Pasternak & Fidis provides sophisticated, comprehensive estate planning for individuals, couples, families and family businesses. Each of our three senior estate planning attorneys brings more than 30 years of experience to our clients. Our five younger attorneys all have excellent skills that will enable them to effectively represent clients and their descendants for many years to come. Together, our nine estate planning attorneys offer a coordinated approach that goes well beyond wills and trusts.
Effective tax planning is a critical part of estate planning. We structure estate plans to take advantage of all available tax-saving strategies. Real estate interests, closely held businesses, and other enterprises require special attention. We combine tax expertise, business knowledge, and common sense to help protect and preserve our clients’ wealth for future generations.
Planning for incapacity is an important part of the planning process. We work to ensure our clients’ needs are met and their wishes honored, both with respect to their financial affairs and their health care decisions.
Complications and disputes can arise with any estate. When disputes arise, we can litigate if necessary, but we prefer working to calm any disagreement, listening to all parties, developing an appropriate strategy, and crafting the proper plan.
We are experienced in working with complex family structures, including step-families and domestic partners.
Pasternak & Fidis has cultivated strong relationships with other professionals. We work regularly with our clients’ accountants, insurance agents, appraisers, financial planners and investment advisors.
If you are interested in our estate planning services we invite you to call for an appointment. We ask our new estate planning clients to complete an estate planning information form in advance of our initial meeting. Our two forms are listed below. The long form is recommended for clients with complex assets, such as investment real estate, closely held business interests, multiple life insurance policies, and the like. The short form can be used by clients whose asset categories are more straightforward, such as bank and brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, and personal residences. Please print the form that is applicable to you, complete it, and bring it with you to our initial meeting. In the alternative, you can save the form to your desktop and complete it electronically before returning it to our office.
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 >
“My daughter is getting married. Does she need a premarital agreement?”
Estate planning attorneys hear this question more and more frequently – generally from clients concerned about the assets they plan to leave their children. Numerous wealth transfer predictions estimate that trillions of dollars will pass over the next decade from a generation that earned the money to their children who did not earn it. Parents (and grandparents) may want to assure that the inheritance the child receives, whether cash, real estate, a stock portfolio or an interest in a family business, will be stewarded carefully. Parents usually hope that the inherited assets will ultimately pass at the child’s death to the child’s children or grandchildren rather than to a child’s surviving spouse, however… MORE >
Best Lawyers named partner Nancy Fax the Trust and Estates Lawyer of the Year in DC, Maryland and Virginia. Because the publication uses peer nominations to develop its selective list, we are especially proud of this recognition. Congratulations, Nancy!
Additional Pasternak & Fidis attorneys were recognized as best lawyers in Maryland in their respective fields:
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 >
Lawmakers in Minnesota are acting quickly to pass the PRINCE Act, which is intended to protect one’s – specifically, Prince’s – name, voice, and likeness from unauthorized use for a 50-year period after death. The law is aimed at protecting Prince’s legacy and the right of his estate to control future marketing of and revenues from his music and other artistic media. This pending Minnesota legislation is discussed here: http://blogs.mprnews.org/capitol-view/2016/05/legislature-hurries-to-aid-prince-heirs/.
Interestingly, the IRS and the Estate of Michael Jackson are in the early stages of high-stakes estate tax litigation, and the IRS appears to be basing its case on the value of Jackson’s “name and likeness” property rights under California law at the time of Jackson’s death in 2009. This April 2016 article from Billboard… 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 >
A premarital agreement is a contract between prospective spouses that defines each spouse’s property rights and obligations in the event of death or dissolution. A postmarital agreement is a contract between spouses who have no immediate plans to divorce and can do the same things that a premarital agreement can do. Some agreements require a party to make specific provisions for a surviving spouse, such as a cash bequest, transfer of an asset, such as a home, or a portion of the deceased spouse’s estate. When a deceased spouse is obligated to make provisions for a surviving spouse, and fails to do so, the surviving spouse must take legal action to enforce the contract.
How Assets Pass to Surviving Spouses at Death
A decedent’s property… 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: