Scope of Legal Services

We are committed to providing you with the best legal services possible.  However, the focus of our practice is in the areas of trust and estate law, including probate, probate litigation, estate planning, but also includes, appeals, general contract matters, business matters, adoption, family law and nuptial planning.  To the extent we do not handle an area of law that you need assistance in (such as criminal law, personal injury, worker’s compensation or bankruptcy) please ask for referrals from us to other attorneys.  We may be able to refer you to someone who can assist you and would be happy use our resources to help you get the legal help you need.  Please call us today to discuss your case.

What we do.
ESTATE PLANNING

There are a few basic, yet incredibly important estate planning documents, in addition to Wills and Trusts, which every person should have in place, which include a Durable General Power of Attorney, Durable Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will. 
 
DURABLE GENERAL POWER OF ATTORNEY

This document designates an individual to handle all of your financial matters and other related affairs. The powers granted are normally very broad and include powers to sell real estate, access bank accounts, transfer various assets, apply for federal and state programs and entitlements, access safe deposit boxes, as well as other powers. 

ADVANCE DIRECTIVES

In New Hampshire, Advance Directives include a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will. These two documents relate to your health care matters and decisions and are discussed separately below.

DURABLE HEALTH CARE POWER OF ATTORNEY

Similar to the Durable General Power of Attorney, the Durable Health Care Power of Attorney designates an agent to serve on your behalf with respect to making all health care decisions when you are unable to make them yourself. Unlike the Durable General Power of Attorney, this document does not take effective immediately, but only if you cannot make decisions for yourself. In MA, this document is known as a Health Care Proxy.

LIVING WILL

This document expresses your wishes regarding the withholding and or withdrawal of life sustaining support systems if two physicians certify that you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious. You also can express your wishes regarding the withholding or withdrawal of nutrition and hydration (food and liquids). This does not mean that comfort medication is withheld.

LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT

A Will is a document that is executed in accordance with certain formalities and which sets forth who you leave your assets to upon your death, who you designate as your Executor to carry out the provisions of your Will upon your death. You can leave you assets to anyone you like. However, if you are married, to the extent you do not leave at least the statutory amount to your spouse, your spouse may elect to force his or her share from your Estate. Thus, it is advisable to leave at least the statutory share to your spouse, unless you have a prenuptial agreement in place. Please call to discuss this type of planning in further detail.

TESTAMENTARY TRUSTS

A testamentary trust is a trust that is created within your Will. Testamentary trusts use to be popular, but they are no longer recommended, except when planning for a spouse who is receiving public assistance to pay for nursing home care or in other rare cases. Testamentary trusts are subject to the supervision of the Probate Court and normally require annual filings and reports for the duration of the trust. For this reason there are annual attorney fees, costs and delays to administer a testamentary trust, which can be avoided entirely by using a Revocable Trust, also known as an Inter Vivos Trust. Also, the provisions of a testamentary trust are public, unlike the Revocable Trust, which is a private document. 

REVOCABLE TRUSTS & TRUST ADMINISTRATIONS
 
With court delays due to state budget cuts, it makes sense to establish a Revocable Trust and to fund it during your lifetime so that, to the extent possible, you avoid the costs and delays of probate upon your death. There are laws that impose duties and responsibilities on Trustees. We can assist you with complying with the laws and advise you of your fiduciary duties as Trustee. This includes annual accountings to beneficiaries, certain mandatory notices to beneficiaries, etc. Please ask for additional information regarding trust administrations.

PROBATE

Probate is the process of administering an estate in court. The decedent’s assets are ascertained and valued and the decedent’s debts are paid. Creditors are given an opportunity to file claims against the estate and be paid. After payment of debts, expenses of administration, medical bills etc. assets are then distributed to the beneficiaries. If the decedent had a Will, the process is known as a testate administration. If the decedent did not have a Will, the administration is called intestate. To get the probate process started, you should locate the original Last Will of the decedent and obtain a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate. Please call us to discuss the next steps.

PROBATE LITIGATION

Probate litigation includes various disputes between fiduciaries and beneficiaries, such as contesting the validity of estate planning documents, duress, fraud, or pursuing an action against a fiduciary for breaching his fiduciary duties. There are many duties imposed on a fiduciary of a Will and Trust by law. It makes sense to have someone well versed in estate and trust law on your litigation team. We are available to pursue your claim and protect your interests, however, we cannot represent you both as a fiduciary and pursue your claim, as this may pose a conflict of interest. Please call today to discuss your case in further detail.

MA & NH DEEDS

Whether you are selling your property or transferring property into a Trust for estate planning purposes, we can prepare the deed for you. We charge a flat fee of $175 per deed, plus all recording fees, state transfer taxes and surcharges, if any.

CONTRACTS

Need a contract reviewed? Whether it is a purchase and sales agreement for a real estate transaction, an employment contract, commercial lease, business agreement, or any other contract, we are available to prepare and review it for you. 

