October 22, 2014

Astrid Is Doing Remarkably Well!

As most of you know by now, DGVE law's Client Liaison and Paralegal, Astrid A. Muhammad, had brain surgery at the end of August to remove a benign but invasive brain tumor.  Within days she was texting me to check on clients and firm matters!  It's been just over a month and already she cannot lie idle, so Astrid is back to work part time, helping keep me and your matters on track.

For those of you who don't know, Astrid and I met in high school, lost touch for about 15 years, then reconnected through the positive wonders of Facebook.  Serendipity brought us back together in 2009 when Astrid became the first additional member of the DGVE law Team.  In the 5 years since she has become not only my right arm, but also a very dear friend. Astrid is the type of person that inspires you to be your best self.

Astrid, her family, and I have felt and been uplifted by and are so grateful for your expressions of sympathy, your kind wishes, and your encouragement over the past few exceptionally challenging months.  She still has a considerable amount of recovery road left to travel, including relearning how to walk without a cane, regain full hearing, and lose the facial paralysis she has suffered as a result of all this, but she is confident that she will be back teaching Zumba and running marathons as soon as humanly possible.  With the positive and inspirational attitude Astrid has maintained throughout I have no doubt she will.

Meanwhile, so many of you have asked me how you could help. Astrid's husband and two young children and both sides of their families have helped as much as possible.  Her husband's family is here on the South Shore (feel free to lobby hard for them to move back here!) and her mother is down in Florida.  Though we can't easily deliver meals for Astrid and her family or help with rides for the kids to and from their after school activities from here, we can help make things a little easier for them despite the miles. After much trial and error, this is what I've struck on as the best way to help: 

Thanks so much in advance.  As we so often comment to one another, we have the best friends and clients!


October 19, 2014

“it’s not about what you have, it’s about how much you care"

October 20-26, 2014 is 
National Estate Planning Awareness Week

Attorney Danielle G. Van Ess of the family-friendly, Hingham, Massachusetts law firm DGVE law, LLC wants to help you “protect your family, yourself, and your stuff." She explains, “it’s not about what you have, it’s about how much you care. You care about who makes your medical decisions for you. You care who takes care of your children. You care about preserving whatever you have to use throughout your lifetime. You care about what you leave behind to whom, how, and when."

If your children are minors you worry about who would raise them into adulthood. If your child just became a legal adult, you worry that, without his or her own basic estate plan in place, you lack access to financial and medical information to help him or her. If you have a child with special needs you worry about who would know everything you do about your child and how to ensure your child’s needs are always well met. If you have an adult child with a history of less than stellar financial management skills, addiction, gambling, or who may be divorcing, you worry about lost assets.

 More people are sued than ever today. We know most doctors will be sued sometime in their careers, but increasingly so will financial, accounting, real estate, and IT professionals. Car accidents, slip-and-falls, and accidents involving other people’s children are all real threats. The time to protect your assets from possible lawsuits is before you think you might be sued, before it is too late, and the way you try to protect your assets determines your likelihood of prevailing. Some DIY efforts, such as titling assets in your spouse’s name or establishing a family LLC or LLP without ensuring it owns the assets nor maintaining required formalities just provide false confidence and will likely fail to provide asset protection.

You may worry about how to pass significant resources to your loved ones without causing unintended consequences such as disrupting family harmony. Your estate planning attorney can help you design a plan so each family member can enjoy your cherished vacation home without disagreements far into the future. If you have always been charitably inclined, you can plan to support charities dear to your heart while also ensuring your loved ones are well provisioned. If you have a trusted financial advisor and CPA, your lawyer can and should work together with them as a team on your behalf to help you make your dreams for the future come true. Or you may worry about having sufficient resources to support yourself through retirement, possible long term medical expenses, remaining in your home as long as possible, and preserving your hard-earned resources for your loved ones. While you may not feel like you have enough to worry about estate taxes, you just might and perhaps ironically the less you have the more important it may be to preserve it to protect those you love.

Despite all these important reasons to meet with an experienced estate planning lawyer to learn how the law views your family or financial circumstances, whether your current plan is likely to achieve your goals, and what your options really are, most Americans mistakenly believe they do not need even a simple Will. Far too many Americans have stale, old estate plans that no longer reflect their current personal circumstances, especially given recent sweeping changes in the law.

In 2008 Congress passed a resolution proclaiming the third week of every October as National Estate Planning Awareness Week noting, “Many Americans are unaware that a lack of estate planning and financial illiteracy may cause their assets to be disposed of to unintended parties by default through the complex process of probate.” With a comprehensive estate plan and financial roadmap for success, Van Ess says, “you can control your own assets during your lifetime, designate the people you want to care for you and provide for your loved ones if you’re ever incapacitated, and make sure that after your death you leave what you want to whomever you want how and when you want, all while ensuring there are more assets left rather than wasted on unnecessary expenses.”

Because there is so much more to an estate plan than just filling in forms, you need to find a qualified lawyer to assist you. Van Ess is passionate about educating and empowering her clients. Says Van Ess, “Just as we as patients seek the right bedside manner in our doctors, we need to find the right deskside manner in our lawyers. Once we find that lawyer we can say with confidence ‘I want to talk with my lawyer’ and it takes away so much unnecessary worry, replacing it with true peace of mind and comfort of heart.”

