Gay & Lesbian Community Info
Our site wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t address the particular (and oftentimes legally challenging) concerns of our gay and lesbian clientele.
Long before the AIDS crisis, there were numerous instances where the final wishes of gay men and women, and in particular, the social, spiritual and emotional needs of their surviving partners, were ignored or otherwise trampled by biologic family members who were less than friendly to the partnership or the gay community in general.
As funeral directors, we’ve witnessed shameful acts of emotional cruelty resulting from ignorance, denial, and confusion. Although we try to be caregivers, we are frequently placed in the uncomfortable and embarrassing position of being “middlemen” — mere enforcers of rules and regulations — at a time when you seek comfort, not a legal lesson.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Many potential problems can be avoided by addressing the inevitability of death in a calm and intelligent manner and by doing it now — not next week, next month or next year. Where death is concerned, there’s no such thing as being “too young” to talk about important issues.
With this in mind, we’d like to pass along some advice. Remember, we’re funeral directors, not lawyers. ALWAYS consult with an attorney — preferably one who specializes in gay/lesbian issues — before making any decisions.
Don’t take these matter lightly. The words you commit to paper can and will impact the lives of your partner and your family twenty years from now. Go slow. Investigate your options. Ask questions. Seek the counsel and experience of experts.
Most importantly, ask yourself one question: If I were to die today, what would my partner and family be doing tomorrow?
Let’s move on to our advice…
First, we strongly recommend you read our, “Will Your Cremation Wishes Be Honored?” page.
Second, the importance of prudent estate planning cannot be overemphasized.
Although anyone can PAY for a funeral or immediate cremation in New York City, the right of final disposition of the body generally rests with blood next-of-kin, those named as executor/trix in a Last Will and Testament (which can be contested) and to those registered as domestic partners with the City Clerk’s office.
Effective July 31st, 1998, the New York City Health Code Section 205.01 (d) of Article 205 Title V, granting registered domestic partners the same rights as legal spouses to control the final disposition of the deceased partner now reads:
“Next of kin means the person or persons, in the following order of priority who are available within the applicable limits of time as provided in this article to receive communications and to give instructions regarding the disposal of a decendent’s remains either personally, by telephone, telegraph, mail or other usual means:
(1) The spouse or domestic partner who has registered a domestic relationship in accordance with applicable law with the City Clerk, or has registered such a partnership wih the former City Department of Personnel pursuant to Executive Order 123 (dates August 7th, 1989) during the period August 7th, 1989 through January 7th, 1993. (The records of domestic partnerships registered at the former City Department of Personnel are to be transferred to the City Clerk.); or,
(2) The children who are 21 years of age or over; or,
(3) The grandchildren and other descendents who are 21 years of age or over; or,
(4) The parents or surviving parent; or,
(5) The brothers and sisters and their descendents who are 21 years of age or over; or,
(6) The grandparents; or,
(7) The great-grandparents and uncles and aunts who are 21 years of age or older; or,
(8) Such other persons who are 21 years of age or over and who are entitled to share in the estate of the decedent.”
We hope this information will be beneficial to you and your partner.