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TX Man: After 34 Years My Partner’s Sister Forced Us Apart, Took Our Home Because We Weren’t Married

by David Badash on April 29, 2013

in Legal Issues,Marriage,News

Post image for TX Man: After 34 Years My Partner’s Sister Forced Us Apart, Took Our Home Because We Weren’t Married

Editor’s note: July 6, 2013 — Read our update, “The Story Of Lon And Jim: Torn Apart After 34 Years By The Hidden Evils Of Marriage Inequality.”

A Texas man says he and his partner were together for 34 years but his partner’s sister has now forced them apart, taken their home, and his partner’s finances — and done it legally because they weren’t married. For the last six years his partner, Jim, who is older, suffered from Alzheimer’s. Jim’s estranged sister, Lon Watts writes on Facebook, was able to take their home and Jim’s finances through the courts by filing for guardianship — despite Lon having power of attorney.

“She put him in a Nursing Home and had criminal trespass orders against me to keep me away from him,” Lon Watts writes:

I’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO SEE HIM AGAIN! She got his bank account from Social Security Disability and sold his house out from under me. I had 2 weeks to vacate uur home of 12 years. [sic]

If we were EQUAL in the eyes of the law we would be together till the end. But as it stands in Texas, a money hungry greedy relative was able to steal our life and toss me out as trash to pad her pocketbook. I pray God has mercy on her soul for her evil deeds. I am content knowing the world is coming around to acknowledge that ALL HUMANS ARE CREATED EQUAL and SHOULD HAVE EQUAL RIGHTS.

Lon’s story has been shared almost 3000 times on Facebook and has more than 3000 likes. Sadly, Lon and Jim’s story, and others like it, are the exact reason why marriage must be extended to all same-sex couples across the entire nation.

Anyone who claims needs and rights of same-sex couples can be protected through some legal forms is not only mistaken, but wholly wrong and spreading false information.

One Facebook commenter notes:

Power of attorney is only for medical decisions. In the state of Texas all of the following must be obtained : 

Cohabitation/Property Agreements
Name Changes
Second Parent Adoptions
Medical Record Releases
Wills
Trusts
Guardianships
Living Wills
Powers of Attorney
Probate

Power of Attorney in not enough! 

When it comes to inheritance, distribution of property and personal effects, medical, financial, and burial decisions, no one who is not your legal spouse or blood relative has any rights to act on your behalf. Gay marriages and civil unions are not currently recognized in Texas. Therefore, it is essential for the Texas LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community to have comprehensive and thorough planning that is tailored to protect themselves and their families.

While another writes:

No that is incorrect! POA does NOT cover medical decisions in Texas!! You must have a medical power of attorney to handle medical issues. Please consult with an attorney before assuming what each document does. I handle these matters for the LGBT community and it is so important to have the right things in place. You must be sure to express each need to your legal practitioner and then make sure you understand what each document you have covers and what protection it provides for you.

All of which merely expose the fact that not only does each state handle LGBT issues differently, there’s a great deal of confusion even within the LGBT community.

Even then, same-sex couples have to fight with hospitals and courts to make certain our wishes are followed — when we are at our most vulnerable, sick or unable to do so for ourselves.

Opposite-sex couples don’t have to worry about any of this — they just get married and get over 1100 rights, automatically.

We’ve reached out to Lon, who shared his story with the excellent Gay Marriage USA Facebook page, to see how we can help.

If there’s anyone who can offer legal advice or assistance please contact Lon directly through his Facebook page.

 

Related:

New Poll: Six Out Of Ten Americans Say DOMA is Discrimination (Infographic)

‘I Didn’t Know You Had Families’ Mitt Romney Told Group Of Gay Parents

Scott Walker Is Dead Wrong On Hospital Visitation Rights For Gay Couples

Romney: Hospital Visitation For Gay Couples Are ‘Benefits’ Not Rights

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{ 34 comments }

eroissyfr April 29, 2013 at 1:22 am

While this is a shame…there are different types of power of attorney (not like what one facebook poster said and was quoted on in the article). As partners of 34 years why didn't they take steps to ensure this couldn't happen? Joint bank accounts, both names on the mortgage, medical AND standard power of attorney, living will etc. You don't have to be in a legal relationship to do any of this. Sis would not have been able to come in and do what she did. She could have tried but wouldn't have legal standin

It is so important to make these decision and make them legally binding way before something happens.

cowboyinbrla April 29, 2013 at 2:09 am

Why didn't they take steps to ensure this couldn't happen? For the same reason people don't make wills, for the same reason people don't set up guardianships for their kids in the event of parental death, for the same reason people don't save money for retirement. They think it won't happen to them, it won't happen for a long time, it's not that big a deal. Until it suddenly does and is.

