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You are listening to a special episode of Ask the Experts on Talk 860 WWDB AM with host Steve O and weekly guest, LGBTQ legal expert Angela Giampolo.

Up front, Angela explains the importance of having a rapport with your lawyer and why coming to Giampolo Law for your LGBTQ legal needs is a wise choice.

Then, Angela and Steve discuss some important aspects of estate planning, such as:

  • When should we begin estate planning?
  • Is estate planning only about money, property and taxes?
  • How do we safeguard our estate planning documents in this digital age?

 

 

WHY IS CHOOSING A LAWYER SO IMPORTANT?

As a human, choosing a lawyer and choosing an accountant and choosing a financial advisor and choosing a therapist and choosing any one of your most trusted advisors in life is a huge decision. You should absolutely have a rapport and a relationship with that person in some way, shape or form, a connection that sort of transcends the transactional reason why you’re hiring them. There are a ton of lawyers out there. There are a ton of accountants out there. Anyone can do a tax return. Anyone can put together a will. But how you’re going to communicate with them in order for those nuances that end up with massive tax savings or the nuances like having your documents in line with your wishes and values and principles than just any cookie cutter document depends on this relationship. 

To work with me is to sign up for that kind of working relationship where I’m not just transactional, I don’t just hand over documents. When you hire Giampolo Law Group is you’re truly getting a lawyer for life, a lawyer for your family and whatever may pop up. After working with the LGBTQ community for 15 years and being a part of the community, there’s just sort of an innate expertise that comes with being a part of the community that you serve So the big difference between myself and maybe another lawyer who does have it as a practice area or as a community that they serve, it may make up 5% of their clientele as opposed to 97% of my clientele. That is expertise.

It’s a privilege of owning my own law firm is I get to choose my clients so I don’t retain everyone who reaches out to me. I will always have a pleasurable, fun working relationship. We’re a small community. I’m going to see them at fundraising galas and on boards. And when you make up 5% of the population and you serve 97% of that 5%, you’re going to see them around. It’s a testament to the fact that we’re good at what we do because I see these people everywhere throughout the neighborhood in Philadelphia and at fundraising events and whatnot. If you’re not good at what you do, there’s nowhere to hide.

WHEN SHOULD I START ESTATE PLANNING?

As soon as possible. The minute you fly the coop, leave the nest, you’re an adult out in the world. Then there’s a chance that you could get injured. Ultimately we only die once. Yes, planning for death is important, but it only happens at one time. But we get injured more often or we need to do legal and financial things. Estate planning, or life planning as I like to say, involves all of these documents. You don’t need to be rich, you don’t need to be old. You can be young and chock full of student debt and ultimately get these documents in place. Start as soon as you feel as though you want to appoint someone to be able to make life decisions for you should you be unable or unavailable. 

In reality, the purchasing of a home or having a child are like the key triggers for most people, even though they could get them before that. But the buying of the house or having a child are the sort of main first life events that people have that trigger them into getting these documents in place. But I’m a huge proponent of the minute you fly the coop, you should.

DO I NEED TO BE WEALTHY TO HAVE A WILL AND OTHER ESTATE PLANNING DOCUMENTS?

The will is the only document that appoints the executor, and the only document that appoints the Guardian. So for all of your documents, you don’t need to be wealthy to be creating these documents.

In no way does estate planning require the picture of an “estate” you have in your head. I’ve had a paint by number painting done by a five year old go through a will. Ultimately, anything that you want to pass on, from tangible items to sums of money. If anything, not having a lot of money means you should have these documents in place even more because you’re going to spend more in exponentially more in legal fees and death without them, which will just eat away at your small estate and ultimately leave close to nothing.

DOES ESTATE PLANNING ONLY INVOLVE ASSETS AND MONEY AND TAXES?

Being able to appoint Guardians and ensure that your family unit stays intact has nothing to do with taxes, wealth, philanthropy and making sure that charities are taken care of and that you leave a legacy based on the life that you’ve led. There are aspects of estate planning that ultimately have nothing to do with taxes, money, or anything financial.

HOW CAN I SAFEGURAD MY ESTATE PLANNING DOCUMENTS?

