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 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
  • Proposed Legislation Addresses Thorsen Case An earlier article talked about the Virginia Supreme Court case of Thorsen, et al. vs. Richmond Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) that was decided in June of this year.  Thorsen involved an error in the drafting of a Last Will and Testament that resulted in the intended beneficiaries receiving a fraction of what they would have otherwise received.  Those intended beneficiaries sued for legal malpractice.  The Virginia Supreme Court found that a third-party beneficiary who is ‘clearly and definitely’ the intended beneficiary of a contract (even one where no written agreement exists) may sue to enforce ... Read more
  • Changes to Maryland Laws Impacting Estate Planning and Elder Law On October 1st (unless otherwise noted) a number of new laws will take effect in Maryland that may have an impact on you or those with whom you work.  Below is a summary of a few key pieces of legislation of which you should be aware. HB 507 – Maryland Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act:  This Act authorizes a person with digital assets to direct the disclosure of information relating to those assets in certain circumstances.  A previous Article provides the details. HB 541 – Upon divorce or annulment, certain provisions of a revocable trust  that relate to the spouse ... Read more
  • National Grandparents Day Since 1978 the United States has celebrated grandparents on National Grandparents Day.  The day falls on the first Sunday after Labor Day.  This year, National Grandparents Day will be celebrated on September 11th, a day when many will pause to reflect on the terrible and tragic events that occurred 15 years ago in New York, Pennsylvania and outside Washington, D.C.  A day when grandparents may have been taken from their families or when grandparents became the solid foundation for those who lost parents.  Thus, this year in particular National Grandparents Day allows us to remember the impact grandparents may have ... Read more
  • Facing a Tough Diagnosis – Four Lessons of Gene Wilder With Gene Wilder’s death, the family released a statement that revealed to the world that Gene Wilder had died due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.  The family also stated that Wilder had not wanted to reveal his diagnosis earlier and risk “one less smile in the world.”  In releasing the statement as they did, the family has provided us with a few valuable lessons about planning.  What should ‘the public’ know?  From the statement, it seems clear that in receiving an irreversible diagnosis, Wilder’s family talked about how to handle the news both publicly and privately.  Families that have received ... Read more
  • Three Key Documents Every College Age Child Needs to Sign The middle of August is a time when families look towards Fall sports, cooler temperatures and the kids going back to school.  For those families with children starting college, this time is fraught will all sorts of emotions, checklists, logistics and large bills.  It is also often a time that parents forget that their little one, who has now grown to an adult, is treated as an adult in the eyes of the law.  Moreover, this is also a time when adult children are not yet entirely independent of their parents, but their parents may not be permitted to help ... Read more
  • The Increase of Crowdfunding in Estate Planning Crowdfunding seems to be everywhere, but does it have a place in estate planning?  Wikipedia defines crowdfunding as “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people…”  Thus, it seems that in the beginning crowdfunding was a form of venture capitalism with the public at large.  Websites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe allowed for individuals to present an idea and raise capital to get the project off the ground.  However, in relatively recent history, crowdfunding has taken on a prominent role in response to any tragedy.  Now it seems that if there ... Read more
  • The Marriage of Divorce and Estate Planning In case you missed the series about the impact of divorce on estate planning, here is a brief recap of some points to consider. 1.  The Property Settlement Agreement may require that you maintain life insurance for any minor children.  If that is the case, then have you revisited your estate plan recently?  What obligations to maintain life insurance do you have?  Does the Property Settlement Agreement have certain requirements for the creation of a trust, and if so, what are those requirements?  Have the requirements of the Property Settlement Agreement been fulfilled or incorporated through your estate plan?  Are there ... Read more
  • ALERT – Valuation Discounting Impacted By New Regulations Estate planners and valuation experts have been advising clients for the last year that the IRS and Treasury would be issuing new regulations that would make it harder to transfer business interests without incurring estate or gift tax.   The proposed regulations are now here and will reduce the availability of discounting for transfers of business interests that are subject to certain restrictions (e.g., restrictions on marketability).  The proposed regulations will go through a 90 day public comment period and a public hearing is scheduled for December 1, 2016.  The proposed regulations will be effective as to transfers that occur ... Read more
  • New Fair Labor Standards Act Regulations May Change How You Do Business (h/t to my colleague, Fran Dwornik, for her informative presentation on this issue.) Enacted in 1938 in response to the Great Depression, the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA” or the “Act”) regulates Federal minimum wage, overtime and child labor standards.  All employees are covered unless they are deemed to be exempt (i.e., certain executives, administrative, professional, outside sales, computer specialists and highly compensated employees as defined within the Act).   To be exempt, certain requirements must be met that look at the basis for the salary paid, salary level (currently $23,660 per year) and the duties of the employee.  Effective with the ... Read more