You are listening to an excerpt from Ask the Experts on Talk 860 WWDB AM with host Steve O and weekly guest, LGBTQ legal expert Angela Giampolo.
On this week’s show Angela talks a bit about her past, including her part in the fight for gay marriage, a brief stint helping with franchising in China and what it’s like living in the “gayborhood” in Philadelphia.
In the second half we do a deep dive into the inheritance tax and state benefits for married couples.
This is an Ask the Experts you can’t afford to miss!
Speaker 1 (00:01)
You’re listening to an excerpt from Ask the Experts on Talk 860 Wwdbam with host Steve O and weekly guest LGBTQ legal expert Angela Giampolo. On this week’s show, Angela talks a bit about her past, including her part in fighting for gay marriage, a brief stint helping with Franchising in China, and what it’s like living in the Gayborhood in Philadelphia. In the second half of the show, we do a deep dive into the inheritance tax and state benefits for married couples. This is an Ask the Experts you can’t afford to miss.
Speaker 2 (00:38)
Good morning, Philadelphia. Welcome to another as the expert show. We’re with you every Tuesday from ten to 11:00 a.m. With Philadelphia’s top experts in the field of legal, health, financial and home improvement. And as we always do, every week at 10:00, we have one of the top, I mean, she’s the top one of the top attorneys in the Philadelphia area. She deals with LGBTQ law, the community there. And let me welcome to the show Angela Giampolo. Good morning, Angela.
Speaker 3 (01:18)
Good morning, Steve. How are you?
Speaker 2 (01:20)
I’m doing good. I just got your email and we kind of changed courses. We were going to talk family law today, but we’re going to actually do estate planning because you handle estate planning, family law, employment law and real estate law. You know what? I don’t see how you juggle them all. But you do, though.
Speaker 3 (01:52)
I do adoptions. Adoptions fall under family law, which is fun. Transgender name changes are its own thing as well. And then business and real estate go hand in hand. A lot of businesses have leases that they need to review. And from the business perspective, it’s usually small businesses. Any business under 10 million, anything over that they would probably want a lawyer on staff or someone on retainer more specifically. But it sounds like a lot of different buckets, but they all relate. Estate planning relates to family law. Real estate relates to business law. Adoptions relates to family law. So they all very much relate.
Speaker 2 (02:42)
Well, I’m only doing this because we get new listeners every week who find the show. And just a little background, if you don’t mind. I know we try to do this every week, but because we have new people tuning in every week, just a little background about yourself and your practice.
Speaker 3 (03:04)
Yeah. So the firm has been around since 2008. I just keep getting older and older, and the 2008 never changes, but it just keeps getting further and further away. So I started the practice in 2008 and sort of out of the blue. I’m the only lawyer in my family. I didn’t have a whole bunch of lawyers that I looked up to growing up, so I didn’t necessarily know that I wanted to be a lawyer. I actually took a couple of years off after college and before law school to paralegal and to decide if I really wanted to be a lawyer. So for two years, I was a paralegal and then worked in a lot of different industries and facets of the law. I worked in Harrisburg at the office of general counsel and saw what it was like to have to be a lawyer despite different administration. So a lawyer under a Republican governor versus a lawyer under Democratic governor, and your politics not mattering and your agenda and your wishes on things not mattering because you’re a lawyer for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. And if there’s a Republican governor, then there’s a Republican governor, and that’s who’s governing the Commonwealth.
Speaker 3 (04:35)
And if there’s a Democratic governor, then that’s that. And so that was a really interesting time because it was during the time that Pennsylvania was considering the ban on gay marriage, and likewise, the Hazelton immigration issues were going on. You’re in Florida, so that may not mean much, but Hazelton, Pennsylvania, for whatever reason, has a large, large, like 90% of undocumented workers. And they wanted to pass a law stating that you needed identification in order to rent an apartment, which would basically have rendered all of those people unable to get housing because they had no documentation in order to do so. Here you have this very sort of Republican agenda, if you will, not to place a party, but it just is what it is, a Republican agenda, banning gay marriage, amending the Constitution to make to ban gay marriage, and this anti sort of immigration Hazelton thing going. So Pedro Cortez was the Secretary of State at the time. So here you have this Latino Hispanic man as the Secretary of State. And then I was working at the Secretary of State. So here he is dealing with this very anti-immigration issue in Hazelton.
