Back to School Time!!

Parents

I, like many other parents, look forward to the kids heading back to school…not because I don’t love them but more because towards the end of the summer, they are just a bit much.

Now that the kids are back in school, you have time to focus on projects you have been putting off (for years) – including estate planning (Wills, Financial Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers of Attorney, etc.).

Estate planning is the one extremely important service that is constantly kicked down the road.  It is likely that whenever you see a television show or movie with reference to a Will, you say “I/We need to do that.”  Then, that thought passes and the millions of other thoughts take over.

I am writing this to tell you that you should stop delaying and just contact Compass Law Partners.  The attorneys at Compass Law Partners will walk you through the process and make it as easy and understandable as possible.   If you make that call, not only will you be protecting your family, but you will never have to have that moment again where you say, “I/We need to do that.”  Instead, you can say, “I’m so glad we did that.”

College Students

Do you have a child in college?  Do you want to make sure you have the authority to speak with your child’s school (since you are paying his/her tuition) or with your child’s medical provider/therapist?

Well, surprise, you cannot.  Your child may still look like the fun 3-year-old (in my opinion, the best age) but, legally, he/she is an adult and must provide authorization to any medical providers and school administrators to speak with you.  The easiest way to provide that authorization is to have your college student sign a Financial Power of Attorney and a Healthcare Power of Attorney.

Although it is likely your child is already in school, this can still be accomplished using video conferencing.  Compass Law Partners has the technology and know-how to meet with clients through video conferencing software.  Then, your child can sign his/her documents when he/she visits you (a great reason to get them to visit).  Or, alternatively, Maryland law now allows Maryland residents to sign estate planning documents virtually. The attorneys at Compass Law Partners have experience in virtual signings and can easily guide your child through the process.

Now is the time to make sure you remain an important part of your child’s life.  Do not hesitate to contact Compass Law Partners to set up a consultation today.

Posted in Law

Team Spotlight: Jen Kidwell, Of Counsel

Jen brings nearly a decade of experience working with families in a variety of settings to her work as a Wills and Trusts attorney.

She views legal documents that are commonly used to help families plan for the future as tools for investing in the relationships, stories, and causes that ultimately create a legacy.

Jen prioritizes a values-based planning process and takes time with each client to educate and counsel them through potentially challenging decisions.

Posted in Law

Team Spotlight: Brian Della Rocca, Partner

Named by Super Lawyers as one of the best estate and tax attorneys in the District of Columbia and the State of Maryland, Brian R. Della Rocca has built his career providing a straightforward approach to complex estate, trust, and tax issues. For nearly 20 years he has counseled a diverse group of clients from business-owners to retirees to mid-life planners in estate, tax, and asset protection planning. Brian specializes in advising high-net worth clients on income tax, charitable, estate and gift tax, and asset protection issues; developing, implementing, and supervising the administration of complex estates; advising on international tax issues; and guiding charitable organizations on the development and implementation of planned giving programs. He has represented countless domestic and international businesses and individuals, as well as tax-exempt organizations. Reputed for his even-keel temperament, Brian has been tapped to represent foreign embassies and consular offices for legal advice in situations where foreign laws contrast with U.S. law.

While he continues to accept new clients for estate and tax planning, Brian has more recently dedicated himself to representing IRS whistleblowers who have filed claims against various tax-exempt entities.

Posted in Law

Your Vacation Checklist

The summer heat and humidity are surely here to stay for another month or two, and hopefully you have time for at least one more getaway before the arrival of pumpkin-spice-everything. Whether you’re heading to the beach, hiking in the mountains, or exploring a new city, we have some suggestions for ways to make your trip even more relaxing.

If you have minor children and have managed to leave them at home, have you given their caretaker the authority they need to take care of them in an emergency? There are a few ways to approach this depending on your state, but most of them are variations of a Power of Attorney or a Standby Guardian Designation.

Have you officially designated back-up medical decision-makers if both you and your spouse are injured on that amazing parasailing trip? If you haven’t decided on at least two tiers of medical decision-makers, you could be setting your family up for conflict, and, the person you would trust the most to manage your health may not come out on top. Set up or review your Advanced Directive for Healthcare to make sure your wishes are clear so you can parasail in peace.

We can help you check these hidden items off of your vacation to-do list, in addition to creating or updating your will or trust and other important estate planning documents.

Posted in Law

Electronically Signed Wills

On April 21, 2022, Governor Hogan signed Senate Bill 36 (Chapter 177) into law. His signature codified the procedure for electronically signing Wills that [-‘had been implemented by Executive Order during the pandemic.  This means that Maryland residents can execute their Wills in the comfort of their own homes.  Witnesses can be present in the “electronic presence” of the testator/testatrix via Zoom or other video conferencing software.  However, to ensure all formalities are followed, the law requires that a supervising attorney be present via video conference and that attorney must certify the electronic signing. The certification will then become a part of the Will.

Have you been putting off drafting your Will?  If so, please contact the attorneys at Compass Law Partners to get the process started.

