No Death Benefits

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by B_Stronzo, Oct 17, 2006.

  1. B_Stronzo

    B_Stronzo New Member

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    It's just been announced on the Boston six o'clock news that Dean Hara will not be entitled to former Massachusetts Congressman Gerry Studds's death benefits.

    Though among the first to be married once same sex marriage was legalized in 2004 here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this couple's union is not recognized by the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act which blocks it on the federal level.

    Now clever of them to call it "defense of marriage" eh? (More like 'defense of discrimination' act)

    Every other congressman's wife or husband is entitled to spousal benefits but not Studds's spouse.

    It would have been roughly one hundred and fifteen thousand dollars a year for Hara.

    Fucking charming little country aren't we?:rolleyes:

    Boston Globe article
     
  2. cklover

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    Is there the possibility of a 'civil union' in Massachusetts yet? If so, would he have been eligible for spousal benefits?
     
  3. Sklar

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    Not that I am litegous or anything but this osunds like a great test case for the courts.

    Here we have a State Government that does recognise same sex marriages vs the Federal Government that does not.

    I would think that the ACLU would be all over this.

    Sklar
     
  4. DaveyR

    DaveyR Retired Moderator
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    That is an absolute disgrace - like WTF?

    Equal rights to benefits and the like are part and parcel of what was being fought for in wanting legalisation of same sex marriages are they not?

    Perhaps your Government wants to ensure that there are very few benefits from same sex marriages so that less of you will Marry! Just a thought!

    I am fortunate myself in that the company I worked for changed the rules of the pension scheme around 12 years ago. Previously the only one's entitled to widow/ers benefits were spouses. After the changes all nominated partners whether married or not or same sex or not were entitled to the same benefits.

    What's the position in the US with regard to widow/ers benefits from company pensions schemes where same sex marriages are concerned? Does it vary with employer or is standard?
     
  5. Lex

    Lex
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    We have much work to do still and we must recognize this. The private sector and higher education have made strides that our government has yet to make. Sad but true.

    I wonder what happens if you name your BF as your insured beneficiary and will all you have to him?
     
  6. B_Stronzo

    B_Stronzo New Member

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    Yes. It smacks of it to me too Sklar.

    They barely made mention of it on local news. In fact I was not really listening until I heard the term "Defense of Marriage Act". That Boston Globe piece is damned short too.

    Studds was much loved here in Massachusetts and his record stands by itself on its own merit separate from his coming out entirely.

    Either "N" or I will easily find out one of these days Lex if things don't balance off.

    Go here for really clear verbiage on the nuances of the status of things here cklover.
     
  7. Lex

    Lex
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    I hear you. I think that 30 years from now, all I have will be willed to my kids, BF (hubby) and the (by then) former Mrs. Lex in some predetermined fashion. I even plan to talk to everyone in the family to let them know what my plans are so that there can be no arguments after the fact.
     
  8. hungthickdc

    hungthickdc Member

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    Each state has it's own laws regarding the legal status of same sex couples. States such as Massechusetts, legally recognize unions between members of the same sex. Thus state employees that have a same-sex partner are afforded the same rights and benefits as their straight counterparts. I also believe that companies who do business in Massechusetts must provide equal benefits to same-sex couples. The DOMA doesn't supercede the states recognition of a same-sex couple. DOMA applies to Federal employees. Since the congressman was an employee of the Federal government, the DOMA applies to him and so his partner is not eligible to receive benefits.
     
  9. DaveyR

    DaveyR Retired Moderator
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    Thanks for clarifying that for me.
     
  10. dreamer20

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    That's the way to do it.
     
  11. B_Stronzo

    B_Stronzo New Member

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    My other half and I have already made mirror image wills one reflecting him as beneficiary and the other I.
     
  12. DaveyR

    DaveyR Retired Moderator
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    Same here.
     
  13. dags

    dags New Member

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    In answer to your question Dave Rock, from what I know regarding widow/ers benefits its totally up to the company. I do know several large companies, especially in the banking industry have very fair and inclusional benefits for gay and lesbian employees. American Express Financial Advisor's for example, I have several friends in the banking biz and have heard through them. Most of the larger banks and companies in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota USA area are quite fair and inclusional. Most of these I imagine are global companies.
    I agree with you Stronzo, the Hara - Studds case is just one example.
    It's a pretty crappy deal, I'm sure the money they will be saving in not paying death benefits will go to some worthy cause like education or something right? NOT!
     
  14. DC_DEEP

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    I'm shocked that so many people are so shocked by this. IT'S BEEN NOT JUST RIGHT IN FRONT OF OUR NOSES FOR THE PAST 10 YEARS, FOLKS, IT'S BEEN BITING BLOODY HOLES IN OUR EYEBALLS, TOO.

    Most states have laws that are unfair; the federal government's laws regarding such things is absolutely appalling.

