Sometimes disputes arise under a will or trust, such as a contest about the validity of a will, a dispute about the meaning of the terms of a will or trust, or an action against a trustee. When that happens, we work to resolve the dispute out of court, if possible. When the dispute cannot be resolved by settlement, the firm’s seasoned trial lawyers work with our experienced trusts and estates lawyers to take the case to court.
In 2011, we won a ground-breaking ruling in the highest court of the District of Columbia. In this case, the personal representative had relied upon the estate’s attorney to file an estate tax return on time, but the attorney had failed to do so. The appeals court held that the personal representative was not personally liable to the heirs of the estate for the mistakes made by the attorney. Our advocacy led to this important ruling that clearly delineates the duties of the personal representative and the attorney for an estate.
A premarital agreement is a contract between persons intending to marry. It determines spousal rights when the marriage ends by death or dissolution. All states enforce properly made premarital agreements. However, laws governing validity vary among the states. What if a couple signs a premarital agreement in Virginia and later moves to Maryland? Will a Maryland court enforce the agreement even though Maryland law of validity imposes a higher standard than Virginia law?
Contract law permits the premarital agreement to choose the law that will govern a dispute about validity of the agreement or enforceability of a specific provision even when the dispute must be resolved in another state’s courts. Can the couple rest easy, knowing the law chosen in the contract—Virginia law in the… MORE >
The trend in recent years has been toward greater creativity in marriage ceremonies, including locations, vows, and officiants. In personalizing the ceremony, it is important to keep in mind that the legal requirements for marriage are set forth in the laws of each jurisdiction, both as to the qualifications for a person to marry and the legal steps necessary to ensure that the marriage is valid.
Historically, marriage has been subject to the control of state legislatures (in the District of Columbia, the City Council). Statutes set forth the requirements for who is allowed to marry, the required procedure to marry, and the legal effects of marriage. Spouses who marry in religious or other ceremonies that do not comply with the statutory requirements may be… MORE >
In the modern world it is increasingly common for an American citizen to marry a foreign national. In some situations, the United States citizen spouse or permanent resident may sponsor the other for permanent resident status (often referred to as a “green card” for the color that the physical document was at one time). The decision to do so can have lasting consequences in the event the marriage ends.
A sponsoring spouse must fill out an Affidavit of Support under Section 213A of the Immigration and Naturalization Act – commonly referred to as a Form I-864. A Form I-864 is a contract between the sponsor and the United States government that requires the sponsor to support the immigrant if the need arises. Spouses commonly sign… MORE >
After a divorce, the last thing on most people’s minds is contacting their estate planning attorney. However, if you fail to revise your estate planning documents after your divorce, your former spouse might still be a beneficiary of your estate and may continue to be a fiduciary under your will, revocable trust, power of attorney, or advance health care directive. Below is a table that summarizes how divorce affects these documents under D.C., Maryland, and Virginia law.
D.C. Maryland Virginia Wills Divorce and final property settlement revokes the entire will. If the testator does not execute a new will, or republish his or her old will, he or she will die intestate. Divorce revokes all provisions of a will relating to the former spouse,… MORE >
The word “service” has special meaning at Pasternak & Fidis – and it applies to community involvement as well as to our clients and to our profession. In recognition of the firm’s commitment to community service, we closed our offices on May 9th for a day of volunteer work at Red Wiggler Community Farm. We (gladly) exchanged our briefcases, law books, and business attire for hoes, shovels, and workwear to spend a day outdoors working alongside – and at the direction of – the wonderful, hardworking staff and growers of Red Wiggler, many of whom are disabled members of our community.
Red Wiggler is a working farm located in Germantown, Maryland, which supports youths and adults with and without disabilities with employment and vocational training… MORE >
Most of us are concerned with protecting our personal information from getting into the wrong hands. We take precautions to protect our privacy such as password protecting computers and mobile devices, using passwords for online services, limiting personal information on social media profiles, and carefully choosing when to give out social security numbers and birth dates.
Court files are public records. Most such files are available to be reviewed in person by any member of the public; eventually they may be accessible over the internet. If you are ever a party in a legal dispute you may be concerned about how to protect your personal information from becoming available in a public record. In recent years, courts in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia… MORE >
Vicki Viramontes-LaFree, partner in the Divorce and Family Law Group, participated in a panel as part of Suburban Hospital’s Estate Planning Journal Club Speaker Series. The subject was “Grey Divorce: From the Legal, Financial and Mental Health Perspectives.” In 2013, a study found that the divorce rate after age 50 doubled and that it more than doubled for those 65 and older. The panel discussion focused on special challenges for divorcing baby boomers as they grapple with children leaving home, anxiety about financial security and the ability to retire, the tension between supporting children in college and the support needs of a spouse, the prospect of a reduced lifestyle after retirement and after assets are split in two, having to sell the family home, and… MORE >
Jan White and Linda Ravdin were named yet again on Washingtonian’s list of Washington’s Top Divorce Lawyers. Congratulations, Linda and Jan!
Partner Alex Tanouye recently presented to attorneys in the Maryland State Bar Association’s Estate and Gift Tax Study Group. Alex’s presentation – entitled “Maryland’s Spousal Elective Share: What’s In, What’s Out, What’s Next?” – took place in Potomac and was televised via simulcast in Baltimore.
In July 2016, the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) adopted the Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act (UFLAA). It can now be considered for enactment by state legislatures. Ideally, it will be enacted by all states and the District of Columbia so that there will be a uniform approach to arbitration of family law disputes across the U.S.
These are the key provisions:
Scope. Parties can agree to submit any existing or future family law dispute to binding arbitration, including division of property, a claim for spousal support, custody and child support, a claim of breach of a marital agreement or a dispute about how to implement the terms of such an agreement. A party who entered into an agreement to resolve a future child-related dispute by… MORE >