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Business Agreements from LegalOut

August 17th, 2011

legaldocWhether you freelance or own your own consulting firm its important to protect your business interests. Preparing legal documents is one important step to protecting yourself.

Contract agreements will help you define the terms and conditions of professional services you wish to contract as well as protecting valuable business information.

Check out some important legal documents in this issue or for more information or other legal documents visit LegalOut.

Protect Your Interests

Consulting Agreement

If you’re an independent consultant asking your clients to sign a legal contract can help clarify goals and avoid sticky issues down the line. In the consulting agreement, a consultant or independent contractor agrees to provide professional, consulting or other services for a fee. You want to define the terms and conditions of professional services you are providing to a person or company.

Start your agreement now>>

Protect Confidential Information

Non Disclosure Agreement

Are you in the process of hiring a consultant for your business? Make sure you protect your business information with a Non Disclosure Agreement. In this agreement, a person or organization agrees not to disclose proprietary and confidential information that it receives from another party.

Create your Non Disclosure Agreement in minutes with our easy online interview. Save, share or print your legal document immediately - no waiting!

Start your non disclosure agreement>>

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IRS to Gay Newlyweds: Not So Fast

August 5th, 2011

From Bloomberg Businessweek
IRS to Gay Newlyweds: Not So Fast
Federal tax benefits of marriage don’t extend to same-sex couples
By Andrew Zajac

bloomberg-businessweek-logoFor all those same-sex newlyweds in New York, Lawrence S. Jacobs has a message: Enjoy the Champagne and the honeymoon, but expect no gifts from the IRS. Jacobs, a lawyer in Washington, specializes in estate planning for same-sex couples-and in delivering the bad news that their unions aren’t legal in the eyes of the IRS, a policy that will cost them time and money during tax season.

Same-sex couples in Washington, which last year legalized gay marriage, must fill out a federal return to make calculations required for their D.C. joint return. But then they must set that work aside and fill out separate federal returns because the IRS doesn’t regard their union as legal, Jacobs says. “You just spent decades getting your marriage recognized, and now the feds say, ‘No, you’re not,’” says Jacobs, who as a partner in a same-sex marriage has firsthand experience of the problem.

This cumbersome process applies to all married same-sex couples in the U.S. It comes courtesy of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which defines marriage as “a legal union between a man and a woman as husband and wife.” The Obama Administration, saying DOMA is unconstitutional, has instructed federal agencies to do what they can under existing law to extend benefits to same-sex partnerships. Such rule-stretching doesn’t go far with the IRS, says Brian Moulton, an attorney with the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington gay rights advocacy group. “There’s a relatively small space before you bump up against DOMA,” he says. “I don’t think there’s much they can do.” The IRS declined to comment.

Filling out a “dummy” federal return can add $300 to $400 to a same-sex married couple’s tax preparation bill, according to Larry Rubin, a partner at accounting firm Aronson in Rockville, Md. As a result of DOMA, gay couples must also pay income tax on a portion of employer-provided health insurance, which isn’t taxable for heterosexual married couples.

The costliest potential consequence of the IRS’s treatment of same-sex couples involves the estate tax. A heterosexual husband or wife generally can inherit any amount of money or property from his or her spouse without paying tax. A same-sex spouse inheriting a large estate, by contrast, can face a tax bill of as much as 35 percent on anything above $5 million. That situation spurred a New York widow, Edith Windsor, to sue the government last November seeking to get the IRS to return $363,000 in taxes on an inheritance from her spouse, Thea Spyer. Windsor is working with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and other lawmakers to repeal DOMA. “It’s a matter of fundamental fairness,” says Rose Saxe, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which is helping represent Windsor. “The government shouldn’t be excluding one group of married couples from these important protections.”

The bottom line: Even where they can marry, gays face disadvantages such as higher estate taxes and tax-prep fees $300-$400 more than straight couples.

Zajac is a reporter for Bloomberg News.

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Protect Your Wishes and Family

March 31st, 2011

Happy Spring. LegalOut wishes you a bountiful & joyous spring!

A new spring brings the traditional spring cleaning, a good time to organize, decide on priorities, and get your home in order. Spring is also an excellent time to review your legal situation and make sure that you have essential legal documents to ensure your wishes and family are protected. Check out some important legal documents below or for more information or other legal documents visit Create Legal Docs>>

Prepare Legal Documents

Last Will and Testament
Protect Your Loved Ones: A Will is a document under which a Will writer states his or her intentions regarding the persons or organizations (”Beneficiaries”) who will receive the Will writer’s property, and the person or organization (”Executor”) who will carry out the Will writer’s wishes. Click here to prepare a Last Will and Testament>>

Living Will/Advance Directive for Healthcare
Protect Your Wishes: A Living Will authorizes an agent of your choosing to communicate your life-support decisions to medical personnel in the event that you are unable to do so. A Living Will spares your family the anguish of making life-support decisions without your input. A Living Will also ensures that your doctor understands your end-of-life wishes and treats you accordingly.Click here to prepare a Living Will/Advance Directive for Healthcare>>

Domestic Partnership Agreement
Protect Your Partnership: A Domestic Partnership Agreement is a document that a couple can enter into to dictate their contractual rights as a couple. It is also used to outline the responsibilities of each partner when a couple decides to form a long-term committed relationship, such as how to share income and pay bills and whether property is meant to be jointly or individually owned. Click here to prepare a Domestic Partnership Agreement>>

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New Federal Hospital Visitation Regulations for LGBT go into Effect on Jan. 18, 2011

January 15th, 2011

medicalOn January 18, 2011, new hospital visitation regulations go into effect that require all hospitals participating in Medicaid and Medicare programs to permit patients to designate visitors of their choosing and prohibit discrimination in visitation based on a number of factors, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

The new regulations are a result from President Obama’s presidential memorandum in April 2010 directing the Department of Health and Human Services to develop regulations protecting hospital visitation rights.

Regulations require hospitals (from HRC’s Hospital Visitation Guide):

  • to inform each patient of his or her right to receive visitors whom he or she designates, including a domestic partner
  • to not restrict or limit visitation rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among other factors
  • must ensure that all visitors have full and equal visitation rights, consistent with a patient’s wishes.

To learn more visit the Human Rights Campaign Hospital Visitation Guide for LGBT Families>>

While these new federal regulations are a great step forward for LGBT hospital visitation equality it’s important to note there are other medical decision making areas that are not protected unless an individual has prepared the necessary legal documents.

Many state laws governing medical decision making defaults to biological family members or marital laws. Since there is marriage inequality in most of the U.S. LGBT individuals are not protected. Even if you are not in a committed relationship, you want to make decisions about your own life and future without unwanted intrusions from others. By planning now you can feel comfortable that you, your family and your future are taken care of exactly the way you envision.

If you want to designate a person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so or state your wishes regarding the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures under certain circumstances you will need to prepare an Advance Directive for Healthcare or Living Will.

Not planning, means letting someone else plan for you. LGBT individuals need to be proactive to ensure that their plans for the future reflect their own wishes and are not dictated by laws that do not fit your life and relationships or individuals who are not involved in your life and relationships.

Do not put off preparing legal documents as we never know what can happen. LegalOut can help you avoid putting off creating legal documents. LegalOut’s online resource center provides the LGBT community with affordable legal document solutions.  We provide easy-to-use tools for customizing your documents online, in the privacy of your own home, at your own pace and provides hundreds of do-it-yourself legal documents including living wills, domestic partnership agreements, power of attorney documents, last will and testament, and many others.

By planning now you can feel comfortable that you, your family and your future are taken care of exactly the way you envision.

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How Do I Change a Will After it Has Been Signed?

