Monthly Archives: May 2014

Are Online Wills Legal?

Online wills CAN be legal, but…The baseline for a valid will is PROPER EXECUTION. Each state has its own specific rules of procedure, so you should speak with a local counselor or look up your state laws online.  Be sure you are using an online form that complies with state requirements. Essentially, all states require that the Testator (you) acknowledge that this is a last will and testament, that you sign it at the end of all the pages, that it be witnessed by at least two disinterested people. Some states do not recognize “holographic” will–meaning handwritten, except from soldiers in battle conditions and a few other rare exceptions.  No state recognized “noncupative” will — oral statements alleging to be the spoken wishes of the decedent.

The courts are reluctant to discard any writing that appears to be the wishes of a decedent, but that won’t stop someone from challenging the will.  Then it will involve litigation. A good scribe of a Will knows how to avoid unnecessary litigation and should set up a distribution that can go as smooth and seamless as possible under the circumstances.

cropped-77franklin2.jpg

However, the cost of having a will prepared is usually very reasonable and well worth it for the peace of mind of knowing your paperwork is all in order. A will and a Living Will (Health care proxy) are very affordable. Why skimp on something so important.

Gay Marriage — Unhappy Divorce

Marriage equality has gained enormous momentum since the landmark Massachusetts ruling in Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health798 N.E.2d 941 (Mass. 2003), with 18 states and the District of Columbia legalizing or recognizing Gay marriages since 2003.

http://www.cnn.com/interactive/us/map-same-sex-marriage/

Thats the good news.  The bad news is that state have been left with no legislative guidance as to how to deal with Gay divorces and the issues associated with the dissolution of marriage. According to 2010 US Census data (PDF), there are nearly 600,000 same-sex couples living in the US, and about 25 percent of them are raising children. Adoption and surrogacy, for example, are used more and more by same-sex couples to “complete” their families. State lawmakers and the courts across the US are dealing with the special legal problems raised when gay and lesbian parents fight for parental rights like child supportcustody and visitation. The states deal with these problems in different ways. For instance, New York recognizes same sex parents have the same legal obligation for child support as opposite sex marriages.  Michigan does not recognize same-sex marriages and same-sex partners can’t adopt each other’s children.

Legal disputes between gay and lesbian parents can be complicated. This is mainly because the laws in many states don’t specifically address these parents’ rights and the courts are left to grapple with the problems. Some states do have special laws, however, so be sure to check the laws in your area for your parental rights and responsibilities.

In a number of states, a parent’s sexual orientation cannot in and of itself prevent a parent from being given custody of or visitation with his or her child.

As a practical matter, however, lesbian and gay parents — even in those states — may be denied custody or visitation. This is because judges, when considering the best interests of the child, may be motivated by their own or community prejudices, and may find reasons other than the lesbian or gay parent’s sexual orientation to deny custody or appropriate visitation.

If you are involved in a custody case and are concerned about bias against you because you are gay or lesbian, make sure you consult a lawyer about protecting your rights. You can get attorney referrals from the National Center for Lesbian Rights (www.nclrights.org).