I'm sure they figured if the sister was estranged, she wouldn't get involved. But money thickens the blood considerably.

eroissyfr April 29, 2013 at 11:28 am

called laziness. and not taking responsibility for yourself. You really can't blame that on anyone or anything except yourself.

and maybe they did take those steps in some form. You certainly wouldn't know it from this half assed inflammatory article.

ubicomp April 29, 2013 at 2:19 pm

So it's their lazy-assed fault that witch came and tore them apart. You're a wonderful human being, really.

KaosProphet July 8, 2013 at 11:37 pm

Had it been "laziness and not taking responsibility for yourself," they wouldn't have even bothered with power of attorney.

But they did take that step, thinking it would do what they needed done. That belief was in error, but it's an error I'd wager any other average person would have made as well. Blame the lawyer, perhaps, who should have known better, but not the couple for not being trained lawyers themselves.

rockymissouri April 2, 2014 at 7:18 pm

DISGUSTING!

lepidopteryx April 29, 2013 at 7:08 am

Even if they had done all that, blood relatives can contest it and often win.

eroissyfr April 29, 2013 at 11:25 am

sometimes. It is difficult though. Sounds like there are other issues at play here then just simply an anti gay agenda. The story is pretty inflammatory and there is obviously a lot of information missing. Nothing is ever this one sided.

Scott_Rose April 29, 2013 at 10:32 am

Nice! Blame the victims.

eroissyfr April 29, 2013 at 11:24 am

It isn't blaming the victims. They didn't take the appropriate measures to protect themselves as any long term couple, straight or gay, should do. Your response is exactly what's wrong with American society. Make it someone else's problem.

They surely weren't stupid and had to have known the law in Texas regarding domestic partnerships. They had ways to get around this.

The sister sounds like a real piece of work BUT as with most media articles this one was written completely one sided. There is a least one more side to this story and probably a whole lot of other sides as well. It is biased to fit this website.

Scott_Rose April 29, 2013 at 11:31 am

More victim-blaming, from a troll named "eroissyfr." Va te faire voir.

eroissyfr April 30, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Yes that's right. Call someone a troll that doesn't fall into the goose stepping line. It is called seeing another side of the story, which is woefully missing from this article.

You must be republican. They usually resort to name calling.

lavenderbit April 29, 2013 at 5:01 pm

How do you know they did not take precautions, or what their reasons were? I was with my partner for eleven years before she passed away. We had medical power of attorney, regular power of attorney, wills, living wills, joint bank accounts and who knows what else. She died out of state and the coroner there refused to deal with me. In the state she died in gay marriage is legal. All of my paperwork was from another state and since we could have gotten married in that state, but had not because we lived in another one and she was only there for two weeks for school, he did not recognize our relationship. Instead everything went through her mother whom we had not spoken to in over nine years. I did not have the money to fight and was in to much pain and grief to even think about it anyway. I had to beg for the return of her personal belongings and even her wedding ring. We thought we were prepared but circumstances can change and people can be petty and vindictive. IF we had been married, which we were waiting to do when our home state legalized it, there would have been no question that I was the one who should have been consulted.

eroissyfr April 30, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Of course people can be petty and vindictive. That is what family is all about.

That coroner btw was in the wrong legally. I certainly hope you have since addressed it with whatever office is in charge of the coroner.

My point is exactly what you said in your first sentence? This story is seriously lacking details. It is inflammatory in the extreme. There is probably more going on here.

LisaLynn714 July 5, 2013 at 11:58 pm

In this case there was an allegation of neglect. That's an important part of the story that was omitted. He also already has a lawyer and has an active gofundme.com campaign to cover his other related expenses. You're right. This article is inflammatory and poorly written.

MIARob April 29, 2013 at 7:49 am

This is obscenely cruel in its utter lack of humanity.

Blood is thicker than water, and $money is thicker than blood!

What a rotten sister!

rockymissouri April 2, 2014 at 7:21 pm

EXACTLY…!! She does not love her brother… This is a cruel act PURPOSELY done to break his heart.

eroissyfr April 29, 2013 at 11:27 am

"Opposite-sex couples don’t have to worry about any of this — they just get married and get over 1100 rights, automatically."

Not true and another example of the inflammatory and biased opinion David loves to type.

