Author Archives: mcchesneydale

About mcchesneydale

Attorney at Law

Free Estate Planning Event in Bowie, MD

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Author: Shameka Sterling

Free Estate Planning Event in Bowie, MD

 Are you a police officer, firefighter, paramedic, correction or probation officer? Are you in need of a will, advance medical directive (living will), or power of attorney?  If so, this is an event especially for you.

WHAT:           Wills for Heroes Event

WHO:             First responders: police officers, firefighters, paramedics, correction and probation officers from Federal, state, county, city and town departments and agencies

WHEN:           Saturday, September 27, 2014

WHY:             The Wills for Heroes Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides wills, advance medical directives or living wills, and powers of attorney to first responders, free of charge.  As a first responder, you dedicate your lives to helping and saving others.  This event provides an opportunity for you to ensure that your family’s legal affairs are in order before tragedy hits.

McChesney & Dale will be volunteering at this upcoming event.  To participate in this event or to learn about other upcoming events, contact the Wills for Heroes Foundation at (301) 945-9245.  For more information on the Wills for Heroes program, follow the link to their website: Wills for Heroes.

 

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What Does it Mean for an Estate to be Insolvent?

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Author: Victoria Chan-Pablo

What is an insolvent estate?

An estate is insolvent when the decedent’s debts exceed the value of his or her assets and there are insufficient estate assets to pay for expenses of the estate, such as administration expenses, funeral expenses, and valid claims against the estate, etc. In other words, an insolvent estate is one in which the debts exceed the value of the assets. In this circumstance, creditors of the estate may reduce the debt or write off the loss, and unfortunately the heirs or beneficiaries of the estate will not receive a distribution.

What is a solvent estate?

A solvent estate is an estate in which there are sufficient assets to pay all debts, funeral expenses, and administrative expenses in full. In other words, a solvent estate is one in which there are still assets left over after all the debts have been paid. In this circumstance, after all debts of the decedent and all administration expenses are paid, the remaining balance of the decedent’s estate is distributed to the decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries pursuant to the decedent’s last will and testament. If the decedent did not have a will, the remaining balance of decedent’s estate would be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy. Rules of intestacy go into effect when a person dies without leaving a valid will and determine the order of distribution among the decedent’s heirs.
Of course, having a solvent estate is ideal so that your beneficiaries and heirs inherit a portion of your estate. Talking with an estate planning attorney and preparing a will are important to help plan for a solvent estate. To learn more about creating your own estate plan, please contact our office.

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Planning for Your Pets After Death

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Author: Denise A. Martin

Many of us have pets that are beloved family members, and as responsible pet owners, it makes sense to plan for the possibility that your pet(s) will survive you. Estate planning documents, such as your will or a trust, enable you to set aside money for your pet’s care after your death, as well as to appoint a caretaker for the pet. In recent years, Maryland legislators established a Pet Trust Statute, MD. CODE ANN., EST. & TRUSTS, § 14-112. This statute enables you to include a pet trust provision within your will or a separate trust document to provide for the care of your pets, and this provision is enforceable by the individual you appoint as the pet(s)’ caretaker. Your pet trust can provide for the care of multiple animals, as long as those animals were alive during your lifetime.

A pet trust must terminate upon the death of the last animal beneficiary of the trust, and any remaining assets will be distributed to the individuals or entities designated in the pet trust. If no such designation is made, the assets will be distributed to the residuary legatees under the owner’s will, or, if there is no will, to the owner’s heirs at law.

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The Current Status of Estate and Inheritance Taxes in Maryland

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Author: Charles F. Fuller

At some point in time, many of us are confronted with the issue of whether or not to have tax planning included in our estate plan, i.e., within a will or trust. Dating back to 2002, the Maryland Legislature decided that Maryland would impose its own estate tax, separate from the federal estate tax. This process was known generally as “decoupling.” As a result, since 2002, decedents in Maryland were subject to an estate tax at the rate of 16% on assets in excess of $1 million. A married couple with appropriate estate tax planning could shield up to $2 million in assets from the Maryland estate tax.

During the 2014 legislative session, the Maryland Legislature amended the Maryland estate tax law. Over the next several years, the amount of assets that a decedent must have before the Maryland estate tax is imposed upon them will increase until this amount is equivalent to the amount exempt from Federal estate taxation. Under the new law, effective January 1 of each year, the amount of assets exempt from Maryland estate taxes will increase as follows:
Year Assets Exempt From Tax
2015 $1.5 Million
2016 $2 Million
2017 $3 Million
2018 $4 Million
2019 Equal to the Amount of Assets Exempt Under Federal Estate Tax Law
Currently, it is projected that in 2019 both Maryland and Federal estates will be free from estate taxes so long as a decedent’s estate does not have assets exceeding $5.9 million. The estate tax is paid by the estate, and the personal representative is responsible for filing the necessary estate tax returns and paying the required estate taxes.

