Cooper Cargill Chant Attorney Tyler Ray Admitted to Maine Bar
January 30, 2017
Cooper Cargill Chant Attorney Tyler T. Ray was sworn in to the Maine State Bar. Pictured (Left) Attorney Nicholas J. Morrill of Jensen Baird Gardner & Henry, attorney sponsor and witness of (Right) Attorney Ray’s swearing in ceremony.
Common Law Marriage: Fact or Fiction?
December 15, 2016
People often ask whether or not couples can be considered to have a common-law marriage in New Hampshire, and thus, entitled to the same benefits which formally married couples are entitled. The long-standing, erroneous belief is after “7 years (or some other arbitrary number), you become common-law married.” This may be true in a few states, but not in New Hampshire. There is no common law marriage in New Hampshire for purposes of tax benefits, health insurance coverage, or any of the multitude of benefits married couples enjoy. Similarly, legal benefits available for married couples for divorce, alimony, and/or property division upon the end of a relationship are unavailable to unmarried couples, no matter how long they have lived together, or how many kids they might have.
What New Hampshire does recognize, however, is a common law spouse upon death of the other party for inheritance purposes only. This means that a couple who cohabitates for more than three years, and holds themselves out to be married to the public, and who are generally believed to be married by the public, are not considered legally married while both partners are living, but, upon the death of either partner, a Court can find a common law marriage exists for purposes of estate distribution. This would grant the surviving partner an opportunity to have a “spousal share” of the deceased partner’s estate.
The standard for common law marriage for inheritance purposes under the statute (RSA 457:39) is high. Generally, it is easy for partners to prove they have lived together for three or more years. Where the trouble often lies is in proving that they held themselves out to the public to be married, and that the community believed them to be married. This means more than simply sharing a checking account, owning a home together, or having a child together- or even a combination of all three!
Increasingly, couples choose to cohabitate together for any number of reasons. That reason no longer is limited to marriage. Couples move in together for financial reasons, for love, for convenience, in anticipation of marriage, in lieu of marriage, and many other reasons. Couples also make active decisions regarding their finances- whether to share bank accounts, who to name as the beneficiary of the life insurance policy, or their 401(k) or investment accounts, whether to buy property together, to name a few. These decisions may not necessarily reflect a person’s position on marriage, but they are precisely the factors that Courts will look at to determine whether a common law marriage existed at the time of a parties’ death.
The intent of the parties is what matters in determining whether a common law marriage existed for purposes of inheritance. Did people in the community believe the couple to be married? Did the couple call each other husband and wife? Did they wear wedding bands or other pieces of jewelry reflecting their level of commitment or believe that they were married? The determination is absolutely fact-driven, and will turn on testimony of friends, family, witnesses, and people in the community to give their perception as to the nature of the parties’ relationship.
The solution, if there is one, to the quandary of “are we or are we not married and entitled to each other’s stuff'” is to formalize your union. Get married, in a formal ceremony. Or don’t. But beware that, unless you make formal a legal marriage, you will not be legally entitled to all the benefits which married couples receive. Without a marriage, when your partner dies, you may not be entitled to any portion of that estate, because you may not be able to prove you were common-law married. However, just as a formal marriage may provide the security a person needs in a relationship, simply completing your estate plan, and discussing those plans with your significant other, will likely reduce the need for litigation down the road to prove you were a spouse for inheritance reasons. If you and your partner have estate documents which establish the intent to distribute the estate to each other, or at least include provisions for each other, then the issue of common-law marriage should not be at issue.
Leslie Leonard is an attorney at Cooper Cargill Chant in North Conway, NH, focusing on family law and estate planning. Cooper Cargill Chant is the largest law firm north of the lakes region in New Hampshire. With its main office in North Conway, New Hampshire, Cooper Cargill Chant lawyers have over 150 years of experience. Cooper Cargill Chant attorneys are recognized leaders of the New Hampshire Bar Association, have chaired the Boards of the New Hampshire Bar Association, the New Hampshire Association for Justice, and the New Hampshire Bar Foundation. Lawyers have won numerous awards for their representation of clients throughout New Hampshire, including awards for legal service to the poor, for work in domestic violence cases, in helping form and develop businesses, and in personal injury work. With offices located in North Conway and Berlin, New Hampshire, Cooper Cargill Chant is counsel to hundreds of small businesses and associations, and thousands of individual clients throughout northern NH and western Maine. For more information, call 603-356-5439 or visit them online at www.coopercargillchant.com.
