Recently in Gay and Lesbian Estate Planning Category

September 14, 2012

Childless and Aging? Time to Designate a Caregiver

Phyllis Korkki with the NY Times wrote an article dealing with some of the problems our aging society has when they have no children or natural caregivers and ways to help deal with it. In the article, she quotes me in dealing with some ways you can use legal documents that can be prepared by an attorney to deal with giving someone legal rights to help you make decisions if and when you need it.

These documents can also help avoid a guardianship and limit the ability for some to hijack your assets and use them up with unnecessary fees.

Follow this link to the NY Time article or contact us to discuss how we can provide documents to help manage these situations for your, your friends, or your family.

May 3, 2012

Gay and Lesbian Issues Breaking News

The fight for Jacksonville equality is reaching its crescendo. The Jacksonville City Council will soon consider legislation presented to them which if passed would offer protections to the LGBT community. Currently, the Jacksonville human rights ordinance does not provide protection for the gay community. That means that those persons who are gay, lesbian, and transgender have little to no shelter from discrimination in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations.

There have been several Florida cities and municipalities that have amended or put in place legislation to protect this vulnerable segment of society. If passed the bill in Jacksonville would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Almost two weeks ago, Tampa Mayor, Bob Buckhorn signed legislation that will put into place a Domestic Partnership Registry. Similar registries exist in Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade County, and more recently Orange County.

The requirements to register are many but usually require that, among other things.

(1) The couple resides in the county where they apply;
(2) each person is 18 years of age; and
(3) Each party agrees to be jointly responsible for each other's basic good, shelter, common necessities of life and welfare.
The benefits can be huge, including the ability to visit and make decisions regarding health care and funeral/burial arrangements, pre-need guardian designation for incapacitated partners, and visitation rights in correctional and health care facilities.

If you are interested in learning ways in which you can protect your rights and the rights of your partner, contact a Jacksonville Gay and Lesbian Estate Planning Lawyer.

January 31, 2012

Gay and Lesbian Parents Need Estate Planning

Rainbow families.jpgRaising and caring for your children is difficult enough without the additional complications that arise when you are bringing up children in a same-sex relationship. Inherent rights afforded to "straight" or heterosexual couples are non-existent for gay couples. The lack of legal rights for those in relationships not recognized by the State of Florida, will effect your property rights, your health care decisions, the distribution of your assets after death, and most importantly, your children.

If you are not the legally recognized or biological parent of a child, there are several legal documents you can utilize to provide you the authority you need.

A Last Will and Testament will enable you to name your choice of guardian for your minor child in the event of your death or incapacity. A Pre-Need Guardian Designation lends additional proof of your choice of guardian for your child(ren). An Authorization and Power of Attorney for Child Care will enable the person of your choice to have the authority to make decisions for and care for your children when you are unavailable. Unavailable may mean incapacity, or being out of town, or otherwise engaged elsewhere.

For additional documents and methods of ensuring that the "non-legal" parent's relationship with his or her children are protected, contact a Jacksonville Gay and Lesbian Estate Planning Lawyer to schedule a time to talk.

January 15, 2012

Gay Marriage a Looming Possibility in Washington State

gay-marriage-rights.jpgFlorida Gay couples await the possibility of a seventh state to legalize gay marriage, as the Washington State Governor introduced legislation on gay marriage early this month. At a news conference Governor Chris Gregoire stated, "Our gay and lesbian families face the same hurdles as heterosexual families - making ends meet, choosing what school to send their kids to, finding someone to grow old with, standing in front of friends and family and making a lifetime commitment."

For gay couples all over the country, including Florida, a state marriage license is very important. It gives same-sex couples the right to enter into a marriage contract in which their legal interests, and those of their children, if any, are protected by civil law.

For now, those in gay relationships in the Sunshine State will have to make do by protecting their own interests. This can be accomplished through a variety of legal documents. If you are a lesbian or gay man living in or around Jacksonville, Florida, take time to contact a Jacksonville Gay and Lesbian Issues Lawyer who focuses on LGBT documents to ensure that your rights, whether they pertain to health care, property, or your death are protected.

October 30, 2011

Gay and Lesbian benefits involve preparing living trusts

Jacksonville gay and lesbian issues lawyer.jpgJacksonville Estate Planning Attorneys working in Jacksonville Beach watch for Florida issues about gay and same-sex partner benefits.

More and more Florida counties are making positive steps by providing health care and other benefits for same-sex couples. Central Florida's publicly owned Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) now offers Florida Domestic Partnership health care benefits for the domestic partners of their employees. Some nationwide companies that do business in Florida likewise provide same-sex partner benefits.