Speaker 3 (06:00)
I’m working for him, and I get tasked with researching the constitutional ban on gay marriage. And if the Commonwealth does it, would it be constitutional? Would it get overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, basically providing a legal memo to the Secretary of State defending my job was to make it constitutional to provide legal analysis as to how it would be constitutional to amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage from ever occurring. So everything that I read, I had to read it, analyze it, and come up with an argument that would ultimately prevent me from being able to get married in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. And he, a Secretary of State, was tasked as a Latino man with finding how the Hazelton ordinance was constitutional, despite the fact of his own heritage. So here we were. It was midnight one day, and you have a lesbian working on banning gay marriage and a Latin man working on making sure that 90% of Hazelton undocumented workers aren’t allowed to rent apartments and whatnot. And we were like, this is pretty messed up. And we’re there till midnight working on this. And it really hit home what being a lawyer is all about, right?
Speaker 3 (07:32)
Completely objectively. Looking at the law, removing yourself from it. Because the rule of law is the rule of law, whether you like it or not. And obviously it’s open to interpretation because we were there until midnight interpreting it. But it was really difficult emotionally, but professionally an amazing foundation for me to have to actually argue for banning gay marriage and providing that to the governor at the time. So that’s part of the foundation, if you will. That led to eventually needing to open up my own law firm. I worked for the government and realized I can’t do that because I can’t be at the whim of whoever is in charge. And all of a sudden now I’m working against LGBTQ rights. Now I’m working for, now I’m against. Now I’m for.
Speaker 2 (08:29)
Speaker 3 (08:29)
I was like, as much as I would like to work for the government, it’s not for me. Then I work for NGOs, non governmental organizations, United Nations in Rwanda, for the genocide that took place in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Rwandan genocide, worked in human trafficking and lived in Beijing. And then I worked for a large firm. I worked for a boutique franchise firm. So my work in China, I had done a dissertation and my sort of master’s work was in how to franchise into China as a way to circumvent the capitalization requirements, which at that point were 25 million. So basically you couldn’t do business in China unless you were a behemoth of a company. And I had found a loophole to avoid that and make it 2 million, which is much more feasible for a large percentage of American companies parking $2 million in China and not touching it. So doing away with 25 million is huge. So I had started working with a franchise boutique firm here in Philadelphia that we’re working with a well known company, well known, one of the top three, sort of Philadelphia known, not crispy cream, but sort of like a company like that well known Philadelphia staple on how to franchise into China.
Speaker 3 (09:58)
So I did that for seven months and I was just so tremendously bored. I was just like, what am I? I just kept refreshing my email. Who wants to go for drink, right? Why isn’t anyone emailing me? Is it 05:00? It’s 4:59. I’m out and I’m still friends with my boss. So if he’s listening to this, it’s 25 years ago and we still go out for drinks and whatnot. But we all agreed that it was best that I not work there.
Speaker 2 (10:24)
Speaker 3 (10:26)
So then I decided the only thing that was left was working for myself. I had done large firm, midsize boutique, small government NGO. The only thing that was left was just for Angela. Right. Angela Giampolo. Ultimately, what I had realized was that the human rights issue of the United States, amongst others, amongst race and abortion and other issues. But the one that I was passionate about, the issue in the United States that I was super passionate about, that I woke up eating, breathing, and sleeping was the LGBTQ fight for equality, which is still very much going. I can’t believe we were and are where we are. So it’s a constant cycle. Again, we’re at the behest of who’s President, just like I was at the behest of who the governor of Pennsylvania was. Now we’re at the behest of who the President is. So I founded Giampolo Law Group, a boutique law firm geared solely towards the LGBTQ community. Although we do help others, anyone in need of legal services, we will service them. But I exist to provide a safe place for the LGBTQ community to come in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Speaker 3 (11:52)
And then Philly Gay Lawyer was born as an advocacy arm of me. So Angela became Philly Gay Lawyer, and that’s who does radio and writes columns and does all of those things as a human advocate. But the law firm is Giampolo Law Group. And that’s sort of the background of.
Speaker 2 (12:11)
You know, what I think is amazing? I just want people to know this about you. You are so well known in the Philadelphia area and the LGBTQ community knows you. And you take 30 minutes out of you and you’re working on this huge, I guess, expansion of America that you’re going to be going to cities that no one would ever think about, only you. And you take 30 minutes out of your busy schedule every week to educate people. And I think it’s amazing because we’ve always said if we can just touch one person.
Speaker 3 (13:01)
Which I feel like we normally do. Right, you get at least one text a week. Oh, I do, right.
Speaker 2 (13:09)
I’ve never gotten negative. I’ve been in this business for a long time. And I’m like, shocked. I get nothing negative, which maybe things are turning around. Finally.