January 12th, 2011

If you have a Will and need to make some changes, learn how to make a change by watching a Free legal help video form our partner RocketLawyer. You cannot simply cross out a sentence or add a new sentence to change your Will. You must either create a ‘codicil’ which is an amendment to your Will, or create a new Will.

Click here to view the Free Legal Help video to learn more.

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Give the Gift of Estate Planning!

December 17th, 2010

Christmas GiftsThe 2010 holiday season is upon us which means holiday dinners, holiday travel and shopping for gifts. A gift to consider this holiday season is the gift of estate planning. Legal documents provide you and your loved ones with a peace of mind.

LGBT individuals especially need to be proactive to ensure that their plans for the future reflect their own wishes and are not dictated by laws that do not fit their life and relationships. Did you know that unless otherwise specified in many states, probate laws generally provide if a person dies without a Will, their property goes to family, rather than a partner they had a relationship with for years and the state determines who gets your assets, not you. Without an estate plan, your loved ones would have the burden to decide what your wishes are in times of crisis. Preparing legal documents will secure your wishes and help loved ones know what your intentions are during times of crisis.

Give the gift of estate planning for yourself or loved ones and you’ll have peace of mind for many holidays to come.

Let LegalOut help you give the gift of estate planning, visit our legal documents center.

Top Reasons Individuals Put Off Preparing Legal Documents

Often times, people put off creating legal documents. We know we need to do something, but we wait. Why do we wait? Here are some common reasons why we defer making a decision:

  • We do not want to think about dying or being incapacitated.
  • We do not know where to begin.
  • We think we do not have any assets. People assume they have to be rich or married with children to create a Will.
  • We procrastinate- people know they need to create an estate plan but put it off.
  • Legal costs are high.

Can you identify with one of these reasons of putting off estate planning? Without legal documents you are at risk of not having your wishes carried out in the event that something unexpected occurs. If you are in a committed relationship, you may want your significant other to be able to make medical and legal decisions for you, should you unable to make them yourself.  You would like to plan for the future of your family to ensure they are taken care of when you are gone. Even if you are not in a committed relationship, you want to make decisions about your own life and future without unwanted intrusions from others.

LegalOut can help you avoid putting off creating legal documents. LegalOut’s online resource center provides the LGBT community with affordable legal document solutions.  We provide easy-to-use tools for customizing your documents online, in the privacy of your own home, at your own pace and provides hundreds of do-it-yourself legal documents including living wills, domestic partnership agreements, power of attorney documents, last will and testament, and many others.

By planning now you can feel comfortable that you, your family and your future are taken care of exactly the way you envision.

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Protecting Your Wishes: Importance of Preparing Legal Documents

July 2nd, 2010

The LGBT community has seen great strides in equality the past couple of years, with certain states passing marriage equality laws for same-sex couples. However, there is still a federal ban, Defense of Marriage Act, (DOMA), that restricts about 1,138 benefits from same-sex couples and many states do not recognize any form of same-sex couple marriage benefits.

For example, did you know that unless otherwise specified in many states, only legal spouses or family members - not lifelong partners - can visit you in the hospital should you be unconscious? Or that vital decisions like power of attorney can default to a biological family member who doesn’t even know what you wishes are or they may not “agree with” your sexual orientation.

Marriage laws for same-sex couples vary from state to state, county by county, without any legal documents it will be harder to protect your wishes such as direct who you want to visit you in the hospital in case of an emergency; name a specific person to make health care decisions for you when you can’t make them for yourself or state the medical treatments you desire in times of a crisis.

family

Advance legal planning protects an individual’s right to make their own health care and financial choices and prevents unnecessary suffering for families who may struggle with these decisions later on. It is a proactive process that enables the individual to make decisions about their future, along with family members, health care providers and counsel, prior to their physical and cognitive decline.
If you are in a committed relationship, you may want your significant other to be able to make medical and legal decisions for you, should you unable to make them yourself. You would like to plan for the future of your family to ensure they are taken care of when you are gone.

