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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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Why a Living Will is Important

February 4th, 2011

Recently, The South Florida Gay News.com posted a significant article, “Beyond Living Well is a Living Will” by Jarret Terrill about the importance of preparing a living will. This article highlights the challenges people may face without a living will, a form of an Advance Care Directive.

Advance medical directives pertain to treatment preferences and allow you to appoint someone you trust (a family member, close friend, or partner) - to make health care decisions for you if you lose the ability to make decisions yourself.

A living will is a written document that specifies what types of medical treatment are desired. A health care proxy names a specific person to make health care decisions for you when you can’t make them for yourself.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“Many gay men and women are faced with anti-gay family members that they would not entrust an “end of life” decision to. Without a living will issuing advance directives, Florida hospitals would be bound by law to follow the directives of distant family members over a lover’s wishes.

A living will, also known as an Advance Care Directive, is a document that tells doctors, attorneys and law enforcement which person in your life is responsible for executing decisions you’ve made about your healthcare if you are unable to speak for yourself.

Says Daniel W. Humbert, a Fort Lauderdale Attorney who has developed a specialty in estate planning,  “a General Power of Attorney is very broad in scope and tends to give the Attorney-In-Fact (the person you designate) the power to do virtually anything. A living will is quite different.”

Humbert says that a living will is “where you can express your wishes for what they call extraordinary life-saving measures. This would be particularly important for a person who becomes incompetent or goes into a coma or something like that.”

“A living will is essential for everybody, but it’s particularly important to the gay community,” says Humbert.  Laws and regulations concerning those extraordinary circumstances and the decision-making process favor family members. Since the legal definition of a family member varies from state to state, this can pose a problem if you don’t have a living will.”

Click here to read the entire article>>

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.

Prepare Legal DocumentsLegalOut’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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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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Chicago Tribune: Business Securing the future as life partners

August 20th, 2010

From the Chicago Tribune: Securing the future as life partners
If you don’t want to - or can’t - marry, it’s critical to stitch together some legal protections

By Jane Bennett Clark, Tribune Media Services
1:20 PM CDT, August 19, 2010

Julie Kurland and Marcia Diehl live in a Victorian home in Takoma Park, a leafy Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C. The couple take turns walking their dog, Cody, past the 1920s bungalows and gabled Victorians that line the streets of their neighborhood. On Sundays they wander over to the farmers market and spend the rest of the day gardening or reading on their wide front porch.

It’s a routine that befits any contented couple. But Kurland, 46, and Diehl, 56, are not married, nor would their union be recognized federally or in all but five states. And while a California court case regarding the legality of same-sex marriage winds its way through the appeals process (likely to end up before the U.S. Supreme Court), there still remains this present-day reality:

Gay couples, and straight couples who’d prefer not to marry, lack the legal structure that protects married couples’ rights on everything from property division to end-of-life decisions. Instead, they must create their own framework.

“It’s much more important for gay couples to have their documents lined up,” said Kurland. “We have to be sure we have our t’s crossed and our i’s dotted.”

Regardless of who you’re partnered to, if you commit to each other without tying the knot, these steps will help you avoid being caught in legal limbo:

Powers of attorney: Diehl’s parents, who are deceased, never acknowledged her relationship with Kurland. Had Diehl suffered a health crisis that rendered her unable to make her own decisions, “they would have thought it was their privilege, not Kurland’s, to make the decisions for me,” said Diehl. In most states, spouses and blood relatives take priority over nonrelatives in the absence of a document that specifies otherwise.

Diehl and Kurland assigned each other a health-care power of attorney, a state-specific document (available free at doctors’ offices, hospitals and on the Internet) that lets each make medical decisions on the other’s behalf. They also gave each other a durable power of attorney, which conveys the right for each to make financial and legal decisions for each other. A durable power of attorney goes into effect as soon as you sign it or upon a triggering event. Consult a lawyer about the choices.

