B.A., Lawrence University, cum laude
J.D., Marshall-Wythe School of the Law, College of William & Mary, Order of the Coif, Law Review
District of Columbia
Anne Coventry is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) and serves on ACTEC’s Washington Affairs Committee and Diversity and Inclusivity Committee. Anne will also chair ACTEC’s new Task Force on the intersection of estates and trusts and family law. She is admitted to the Bar in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Anne’s practice is devoted to tax and estate planning for wealth preservation and premarital and domestic partnership agreements. She has lectured and written on estate planning for digital assets, planned charitable giving, and estate planning for same-sex couples. She has extensive experience counseling a diverse client base, working with blended and non-traditional families, entrepreneurs with business succession planning needs, young professionals, and families in transition. By implementing thoughtful solutions, Anne aims to secure her clients’ objectives while minimizing family conflict and tax bills.
What happens to your online accounts and electronic information at your death? Email, social media accounts, online purchasing accounts, photo albums stored in the cloud—advances in technology can create a legal quagmire when the account holder is gone, whether or not the username and password are preserved. Anne played a leading role in the effort to enact legislation in Maryland that gives legal authority to appointed fiduciaries (personal representatives, trustees, agents acting under a power of attorney, and court-appointed guardians) to access and manage online accounts and other digital assets.
Anne has been listed as one of the area’s top estate attorneys by Washingtonian since 2012 and was recognized by Super Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Attorneys in Maryland and one of the Top 50 Women Attorneys in Maryland. She is deeply committed in her service to the legal profession, serving as Chair-elect for the Estates and Trust Law Section Council of the Maryland State Bar Association. She is also a past Co-Chair of the Digital Property Committee of the Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section of the ABA and a past member of the Steering Committee and past Chair of the Estate Planning Committee of the Taxation Section of the D.C. Bar. Anne is a member of the Washington D.C. Estate Planning Council and is the immediate past President of the Estate Planning Council of Montgomery County. Anne also teaches wills and trusts as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center.
Anne grew up outside of Chicago and received a B.A. in English at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, graduating cum laude in 1995. (Go, Lawrence Vikings!) She serves as a Gift Planning Chair on the university’s Legacy Circle National Council for planned giving, serving as a resource for other alumni who have included the university in their estate plans. She graduated fourth in her class from the College of William & Mary’s Marshall-Wythe School of Law in 1999, where she was a member of the Order of the Coif and served on the Law Review. She joined Pasternak & Fidis in 2007, after practicing for several years in Washington, D.C., where she began her legal career at Arnold & Porter.
Anne’s husband, Dr. Gregory Miller, is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at The Catholic University of America. She has three children: a junior at St. Michael’s College in Vermont; a seven-year-old environmental activist and Daisy Girl Scout; and a smiley, six-year-old son who idolizes Spider-Man and makes (dozens upon dozens of) paper bag puppets. (So far, she has taught only one of them to play Mah Jongg, but it’s early days yet.)
An avid patron of the visual and performing arts, Anne served from 2004-2012 as a member of the board of directors of Friends of Fillmore Arts Center in the District, which provided skills-based arts education for D.C. public school children. She served on the board of directors of the American Dance Institute in Rockville, Maryland from 2009-2015. She currently volunteers with her daughter’s troop and the local Girl Scouts Service Unit.
When is a door not a door? (Answer: When it is ajar.)
When is an irrevocable trust not irrevocable? Answer: Pretty much all the time. That is, perhaps the irrevocable trust cannot be revoked per se but, with a little creative thinking and cooperation, it may be possible to modify, decant, or terminate an irrevocable trust. This is not the kind of news that makes headlines (except in our newsletter), but great changes are afoot in trust planning.
In the past 18 years, more than 30 jurisdictions (including DC, MD, and VA) have enacted a version of the Uniform Trust Code, shifting trust law away from arcane rules buried in old court decisions and into the modern era. Many jurisdictions (again including DC, MD, and VA) have also revised laws that used to prohibit extremely long-term trusts,… MORE >
B22-0169, the Electronic Signature Authorization Act of 2017, is pending before the DC Council, and it is dreadful. The Uniform Law Commission (ULC), relevant sections of the DC Bar, and a number of DC Fellows of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) have submitted, formally or informally, written opposition to the bill. We have it on good authority that this bill is unlikely to pass, and we hope that is the case.
