We are Hiring – Legal Administrative Assistant

POSITION OVERVIEW:

Seeking a bright, motivated and driven legal assistant to provide secretarial, clerical, and administrative support to a busy estate planning and elder law attorney and paralegal.

QUALIFICATIONS:

Experience as a legal assistant in a small or medium law firm is strongly preferred.

Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Excel
Welcoming personality and team-oriented attitude.
Superior customer service skills.
Empathetic and patient with elderly clients.
Demonstrate a professional demeanor at all times
Ability to prioritize work and manage multiple priorities simultaneously
Maintain reliable attendance record and punctuality
Demonstrate the willingness to undertake additional responsibilities and assist others when requested.
Strong attention to detail and accuracy
Experience with Clio and/or Lawmatics desirable.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

Answer telephones
Greeting visitors and engaging the clients and their families in a warm, friendly and professional manner
Scheduling and confirming client meetings and conducting intake of potential clients
Communicate with clients, courts, estate representatives and government agencies regarding appointments and file status
Managing firm calendar
Scanning, filing and copying documents
Manage and update client management database
Preparing and modifying documents including correspondence, cover letters, engagement letters or emails
Format Word documents/Proofreading/PowerPoints/PDFs
Assisting paralegal/attorney with document assembly and estate planning binders
Ordering supplies for the office; staying on top of office needs

This is not a paralegal position. JD’s, law students and attorneys will not be considered.

If interested, please forward a resume and cover letter to lfisher@bostonestatelawyer.com explaining why you are interested in, and how you are a good fit for, the position.   Competitive Salary and PTO.

Estate Planning During a Pandemic

KCRA’s article entitled“5 things to know about estate planning” says that estate planning is a topic that people frequently don’t like to think about. However, more people now want to create a will or revise one that’s already in existence, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

You should have a will. You can find forms online, or you can (in some states) use a holographic will, which is handwritten. However, a holographic will can be incomplete and unclear and invalid if not executed in accordance with the formalities required under the statute.    These DIY estate planning techniques are not a good idea, especially if you have any property, minor children, or want to save on taxes for your family. Use an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that you are covering all of your bases.

Without a will, your “state” makes one for you. If you die intestate, state law will dictate how your probate estate will be distributed at your death. However, this makes it take longer to administer your estate, which extends the grieving process for family members.  It is also more expensive, more time-consuming and more work for those you leave behind. Lastly, you have no say in how you want your property distributed.    For example, if you are not married and have no children, and your parents have both predeceased you, the intestacy statute in Massachusetts would divide your estate between your living siblings.    If you are estranged from one of your siblings, the state’s rule will still require that sibling to inherit a portion of your estate.

Why do I need a will? Everyone should think about estate planning and have an estate plan in place. This should include what would happen, if you’re incapacitated. With the coronavirus pandemic, this might mean contracting the disease and being in a hospital on a ventilator for weeks and unable to care for your children.  Remember, a will only governs the distribution of your probate assets at your death.  Should be incapacitated during life, whether mentally and/or physically, you need other estate planning documents, such as a durable power of attorney and health care proxy.  Without these documents, your loved ones will need to seek the appointment of a guardian and/or conservator from the probate court.

How long does a will take? Drafting your will is a very personal and customized process that usually happens over several meetings with a qualified estate planning attorney. Depending upon the complexity of the estate plan, it could take a week, a few weeks, or a couple of months.   Will-based plans, that is a plan that does not have a trust, can be completely in a short amount of time.  And, in the midst of the pandemic, estate planning attorneys will likely expedite certain plans depending upon a client’s circumstances.

What about COVID-19? When your will is complete, there’s usually a signing meeting set with the attorney, witnesses, a notary and the person creating the will. However, now there’s no way to safely gather to sign these critical documents. Many states, including Massachusetts, have made exceptions to the witness rule or are allowing processes using technology, known as remote notarization.

Reference: KCRA (April 16, 2020). “5 things to know about estate planning”

 

Does a Beneficiary of a Trust Have to Pay a Tax?

When a trust makes a distribution, it deducts the income distributed on its own tax return and issues the beneficiary a tax form called a K-1. That form shows what part of the beneficiary’s distribution is interest income and principal. This tells beneficiaries what they must claim as taxable income, when filing taxes.

A recent Investopedia article asks “Do Trust Beneficiaries Pay Taxes?” The article explains that a trust is a fiduciary relationship, whereby the trustor or grantor gives another party–the trustee–the right to hold assets for the benefit of a beneficiary. Trusts are established to provide legal protection and to safeguard assets as part of estate planning.

When trust beneficiaries get distributions from the trust’s principal balance, they don’t have to pay taxes on the distribution. The IRS assumes this money was already taxed before it was placed into the trust. Once money is placed into the trust, the interest it accumulates is taxable as income—either to the beneficiary or the trust itself. The trust is required to pay taxes on any interest income it holds and doesn’t distribute past year-end. Interest income the trust distributes is taxable to the beneficiary.

The amount distributed to the beneficiary is thought to be from the current-year income first, then from the accumulated principal. This is usually the original contribution plus subsequent ones. It is income in excess of the amount distributed.

Capital gains from this amount may be taxable to either the trust or the beneficiary. The entire amount distributed to and for the benefit of the beneficiary is taxable to that person to the extent of the distribution deduction of the trust.

The two most significant tax forms for trusts are the 1041 and the K-1. Form 1041 is similar to Form 1040. The trust deducts from its own taxable income any interest it distributes to beneficiaries in Form 1041. At the same time, the trust issues a K-1. That form details the distribution, or how much of the distributed money came from principal versus interest.

The K-1 schedule for taxing distributed amounts is generated by the trust and given to the IRS.

The IRS will then send the document to the beneficiary to pay the tax.

The trust then fills out a Form 1041 to determine the income distribution deduction that is accorded to the distributed amount.

Reference: Investopedia (Feb. 8, 2020). “Do Trust Beneficiaries Pay Taxes?”