Preparing for Vacation


As Spring (slowly) approaches, many families are starting to finalize their vacation plans. March and April are big months for winter-weary families to get away.

However, as families prepare for their vacations, one item is typically never found on their “To Do” list – estate planning. If you plan to travel with your family, you should really have your affairs in order in the event the unthinkable happens.  Whether it is death or disability, an estate plan will provide your heirs with the information they need to carry out your wishes.  Otherwise, you are at the mercy of State law and, potentially, a Judge who has no idea who you are.

The core documents in an estate plan are a Last Will and Testament, Financial Power of Attorney and an Advance Medical Directive.  While preparing an estate plan may seem like an onerous task, the attorneys at Compass Law Partners will walk you through the process and ensure your estate plan is completed in a timely manner.

Posted in Law

New Years Resolutions 2023: Guardianship

Take the time to understand Guardianship and how it actually works:

If a child’s parents die and no relative or close family relation is immediately identified as being able to care for the child, a child will go into the foster care system. Hopefully, this is only for a brief stay until someone can be located, but sometimes these things take time. Next, a relative or family friend petitions the court for guardianship of the child. There are hearings, possibly multiple petitions from different people to deal with and possibly conflict. A judge has to do their best to guess who is the best person to be guardians of your kids. Judges try hard, but they aren’t you. They can’t possibly know or internalize all the reasons why someone who looks great on paper might not be the person you want raising your kids.
Even if the person you want to “win” is appointed guardian, they may still have had to go through an exhausting, contested, and expensive process. Contested guardianships often benefit from an attorney’s help, and those fees can be quite expensive in an involved proceeding.
Investing a bit of time, energy, and funds now ultimately saves your family the uncertainty of now knowing your wishes, the anxiety of a potentially contested proceeding, and the related expenses.
Contact the Compass Law team for assistance!
Posted in Law

Amanda Weber

As a Legal Assistant with Compass, Amanda works closely with our law team in the day to day operations, client intake and relations, assisting with legal documents and case preparation, and providing litigation support.

Though originally from East Stroudsburg, PA, Amanda was raised in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. She received a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Communications from Bethany College in Bethany, WV before moving to D.C. where she is actively pursuing professional aspirations in the law. Prior to joining Compass, Amanda worked with various legal teams in WV, MD, and D.C. that provide services in estate planning and administration, litigation, and domestic abuse and equality/discrimination cases.

Amanda enjoys the outdoors with her husband Zach and playing frisbee with their dog Cooper, cheering for the Green Bay Packers, and spending time with friends and family at every opportunity.

New Year, New Business

Whether formalizing a consulting gig, protecting assets, or owning rental property, the New Year is a good time to set up that LLC – limited liability company.

In setting up an LLC, there is more than just filing online.

  • Have you decided how to be taxed?
  • Have you prepared an initial organizing resolution?
  • Have you prepared an operating agreement?
  • Are you doing business in other states?

Even if you are the sole owner of your LLC, you should do all of the above to protect your personal assets and the assets of the LLC.And if you are doing business in multiple states, you may need to file foreign registrations with such states.

Make it your New Year’s Resolution to consult with Compass Law Partners to properly set up and maintain your business, as well as handle other business legal matters.

Posted in Law

Wrapping Up 2022 with the Gift of Estate Planning in 2023

It is amazing how many people think about how they need a Will yet push it off from year to year.  If you do this (and you probably do) you are definitely not alone!!

Creating your estate plan (including a Will, Financial Power of Attorney, a Health Care Power of Attorney) is not only difficult from a “finding time” perspective but also from the perspective of thinking about your own mortality.

Compass Law Partners can help you on both fronts.  First, CLP offers either in-person meetings or virtual meetings.  Virtual meetings (one of the positive things coming from the Covid-19 pandemic) allow you to schedule a meeting from your home, car, or office without having to add “commute time.”  For some, removing “commute time” opens up your availability to meet.

Also, CLP’s experienced attorneys will provide empathetic guidance to you as you traverse the realities of estate planning.  In the end, CLP clients walk away from creating their estate plan with a sense of satisfaction and the security of knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of after your death.

As 2022 comes to a close, make creating an estate plan in 2023 your gift to those you love.

Posted in Law

Holidays and Estate Planning

The holiday season is just around the corner, and while that means that there will be delicious baked goods everywhere and your favorite movies on TV and great deals on all sorts of treasures, it also is a season of family and friends. Between travel and gifting buying and family traditions (both beloved, and otherwise), it’s hard to escape reflecting on family this time of year, regardless of what feelings that stirs up.

No matter what your family has been through in the 12 months, this is a good time of year to dust off those estate planning documents and remind yourself which important jobs you delegated to which sibling, uncle, child, or friend. Who has the power to manage your financial life or your health care decisions if you aren’t in a position to do so yourself? Who would have the power to manage your affairs after you pass away? Is your cousin really still the best person to be a back-up guardian for your kids, or did she commit to the ugly sweater competition with a little too much enthusiasm this year?

