The sad truth calls for some know-how
Growing up, I was a rule person; I followed them and respected authority. When my parents told me to sit and wait, I would sit and wait. When my teachers asked the class to be quiet, I would keep my mouth shut. I did my homework, I asked for permission and I did not fight anyone for telling me “no.”
But, like everyone else, I grew up. While the rules at home and at school loosened up on their own, I learned to stretch them depending on what I needed (and sometimes wanted). I still had a curfew, but I reasoned that I couldn’t force my friends to leave earlier than they were ready. I mean, they were already bringing me home, you know?
When the rules don’t change, you have to get creative. Your needs are growing at a faster pace than the landscape is changing, after all. And in the essence of living within Philippine laws and society’s fast-paced evolution, you have no choice but to stretch out the boundaries without breaking them—when and as you need to, especially if you’re in the LGBTQIA+ community.
Over the last two weeks, I attended a seminar held by the UP College of Law Gender Law and Policy Program that focused on LGBTQ+ Families: Property and Insurance and LGBTQ+ Incapacity of Partner, Medical and End-of-life Decisions and Inheritance. The sessions were eye-opening though a little disappointing and came with one very clear takeaway: Our current legal landscape does not have the LGBTQIA+ community at heart. In fact, it’s a little dismissive of them and the relationships they foster.
When it all comes down to it, a legal marriage provides the surviving spouse and all other legal descendants with something from the deceased relative. But because Philippine law doesn’t acknowledge same sex marriage (at least not yet), LGBTQIA+ couples don’t get this same automatic safety net; they need to prepare for it beforehand.
Special Power Of Attorney
When it comes to making medical decisions about your life, doctors will go first to the closest living relative (spouse, children of legal are or parents) for directive if you are unable to give it yourself. But if you want your partner to make those decisions on your behalf, then you need to prepare a special power of attorney that states your partner’s authority to do so. But don’t stop there, make sure the document is in your medical records and that your doctors are aware of the arrangement as well.
Keep in mind, however, that the special power of attorney is only legitimate while you are alive. Should you die, it no longer grants your partner with the choice on what to do with your body.
Co-ownership of property
You might feel confident in putting registering or purchasing your assets under an “and/or” contract, but this might not be enough to ensure that the living partner will acquire the entirety once the time comes. As the law states, your portion of the asset will directly go to your compulsory heirs (children, spouse, parents) first. Moreover, the living partner might need to provide receipts that prove his or her contribution to the said property.
The potential workaround? Make a donation to your partner while you are still legally and medically in the right state of mind. The other option is to name your partner in your will, but you need to note that a percentage of all your assets (whether monetary or otherwise) will first go to your compulsory heirs—no questions or debates about it.
In case you didn’t know, insurance actually has its own set of laws to be followed; it is not governed by the rules and practices mentioned earlier. If you take out life insurance and name your partner as the beneficiary, that’s it—because they payout of insurance is not technically an owned asset during life. Unless, that is, the beneficiary is proven to have no insurable interest or it is proven that there was fraud.
But look, I’m not a lawyer; I’m not pretending to know the ins and outs and curves and loopholes of our current legal system. These are just things that I’ve picked up that people might find relevant and might want to explore.
If you need it, find a lawyer and make sure you have all the paperwork you need in case shit hits the fan. Get someone that’s an advocate of your rights (even if our local laws don’t acknowledge them), talk to them, ask your questions and make sure they fight for you. Because, as awful as it is, no amount of paperwork can save you from homophobia or the individual non-acknowledgement of the LGBTQIA+ community—but they sure will help should the situation calls for it.
So while you’re able and when you are sure, get everything in writing.
Interested to know a little bit more? The UP College of Law is uploading all their seminars on their Facebook page. Stay tuned!
Art Alexandra Lara