Angelika Kuehn and fellow attorney Mark Neil have authored a handbook for the Illinois Institute on Continuing Legal Education (IICLE), the premier continuing education institute for this State’s lawyers. “Contemporary Relationships and the Law” is intended primarily for estate planning attorneys who want additional guidance to deal with the legal issues raised by same-sex marriages, civil unions, domestic partnerships, polyamory, and transgendered persons. It includes chapters on parentage in nontraditional families and on sexual minority elders.
IICLE is currently featuring the authors in its Flashpoints:
The August Volunteer Author Spotlight features the two authors of a brand-new IICLE® title, Contemporary Relationships and the Law. Angelika Kuehn and Mark Neil collaborated with the Institute on this cutting-edge topic, and they wish to dedicate their efforts to the memory of Alan Page Stuhr.Neil says that approximately 13 years ago, he became especially attuned to the issues surrounding “nontraditional relationships,” as juxtaposed with the traditional training of attorneys to think of “planning in terms of property and estate tax laws as they impacted single adults and heterosexual married couples,” after working with a same-sex couple client.
“I found the planning so much more difficult than it would have been if they had been married, which was not legal in Illinois at the time,” he states. “I came to realize that the law treated unequally those relationships that were other than heterosexual and married . . . and, as a result, I became a member of the Board of Directors for a national 501(c)(3) organization called the Alternatives to Marriage Project advocating the rights of nontraditional relationships.”
Having previously worked with IICLE® in 2006 and 2010 to publish books on planning for nontraditional relationships, Neil, who practices in Chicago, was prompted to reach out to fellow estate planning attorney Kuehn of Oak Park to author a new title “as the world continued to publicize and embrace nontraditional relationships.”
“We have included in this handbook descriptions of the state of the law that are not typically considered components of estate planning to remind the practitioner of the importance of context when serving families whose relationships could be characterized as ‘contemporary,’ ” says Kuehn. Factors influencing clients’ lives include age, sexual orientation, health status, family and other intimate relationships, sources of income, and financial obligations. According to Kuehn, “Each of these factors is touched by legal principles which, in the case of sexual minority persons, have often operated adversely to the client.”
But Kuehn also notes that the law also includes strengths and flexibility. “It is my hope that estate planning practitioners who represent sexual minority persons can gain from this handbook additional respect for the importance of context, and also techniques for enlisting the strengths and flexibility of the law to accomplish their clients’ estate planning objectives,” she says.