Categories for Trusts and Estates

For Love of Lassie: Pet Trusts Aren’t Just for the Wealthy

April 11, 2019 12:20 pm Published by Nina T. Dow

We love our pets. From Lassie to Garfield, pop culture has thrived on stories about bonds between humans and our furry friends. Today, as we celebrate National Pet Day, people feel closer than ever to their favorite animals. A 2011 survey showed that dog owners, in particular, considered their pets to be just as important as family members, treating them with the same level of care and discipline as their children.

Some of the rich and famous consider their pets even more important than family. Remember Leona Helmsley? The New York real estate tycoon left $12 million to her Maltese dog, Trouble, when she died in 2007—more than she left two of her grandchildren, whom she ...

Buying Your First Home? 12 Tips & Traps

March 21, 2019 8:00 am Published by Nina T. Dow Robin A. DeAugustinis

It’s finally March, the first month of spring and the start of house-hunting season. Buying your first home is a big deal. It’s a large financial investment, and it’s often an emotional commitment. No surprise that trying to navigate the homebuying maze can be a source of tension between you and a loved one. To avoid those pitfalls, consider hiring a good real estate lawyer who can make the process much easier for all involved. We’ve had many clients and friends say, after the fact, “I wish I’d hired a lawyer” or “I am so glad we hired a lawyer.”

Whether or not you choose to have a real estate attorney represent you, here are some tips ...

Mountain Dearborn Prevails in SJC Decision to Protect Spouses Who Are Left Out of Wills

January 11, 2019 12:19 pm Published by Katherine A. Bagdis

A January 8th decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) supported the claim of a second wife, represented by Mountain Dearborn, who sought to receive her legal share of the real estate that her husband left to his four children. The case highlights the importance of understanding the legal consequences of marriage, especially when you have children from a prior relationship.

When you marry in Massachusetts, your spouse automatically becomes entitled to receive certain rights and benefits, unless both parties agree otherwise. For instance, your spouse automatically becomes the beneficiary of any qualified retirement plan which you then have, or to which you begin contributing, during the marriage, such as a 401k or 403b plan. You ...

Want to Avoid Politics at Thanksgiving? Try This Important Conversation

November 16, 2018 4:38 pm Published by Ann K. Molloy

Ah, Thanksgiving—a time when families gather, usually at one table, for good food, good cheer and—well, maybe not always—good conversation. Politics is a non-starter for many families. So this year, instead of fighting across the political divide, why not talk about something that could actually help your family, emotionally and financially?

Having the family all together presents a golden opportunity to discuss an important issue: estate planning. True, this isn’t always an easy discussion (though we hope it’s easier than politics). As a parent, you may worry about discussing your mortality with your children. As a son or daughter, you may worry that your parents might think you’re greedy. But more often than not, parents and children alike are ...

Lessons from “Lady Bird”: Four Reasons Why You Need a Will to Determine Who Gets What

September 14, 2018 2:55 pm Published by Nina T. Dow

Lady Bird is my hands-down favorite film this year. Like the protagonist, I spent my formative years in Catholic schools. The movie prompted fond memories of plaid uniforms, cotton knee socks that never sagged, and recitations of prepositions (I can still rattle off the list to this day), as well as a renewed appreciation for my strong spelling skills and ability to write in cursive (now rare talents) that those 13 years gave me.

Aside from the trip down memory lane, the film also fascinates me as an estate planning lawyer, because it raises important reasons for “getting a will.”

Heirs Apparent

In one scene, the film’s protagonist, Christine McPherson (Saoirse [Shur-sa] Ronan) talks with ...

For Your Digital Assets, There Is Life After Death

August 16, 2018 9:00 am Published by Katherine A. Bagdis

You’re working on your estate plan with your attorney, and she asks if you’re on Facebook. Don’t be alarmed—she’s not trying to “friend” you. There’s a good reason for her question: your Facebook profile is a “digital asset.” It has personal value to you, and a business profile may also have monetary value.

While the word “asset” conjures images of wealth in the form of physical and financial property, the Internet and social media have created a new form of property that may be transferred upon the death of its owner.

What Are Digital Assets?

Digital assets include your email account; your personal online photos and videos; digital music; personal or business website; Facebook, Twitter, ...

“The Big Sick” Offers Big Lessons About Health Care Proxies

April 17, 2018 11:38 am Published by Nina T. Dow

April 16 is National Healthcare Decision Day, kicking off a week of awareness for advanced health care planning. There’s no better time to execute a health care proxy, if you don’t yet have one. I’ve just followed my own advice and taken this important step. You can see the proof in the picture.

Why bother to have a health care proxy? Consider the case of Emily and Kumail in the popular 2017 film, The Big Sick, a comedy based on a true story, which includes a scene about a health care proxy that is anything but funny.

Emily, a graduate student played by Zoe Kazan, falls seriously ill while away from home, on the heels ...

How I Know That Florence Foster Jenkins Did Not Consult Her Estate Planning Attorney

March 23, 2018 3:28 pm Published by Nina T. Dow

A New York City socialite, heiress to a massive fortune, Florence Foster Jenkins blindly took a huge risk when she attempted to change her will—if the movie version of her story is to be believed. I’m a fan of Meryl Streep, who plays the title role; she’s a perfect mixture of beauty (those cheekbones!) and brains (degrees from Vassar and Yale).

My Amazon Prime Video account was suffering from neglect, so recently I got cozy and streamed the comedy-biography, Florence Foster Jenkins, for which Streep received an Oscar nomination.

Florence craves fame as a singer, but early in the film it becomes—well—loud and clear that her singing voice is music to nobody’s ears. Using her connections, ...

Attorney Nina T. Dow Joins Mountain Dearborn

February 16, 2018 3:44 pm Published by Katherine A. Bagdis

Mountain, Dearborn & Whiting LLP is pleased to announce that Attorney Nina T. Dow has become associated with the law firm.

Nina earned her J.D. at Suffolk University Law School and an LL.M. in Taxation from Boston University School of Law. She earned her undergraduate degree from Emerson College. Prior to joining the firm, Nina was a solo practitioner. She is admitted to practice in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Nina’s practice will concentrate in estate and gift tax planning, the drafting of wills and trusts, probate and trust administration, and the preparation of federal and Massachusetts estate and fiduciary income tax returns. She may be reached at 508-756-2423 (office); 508-453-6276 (direct); or ndow@mountaindearborn.com. ...

I Won the Lottery! Now What?

February 28, 2017 5:32 pm Published by Katherine A. Bagdis

It’s 11:00 p.m., and you’re watching the drawing for Powerball or Mega Millions. Or maybe it’s Friday night after work, and you’re scraping your weekly scratch ticket. You stare at the numbers in stunned disbelief, then in amazement. You’ve just won the grand prize!

After checking and rechecking the numbers, finally convincing yourself that you have, in fact, won, and calling family and friends who all promise to keep your big secret, you begin planning all the ways to spend your windfall: your dream vacation to Bali . . . that lakeside home in Vermont . . . the all-frills new car. You’ll update your wardrobe and install a custom walk-in closet to hold it all. You’ll buy season ...