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Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law presents lecture on ‘Estate Planning for Alternative Couples’

Feb 23, 2015

Ohio Northern University’s Pettit College of Law will present “Estate Planning for Alternative Couples” in the Dicke Forum on Friday, March 13, at 3 p.m. The event is sponsored by the ONU LAMBDA Law Students’ Association.

This event is free to the public; however, there is a fee for those seeking continuing legal education credit.

Joan M. Burda, attorney with a solo practice in Lakewood, Ohio, and Maria L. Shinn family law attorney with Shinn Lanter LLP in Lakewood, Ohio, will discuss the rising issue of LGBT couples creating families in Ohio.

Burda will discuss “Marriage, Divorce and Estate Planning with LGBT Clients.” Family law is becoming an integral part of estate planning for LGBT clients. This presentation will include information on the current status of marriage equality in the U.S. and the likelihood of the U.S. Supreme Court holding that bans on same-sex marriage violate the federal constitution.

 When developing a comprehensive estate plan for a LGBT individual or couple, there is a definite need to ask about previous relationships. Many lesbians and gay men believe those earlier marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships “didn’t count” because they were not recognized by their home state. But, they did. Understanding the nuances of marriage and divorce in the estate-planning process when representing LGBT clients is essential. There is no “one-size-fits-all.”

Shinn will discuss “Custody and Adoption for Non-Traditional Families.” Many LGBT couples are creating families in Ohio. Although gay and lesbian couples cannot file for second-parent adoption in Ohio or put both spouses’ names on their baby’s birth certificate, they are using single-parent adoption, shared custody, artificial insemination and IVF, embryo donation, and surrogacy agreements. This one-hour CLE presentation will discuss the legal aspects of these methods of family creation and highlight the relevant adoption statutes, parentage statutes and case law in Ohio.

Burda is nationally recognized for her work in addressing legal issues affecting the LGBT community. She is the author of the award-winning book Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples, Second Edition (ABA 2012, 2004). She also is the author of Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Clients: A Lawyer’s Guide (ABA 2008). She has written numerous articles on LGBT legal issues. In addition to these books, Burda writes regularly for various publications and websites. She is a frequent speaker on these issues to bar associations and other organizations domestically and internationally. Burda is a regular panelist at Lavender Law, the annual law conference sponsored by the National Lesbian and Gay Bar Association.

Shinn is an attorney with more than 17 years of experience in estate planning, probate administration, elder law, and non-traditional family law. She is a frequent lecturer on LGBT issues, legal protections for seniors, and estate-planning basics. Shinn has served as a volunteer attorney with VNA Hospice since 1998 and has received that organization’s Volunteer of the Year Award twice (2010 and 2005). Shinn also serves as secretary and board member of the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland and as a board member of the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce, The Lakewood Foundation, Lakewood Alive and Lakewood City Academy. 

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