It’s ever evolving and constantly changing, especially in this rapid technologically enhanced world that we live in. Digital asset provision is a new provision that’s only about five years old. This digital asset provision allows your executor to bypass, reset, and recover any password that you may have out there. I don’t want people to get complacent because this new digital asset provision exists, but ultimately it allows us to save at least over a year worth of time with some of my clients. As far as where to store them, don’t put it in a safety deposit box. If you store them in a safety deposit box, we need a power of attorney to enter the safety deposit box. So if you put all your powers of attorney in there, then how do we get to it without it?

Or if you’re deceased, we need the last will and testament in order to get the person appointed to become the executor. I have had people store them in safety deposit boxes and then we can’t get to the will. So we have to probate them as if they died without a will. Making sure that you store them physically somewhere safe, digitally, somewhere safe, password protected is important. But also ensure that we have access to the password and that your life itself is easily discoverable by those that matter, which is a very hard line to toe. I want your executor to be able to find all of your passwords and whatnot, but that better not be easily discoverable by everyone else.

WHAT LAWS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE CHANGED REGARDING THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY?

I would start first with employment discrimination written in at the state level. Marriage equality is nice to have, but not everyone gets married. But we all have to work. We all have to earn a living. We have Title VII where we’ve been written in as a protected class that guarantees the right not to be fired. But Title VII only applies to companies with 15 people or more. It’s law, but it doesn’t help everyone. 

In Pennsylvania, we don’t have state protections. In Florida, you don’t have state protections saying that it is illegal to fire someone for their sexual orientation or gender identity. So to me, writing that as a basic civil right, both at the state and federal level, that we can’t be discriminated against for sexual orientation and gender is one of the most important things for the LGBTQ community.  This is especially critical for trans folks that are fired and discriminated against at a much higher level than the rest of their LGB counterparts. Trans folks live below poverty line, are on average a higher education than their  cis-heterosexual counterparts, and yet have minimal job earnings despite their level of education because they are so often discriminated at work or don’t feel comfortable going to work as an out, openly trans person. Therefore they end up not working the job that they otherwise could. This is a real problem that impacts people at their basic Maslow’s hierarchy of need level: food, clothing, shelter. This is all affected by employment discrimination 

There are organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU, GLAAD, and a lot of LGBTQ specific nonprofits that are working towards changing these laws through impact litigation. This involves either filing lawsuits or defending a plaintiff. There are organizations and individual lawyers like myself, but mainly these nonprofit impact legal litigious organizations whose sole purpose is to overturn and or create new laws. But it takes money to do that. That’s why we have the galas and nonprofit fundraisers. The money to fund said litigation has to be funded by humans and then the torch carried on by these organizations.

HOW IS THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT DIFFERENT FROM A LIVING WILL?

People get them confused all the time. A living will is your DNR document, or I like to call it the Terry Schiavo document. Your living will means you’re technically living, but we’re about to be reading your will. You are end stage, no significant hope of recovery, irreversible coma, irreversible vegetative state. Then we’re reading your living will. Then the last will and testament comes into play once you have passed. You have passed away for reading your last will and testament, but with your living will, you’re about to pass away. We have your end-of-life care decisions written on your living will.

Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:01)

You’re listening to an episode of Ask the Experts on Talk 860 WWAM with host Steve O and weekly guest LGBTQ legal expert Angela Giampolo. Up front, Angela explains the importance of having a rapport with your lawyer and why coming to Giampolo law for your LGBTQ legal needs is a wise choice. Then, Angela and Steve discuss some important aspects of estate planning, such as when should we begin estate planning? Is estate planning only about money, property and taxes? And how do we safeguard our estate planning documents in this digital age?

 

Speaker 3 (00:42)

Hey, good morning, Philadelphia, and welcome to another Ask the Expert show, where we bring you Philadelphia’s finest in the areas of legal, health, financial and home improvement. And it’s the 10:00 show. Our star’s with us. I think that’s her. She’s got something over her eyes that I have never, ever seen before. Good morning, Ms. Angela Giampolo.

 

Speaker 2 (01:11)

Good morning, Steve. Why don’t I just pull the surprises?

 

Speaker 3 (01:13)

I have never seen you with glasses before. And for those of you who are watching, I am moving and the place is a mess. It’s just better we do it this way. Good morning, Angela. How are you?