Despite the fact that Florida does not recognize gay marriage, newly-released U.S. Census figures, show nearly 6,800 same sex couples call the Sunshine State home. That's based on how many gay couples checked the "husband" or "wife" options. The Census bureau also reported an estimate of the number of same sex couples in Florida, both married and unmarried, at 48,456.

Gay couples who reside in Jacksonville Beach are wise to make their own benefits. A Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer can provide many options so you can provide benefits for your partner. Estate Planning can consist of having a will drawn up, a revocable living trust prepared,and other legal documents which will give your loved-ones the protection and security they need.

A Jacksonville Florida Living Trust is used to avoid the probate process and possible will contests from disapproving family members. A trust is set up and managed during your lifetime and avoids the need for a guardianship over your property in the event you become incapacitated. A trust must be funded and titled in specific ways to be effective, but the benefits are many.

Meet with a Jacksonville Beach lawyer sensitive to the unique issues that same-sex couples and unmarried partners face.

September 26, 2011

LGBT Legal Issues for Military in Florida

gay-military-300x225.png As of September 20th 2011,the old "don't ask, don't tell" rule that has been in force for about 18 years is gone. The end of this policy marks a victory for Mayport gay and lesbian military personnel.

Now Mayport gay sailors and soldiers who don't have to fear the loss of their military career because of their sexual orientation can feel free to obtain the legal advice and LGBT legal documents which will not only protect them but their relationships as well.

There are several Estate Planning Documents that will enable Jacksonville military men and women to provide for their loved ones. Same-sex couples do not have the inherent rights that heterosexual couples enjoy. Preparing a Will, Trust and Advance Directives will ensure that your decisions are honored when you are no longer able to communicate your wishes.

Same-sex couples are often encouraged to consult with a Mayport Attorney to learn about other ways to legally ensure that you, your partner, and your children are provided for not only now but in the future as well.

Mayport gay and lesbian naval and military members can feel comfortable consulting with a Mayport Law Firm that accepts them for who they are, not who they love or how they love.

September 6, 2011

Gay and Lesbian and Living in the Bible Belt

gay bible.jpgThe grandson of the late evangelist Oral Roberts has "come out" as a gay man. Courageous move for a man that comes from a devout and famous evangelical family. Although he and his family have minimal contact, their opposing views as to living a gay lifestyle has them at opposite ends of the spectrum (the rainbow spectrum).

This is a familiar pattern for many Orange Park and Jacksonville gay and lesbian individuals. Families can't and won't accept their lifestyle. Communication is the first key, but often times that does not work. Living in a same-sex relationship often involves thinking about your partner and your future together. Because same-sex relationships are not a legally recognized union in Florida, it is important to talk with an Orange Park Estate Planning Attorney sensitive to the concerns of the LGBT community. There are many avenues and legal documents that enable you to be in control of who will make future health and financial decisions in the event of your incapacity.

Florida Estate planning can help protect your same-sex partners and their children. This can help avoid disputes between your family and your parents and siblings

There are a growing number of gay-affirming and welcoming churches and synagogues right here on the Florida First Coast as well as all around the country. If you would like more information, contact Patricia Davis to find out more about what services aJacksonville LGBT Lawyer can provide to you and your family.

August 23, 2011

LGBT Population increases 60% in Broward County Florida

Gay Flag Pole.jpgProvincetown, Massachusetts is the new LGBT place to be.

The Williams Institute of Census has said that South Florida is one of the top spots for LGBT population Growth. Florida is the last state to declare the ban on gay adoption as unconstitutional.

According to the 2010 Census, Florida has approximately 65,601 same-sex couple households, a 60 percent leap since the 2000 Census. Read more about same-sex couple household statistics.

As an Orange Park LGBT Rights Attorney it is wise for same-sex couples living together to consult with a Florida attorney. There are no inherent legal rights that apply to same-sex couples in Florida. Legal documents ranging from Deeds to your home, Wills, Designation of Health Care Surrogate, and many other Florida Estate Planning documents and agreements are needed to ensure that you, and your partner, are protected, legally.

With the rise of the gay population in Florida, awareness is needed to inform every partner of a same-sex relationship to seek the counsel of an attorney. When heterosexual couples divorce, there are statutory protections, not so when a gay or lesbian couple split.

August 8, 2011

Estate Planning Thoughts

tree house.jpgDoes the term " Florida Estate Planning" evoke thoughts of the very rich standing by their Bentleys in front of their massive estates? Maybe the term should simply be Planning, because no matter who you are or how much you own, Everyone needs "Estate" Planning

Everyone has a Florida Estate, no matter how large or small. One's estate is simply the possessions or property you have acquired, inherited, and worked for during your life. There are generally three types of property that comprise one's estate, these are:

Real Property - Your home, land, houses or other structures on land;

Tangible Personal Property - Property other than real estate that has a value due to its physical existence, such as motor vehicles, boats, furniture, antiques . . . and;

Intangible Personal Property - Property that you cannot touch, but that has a value due to the legal rights you hold. Examples include stock certificates, promissory notes, copyrights, patents and other "intellectual" property.

Everyone has an estate, but most people have not planned what happens to their estate in the future. Estate planning is the process where you decide and put in writing what you want to happen to your estate in the future, and to whom you want your estate to pass once you have passed. Estate planning is easy, contact a Jacksonville Beach Estate Planning Attorney to schedule a consult and discuss the ways you can "Estate Plan". Whether you prepare a Will, establish a Trust, or have other legal documents prepared, estate planning puts in writing how you want your real, tangible and intangible property distributed upon your death.

August 7, 2011

Same-Sex Couples interested in ERISA Profit-Sharing Benefits Case

DOMA.jpgA federal judge in Pennsylvania has been asked to determine whether the same-sex wife or parents of an attorney at the law firm of Cozen O'Connor should be the beneficiaries of the attorney's profit-sharing plan. The parents of the deceased partner argue that an ERISA qualified plan falls under federal law and the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) limiting marriage to only a man and a woman controls whether same-sex couples can receive federal benefits

The wife of the deceased attorney argues that Pennsylvania law does not preclude her from being recognized as the surviving spouse for the purpose of receiving benefits under the plan. The wife states that the law firm profit-sharing plan is not governed by DOMA, and claims the profit-sharing plan is private and is controlled by the language in the plan.

To read more about this interesting case: Same-Sex Marriage Fight at Heart of Cozen O'Connor Benefits Case.

St. Augustine Gay and Lesbian same-sex couples, whether you are married or not, if you have a profit-sharing plan through your employer, it is critical to discuss with them your rights as far as designating the beneficiary you want on the plan. It is also important to consult with a St. Augustine Estate Planning Attorney who can advise you about various other documents that will protect your assets and distribute them to your same-sex partner or beneficiary of your choice.

As an Estate Planning Attorney for those in the LGBT community, I have worked with St. Augustine Financial Planners who have the experience in advising same-sex couples as far as retirement, tax, and other financial matters of concern. Contact a St. Augustine Attorney able to direct you to these LGBT focused financial planners.

July 30, 2011

Florida Gay and Lesbian Service Members Rejoice!

repeal DADT index.jpgDon't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT), was adopted by Congress in 1996. On December 20, 2011 the the federal law banning openly gay people from serving in the military is repealed.

The President, Defense Secretary and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman signed and submitted a one-page certification to Congress that the military is ready to implement the repeal of DADT.

Nearly two million troops have received training in preparation for the repeal of DADT. The Department of Defense stated that sexual orientation is a personal and private matter and that all service members should be treated with dignity and respect. The Defense Undersecretary reported that there will be "zero tolerance for harassment, violence or discrimination of any kind."

Eligibility benefits remain the same as far as service-members being able to choose their beneficiary for benefits, however the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) still prohibits the extension of many military benefits to same-sex couples, including health care and allowances for housing and transportation.

As a Mayport Estate Planning Attorney, I recommend that Mayport gay and lesbian service members consult with an attorney to learn the various ways that legal documents will protect them and their families. Same-sex couples currently lack many federal government protections afforded to heterosexual couples. The best way to provide for your same-sex partner is to draft Florida estate planning and other documents, such as your Florida Will, a trust, health care surrogate, power of attorney, and other similar documents.

Florida law does not provide for your same-sex partner, no matter how long you have been together. As a Florida gay and lesbian member of the armed forces who serves our county, serve yourself as well. Continue to protect the U.S.A and begin to protect yourself and your same-sex partner.

July 28, 2011

Estate Planning Documents Benefits to LGBT Community

Treasure Chest..jpgIt is crucial to make your heirs and family are aware of the
fact that there are documents in place and where these documents can be
found. Having your Florida estate planning documents prepared is the first step, and once you have made the call and scheduled a consult with an Atlantic Beach Estate Planning Attorney, you are sure to feel good about it. 