Posted in Law

Phishing Scams

Phishing scams have been on the rise over the past few years.  Phishing is the act of sending an email to an individual or business purporting to be a vendor/creditor and notifying of a recent account change. Frequently, the fraudulent emails so closely resemble previous emails from the actual vendor/creditor that it is extremely easy to become a victim.  While individuals are also victims of phishing scams, businesses seem to fall prey to these scams at a much higher rate.

If you become the victim of a phishing scam, you should notify your bank immediately upon learning of the scam.  Your bank will then notify the bank that received the funds. At times, there may be some funds remaining in the account that will be reimbursed to you. You should also notify the FBI and complete a report. The FBI is dealing with this every day and they will let you know that you are unlikely to recover the funds.

The final step you should take is to set up a consultation with an attorney at Compass Law Partners.  During that consultation, you will discuss the options available and the potential of successfully recovering some or all the lost funds.  While these types of recovery are difficult, they are not impossible.

Posted in Law

Congratulations Compass’ Louis Leibowitz

Governor Larry Hogan has appointed Louis to the Circuit Court for Montgomery County.

Louis has been an Of Counsel of Compass Law Partners since 2020 and has been a solo practitioner operating under the name Law Offices of Louis M. Leibowitz since 2011. He focuses his practice on civil litigation, family law, and criminal defense in the state and federal courts of Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Prior to starting his practice, Louis served as a public defender in Montgomery County, where he tried hundreds of bench and jury trials. During this time, he handled criminal matters including traffic tickets, drug cases, and major felonies. While in private practice, Leibowitz won a first-degree murder trial believed to be the first total acquittal on first-degree murder charges in Montgomery County in over a decade.

Leibowitz previously served as a litigation associate at Stein, Sperling, Bennett, DeJong & Greenfeig, P.C., where he represented community associations and municipalities in a variety of litigation matters including land use litigation. He began his career as a law clerk for the Honorable Gerald I. Fisher in the District of Columbia Superior Court.

Congratulations Louis! Link to Press Release: https://governor.maryland.gov/2022/04/20/photo-release-governor-hogan-swears-in-judge-anne-k-albright-to-the-court-of-special-appeals-names-four-to-circuit-courts-for-baltimore-city-montgomery-county/

Posted in Law

Let’s Talk About Bruno

Sometimes, for kicks, attorneys who do estate planning imagine how they would go about creating a will or trust for a family from a popular TV show (yes, we know it’s weird and we don’t care). The Brady Bunch is a classic example, and the Modern Family crew is interesting too. But lately, the Madrigal family from Disney’s Encanto has been on my mind (and on a continuous loop on my TV).

One of the most popular songs from the movie is called “We don’t talk about Bruno,” in which family members explain their encounters with a mysterious uncle who disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Perhaps his secrets can reveal some of the complicated dynamics at play in the present. Perhaps all this secret-keeping wasn’t the best move. Perhaps not talking about him was actually making their situation worse!

Every family has unique dynamics and challenges, strengths, and secrets. When we work with a family to create their estate plan, we take the time to learn their values and the situations and relationships that are unique to their family. There’s no one-size fits all family; there’s no one-size fits all estate plan. The process of creating a will or trust to plan for the future invites us to navigate complicated scenarios together. We can help you understand the tools that support the priorities you have for your family – Brunos included.

Posted in Law

Family Medical Leave

The Maryland General Assembly has passed legislation that will establish a new family and medical leave insurance program that will be applicable to businesses with 15 or more employees. While the bill is still awaiting final enactment, it is nearly certain that it will become law and take effect on June 1, 2022.

Under the program, both employers and employees would have to contribute to a new fund that would establish a state family and medical leave insurance program. The new program will likely get underway after the Maryland Department of Labor promulgates regulations, which are anticipated in June 2023.

As this is going to eventually affect most Maryland businesses, it will be important to have an employment law attorney to ensure proper compliance. Compass Law can help you navigate this new family and medical leave insurance program as well as other laws affecting businesses.

Posted in Law

The Importance of Having a Will for your Children

With all the hype surrounding all of the twos last month, it made me think about the terrible twos and those of us with minor children.

No matter what stage our children are in, parents know their needs better than anyone else. As parents, we should be the ones to decide how to best meet those needs, whether we’re here to take care of our children ourselves or not. If you and the other parent of a child die, it is imperative to have a Will where you decide who will serve as the guardian of your minor child(ren). Without it, a court will decide who is “best suited” to care for them.

Not only could this take a very long time and become very expensive, but it could easily create enemies among your living family members (who may feel they are better suited than the others to care for your children). Your children need you to make that choice for them the same way they need you to help them through those terrible twos, pick them up from soccer practice, and teach them why the music of your generation is better than theirs. The best way to do so is to create a Last Will and Testament.

The attorneys at Compass Law Partners can help you through this process to make sure your children are in the best hands in the event you aren’t able to be with them in their formative years.

Posted in Law
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