In This Issue
Message from the Partners
Five Wills of the Rich and Famous
Don't Turn 18 Without Them - Important Legal Documents for Young Adults
No More DOMA: More Dough for Many Same Gender Couples
Federal Law Recognizes Spouse of Any Gender
Don't Get Scammed by the Deed Scammers!
Staff News
Quick Links
To Contact Us
Samuel Sayward & Baler 
 858 Washington Street, Suite 202
Dedham, MA 02026
Phone: (781) 461-1020
Fax: (781) 461-0916
News from
Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC

August 2013

Attorneys Suzanne Sayward, Maria Baler, and Steven Joshua Samuel


Message from the Partners


Dear Clients and Friends,


The end of summer is when most of us are gearing up for school, work, and a busy season in general. During this time, it's important to take stock of how circumstances are changing and the legal implications of those changes. For example, did you know that once a child turns 18 parents no longer have the legal right to obtain medical or financial information unless the child has granted that authority by executing the appropriate legal documents? With many young adults heading off to college in September, this is a critical issue that many families need to address. Attorney Baler provides more information about this subject below. Because we believe this is such an important issue, Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC is offering the adult children of our clients a reduced fee to create these important legal documents.


The big legal news this summer was the June 26, 2013, ruling by the Supreme Court that struck down that part of the federal Defensive of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defined marriage as between a man and a woman as unconstitutional. That ruling means the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages and offer federal benefits to same-sex spouses of federal employees to the same extent such benefits are offered to opposite-sex spouses. This important ruling will have a significant impact on estate planning for same-sex couples and Attorney Baler writes about some of these changes below.


Attorney Samuel also writes about the DOMA ruling and how it pertains to federal income taxes, sale of a primary residence, health insurance benefits, retirement accounts, Social Security benefits, and more. Many of these issues are complex. Attorney Samuel breaks down some of the issues which same-sex couples and employers will be facing as a result of this ruling.


Attorney Sayward alerts readers to a scam which is presently making the rounds. There is a company sending letters to people who have recently recorded a deed for their property with the Registry of Deeds asking for a fee to obtain a copy of the recorded deed. She provides details of this scam and what to look out for.


On a lighter note, Attorney Sayward kicks off this issue with a fun article that highlights the Wills of some of our dearly departed rich and famous. From Elvis to Michael Jackson to Marilyn Monroe, Attorney Sayward's column, which was published this summer in "The Dedham Transcript," gives us a peek into the most eccentric kind of estate planning. 


As always, if you have an idea for a topic you would like us to address in a future issue, please contact our office. We also welcome new subscribers so please feel free to send us email addresses or forward this newsletter to friends and family members!


Enjoy the rest of the always too short summer!


Steven Joshua Samuel

Suzanne Sayward

Maria Baler



Five Wills of the Rich and Famous
By: Attorney Suzanne R. Sayward
In keeping with these lazy, hazy days of summer, I thought I would lighten it up for July and write about the Wills of some dearly departed famous folks.  Here are highlights from the Wills of five celebrated decedents.


1.      Elvis Presley.  Despite his wild ways during his lifetime, the King of Rock n' Roll was all about taking care of his family in his Will.  He directs his Trustees to use so much of the income and principal for the: 


"health, education, support, comfortable maintenance and welfare of: (1) my daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, and any other lawful issue I might have, (2) my grandmother, Minnie Mae Presley, (3) my father, Vernon E. Presley, and (4) such other relatives of mine living at the time of my death who in the absolute discretion of my Trustees are in need of emergency assistance for any of the above mentioned purposes..."


Elvis's Will went on to provide that following the death of his father and grandmother, his estate should be distributed outright to Lisa Marie once she reached age 25.  Elvis signed his Will in March of 1977 and died in August of that year when Lisa Marie was nine years old.  One estimate valued the King's estate at $300 million - nice birthday present for a 25 year old!


