Anne W. Coventry, Partner

Anne W. Coventry, Partner

Estate Planning

Premarital Agreements

Estate and Trust Administration

acoventry@pasternakfidis.com

T 301.656.8850 Ext. 457

F 301.656.3053

7735 Old Georgetown Road
Suite 1100
Bethesda, MD 20814-6130


Education

B.A., Lawrence University, cum laude

J.D., Marshall-Wythe School of the Law, College of William & Mary, Order of the Coif, Law Review

Bar Admissions

District of Columbia

Virginia

Maryland

Anne Coventry is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC). 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, grantor trusts, 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 serves on the Section Council for the Estates and Trust Law Section of the Maryland State Bar Association, where she 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. She is deeply committed in her service to the legal profession: in addition to her work with the MSBA’s Estates and Trust Law Section Council, she is a Co-Chair of the Digital Property Committee of the Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section of the ABA. She is also 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 President of the Estate Planning Council of Montgomery County.

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 at The Catholic University of America. She has three children: a voting-age son who attends St. Michael’s College in Vermont; a fearless (and determined) five-year-old daughter; and a smiley, three-year-old son who idolizes Wonder Woman and loves to dance. (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 provides 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.

Activities and Affiliations

  • American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC)
  • Maryland State Bar Association (Estates and Trust Law Section Council)
  • Estate Planning Council of Montgomery County, MD (President)
  • District of Columbia Bar (Section of Estates, Trusts and Probate Law; Section of Taxation: past member of the Steering Committee; past Chair, Estate Planning Committee)
  • Washington, DC Estate Planning Council
  • American Bar Association (Section of Taxation; Section of Real Property, Trust & Estate Law:  Co-Chair, Digital Property Committee; Past Co-Chair, Economics & Technology of the Practice Committee)
  • DC Trusts & Estates Advisers (Founder)
  • Virginia State Bar

Presentations

  • “Planning for Digital Property,” Hecklering Institute on Estate Planning
  • “War and PEAC: Battling the Tech Industry Back to the Negotiating Table over Fiduciary Access to Digital Property,” ACTEC Fall 2015 Conference
  • “Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets,” ACTEC: DC, Maryland & Northern Virginia Fellows
  • “Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets,” Maryland State Bar Association, Estate and Gift Tax Study Group
  • “The Digital Estate,” American Bar Association, Section of Real Property, Trust, and Estate Law
  • “Highlights of the Maryland Trust Act,” District of Columbia Bar, Taxation Section, Estate Planning Committee
  • “Planning for an Electronic Age,” Maryland State Bar Association, Advanced Tax Institute
  • “Planning for Digital Assets,” Washington, DC Estate Planning Council
  • “Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets,” Judicial Institute of Maryland
  • “Cyberspace and Estate Planning,” Chicago Bar Association
  • “Same-Sex Couples: Fiduciary and Trust Administration Issues,” District of Columbia Bar, Section on Estates, Trusts and Probate Law
  • “Digital Assets and Tech Savvy Clients,” District of Columbia Bar, Taxation Section, Estate Planning Committee
  • “Nuts and Bolts of Estate Planning and Litigation,” Bar Association of Montgomery County, Maryland, New Practitioners Section
  • “Section 675,” American Bar Association, Section of Taxation
  • “Estate Freeze Techniques and Grantor Trusts,” District of Columbia Bar, Section on Estates, Trusts and Probate Law
  • “Estate Planning Strategies,” Maryland Elder Law Workshop
  • “Planning for the Maryland Estate and Inheritance Taxes,” Bar Association of Montgomery County, Maryland
  • “Uniform Principal and Income Act,” American Bar Association, Section of Taxation
  • “Key Tax Issues in Drafting Irrevocable Trusts,” District of Columbia Bar, Section on Estates, Trusts and Probate Law
  • “Planned Giving Techniques,” Lawrence University
  • “529 Plans,” Tower Club, Tysons Corner, Virginia

Recognition

  • Chambers & Partners, High Net Worth, Notable Practitioner (2016)
  • Washingtonian – Washington’s Best Lawyers for Trusts and Estates
  • Washingtonian – Top Money Advisor for Estate Planning

Books

Publications

Blog Posts

May 27, 2016

When Your Child Turns 18

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 >

May 16, 2016

Maryland enacts laws on Trusts and Digital Assets to take effect in October 2016

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 >

February 15, 2016

Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA): Online Tools

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 >

February 12, 2016

Update on Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets

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 >

October 22, 2015

Premarital Agreements & Trusts

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 >

September 11, 2015

Estate Planning in Light of Marriage Equality

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:

  • Joint filing is available for income tax returns—not only federal returns, but also state returns. Consider filing amended returns for open years to seek a refund.
  • Transfers between spouses can qualify for the marital deduction (i.e., no estate or gift tax, at either federal or state level) and are exempt from state inheritance tax.
  • A surviving spouse has an elective share right under the laws of nearly all states, to take a share of the deceased spouse’s estate (regardless of what the deceased… MORE >
December 30, 2014

Death and Divorce: A Lethal Legal Combination

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 >

December 15, 2014

The New Maryland Trust Act

The new Maryland Trust Act takes effect January 1, 2015 and will apply to all Maryland trusts, including those created prior to its effective date.  For the most part, the Act provides default rules that can be overridden by the express terms of a trust, but some rules are mandatory. The following is brief summary of the highlights of the new Act:

Duty to Inform & Report. Within 60 days of accepting trusteeship (after January 1, 2015), a trustee must notify all qualified beneficiaries of the trustee’s acceptance of the trust and of the trustee’s name, address and telephone number.  When a new irrevocable trust is created (or a formerly revocable trust becomes irrevocable) on or after January 1, 2015, the trustee must notify all… MORE >

October 2, 2014

Planning for Digital Assets

How much of your life do you live online?

Increasingly, Americans’ bank, brokerage, credit card, and utilities statements arrive by email. Recurring expenses are paid automatically without any human action required; we pay other bills with a few clicks and keystrokes. Family photos gather in virtual albums on smartphones and photo sharing websites. We file our tax returns electronically; we may not even keep hard copies. The more tech-savvy folks may even have e-commerce businesses, own the rights to domain names, and write blogs. Whether an individual’s online activities have independent financial value or are merely the means of accessing hard assets of financial value, this phenomenon has far-reaching implications for estate planning and administration. As technology advances, the number of individuals affected can only… MORE >

July 30, 2012

Common Law Marriage Equality

A common law marriage is a marriage that is entered into informally, without a license. Informal marriages have been abolished in most states, but they are still available in a handful of states and the District of Columbia.

The required elements of common law marriage in DC are: (1) cohabitation; following (2) an express mutual agreement to be married, which must be in words of the present tense. In DC, unlike some other jurisdictions, there is no minimum duration of cohabitation required before the marriage is in effect. One misconception about common law marriage is that a cohabiting couple could inadvertently find themselves married after a given period of time, without ever having intended to enter into a marriage. This is not true; creating a… MORE >