Even if you are not in a committed relationship, you want to make decisions about your own life and future without unwanted intrusions from others. By planning now you can feel comfortable that you, your family and your future are taken care of exactly the way you envision. Because, unfortunately, LGBT individuals cannot rely state and/or federal laws to take care of them.

At a minimum, any basic estate plan should include the following documents: Hospital Visitation Authorization, Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney, Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, and Domestic Partnership Agreement.

Often times, people put off creating legal documents, we know we need to do something, but we wait. We defer making a decision. Why do we wait? Our reasons are different. Some reasons are:

  • lack of time
  • budget concerns
  • not knowing exactly what we need
  • we don’t want think about death or crisis situations
  • we don’t want to have the conversation.

But such planning is essential for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender individuals and couples, whose basic civil rights, depending on state legislation, can be severely restricted. LGBT individuals need to be proactive to ensure that their plans for the future reflect their own wishes and are not dictated by laws that do not fit your life and relationships or individuals who are not involved in your life and relationships. Legal documents can provide you legal and emotional security in the event that something unexpected occurs.

Once you have prepared legal documents, there’s one more essential step that many people don’t think about until there’s an emergency - you need to keep those documents somewhere safe, yet easily accessible. Make sure to give copies to your health care agent, trusted family member, your partner or anyone you trust that should have your directives. It’s also vital to carry them with you, especially if you are traveling throughout the United States or going abroad. In case of an emergency you want to make sure you have your documents on hand to show hospital staff or any other person that may need to see proof of your wishes.

Marriage Recognition:
• State issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples (5 states and the District of Columbia). Connecticut (2008), District of Columbia (2010), Iowa (2009), Massachusetts (2004), New Hampshire (2010) and Vermont (2009).

• State recognizes marriages by same-sex couples legally entered into in another jurisdiction (2 states) Maryland (2010) and New York (2008).

• California had legal same-sex marriage for about five months in 2008.

LegalOut provides you with affordable solutions to start your estate plan - get started now for a piece of mind!

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Advance Legal Planning for Single LGBT Individuals

March 24th, 2010

No matter where you are in life, you’ll always benefit from taking control and being proactive about advance legal planning. Plus, there’s never a wrong time to start planning your estate. Even if you don’t have a partner, you can designate the person you trust most to be your beneficiary and act as your agent in times of crisis.

Christine, a single lesbian started thinking about the importance of preparing a will and other estate planning legal documents after a frightening accident that left her briefly unconscious. Up until the accident, like many, Christine never thought about planning for times of personal crisis such as illness, accidents, or even death. As a single person, with minimal possessions and did not own property, Christine did not think there was a need for any legal documents.

Christine caught a bad case of the flu, she became weak and dehydrated which led to Christine passing out in her bathroom. Before she fell to the floor, she unfortunately hit her head on the washer, dryer and wall. Christine briefly passed out and when she woke up found that she cut herself above her eye.

Christine went to the emergency room and fortunately only sustained a few bruises and was released the same day. During this time, Christine wondered, what would have happened had she remained unconscious:

  • who would know what type of medical decisions she desired?
  • would her family know what type of medical treatment she wanted?
  • would her favorite possessions be distributed to the people she cared for in case she passed away?
  • would people know her favorite charity to donate money?

Christine knew that in order for all these questions to be answered and ensure her wishes would be carried out in case something happened to her she needed legal documents.

LegalOut thanks Christine for sharing her story.

If you die without a will, your State’s law will determine what happens to your property in a process called intestate succession. Without health care legal documents your medical wishes will be determined by some one else.

Learn how a basic estate plan can help you take control of your wishes.