 

Speaker 2 (01:30)

Good morning. Good morning. At least you don’t have Covid, which is the only other time I didn’t see you. I’m glad you told me. It’s only that you’re moving.

 

Speaker 3 (01:41)

Where are you today?

 

Speaker 2 (01:43)

I am in Scottsdale, and it’s already like 80 degrees outside, so it’s only 07:00 a.m.. And I’m inside already.

 

Speaker 3 (01:51)

Well, listen, I saw pictures. It was a different view last time. What a beautiful place you have.

 

Speaker 2 (01:59)

Yeah, it’s a gorgeous, gorgeous backyard at the base of a mountain 45 minutes from the airport. Just a beautiful area. There’s something majestic and calming about mountains, so I wanted to be as close to them as possible.

 

Speaker 3 (02:17)

What you do, you need to get away from it so you don’t ever get burnt out because we need you.

 

Speaker 2 (02:24)

Absolutely. That’s the plan.

 

Speaker 3 (02:26)

Angela. I always start in our show by saying, why should people retain your services? I’m going to do that in the beginning today, Angela, she targets her. I guess her profession is in the LGBTQ law community, and there’s not very many lawyers who really know this area like Angela does. I don’t care what their shingles says. And Angela concentrates in estate planning, family law, employment law, and real estate law. They all really do tie in together. Angela, tell our listeners out there why they should use your services.

 

Speaker 2 (03:22)

So it’s mainly in choosing a lawyer. And this is just advice as a human and choosing a lawyer and choosing an accountant and choosing a financial advisor and choosing a therapist and choosing any one of your most trusted advisors in life. You should absolutely have a rapport and a relationship with that person in some way, shape or form, just a tie to them or connection to them that sort of transcends the actual transactional reason why you’re hiring them because there are a ton of lawyers out there. There are a ton of accountants out there. Anyone can do a tax return. Anyone can put together a will. But how you’re going to communicate with them in order for those nuances that end up with massive tax savings or the nuances like the meeting I just had with a client where after talking about a lot of things and her being comfortable talking to me, her documents are that much more in line with her wishes and values and principles than just any cookie cutter document would have been if she just filled out an intake or a questionnaire and I drafted the documents and we didn’t delve into personal discussions.

 

Speaker 2 (04:44)

So to work with me is to sign up for that kind of working relationship where I’m not just transactional, I don’t just hand over documents. And we’re going to have discussions like this meeting. We were going over a document, and she’s like, I’m not ready to talk about that. I want to think about it first. And there’s no need to discuss that document. I want to think about it. And I said, well, that’s what this meeting is for us to think about it together. And then you can let our dialogue marinade and then have further thoughts on what you want to have done with that document after. But this meeting is for us to have that brainstorming session. And so she was kind of taken aback that we would do some thinking out loud, that the meeting wasn’t just about all right, boom, boom, boom, thought, eyes cross, piece, hear your documents and whatever, that we would have some of that processing and dialogue together. So that’s what you’re getting when you hire me, when you hire sample the log group is you’re truly getting a lawyer for life, a lawyer for your family and whatever may pop up.

 

Speaker 3 (06:00)

I got to say this. I have to add this. That a lawyer who understands because just because you put up on your shingle, because I’m seeing a lot of it now, Angela, a lot of lawyers are putting on their shingle, LGBTQ also. And I know it wasn’t there like six months ago or three months ago. You understand. I think it’s so important. I mean, if you’ve got broken bone, you need to go to an orthopedic search, not a general practitioner, even though they’re a doctor.

 

Speaker 2 (06:43)

If you have a heart problem, totally.

 

Speaker 3 (06:48)

Yes. You are a specialist. And if someone, whether it’s estate planning or family law or employment law or real estate law, you understand you have this checklist in your head that not all lawyers do. I am telling you.

 

Speaker 2 (07:07)

Yeah. After working with the community for 15 years and being a part of the community, there’s just sort of an innate expertise that comes with being a part of the community that you serve. And then having only done this area of law, you become, they say 10,000 hours makes you an expert. And so it’s just one of many communities that I serve. It is the only community that I serve. So the big difference between myself and maybe another lawyer who does have it as a practice area or as a community that they serve, it may make up 5% of their clientele as opposed to 97% of my clientele. So there’s expertise.

 

Speaker 3 (07:55)

Can you treat everybody like family?

 

Speaker 2 (07:58)

Absolutely.

 

Speaker 3 (08:00)

You can tell?

 

Speaker 2 (08:02)

Yeah. It’s the privilege, in my opinion, it’s the privilege of owning my own law firm is I get to choose my clients so I don’t retain everyone who reaches out to me. I will always have a pleasurable, fun working relationship. We don’t become VFFs or family with all of my clients, but that there definitely is a friendliness. We’re a small community. I’m going to see them at fundraising galas and on boards. And when you make up 5% of the population and you serve 97% of that 5%, you’re going to see them around. It’s a testament to the fact that we’re good at what we do. And because I see these people everywhere throughout the neighborhood in Philadelphia and at fundraising events and whatnot. So if you’re not good at what you do, there’s nowhere to hide.

 

Speaker 3 (09:00)

If you search. I wish someday that representing the LGBTQ community that it will become board certified and you’ll be the first one in life. But anyway, enough of that. We got to get to today’s show. But I want people to know because I think this is an area of law that you really have to feel comfortable with. Your attorney?

 

Speaker 2 (09:32)

Absolutely. Especially transgender name changes. I have a meeting on Thursday with the father of a minor. There may be confidentiality issues, safety issues. So just feeling comfortable is the tip of the iceberg.

 

Speaker 3 (09:54)

Are you going have you voted already?

 

Speaker 2 (09:58)

Not yet.

 

Speaker 3 (09:59)

Today’s a big day in Pennsylvania.

 

Speaker 2 (10:02)

Yes, definitely.

 

Speaker 3 (10:04)

Okay, so we’re going to talk about estate planning today. And when do you start? Is there as age? When?

 

Speaker 2 (10:15)

As soon as possible. I mean, the minute you fly the coop, leave the nest, you’re an adult out in the world. Then there’s a chance that you could get injured. So people just think, oh, I’m young, I’m not going to die. But we only die once, ultimately. And so, yes, planning for death is important, but it only happens at one time. But we get injured more often or we need to do legal financial things. But we’re halfway around the world and we need a proxy in order to stand in for ourselves at a real estate closing or what have you. So those things happen so much more frequently in our adult lives that estate planning involves all of these documents, life planning, as I like to put it. So you don’t need to be rich, you don’t need to be old. You can be young and chock full of student debt and ultimately get these documents in place. So when to start? As soon as you feel as though you want to appoint someone to be able to make life decisions for you should you be unable or unavailable? Not just unable, but also unavailable.

 

Speaker 2 (11:31)

And typically, I would say in reality, the purchasing of a home or having a child are like the key triggers for most people, even though they could get them before that. But the buying of the house or having a child are the sort of main first life events that people have that trigger them into getting these documents in place. But I’m a huge proponent of the minute you fly the Coupe, you should.

 

Speaker 3 (11:57)

Same thing with a will, too, right? With the will. I mean, you don’t have to be a multimillionaire to do a will.

 

Speaker 2 (12:05)

Absolutely. All of these documents. The will is the only document that appoints the executor, and the will is the only document that appoints the Guardian. So for all of your documents, you don’t need to be wealthy to be creating these documents.

 

Speaker 3 (12:22)

You know, it’s funny when you first told me this, oh, my goodness, you’ve given me so many slogans. But when people think of state planning, they think you’ve got to have an estate. And it just isn’t true, right?

 

Speaker 2 (12:37)

In no way estate planning. You think the Carnegie’s, the Vanderbilts, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, they have estates. But I’ve had a paint by number painting done by a five year old go through a will. Ultimately, anything that you want to pass on, from tangible items to unfortunately, someone passed away without a will. And there’s $20,000 in a bank account somewhere. No will, $20,000 to their name, no will. Nobody left on that account. They have to raise an estate, which minimally is anywhere from three to $5,000 just to get at the 20,000. The will would have been under $1,000 in order to get that done. So here they are having to drop five K in order to get 20 person only had $20,000 to their name. And now it’s already down to 15 because they didn’t have a will. And the people are like, why so much money? And I’m like, it could be $20,000 or $20 million. It’s the same process that we have to go through. So if anything, not having a lot of money means you should have these documents in place even more because you’re going to spend more in legal fees, in depth, exponentially more in legal fees and death, which will just eat away at your smallest state and ultimately leave close to nothing.

