Estate Planning and COVID-19 – Protecting What’s Most Important in a Time of Crisis    

estate planning and covid 19

Estate Planning and COVID-19 – Protecting What’s Most Important in a Time of Crisis

Estate Planning and COVID-19 – Like so many of us during this pandemic, our anxieties have been at an all-time high.  The sense of helplessness and the lack of a clear light at the end of the tunnel have many asking what they can do to better protect themselves and their families.  The good news is that we are not completely helpless.  Technology has made communicating easier and many states have adapted their current laws to make it easier to have a sense of control when it feels so distant.estate planning and COVID 19

First, with video conferencing technology, you can speak face to face with an attorney in your area.  Many attorneys are offering complimentary video consultations and you don’t even have to leave your couch.  This type of meeting is likely to become the new normal for attorney consultations and I for one couldn’t be happier.

Many of you may already have some valuable estate planning tools in place.  Understanding the difference between probate assets v. non-probates assets is the best place to start.  If you have a 401(k), an IRA, a life insurance policy or own property as joint tenants with right of survivorship, you have already created an estate plan without knowing it.  Any assets that has a designated beneficiary or that you own “jointly” with someone else, passes directly to that beneficiary or joint owner upon your death.  That is good news when you consider that this aspect of your estate planning may be immune to COVID-19.

Other important benefits that had been instituted in New York State, for instance, stem from Executive Orders signed by the Governor allowing for the remote notarization of documents (NY Executive Order 202.7) and also the remote witnessing of Will signings (NY Executive Order 202.14).  Almost every state has instituted either a remote notary order, a remote witnessing order, or both.  Here is a good place to look to see if your state has such orders.  While each state is different, the goal is to make it easier (easier that even before the pandemic) for people to secure their families and assets.

foster parentsHow do these remote sessions allow for estate planning and COVID-19?  Each state will have a different set of requirements,  but In NY, all parties must be on a Zoom or Skype call simultaneously and in the State of New York, the signers must show their IDs to the notary or witnesses, the signatures must take place in sight of the notary or witnesses.  The signers must fax or scan the documents to the attorney supervising the Will signing, or the notary public, who will then have the witnesses sign, or the notary will notarize the documents.  IMPORTANT: this must happen on the same day as the signing.

It is a good idea to conform the notarization by adding language stating that the signing or notarization are occurring in accordance with the specified executive order.  Also, you may want to consider signing the documents again in the direct presence of a notary after the pandemic has abated as a measure of caution.  This is a suggestion and no mention of multiple signing is present in the current NY Executive Order.

It is important to remember that if you have children and you have not named a guardian for them in your Will ( in most states it is the only document that a court looks to in determining your choice for a guardian should something happen to you and your child’s other parent), now is the time to act.   And if you have been thinking about reviewing your complete Estate Plan, or just your Last Will and Testament, now is the perfect time.

So if you are asking what you can do about your estate planning and COVID-19, there are options.  Consult your local attorney to find out the specifics of your state.  Ask for a video conference so you can speak face to face.  Be proactive and make the most of this quarantine time.  We are doing so much to protect our communities, let’s protect our families at the same time.

Timeforfamilies.com, May 7, 2020 by Anthony M. Brown, Esq. 

Contact Anthony at anthony@timeforfamilies.com.

 

 

The post Estate Planning and COVID-19 – Protecting What’s Most Important in a Time of Crisis     appeared first on Time For Families.


Source: Time for Families

Legal Surrogacy in New York – Albany lawmakers pass landmark legislation

legal surrogacy in New York

Legal Surrogacy in New York – Albany lawmakers pass landmark legislation

Legal Surrogacy in New York – Albany lawmakers pass landmark legislation, The Child Parent Security Act.  In a marathon budget session, New York lawmakers passed The Child Parent Security Act, the most protective and forward-thinking surrogacy legislation in the country.  Only Michigan and Louisiana continue to ban gestational surrogacy for LGBT individuals and couples, Michigan banning gestational surrogacy for all Michiganders.legal surrogacy in New York

While legal surrogacy in New York seemed doomed after it failed to be brought to the floor for a vote last year in the Assembly after passage in the Senate and vocal support of the Governor, this year the Child Parent Security Act was tied to the budget.  This move forced lawmakers to affirmatively support or oppose the Bill, something that they had been reticent to do in June of 2019.  The bill becomes the law of New York on February 15, 2021.

