A Gift to Those You Love

As 2020 draws to a merciful close, the season of giving that typically rounds out the year promises to be different. The festive gatherings we usually enjoy will be muted, if they happen at all. Video calls may substitute for the physical embrace of family and friends. And the exchange of gifts we all look forward to will likely take place through the likes of UPS rather than in person. With so much less to plan for this year, many people are busying themselves by tackling overdue tasks. Homes are being spruced up, important papers are being organized, and missing […]

Five Ways to Prepare For the Unexpected

In this astonishing year, where reality is even stranger than fiction, it’s hard to know what will happen next. Economic insecurity, natural disasters, and political upheaval all fuel a sense of anxiety—especially among many of us in the LGBTQ community. And of course, these worries come in conjunction with concerns about our own health and the fear of COVID-19. In this climate of uncertainty, the best steps we can take are to control the things we can, to be ready for events that could happen, even if they are hard to think about. Here are five things to do that […]

Trans? Here’s Why You Need An Advance Medical Directive

In some ways, there has never been a better time to be trans. Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an employee cannot be fired simply for being gay, lesbian, or transgender—a historic victory for the LGBTQ community. And a broad majority of Americans now support trans rights, enabling individuals to move ahead in politics, the professional world, and their own communities regardless of their gender identity. But as any trans person will tell you, much remains to be done. Trans individuals are often targets of violence, and the legal protections that include sexual orientation often specifically exclude gender […]

Writing Your Own Epilogue

Shakespeare said, “A good play needs no epilogue.” When a story is compellingly told, in other words, there is no need for commentary after the curtain falls. Like a play that is well written, a life that is well lived speaks for itself. But living well includes knowing that you have planned for what happens after you are gone. This foresight includes how easily your estate will be passed down to the people you care about. Have you written a will that names someone to settle your estate? If something were to happen to you, do you know who would […]

Easy Estate Planning In a Covid-19 World

Sheltering in place during the Covid-19 pandemic has left many of us with time to think. As news outlets keep an anxious tally of each day’s deaths and new infections, it is natural to consider how well prepared we are for the unexpected. What would happen if I got sick? Who would have the right to take care of me? If the end came suddenly, how would my final arrangements be handled? Who would inherit my assets and settle my estate? These are difficult questions to grapple with under the best of circumstances. In the midst of a global health […]

How to Disinherit Your Disapproving Relatives

Fans of the comic strip Peanuts might remember a panel in which Patty and Violet are planning a party. “Let’s not invite Charlie Brown,” Patty says. “Okay, we won’t invite Charlie Brown,” Violet replies. “And let’s not invite Lucy,” Patty continues. “Fine. We won’t invite Lucy,” Violet agrees. Then, looking up from her list, Patty exclaims, “It’s a lot more fun not inviting people than it is inviting them!” The impulse that prompted Patty’s remark can also apply when writing a will. The crazy aunt who makes homophobic remarks. She’s out. The estranged brother who refused to attend your gay […]

Where is the Best Place to Keep Your Will?

Your last will and testament is probably the most important document you will ever sign. It’s the one item that simply must be located when the need arises. It says who will settle your estate and who will inherit your worldly goods. It can also nominate guardians for your children, appoint trustees, and disinherit hostile relations. Where should you keep such a vital document? Probably not where you might think. Wills are decidedly low-tech instruments. Despite their importance, they consist of nothing more than paper bearing printed words and a “wet” signature. In order to open an estate, you need […]

Choosing a Guardian for Your Children

Any parent will tell you that raising children isn’t easy. The late-night feedings, public tantrums, and constant need for attention can leave even the most devoted mom or dad feeling exhausted. But for those of us in the LGBTQ community, simply becoming a parent can be just as challenging. Whether we try adoption, surrogacy, or other means, the process is likely to involve anxious waiting, many false starts, and difficult legal hurdles. It’s natural then, that same-sex couples and other LGBTQ parents are especially grateful for their children and would do anything to protect them. This sense of devotion should […]

Why the Legal Benefits of Marriage Aren’t Enough

The English author John Lyly once said, “Marriages are made in heaven and consummated on Earth.” Indeed, marriage has long been a two-sided coin. On the one side are the social and emotional aspects of the institution, the “joy and wonder” of marriage. On the other are the legal implications, the rights and privileges the law grants to married couples. After exchanging wedding bands, many couples assume that they have cemented their relationship with every benefit and privilege the law has to offer. Marriage does confer many essential rights – more than a thousand, by one count. But there are […]

Five Things to Do When Death is at Hand

Of the things we’d rather not think about, death certainly tops the list. But whether you see the end of life in spiritual, practical, or philosophical terms, it’s something we all must confront eventually. In the words of one living will, “Death is as much a reality as birth, growth, maturity, and old age—it is the one certainty.” The unpleasantness of the topic can make planning for death easy to put off. In fact, the vast majority of Americans will leave this earth without ever having prepared a will. But when the reality of death is fast approaching, perhaps through […]