Pasternak & Fidis Law Offices | Bethesda, MD

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News & Events

2015 — SPRING

In February, Anne Coventry, a partner in the Estate Planning & Administration Group, testified before a meeting of the Maryland House Health & Governmental Operations Committee in Annapolis in support of the Maryland Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (HB531). This legislation is critically important to ensure that (i) online service providers cannot seize (or hold in limbo) the digital property of a deceased account holder, causing his or her family to lose value in the estate (and incur additional expense trying to get it back), and (ii) account holders can designate someone to manage and secure their digital property on their behalf in the event of incapacity, to protect against identity theft and damage to their reputations. Anne spoke on behalf of the Maryland State Bar Association’s Estate & Trust Law Section. In March she will appear before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings
Committee on the corresponding Senate Bill (SB429).

We encourage Maryland residents to contact their legislators in support of House Bill 531 and Senate Bill 429.

Estate Planning & Administration Group partners Stephanie Perry and Alex Tanouye offered a
presentation in January to the Montgomery County Bar Estates & Trust Section summarizing the major topics presented at the 2015 Heckerling Institute, an annual gathering of estate planners, including attorneys, charitable giving professionals, accountants, certified financial planners, investment advisors, trust officers, non-profit advisors, and educators.

Linda Ravdin, partner in the Divorce and Family Law Group, was a faculty member for two continuing legal education programs on same-sex marriage, one for the D.C. Bar on February 19, 2015, and again the following day for the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association. Her topic for both programs was “Same-Sex Couples and Marital Contracts.”

Divorce & Family Law Group partner Morriah Horani was quoted extensively in a September 2014
featured article in The Daily Record Maryland Family Law Update. “ACA: What Family Lawyers Need
to Know: Obamacare Expands the Options for Negotiation” takes a look at the array of new possibilities
offered to divorcing parties by the Affordable Care Act that may make it easier to reach an agreement.
Morriah stated, “The ACA could … change the dynamic surrounding spousal support or alimony
because there is more information available about the actual costs of health insurance…. It brings more
certainty to financial negotiations.”

“Dumping a Trustee,” a September 2014 article in Barrons, quoted Managing Partner Nancy Fax
commenting on a Pennsylvania court ruling that “will make it easier to remove and replace trustees,” by
not requiring the beneficiary to show cause, such as negligence, to force a trustee out. Certain states that have adopted the Uniform Trust Code’s no-fault trustee removal provisions permit a less burdensome procedure but there can still be significant hurdles. “If I am a beneficiary, and I am unhappy with the trustee, the first thing I am going to do is go to the trustee and say ‘I’d really like you to step aside,’” advises Nancy. Failing that, those who are seeking a change usually have to go to court. As the article concludes, “The lesson: Write into your trust easy-to-execute provisions for removing trustees.”

Megan Schaeffer, an associate with the Estate Planning & Administration Group delivered a
presentation entitled “Fundamental Aspects of Estate Planning” in November 2014 for the U.S.
Department of State Foreign Service Institute. Megan’s talk is part of the Mid-Career Retirement Planning Series, which is designed as a retirement check-up for mid-career employees from the State Department and other U.S. government agencies who are more than 10 years from retirement eligibility.

Estate Planning & Administration Group partner, Anne Coventry, spoke on the subject of digital assets at the January meeting of the National Capital Gift Planning Council.

2015 — JANUARY
Pasternak & Fidis is pleased to announce the addition of Patrick M. Schoshinski as Of Counsel in the firm’s Estate Planning and Administration Group. Patrick holds an L.L.M. degree in taxation from Georgetown University Law Center, a Juris Doctorate from Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington, and a Bachelors of Arts degree from Mount Saint Mary’s College in Maryland. Mr. Schoshinski concentrates his practice on structuring and implementing sophisticated estate plans for high net worth individuals and advising clients on federal and local tax matters.

2014 — WINTER
Pasternak & Fidis is delighted to announce that three associate attorneys will become partners in the firm in January 2015. Congratulations to Estate Planning and Administration Group attorneys Stephanie Perry and Alex Tanouye and Divorce and Family Law Group attorney Morriah Horani. Managing Partner Nancy Fax said, “We couldn’t be more pleased to welcome these hard-working attorneys into the leadership of the firm. Their energy and vision will make a vital contribution to maintaining our standard of excellence in legal services.”

