Tag Archives: Power of Attorney

Polyamory and Power of Attorney

This US-centric post contains information that may or may not apply in other countries. I am not a lawyer, this post is for information purposes only. Not much changed here, but I fixed a few broken links and checked that Rocket Lawyer is still up and running. They are, and it looks like you can do most Power of Attorney paperwork there for free now. Updated October 6, 2016

A common piece of practical advice for polyam folk is “set up medical power of attorney.” But most people I’ve spoken with never do. Why? Well, people often expect legal stuff to be complicated, expensive and time-consuming. And hey, I’m healthy, right? I’ll take care of it when I have the money, can afford a lawyer, have the time to research… and it gets pushed behind all the daily concerns of bills, family and relationship stuff.

If you haven’t set up a medical power of attorney yet, you should as soon as possible, for a lot of important reasons. But, that there are other things you can do with a power of attorney. Power of attorney can give anyone the financial, medical, and property powers and rights that a legally married spouse has. And you can revoke a power of attorney at any time. Just give your agent(s) (the person(s) you gave power of attorney) a statement saying that you are revoking your power of attorney. So you don’t need to worry about being trapped in an agreement.

In my research for this post, I stumbled across a great site for US polyam folk called Rocket Lawyer. They have an easy set up to create a personalized power of attorney with all the proper legalese. Their ‘interview’ questions cover everything you need to set up power of attorney. Then the site auto-generates the proper legal paperwork. It also includes the ability to give the power of attorney to multiple people. Rocket Lawyer charges for some services and offers others for free. The services it charges for are a lot cheaper than hiring your own attorney.

If you know of similar resources for polyam folk in other countries, please leave a link in the comments!

For a polyamorous relationship, it’s a good idea to set up two separate power of attorney forms:

  • Specific financial/legal rights–you can pay each other’s bills, talk to the IRS on behalf of your spice, or whatever day-to-day rights would suit your relationships. This can be set up to go into effect as soon as it is signed and/or filed.
  • Durable medical power of attorney–set to go into effect if you are unable to make decisions for your own medical care. This allows your spice to take over your medical decisions when (and only when) you are incapacitated.

Not all polyam folks will need both kinds of power of attorney. If you only want to have a highly entwined relationship with one person, and you are legally married o that person, no power of attorney needed.

If you are legally married to someone and want that person making decisions for you if you are medically incapacitated, no medical power of attorney needed. If either or both of these are not the case, having power of attorney set up will protect you and your polyam partners.

A power of attorney to give rights to polyam partners will be more likely to face challenges than normal. Sadly, being in a non-mainstream relationship style will do that. However, as long as you are of sound mind when you sign the form, any challenge should get tossed out.

You can protect your power of attorney by making an appointment with your doctor before signing the power of attorney. Ask them for a statement that you are of sound mind. Keep this statement with the original copy of the signed power of attorney.

Every state has slightly different laws regarding power of attorney. Rocketlawyer.com is set up to incorporate the requirements of each individual state. The site will give you specific instructions on what to do after you print out the form to make it legally binding. If you don’t have a medical power of attorney and need one, I really suggest you pop over and set one up. That way, if something does happen, your polyam partners will be involved in your care and treatment.

If you choose not to use RocketLawyer, there are other internet sites where you can get a generic medical power of attorney. Or you can talk with a lawyer, or (in some states) write the document yourself.

Seriously, this is about protecting you and your polyam partners. It is not nearly as complicated or expensive as many people assume.

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(Disclaimer: I am not in any way affiliated with Rocket Lawyer and receive no compensation for recommending them.)

Polyamory: Laws and legal practices impacting our health

As always legal practices vary widely around the world, and I am not a legal expert. This post is for informational purposes only. Please contact a legal professional for advice and expert information.

Insurance Law

People living in countries with single payer and universal health care systems probably don’t have to worry about losing access to health care based on their relationships. Other systems have the potential to cause problems for poly folk. In employer-sponsored health care systems you only have insurance if you are employed with benefits or are legally married to someone who is employed with benefits. These systems have the potential to leave poly folk in group relationships and triads out in the cold. The US had an employer sponsored health care system before the passage of the ACA. The current mix of public and private health care under the ACA still privileges legally married couples. Married couples pay lower premiums on health insurance plans from the public market than unmarried couples–or the unmarried member of a triad.

Privacy Laws

I’m having a bitch of a time finding information on medical privacy laws regarding what medical professionals around the world can and can’t share with family members. Most of the easily available information focuses on how privacy laws are being re-designed to protect electronically stored information. In the US, doctors used to be able to share info with legal spouses freely. Today under HIPPA doctors can’t share information with anyone (including other doctors) without a signed form telling them exactly who they can talk to, and how much much they are allowed to share.

Any countries which have laws similar to the older US system will give an advantage to folks who are legally married–an option not available to many poly folk. France and other countries with a mix of private and public health care may or may not offer similar advantages to married couples (and similar disadvantages to many poly folk).

Hospital Rules and Regulations

Hospitals and health clinics often have rules about who is allowed to visit, be present during a procedure and more. When my former metamour Lauren had an emergency c-section, only one person could be in the room with her during surgery. When I went for an ultrasound recently, the clinic allowed one person in the room with me. In other situations only family members are admitted.

These rules will vary between hospitals and clinics. I won’t even attempt to review world wide approaches because within jurisdictions. the way things are handled varies so widely there is no way I could give an idea of rules in the US versus, say, Brazil.

However, these rules have obvious issues for polycules where many people want to be present and give their support but only some are allowed.

Medical Power of Attorney

Power of attorney is the legal right to act on behalf of someone else. This means you can spend their money, manage their property, and make decisions regarding their medial care. Power of attorney goes by different names in different countries (in Italy it’s called procura). I’ve been told that power of attorney exists in most countries of the world. My (admittedly brief) internet search has confirmed power of attorney exists in Italy, Ukraine, Russia, Ireland, Parts of the UK, and the US.

Medical power of attorney is the US term for a restricted type of power of attorney. Medical power of attorney allows a person access to your medical information and the ability to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated. A similar form of power of attorney exists in England and Wales, and (I have been told) most countries that allow for power of attorney.

Medical power of attorney is a way around laws and regulations restricting access to your medical records and defining who gets a say in your medical care. In the US, if you are unable to make decisions for yourself, unless you have medical power of attorney your next of kin will make decisions for you. Your next of kin is your legal spouse, or if you don’t have one your children, or if you don’t have any your parents.

Medical power of attorney can grant members of a polycule who are not legally married access to their loved ones in the hospital and a say in their loved one’s care. More than one poly partner has been blocked from their loved one’s bedside by parents (next-of-kin) who don’t approve of polyamory.

 

Next Sunday will be the last post in the Polyamory Legal Challenges blog series. If you have a topic you’d like to see covered, contact me and let me know!