be protected/enforced?  Yes 
    8. If your partner were to die, are you confident that your parental rights would be protected/enforced?  Yes 
    9. Do you have any areas of the country where you fear to travel with your child?  n/a 
    10. What major loopholes do you feel you can't protect your family from?  the biggest is never really knowing where our country is heading in terms of GLBT rights...i never forget how quickly my rights could be revoked and will take all appropriate measures to protect my family
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    1. What state are you in?  Maryland
    2. Do you have access to domestic partnership or civil marriage?  Not at the moment. We were married in CA and the Attorney General of MD is weeks away from a "likely" ruling that out of state, same-sex marriages should be recongized. The Gov also came out in support of this. We're really hopeful.
    3. Do you have access to second-parent adoption?  Yes, and the research I've done has made it clear that a second parent adoption is vital even if we are considered married in MD. Traveling out of state without a second parent adoption is legally too risky for us. I know how lucky to even have this opportunity.
    4. Have you already written/filed a will that covers your partner and future child(ren)? No, but we'll do one as soon as I'm preggo. 
    5. When your child(ren) are born, will their birth certificate reflect birth mom only, birth mom and donor, or both moms? If we give birth in DC (15 minutes away) and have filed necessary paperwork ahead of time, then both moms will be on the birth certificate. At this moment, if we gave birth in MD, only the birth mother's name would be on the certificate.  
    6. If you don't have access to second-parent adoption, have you (or do you plan to) formalize a parenting plan with help from an attorney? n/a  
    7. If you and your partner were to split, are you confident that your parental rights would be protected/enforced?  Yes 
    8. If your partner were to die, are you confident that your parental rights would be protected/enforced?  Yes 
    9. Do you have any areas of the country where you fear to travel with your child?  No.
    10. What major loopholes do you feel you can't protect your family from? Until there is federal marriage equality, we won't let our guard down. We will continue our practice of taking advantage (paying) for every legal protection possible. This sentiment is what lead me to initiate changing my last name to N's.
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  • 1. Im in New Jersey

    2. We have a cicil union

    3. Yes we do and are in the process now. Doesn't matter what is on the birth certificate - other states do not have to recognize it.

    4. We have a will from before Annie was born. Just another thing on the list we have to update,

    5. That was a battle with us. Even though the state says she goes on the birth certificate - our hopsital would not let us do it without a court order. They still have a previous policy in place and even emails from the state did not get them to change it. I am appealing that now so that other couples don't have that problem at our very catholic hospital ( I am also empolyed by them) We had to file an ammended BC at the cost of $200.

    7. I am the birthmother so I am fine. We are going to put things in place to protect her.  Better to do it when things are foreseably forever for us than if something was to go wrong ( can't imagine that) but to have to deal with things in anger. It ultimatly is for the good of my daughter since I see Annies life as immeasureably better with Scoop in it.

    8. See above for me - but we are putting measures in place. We discussed it with my family in length before Annie was born that if something we to happen to me Scoopy would still be Annies mom and have full coustody. Luckily my family loves Scoopy and would never challenge her rights to our child.

    9. Yup. We took a trip when Annie was a month old and it was swcary to think that if something had happened on the trip to me, my parents would be considered the ones to make all decisions for Annie. They would pass that off to Scoop - but it bothers me that they would have to do that.

    10. I try to cover everything - but I worry at a crucial moment there may have been some small thing we missed that would rip my child from her mom. The whole thing makes me sad and angry.

    ~Kennedy

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  • Excellent post.

    As several posters mentioned, everyone, even those couples who are lucky enough to have both names on the birth certificate, should do the second parent adoptions so that determinations are not left up to hospitals out-of-state.  

     

  • What state are you in?  NY

    Do you have access to domestic partnership or civil marriage?  NY recognizes legal SS marriages from out-of state.  We were legally married in MA in 2007.

    Do you have access to second-parent adoption?  Yes 

    Have you already written/filed a will that covers your partner and future child(ren)? We will need to do a new one after our child is born to change K back to my heir. 