Here at Compass Law Partners, we routinely meet families whose loved ones died without estate planning documents, or whose most recent will was circa 1984. Loved ones come to us unsure of what to do if there aren’t documents in place or are unsure how to manage documents that are so old they’re hardly useful anymore. We are always happy to assist, but always do so knowing that there are ways their loved ones could have made the process easier for them.

We recommend you pair that trial version of the side dish you’re making for Thanksgiving with a review of your estate planning documents. We’re always on call to update or create new documents for you.

Posted in Law

Back to School Time!!


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

Jen Kidwell

Jen Kidwell brings 8 years of experience working with families in a variety of settings to her work as a Wills and Trusts attorney. She views the 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. She prioritizes a values-based planning process, and takes time with each client to educate and counsel them through potentially challenging decisions. Though she works with clients at many stages of life, she especially enjoys working with families with minor children and using legal strategies to protect the opportunities and relationships that parents value for their children. Jen also enjoys working with small business owners and ensuring that their comprehensive estate plan takes into account their years of investing their time, money, passion, and expertise in their business.

Jen and her husband live in Montgomery County with their two young children and canine sidekick. She spends free time on the Sligo Creek trail, playing music, and getting muddy in the garden.

Robert J. Garagiola

A triple threat for Compass, Rob serves as a Principal for Compass Government Relations and Compass Public Relations and as the Managing Member for Compass Law. With nearly 30 years of legislative, lobbying, and advocacy experience at the federal, state, and local levels of government, and over 20 years practicing law in D.C. and MD, Rob plays a leading role in managing the Compass leadership team and nurturing the firm’s enterprise growth and innovation.

Government Relations

An expert on energy, tax, business regulation, and procurement matters, Rob lobbies for clients in Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. As a former Maryland State Senate Majority Leader and State Senator for ten years, Rob understands the inner workings of state government. Prior to becoming a State Senator, he spent close to a decade on Capitol Hill – both as a lobbyist and senior staffer for U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., who is now the Chairman of the Energy & Commerce Committee.

Law Practice

Rob has represented legal clients in nearly every sector, ranging from accounting firms to physician practices, trade associations, and nonprofits. Rob advises clients on general business, employment, and commercial leasing matters, helping them form and grow companies, draft corporate governance documents, and provide counsel on various contract issues. He has been recognized as a Super Lawyer since 2016.

Public Relations

Having run for office at the state and federal levels, Rob has extensive media and communications experience. For nearly a decade, he has helped clients with various grassroots advocacy efforts to affect and shape public opinion on a range of issues. Rob has also worked with clients to develop innovative strategies to convey their message before traditional media, digital media, and other venues.

Additional Background

Rob served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1995 to 2003 and received his jump wings in 2000. He is a member of various nonprofit boards, including those with a focus on the arts, healthcare, renewable energy, and public safety. He is married to Hannah Powers Garagiola, the founder of Compass Advocacy, and has five children and a Jack Russell Terrier named Oyster. In his spare time, he enjoys boating, traveling, reading, and cooking.

Practice Areas

Government Relations

  • Business Regulation
  • Energy
  • Healthcare
  • Procurement
  • Taxation & Fees

Public Relations

  • Communications
  • Grassroots & Political Campaign Strategy
  • Public Affairs & Coalition Building


  • Business Law
  • Contracts & Commercial Leases
  • Employment/Labor Law

Brian Della Rocca

After practicing for nearly 20 years, Brian R. Della Rocca has built his career providing a straightforward approach to complex legal issues. Dedicating the bulk of his career to estate and trust planning, Brian has counseled a diverse group of clients from business-owners to retirees to mid-life planners in estate, tax, and asset protection planning. He 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.

Brian represents tax whistleblowers in their pursuit of claims with the Internal Revenue Service. He also represents individuals, businesses, and insurance companies who have been defrauded online through phishing, spoofing or by other means, in an attempt to recover the stolen funds.  These matters typically involve pursuing lawsuits against one or more banking institutions – some of the most protected institutions in the U.S.

Finally, Brian advises clients on First Amendment issues and represents clients in defamation suits where the defamer injured the client in violation of the First Amendment.

Brian has lectured extensively on estate planning, giving talks on complex trust planning, planned giving programs, estate planning for single parents, disclaimers, and income tax planning, among other topics. He is consistently recognized by his peers and the media for his outstanding representation and has provided expertise to Money Magazine and the Journal of Financial Planning among others. He has an AV Preeminent Rating on Martindale-Hubbell (2012-present), has been nominated as a Super Lawyer in Maryland and the District of Columbia, and was cited as an Estate Planning Rising Star by Bethesda Magazine. Active in the field and in his community, Brian served on the school advisory board his children’s elementary school and co-chaired the President’s Advisory Council of the Lido Civic Club of Washington, D.C. in 2017 after serving as its president in 2015 and 2016. He served on the Estates & Trusts Section Council for the Maryland State Bar Association from 2009 to 2013 during which he served as Co-Chair of the Maryland Estate & Gift Tax Study Group spearheading its use of virtual attendance for members located in distant parts of Maryland.  Brian also served as the Co-Chair of the Montgomery/Prince George’s County Tax Study Group.

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