 

Speaker 2 (14:06)

Like this family is considering just leaving the 15th because they have to come out of pocket for the legal fees. They don’t have it, but they do want the $20,000. So whether you have money or not, these documents are important.

 

Speaker 3 (14:18)

Angela, there’s something I always forget to tell you that has shocked me about this show is that we have listeners in New York who listen to this show. And when it comes to a will, do they have to live in Pennsylvania for you to do their will?

 

Speaker 2 (14:42)

No, because while I’m not licensed in every state, I have co councils that I use in other States. I have a co Council in New York. Just started working with a CoCouncil in Georgia. New Orleans keeps finding me somehow Tennessee keeps finding me. So I have clients all over the country, actually. And ultimately, as long as I have CoCouncil in that state that is licensed in that state, then I can work with anyone from that state. So New York, Delaware has been long covered. I already have co councils in those areas.

 

Speaker 3 (15:20)

So that means if there’s a real estate, employment, family law, you have a co Council in New York that you work with.

 

Speaker 2 (15:31)

Exactly. And if it’s litigation, then I just refer them outright. But if it’s something that I can work with the person on, then I work with the co Council and continue to serve the client.

 

Speaker 3 (15:45)

And Angela, is estate planning just about assets and money and taxes?

 

Speaker 2 (15:53)

No, not at all. Even from our last question, you need to be rich in order to do your estate planning. Able to appoint Guardians and ensure that your family unit stays intact, has nothing to do with taxes, wealth, philanthropy and making sure that charities are taken care of and that you leave a legacy based on the life that you’ve led. There are aspects of estate planning that ultimately have nothing to do with taxes, money or anything financial.

 

Speaker 3 (16:31)

Ultimately, what do you tell your clients when it comes to safeguarding their estate planning documents? What do you tell them?

 

Speaker 2 (16:42)

A lot. And it’s ever evolving and constantly changing, especially in this rapid sort of technically or technology enhanced world that we live in. But digital asset provision, it’s a new provision that’s only about three years old. Well, actually five years old now with Covent used to be three years, and then Covent happened. So five years old meant this digital asset provision allows your executor to bypass, reset and recover any password that you may have out there. So bank of America login or any login that you can imagine. Right. So it allows us to bypass, reset or recover any password that the person deceased may have. Now, I don’t want people to get complacent because this new digital asset provision exists, but ultimately it allows us saved at least over a year worth of time with some of my clients. So there’s that. Now, as far as where to store them, I tell people, don’t put it in a safety deposit box. If you store them in a safety deposit box, we need a power of attorney in order to enter the safety deposit box. So if you put all your powers of attorney in there, then how do we get to it without it?

 

Speaker 2 (18:08)

Or if you’re deceased, we need the last loan testament in order to get the person appointed in order to become the executor, in order to get into the safety deposit box. So I have had people store them in safety deposit boxes and then we can’t get to the will. So we have to probate them as if they died without a will. Go get it, probate it again. It’s a nightmare. So making sure that you store them physically somewhere safe, digitally, somewhere safe, password protected, but that we have access to the password and then just making sure that your life itself is easily discoverable by those that matter, which is a very hard line to toe. I want your executor to be able to find all of your passwords and whatnot, but that better not be easily discoverable by everyone else.

 

Speaker 3 (19:03)

Angela, I’ve had a listener, David, who text us twice, and this could be it. This could take until the end of the show. But I’m going to ask, since he’s written it twice and he wants to know what laws you would like to see changed as to helping the LGBTQ community, where would you start first?