APPELLATE BRIEFS

Do you need an appellate brief prepared? We enjoy writing briefs and in 2010 won an appeal with the highest court in NH. The NH Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s decision regarding a domestic violence restraining order in favor of our client, the defendant holding that the trial court erred by granting a domestic violence restraining order. We have unique resources in preparing and pursuing your appeal for you. Please ask for additional information.

FAMILY LAW MATTERS

We offer unbundled legal services in both MA and NH. This is a great alternative for individuals who would like to handle aspects of their case and save money by utilizing an attorney for the more complex aspects a case. Unbundled legal services means that you retain responsibility and complete control over your case, and ask for assistance and guidance only when you need it. This is helpful to you if you have only a limited amount of money to pay for attorney fees. We are available to assist you with your divorce, and related family law matters, whether it is preparing an isolated aspect of it, such as a motion, or handling it entirely from beginning to end. Please call for additional information.

PRENUPTIAL AND POSTNUPTIAL AGREEMENTS

A nuptial agreement is an agreement between a couple entered into either before they get married (pre) or after they are married (post), which addresses the division of their assets in the event of divorce and or death. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are smart, given the current divorce rate in the United States, and are increasingly becoming popular, especially when parties have children from a previous relation and are getting married for the second time, when one has a business or expects a substantial family inheritance. 

For more information regarding postnuptial agreements in NH, please read my article which can be found at

http://www.nhbar.org/uploads/pdf/BJ-Fall2008-Postnupt.pdf..  
Probate
Nuptial Agreements
Disclaimer and Disclosures
Disclaimer: This material has been prepared by Nadine M. Catalfimo, Esq. for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Transmission of the information is not intended to create and receipt does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel. This material may be considered advertising under the rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. No part of this material may be disseminated without this paragraph.

IRS CIRCULAR 230 DISCLOSURE: To ensure compliance with the requirements imposed by the U.S. Treasury regulations, any tax advice contained in this communication, and any attachments, was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for purposes of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.

Current Tax Laws:

Estate, Gift and GST tax laws...

Federal legislation was enacted on December 17, 2010, changing the estate, gift and generation skipping transfer tax laws.  However, the new laws are in effect only until December 31, 2012.  The following are some important highlights of the changes in the tax laws:

Federal Estate Tax - A decedent dying in 2011 and 2012 receives a $5 million federal estate tax exemption ($10 million for married couples).  Estates that exceed the $5 million exemption will be subject to a 35% federal estate tax rate.

Portability - Under the new laws, the $5 million exemption is portable between spouses.  Thus, if one spouse dies and does not utilize all of his or her exemption, the surviving spouse’s estate may elect to utilize the unused portion of his or her spouse.

Gift Taxes in 2011 and 2012 - The exemption was increased to $5 million for gifts made in 2011 and 2012.  In excess of the exemption, the tax rate of 35% applies.

Annual Gift Tax Exclusion Amount – it remains at $13,000 per donee per year.

Generation Skipping Tax - in 2011 and 2012, the GST exemption is $5 million and the tax rate is 35%.

Step Up in Basis - Under the new laws, heirs may inherit assets with a step up in basis equal to the fair market value of assets as of a decedent’s date of death.  This is important for capital gains tax upon the sale of an asset inherited by a beneficiary.

2013 – What Happens Then? - Without new federal legislation enacted by December 31, 2012, GST tax will revert to a $1 million exemption and 55% tax rate.  Also, the gift tax exemption amount will revert to a $1 million exemption.  Further, the federal estate tax will revert back to a $1 million exemption and a top tax rate of 55%.

Our Philosophy:

We are committed to providing you with quality legal services at reasonable rates.  This means we are always looking for ways to provide our legal services in a timely and efficient manner.  We also provide “unbundled” services to help you minimize attorney fees.  You will receive either a flat fee rate for our services or you will be billed in 1/10th of an hour increments for matters retained on an hourly basis.   

We return phone calls promptly, keep you updated regularly as to the status of your case at every stage and copy you on all correspondence.  

You will receive “big law firm” service at a reasonable rate and with an individualized, personal touch – which is unique in today’s legal market.

We are direct and frank in advising you about your case.  After performing our due diligence and research regarding your case and claim, we will express any weaknesses of your case to you, to the extent applicable.  We do not always tell you what you want to hear, but instead advise you of the applicable law after considering all the facts and circumstances of your case.

About us:

Unsurpassed excellence in determination & due diligence...



Prior to becoming a lawyer, Nadine was a paralegal for over eighteen years working primarly in the area of probate and estate planning. She worked at the prominent national law firm of Proskauer Rose LLP, in Boca Raton, Florida, as a Fiduciary Administrator for over eight years, where she administered high net worth estates and trusts. Prior to Florida, Nadine drafted complex and simple estate plans at McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton, P.A. in Manchester and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She has worked in small, medium and large law firms.


We Serve These Areas:

Major cities in MA:

   
   Boston
   Andover
   Lowell
   Haverhill

Major cities in NH:

   
  Manchester
  Concord
  Portsmouth
  Salem
  Nashua