For years same-sex couples have fought long and hard to win equal rights in America. While legalizing gay marriage will not solve all problems, it is a great start for many gay and lesbian couples. Under the former Defense of Marriage Act, partners who were legally married were excluded from some 1,000 federal laws and regulations, including those on estate planning benefits. In politically diverse Washington, many Kent residents may have been aware of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ended DOMA, allowing same-sex partners to enjoy the same federal estate planning benefits as the rest of the nation.
Facing up to our own mortality presents a challenge at any stage of life and, unfortunately, many of us cling to the idea that we can put off making plans for incapacity until we reach our elder years. Fortunately, most Kent residents will have the good fortune of aging into their golden years before it falls upon loved ones to carry out their end-of-life wishes. Unfortunately, as the story of one paralegal illustrates, some of us may need to rely others to make difficult decisions long before anyone expects.