Thursday, May 18, 2023
The uphill battle for LGBTQ people after death
The Louisiana LGBTQ+ End of Life Guide was published in 2022 and is considered the first in the United States. Ezra Salter, a funeral director in suburban New Orleans, felt compelled to compile resources after witnessing horror stories in the industry. Salter worked with the New Orleans non-profit Wake, which provides death-care information and resources to publish the guide.
Salter describes scenarios in which estranged family members can override prearranged funerals, including excluding what many refer to as “chosen family” from the services. This is because, in Louisiana, all powers of attorney expire at the time of death. However, Salter found that many people were unaware of this. A possible solution is setting up a Funeral and Disposition of Remains Directive, a newly minted form to determine who gets to make decisions after death.
Nicholas Hite of Hite Law Group in New Orleans explains, “For queer folks, your biological family — the people who are legally the next in line to make decisions — are frequently the last people that you want making your decisions… So you need legal paperwork allowing your most closely held individuals — who aren’t necessarily married to you or related by blood — to be in the hospital and at the funeral home with you and on your behalf.”
For more information see Katy Reckdahl and Christiana Botic “The uphill battle for LGBTQ people after death” The Washington Post, April 21, 2023.
Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (University of Virginia) for bringing this article to my attention.
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