Congratulations to partners Nancy Fax and Anne Coventry who were both listed in Washingtonian magazine’s list of Top Money Advisors. Nancy and Anne were named among a very select group of the area’s most highly regarded estate planning attorneys.

In September, the Estate Planning and Administration Group welcomed Micah Snitzer as an associate attorney. A graduate of Hofstra University School of Law, he also completed an LL.M in Taxation and a Certificate in Estate Planning from Georgetown University Law Center. Micah received his Bachelor’s degree from Colorado College. He is admitted to the bars of New York and Maryland and was in private practice in Baltimore before joining Pasternak & Fidis. “I am delighted to be joining a firm with such a distinguished group of attorneys. Our goal is to offer comprehensive planning for individuals and families that transfers assets in a thoughtful and efficient manner.”

Anbar Hassan, formerly of our Divorce and Family Law Group, also joined the Estate Planning and Administration Group in November as a Probate Paralegal.

Divorce and Family Law Group associates Morriah Horani and Mary Katherine Hayburn were volunteer judges at the Great American Mock Trial Invitational in November at the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse in Washington, D.C. This is an intercollegiate mock trial competition created to help students develop critical thinking and public speaking skills.

Estate Planning and Administration Group partner Anne Coventry has become a member of the Estate Planning Council of Montgomery County (formerly the Estate Planning Council of Suburban Maryland). The estate planning attorneys at Pasternak & Fidis are working to help revitalize this organization of attorneys, financial advisors, accountants and insurance professionals serving clients in Montgomery County. If you are interested in joining the Council, please feel free to contact Anne Coventry or Alex Tanouye and plan on attending an upcoming meeting.

On November 19, 2014, Divorce and Family Law Group partner Jan White spoke to new Virginia lawyers about interest based negotiation as part of the Virginia Bar “Backpack to Briefcase” seminar.

Estate Planning and Administration Group associate Micah Snitzer was a speaker in November at IMPACT’s Generosity Gala of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. Micah talked about his role as a Jewish Big Brother.

Business, Real Estate and Litigation Associate Nathan Brill was selected to attend the Maryland State Bar Association’s 7th Annual Young Leaders Summit that took place on October 23-25 in Solomon’s Island, Maryland. The event, which occurred in conjunction with the 55th Annual Conference of Bar Presidents, featured numerous educational and networking opportunities for emerging bar leaders from around the state.

Divorce and Family Law Group partner Jan White was part of a panel in November at a conference of the Maryland Association of CPAs. Jan spoke about how to use the Collaborative Divorce Process as part of financial planning for clients interested in a private, client-centered, cooperative divorce.

Estate Planning and Administration Group associate Stephanie Perry was recently elected to the Steering Committee of the Estates Trusts & Probate Law Section of the D.C. Bar.

The 2014-2015 edition of Maryland Estate Planning and Probate Laws Annotated will be released by Thomson West in December. This year’s edition marks a change of authorship of the commentary. Managing partner Nancy Fax has handed over the reins to Estate Planning and Administration Group partner Anne Coventry. Anne is assisted by Stephanie Perry who has continued for her second year in producing the annotations and research. This edition includes the new Maryland Trust Act so there will be significant revisions and new material.

Divorce and Family Law Group partner Linda J. Ravdin has had a busy speaking schedule this fall. On October 22, 2014, she was a panelist for a webcast sponsored by American Law Institute in Philadelphia, PA, entitled, “Creative Estate Planning Strategies for Using Lifetime QTIPs.” Linda contributed the perspective of the family lawyer and the implications for estate planners if the client later divorces. On October 19, 2014, Linda participated in a panel discussion of the draft Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act at the American Bar Association, Family Law Section Fall CLE Conference in Stowe, Vermont, “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way: Family Law Arbitration is Coming ‘Round the Mountain.” On October 21, 2014, she was a faculty member for a webinar sponsored by the American Bar Association, Real Property, Estates and Trust Law Section, “What Estate Planners Need to Know About Premarital Agreements, Divorce and the UPMAA.”

