California Domestic Partnership Act (continued)

In my earlier article of October 25 2005 on this topic, I concluded:

In conclusion: “In general, what rights does the Act provide for Domestic Partners?”

Nobody knows exactly what rights and responsibilities we do have, including us.

This is just a followup to share what I have experienced so far. It’s not pretty. My partner Bob passed away a few days after that article was posted. We ran out of time and never formed a Trust. As executor of his estate, a number of incidents have provided a rude awakening to what domestic partners might expect in the current civil rights climate.

  • Cox Communications, our Phoenix-based cable and internet provider, demanded that I come down to their business office with a death certificate before they would allow me to take over the billing – even though I had been making the payments for a year.
  • Wells Fargo, our CA-based bank, imposed no problems at all in allowing me to take over the banking. But, they were not interested in the CA Domestic Partnership filing and didn’t even photocopy it. They worked from the Death Certificate and a copy of the will.
  • Farmers and California AAA treated the auto insurance as a simple matter of canceling old policies and issuing new ones. They did not need to see any forms.
  • State of CA DMV (Motor Vehicles) did not need to see any forms to re-register Bob’s car. A simple signed statement formed the legal basis for the transfer.
  • Capital One – the heavy TV credit card advertiser – billed Bob’s zero-balance card for a $24 annual renewal membership fee. As executor I wrote them with a copy of the Death Certificate. They responded that the account could not be closed until the fee was paid (even though the “member” was deceased).
  • California Casualty actually got indignant when I asked to take over our renter’s insurance policy. They extended my coverage for one month to give me time to find a new carrier – and never asked if I would be interested in becoming a paying customer.
  • Protection One, our central burglar alarm company, suggested I write their home office about switching billing and accountholder information to my own name. They requested that I include a copy of the Death Certificate and CA Domestic Partnership filing. Their home office is in Kansas. The result was that they canceled the old account, leaving our Phoenix home unprotected, and in no way acknowledged my letter or interest in remaining a customer.
  • For domestic partners, it would seem the most practical course of action (when possible) is to treat the cancelation of the old service completely separate from resuming coverage as a new customer. However, we often need 100% continuous service and I have no good advice here. I have not tackled the phone companies that were in Bob’s name, as I need for those numbers to remain the same. Switching carriers and taking the old number with me is probably the way to go.

    I suspect that in most cases the underlying problem is both a mix of employee attitudes and confusion in corporate legal departments as to exactly what is expected of them – if anything. The California law is only of the very most limited utility when doing business in the state, and outside of California, both your domestic partnership status and any filing you may have are utterly worthless. If you were thinking that businesses will do almost anything to retain our business, think again. Most of the ones I have dealt with would seem just as happy if I would just go away.

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