2.      Michael Jackson.  It seems fitting to follow the King of Rock n' Roll with the King of Pop.  Michael Jackson, who was briefly married to Lisa Marie Presley (his first marriage, her second marriage), died in 2009 at the age of 50 and was survived by his three minor children.  His Will is really quite simple (5 pages) because he leaves his entire estate to a separate Trust.  Now for most people, creating an 'inter vivos' or "living" trust means that the distribution provisions of their estate remain private.  However, given Michael Jackson's celebrated status, of course his Trust has found its way into the public venue.  The terms of the Trust direct that 20 percent of the estate be used for charitable purposes to help children.  The remaining 80 percent is distributed equally between a trust share for his children and a trust share for the benefit of his mother.  Michael either had less confidence in the ability of young people to handle a large inheritance or was the recipient of better legal advice than Elvis.  The Jackson children will be entitled to receive their shares from the Trust in a structured distribution at ages 30, 35 and 40.  One other item of note regarding Michael Jackson's Will: he designated Diana Ross as the alternate guardian of his minor children to serve if his mother could not.


3.      Leona Helmsley.   Having looked at two kings, let's move on to a queen, specifically Leona Helmsley, known as the Queen of Mean.  Ms. Helmsley was known for many acts of infamy during her lifetime, but she may be best remembered for leaving $12 million to a trust for the benefit of her dog, Trouble.  In keeping with her reputation for being nasty during her lifetime, she disinherited two of her grandchildren (Craig and Meegan).  She created trusts for the benefit of her other two grandchildren (David and Walter), but stipulated that distributions from the trust shares were conditional upon their visiting the grave of their father at least once per year.  Failure to do so would cause them to forfeit their share.  She even directed that a guest book be left at the family mausoleum and that David and Walter sign the book to evidence their visits.  Talk about exerting control from the grave!


4.      Princess Diana.  Yet another royal on our list, Princess Diana, died tragically in a car accident on August 31, 1997, at the age of 36.  At the time of her death, she had been divorced from Prince Charles for one year and three days.  She left behind her two young sons, Prince William, then age 15, and Prince Harry who was 12.  Princess Di's Will left her estate equally to her sons, in trust should they be under the age of 25 at the time of her death.  Following her death, Diana's mother and sister as the executors of her Will sought and obtained an order from the court increasing the age at which Prince William and Prince Harry would be entitled to receive their inheritance from age 25 to age 30. When Prince William received his inheritance last June, it was estimated to be valued at $16 million U.S. dollars.


5.      Marilyn Monroe.  Marilyn Monroe, nee Norma Jeane Mortenson a/k/a Baker, died from a drug overdose in August of 1962 at the age of 36.  Despite her relatively short life she made quite an impression on Hollywood and movie-goers all over the world.  She also managed to acquire and dispose of three husbands during her lifetime, but never had children.  Ms. Monroe signed her Last Will and Testament in January, 1961.  She left money to care for her mother, a bequest to her half-sister, and money to a few friends.  The residue of her estate was left 25 percent to her secretary, 25 percent to her psychiatrist, and 50 percent to her mentor Lee Strasberg.  Not surprisingly, controversy and delay ensued.  In September 2008 the United States District Court of New York issued the final ruling determining Marilyn Monroe's residency at the time of her death, and in 2010 her home was sold - almost 50 years after her death.  By the way, in 1947, Marilyn Monroe was crowned the first Queen of the Artichokes in Castroville, California, known as the artichoke capital of the world. 


This article is not intended to provide legal advice or create or imply an attorney-client relationship. No information contained herein is a substitute for a personal consultation with an attorney.

Don't Turn 18 Without Them - Important Legal Documents for Young Adults


 By: Attorney Maria C. Baler


 As the summer draws to a close and many of our clients' children head back to college or away SRS College Kidsfrom home, we thought it would be a good time to remind families of the importance of certain legal documents that allow a parent to obtain information and assist a child in the event of an unexpected financial or health care crisis.


When a child turns 18 he or she is an adult in the eyes of the laws.  As a result, parents no longer have the legal authority to make decisions on a child's behalf, or to obtain information about a child's medical condition, without authority or permission to do so. If your child would want you to assist with financial or health care decision-making if he or she became incapacitated, or would want you to be able to speak to a health care professional about his or her medical condition if your child became ill, your child must sign a power of attorney, health care proxy and HIPAA Authorization in order to give you that authority. 


