What if you’re in an unmarried, committed relationship and your partner is in an accident? Not a fun scenario to think about, but what is more unpleasant is when the doctors prevent you from seeing your partner in the hospital. In Colorado there is a way to make sure you and your partner have some of the rights that you would have if you were legally married. Colorado’s Designated Beneficiary Agreement allows same-sex couples and heterosexual couples who are not married to give their partners 16 specific rights.
What rights are granted by a Designated Beneficiary Agreement?
These are the specific rights listed in the Agreement. You may, but you don’t need to grant all 16 rights. Instead, you can pick and choose which rights you want your partner to have.
1. The right to acquire, hold title to, own jointly, or transfer inter vivos or at death real or personal property as a joint tenant with me with right of survivorship or as a tenant in common with me;
2. The right to be designated by me as a beneficiary, payee, or owner as a trustee named in an inter vivos or testamentary trust for the purposes of a non-probate transfer on death;
3. The right to be designated by me as a beneficiary and recognized as a dependent in an insurance policy for life insurance;
4. The right to be designated by me as a beneficiary and recognized as a dependent in a health insurance policy if my employer elects to provide health insurance coverage for designated beneficiaries;
5. The right to be designated by me as a beneficiary in a retirement or pension plan;
6. The right to petition for and have priority for appointment as a conservator, guardian, or personal representative for me;
7. The right to visit me in a hospital, nursing home, hospice, or similar health care facility in which a party to a designated beneficiary agreement resides or is receiving care;
8. The right to initiate a formal complaint regarding alleged violations of my rights as a nursing home patient as provided in Section 25-1-120, Colorado Revised Statutes;
9. The right to act as a proxy decision-maker or surrogate decision-maker to make medical care decisions for me pursuant to Section 15-18.5-103 or 15-18.5-104, Colorado Revised Statutes;
10. The right to notice of the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures for me pursuant to Section 15-18-107, Colorado Revised Statutes;
11. The right to challenge the validity of a declaration as to medical or surgical treatment of me pursuant to Section 15-18-108, Colorado Revised Statutes;
12. The right to act as my agent to make, revoke, or object to anatomical gifts involving my person pursuant to the “Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act”, Part 1 of Article 34 of Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes;
13. The right to inherit real or personal property from me through intestate succession;
14. The right to have standing to receive benefits pursuant to the “Workers’ Compensation Act of Colorado”, Article 40 of Title 8, Colorado Revised Statutes, in the event of my death on the job;
15. The right to have standing to sue for wrongful death in the event of my death; and
16. The right to direct the disposition of my last remains pursuant to Article 19 of Title 15, Colorado Revised Statutes.
How do I make it official?
Signing the Designated Beneficiary Agreement is done privately in front of a notary, and then the agreement is recorded with the Clerk and Recorder in the county where you live.
What happens if the relationship ends?
If the relationship ends, the parties simply file a form of Revocation of Designated Beneficiary Agreement and record it in the county court. There is no court involvement unless one or both parties seek assistance with an unresolved dispute.
You can find more information about the Designated Beneficiary Agreement and other estate planning documents in the Colorado Will and Estate Planner.