Estate Planning

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Attorneys

Anne W. Coventry

Nancy G. Fax

Marcia C. Fidis

Brooke I. Hettig

Morriah H. Horani

N. Alfred (Al) Pasternak

Stephanie T. Perry

Linda J. Ravdin

James D. Saintvil

Christina K. Scopin

Micah G. Snitzer

Alex S. Tanouye

Vicki Viramontes-LaFree

Anne (Jan) W. White

Probate Paralegals

Sharon L. Coop

Anbar A. Hassan

Ann M. Potts

Suzanne Reno

Karen L. Williams

Paralegals

Kadie M. Marks

Marla V. Wolff

Administrative Staff

Mary A. Nelson

Nicole M. Ricketts

Nicole A. Ryder

Michelle G. Singleton

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.

Estate Planning Information Form — SHORT

Estate Planning Information Form — LONG

 

Publications

Recognition

  • Washingtonian – Top 30 Lawyers in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area
  • Washingtonian – Washington’s Best Lawyers for Trusts and Estates
  • Washingtonian – Top Money Advisor for Estate Planning
  • Washingtonian – Top Financial Planners in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area
  • Super Lawyers – Top 50 Women Lawyers; Estate Planning & Probate (Maryland, 2009, 2012-2017)
  • Super Lawyers – Rising Stars – Estate & Trust Litigation (Maryland, 2016)
  • Super Lawyers – Rising Stars – Estate Planning & Probate (Maryland, 2013-2016)
  • Bethesda Magazine – Top Wills & Estates Lawyers in Montgomery County
  • Maryland State Bar Association Section of Taxation Tax Excellence Award (2004)
  • Super Lawyers – Estate Planning & Probate Law (Maryland, 2007-2018)
  • ACTEC Observer, Uniform Law Commission, Premarital and Marital Agreements
  • Accredited Estate Planner Designee of the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils
  • Chambers & Partners, High Net Worth, Notable Practitioner (Washington, DC, 2016-2017)
  • Best Lawyers – Lawyer of the Year in Trust and Estates (Washington, DC, 2017)
  • Best Lawyers – Trusts & Estates Law (Maryland, 2015-2018)
  • Super Lawyers – Rising Stars – Estate Planning & Probate (Maryland, 2017)
  • Super Lawyers – Top 100 Lawyers (Maryland, 2012-2014, 2017)
  • Super Lawyers – Top 50 Women Lawyers (Washington, DC, 2017)
  • Best Lawyers – Trusts & Estates Law (Maryland, 2006-2018)
  • Best Lawyers – Tax Law (Maryland, 2014-2018)
  • Best Lawyers – Trusts & Estates Law (Maryland, 2018)
  • Super Lawyers – Estate Planning & Probate Law (Washington, DC, 2007-2017)
  • Super Lawyers – Estate Planning & Probate Law (Washington, DC, 2015-2017)
  • Super Lawyers – Rising Stars – Estate Planning & Probate (Maryland, 2015-2018)
  • Super Lawyers – Rising Stars – Estate Planning & Probate (Washington, DC, 2015-2017)

Blog Posts

October 17, 2017

“To my descendants, per stirpes…” (or… How do we pass the Packers’ tickets to our grandkids?)

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 >

May 24, 2017

How Divorce Affects Your Estate Planning Documents

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 >

November 3, 2016

Protecting an Inheritance: Premarital Agreements and Trusts

“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 >

October 14, 2016

Nancy Fax named Lawyer of the Year in Trusts & Estates for DC Area for 2017

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:

  • Jan White in Collaborative Law: Family Law
  • Jan, Vicki Viramontes-LaFree and Linda Ravdin in Family Law
  • Nancy, Al Pasternak and Marcia Fidis in Trusts and Estates
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 >

May 11, 2016

The PRINCE Act and “Name and Likeness” Rights: Sword and Shield?

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 >

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 >

February 12, 2016

Enforcing Death Provisions in Premarital and Postmarital Agreements

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 >