Durable Power of Attorney - This is the document used to designate a person who can legally act on your behalf.  A Durable Power of Attorney signed by a child granting one or both parents legal authority to act on the child's behalf allows parents to deal with banking snafus, tax issues, and obtain access to credit card information and bank accounts.


Health Care Proxy - A Health Care Proxy appoints an individual who will make health care decisions for you in the event you are not able to do so for yourself.  If a child signs a Health Care Proxy naming a parent as their health care agent, the parent will be able to obtain information about and make decisions for an adult child who has a serious health issue.


HIPAA Authorization - Because a Health Care Proxy is only effective when a physician determines that a person is not able to make or communicate health care decisions for himself or herself, it is also important to have in place a HIPAA Authorization form.  HIPAA is the federal privacy law that imposes fines on medical caregivers who share information about a patient without permission.  This means if your adult child is in the hospital or the infirmary at college, you as the parent will not be able to obtain information about your child's situation unless you have written authority to do so.  A HIPAA Authorization form signed by the child would give parents that authority.


FERPA Authorization - In addition to the federal law which protects health care information, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) precludes colleges from sharing any information about a child's financial or academic records with the parent without written authorization from the student to do so. Many colleges offer a form that students can sign authorizing parents to obtain this type of information.


We encourage you to discuss these matters with your child.  If your child would like to create one or more of these documents, please have your child call Grace Pena at our office at 781-461-1020 or send an email to Grace at  One of the attorneys at Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC will speak with your child to collect some basic information, discuss attorney/client representation, and obtain instructions for the documents.  We can then prepare the documents and make arrangements to have them signed.  As an incentive to undertake this important planning, Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC is offering to prepare these documents (other than the FERPA Authorization which is obtained from the college) at a reduced flat fee of $500 through September 30, 2013 (usually $725). 




No More DOMA: More Dough for Many Same Gender Couples


By Steven Joshua Samuel JD, MBA, AIF®


On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the Windsor case, ordered the federal government to leave the definition of marriage to each of the 50 states. As of August 1, 2013, Minnesota became the 12th state (plus Washington D.C.) to recognize same gender marriage. The other states include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington.


How the change in law will be applied raises many questions that have not yet been resolved by the IRS. For example, will federal benefits such as Social Security survivorship be available to a couple married in Massachusetts but living in one of the 38 states that recognizes only opposite gender marriage? Also, the change in law has many potential implications for employers who offer health insurance and retirement plans, as these benefits often involve information about and obligations to employee spouses.


The IRS has not yet issued guidance on these questions. In the meantime, here are some potential consequences of the Windsor case.


Federal Income Taxes


Same sex married couples should be able to file federal joint income tax returns if their marriage is recognized in their state of residence. Filing a joint return will reduce federal income taxes when one spouse has a high income and the other has a low or no income; and, increase taxes when both have high income. Opposite gender married couples already experience this result, known as the marriage benefit or penalty depending on which applies. For example, in 2013, single taxpayers reach the 33 percent tax bracket at $184,000 but married couples reach it at $223,000, which is much less than double the amount for singles. For a same gender couple in the "marriage benefit" category and married, it may be possible to amend some prior tax returns and collect significant refunds.


Sale of Residence


Sale of a primary residence is subject to capital gain taxes. A married couple who sells a residence is permitted to exclude the cost of the residence plus $500,000 from taxation. Singles may exclude the cost of the residence but only $250,000.


Health Insurance Benefits


Prior to the Windsor case, married same gender couples were subject to income taxes when one spouse received health insurance coverage from the other's employer. In states that recognize same gender marriage, this tax will disappear.


Retirement Accounts


An unmarried person who inherits an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) or other retirement account (from an unrelated person) must begin taking distributions from the account even if under the age of 70.5. Taxes must be paid on the distributed amount.  Married couples may name each other as beneficiaries of their retirement accounts. And after a death, the survivor is allowed to "roll over" (transfer) the money to his or her own IRA and continue to defer taxes until age 70.5.


Some retirement plans, such as 401k plans, require employers to provide survivor benefits to employee's spouses unless the spouse waives this right in writing. Other benefits and obligations for employee spouses call for employers in states which recognize same gender marriage to consult with their benefit plan providers and tax advisers.