Speaker 3 (13:28)
Again, you live a hop, skip, and a jump from Wilton Manners in Fort Lauderdale, right. Even as a straight dude in the world, you’re super close to the bubble of one of the biggest gay meccas in the United States, which is Fort Lauderdale, Wilton Manors Hop, skipping a jump from Key West from there. Right. I’m in Philadelphia, the top number one HRC. human rights campaign, number one city in the country for LGBTQ rights, over San Fran, over New York, over Seattle, over Florida.
Speaker 2 (14:01)
Did I know that?
Speaker 3 (14:02)
Yeah, we tie a lot with Seattle. I think we were tied three years in a row. But five years, I believe in a row, HRC’s number one rated city in the country for LGBTQ rights. So to say that I live in a haven in a bubble of LGBTQ equality where my office is in the Gayborhood, right, where my UPS woman is a lesbian and my landlord is gay. And everybody, I can’t walk out without talking to a gay person in some way. Everyone. So if anything you’re like one of five straight people that I deal with on a weekly basis. You should be honored. My reality is not the reality of 67% of LGBTQ folks live, not on the coast. It’s not quite middle America, but we are lucky to live on either Coast, West Coast, East Coast. But what I wake up thinking about is that transgender woman of color living in Mobile, Alabama.
Speaker 2 (15:26)
Speaker 3 (15:28)
And the danger she faces. That’s who I wake up thinking about. Not that there aren’t people struggling right here in Philadelphia. I help people on a daily basis here in Philadelphia and not necessarily even struggling, but to do their adoptions. But we have a privilege. Wilton Manor is those folks have privilege to be who they want to be, to have an entire community of Wilton Manors where you know that you’re going to be safe there the neighborhood of Philadelphia. You know you’re going to be safe. The village in New York, Boystown in Chicago, the Castro in San Fran, Mobile, Alabama doesn’t have that. And the expansion into other cities and the desire to bring the show in other cities and my firm in other cities stems from those folks ultimately.
Speaker 2 (16:22)
Don’t forget, you’ve got to add Montrose in Houston. I lived there 25 years ago and it was a huge gay community 25 years ago.
Speaker 3 (16:36)
And Houston has the first lesbian Mayor.
Speaker 2 (16:39)
Speaker 2 (16:47)
Cathy Whitmore was a Mayor there. And we’re here with attorney Angela Giampolo and we’re talking about the LGBTQ community as it pertains to the law. And we have the best. And I got to tell you, going into this last segment, angel comes up with these slogans that are just amazing. But my favorite favorite one is “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” I mean, going into our estate planning segment. And I don’t know if she just gets this like in 2 seconds or with all the traveling she does, she said to me. But anyway, that is my favorite slogan.
Speaker 3 (17:32)
I can’t believe it was able to be trademarked that another estate planning attorney hadn’t already trademarked “there’s a will there’s a way.” I mean, yeah, it just came to me and I emailed my IP lawyer and he said it’s available and I said trademark it.
Speaker 2 (17:45)
I want that created. That’s all it is. But you know what? We’re sitting here, we’re talking about the law. And there are areas of law we just take for granted. Everybody knows what it is. And people are probably also afraid to ask because they don’t want to sound stupid. But what is inheritance tax?
Speaker 3 (18:10)
Yeah. So when you think of death taxes. Right, like Monopoly, if you played Monopoly game, a little orange card, the community, the yellow cards, the community cards. And you see he’s like this and there’s 10% inheritance tax and there’s no way around it, right? If nothing else, Monopoly taught you about it. There is no way around it. You got to count up all your money and just put 10% in the middle of the Monopoly board and then hope you land on go and get to collect it all at some point. But that’s exactly what inheritance tax is. You count up all the money of the estate, what the estate is valued at the time of death, and then pay X percent based on who you are leaving it to. Okay. So unlike Monopoly, where it’s a flat 10%, Pennsylvania, for instance, 5% down to your children. So if you’re leaving your entire estate down to your children, then your estate will be charged the 5% inheritance tax. If you’re leaving everything, you don’t have children. You’re leaving everything to siblings, your parents, immediate family members, but not your children. You’re at the 10% to 12% rate they went up recently.
Speaker 2 (19:34)
Speaker 3 (19:34)
And then legal strangers, it’s a jump. Yeah. And then legal strangers. I leave everything to you, Steve. Then it’s 15%.
Speaker 2 (19:43)
Oh, my gosh.
Speaker 3 (19:44)
Prior to Marriage equality, the LGBTQ community were all legal strangers. You and I could have been together for 47 years, but because we couldn’t legally get married, it was a 15% inheritance tax. So what I did as an estate planning attorney was I had a ton of financial advisors that I worked with. And life insurance in Pennsylvania is not considered taxable to your state. So we would have the couple get life insurance policies on one another. So I would own a policy on Steve, not a policy on me. That if I die, then my beneficiary is Steve. No, I would own a policy on your death, on your body. Right. And I would be the owner of said policy so that when you die, the money would come to me. But the policy is actually on you and you write a policy on me. That was the way to ensure that. Let’s just say we had a million dollars between us and 15% inheritance tax. We figure out what that amount is on a million dollars. We write life insurance policies to cover that amount. So $150,000 and I own it on you, you and me.