Anne Coventry of the Estate Planning and Administration Group recently spoke on the subject of digital assets at two conferences: the Maryland State Bar Association’s Advanced Tax Institute; and the American Association of Attorney-Certified Public Accountants. Anne’s talking points are condensed in her article in the Spring 2014 P & F Reporter “Planning for Digital Assets” available here. Given how much of our lives we live online, it’s not surprising that this article is one of our most requested. Linda J. Ravdin, partner in the Divorce and Family Law Group, also addressed the AAA-CPA conference. Her topic was “Prenuptial Agreements – Representing the Economically Dominant and Weaker Parties.”

Eleven lawyers from Pasternak & Fidis have been selected for inclusion in Maryland Super Lawyers for 2015. Partners N. Alfred Pasternak, Marcia Fidis, Nancy Fax, Linda Ravdin, Anne (Jan) White and Anne Coventry were all picked for inclusion in the Super Lawyers list. Only five percent of Maryland lawyers are selected for this honor in any given year. Associates Morriah Horani, Alex Tanouye, Stephanie Perry, Nathan Brill and Mary Katherine Hayburn were picked for inclusion in Super Lawyers – Rising Stars. The Rising Stars list singles out the state’s top up-and-coming attorneys.

2014 — OCTOBER
The November 2014 issue of Washingtonian magazine includes two partners Anne Coventry and Nancy Fax in its listing of the D.C. area’s best estate attorneys. The list is part of an article “Top Money Advisors” that singles out 376 of the area’s most highly regarded financial experts – estate attorneys, insurance specialists, accountants and financial planners.  To develop the list, Washingtonian sent surveys to hundreds of financial professionals in the region asking them:  Whom would you trust with your own money?

2014 — JULY
Linda Ravdin, partner in the Divorce and Family Law Group, published an article in the July 2014 issue of Estate Planning Journal entitled “Factor Premarital Agreements and Divorce Into Estate Plans.”

Estate Planning Associate Alex Tanouye is scheduled to be a speaker at the July 28, 2014 NBI seminar “The Probate Process From Start to Finish,” to be held in Gaithersburg, MD.

2014 — SPRING
Pasternak & Fidis is pleased to welcome Megan Schaeffer to the Estate Planning and Administration Group. Megan studied at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana and received her Juris Doctor degree from DePaul University College of Law in Chicago. Prior to joining the firm Megan was an associate in private practice with a D.C. based firm. Her concentration is in estate planning, including the drafting of complex wills, revocable trusts, and special needs trusts as well as estate and trust administration.

Linda Ravdin, partner in the Divorce and Family Law Group, published an article in The American Journal of Family Law Spring 2014 issue entitled “The Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act.”

On March 27, Jan White, partner in the Divorce and Family Law Group, presented at a D.C. Bar program “You’re Out of (Guide) Line!” The program was designed to provide up-to-date approaches and expert methodology on how to handle child support disputes in high income cases.

Estate Planning and Administration Group partner Anne Coventry is slated to speak at the Judicial Institute in June. The day’s program is focused on “Emerging Issues in Estates and Trusts Law.” Anne will give an address on the topic of “Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets.”

In May, Estate Planning and Administration Group associate Megan Schaeffer will deliver a presentation for the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Institute entitled “Fundamental Aspects of Estate Planning.” The presentation will be part of the “Mid-Career Retirement Planning Series” which is designed as a retirement check-up for mid-career employees from the State Department and other U.S. government agencies who are more than 10 years from retirement eligibility.

Linda Ravdin partner in the Divorce and Family Law Group was a faculty member for a webinar hosted by the American Bar Association in March. The topic was “Innovative Premarital Agreements.”

In October 2013, Linda Ravdin partner in the Divorce and Family Law Group made presentations on premarital agreements to two groups. In Columbus, Ohio, she spoke to the Ohio Chapter,
American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, on the topic “Premarital Agreements: Representing the Stronger
Party; Representing the Weaker Party.” In South Bend, Indiana, she spoke at the 39th Annual Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning Institute. Her topic was “Prenuptial Agreements and Divorce: A Minefield or a Solution?”

Client Alert: Maryland Trust Act The Maryland General Assembly passed, with amendments, The Maryland Trust Act (HB 83). This Act largely codifies existing Maryland common law of trusts and makes clear the rights of trust beneficiaries and creditors, and the powers and duties of trustees. Unless vetoed by the Governor, the Maryland Trust Act will take effect January 1, 2015. A future edition of this newsletter will summarize the key provisions of the Act, so stay tuned!

