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Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) November 24, 2014 – An existing state statute lets faith-based adoption agencies decline services to same-sex couples. When the U.S. Supreme Court denied same-sex marriage appeals on October 6, its historic decision paved the way for gay marriage in several states — including some, like Virginia, where the political climate has been relatively unreceptive to the unions. But while local court clerks in the commonwealth now have straightforward instructions to start performing same-sex marriages, the ways the benefits of some other laws will be made available to same-sex couples in the Old Dominion remain unsettled. […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) November 20, 2014 – A study by Fidelity Investments found that 57 percent of retirees wish they had done more retirement planning before leaving the workplace. As retirement approaches, a checklist to be completed at key stages can help ensure that the process is as smooth as possible. “Retirement represents an immense change to a person’s lifestyle and financial situation,” said Andrew Hook, a Virginia elder law attorney with Hook Law Center, which has offices in Virginia Beach and northern Suffolk. “Having an actionable plan can make that transition easier.” Retirement savings should start […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) November 20, 2014 – While claimants wait for a judge to make decision on their case, the already-long Social Security application process can stretch on for more than a year. Some agencies of the federal government have acquired unflattering reputations for big backlogs to process applications or resolve appeals. One agency in particular, the Social Security Administration, has reached an unenviable milestone and is fast approaching another one. As of the third quarter of this year, the Social Security office of judges who hear appeals for for disability benefits ranks as the leading federal agency for […]


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Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) November 18, 2014 – Upon her passing, Ruth T. Bedford left $40 million to her beloved alma mater, doubling its endowment. Unexpected gifts often prove the most gratifying, but sometimes the magnitude of an unforeseen act of charity can leave the recipient stunned. And stunned is how the administrators of the all-girls Foxcroft School near Middleburg, Virginia, felt when they learned that Standard Oil heiress Ruth T. Bedford bequeathed their institution $40 million when she died in June. Bedford, who was 99 when she passed away, served with the Red Cross during the London Blitz, […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) November 13, 2014 – Parents and grandparents who want to incorporate college savings into their financial planning can do so with a 529 college savings plan, a special savings account designed for higher education expenses. “In this era of ever-rising tuition, college savings should take higher priority than in the past,” said Andrew Hook, an estate planning attorney in Franklin, Virginia. “A 529 plan can be a part of that financial planning.” A 529 savings account allows account holders to save money over time, then withdraw from the balance tax-free for education-related expenses. Qualified […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) November 6, 2014 – Surviving spouses named as a beneficiary of their deceased spouse’s IRA should carefully consider their options for handling the account. The primary options are to assume the IRA, inherit the IRA, take a lump-sum distribution or disclaim the account. “How an IRA is handled after a spouse’s death can have major tax and financial consequences for the spouse beneficiary,” said Andrew Hook, a Virginia estate planning attorney with Hook Law Center. Assuming an IRA means transferring the assets into an IRA in one’s own name. For tax purposes, the IRA […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) October 29, 2014 – When a person is named as executor of an estate, he or she becomes legally responsible for protecting the assets of the decedent until the estate administration is complete. This can be a complicated, lengthy process, and organization is the key to keeping the process manageable. “Estate administration can be complex, especially if the estate planning is incomplete or there are disputes about the estate,” said Andrew Hook, a Virginia estate planning attorney with Hook Law Center. “Staying organized can help.” From the outset, the executor should understand his or […]


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Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) October 28, 2014 – Parental cash assistance for a down payment can actually shield a family’s wealth from probate in the future. The recent recession seriously impacted the U.S. economy and noticeably changed the socio-economic fabric of the country. In that environment, more young adults opted to live with their parents in order to save money. Now that the economy is recovering, another change has helped reverse the earlier trend: more parents helping their grown children accumulate a down payment for a house of their own — an act that also fits in with some […]