The reality of legal surrogacy in New York is the product of a massive effort on the part of many organizations and individuals.  From Men Having Babies to The Women’s Bar of New York, several organizations have stepped up to the plate to make legal surrogacy in New York a reality.  Ron Poole-Dayan, Executive Director of Men Having Babies, the non-profit organization that has spearheaded educational and ethical surrogacy initiatives around the world, said, “The CPSA is the most comprehensive, thoughtful and ethical surrogacy legislation ever drafted. It is particularly important now in the midst of a health crisis, to pass this legislation that provides New Yorkers an ethical and affordable path to the realizing their parenthood dreams.  This is landmark legislation and we are proud of our lawmakers for taking this important step to help LGBT families prosper.”  “It’s an amazing day and it’s nice to be able to celebrate in these dark times.  The bill only passed when the issue grew into a moment and everyone played an important role,” stated Denise Seidleman, the New York attorney who was instrumental in drafting the legislation.

“We are overjoyed for New York families, as they finally are able to access gestational surrogacy if they need it to build their family.  This has been a marathon, with many teammates along the way.  This kind of win takes people raising their voice and advocating – we thank everyone who did just that.  A huge thanks to RESOLVE advocate Risa Levine, and the Protecting Modern Families Coalition that got this over the finish line. We are honored to work alongside an incredible coalition,” said Barb Collura, CEO and President of RESOLVE, The National Fertility Association.

“This is a game changer!  It will bring so much opportunity for our local IP’s, as well as our local clinics and potential surrogates.  Being an east coast based agency, Circle has a lot of intended parents who live in NY and the entire tri-state area,” said Jen Rachman, the New York Representative for Circle Surrogacy, a Boston based surrogacy agency.

How This Law is Unique

legal surrogacy in New YorkThis legislation is unique in several ways.  First, it contains a Surrogates Bill of Rights, which is the first of its kind in the country.  It provides specifically for independent counsel, health and welfare decision making authority during the pregnancy and full medical and legal informed consent of all New York women acting as surrogate mothers for intended parents.  It also provides for psychological counseling, life insurance and the ability of the surrogate to terminate the agreement prior to embryo transfer. 

The Child Parent Security Act also creates two formal, but voluntary, registries, one for egg donors and the other for surrogate mothers, which tracks information on the number of times someone has served as a donor or surrogate, their health information and any other information that the Health Commissioner deems appropriate.  The legislation also allows for consultation with The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) to develop the best medical screening guidelines for potential surrogates.

Establishment of Parentage

The Child Parent Security Act, while creating legal surrogacy in New York, also provides for the establishment of parentage for intended parents of surrogacy, as well as lesbian couples who use a known sperm donor to assist them in having their families.  The process is known as a Pre-Birth Order and allows a court to issue a court order which terminates the rights of the surrogate and her spouse, or the known sperm donor, and affirms the legal parentage of the intended parents in a fully recognized court order which goes into effect at the moment of birth of the child.  The law also officially recognizes parentage orders from other states, ensuring that NY parents who have previously had children with surrogates in other states and obtained birth orders in those states to establish parentage, can rest assured that the other state’s order will be recognized by statute in New York.

Before this law’s passage, intended parents who resided in New York had few options to establish parentage.  Second or step parent adoption, a time consuming and somewhat invasive process, was the only way of establishing parental rights in New York.

The Ethics of The Child Parent Security Act

Regulation is the key to achieving ethical surrogacy. The Child Parent Security Act provides for more than just baseline protections and suggested protocols for an ethical journey.  The Surrogates Bill of Rights is a huge step toward ensuring that the process is balanced and that the woman acting as a surrogate mother has agency and support throughout the process.  The law also provides for the security of parentage, which assures that all parties are working toward a single goal of creating a family for the intended parent or parents. 

New York Adapts to Modern Family Creation

New York, in the midst of a global pandemic, and under the powerful and consistent guidance of Governor Andrew Cuomo, has brought its family law into the 21st century.  Many, myself included, could not comprehend how such a progressive and diverse state could lag so far behind the rest of the country in its recognition and support of assisted reproduction.  I was fortunate to sit on the Governor’s commission for the passage of The Child Parent Security Act and am a constituent of Assemblyperson Deborah Glick, who had opposed the legislation until last June.  To her credit, she met with me to discuss the legislation and I was able to correspond with her staff about surrogacy on several occasions. 