Pasternak & Fidis Sponsors Round House Theatre’s Production of Two Trains Running
This spring Pasternak & Fidis is delighted to partner once again with the Bethesda-based Round House Theatre by sponsoring a production of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize winning play Two Trains Running. This is the fifth season that the firm has provided support for the repertory company. Partner Vicki Viramontes-LaFree, expressing the views of the entire firm, said, “We are thrilled to be able to sponsor this engaging and powerful work. Round House Theatre consistently offers some of the most exciting stage performances in the region.”

A Wider Circle – CNN Hero Award Winner
Broadcast giant CNN named the Silver Spring-based non-profit A Wider Circle and its founder Mark Bergel as a winner of its Hero Award that highlights the good work of ordinary people who are changing the world in extraordinary ways. The organization was founded in 2001 with the mission to help children and adults who are challenged by homelessness, poverty, and related social issues. Pasternak & Fidis attorney Alex Tanouye, who serves on the Board of Directors of A Wider Circle, said “Mark’s unrelenting work toward ending poverty serves as an example of what is possible, and I am proud that Pasternak & Fidis continues to be a strong supporter of A Wider Circle’s work in our community.”

2013 — FALL
Business, Real Estate and Litigation Group associate Nathan Brill was selected as a fellow in the inaugural Montgomery County Bar Association Leadership Development Academy. The Leadership Academy is a program designed to identify a talented group of attorneys with leadership ability and provide an opportunity to foster and enhance the participants’ skills as future leaders of the Bar Association.

Partner Anne W. Coventry has been selected as the new author of Maryland Estate Planning and Probate Laws Annotated, a Thomson-West publication that is considered an indispensable
reference for practitioners engaged in estate planning and probate matters. Ms. Coventry will provide editorial oversight and commentaries for the book assisted by associate Stephanie Perry who will be responsible for research and annotations. Ms. Coventry succeeds Managing Partner Nancy Fax as editor and author of this authoritative text.

Partner Roger Hayden recently made a presentation at the Maryland Land Title Association
Convention. The American Land Title Association is introducing new standards and criteria for Best Practices to be followed by settlement agents and attorneys. Among the criteria are required employee background checks. Mr. Hayden provided an overview of the law on this topic. He has practiced in the areas of employment law and real estate, title and title insurance for over 30 years. In addition to representing clients, he also acts as an expert consultant and witness with respect to title insurance matters.

The Collaborative Dispute Resolution Professionals (CDRP) has appointed Business, Real Estate and Litigation Group partner Roger Hayden for a second time as Chair of the Civil Committee. Collaborative law is an interest-based process designed to resolve legal disputes on a mutually agreed basis to avoid litigation and address the concerns of all parties. It can be used to resolve disagreements in family businesses, wills and trusts, employment and divorce.

The Estate Planning and Administration Group is pleased to announce that Elizabeth Williams-Walsh has joined the firm as a probate paralegal. Ms. Williams-Walsh is a recent transplant from upstate New York where she was a paralegal for a law practice that specializes in estate planning and elder law. She is a graduate of Dutchess Community College.

Several Pasternak & Fidis partners have been named to the 20th Edition (2014) of The Best Lawyers in America. Selection to Best Lawyers is based on a peer-review survey of more than three million evaluations by top attorneys. No fee or purchase is involved for reviewers or nominated attorneys so listing in this publication is considered a singular honor. For the 2014 Edition Nancy Fax and Marcia Fidis are named for Trusts and Estate Law; N. Alfred Pasternak is named for Tax Law; Linda Ravdin, Anne (Jan) White and Vicki Viramontes-LaFree are named for Family Law; Anne (Jan) White is named for Collaborative Law: Family; and (strong>Vicki Viramontes-LaFree is named for Family Law Mediation.

On July 26, 2013, Divorce and Family Law Group partner Linda J. Ravdin was a speaker
at the 40th Annual Midwest-Midsouth Estate Planning Institute, in Lexington, Kentucky.  The topic of her presentation was “What Estate Planners Need to Know about Premarital Agreements and Divorce.” Ms. Ravdin is the author of Premarital Agreements: Drafting and Negotiation published by the American Bar Association.  She served for two years as an advisor from the ABA Family Law Section on the Drafting Committee on Premarital and Marital Agreements of the Uniform Law Commission.