Scott_Rose April 29, 2013 at 11:31 am

Et ta soeur?

lavenderbit April 29, 2013 at 6:32 pm

What exactly about that statement is untrue? Straight people can and do get married and automatically receive over 1100 rights. Civil unions and mounds of paperwork in no way compare to being legally married.

eroissyfr April 30, 2013 at 6:20 pm

because those securitys can be trumped by someone outside of the marriage if there is enough money or the married couple didn't dot their i's and cross their T OR failed to things like powers of attorney etc. Being married doesn't make you exempt if something happens to your partner and other family members or the court doesn't think you are handling it correctly. Happens all the time.

Hell you can be married, have a joint bank account and the main person on the account can totally shut you out of it. Clean it out. No notification will be given by anyone. And nothing you, as a legal signer on the account, can do about it. Banks don't tell you that when you open up a joint account, married or not.

Just one example that being married isn't some kind of shield.

Brian Stroup April 29, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Texas might hate LGBT rights, but they do like 2nd amendment rights. If my sister-in-law ever tried any of that shit, I would shoot her right in the cunt. In my experience, people who pull that kind of shit are usually drug addicts or something. Lon should find out what her issue is, and have her skank ass thrown in prison. Sorry, but there are no "civil" ways to deal with people like that. You just have to take them down.

eroissyfr April 30, 2013 at 6:20 pm

that's awesome..lol

justinmh1634 April 29, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Regardless of anyone's religious believe you have to agree that this is a tragic and wrongful event to happen to two people that love each other. In a country where we are supposed to have freedom and the right to pursue happiness this is not acceptable. Gay marriage has a place when it comes to equality and freedom.
http://elitenetworkmarketingguru.com/

distobi April 29, 2013 at 11:49 pm

<div class="idc-message" id="idc-comment-msg-div-631662161"><a class="idc-close" title="Click to Close Message" href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(631662161)"><span>Close Message</span> Comment posted. <p class="idc-nomargin"><a class="idc-share-facebook" target="_new" href="http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fthenewcivilrightsmovement.com%2F2-texas-man-after-34-years-my-partners-sister-legally-took-our-home-because-we-werent-married%2Flegal-issues%2F2013%2F04%2F29%2F66089#IDComment631662161&t=I%20just%20commented%20on%20TX%20Man%3A%20After%2034%20Years%20My%20Partner%E2%80%99s%20Sister%20Forced%20Us%20Apart%2C%20Took%20Our%20Home%20Because%20We%20Weren%E2%80%99t%20Married%20%7C%20The%20New%20Civil%20Rights%20Movement&quot; style="text-decoration: none;"><span class="idc-share-inner"><span>Share on Facebook</span></span> or <a href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(631662161)">Close MessageLon…Hoping for sunshine beams to come back around into your life. Your loss Lon is horrendous …regardless of what facts we mere readers have a hold of … and may we all extend our kind hopes. HUGS and wishing for EQUALITY …really folks …we are all pink inside …we all suffer family ruthlessness …especially if you are the black sheep of the family by being a gay person in an intolerant household… so let us have some EMPATHY here and not be bankrupt of compassion.

MiddleGrounds July 5, 2013 at 9:43 pm

As much as I hate to side with eroissyfr, as I disagree with the way he stated certain things, there is a point that there ultimately isn't the big picture here. It seems very much so that information is missing. I personally would like to know what it is. Instance being is DID they file any of those papers? What did they file? Do they have anything joint? I may be missing it, but if someone knows, could they at least let me know so that way I don't feel left in the dark?

Although I think the sister is a complete D-Bag for doing what she did, Texas is an extremely red state, sans a couple of places, and will ultimately do anything in their power to stop gays and lesbians from getting anything. I am hoping this changes soon.

Also what was noted is that even filing those papers does NOT equal equality of marriage. It equals LGBT people having to do MORE paperwork, probably more fees, and having to do MORE legwork than a straight married couple.

LisaLynn714 July 5, 2013 at 11:51 pm

Much more information here: http://www.dallasvoice.com/caught-guard-10147985….

MiddleGrounds July 6, 2013 at 6:28 am

Thank you for providing that link. I am looking at it and, emotional aspects aside, here is what I see (beware, this might be lengthy and/or in multiple parts):

1. "He said a nurse was “badmouthing” Heath. Watts reported it. The nursing home called police and filed criminal trespassing charges against him. Even after that employee was fired a few weeks later, Watts was barred from entering the nursing home.
Franks, who had not seen her brother in awhile, visited him in the nursing home, saw the blisters and accused Watts of abuse. She called adult protective services"

1a. There is a lot of wrong with this. Even when he was in the nursing home, she called APS on him. With a situation like this, she should have filed against the nursing home, or at least found out information from him. This shows motive.

