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

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

Law

  • 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.

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
Ready to Begin?
Let’s Chat
Contact Us