Keep your Florida will, and other documents in a secure place and let someone close to you know where these documents are kept.  Some Florida Estate Planning Lawyer will store the documents for you

There are more than 10 states investigating whether insurance companies are failing to pay out unclaimed life insurance policies to beneficiaries. Insurers are claiming that under policy contracts, they aren't required to determine whether a policyholder is still alive, but rather they pay a claim when beneficiaries come forward.

If you don't keep your estate planning and other important documents organized, and if you fail to disclose the location of these papers to a trusted family member or friend, the financial consequences can be considerable.

According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, state treasurers currently hold approximately 32 billion in unclaimed bank accounts. Don't let your hard earned assets be given to the state, inform your heirs and beneficiaries that your estate planning documents exist, and where they can be found.

To see if you have unclaimed treasure in Florida, go to the Florida Treasure Hunt website.

Take the time this summer to consult with an Atlantic Beach Estate Planning Attorney who will give you advice as to the estate planning documents that are best suited for you and your family, as well as recommended ideas as to where to store these documents.

July 22, 2011

Gay Rights In Florida

Gay colors on american flag.jpgWe the People of the United States, and of Jacksonville Florida in order to . . . promote the general welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty . . .sound familiar. The Constitution of the United States provides the core principals of American freedom for We the People.

The Right to Privacy, Freedom of Association, and the Right to Equal Protection under the Law. Unfortunately, many in the LGBT community do not have these same seemingly inherent protections. As a result proper planning and consultation with a Jacksonville Beach Attorney is a recommended plan of action. If the Florida Constitution and Florida Statutes do not provide for equal protection for gay and lesbian individuals, then protecting oneself is crucial.

Some of the planning you need to consider are:

Estate Planning, preparing your Will or Trust;
Advance Directives, choosing your health care surrogate and making known your feelings on life-prolonging techniques;
→ Funeral Directives, ensuring that your after death wishes are respected.

Talking with a Jacksonville Beach Attorney who is sensitive to the various issues faced by gay and lesbian persons, makes these decisions easier to make.

July 20, 2011

Importance of Estate Planning for Florida LGBT Community

gay flag at Jacksonville beach.jpgThe lazy days of Jacksonville Beaches summer is a time to relax, enjoy the beach, and have a great time. Summer time is also the time to reflect. . . about your life, your partner, your children, and your future.

Don't put off until tomorrow, the preparation of important documents dealing with important Florida Estate Planning Documents or those dealing with Gay and Lesbian Legal Issues that will protect both yourself, your partner, and your family.

Your Florida Will, a Florida Revocable Trust, a Florida Durable Power of Attorney, your Florida Living Will, a Designation of Health Care Surrogate. . . take the time this summer to think about your future and how important it is to have these documents prepared, because before you blink, Jacksonville summers turn into Florida Fall.

A Jacksonville Beaches Estate Planning Attorney can discuss with you what estate planning and other documents are best suited for your situation.

July 17, 2011

Gay and Lesbian Individuals Need Florida Wills and Estate Planning

Gay baloons.jpgREASONS TO HAVE YOUR FLORIDA WILL PREPARED:

IT'S YOUR WAY: You decide who inherits from you. If you die without a Florida Will the Florida's intestacy statute directs how your property and assets are divided and distributed.

Florida intestacy laws DO NOT provide for non-family members. Unless you draft a Florida Will, your partner will not inherit from you.

YOUR CHILDREN: If you have minor children, you nominate who is to become their legal guardian (the guardian you choose will still have to be approved by the judge). However, your nomination will by duly noted by the court and receive priority if qualified.

YOUR NON-BIOLOGICAL CHILDREN: In order for your child to inherit from a non-legal or non-biological parent, that parent must prepare a will in Florida.

LEAVING TO CHARITY: You can give money or personal property to the charities of your choice; the state will not distribute your property to charity.

BELOVED PETS: You can provide for the continued care of your pet after you are gone.

FAMILY SQUABBLES: Reduce the risk of dissension by providing clear directions as to how you want your property distributed. (Ask us how a Florida Trust may reduce the risk further)

PARTNER BURDEN: If you pass away without a will, you leave a burdensome job to your Partner, Spouse or other Close Personal Friend. They are already mourning your death, don't make this time more difficult as they settle your personal affairs.

FAMILY DISSENT: If your family has been non-supportive and disapproving of your same-sex relationship, preparing a valid will is important in the event of a will contest. A penalty clause for a will contest is unenforceable in Florida.

To learn about having your will prepared, or how a Florida revocable trust might benefit you, as well as how other legal documents will protect you, your partner and family contact me, a Jacksonville Beaches Estate Planning Attorney and let's sit down and talk.