About Attorney Danielle G. Van Ess and DGVE law®
Raised on the North Shore in Swampscott, Massachusetts, Van Ess graduated with honors from the George Washington University in Washington, DC then met her husband, Chad Van Ess, Senior Counsel for the Acushnet Company, comprised of the Titleist and Footjoy golf brands, in 1998 as classmates at Boston University School of Law. Danielle “got her passport stamped” and moved with Chad to Hingham on the South Shore in 2006 where they laid down firm roots and are raising their four daughters, ages 1 through 9. Danielle established her law firm, DGVE law, LLC in their family home on East Street on September 1, 2008. For over six years now DGVE law® has been proudly “helping people add to, protect, and move their families”® by providing high quality professional legal services in the areas of adoption, estate planning, and residential real estate. For the right, truly passionate entrepreneurs, DGVE law® is also “helping you build, grow, and nurture your business.”

For more information, please visit: www.dgvelaw.com, like us on Facebook, or call: 781-740-0848.

April 25, 2014

Listen to Your Mother, Boston

As a mother of 4 little girls ranging in age from baby to elementary school, Attorney-Mama Danielle G. Van Ess will be the first to tell it like it is:  

Motherhood is NOT for the faint of heart.

That's why DGVE law®  is proud to sponsor Boston's performance of Listen to Your Mother "LTYM" 2014, a series of live staged readings in 32 cities nationwide in celebration of Mother’s Day, "giving motherhood a microphone". 

Listen to "live readings by local writers on the beauty, the beast, and the barely-rested of motherhood, in celebration of Mother’s Day." 

10% of proceeds go to local charity for women & girls.

February 11, 2014

Time for "The Talk"


The idea of confronting our parents’ mortality is indeed difficult, but this is a conversation (or series of conversations) that is crucial to you and your family’s well-being.  We are so used to being cared for by our parents that the transition to becoming their caregiver often sneaks up on us.  Preparing yourself ahead of time may ease the anxiety this transition can invoke.  That being said, remember that your parents may not want to be reminded of their mortality either… tact is necessary!

Top 5 ways NOT to talk to your parents about Estate Planning

1.        "Come on; let us see your will so we can establish once and for all who your favorite is!” 
While this may be gratifying to some, writing a will is an incredibly difficult process, imagine surveying all that you have acquired over your lifetime and then trying to determine what is fair, who is most likely to find value in what is in part, your legacy.  Be sensitive.  The larger issue is ensuring that a will exist, its location is known, and that any necessary updates are made.  When a parent dies without a will, the estate is divided in probate in court, and a judge, not your parent, decides who gets what.  And while this may be satisfying (Yes! You don’t have to take your mom’s Spoons from Around the World Collection!), the financial costs and potential trauma it can cause within the family is not worth it.  So, don’t ask them to choose favorites (you know it’s you anyway) but do ask if one exists.  Remind your parents that it is not about who gets what, you just want to ensure their wishes are followed.

2.       "This is the third time you’ve “lost” your keys, have you decided who is going to make your decisions for you when you get too senile to do it yourself?”
Frankly, no one wants to imagine their parents incapacitated, but should this occur, your parents need to designate someone to act as power of attorney.  Without this designation, a judge will decide, which can once again lead to costly court fees and family trauma.  This is also a good time to express if you have resignations about fulfilling this role yourself.  The person named to this role is given the ability to make legal and financial decisions should your parent be unable to.  

3.       "You’re looking a little… ‘tired’ lately, what is the status of your advance health care directives?”
Once again, no one wants to be reminded of their own mortality, but the best time to make these decisions is before someone becomes ill.  Advance health care directives include a living will, a health proxy, and a HIPPA.  Having clear, written instructions created while healthy, ensures that the emotions involved in dealing with illness do not impact decisions.  Without these instructions, heartbreak and even lawsuits could ensue. 

    4. "We were hoping to retire early, what are your plans for assisted living? We’d love to move in here.”  For the record, a friend of mine’s brother-in-law actually said something like this to his parents; it did not go over well.  The real question here is if your parents have made plans to cover the cost of long-term care.  Most long-term care homes are not covered by Medicare, and can be enormously expensive.  Long-term care insurance is something aging parents need to consider.  Help them (and your future self) by doing the research with them.

5.       And last, and probably the worst of all, what not to say to your parents when discussing estate planning, "I’m so tired of being broke all the time!  On a totally unrelated subject, have you named an authorized user on your financial accounts?”
Yikes!  This is an important issue, because should the account holder become incompetent or die, gaining access to funds can be insanely difficult.  To avoid yet another costly court battle, encourage your parents to name a trusted family member as co-owner of investments and accounts.  Again, if this is a role you are not willing to fulfill, now is the time to speak up.

While I joke, it is vital for your family to fully understand where your  parents are in the estate planning process.   They spent years investing in your well-being and future, an uncomfortable conversation (or two, or three) is the least you can do to invest in theirs.