New Washington Domestic Partnership Legislation Affects Providers of Long Term Care & Senior Housing

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As widely reported in the media, on July 22, 2007, legislation providing certain unmarried couples with many of the same rights and benefits held by married couples became effective in Washington. SSB 5336 created a state domestic partnership registry in the office of the Secretary

of State, as well as amending a variety of existing laws to include state registered domestic partners in their coverage. Individuals seeking a state-registered domestic partnership must meet all of the following requirements: (a) share a common residence; (b) be 18 years of age or older; (c) not be married to or in a state-registered domestic partnership with someone other than the person with whom they are seeking domestic partnership; (d) have capacity to consent to domestic partnership; (e) be no nearer in kindred than second cousin, nor be a sibling, child, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew to the other person and; (f) be members of the same sex, or one person in the domestic partnership must be at least 62 years old.

While SSB 5336 addressed a number of other subjects (for example, employee benefits for state employees, probate and inheritance rights), providers of long term care and senior housing will find the following provisions particularly relevant:

• Health care facility visitation rights.

• Ability to grant informed consent for health care for a patient who is incompetent.

• Authority of health care providers to disclose patient information.

• Automatic revocation of a durable power of attorney in favor of a stateregistered domestic partner upon termination of the registration of domestic partnership.

• Autopsy rights, disposition of remains and rights regarding anatomical gifts.

• Right to benefit from wrongful death and survivorship actions.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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