Plan Your Journey.

Begin the Begin – Once you begin, you are closer to the end than had you not begun at all.  You may wonder from where the name of this blog originated as it is not the R.E.M. song.  It comes from the above-referenced phrase I remember reading in the eighth grade that my teacher had posted on the wall.  I do not recall the author (and have tried to track that information, but to no avail).

It is clear that this simple phrase has stuck with me throughout the years. And, it is a good place to start when addressing estate planning, business planning, incapacity planning, special needs and elder law issues as well as winding your way through the administration of an estate or trust.  All of these subjects can be sensitive and difficult topics to discuss, a discussion many choose not to start. However, as simply stated once the conversation about these subjects has begun, you will be closer to finishing your plan (and be better prepared) than had no conversation been started at all.

To begin your planning, please contact me at 703.218.2175 or email me at catherine.schottmurray@ofplaw.com.  See Disclaimer.   

Now let’s Begin the Begin!

Latest Blog Posts

  • Special Needs Trust Fairness Act – Update An update for those interacting with seniors and disabled individuals as it relates to the creation of special needs trusts.  In September, the House of Representatives passed the Special Needs Trust Fairness and Medicaid Improvement Act (the “SNT Fairness Act“), which the Senate had passed last year.  The SNT Fairness Act fixes an omission in Section 1917(d)(4)(A) of the Social Security Act where the disabled individual was not listed as someone who could create a first-party or self-settled special needs trust.  Under the SNT Fairness Act, the disabled individual will have the authority to create such a special needs trust ... Read more
  • Injunction Halts Implementation of New Overtime Rules (h/t to my colleague, Timothy M. McConville, Esq.) Earlier this year, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued new regulations to the Fair Labor Standards Act that would require changes to how employers classified certain employees unless compensation levels were changed.  This week a Federal Court issued an injunction blocking the implementation of these new regulations that were set to take effect on December 1st.  The injunction was issued nationwide, and therefore, prohibits the DOL from enforcing those regulations anywhere until a final resolution is reached.  The Court’s reasoning behind the injunction was that the DOL exceeded its authority in issuing these ... Read more
  • Injunction Granted Against CMS’ Rule Prohibiting Arbitration Clauses and D.C. Death with Dignity Act Passes An update regarding the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) new rule banning the use of binding pre-dispute arbitration agreement by nursing homes that accept Medicare and Medicaid patients.  As was expected, the nursing home industry has fought back and filed suit in the Northern District of Mississippi.  In a 40 page Order, a Federal District Court Judge has granted the preliminary injunction requested by the American Health Care Association and several nursing homes.  In the opinion, the Judge recognized the position many families find themselves in cases of abuse and neglect when dealing with the nursing home, but ... Read more
  • District of Columbia Passes Death with Dignity Act As had been previously discussed, the District of Columbia was considering passing its form of the Death with Dignity Act (the “Act”) that is modeled after the Oregon law.  The D.C. Council, in a 11 to 2 decision, voted in favor of the bill.  A final vote must be held before the end of the year.  Mayor Muriel E. Bowser has the ability to veto the bill, but in recent comments she indicated that she would not veto the bill and it would become law.  Given D.C.’s status of not being a state, Congress will still have the ability to ... Read more
  • 2017 Estate and Gift Tax Exemptions The IRS recently announced the estate and gift exemption levels for 2017 and they continue to increase as per legislation passed in January 2013.  The applicable exclusion amount from Federal estate tax will increase to $5.49 million per person allowing a married couple to shelter $10.98 million from Federal estate tax, the rate for which is currently set at 40%.  The lifetime exemption from gift tax remains coupled with the exemption from Federal estate tax, and therefore, this exemption will also increase to $5.49 million per person.  The annual gift exclusion amount will remain at $14,000 per person.  Virginia continues ... Read more
  • The ABLE Act and Nursing Home Arbitration Provisions – Update An earlier article discussed the ABLE Act that was signed into law in 2014, which permits disabled individuals to create savings accounts and set aside monies for their needs without disqualifying them from public benefits.  Three different pieces of legislation were then proposed in the House to modify some of the provisions of the ABLE Act.  Corresponding legislation was introduced in the Senate and referred to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance.  The Senate Finance Committee has approved two of the bills, but the third bill, which would raise the age of eligibility to 46 from 26, was not discussed.  ... Read more
  • District of Columbia Considers Death with Dignity Act The District of Columbia is considering enacting the Death with Dignity Act (the “Act”) that would allow terminally ill individuals with six months or less to live the ability to receive a lethal dose of medication and end their life.  Several procedural steps lie ahead for the Act now that the D.C. Council has voted to place the Act on the legislative agenda for an upcoming meeting.  However, it is unclear whether there is sufficient support for the Act to be made into law.  Arguments in favor of the Act revolve around giving an individual control over how and when ... Read more
  • Use of Pre-Dispute Arbitration Agreements Restricted in Nursing Home Admissions Agreements The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) recently issued a final rule banning the use of binding pre-dispute arbitration agreements by nursing homes that accept Medicare and Medicaid patients.  Such arbitration clauses are typically found in the admissions agreements between a new resident (or their family) and the nursing home, but are very often overlooked.  The result of this new rule is that families who have an issue with a nursing home regarding care, abuse, and the like, can now sue in court to have their case heard versus having to go through a binding arbitration process.  The original ... Read more
  • October is National Special Needs Law Month The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (“NAELA”) has designated October to be National Special Needs Law Month in an effort to educate individuals with disabilities, families and caregivers about what is encompassed in the realm of special needs.  For example, topics such as guardianship, conservatorship, powers of attorney, Medicare, Medicaid and special education will be addressed by professional advisors throughout the country.  Local resources such as Commonwealth Community Trust and The Arc of Northern Virginia and more national resources such as Special Needs Alliance may hold special awareness events and have resources available for review.  Designating a month is ... Read more
  • Special Needs Trust Fairness and Medicaid Improvement Act Passes House On September 20, 2016, the Special Needs Trust Fairness and Medicaid Improvement Act (H.R. 670) (the “Act”) passed the House of Representatives.  This bill corrects an omission in Section 1917(d)(4)(A) of the Social Security Act created in 1993 when first-party or self-settled special needs trusts were first recognized by Congress.  Under  42 U.S.C. 1396p(d)(4)(A),  an individual under age 65 who is disabled, may have assets, which are deemed to be theirs (such as assets received from an inheritance or as a result of a personal injury settlement), set aside for their benefit in a trust that is created by a ... Read more