Put it in writing: As singles, “you only have rights to something in the other’s name if there is a written agreement,” said Frederick Hertz, co-author of “A Legal Guide for Lesbian & Gay Couples” (Nolo, $34.99). A cohabitation contract, like a prenuptial, lets you formalize financial and living arrangements while you are together and spell out who gets what if you break up. Drawing up a contract can run a few thousand dollars for a simple agreement, to $25,000 for a complex one. Consult a lawyer.

Wills: Without a legal will, your estate will be divvied up according to state intestacy law, which generally favors spouses, children and other relatives, not significant others. To avoid leaving your partner in the lurch, spend the $300 or so necessary to have a lawyer draw up a will or do it yourself online.

If you are the biological parent and want your partner to raise your child after you die, be sure that you nominate him or her as the personal guardian. As with any guardianship, the court has to sign off on the nomination, but it generally respects the legal parent’s wishes, with one significant exception: The other legal parent — say, a former spouse — is willing and suited for the job.

Establish joint ownership: In some states, married couples or those with marital rights can title jointly owned property as tenancy by the entirety. Each spouse owns the entire property, and neither can sell without the other’s OK. When one spouse dies, the survivor inherits the property, avoiding probate.

Unmarried couples may own property two ways: tenancy with the right of survivorship and tenancy in common. With the first, you own the property 50-50. When one of you dies, ownership passes to the survivor automatically. You can sell or give away your half, but you can’t bequeath it to someone else. Some unmarried couples choose this setup to avoid the public process of probate or as backup to a will. Tenancy in common is more flexible: It lets you own unequal shares of the property, and, if you sell, you walk away with whatever percentage you contributed.

Keep track of gifts: Married couples in the eyes of Uncle Sam can give each other unlimited assets without tax consequences. But unmarried heterosexual couples and all same-sex couples are considered “legal strangers” for federal tax purposes, said Dana Levit, a financial planner in Boston and president of PridePlanners, a nonprofit financial-education group. That awkward status requires you to report gifts to each other of more than $13,000 a year (as of 2010). The excess counts against each individual’s $1 million lifetime federal gift-tax exemption.

Even if you’re not in the habit of writing each other fat checks, you could exceed the $13,000 limit by, say, putting your partner on the title to a house you own. Although most people never reach the $1 million limit, you lessen your risk by transferring assets incrementally, said Hertz. “Give early, often and in small amounts.”

Also be careful to document your contributions to any joint property owned as tenancy with the right of survivorship. Lacking evidence to the contrary, the IRS assumes that the entire property belonged to the first person to die and calculates the estate-tax obligation accordingly. Keeping separate bank accounts helps clarify who paid for what, said Carrie Aburto, a financial adviser at Aspen Wealth Management in Denver.

Minimize your taxes: As single filers (same-sex married couples, in states that legally permit same-sex unions, generally have to file as marrieds on their state taxes and as singles on their federal taxes), you can allocate your deductions to maximize the tax benefit. For instance, the partner who earns more income can pay the mortgage and deduct the interest, while the other partner takes the standard deduction.

“Taxes are one area in which it’s often good to be gay,” said Levit.

Likewise, if you have a child, one of you can claim the child as a dependent on your federal tax return. Assuming that the same parent provides more than 50percent of the child’s support, he or she also can file as head of household, which usually results in a lower tax bill. Couples with two kids may be able to split the difference, each claiming one child as a dependent and filing as head of household.

As singles, you have a good chance that at least one of you will fall below the income limits for tax benefits or tax-preferred accounts. Say one of you has an income that exceeds the limit for contributing to a Roth IRA, (which in 2010 is $120,000 for singles; $177,000 for married couples filing jointly) and the other has earned income that falls below the limit, the one who earns less can still establish a Roth IRA.

Provide for your survivor: You won’t have access to spousal Social Security benefits, but each of you can still name the other as beneficiary of your retirement accounts. Nonspousal beneficiaries of IRAs and 401(k) plans can take distributions from an inherited retirement account over their lifetime.

As for life insurance, leave enough so that each of you will be able to live comfortably if the other dies first. These days, term-life policies come cheap. A 50-year-old woman in good health can pick up a 20-year term policy with $500,000 of coverage for about $700 to $850 a year. A healthy 50-year-old man can buy the same for about $950 to $1,200.