While Maryland has changed its estate tax laws, its inheritance tax has not been changed. Currently, Maryland imposes a 10% inheritance tax on both probate and non-probate property that passes to certain beneficiaries who are not exempt from the tax. As a general rule, close family relatives are exempt from the inheritance tax in Maryland, and all others receiving property are subject to the tax. The group that is exempt from the tax includes the following family members of a decedent: a surviving spouse, parents and grandparents, children and other lineal descendants, spouses of children and other lineal descendants, stepparents, stepchildren, brothers and sisters, and corporations where all of the stockholders consists of the above exempt family members. It is important to note that this tax applies to property received by non-exempt beneficiaries that was jointly owned with the decedent at the time of death and to transfers made by the decedent within two years of death. Thus, inheritance taxes are imposed upon persons who receive an interest in property from the decedent outside of their estate. The inheritance tax is often paid by the personal representative prior to distributing property to the beneficiary. If there is no estate to be administered or if the personal representative does not pay the tax prior to distribution, the beneficiary is liable for payment of the inheritance tax directly to the Register of Wills in the county of the decedent’s residence or where the property is located.

Although the law has changed recently in regards to the Maryland estate tax, it can still be very important for you to include in your estate plan appropriate tax planning to avoid the imposition of the estate tax while the exemption amount is being incrementally increased. Further, it may be important to plan gifting and other transfers of property in order to attempt to avoid the imposition of the Maryland inheritance tax.

Please feel free to contact me or any of the other attorneys at McChesney & Dale at (301) 805-6080 if you have questions regarding the Maryland estate or inheritance taxes.

2014 Estate Planning Discount

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Author: Shameka Sterling

McChesney & Dale Announces New Special Discount

McChesney & Dale, P.C., now offers a 10% discount on estate planning services for government and military employees. This discount is valid from 06/01/2014 to 12/31/2014 and will apply to all Maryland state and local government employees, as well as personnel of all branches of the U.S. military.

Preparation of estate planning documents now will free your family members from having to make tough choices for you in the future and also minimizes the risk of family conflict. McChesney & Dale can assist with the preparation of last will and testaments, powers of attorney, living will/advance medical directives, and trusts.

Call McChesney & Dale today for your estate planning needs; it’s never too early to get started! Please reference coupon code EP2014 during your initial consultation.

Discount Details:

10% off Estate Planning
Valid: 6/01/2014 – 12/31/2014
Coupon Code: EP2014

Police/Fire/EMS, Teachers, Federal Government Employees, MD State Employees, MD Local Employees (cities/counties within MD)

Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines, Air Force, Peace Corp

For more information on estate planning, follow the links below.

McChesney & Dale, P.C. Practice Areas

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McChesney & Dale, P.C. Estate Planning Articles

Federal and Maryland Wage Laws

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By: William P. Dale

For the most part, individuals and employers entering into an employment relationship have a wide latitude in structuring their contractual relationship. But there are a number of federal and state laws that are designed to provide protection to workers in multiple circumstances. One such set of laws relates to the amount of wages that must be paid to an employee.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which was enacted in 1938, was designed by Congress to protect “the minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency and general well-being of workers.” The Act contains two important substantive provisions affecting the wages of workers. First, it establishes a minimum wage for workers covered by the law, a rather well known provision of the statute. Second, it requires employers to pay time and a half hourly wages for overtime beyond a 40 hour work week. The Supreme Court has held that the employer has an affirmative duty to maintain accurate business records establishing the time during which an employee works.

There are certain exclusions from application of the law for executive, administrative and professional employees. And employers engaged in certain activities enumerated in the statute are not bound by the law either.

But, for employment relationships covered by the overtime law, the regulations and burdens of proof heavily favor employees. Among other pro-employee provisions of the statute is a liquidated damages provision requiring the employer to pay an amount equal to the unpaid overtime obligations in addition to payment of the required wages themselves. Furthermore, entities who may be held personally liable for making these payments include certain individuals who own the employer, or otherwise control the payroll process, and therefore the employee’s ability to recover is not limited to the company whose name appears on his paycheck.

The State of Maryland has also enacted similar overtime laws that operate in coordination with the Fair Labor Standards Act. Also, under Maryland state law an employee may obtain up to “treble damages” (triple damages) if forced to sue to recover unpaid wages.

These laws are designed to protect employees and ensure that they are compensated for their efforts, even in circumstances in which the employer seems to have an upper hand in the employment relationship. The issues involving wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act can become complex, and employers need to be aware of these laws in order to ensure that they are in compliance with the requirements. Employees need to be aware that they may have rights under these laws beyond simply what their employment agreement or oral employment understanding says.

BOWIEFEST

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By: Victoria Chan-Pablo

PLEASE JOIN US FOR 2014 BOWIEFEST!

