Welcome

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

  • 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
  • Elder Law Update – Changes to Laws Impacting Virginia’s Seniors and the Disabled On July 1st (unless otherwise noted) a number of new laws took effect in Virginia that may have an impact on you.  Below is a summary of a few key pieces of legislation of which you should be aware. Section 51.5-44.1 – It is a now a Class 4 misdemeanor to misrepresent your dog as a service dog to gain access to public areas with the animal. SB 553 – Requires the Board of Health to promulgate regulations relating to audio and visual monitoring of residents in a nursing home by July 1, 2017.  The regulations are to address privacy, notice, ... Read more
  • Digital Assets Under Virginia Law In an earlier post, there was a discussion about Maryland’s Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act.  But what has Virginia done with respect to digital assets?  Virginia has not adopted the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (“UFADAA”) or any version of it.  Instead, in 2015 Virginia adopted a version of the Privacy Expectation Afterlife and Choices Act (“PEAC”).  Under this statute, a personal representative or executor may petition a court for access to certain information within a deceased individual’s digital records for the 18 month period prior to death.  However, the petition will not permit the personal representative ... Read more
  • Maryland Enacts Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act On October 1, 2016, Maryland’s Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act will come into effect, thereby giving a fiduciary (i.e., personal representative, guardian, agent or trustee) or a designated recipient (i.e., a person named using an online tool) the ability to request access to a person’s digital assets in certain circumstances.  Digital Assets is defined as “an electronic record in which an individual has a right or interest.”  The Act allows an individual to direct whether their digital content is disclosed, to whom and to what extent.  This authority can be granted through an online tool provided by the custodian ... Read more
  • Caveat Venditor vs. Caveat Emptor – Thorsen Case Highlights How Attorney and Client Must Beware The recent opinion from the Virginia Supreme Court in the case of Thorsen, et al. vs. Richmond Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) contains lessons for attorneys and clients surrounding the preparation of estate planning documents.  The case involved the preparation of a Last Will and Testament in 2003 in which Alice L. Cralle Dumville, the testatrix (or creator of the will) desired to make sure that her estranged husband did not receive any of her estate should she die during the pendency of the divorce.  To that end, she asked an attorney, James B. Thorsen, to prepare ... Read more
  • Revised Elective Share Statute in Virginia Beginning with the estates of decedents dying on or after January 1, 2017, the elective share statute to be applied in Virginia will be significantly changed.  Under current law, a surviving spouse has the right to claim one-third (1/3) of a decedent’s estate if the decedent left surviving children or descendants, or one-half (1/2) of the decedent’s estate if the decedent had no surviving children or descendants.  These calculations were based solely on the assets (or augmented estate) of the decedent. Under the new law, a surviving spouse will have the right to claim a percentage of one-half (1/2) of the ... Read more