Maryland Guardianships—Don’t Get ‘Britney Speared’

Britney Spears, the “Princess of Pop,” has had a royal mess on her hands ever since her father become her legal “conservator.” According to Britney, her father has so overstepped his authority to manage her finances that his behavior has amounted to abuse. The stuff of tabloid journalism, the ordeal has left Britney’s fans and detractors alike wondering how her legal rights could have been taken from her so abruptly—and whether the same could happen to them.  In Maryland, we have legal safeguards to help prevent someone from losing their autonomy without good reason. Just as importantly, there are steps […]

The Easy Way To Leave Your Car to a Loved One

When someone dies, their car is often the first thing the heirs will ask about. Who gets it, they wonder, and how long will it take to transfer the title? Whether the vehicle in question is a gleaming new SUV or a humble and aging hatchback, getting it to the new owner can be a priority. A car can sit for only so long before maintenance problems develop, and the deceased owner’s estate will be responsible for paying insurance premiums in the meantime. When the vehicle is part of the deceased owner’s estate, the estate must generally be opened before […]

Things To Do Before and After Getting Married

In 2013, when same-sex marriage first became legal in Maryland, there was a rush to tie the knot. Whether couples headed to the altar, the courthouse, or the leafy comfort of their own backyards, male couples and female couples alike seized the opportunity to turn their emotional bond into a legal commitment. The initial flurry of same-sex weddings may have abated, but the social and legal benefits of marriage are still no less attractive to those of us in the LGBTQ community. The prospect of inheriting from each other tax-free, of receiving special Social Security assistance, of possibly receiving an […]

Married? Consider Upgrading The Deed to Your House

In 1604, Sir Edward Coke said, “Your house is your safest refuge.” Or words to that effect. He was writing in Latin, but the venerable English judge got his point across well enough. The expression has come down to us in the 21st century as “A man’s house is his castle.” The family home should be a safe haven where we can take refuge from the perils of the outside world. Within its walls relationships are nurtured, friendships are enjoyed, and children are loved and encouraged. In addition to the locks and security lights that keep burglars at bay, a […]

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 […]