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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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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


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.


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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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Advance Health Care Directive

October 2nd, 2009

An Advance Health Care Directive allows you to name a specific person to make health care decisions for you when you can’t make them for yourself and provide instructions regarding your wishes and desires for health care, including what treatment is not desired.

Other names for advance health care directive include health care powers of attorney, durable powers of medical attorney, health care proxies and living wills.

An Advance Directive for Health Care or Living Will lets you:

  • 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.

Ensure your wishes are carried out in case something happens to you. In a time of crisis, the last thing you want is to have your loved ones try to guess your health care wishes.

Create your Advance Health Care Directive now>>

Recently the Human Rights Campaign published the Healthcare Equality Index, an annual survey of healthcare industry policies and practices related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and their families. The goals of the HEI are: 1) to benchmark healthcare facilities on identified best practices and policies with respect to equal treatment of LGBT individuals and families; and 2) to share, implement and recognize these best practices with healthcare industry leaders.

To read more about the study and results click here.

Start now, create your Advance Health Care Directive for a peace of mind>>

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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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The Living Will

August 6th, 2009

Guest contributor, Paige Arden Stanley from the Law Office of Paige Arden Stanley L.L.C. and member of LegalOut’s attorney network, discusses the importance of creating a Living Will.

During a recent healthcare forum, President Obama revealed that he and the First Lady each have Living Wills (also called advance healthcare directives) but hoped they would never need to use them. Obama’s speech turned a white-hot White-House spotlight on an important subject that everyone, regardless of age, should think about, discuss and request assistance with preparation. Don’t be like the countless individuals who would prefer ignoring having such an important document, thus leaving it up to others to guess at, or feud about, your wishes and what you might have wanted in terms of life sustaining measures.

What A Living Will Is
Plain and simple: a Living Will is one of the single most important documents that anyone, especially single individuals and unmarried partners (including those in domestic partnerships) can have.

A Living Will is a document that outlines what one’s healthcare preferences are in the event he/she cannot make those communications because of some kind of incapacity, albeit from a brief temporary condition to a long terminal illness. Without a Living Will in place, family members and/or health professionals are left to decide your fate. And, it might not be at all what you would have wanted.

What A Living Will Isn’t
Contrary to popular misconception, a Living Will is not about death or dying. In actuality, it is about someone carrying out your wishes and taking care of you while you are still living, but for whatever reason, you are unable to take care of or make decisions on your own.

Who Should Have a Copy of Your Living Will
Having a Living Will is not enough. Make sure that your doctor, the person you’ve designated as your power(s) of attorney regarding such decisions, and any other immediate family members have copies too.  It is also a good idea to take the Living Will with you when you travel. And, last but not least, if you are going to the hospital, even for what may be a minor procedure, take your Living Will. Read more about your options for legal document storage >>

Questions to Ask
Here are a few of the questions your attorney will ask when assisting in preparing your Living Will.

  • Do you have a current Living Will?
  • Do your parents?
  • Do your siblings?
  • Do your friends?
  • Do you have any idea how to bring up the topic?
  • Who do you want to make decisions for you?
  • Do you want artificial life-prolonging measures? Which: Nutrition and hydration? CPR? Under what conditions?
  • Where do you prefer to recuperate?
  • Do you wish to donate your organs?
Paige Arden Stanley, Law Office of Paige Arden Stanley, L.L.C For further assistance, please contact Paige Arden Stanley, Esq. at Law Office of Paige Arden Stanley, L.L.C.

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