Frequently Asked Questions
Select the question you would like answered:
Who should consider estate planning?
- Everyone should lay a foundation of basic planning.
- Estate planning often begins with a simple Will. The documents contained in LesbianWill.com are legal, binding and will suffice for the majority of the population. If your circumstances are unique; for example, if your estate is in excess of $3,500,000, you're attempting to qualify for Medicaid for medical expenses or other unusual situations, consult an attorney.
When is the right time for planning?
- Immediately. Life is constantly moving, sometimes in directions unforeseen. Planning is essential to ensure you, your spouse, or family aren't caught off guard or placed in a difficult -- even turbulent -- situation when your wishes are unclear.
- Particularly, you should create these documents or update those you already have if:
- You've put off writing your Will.
- Your spouse has changed. You may need to add your new spouse and remove your ex-spouse.
- Your beneficiaries for life insurance, employer-sponsored retirement plans, Individual Retirement Accounts, and other financial property have changed.
- You have moved between states. Each state has particular requirements for each of the estate planning documents in LesbianWill.com. LesbianWill.com allows you to store and easily make changes to reflect new state provisions.
What documents are available and what do they do?
- A Will is the legal document that determines who will receive your property upon your death. In addition, your Will designates:
- who acts as guardian for your children
- who is executor of your estate. Your executor is responsible for the administrative duties required when your estate is being settled, including handling the payment of your outstanding debt. Perhaps most importantly, your executor will oversee the process for passing assets to your beneficiaries in the manner you designate.
- who is trustee of your assets if all assets are not to be distributed to your beneficiaries immediately. Your trustee will take responsibility for investing assets, making discretionary distributions to beneficiaries before estate settlement, and will ultimately make the final distribution to your named beneficiaries as instructed by your Will.
- Your executor and trustee should be people or institutions in whom you have confidence that your wishes will be carried out. They should be organized and detail-oriented, and your trustee should be prepared to make financial and investment decisions. Many people turn this role over to a bank, where trust services are commonly performed.
- A Revocable Trust is the legal document that determines who will receive your property upon your death and operates much the same as a Will.
A Revocable Trust is used:
- to avoid the probate procedures, although not death taxes which apply in the same manner as if a Will is used
- to avoid probate procedures in states other than the state of residence if real property is located in such other state
- to provide for a successor trustee, the person or entity who will handle your financial matters if you are not able to do so. Your successor trustee will take responsibility for investing assets, making discretionary distributions to beneficiaries before estate settlement, and will ultimately make the final distribution to your named beneficiaries as instructed by your Revocable Trust.
- Your successor trustee should be people or institutions in whom you have confidence that your wishes will be carried out. They should be organized and detail-oriented, and your trustee should be prepared to make financial and investment decisions. Many people turn this role over to a bank where trust services are commonly performed.
- A Living Will:
- Specifies your wishes, usually pertaining to life-sustaining procedures, if you are terminally ill and unable to communicate your desires personally.
- Indicates your direction for organ donation
- A Living Will is allowed in most states. However, each state has its own document. A move to a new state requires an updated Living Will.
- Health Care Power of Attorney determines who can make medical decisions on your behalf. Most people choose their spouse or a close family member. Failing to designate a Health Care Power of Attorney will typically cause these decisions to default to your physician. A Health Care Power of Attorney:
- Allows you to instruct in detail how you wish health care to be administered
- Carries out the direction given in your Living Will with respect to organ donation
- Is state-specific. A new Health Care Power of Attorney should be completed if you move to a different state.
- HIPAA Release designates who can view your medical records. Most people choose their Health Care Agent. Failing to sign a HIPAA Release will mean that your Health Care Agent will not have access to those medical records.
- Financial Power of Attorney performs similar responsibility as the Health Care Power of Attorney. The Financial Power of Attorney makes decisions with respect to your financial affairs if you're incapacitated physically or mentally. A Financial Power of Attorney also:
- Reduces the need for a court-appointed conservator which will simplify decision-making for your care and reduce or eliminate legal expense.
- Instructions for Signing are included with the above documents and provide specific instruction for their completion. This completion is critical to ensure the legality of the documents.
Why use LesbianWill.com?
- LesbianWill.com is an affordable way to create legal, state-specific documents in the privacy of your home. Your information is stored on a private and secure server, instantly accessible if you move, or if your life situation changes. Documents are available to you and only you.
What's the process?
- As you use LesbianWill.com---the entire process takes 15-30 minutes---to personalize your documents, you will answer questions concerning yourself and your desires for your customized plan. All information you provide will be on a secure and encrypted basis, and will be used solely to prepare your estate planning documents.
- Once your documents are prepared:
- When you are ready to have your documents prepared, use the link on the home page to notify us. We will prepare your documents and e-mail them to you.
- Review the detailed instructions for signing. It is critical you follow those instructions carefully so that your estate planning documents will be legal and binding.
Should I contact a lawyer?
- LesbianWill.com provides legal estate planning information designed to help you safely cope with your own estate planning needs. But legal estate planning information is not the same as legal estate planning advice -- the application of estate planning laws to your specific circumstances. Although LesbianWill.com goes to great lengths to make sure our legal estate planning information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer if you want professional assurance that our legal estate planning information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.
How do I view and print my documents?
- Your documents are produced in PDF format and will be emailed to you. They can be viewed and printed using the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you are unable to view your documents, you probably do not have Acrobat Reader installed. To download and install this free software, follow these instructions:
- You may want to print this page so that you will have these instructions when you download Acrobat.
- Select this link to visit the Adobe Download page, click on the version of Acrobat for your operating system.
- In the Save As window, write down where the Acrobat install file will be saved and the name of that install file. Click on Save. It may take several minutes to download the install file.
- Once the Acrobat install file has been saved, use Explorer to find that file. Double click on the install file and follow the installation instructions.
- After Acrobat has been installed you will be able to open your estate planning documents, view them and print them.
I received the email with my documents and they look great. When I try to print them out, all I get are a few stray letters on the pages. What's wrong?
- In your Adobe Acrobat Reader, click Help then About to determine the version number. If it is not 5.0 or higher, you need to download a newer version of the reader.
- The procedure to download and install Acrobat Reader is explained in the previous question.