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Burlington, VT office 802.540.0529
Hanover, NH office 603.643.6072
Rutland, VT office 802.773.3822
Woodstock, VT office 802.457.9492

March 11, 2014 Newsletter Archive

Habitat for Humanity

Last month Mark and his 19 year old daughter spent eleven days in El Salvador building a house as part of a ten person Habitat for Humanity team. This trip was his first time on a Habitat for Humanity endeavor, but definitely not his last. He thoroughly enjoyed his other team members, who were from Virginia and Pennsylvania, and gained a very clear sense of the struggles of many Salvadorans to scratch out a living. The average monthly wage in El Salvador is $225. While his team did not quite finish the cinder block home they were building, they got it to within days of completion. Mark now has a very clear sense of how cushy the life of a lawyer in the Upper Valley is and looks to carry that awareness with him as he plans additional service trips.


Where there is a Will

A will is a document that formally allows you to pass your estate to whomever you choose upon your death. If you die without a will, legally called intestacy, the state will decide who gets your property. Although state laws vary, generally, if you are married and you die intestate, your spouse will not necessarily receive your entire estate. If you die intestate, single and without children, upon your death your parents, siblings or even distant relatives may receive your estate. Unless you have very few assets, know that your estate plan would totally mimic your state's intestacy laws, and have no tax issues, you should have a well-conceived will.

Making a will is especially important if you have minor children. A will allows you to name a guardian for your children and thus protects them from what would already be a traumatic event in their lives. Those who create a will should spend time considering their own values as well as those of a potential guardian. Choosing a guardian is not simple. Our parents may be too elderly by the time we have young children, our siblings may be irresponsible, and friends may not quite fit our spiritual, educational or familial ideals. Ultimately, it is important to be thoughtful about the person or people who would be able to serve in this unquestionably important role

The process of estate planning, that is preparing your will and other documents like financial and health care powers of attorney and perhaps a trust, will be a catalyst not only for you to review your current asset situation, but also what matters to you most. During this process, you can consider your charitable motivations, whether there are any special bequests you may wish to leave to significant people or institutions in your life, and whether you wish to leave an ethical will or legacy letter to your family members. In an ethical will or legacy letter, you communicate in writing your values and wisdom and family or personal story. It is a magnificent show of your love for your family, and a unique way that they can remember you

Once you sign a will you can amend it later or you can prepare a new will to supersede your existing one. Reviewing your current life circumstances annual or every few years will ensure that your estate planning remains relevant and assets are distributed as you wish. The various ways in which you hold your assets determines whether they will be distributed through your will. You can review which of your assets are held jointly, or have beneficiary designations, like retirement plans, life insurance policies and even some traditional investment assets. You can take into account your marital circumstances, additions to your family, and new assets you have acquired.

In our technology-oriented society, it may be easy to be lured into the on-line do-it-yourself estate plans. However, unless you are single and have few assets, we caution you about these plans. These documents designed to apply to a large segment of the population with a broad brush and will not take into account more nuanced aspects of your planning needs. There is a very human side of estate planning which includes an open and honest discussion of family dynamics, an evaluation of your values, and your unique situation, which on-line providers simply cannot provide. Therefore, we continue to recommend that you discuss your plan with a trusted professional and truly have your needs met.


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If you wish to speak to us about passing down more than just your assets to your beneficiaries, please call us at

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Melendy Moritz PLLC is a client centered boutique firm. We focus on your unique needs by providing the individualized legal counseling and advising tailored to your specific situation.

We concentrate on the planning that matters to you.
Call us at 603.643.6072 or 802.457.9492


This newsletter is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, but not to provide specific legal advice. No representation is made about the accuracy of the information. Discussed topics may or may not be updated subsequent to their initial posting for changes in applicable laws. Please note that information in this newsletter may change from time to time. In reading this newsletter you understand that this information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to constitute legal advice. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state.


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