Cooper Cargill Chant Attorneys Receive Accolades From Super Lawyers
November 14, 2016
NORTH CONWAY, NH – Cooper Cargill Chant, PA is proud to announce that its Partner Paul Chant has been selected by Super Lawyers New England Magazine for recognition in its 2016 publication. Super Lawyers, a Thompson-Reuters business, is a prestigious honor awarded to attorneys who exemplify the highest standards and abilities in areas of law.
Cooper Cargill Chant, PA’s Super Lawyer for 2016 is Attorney Paul Chant. Attorney Chant was named for personal injury practice, on the Plaintiff side. He has 30 years of experience representing Plaintiff’s in personal injury and workers’ compensation litigation. Attorney Chant was selected by Business New Hampshire Magazine as its “Top personal injury lawyer” for 2015 for the entire state of New Hampshire. Paul is President of the Mount Washington Valley Economic Council and a Member of the New Hampshire Bar Association Board of Governors.
In addition to Attorney Chant’s selection as a Super Lawyer, Cooper Cargill Chant, PA Associate Leslie Leonard was named a Rising Star. Attorney Leonard is an Associate whose practice is in family law, estate planning, personal injury and employment law. She is the Past-President of the Mount Washington Valley Children’s Museum Board of Directors, Vice President of the Rotary Club of North Conway, a member of the Board of Directors of the White Mountain Health Center. and a Graduate of the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program.
Attorneys chosen to the list of Super Lawyers must pass a rigorous, research driven selection process that consists of peer nominations and ratings and in depth evaluations by a highly credentialed panel of attorneys. Lawyers who make the final list have attained the highest degree of professional achievement and recognition from their legal peers.
Super Lawyers Magazine was created to honor exceptional attorneys and to provide consumers in need of legal services in their region with access to an objective list of top lawyers in their area, because no more than 5% of attorneys in this state are named to the Super Lawyers Magazine list – and no more than 2.5% of attorneys are selected to the list of Rising Stars.™ (Honoring lawyers age 40 or younger or in practice 10 years or less). Consumers can feel confidence in choosing lawyers who have been recognized by the trusted publication. For more information, visit the Super Lawyer web site.
Cooper Cargill Chant is the largest law firm north of the lakes region in New Hampshire. With its main office in North Conway, New Hampshire, Cooper Cargill Chant lawyers have over 150 years of experience. Cooper Cargill Chant attorneys are recognized leaders of the New Hampshire Bar Association, have chaired the Boards of the New Hampshire Bar Association, the New Hampshire Association for Justice, and the New Hampshire Bar Foundation. Lawyers have won numerous awards for their representation of clients throughout New Hampshire, including awards for legal service to the poor, for work in domestic violence cases, in helping form and develop businesses, and in personal injury work. With offices located in North Conway and Berlin, New Hampshire, Cooper Cargill Chant is counsel to hundreds of small businesses and associations, and thousands of individual clients throughout northern NH and western Maine.
For more information, call 603-356-5439 or visit them online at www.coopercargillchant.com.
Gray Divorce – How Boomers are changing the face of divorce
November 7, 2016
If you are over 50 and getting divorced, you’re not alone. A recent study from Bowling Green State University called, “The Gray Divorce Revolution,” reports that in the past two decades, the divorce rate has doubled for people over 50, while declining for younger couples.
In 2009, 25 percent of divorces included a spouse over 50. Researchers point to several factors including: older people are more likely to be in second marriages, which have a higher rate of divorce, decline in the stigma surrounding divorce, and increasing lifespans have changed the view of marriage as a lifetime commitment. Middle aged clients see this phase of their life as an opportunity to make changes that would have been more difficult when they were raising children and building careers.