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Check out LegalOut’s affordable online solutions to start your estate plan - get started now for a piece of mind! Through our simple, easy-to-follow online tools powered by RocketLawyer.com, you’ll quickly and easily create affordable legal documents — all in the privacy of your own home.

Knowledge is the first step to protection. For more information visit LegalOut - Protection 101 or click on the legal documents below for more details:

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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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President Obama Orders Hospital Visitation For LGBT Families

April 23rd, 2010

obamaPresident Obama signed a memorandum that aims to protect the hospital visitation and healthcare decision-making rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

The memorandum directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to enact regulations that require all hospitals receiving federal Medicare and Medicaid funding to comply with a patient’s right to determine who may visit them, and to prevent hospitals from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as all federally protected classes.

In addition, the memorandum calls on the Secretary to issue new guidance and provide technical assistance to hospitals to help them comply with existing federal regulations that require them to respect individuals’ advanced healthcare directives and other documents establishing who should make healthcare decisions for them when they are unable to do so. This is an important directive, as it will help reinforce the current law that, if a same-sex spouse has been granted power of attorney or has been designated by the patient as having visitor rights, such rights must be respected.

The memorandum is a positive step forward to protect LGBT families, however, it’s important to note the LGBT community still needs to take proactive steps to ensure that the people we choose may visit us and make medical decisions on our behalf in times of emergency by creating the necessary legal documents that must be respected by hospital staff.

Without any legal documents it will be harder to protect your wishes and be able to direct who you want to visit you in the hospital in case of an emergency.

LegalOut provides the following legal documents to help you protect your wishes. For more information visit LegalOut - Protection 101 or click on the legal documents below for more details:

Here is the full text of the memorandum:

Presidential Memorandum - Hospital Visitation

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

SUBJECT: Respecting the Rights of Hospital Patients to Receive Visitors and to Designate Surrogate Decision Makers for Medical Emergencies

There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital. In these hours of need and moments of pain and anxiety, all of us would hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulder on which to lean — a loved one to be there for us, as we would be there for them.

Yet every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides — whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay. Often, a widow or widower with no children is denied the support and comfort of a good friend. Members of religious orders are sometimes unable to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf. Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives — unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.

For all of these Americans, the failure to have their wishes respected concerning who may visit them or make medical decisions on their behalf has real consequences. It means that doctors and nurses do not always have the best information about patients’ medications and medical histories and that friends and certain family members are unable to serve as intermediaries to help communicate patients’ needs. It means that a stressful and at times terrifying experience for patients is senselessly compounded by indignity and unfairness. And it means that all too often, people are made to suffer or even to pass away alone, denied the comfort of companionship in their final moments while a loved one is left worrying and pacing down the hall.

Many States have taken steps to try to put an end to these problems. North Carolina recently amended its Patients’ Bill of Rights to give each patient “the right to designate visitors who shall receive the same visitation privileges as the patient’s immediate family members, regardless of whether the visitors are legally related to the patient” — a right that applies in every hospital in the State. Delaware, Nebraska, and Minnesota have adopted similar laws.

My Administration can expand on these important steps to ensure that patients can receive compassionate care and equal treatment during their hospital stays. By this memorandum, I request that you take the following steps:

1. Initiate appropriate rulemaking, pursuant to your authority under 42 U.S.C. 1395x and other relevant provisions of law, to ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors. It should be made clear that designated visitors, including individuals designated by legally valid advance directives (such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies), should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy. You should also provide that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national

origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The rulemaking should take into account the need for hospitals to restrict visitation in medically appropriate circumstances as well as the clinical decisions that medical professionals make about a patient’s care or treatment.

2. Ensure that all hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid are in full compliance with regulations, codified at 42 CFR 482.13 and 42 CFR 489.102(a), promulgated to guarantee that all patients’ advance directives, such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies, are respected, and that patients’ representatives otherwise have the right to make informed decisions regarding patients’ care. Additionally, I request that you issue new guidelines, pursuant to your authority under 42 U.S.C. 1395cc and other relevant provisions of law, and provide technical assistance on how hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid can best comply with the regulations and take any additional appropriate measures to fully enforce the regulations.

