$48 for marriage license; how much for gay couples to get similar protections?
August 26, 2009 11:06 AM   Subscribe

We are a gay couple living in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. We would like to get as much protection as we can to make decisions for each other and visit each other in hospitals. I have been calling around to gay and lesbian lawyers in the area, and no one will give me a 'straight' answer about cost. How much is it going to cost us to get a health care directive, durable power of attorney, and medical power of attorney for each of us?
posted by hworth to Law & Government (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
We filled out all those forms - directives, wills, POAs, etc. - at Nolo, printed everything out and went to a notary. This was a few years ago, and in CA rather than MO, but I think it all cost about $100.

While we have (some) automatic legal protection (which is still dependent on the healthcare provider actually adhering to the law) here in California (we're even among the few, the (dubiously) proud, the gay-married), we do travel to other states where the marriage isn't recognized. Although we don't usually travel with our paperwork - something we'll have to be more conscientious about in the future.

That was a lot of parentheticals in there, wasn't it.
posted by rtha at 11:16 AM on August 26, 2009

As another point of reference: several years ago, my wife and I paid around $1000 for wills (include trustee/guardianship for the kids), healthcare directives, and durable powers of attorney that included healthcare. This was in Atlanta.

I'm not sure why it would cost any more or less for a gay couple, but then again I'm neither gay nor an attorney. We were cautioned by our attorney (which should come as no surprise) that off-the-shelf docs may miss some of the finer points of state law. There was some twitchy little thing in Georgia law, for example, that required explicit spelling out in the wills. Anyway, I'd keep calling around.
posted by jquinby at 11:21 AM on August 26, 2009

You might have some luck asking the Midwest Regional Office of Lambda Legal about this.
posted by Siobhan at 11:22 AM on August 26, 2009

As it happens, my wife and I are a straight couple, but we aren't legally married yet for various reasons (taxes, insurance, and income-based repayment for student loans, mainly). We went to Kathy Wysack, who is a very gay-friendly attorney in St. Louis.

We got the services you list, plus wills, for well under $1000. She was upfront about the cost. We would definitely recommend her.
posted by jedicus at 11:24 AM on August 26, 2009

It cost us about $750 in Austin in 2008. Will, living will/medical directive, durable/medical powers of attorney for two people.

And you didn't ask, but here's where the copies are:

- lawyer's office
- trusted friends
- my parents' fire safe
- and one copy of both of our paperwork in each of our cars, in a special brightly-colored plastic envelope, easily reachable from the driver's seat.

I try never to travel without it.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:21 PM on August 26, 2009

The Missouri Bar makes the durable power of attorney, health care directive, and the accompanying HIPAA form, available for free here. Here's a brochure from the Missouri attorney general's office on the subject as a whole. I don't practice in this area, but it seems to me like there is no separate medical power of attorney here-- the durable power of attorney and health care directive perform whatever function that document would perform.
posted by missouri_lawyer at 12:52 PM on August 26, 2009

My partner and I did a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy form in New York three years ago and I'm pretty sure it was free. Not sure what it's like in Missouri, but missouri_lawyer seems to give a good answer.
posted by Tin Man at 1:26 PM on August 26, 2009

Thanks to everyone who is answered so far. We are specifically NOT interested in wills at this time. That seems to be the most expensive part of the equation.
posted by hworth at 1:36 PM on August 26, 2009

Wills should be done, as part of the entire package. Getting the other things done without wills would be like getting your car detailed, but telling the guy "never mind the front seats".

They should not be that costly.
posted by megatherium at 2:47 PM on August 26, 2009

Move to a state that has gay marriage or civil unions (if that's good enough for you).
posted by reddot at 4:40 PM on August 26, 2009

Reddot, one of our real concerns is hospital access hospital while traveling. My understanding is that a Massachusetts or Iowa gay marriage will not get us that access while traveling in an anti-gay marriage state constitutional amendment.
posted by hworth at 7:45 PM on August 26, 2009

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