    Stronzo, you live in one of the few states where your wills are actually safe. In the majority of US states, even if a gay person has been formally diswoned by his birth family, and is in a permanent relationship, and has a legally executed, signed, witnessed, and notarized will, his birth family can contest (and usually win) his will. This is even the case for couples who, for instance, got legally married in Massachusetts and moved back to whatever state they live in.

    The equity is JUST NOT THERE. If you have a considerable investment in property and estate in your same-gender relationship, it is imperative that you find out what legally must be done, in your state, to protect yourself and your partner. Do it now. Get it in writing. If Virginia's "marriage amendment" passes, it will invalidate even the most carefully drawn up legal papers, including wills, deeds, indemnities, all the good stuff. Virginia legislators are aggressive. They are pushing - not just for definition of marriage as one man & one woman. They have the amendment worded so that any "legal arrangements between two non-married persons, which approximate any of the benefits of marriage" will be invalid.

    I see at least two a year for the last 3 years, articles in the paper about couples whose families have not spoken to them in years, dragging a surviving spouse through the wringer to overturn legal wills and take joint property. The states are letting them do it.
     
  15. madame_zora

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    Although I am not an attourney, I worked for a brief time for a company that made living trusts, and I would encourage anyone with a sufficient estate ($100,000 total net worth), or a specific reason for needing it to look into putting their assets into trust. As I understand it, you can name ANYONE as the next executive of the trust, and can thereby pass over many of the current laws, inclusing some that affect inheritance taxes.

    Wills are NO GUARANTEE AT ALL that your estate will go unchallenged, in fact a will is a directive TO the courts system, so in a technical sense it requires your estate to become subject to the courts. Anything about your will can be challenged by ANYONE either named or not named in your will. Sad but true.

    As long as our courts are in the dark ages, we must find ways to work around them, and this is the best one that comes to mind. Please look into it, I abhor thinking of the amount of money wasted in the courts on attourney fees to settle estates in ways other than what is intended by the author of said instrument. Attourneys write wills for a very nominal fee, sometimes even free, knowing that the family will usually come back to them when the person has died to settle the estate. Many attournies view the number of wills they've written during their career as their retirement plan.

    Any homeowner should consider this, but any gay homeowner has double the reason.
     
  16. AlteredEgo

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    Damn' DC. Why are these states so willing to completely disregard a will. I understand bias, I really do. But If I want to leave all I ever had to my best friend ( and that's who your spouse is, right? The best friend with whom you entered into a legal agreement.) I should be able to, and rest in peace, knowing that my wishes were carried out. I don't claim to know what anyone else's life is like at its core, but I'm working really fucking hard over here, and I'm trying to build something. I expect to marry someone who is doing the same thing. And whatever we build together- who should get that? And marriage aside: I don't have two sticks to rub together, but I have a will. (Okay, my estate is large enough to be ineligible for small estate probate, but just barely.) My ex-boyfriend (pure laziness- He was supposed to be removed three years ago) my Godchildren and my brother are named. I'm not married. I'm estranged from my ex. But if my will fucking says to give him half, I want him to get it! That's better than the gov't keeping anything. I wasn't crazy or under duress when I had my will prepared. I was in love. Whatever. How is that any different from a gay marriage? Or a gay live-in situation? It wasn't even as good as a gay marriage or live-in situation. We didn't live together! Ever! But my lawyers never made me worry that anything in my will was in jepoardy. I'm ranting. I should eat something.
     
  17. Gillette

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    The laws or rather the loopholes in the laws allowing for discrimination against same sex couples is appalling.

    I hope that M.Z.'s advice offers a workable solution.

    I can't believe the shit you lot have to fight against.
     
  18. DC_DEEP

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    You win the prize, Zora. You are correct that any will can be contested, but a trust cannot. If you set up these types of things early on, there is less chance that claims of non compos mentis can be made... an underhanded trick that attornies often use when representing the family of the decedent.
     
  19. Freddie53

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    Yes, Zora is correct. There is another way to get around the wills. You need a good lawyer to write it correctly. No one can contest who you give something to so two possibilities:

    1. Life estate. Yep, gay folks give it to the family, but give a life estate to your partner. As long as they live they get to enjoy your assets. Then at your death, they assets go to the family.

    2. Co-own everything with the surviver getting what ever is there. You can do this in some states.

    This is a statement made by an attorney. While alive you can give anything to anyone you wish and it can't be contested. The trick to to somehow legally do that. A trust that Zora suggested is one excellent way.

    But at death, nothing in a will guarantees that what you have will go to whom you wish. Smart attorneys and bad written wills can completely undo your wishes.

    This is wrong folks, but it happens all the time.
     
  20. Freddie53

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    If this went to the Supreme Court and they followed the US Consitution by what it says and not what they want it to say. This will be overturned. States regulate marriage. If a state says a couple is married, then according to the U/S. Constitution they are. Marriage is a domain that is given to the states, not the federal government.

    Now if they had been partners and weren't married, then no he would not get the benefit.
     
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