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

  • Tax Update – 2018 Estate and Gift Tax Exemptions and More… The IRS recently announced the estate and gift exemption levels for 2018 and they continue to increase as per legislation passed in January 2013.  The applicable exclusion amount from Federal estate tax will increase to $5.6 million per person allowing a married couple to shelter $11.2 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 $5.6 million per person.  The annual gift exclusion amount will also increase for the first time since ... Read more
  • Revision to Proposed Rule Banning Arbitration Clauses in Nursing Home Admissions Agreements Last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued a rule banning the use of binding pre-dispute arbitration agreements by nursing homes that accept Medicare and Medicaid patients.  The result of the new rule would have been that families who have an issue with a nursing home regarding care, abuse, and the like, would have been able to sue in court to have their case heard versus having to go through a binding arbitration process.  However, the American Health Care Association along with four long-term care providers filed suit against the Health and Human Services Secretary and CMS arguing ... Read more
  • Aging in Three Simple Questions At a recent Moms at Work event hosted by Claire M. S. Meade, discussion was held about those who are part of the “sandwich generation”, that is those who have young children, but also older parents.  In particular, the conversation centered on questions to ask retired or retiring parents to help facilitate a discussion about aging.  Many earlier articles have addressed estate planning, including planning for incapacity and planning for death.  But this discussion highlighted three basic questions that MIT AgeLab identified as key when considering what it means to be retired.  The simple questions are: (1) Who will change ... Read more
  • National Healthcare Decisions Day – Week Long Event for 2017 Earlier articles have talked about how you can control your final moments and also how you want to be remembered.  This year National Healthcare Decisions Day is a week long event beginning April 16 and ending on April 22.  Such recognition provides a reminder that having an advance medical directive and a living will in which you express your wishes regarding medical care, if you cannot decide, and whether you want life-prolonging procedures, are crucial components in every estate plan.  Several states and the District of Columbia have addressed end of life decision-making through death with dignity statutes.  But, regardless ... Read more
  • New Virginia Legislation Addresses Thorsen Case The Virginia General Assembly has passed SB 1140 and HB 1617 both of which address the issues raised in Thorsen v. Richmond Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (786 S.E.2d 453 (Va. 2016).  As may be recalled, the Thorsen case involved an error in the drafting of a Last Will and Testament that resulted in the intended beneficiaries receiving a smaller amount than was originally expected.  In connection with a lawsuit for legal malpractice, the Virginia Supreme Court found that a third-party beneficiary may sue to enforce its rights even though those parties are not known for many ... Read more
  • IRS Issues Tips for Refunds Earlier this month the IRS issued IR-2017-16 to provide taxpayers with information regarding refunds.  In particular, the IRS was interested in debunking a few myths that may be circulating out on the internet about refunds.  First, the IRS has indicated that the statement “all refunds are delayed” is false.  More than 90% of refunds are issued within the normal timeframe, which is less than 21 days.  However, some refunds may be delayed including for those taxpayers claiming the earned income tax credit (EITC) or the additional child tax credit (ACTC).  Delays for refunds on those returns are until mid-February.  Other ... Read more
  • Five New Year’s Resolutions for Your Estate Plan Happy New Year!  Very often the New Year brings all sorts of ‘changes’ for individuals, particularly after having spent any time with family members and friends over the holiday season.  Here is a quick list of five resolutions to consider for your estate plan. Is it time to update your plan?  If a plan is in place, when was the last time you reviewed it? Is it simply a binder of documents you received several year ago when you finished the estate planning process and you haven’t looked at since?  Have circumstances changed that are not captured in the documents?  Who ... Read more
  • A New Year Means New Exemptions from Estate Tax Welcome to the New Year!  As with any new year, there are usually changes to a variety of important numbers for estate planning and elder law purposes.  This year the applicable exclusion amount from Federal estate tax is set at $5.49 million per person.  The lifetime exclusion from gift tax is also $5.49 million per person and the exemption from generation skipping transfer tax is $5.49 million.  The annual exclusion from gift tax remains at $14,000.  The annual exclusion for gifts to non-U.S. citizen spouses increased to $149,000. For local jurisdictions that have estate tax, the District of Columbia increased its ... Read more
  • The Future of Valuation Discounting… Earlier this month, a long awaited hearing was held on the proposed regulations that would reduce the availability of valuation discounting when transferring closely held business interests.  Close to forty individuals testified at the IRS hearing and all but one individual opposed the proposed regulations.  Among several of the reasons why critics opposed the regulations included the following: (a) the potential for a ‘deemed put right’; (b) the creation of a three-year look back period; (c) the forced use of the ‘investment value’ standard for determining fair market value versus the ‘willing buyer – willing seller’ standard; and (d) the ... Read more
  • Five Considerations for Year-End Charitable Giving As the year draws to an end, many of you look to make your charitable donations or are advising individuals regarding their charitable donations.  Of course, there are a variety of ways in which one can make such a charitable gift.  The IRS recently published IR-2016-154, which is part of a series of articles providing taxpayers with relevant information so they can be ready for the next tax season.  In this recent article, the IRS reminded taxpayers of certain aspects of charitable giving in an effort to help taxpayers avoid problems come tax time.  I have summarized these helpful tips ... Read more