The 2014 Bowiefest is right around the corner! This year’s event will be held on Saturday, June 7, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Allen’s Pond, 3330 Northview Drive, Bowie, Maryland. Bowiefest brings together many Bowie organizations, businesses and entertainers together on one day and in one place for you all to see and visit.

We invite you to visit us in the Business Expo area located in the Bowie Ice Area from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Our staff would love to meet you and answer any questions you may have. We will also have some very useful giveaways for visiting our booth. We hope to see you there!
More information about Bowiefest can be found at the link provided below.
http://www.cityofbowie.org/index.aspx?NID=783

Update on Same Sex Marriage Laws: CMS FAQ on Coverage of Same-Sex Spouses.

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By: Johanna Montero-Okon

On March 14, 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, published a Frequently Asked Question (“FAQ”) regarding the coverage of Same-Sex Spouses. FAQ’s are generally published by the Departments for the purpose of providing further regulatory guidance by explaining or addressing specific questions the public may have on regulations or the rulemaking process.

Specifically, this FAQ is intended to address questions related to the Department’s Final Regulations published on February 27, 2013. The final regulations implement section 2702 of the Public Health Service Act, which requires that some health insurance issuers offering coverage in the group or individual markets guarantee availability of coverage unless an exception applies. In addition, pursuant to the required availability requirements and the final regulations at 45 CFR 147.104(e), the preamble to the final regulations provides that, in doing so, health insurance issuers are prohibited from implementing discriminatory marketing practices or benefit designs. The goal is to ensure that insurance companies subject to the regulations do not discriminate against same-sex married couples, but instead offer them the same benefits extended to heterosexual married couples. As provided by the Department, the FAQ should clarify the meaning of the terms used in 45 CFR. 104(e). Furthermore, the answers provided by the Department should assist health insurance issuers seeking additional guidance on the requirements they must meet to ensure availability of coverage.

Two Estate Planning Documents You Might Need Tomorrow

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By: Denise Martin

There are two estate planning documents that everyone should have, whether they are young or old, rich or poor, married or single: a power of attorney and a living will. While people generally think that estate planning documents are for after you die, a power of attorney and a living will are documents that actually can only be used during your lifetime.

A power of attorney is a document in which you designate an agent with the authority to act on your behalf regarding financial and legal matters. You can limit the authority you give to your agent in a power of attorney, such that it can be used in only a particular circumstance. For instance, if you need to sell your home but are unable to be present on the closing day, you could prepare a power of attorney giving a friend or family member the limited authority to sign the closing papers for you. Often, however, we recommend the preparation of a power of attorney that is broad in its scope so that you have someone (typically a spouse, family member, or close friend) who can act on your behalf with respect to a wide array of matters. This would be particularly helpful if you were to become disabled and unable to handle your own affairs. The general power of attorney document we prepare at McChesney & Dale allows your agent to pay your bills, invest your money, file and pay your taxes, manage your retirement benefits, etc.

The other document everyone is advised to have for use during their lifetime is a living will, also called an advance medical directive. This is a document that allows you to specify the structure of your medical care under certain circumstances. First, the living will allows you to determine whether you want medical interventions used to try to extend your life if you have a terminal condition or are in a vegetative state. Second, the living will allows you to appoint an agent who can make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated.

Please feel free to contact me or any of the other attorneys at McChesney & Dale at 301-805-6080 if you have questions about a power of attorney or a living will.

Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating

We are very pleased to announce that Charles F. Fuller has received an AV Preeminent Rating Peer Review Rating for Martindale-Hubbell!

What is the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Reviewing Rating:

The Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ are an objective indicator of a lawyer’s high ethical standards and professional ability, generated from evaluations of lawyers by other members of the bar and the judiciary in the United States and Canada. The first review to establish a lawyer’s rating usually occurs three years after his/her first admission to the bar.

LexisNexis facilitates secure online Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings surveys of lawyers across multiple jurisdictions and geographic locations, in similar areas of practice as the lawyer being rated. Reviewers are asked to assess their colleagues’ general ethical standards and legal ability in a specific area of practice. The ratings appear in all formats of the Martindale-Hubbell® Law Directory, in the online listings on martindale.com®, Lawyers.comSM, on the LexisNexis services, on LexisNexis mobile apps.

What is an AV Preeminent Rating:

The numeric ratings range may coincide with the appropriate Certification Mark:

  • AV Preeminent® (4.5-5.0) – AV Preeminent® is a significant rating accomplishment – a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence.
  • BV Distinguished® (3.0-4.4) – BV Distinguished® is an excellent rating for a lawyer with some experience. A widely respected mark of achievement, it differentiates a lawyer from his or her competition.
  • Rated (1.0-2.9) – The Peer Review Rated designation demonstrates that the lawyer has met the very high criteria of General Ethical Standing.

Please check out Charles Fuller’s profile on Martindale.