Speaker 3 (21:07)
And then you die. I get $150,000 tax free. I take that. I pay the inheritance tax then. That’s how I solved what I called the gay tax. That 15% tax on all LGBT couples. Now married couples at zero. So zero for married couples. It was 15% for us before huge $150,000 or zero.
Speaker 2 (21:36)
Speaker 3 (21:37)
Right. Having to get life insurance and pay the premium and just all the money that went out in life in order to pay zero in death. So there’s a huge difference. Edie Windsor, the Marriage Equality plaintiff. People don’t realize that the Marriage Equality case, the Marriage Equality, the case that gave us Marriage Equality, was nothing but a tax case. It was an IRS tax case because she was taxed $364,000 on her wife’s estate. So when she inherited everything from her wife, so she was married in Canada. New York recognized marriage equality. So you couldn’t get married in New York. But if you were married in a state or a country where it was recognized and lived in New York, the New York recognized it as well. So married in Canada, died in New York, lived in New York. New York recognized it. So no state taxes because New York recognized it. But the federal government did not recognize it. Now they owned an apartment right on Washington Square in downtown Manhattan. So the apartment they bought when they were in their early 30s. So 40 years later, that apartment that they paid 30 grand for was now worth 3.2 million.
Speaker 3 (22:56)
They bought a place in the Hamptons when they were super young. 40 years later, that place in the Hamptons was worth several million. So they bought all these things. 44 years later, she dies and their estate is worth $7 million. She ended up paying $364,000 in inheritance tax, which would have been a big goose egg. It would have been zero if the federal government recognized marriage equality. So Ed Windsor sued and said, this is unfair. Steve and his wife pay zero. Me and my wife pay $364,000. So the Supreme Court didn’t say I’m not going to he double hockey sticks. I may be, but if I am, I’m going with paying zero taxes. And that’s all we fought for in marriage equality was. And that’s another thing people don’t realize is there are 1138 state and federal rights tied to the institution of marriage, 1138 state and federal rights. So again, the Supreme Court didn’t say anything based on religion or whether being gay is right or wrong or whatever. They just said that if you’re going to bestow 1138 state and federal rights to one group of people, heterosexual people, then you can’t deny those 1138 state and federal rights to the LGBTQ community.
Speaker 3 (24:19)
That’s all the Supreme Court said. So after the Edie Windsor case, Obama, there’s a photo of Obama handing her $364,000 refund check and apologizing.
Speaker 2 (24:32)
That was a good update.
Speaker 3 (24:34)
Speaker 2 (24:36)
With your background, do you ever get involved with the state when it comes to the laws getting laws changed?
Speaker 3 (24:47)
Yeah. So I would say this is happening right now. Someone reached out this week around state benefits. So getting my spouse’s Social Security benefits, death benefits, what have you, especially if they weren’t married. It’s definitely much harder now. Marriage equality has been around for seven years. So if you weren’t married and you’re older, get married. Like if you want a prenup, if you want to do anything around protecting, then protect it. But get legally married, don’t have something happen today and then call me and be like we were together 47 years and I’m not getting the survivor benefits because we weren’t legally married. Well, we’ve been allowed to get married since 2015. Why haven’t you gotten married? So it’s getting harder and harder to help those couples. But definitely between 2015 and 2018 so many lawsuits against the Commonwealth or the state of new Jersey around I’m entitled to the state benefits. I’m entitled to the survivor benefits. Death benefits. Not having to pay inheritance tax because people died right in between when marriage equality became legal.
Speaker 2 (26:00)
No, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the show goes by so fast and Angela, the way you explain everything, it just makes the show so much better. Tell everybody how they can reach you. Give everybody your phone number.
Speaker 3 (26:18)
Your phone number is 215-6452 415 and the website is giampololaw.com and I [email protected] you’re amazing.
Speaker 2 (26:30)
I love having you on every week and you’ll be back with us next week. Angela, thank you. Thank you for traveling.
Speaker 3 (26:38)
I am in the background. Next week I’ll be in Philly.
Speaker 2 (26:42)
I hope travel safe. Love you. Bye bye.
Speaker 3 (26:46)
Speaker 1 (26:47)
Be sure to tune in every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. When Angela Giampolo is the guest on Ask the Experts on 860 wwdbam and [email protected].