3. Provide additional recommendations to me, within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, on actions the Department of Health and Human Services can take to address hospital visitation, medical decision making, or other health care issues that affect LGBT patients and their families.

This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

You are hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

BARACK OBAMA

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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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The Story of Joy & Beth

February 12th, 2010

Joy and her partner, Beth, were together for six years living in Decatur, Georgia sharing everything from home, a business and expenses. In a tragic accident Beth passed away.

Beth fell off a ladder and was unconscious by the time she made it to the hospital, unable to communicate her wishes to family members. Joy was told to leave the hospital room because it was time for family members to make decisions about Beth’s care.

Since Joy and her partner did not have any legal documents, Joy had no legal rights to make any decisions on behalf of her partner. Joy was not allowed to visit Beth, since many states only allow legal spouses or family members - not lifelong partners. Beth’s family highly disapproved of her relationship with Joy and told the hospital staff not to admit Joy.

Joy was finally able to visit Beth after she pleaded with Beth’s family for a chance to see her partner of six years. Joy was not allowed to be part of any decision-making regarding Beth’s treatments even though Joy knew Beth’s preference for life-saving procedures, she could not instruct the medical staff, as she had no legal authority.

After Beth passed away, Joy was kicked out of her home. Without a will and Joy’s name was not on the deed, Beth’s family took everything.

If you die without making a valid will, you leave what is known as” intestacy”. Each state has different laws, but follow the same general pattern of how your estate is distributed, first to a legal spouse, children and biological family. The state of Georgia bans same-sex couple marriage. According to Georgia’s law, Joy’s relationship to Beth was not recognized.

Joy’s message to the LGBT community, “Please get legal documentation to protect your wishes. Families can be the worse and you never know until something bad happens. Losing your partner is hard enough to deal with but not being able to be there in her time of need was devastating. Do not keep putting off preparing legal documents.”

LegalOut, thanks Joy for her courage in talking to us about her experience. Joy is determined to share her experiences with the LGBT community in hopes she can help others avoid the similar situation she faced without legal documents.

If you anticipate a will challenge or hostile family members, you need to take even greater precautions in drafting your will. It is far less expensive, financially and emotionally; to plan now to make sure that your property goes to the people or charities you choose. 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, and Power of Attorney.

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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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Obama says he, first lady have ‘living wills’ - Do you?

August 6th, 2009

President Obama discussed the importance of preparing a Living Will at an online forum on health care sponsored by AARP on July 28, 2009:

“The problem is right now most of us don’t give direction to our family members and so when we get really badly sick, sadly enough, nobody is there to make the decisions.

And then the doctor, who doesn’t know what you might have preferred, they’re making decisions, in consultation with your kids or your grandkids, and nobody knows what you would have preferred.

So I think the idea there is to simply make sure that a living will process is easier for people — it doesn’t require you to hire a lawyer or to take up a lot of time.

… But it’s actually a useful tool I think for a lot of families to make sure that if, heaven forbid, you contract a terminal illness, that you are somebody who is able to control this process in a dignified way that is true to your faith and true to how you think that end-of-life process should proceed.

You don’t want somebody else making those decisions for you. So I actually think it’s a good idea to have a living will . I’d encourage everybody to get one. I have one. Michelle has one. And we hope we don’t have to use it for a long time, but I think it’s something that is sensible.” (For full transcript visit the White House Briefing Room)

A Living Will (also known as an Advance Healthcare Directive or just Advance Directive) allows anyone to indicate their wishes concerning the withdrawal or withholding of life-sustaining procedures if they are in a terminal condition with no hope of recovery or are permanently unconscious.

Importance of a Living Will

  • Give direction to your family members or partner - in case you get badly sick your family can make decisions based on your preferences in an difficult time.
  • Achieve legal and emotional security that a legal document can provide in protecting your interests should something unexpected occur.

Create your Living Will - with our simple online interview.

LegalOut makes it easy to write your Living Will for a peace of mind - this do-it-yourself document is easy, fully customizable and inexpensive to complete.

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