The passage of this legislation was truly a collaborative effort and the hard work of every person who worked on the coalition to pass the Child Parent Security act deserves credit for making legal surrogacy in New York a reality.  Whether a cancer survivor, an infertile couple or an LGBT New Yorker, this law now allows for the option of remaining in New York to create a family.  Finally, I want to thank Governor Cuomo for having the confidence in this law’s wisdom to add it to the budget bill.  This strategy was instrumental in its passing and the Governor deserves a great deal of credit and gratitude.  Legal surrogacy in New York!  I have waited to celebrate this moment for years!

April 2, 2020 by Anthony M. Brown, Esq.

The post Legal Surrogacy in New York – Albany lawmakers pass landmark legislation appeared first on Time For Families.


Source: Time for Families

Effect of COVID-19 on LGBTQ Family Planning

Effect of COVID-19 on LGBTQ family planning

The Effect of COVID-19 on LGBTQ Family Planning is evolving and far reaching.  It is also temporary.

Effect of COVID-19 on LGBTQ Family Planning – The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all in ways more numerous to describe.  Those of us with families have had to learn about home schooling, some the hard way (me).  Everyone has had to adjust to what essentially has become a home quarantine situation and the emotional effects of social isolation.  And we are all witness to the world going through a major change which will create a new reality for everyone when we emerge on the other side.  But we will emerge on the other side. effect of COVID-19 0n LGBTQ family planning

While I myself have experienced the loss of a friend due to the virus, as well as the infection of a family member, I know that we all are doing our best to maintain a sense of normalcy and peace within.  Practicing this type of self-care will help mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on LGBTQ family planning.

The effects of COVID-19 on LGBTQ family planning are very real.  I have said in the past that there are no accidental pregnancies in the LGBTQ community.  Everything is carefully thought out and planned in advance.  However, the COVID-19 virus has created specific and real-world disruptions to our ability to create families.

For example, those were using, or planning to use, an IVF clinic for either surrogacy, artificial insemination (AI), intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures have experienced an actual shut down of normal operations.  The clinic administrators that I have spoken with are optimistic that once the virus is contained, or at least the infection curve has flattened, that they will resume normal operations.  For the time being, they are following ASRM guidelines.  But they will also be dealing with backlogs of patients and procedures that may cause further delay in your family building timeline. 

effect of COVID-19 0n LGBTQ family planningFor lesbian couples who have thoughtfully chosen to use a clinic to assist in insemination, this delay is not only frustrating, it can also change the projected timeline of their families.  Even those couples who choose anonymous sperm donors will most likely have to wait an indefinite period of time to undergo AI or IUI procedures.  For those who choose known sperm donors, the essential DNA testing that is a prerequisite for clinic inseminations will also be on a delayed time schedule.

Gay male couples who are considering surrogacy are facing an even more complicated challenge.  First, there will inevitably be a delay in the embryo creation aspect of the beginning of their journey due to IVF clinic shutdowns.  If an intended parent already has embryos created, perhaps from a previous surrogacy journey, they may be in a better position.  However, they will also experience a delay in embryo transfer until restrictions on IVF clinic activities are lifted.  A silver lining is that they will be able to match with surrogates sooner, thereby shortening the time to pregnancy once those IVF restrictions are lifted.

Lesbian couples who choose a known sperm donor and home insemination may be the only group in our community who might not experience the delays discussed above.  However, these types of inseminations will not have the benefit of genetic testing and, for the safety and security of all parties, must have carefully prepared legal agreements in place and a second or stepparent adoption plan incorporated into that agreement.

For those in the midst of a surrogacy journey, perhaps awaiting their carrier to give birth, the effects of COVID-19 on LGBT family planning can be particularly frustrating due to travel and hospital restrictions.  Many hospitals are restricting the number of people who can be in a delivery room, particularly if they have traveled from an area that has been severely affected by COVID-19, like New York, Washington or California.  Be prepared for snags in the road and lots of patience.  You will go home with your child!  You may have to be flexible in your travel plans, i.e. be prepared for long drives instead of air travel.

For lesbian couples and gay men with surrogates who are pregnant, there is a limited study from Wuhan China showing that babies of mothers with the virus were not effected, meaning that there was no vertical transmission.

