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July 01, 2009 04:58 PM UTC

New Law Wednesday

  • by: ThillyWabbit

It’s July 1st, and you know what that means.

New laws take effect making it legal to collect rainwater, implementing the hard-fought FASTER bill that raises vehicle registration fees to pay for roads, and Governor Bill Ritter’s bill that will raise hospital fees to pump more money into Medicaid, thereby scoring more federal matching funds.

But most interesting to me is the Designated Beneficiary law, which will allow same-sex couples (among others) to inexpensively establish a legal arrangement ensuring one partner will receive the other’s belongings when they die, make medical decisions in the case he or she is incapacitated, and inherit workers compensation death benefits should a partner die on the job.

Today State Sen. Pat Steadman and State Rep. Mark Ferrandino are holding a press event highlighting the new law (received by e-mail):


For press conference today

Couples and Supporters of Designated Beneficiaries Gather to File Agreements and Celebrate New Law

For Immediate Release

July 1, 2009


Heather Draper

Communications and Marketing Manager

GLBT Community Center of Colorado

303.733.7433, x 101

303.847.7152 (cell)

What: News conference and celebration of new Designated Beneficiaries Law

When: Today (July 1), 9 a.m. reception, 10 a.m. news conference

Where: Atrium of the Wellington E. Webb Building, 14th Street and Colfax

Who: Speakers Debra “Liz” Gettings and Patricia Vivien Yarrow, a couple who will talk about how the new law will help ensure their wishes are carried out; Stephanie O’Malley, Denver County Clerk and Recorder; Lucia Guzman, executive director of the Denver Agency for Human Rights and Community Relations; and Sen. Pat Steadman, who helped guide the bill through the legislative process.

Also in attendance will be: Rep. Mark Ferrandino, sponsor of the Designated Beneficiaries bill, representatives from some of the more than 30 organizations that supported the legislation; and couples who are filing their Designated Beneficiary Agreements immediately following the event.  

Why: Designated Beneficiary Agreements provide a new tool for estate planning, giving Coloradans access to a low-cost and convenient method for making plans for end-of-life decisions, inheritance, and other protections related to health care and medical emergencies.


15 thoughts on “New Law Wednesday

    1. No joint income tax filing, no Social Security benefits, and it still depends on your employer whether you can add an unmarried partner to health coverage. There are some other legal relationships you can’t designate or set in a contract but that exist between married couples — for instance, can’t be forced to testify against each other.

    2. 1,100 federal benefits plus many at the state level, not the least of which is filing taxes jointly.

      Designated beneficiary agreements do not provide for combined assets, nor is there any provision for divorce. You can cancel the agreement, but that’s basically akin to changing the non-spouse beneficiary on your life insurance or 401(k). A married person has a legal claim against the joint future income in case the couple divorces, which is why we have things like alimony happen. There is no such provision in the designated beneficiary agreement law.

      There is also no public recognition. It gets filed like a real estate contract. It will not show up in any vital statistics summaries.

        1. Let’s not diminish the benefits available under the new law, but you’re absolutely right, it’s far short of the benefits a married couple enjoy.

      1. to senior couples who don’t want to marry because of social security and other financial concerns.  Both of my parents have partners to whom they are not legally married (they’ve been divorced from one another for about 45 years and each has been married and widowed in the intervening years) and this will be very helpful for them, particularly my father whose significant other has a very unstable son with mental illness issues who doesn’t like him much. Now he and his wife-in-all-but-name of the past 12 years can make sure he has the right to be by her side and be designated to make decisions.

  1. Of all the legislation I’ve worked on over the years, seeing the new Designated Beneficiaries law take effect was one of my proudest moments.  Big thanks to Rep. Ferrandino and Sen. Veiga for sponsoring the law and to all those who helped craft its provisions.  This is far from equality, but a major step forward in providing pragmatic protections for the real life events that couples must face.  Glad to see that so many people are aware of the new law and its strengths and limitations – find out more at http://www.designatedbeneficia

  2. just to be clear the law change doesn’t allow all of us to catch rain water.  It’s specific and mostly rural and far exurban.

    But it applies equally across sexual and gender preference.

    1. Same-sex couples also have to pay the exorbitant late fees at the DMV. But they can also stay up all night betting $100 limits at the casinos, just like straight couples.

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