Last year on July 1st the Colorado Designated Beneficiaries Law went into effect. This law enables any two legal adults to enter into a Designated Beneficiary Agreement (herein referred to as a DBA). The agreement consists of 16 separate rights which can be granted individually between the two people. These rights include things like hospital visitation, transfer of property upon death, ability to sue for wrongful death, etc – many of the things that a Will and/or Power of Attorney would cover. The law specifically indicates that other legal documents, such as Wills and Power of Attorneys, supersede the DBA.
Today Benjamin and I filled out the two page agreement that had been sitting in our kitchen To Do pile for literally 7 months, took it by UMB bank to be notarized, and then drove it down to the Denver Clerk and Recorder’s office to have it recorded. Total due: $15.50 for the recording that included 3 certified copies — UMB notarized it for free.
I’m sure you’re asking why, if we already have Wills and Durable & Medical Power of Attorneys that supercede large parts of the DBA, did we bother with it at all. The answer is simple: we’re just further hedging our bets should something go wrong. The DBA is one more layer to validate what our wishes are if the Will goes into probate or if one of us is having challenges accessing the other person in a medical situation. $15.50 + $4 parking and an hour of our time was a small price to pay for further peace of mind.
The entire experience was oddly easy and yet slightly insulting. The Denver Clerk and Recorder’s office is in the beautiful Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building in downtown. After an early lunch Benjamin and I drove downtown, parked two blocks away, and walked to the Webb building. We conveniently walked into the entrance that was immediately adjacent to the Clerk and Recorder’s office. That was the easy part.
The Recorder’s office was empty — we were two of only a handful of people in the office. It was also pleasantly well labeled as the row of clerks closest to the door had a sign above them labeled “Marriage Licenses” or something very similar. Instinctively I knew that while were in the right office, the women behind the desk were not going to be able to help me with my DBA. Despite that I walked up to an available clerk and inquired as to where I should go to have my DBA recorded. She cheerfully instructed me to go down the hall to the second desk on the right where they could help me. What was the sign above the clerk who was able to assist with my DBA? “Real Estate Records”. That was rather insulting: in order to get almost-domestic-partner-level rights in Colorado I had to walk past the Marriage Licenses desk in the front of the Recorder’s office, down a hallway to a woman behind a Real Estate Records desk.
The woman who helped us was, while not rude, not overly friendly although she did faithfully record our document and kept a kind demeanor despite her office equipment not cooperating.
As we walked out of the Webb building I commented to Benjamin that the DBA is the closest thing to Marriage that we currently have and are able to obtain within Colorado. I’m grateful that we have the option of a DBA in Colorado but the experience reinforces my feeling of a second-class citizen.