Couples considering adoptions are also at a bit of a standstill depending on where they live in the US.  Most state court systems have closed to all but “essential” proceedings.  While I would argue that adoptions are essential, the courts have determined that they are not.  I have several cases now awaiting the scheduling of finalization hearings that are simply on hold until the pandemic subsides.  This includes private placement adoptions and step or second parent adoptions.  This does not mean that making connections with birth parents must be put on hold, but the legal work that is required to effectuate the adoption may be delayed, causing additional anxiety.Effect of COIVD-19 on LGBTQ family planning

You may be asking what you can do to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on LGBTQ family planning.  I know that I am.  Here are a few options that you can consider now.

  1. Make sure that your Estate Plan is in place and up to date. Ask yourself, “Do I need a Will?”  If you have named guardians for children in your Wills, please review to make sure that they are current and correct.  If you have not created an Estate Plan, now is a good time to do the work to ensure that you have prepared for the unexpected.  Here is a list of the documents you should be considering for your estate plan.  We have also seen a relaxation of Notary laws allowing for online notarizations.  This can make the execution of documents much easier in certain states.
  2. If you have been thinking about creating your family, now is a great time to do more research. Men Having Babies is a great resource for surrogacy.  “If These Ovaries Could Talk” is a wonderful podcast for all LGBTQ family planning.  This should include speaking with your friends who have had children to get their perspectives on the process.  It is also a really good time also to start thinking about the financial implications of having a family.  Many of us will be irreparably financially harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many of us will have to rethink the timelines we had anticipated would apply to our family planning journeys.  You may want to meet with a financial professional to discuss the best way to get your family plan back on track.
  3. Practice self-care! Whether you have children or not, staying calm and finding peace in your heart will help you get through this.  While you might feel alone, you are not alone.  Reach out and find solace in your friends and family if you can.  Take walks if you can and get outside.  Remind yourself of what will be on the other side of this experience.

If you have specific questions about how to address the effects of COVID-19 on LGBTQ family planning and estate planning, and you think I can be of help, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.  Thank you for taking the time to read this and remember to breathe.

The post Effect of COVID-19 on LGBTQ Family Planning appeared first on Time For Families.


Source: Time for Families

Anthony M. Brown Featured on the Podcast, The Mentor Esq.

The Mentor Esq

The Mentor Esq., a new legal podcast, recently featured Anthony M. Brown, founder of Time For Families Law, PLLC.

The Mentor EsqThe Mentor Esq. was founded by Andrew J. Smiley, the famed personal injury attorney in New York City, to help younger attorneys, and seasoned attorneys, to learn more about specific areas of the law and about the profession of law itself.  Episodes of The Mentor Esq. cover such topics as civil rights work to women in the law, as well as the ABCs of trial work, from opening statements to cross examination.

This is the first season of The Mentor Esq. and Andrew is currently planning for season 2.  While there are numerous areas of the law, and attorneys, that he could focus on, I am grateful that Andrew allowed me to tell my story and share my concerns for the future of LGBTQ law in New York, as well as in the Country.

Anthony’s Start in The Law

Andrew reached out to Anthony to join The Mentor, Esq. podcast to discuss two separate issues.  On episode four of the podcast, Anthony discusses how he came to the law after a career as an actor and a medical massage therapist.  Andrew asked Anthony about how he started his practice and who guided him along the way.  Click here to listen to Anthony talking about his pathway to the law.   Younger attorneys will find this episode particularly interesting because Anthony discusses new ways to look at your career, especially at its inception, by thinking outside of the box and planning ahead for what you want your legal practice to focus on and how it intersects with your personal life.

LGBTQ Family Law

Andrew asked Anthony back to the podcast to discuss more specific topics such as LGBTQ family formation and the current state of surrogacy in New York.  With current legislation in New York up for a vote very soon, Anthony discusses the specifics off The Child Parent Security Act – the pending law which would legalize compensated surrogacy and provide for parentage orders, which would allow for lesbian couples with known sperm donors to avoid the second parent adoption process altogether.  The Child Parent Security Act would bring New York’s family law into the 21st century.

If these issues mean something to you, it is definitely worth your time to check out The Mentor Esq.  A full episode list can be found here.

Anthony M. Brown, November 26, 2019

 

Contact Time For Families


Contact Form
* indicates required field