 

Speaker 2 (19:39)

I guess I would start first with employment discrimination written in at the state level, statutory, we can choose to get married, right? Not everyone gay, straight, whatever, gets married. So marriage equality is a nice to have. It’s like the dessert at the end of the meal. But we all have to work. We all have to earn a living. We all have to get up every day and put one leg in pair of pants and walk out the door and go somewhere, either own their own business like myself. Or more specific to this question, work somewhere and to work somewhere all day, every day and not be able to be yourself is you’re not living life. I mean, we spend the majority of our lives at work or at sleep. And so to not be able to be your authentic self at work. So we have title seven where we’ve been written in as a right, a protected class that under title seven is guaranteed the right not to be fired. But title seven for being gay. But title seven only applies to companies with 15 people or more. Sorry, something in my throat. It’s not law.

 

Speaker 2 (21:06)

I mean, it is. It’s law, but it doesn’t help everyone. And I own a small business. So technically, my business isn’t covered by this. And in Pennsylvania, we don’t have state protections. In Florida, you don’t have state protections saying that it is illegal to fire someone for their sexual orientation or gender identity. So to me, writing that as a basic tenant, as a basic human right, as a basic civil right, both at the state level, federal level, and the law of the land, that we can’t be discriminated against for sexual orientation and gender identity and being fired for being gay is one of the most important, I think for the LGBTQ community to feel safe that they can, especially trans folks that are fired and discriminated against at a much higher level than the rest of their LGB counterparts. The LGBQ counterparts, trans folks live below poverty line, are on average a higher education than their CIS heterosexual counterparts, and yet have minimal job despite their level of education because they are so often discriminated at work or don’t feel comfortable going to work as an out, openly trans person and so therefore end up not working the job that they otherwise could.

 

Speaker 2 (22:40)

So it’s a real problem that impacts people at their basic Maslow’s hierarchy of needlevel, food, clothing, shelter.

 

Speaker 3 (22:54)

These laws are there, I guess attorneys that are working on getting these laws changed. Are they just sitting back and like, I’m glad that we have changed?

 

Speaker 2 (23:12)

Yeah. There are organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and the ACLU, American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal glad there are a lot of LGBTQ specific nonprofits that are working towards changing. These things are called impact litigation. So either filing lawsuits and saying this was unconstitutional or jumping in and defending a plaintiff, defending someone, rather defending. So there are organizations and individual lawyers like myself, but mainly these nonprofit impact legal litigious organizations, nonprofits whose sole purpose is to overturn and or create new laws. So there absolutely are organizations that are tasked with changing these laws or enacting new, more protective laws. But it takes money to do that. And so that’s why we have the galas and nonprofit fundraisers. And whatever the money to fund said litigation doesn’t just come out of nowhere. It has to be funded by humans and then the torch carried on by these organizations.

 

Speaker 3 (24:23)

Angela, we only have about a minute and a half left, but I wanted to ask you, what is the last will and testament? Is that any different from a living will?

 

Speaker 2 (24:37)

Yeah, people get them confused all the time. People call me and say, I need a living will. I need a living will. And a living will is your DNR document, or I like to call it the Terry Shivo document, if everyone remembers that. So your living will means you’re technically living, but we’re about to be reading your will. Your end stage, no significant hope of recovery, irreversible coma, irreversible vegetative state. Then we’re reading your living will. And then the will or the last will and Testaments. They have living will, last will, so they’re often confused. You have passed away for reading your last will and testament, but with your living will, you’re about to pass away. And we have your end of life care decisions written on your living will.

 

Speaker 3 (25:22)

Wow. This 30 minutes that we do every week goes by so fast, and I always have so many questions to ask you, but we’ll have to leave it at that. But the good part is you’re going to be back with us next Tuesday at 10:00, and you’ll give everybody your phone number.

 

Speaker 2 (25:42)

215-6452. 415 website is shampoo law and I blog at Philly gay lawyer.

 

Speaker 3 (25:50)

How’s the podcast coming along? Good.

 

Speaker 2 (25:53)

Very good. We’ll have some news about it. Upcoming.

 

Speaker 3 (25:56)

Good, Angela. Have a wonderful week. We love you.

 

Speaker 2 (26:00)

Good luck. Moving.

 

Speaker 3 (26:02)

Thank you. Thank you, Angela.

 

Speaker 2 (26:04)

You’re welcome.

 

Speaker 1 (26:06)

Be sure to tune in every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. When Angela Giampolo is the guest on ask theexperts on 860 [email protected]

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