2. "He said Franks hired an attorney from Mount Vernon, 25 miles from Pittsburg. Without mentioning her brother’s relationship or Watts’ power of attorney in court, she was declared her brother’s guardian.
“When she filed for guardianship, she didn’t acknowledge I existed,” he said."

2a. She shouldn't have to. The court should have noticed records that he was on file. He also should have been notified that a preceding was happening because hearings of such usually, if expedited take 3-5 days. This sounds fishy.

3. "Then she sent Watts an eviction notice from his house. He said they were 12 years into paying off the 15-year note when Heath was hospitalized.
Watts challenged the guardianship immediately, but the court date kept being postponed."

3a. Again, was he on any of the documentation? Depending on the documentation, he should have been notified and given FIRST PRIORITY, regardless of next of kin because he was still a living person, on document.
3b. Regardless of postponing, depending on information, he should have been kept informed, regardless of reason.

4. "Dallas attorney Rebecca Covell, who specializes in LGBT estate planning and probate law, said, “A court-appointed guardian supersedes powers of attorney.”

She said same-sex couples in Texas, with no protection under the law, should have a declaration of guardianship in addition to their other paperwork. That document would state that if one partner is incapacitated, the other would control all health and financial decisions."

4a. Which is true in ANY state until it's equal marriage. File that paperwork until it's 100%. PERIOD.

5. "This week, Watts tried to contact Heath by phone. He was told Franks posted a “no outside phone calls” sign on Heath’s door.

Watts called that inhumane and reported it to the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services.

Elaine Renoire, president of the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse, said wresting away guardianship is difficult.

“Mediate it,” she said. “Settle it out of court.”"

5a. No. Period. This is a clear case of Franks wanting to cut off ties. She has ZERO right, unless it's in the absolute BEST INTEREST of the afflicted party, to cut off ties with the outside. In other words, he'd have to be comatose. It's probably, at this point, causing more harm than good, in the sake of his partner's health.

6. "Instead, the assets are gone. Heath is a public ward. And interaction with people he’s known for years to slow the progression of Alzheimers has stopped. But she’s still not optimistic the court will revoke Franks’ guardianship."

6a. Get a new lawyer. Anyone who is not optimistic is NOT working in YOUR best interest. PERIOD. Unless it's an absolute, this is, to me, not acceptable.

sdfrenchie July 5, 2013 at 11:13 pm

I've been told there is no excuse for ignorance of the law. And it's true. Especially when you are in situations like Lon's. eroissfyr is correct in what he says and speculation of the matter does nothing to help Lon. It's fine to be sympathetic, but what happened to Lon is something that happens in any sort of relationship if you are not legally firm. I know a man who inherited from his father. His mother disagreed and contested the will. The court battle went on for years. I never learned the outcome, but family can and often does turn on family over material and economic matters. It can be compared with what Republicans say about the poor people – that we feel entitled to handouts. Though that isn't true, families work the same way. They feel entitled to the belongings of someone of their own blood who has passed away.

It's cruel and vicious and a fight that will never end unless you make absolutely certain that you are legally set in every way, no matter your sexual orientation. Now that marriage equality is in place in some states, don't think there won't be the issue of pre-nuptial agreements in our cases. The romance stops at the altar when it comes to legal issues.

LisaLynn714 July 5, 2013 at 11:53 pm

Very true. These are the kind of issues that bring out the worst in families. Still had they been legally married it would have been much harder for the sister to push him out of his partner's life.

camotim December 3, 2013 at 5:18 pm

This is not right. But then this couple did not take basic steps, such as counsulting an attorney, to protect their interests. Marriage is not necessary to do so. Problem is that a power of attorney of someone who becomes non sui juris no longer has any validity. And dont whine about how a hetrosexual couple does not have to do this. Unmarried hetrosexual couples are in the same boat as these two men and married couples, with assets, are fools if they counsult counsel for proper ways to minimize tax and other losses.

russellsvocation December 4, 2013 at 1:01 pm

A pack of matches and the wonderful "Christian" sister could have sat in sack cloth and ashes.

rockymissouri April 2, 2014 at 7:30 pm

WHAT A SHAME…!!

eddyjames1952 June 15, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Sounds like something one of my sisters would do. And I'm not even gay.

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