The Divorce and Family Law Group is pleased to announce the addition of Mary Katherine Hayburn as an associate. Before joining Pasternak & Fidis, Ms. Hayburn was in private practice in Montgomery County, Maryland for six years. She received her law degree from the American University Washington College of Law and her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. Ms. Hayburn’s practice focuses on all aspects of domestic relations law, including mediation, analysis of financial documents, litigation, settlement negotiations and premarital agreements.

2013 — SPRING
In September the Business, Real Estate and Litigation Group welcomed a new associate attorney, Nathan Brill. Nathan joined the Firm after completing a clerkship with The Honorable Katherine Savage of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland. A graduate of The George Washington University, Nathan received his Juris Doctor degree from Emory University School of Law. He is a member of the Maryland State Bar.

Six Pasternak & Fidis attorneys have been named to the 2013 edition of Maryland Super Lawyers. Nancy Fax, Marcia Fidis, and N. Alfred Pasternak were listed for Estate Planning & Probate. Linda
Ravdin and Anne (Jan) White
were listed for Family Law and Morriah Horani was listed as a
Rising Star in Family Law.

Linda Ravdin is the author of Premarital Agreements: Drafting and Negotiation, published by the American Bar Association in 2011. She served as the Co-Advisor from the ABA Family Law Section to the Uniform Law Commission’s Drafting Committee on the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act.

In December 2012 Linda Ravdin and Anne (Jan) White were named among the area’s top divorce
lawyers in Washingtonian magazine. Linda Ravdin was quoted in the Washingtonian article on “A Divorce Lawyer’s Guide to a Good Marriage.” Divorce and Family Law Group partner Linda Ravdin authored a second edition of her BNA Portfolio, Marital Agreements (849-2d. T.M.). The portfolio is part of BNA’s Tax Management Portfolio Library for Estates, Gifts and Trusts. It focuses on the requirements for creating and drafting premarital, marital and domestic partnership agreements.

In February, the Estate Planning and Administration Group said goodbye to associate Adam Swaim. Adam leaves the firm to join the development office of the Human Rights Campaign. Later that month the Group added Alex Tanouye as an associate attorney. Alex took his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Maryland. He joins P & F after six years in private practice focused on estate planning and probate issues. In May 2013, Alex was one of two speakers at the DC Bar Estate Planning Committee of the Taxation Section’s luncheon program entitled “Estate Planning for Unusual (and Illegal!) Assets.” He spoke on common pitfalls and recommended planning techniques for atypical, problematic, and even illegal assets.

In December, Estate Planning and Administration associate Stephanie Perry was a panelist for a DC Bar presentation entitled: “Back to Basics: Powers of Appointment.”

Pasternak & Fidis is delighted to announce that Estate Planning and Administration Group partner Anne Coventry has been named as a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC). ACTEC is a prestigious nonprofit lawyers’ group, based in Washington, D.C., whose mission is to promote and enhance the practice of trusts and estate law. Its 2,700 members nationwide have been chosen in a rigorous nomination and selection process and must demonstrate the highest level of integrity, commitment to the profession, competence and experience as trusts and estate counselors.

The 2013 edition of Best Lawyers lists Divorce and Family Law Group partners Linda Ravdin, Vicki
Viramontes-LaFree and Anne (Jan) White
for Family Law and Estate Planning and Administration
partners Nancy Fax and Marcia Fidis for Trusts and Estates.

The Estate Planning and Administration Group is pleased to announce that Matthew Tevelow has joined the firm as a Probate Paralegal. Matt is a graduate of the University of
Maryland and comes to P & F from the Montgomery County Register of Wills where he was a Level 3
Auditor and Office Administrator.

On January 30 and February 6 Anne (Jan) White presented Ethical Guidelines for Collaborative cases to Maryland, D.C., and Virginia collaborative attorneys, financial experts, and mental
health practitioners. As Co-chair of the Maryland Collaborative Practice Council Ethics Committee, Jan was one of three authors of these Guidelines. In addition, as Chair of the D.C. Metro Protocols Committee, Jan published revised Protocols on how to conduct a Collaborative case. Both the Ethics Guidelines and the Protocols are widely used by Collaborative professionals throughout Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.

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