Social Security Benefits


A person may apply for Social Security benefits based on his or her own earning history or on the earning history of the spouse and also for survivor benefits after a death. Many questions will likely come up about the availability of Social Security benefits, since many people move from one state to another, only some of which recognize same sex marriage.


Wills, Trusts, Gifting, Estate Taxation, Powers of Attorney and Health Care Proxies


Legal documents presented perhaps the most challenges to same gender couples before the Windsor case. In states that recognize same gender marriage, the Windsor case will make planning easier and more advantageous.




Immigrants to the U.S. may obtain residential and citizenship status by marriage to a U.S. citizen. Although the Windsor case did not specifically detail how its ruling might apply to immigration, it is reasonable to expect to see court cases in the future on this subject.


Same gender married couples and their employers will do well to consult with legal, tax and retirement and health benefits professionals in 2013 to ensure they understand these matters.


Samuel Financial, Inc. is located at 858 Washington St. Dedham, MA 02026 and can be reached at (781)461-6886.  Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, member FINRA/SIPC, a registered investment adviser.

Federal Law Recognizes Spouse of Any Gender


By: Attorney Maria Baler


The federal Defensive of Marriage Act (DOMA), enacted in 1996, defined the word "spouse" as it appears in over 1,000 federal laws to only apply to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife.  Its effect was to deny legally married same-sex couples the benefits granted to a "spouse" under federal law in such numerous and diverse areas as Social Security, income tax, estate and gift tax, health insurance, veteran's benefits, immigration, bankruptcy, criminal law, financial aid, and benefits applicable to spouses of government employees.


In the estate tax context, this law  denied a legally married same-sex couple the benefit of the estate tax marital deduction when leaving assets to a spouse at death, with the costly result of requiring the surviving spouse to pay federal estate tax on the inheritance received from the deceased spouse.  It was this aspect of DOMA that gave rise to the case that ultimately led to its downfall.   Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer were legally married in Canada in 2007, and their marriage was recognized as valid by the State of New York.  When Thea died in 2009, leaving all of her assets to Edith, under DOMA Thea's estate was not entitled to an estate tax marital deduction.  Instead of paying no estate tax, Thea's estate paid over $360,000 of federal estate tax on the assets passing to Edith -- tax that would not otherwise be payable if Edith was recognized as Thea's spouse under federal law and entitled to the benefit of the estate tax marital deduction. 


Edith decided to sue the government challenging the constitutionality of DOMA and seeking an estate tax refund.  In United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court agreed with Edith that the effect of DOMA on same-sex spouses was to deny them equal protection under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and struck down the law as unconstitutional.  The Supreme Court, recognizing the laws governing marriage have traditionally been left to the states, noted that in one fell swoop DOMA identifies a "sub-set of state sanctioned marriages and make[s] them unequal," and in doing so "writes inequality into the entire United States Code."  The impact of this decision is that Edith Windsor will receive a large estate tax refund, and estate and public benefits planning for same-sex couples will become easier, especially in states such as Massachusetts where same-sex marriage is legal.  In those states where same-sex marriage is not legal, planning must still take into account the differences between state and federal law.


This is a very important decision in the estate planning/estate settlement, and public benefits areas, as it extends the protections and benefits long enjoyed by heterosexual couples to all married couples.

Don't Get Scammed by the Deed Scammers!


By: Attorney Suzanne R. Sayward


Be warned that there is a company out there trying to steal your money by charging you to obtain a copy of your recorded deed.  We recently had several clients contact our office after receiving what looked a bill from a company requesting payment of $83 for a copy of their deed.  This is a scam.  Depending upon the county in which you live, you can print a copy of your deed for free from the online Registry of Deeds records or order it from the Registry for a nominal fee, generally between $1 and $3.  If our office has recorded a deed for you (i.e. transferring it into trust) we will obtain a copy of your recorded deed for you at no additional charge and include with your binder of estate plan documents.  



Staff News


Congratulations to our legal assistant Jennifer Poles (formerly Harlow) on her wedding to Michael Poles earlier this month!!