    When your child(ren) are born, will their birth certificate reflect birth mom only, birth mom and donor, or both moms?  Both moms 

    If you don't have access to second-parent adoption, have you (or do you plan to) formalize a parenting plan with help from an attorney? We have 2nd parent adoption in NY.

    If you and your partner were to split, are you confident that your parental rights would be protected/enforced?  Yes as I will be the birth mom.  I worry more about K's rights if something happens to me.
     

    If your partner were to die, are you confident that your parental rights would be protected/enforced?  Yes, again I'm the birth mom so this doesn't worry so much. 

    Do you have any areas of the country where you fear to travel with your child?  LOL - most of the country! Will it stop us - I don't know.  It's hard to say now how protective I might be once our child is here. I know though that I refuse to live in state that doesn't see both K and I as the parents of this child. 

    What major loopholes doe you feel you can't protect your family from?  Most federally based issues.  Social Security, being taxed on our healthcare, etc.

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    1. What state are you in?  Maryland
    2. Do you have access to domestic partnership or civil marriage?  No
       
    3. Do you have access to second-parent adoption?  Yes we did it in 2006
       
    4. Have you already written/filed a will that covers your partner and future child(ren)? Yes, we did wills about a year after we started dating and have revised them several times including when the kids were born.
       
    5. When your child(ren) are born, will their birth certificate reflect birth mom only, birth mom and donor, or both moms?   Only the birth mom was on the first birth certificate.  The adoption decree included a request for a new birth certificate to be issued, with "Parent" and "Parent" lines reflecting both of us.*
       
    6. If you don't have access to second-parent adoption, have you (or do you plan to) formalize a parenting plan with help from an attorney? We had paperwork drawn up to protect us from the time the kids were born till the time the adoption was finalized.
       
    7. If you and your partner were to split, are you confident that your parental rights would be protected/enforced?  Yes
       
    8. If your partner were to die, are you confident that your parental rights would be protected/enforced? Yes, we have the adoption and guardianship in our legal paperwork.
       
    9. Do you have any areas of the country where you fear to travel with your child?  No, not really.
       
    10. What major loopholes doe you feel you can't protect your family from?  Well, our paperwork doesn't cover any of the 1,049 federal benefits afforded to us by legal marriage.
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    1. What state are you in?  ohio
    2. Do you have access to domestic partnership or civil marriage?  no, nothing. yet.
       
    3. Do you have access to second-parent adoption?  no.
       
    4. Have you already written/filed a will that covers your partner and future child(ren)? yes, we did them right before we got married in 2007. we will be redrawing them ASAP after he's born.
       
    5. When your child(ren) are born, will their birth certificate reflect birth mom only, birth mom and donor, or both moms?  only birth mom.
       
    6. If you don't have access to second-parent adoption, have you (or do you plan to) formalize a parenting plan with help from an attorney? yes, we already have preliminary paperwork for co-parenting agreements, which will give me legal custody along with her, and 50% of all decision-making, financial responsibility, and the like. some of the paperwork we can file in advance, some of it we need to wait until he's born.
       
    7. If you and your partner were to split, are you confident that your parental rights would be protected/enforced?  for the most part. it's possible that it would get quite expensive should it be contested, but so far these agreements have held up in the court system here.
       
    8. If your partner were to die, are you confident that your parental rights would be protected/enforced? i have confidence that i would have legal ground and standing. we will have the coparenting agreement, which also states that should something happen to her i should retain custody and be granted adoption of him as soon as possible. we are taking additional precautions by doing things like specifically stating who she does NOT want to have custody in her will, which would back me up in a legal battle with certain members of her family should it be necessary.
       
    9. Do you have any areas of the country where you fear to travel with your child?  yes. quite a few. and others i'd be thrilled to visit and feel totally comfortable in my rights.
       
    10. What major loopholes do you feel you can't protect your family from? mostly federal rights--including social security--and next of kin/survivorship. as soon as the baby's born that will override anything she's done in the past because she'll have a new next-of-kin that will legally supercede all of that (naming me as beneficiary on her life insurance, TOD on bank accounts, property, etc), so we'll have to redo everything--and pay for any expense that comes with it.
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