Further bet hedging: Designated Beneficiary Agreement executed

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.

The Reason
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 Experience
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.

Why I want to get legally married – part 1

There’s a very logical reason why I want to get legally married to my husband: I want to protect my family. Those of you not familiar with the legal rights granted by that $50 marriage certificate might be thinking I’m being dramatic — but I’m not.

Despite Benjamin and I having Wills, there’s absolutely nothing to prevent one of our families from contesting them should one of us die. Given the behavior of my family over the last year this is not a passive concern. In a worst-case scenario I die and our joint assets are frozen during probate and Benjamin is kicked out of our home if my family “wins”. We’ve taken as many steps as possible to prevent that including the aforementioned Wills and life insurance policies with Benjamin as the primary beneficiary (life insurance policies are contractual documents that bypass Wills unless the insurance beneficiary falls through to the estate). If a spouse of a legally married couple dies the person’s assets transfer seamlessly to the surviving spouse.

Enough about death, lets talk about life. It’s a good thing I like wading through the tax morass ’cause as a non-legally married couple it is an amazingly hard slog. Lets say I want to further hedge my bets against a worst-case “Casey dies” scenario by transferring some of my assets over to Benjamin while I’m alive. Because he and I aren’t legally married I can only transfer ~$13k/year to him tax-free — anything over that amount he would need to pay a gift tax. Married couples can throw however much money they want at each other and not suffer the tax hit.

Lets talk about retirement. When Benjamin was working at the bank, prior to becoming a full-time student, we were actively contributing to his Roth IRA. When he became a full-time student he wasn’t eligible to contribute to his IRA because he wasn’t earning any income. If we were legally married I could have contributed to his IRA (via the “spousal IRA“) for the past three years. This is unfortunate as we missed some pretty good growth opportunities due to how low the market was during that time. A friend had mentioned that I could have hired him for some position and paid him enough money to max out his yearly IRA contributions. The two downsides to that are 1) he would have had to pay taxes on the amount and 2) it could have decreased or removed his ability to obtain grants, scholarships, and/or loans.

Those are the three big financial reasons that jumped immediately to mind this morning – I’m sure there are other financial reasons that I’m not thinking of at the moment.

Evidence Christians used lies during Prop 8

Today finished out the testimony phase of “Perry v. Schwarzenegger”, also known as the Prop 8 Trial. I’ve been following the trial via live-blogging site prop8trialtracker.com courtesy of the Courage Campaign Institute. The testimony has been very revealing — particularly the part where the Proposition 8 proponents blatently lied to the public during the campaign about what gay marriage would mean (see Liveblogging Day 10 Daily Summary near 9:42):

“Polygamists are waiting in the wings! If we have same sex marriage, we’ll have polygamy next.”

Despite no one anywhere advocating anything about polygamy. And:

“Let’s just say that sexual attraction is definition. Pedophiles would have to be allowed to marry. Mothers and sons. Man who wanted to marry horse. Any combination would have to be allowed.”

Aside: I certainly don’t condone pedophilia but it’s pretty obvious that pedophiles are already allowed to marry another adult of the opposite sex.

Those are just two small examples – there are many more in other parts of the testimony. It was obvious at the time, and even moreso now, that the entire campaign was run on lies and fear. It’s clear throughout the testimony presented by expert witness on both sides that there is no “better for society” reason, no “children will be better off” reason, no “it’ll destroy traditional marriage” reason to prevent gays and lesbians from getting married. What’s the real reason our right to marry was taken away in CA? Because it goes against some people’s religious views. Last time I checked it was the power of the state government, not any church, that allowed couples to marry.

And just who were these “Prop 8 proponents” casting out these lies? The quotes above were from a video that ProtectMarriage.com, the defendants, financed during the campaign. And who financed ProtectMarriage.com? Also from a video that ProtectMarriage.com created (see Liveblogging Day 10 Daily Summary near 10:06):

“We know that today we must win. That’s why we are so grateful that 2,500 pastors have come out on consistent basis every month. If someone is going to vote no, we flip them to show that kids will be taught this in schools. We have spent thousands of dollars on polling. Continue to do so. In 1999, LDS got involved in Hawaii. With capital S, they were significantly involved. No different this time. Campaign will cost minimum of $25 million and LDS across this state deeply involved. Catholic Bishop in SD, three evangelical ministers from SD all got involved. Asked Focus on the Family for money. They sent us $50,000 that allowed us to get petitions printed. Thanks to you, we are here, we will win.” (emphasis mine).

And just in case you thought “three evangelical ministers isn’t so bad – must be a Mormon and Catholic thing”, here’s an email admitted into evidence that was sent to ProtectMarriage.com listing who was involved (see Liveblogging Day 10 Daily Summary near 10:23):

Evangelicals—400,000 signatures; 3,00 pastors
Orthodox Jews
(emphasis mine)

Maybe God and I will work out our conflicts, but Christianity can go screw itself. Take your “hate the sin love the sinner” and “think of the children” mantras and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine. Using John’s logical conclusion to a metaphor in a related blog entry: forget the bathwater, the baby’s dead – throw it out.

Our marriage is now complete: we have matching luggage.

For the past two or so years Benjamin has wanted matching luggage instead of the rag-tag affair we’ve been using, which consists of:

  • a very large lime green roller-duffel I named Grendel which Benjamin affectionately refers to as a female, never having read Beowulf — courtesy of IBM’s Thanks! awards program
  • a small gray wheel-less duffel — courtesy of IBM’s Thanks! awards program
  • a small black and blue wheel-less duffel — courtesy of IBM’s Thanks! awards program
  • a nice black roller bag that was originally purchased for B’s wedding emergency kit and quickly got repurposed as regular use luggage

As you can tell out of the four bags we use for luggage only one wasn’t given to me by IBM – yes I’m that cheap, err… practical.

Due to the recent bankruptcy of Samsonite, two of their local stores are closing and have mark downs such that their luggage seems somewhat reasonably priced. We’ve looked at luggage a couple of times but haven’t been moved by them, until today. Today we walked out of a Samsonite store with: two 22″ carry-on roller bags, one 26″ roller bag, and one laptop-bag-esque bag — all at 60% of the original price. They are all matching Sevruga bags (which after looking on Samsonite’s website, they don’t make any longer).

So now we have matching luggage all ready for TSA to abuse during our trip to Texas for Thanksgiving.