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Program Description

Estate Planning for Same-Sex and Unmarried Couples




Approved for CLE credit in: AK,AZ,CA,IL,ME,MO,ND,NY

In New York State, same-sex couples are unable to enter into a civil marriage, though new changes in the law may afford recognition to their out-of-state marriages. The laws in other states are changing all the time. Notwithstanding the developments in state law, same-sex married couples still cannot take advantage of numerous federal benefits and protections enjoyed by married couples. These differences of legal status from state to state, and the differences between state and federal law, make estate planning very complex for same-sex couples. This program will explore strategies to optimize the planning for estate taxation, inheritance rights and probate proceedings for couples - both same-sex couples and unmarried heterosexual couples - whose relationships lack full legal recognition. Also discussed will be matters of family law (such as adoption and assisted reproduction) that interact with estate matters, and planning for break-ups and divorce.

Provided By: New York City Bar

  • Updates in the Law Nationwide
  • Developments in New York: Governor Paterson's Executive Order & Its Implementation
  • Estate & Gift Tax Planning
  • Property, Probate, & Estate Administration
  • Family Law and Adoption
  • Separation and Divorce
  • Perspectives from the Bench
  • Ethics in the Representation of Same-Sex Couples

  • CLE Credit Information

    Click on the state abbreviation to find the CLE Credit Information for your state.

    This program is has been approved for credit in AK,AZ,CA,IL,ME,MO,ND,NY

    Experienced attorneys only (non-transitional)

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    Panelist Biographies

    William P. LaPiana

    Rita and Joseph Solomon Professor of Wills, Trusts and Estates
    New York Law School

    William P. LaPiana is the Rita and Joseph Solomon Professor of Wills, Trusts and Estates at New York Law School and Director of Estate Planning for the Graduate Tax Program at NYLS. He holds the A.B., summa cum laude (1973), the A.M. in history (1975), the J.D. cum laude (1978), and the Ph.D. in history (1987) from Harvard University. From 1979 to 1983 he was associated with Davis Polk and Wardwell where he worked primarily in the estates group. He began teaching in 1983 at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and joined the New York Law School faculty in 1987. His teaching responsibilities include wills and trusts, property, federal estate and gift tax, estate planning, and American legal history. Professor LaPiana is the author of several articles on estate planning and is co-author with Prof. Ira Mark Bloom of Drafting New York Wills and Related Documents 4th ed. (LexisNexis). He is also the author of A New York Companion for the Course in Wills, Trusts, and Estates: Case and Statutory Supplement (WoltersKluwer 2009). In 1992 he was elected an Academic Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and in 1998 was elected to membership in the American Law Institute and is a member of the Members Consultative Groups for Restatements (Third) of Trusts and Property (Donative Transfers). He was the Reporter for the revised Uniform Disclaimer of Property Interests Act, which was promulgated by the Uniform Law Commission in July 1999. He has served on the Supervisory Council of the Real Property Trust and Estate Law Section of the American Bar Association and was the American Bar Association advisor to the Drafting Committee for the Revised Uniform Power of Attorney Act (2006), another Uniform Law Commission project. He is a member of the Trusts and Estates Section of the New York State Bar Association and has been a delegate at large to the executive committee of the section.

    Honorable Renee Roth

    Surrogate's Court Advisory Committee.


    Managing Partner
    Drexel Grande LLC

    Allen A. Drexel, the managing member of Drexel Grande LLC, concentrates his practice on complex family law issues, including divorce, equitable distribution of business and financial assets, spousal and child support, contested child custody cases, paternity proceedings, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, and lesbian/gay family law matters. After graduating from Stanford Law School, Mr. Drexel served as law clerk to the Honorable A. Joe Fish, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and then went on to practice general commercial litigation at Simpson Thacher LLP. Since 2003, Mr. Drexel’s practice has focused on family law matters, and he has lectured extensively and written articles in this area. From 2005-08, Mr. Drexel co-chaired the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Rights Committee of the New York City Bar Association, and he presently serves on the City Bar’s Matrimonial Law Committee. He has been quoted in the New York Times, the New York Law Journal, and other publications as an expert on the subject of same-sex legal issues.


    Turkel Forman & de la Vega LLP

    Judith E. Turkel is one of the preeminent private practice attorneys in the area of non-traditional family law. She is well known for representing clients in adoptions, donor and parenting agreements, and non-marital partnership contracts. Ms. Turkel has also developed a new area of practice in pre-marital contracts such as prenuptial agreements. Her wills and estate practice includes drafting health care proxies and powers of attorney and focuses on the needs of lesbians, gay men, transgender people and others in unrecognized or non-traditional families. She also represents a number of small business clients who come to her for counsel on a range of general business matters. Ms. Turkel has experience in employment contract review, specifically for Not-for-Profit organizations. She maintains an extensive real estate practice representing both buyers and sellers in cooperative, condominium and single and multi-family properties. Ms. Turkel also handles probate and estate administration Ms. Turkel combines her professional knowledge and personal dedication to social justice and change to assist organizations that are important to the New York LGBT community. Her long history of community involvement began in the early 1980s when she was one of the founding Board members of the Lesbian and Gay Law Association of Greater New York (LeGaL). She also served on the Board of Directors of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc from 1984 to 1990, including three years as Co-Chair. Ms. Turkel was Vice-President of the Board of the Paul Rapoport Foundation for three years from 1993 to1996. Ms. Turkel helped lead a $13 million capital campaign for The Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Community Center while she served as President of the Board of Directors from 1995 to 2000. A dedicated advocate for the right to better resources and services for LGBT seniors in the 21st century, Ms. Turkel joined Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) in 2005 as a member of the Board of Directors and now serves as the Board's Co-Chair. Ms. Turkel has extensive experience as a lecturer and presenter in the area of non-traditional family law.