Basic Estate Planning will help you:

  • Remember friends. If you’re single, you may wish to leave property who have rewarded you with friendship.
  • Name a specific person to make health care decisions for you when you can’t make them for yourself.
  • Plan for surgery or hospitalization.
  • Assist your loved ones with difficult decisions.
  • State your wishes so that it is more likely that they will be carried out.

Estate planning is an opportunity to protect your wishes and loved ones - LegalOut provides you with affordable solutions to start your estate plan - get started now for a piece of mind!

Create a Basic Estate Plan:

At a minimum, any basic estate plan should include the following documents (click the link to learn more about the document):

Safeguard your relationship, secure your financial, property and health care rights by taking action now with LegalOut’s estate planning legal documents.

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What is Estate Planning All About?

March 5th, 2010

No one likes to think about times of personal crisis such as illness, accidents, or even death. But such planning is essential for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender individuals and couples, whose basic civil rights, depending on state legislation, can be severely restricted.

Many of us put off estate planning for one reason or another. We know we need to do something, but we wait. We defer making a decision.

Why do we put off estate planning?

Some reasons may be:

  • lack of time
  • budget concerns
  • not knowing exactly what we need
  • we don’t want thing about death or crisis situations

But estate planning doesn’t have to be complicated at all. Estate planning is really about taking control over your own life and legacy and providing for who and what you love.

Not planning, means letting someone else plan for you. LGBT individuals need to be proactive to ensure that their plans for the future reflect their own wishes and are not dictated by laws that do not fit your life and relationships or individuals who are not involved in your life and relationships.

Estate planning is an opportunity to protect your wishes and loved ones - LegalOut provides you with affordable solutions to start your estate plan - get started now for a piece of mind!

How does LegalOut work?

It only takes three easy steps to safeguard your rights:

1. Select the documents that are right for you.

2. Review your documents using our simple online tools.

3. Finalize your documents. We’ll give you clear instructions at every step of the way.

Create a Basic Estate Plan:

At a minimum, any basic estate plan should include the following documents (click the link to learn more about the document):

Safeguard your relationship, secure your financial, property and health care rights by taking action now with LegalOut’s estate planning legal documents.

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Who Should Consider Estate Planning in the LGBT Community?

November 11th, 2009

Who needs legal documents?
Everyone, but especially those in the LGBT community, considering the lack of rights afforded to this group by the state and federal government. In a crisis, it’s difficult to think clearly - making sure these important decisions and wishes are thought out beforehand will provide a valuable source of comfort, instead of stress. Estate planning can be used to create a strong legal structure that defines your wishes.

My state offers some legal protection to same-sex couples. Do I still need legal documents?
Yes, for several reasons. Should you require hospitalization and run into staff unfamiliar with the law, you’ll need your wishes and rights clearly defined in your legal documents. Or suppose you travel across state lines and have a medical emergency that requires hospitalization. The same rights you’re afforded in your own state may not apply there. In addition, because the federal government gives no recognition to same-sex relationships, the more proactive you are in defining your wishes - no matter where you live - the better.

I am single. Do I need legal documents?
Absolutely. No matter where you are in life, you’ll always benefit from taking control and being proactive about your protection. Plus, there’s never a wrong time to start planning your estate. Even if you don’t have a partner, you can designate the person you trust most to be your beneficiary and act as your agent in times of crisis.

I am in a committed gay/lesbian relationship. Do I need legal documents?
Yes. If you are in a committed relationship, you may want your significant other to be able to make medical and legal decisions for you, should you unable to make them yourself. You would like to plan for the future of your family to ensure they are taken care of when you are gone.

At a minimum, any basic estate plan should include the following documents (click the link to learn more about the document):

How does LegalOut work?
It only takes three easy steps to safeguard your rights:

1. Select the documents that are right for you.
2. Review your documents using our simple online tools.
3. Finalize your documents. We’ll give you clear instructions at every step of the way.

Safeguard your relationship, secure your financial, property and health care rights by taking action now with LegalOut’s estate planning legal documents.

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