Are electronic wills coming? Of course they are. Last year in Australia, an unsent text message was accepted for probate as someone’s last will and testament. (Unsent! With an emoji in it!) In July of this year, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court decision to accept for… MORE >
Years ago, I described to a close friend (let’s call her Cathy) the difference between a division among descendants per stirpes and a division among the same descendants per capita at each generation. In the midst of my explanation, Cathy suddenly exclaimed, “Oh! You mean like the Packers’ tickets?” This was a Eureka! moment; yes, it’s exactly like the Packers’ tickets.
One very important lesson I learned attending college in Wisconsin is that Packers’ tickets are a sacred thing. The population of Green Bay is 105,000. After recent expansions, Lambeau Field now seats 81,435, but season tickets are still very hard to come by. For many, the surest way to get them is to inherit them.
Back in the days of Bart Starr and Vince… MORE >
18 is a momentous birthday. Your child can register to vote! Your son (but not your daughter) must register for the Selective Service. Depending on which jurisdiction you live in, your child may become entitled to unilateral control over that UGMA/UTMA custodial account that you funded years ago.
You have spent years managing things for your child; whether that makes you a helicopter parent or his “handler,” certainly you have been the most devoted administrative assistant your child will ever have. But now, your signature is no longer adequate, and you no longer have access to your child’s health information or authority to make medical decisions. Your son is heading off to college, the mail brings dozens of credit card applications addressed to him, and… MORE >
For a long time, the rule in Maryland has been that a divorce revokes the provisions of a will that benefit the former spouse, but we did not have the same rule for revocable trusts. Beginning October 1, 2016, the same rule will apply to revocable trusts—divorce will revoke those provisions of the trust that benefit the former spouse.
The Maryland Trust Act will, beginning October 1, 2016, include language allowing interested persons to enter into a binding, non-judicial settlement agreement with respect to trust matters. This means that, without having to go to court, the trustee and beneficiaries of a trust can get together and agree to resolve trust-related issues that they would previously have had to resolve in a court proceeding. This should… MORE >
When it is enacted in state legislatures this year, RUFADAA will give effect to a user’s express instructions regarding whether or not a fiduciary should have access to the user’s digital assets. Users can provide those instructions in their traditional estate planning documents, via some other record, or via use of an online tool. An “online tool” is an account-specific feature the online service provider offers to its users to enable a user to express his or her wishes regarding that account. At present, we know of only two online tools—Facebook’s Legacy Contact and Google’s Inactive Account Manager.
Facebook’s Legacy Contact permits a user to designate another Facebook user to as a Legacy Contact after the user’s death, respond to new friend requests, write a… MORE >
Your personal representative (the executor of your will) will need to read your emails. This may not be something you’ve thought about before, but it’s true. You get bank statements, bills, and even tax forms delivered to you only by email. You have automatic, recurring payments set up from your checking account each month. You may have important information stored in the cloud. Your personal representative must marshal and inventory all of your assets, pay bills and taxes, report to the probate court and tax authorities, and distribute your estate as you direct in your will. She cannot do that job properly—as she is required by law to do—without all relevant information and authority to manage your digital footprint.
Under current law, your personal representative… MORE >
This article was originally published in the American Bar Association’s Family Advocate, Vol. 38, No. 2, (Fall 2015) p. 10-13, and is reprinted here with permission. PDF available here.
Adequate financial disclosure is essential to a valid and enforceable premarital agreement. When one party is the beneficiary of a third-party trust or the settlor of his or her own trust, the existence, key terms, and value of trust assets will necessarily figure into that disclosure. Even if a trust does not already exist, the parties may wish to incorporate one or more trusts into their premarital agreement terms.
Disclosure of existing trusts
The proponent of a premarital agreement will achieve maximum protection of property rights if financial disclosure is substantial, accurate, and meaningful—in other words, if it exceeds the minimum… MORE >
The recent Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges makes marriage equality the rule in all U.S. jurisdictions. Couples whose marriages will now be recognized in all states should give some thought to these estate planning issues implicated by the ruling:
Death and divorce—both events are extremely difficult and stressful in and of themselves. However, when death and divorce happen at roughly the same time, the consequences can be unexpected and may seem wildly unfair. Separation and divorce can have a significant impact on estate planning issues, which require diligent attention when marital issues arise. Otherwise, the death-and-divorce cocktail may shake out in a very unintended way.
Prior to Divorce When a couple begins to live separate and apart (which may include a separation under the same roof), without obtaining a limited divorce or legal separation order and without signing a separation agreement, the fact of the estrangement alone generally has no legal effect on the inheritance rights or fiduciary authority of a surviving spouse. In other… MORE >