    Erica Bell

    Weiss, Buell & Bell

    Paul A. Ferrara

    Senior Vice President and Wealth Strategist
    U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management

    Paul A. Ferrara is a Senior Vice President and Wealth Strategist in the New York City office of U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management, where he specializes in sophisticated tax, estate, and financial planning. In addition to concentrating on U.S. planning issues, Mr. Ferrara serves on the U.S. Trust International Resource Team as a subject matter specialist in international estate and trust planning. Prior to joining U.S. Trust in 2012, Mr. Ferrara was with the Wealth Planning and Exempt Organizations Group at Alston & Bird LLP in New York City, where he focused his practice on pre- and postmortem tax and estate planning for domestic and foreign individuals and handled a wide range of planning and compliance matters for domestic and foreign tax-exempt organizations. Mr. Ferrara is Chair of the New York City Bar Committee on Estate and Gift Taxation, leading a team of about 40 of the New York City area’s most prominent estate planning attorneys in identifying and resolving New York and Federal transfer tax and trusts and estates issues. He also is a member of the New York State Bar Association International Law and Practice Section and formerly served on the editorial board of its International Law Practicum. In addition, he is a member of the New York State Bar Association Trusts and Estates Law Section, the American Bar Association Section of Real Property, Probate and Trust Law, and the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners (STEP). Mr. Ferrara conducts an annual seminar on estate and business succession planning for the Columbia Business School Executive MBA Program. In addition, he often lectures on estate planning for same-sex couples and has made several Continuing Legal Education presentations on the subject at the New York City Bar. Mr. Ferrara was selected as a New York Super Lawyers Rising Star in 2011 and 2012. Mr. Ferrara graduated, summa cum laude, from Tulane University, where he majored in Latin and Italian and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He spent his junior year studying in Italy at the Facolt? di Lettere e Filosofia of the University of Florence. Mr. Ferrara later received a Ph.D. in Italian from the University of California at Berkeley and won a grant for a further year of study in Italy. He earned his J.D. in 2003 from New York University School of Law, where he was editor-in-chief of the New York University Journal of International Law and Politics. Mr. Ferrara received his LL.M. in Taxation from New York University School of Law in January 2004.


    First Deputy Superintendent of the Insurance Department
    New York

    Kermitt J. Brooks has been named First Deputy Superintendent of the Insurance Department. As First Deputy, Mr. Brooks is the second in command of the Department, overseeing the functions handled by the Deputy Superintendents of the Department as well as the operations of the agency. In addition, he directly supervises the Life Insurance Bureau. Mr. Brooks served for almost eight years in the office of New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, joining as Chief of the Claims Bureau in 1999. From 2002 until the beginning of 2007, Mr. Brooks served as Deputy Attorney General for Operations, with responsibility for the day to day operations of the 2,000-employee agency, which has a $220 million budget and 33 offices across the state. In addition to administering the Attorney General¿s office, Mr. Brooks also led the investigation into employee benefit insurance, which resulted in settlements with the nation¿s largest group disability and insurance carriers and forced a major group insurance broker to refund to clients undisclosed payment made to brokers. Before joining the Attorney General¿s office, Mr. Brooks served as Counsel in the law department at Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in 1998, and as an Associate in the commercial litigation group at Nixon, Peabody LLP from 1989 to 1998. Mr. Brooks earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in international relations from the James Madison College at Michigan State University in 1986. He earned his law degree in 1989 from the University of Michigan School of Law where he was a contributing editor to the Michigan Law Review. Mr. Brooks lives in Manhattan with his husband, Dan Manjovi.

    Arthur S. Leonard

    New York Law School

    Arthur S. Leonard is a Professor at New York Law School, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1982.  He is a graduate of Cornell (Industrial & Labor Relations) and Harvard (Law).  Professor Leonard has written extensively on LGBT law and edits a monthly newsletter on the topic.  He authored the first law review article published on HIV/AIDS and employment discrimination, in 1985, and co-authored law school casebooks on AIDS & the Law and Sexuality & the Law.  He is a past chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Sex & Law, and founding co-chair of the Association’s Committee on Lesbian & Gay Men in the Legal Profession, precursor to the current Committee on LGBT Issues.  He also served on the Committee on Labor and Employment Law and the Committee on AIDS.  He is the founding president of the organization now known as the LGBT Law Association of Greater New York.

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    Estate Planning for Same-Sex and Unmarried Couples



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