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Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) October 21, 2014 – A Virginia program that puts noncustodial parents to work, rather than in jail, for nonpayment is showing results. The Intensive Case Monitoring Program (ICMP) channels noncustodial parents who have shirked their child support obligations into careers, not incarceration. Recently, the program has expanded to more jurisdictions in Virginia — and as the ICMP has ramped up its presence through the commonwealth, so too, has it increased the amount of money Virginia has collected for child support. The ICMP operates under the auspices of the Division of Child Support Enforcement. It was […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) October 20, 2014 – Speaking to older parents about challenging subjects, including finances or the need for assisted living, can be stressful for both parties. Small disagreements can take on enormous significance, and overall communication can break down. Although there is no way to eliminate the stress inherent in such difficult discussions, good communication techniques can help parents and their adult children navigate their challenges effectively. “When adult children learn how to communicate with their aging parents, both the parents and children can appreciate one another and connect during the final stages of the […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) October 13, 2014 – President Barack Obama recently announced 19 new steps to expand veterans’ access to mental health care. The expansion follows a serious government scandal uncovered earlier this year. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was caught hiding lengthy delays in health care access for veterans, including months-long waits for appointments. Eric Shinseki resigned as head of VA as a result. Last month, Obama signed a $16.3 billion bill to improve veterans’ access to medical care and other VA issues. “PTSD and suicide are monumental problems affecting the veteran population,” said Andrew […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) October 6, 2014 – Family-owned businesses face one of their most vulnerable periods when transitioning to the next generation after their founder’s retirement or death. More than 70 percent of family businesses do not survive this transition. But a transition plan can help preserve the business for generations to come. Planning for the transition should encompass both the legal aspects of the process, such as tax and estate planning, and practical discussions with the family members who will take over the business. “Neglecting to set up a transition plan is one of the biggest […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) September 29, 2014 – As the population ages and the cost of hiring in-home care booms, many Americans are stepping into roles as caregivers for loved ones who are aging or have chronic illnesses. However, caregivers should recognize that caring for an older loved one themselves also has costs. “Because the cost of providing care on your own does not appear on a single bill, it is easy to underestimate the real financial impact of caregiving,” said Andrew Hook, a Virginia attorney who specializes in the needs of seniors. A growing number of Americans […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) September 26, 2014 – A bipartisan bill that will allocate $16.2 billion to improvements to veterans’ health care was passed overwhelmingly by Congress and has been signed into law by President Obama. The deal is designed to reduce wait times and increase the number of doctors and nurses, among other changes. The bulk of the money, Veterans Affairs’ $10 billion, will go towards emergency spending to allow veterans who can’t get appointments with VA doctors to get care from outside physicians. $5 billion has been allocated to hiring medical staff, and the rest will be […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) September 25, 2014 – On Saturday, September 27, 2014, the Hook Law Center will hold a free “Shred Day” event that will also be used to raise awareness and funds for the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Members of the public can bring old documents and records to the Hook Law Center in Virginia Beach, where they will be securely shredded on-site. During the event, the Hook Law Center will accept donations to the Alzheimer’s Association, and its legal team will invite anyone who is interested to join the Hook Law Center Walk Team for […]


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Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) September 15, 2014 – Probate filings for musician Lou Reed’s estate were recently entered in the Surrogate’s Court, Manhattan’s probate court. With an estate worth over $30 million and assets still earning millions in royalties and other income, Reed was among a small number of individuals who relied only on a will for estate planning. Reed left only a 34-page will, signed in April 2012. Reed passed away on October 27, 2013 from liver disease, at the age of 71. “A well-written trust can make estate administration quicker and more private,” said Lisa McDevitt, an […]


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Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) September 8, 2014 – The divorce rate in the United States is rising, a trend credited in large part to the economic recovery of the past several years. During the 18-month recession, the divorce rate plunged to a 40-year low. Since then, the divorce rate has recovered, rising each year. In 2012, the most recent year for which U.S. Census Bureau data is available, 2.4 millions Americans divorced. “When times are tough, unhappy couples are more likely to stay together for financial reasons,” said Lisa McDevitt, a divorce attorney in Florida. “With the economy in […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) September 2, 2014 – A report from the Nursing Home Report Card, a Families for Better Care project, ranked Virginia poorly on nursing home quality measures. The state received a grade of “D,” with an overall ranking of 33rd out of 50 states. “The fact that there are many nursing homes in Virginia that have problems means that it is that much more important for seniors and their families to engage in proper planning and research before choosing a nursing facility,” said Andrew Hook, a Virginia elder law attorney with the Hook Law Center. […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) September 9, 2014 – A study from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) underscores the findings of earlier reports that drew attention to combat-related disorders. This year marks the 100th-year anniversary of the beginning of World War I, the so-called war to end all wars. Sadly and ironically, a study released on August 8 has found that the after-effects of combat stress among veterans can linger for decades, just as the consequences of the “Great War” affected (and is still affecting) conflicts many years later. The VA-commissioned study tracked veterans from as far back as […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) August 26, 2014 – Sometimes, one of the partners constructing a prenuptial agreement is a business owner. Typically, the document will then be designed to ensure that preexisting assets are completely protected in case of divorce. This often leads to restrictive prenuptial agreements that keep all preexisting assets separate. Unfortunately, that safe, restrictive prenup can prevent the surviving spouse from receiving assets upon the other spouse’s death. “A prenup is essential for protecting your assets in case of divorce, but it doesn’t always account for problems that may occur if you were to die,” […]


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