Challenges of the Gray Divorce
Divorce brings the realization that a middle aged couple will have to divide their carefully nurtured nest egg between them. This can be difficult, since most people over 50 have their assets contained in real estate and restricted retirement plans or pensions. Expenses will increase, when, for example, each has to pay for their own health insurance and housing. Even common expenses like utilities, auto insurance or a vacation become more daunting.
At middle age, most people have reached their highest earning capacity and are looking towards retirement, when their incomes will decrease and become fixed. Divorce may lead to a change of retirement plans, or reentering the workforce and putting off retirement entirely for a time.
Easing Troubled Times
All this is happening while the primary relationship of each spouse’s life is dissolving and they have to face an uncertain future. Many over 50 are worried about the impact of divorce on their spouse and their families. Many want to be fair and insure each will leave the marriage in as good a shape as possible. In most cases, each spouse wants to avoid an expensive and lengthy court battle.
Given these challenges, those over 50 should seriously consider the most flexible and creative solutions to divorce. Using mediation or collaborative law promotes a problem solving approach to divorce. Avoiding court battles will significantly reduce the cost and length of a divorce. In some cases, it may not make sense to get divorced at all. New Hampshire now allows married couples to create “post-nuptial” agreements. Using a “post-nup” can allow parties to separate assets and create support obligations, while still taking advantage of the benefits of remaining married, such as favored tax status, the right to inherit and continued health coverage on family plans.
Published November 2016 – Business NH Magazine
Leslie Leonard is an attorney at Cooper Cargill Chant focusing on family law and estate planning.
Cooper Cargill Chant and Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce present Free Lunch & Learn Series
October 25, 2016
Cooper Cargill Chant and the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce present a Lunch & Learn series. Each session in this series will focus on an area of expertise from a Cooper Cargill Chant attorney. These Lunch & Learn sessions will give you the opportunity to learn and network with Cooper Cargill Chant attorneys in an informal environment on legal topics important to you. All sessions are free and a new Lunch & Learn is presented each month! Sessions will be brown bag lunches (bring your own lunch). All sessions are interactive, so please bring your questions. Here is more information about each of the sessions in the upcoming Lunch & Learn series:
April 13, 2017 – Mediation in the Workplace, presented by Randall F. Cooper, Esq.
With over 40 years of practicing law in the Mount Washington Valley and recent mediator certifications, Randy believes in the power of mediation to resolve disputes in the workplace. This session will cover the process of mediation, how mediation works and can help your business resolve disputes in a timely cost effective manner while empowering your employees. Also to be discussed will be the types of disputes where workplace mediation can be most effective and more! BRING YOUR OWN LUNCH | RSVP: Lisa 356-5701 ext. 300
Facebook Event Details
May 11, 2017 – Commercial and Residential Landlord/Tenant Law – What You Need to Know, presented by Dennis L. Morgan, Esq.
All presentations are general and non-specific overviews of topics involving law. The information offered by these presentations, both written and oral, should not be considered legal advice, and does not give rise to an attorney-client privilege. You should consult with a lawyer to discuss your individual situation if you believe that the topics discussed herein apply to you or your business.
Attorney Deborah Fauver to serve as panelist for “Being Mortal” Event regarding end of life decisions and advance care planning.
September 23, 2016
‘Being Mortal’ film screening event to be held Oct. 5
“Hope is not a plan.” — Dr. Atul Gawande
CONWAY — The Mount Washington Valley community is invited to a free screening of the PBS Frontline documentary, “Being Mortal,” on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at Kennett High School.
Following the film, a panel of local professionals will answer audience questions and share their own perspectives on advance care planning. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with refreshments and informational displays; film begins at 6 p.m. in Loynd Auditorium.
The evening is hosted by Visiting Nurse Home Care & Hospice, Memorial Hospital and members of the Community Health Collaborative. According to Sandy Ruka, Visiting Nurse executive director, the screening is another part of the group’s ongoing campaign to bring advance care planning education and assistance to the community.
“The film encourages families to have these tough but important conversations,” said Ruka, who chairs the collaborative’s advance care planning committee. “We also hope it can be a catalyst for discussions between patients and their health-care providers. The goal is to take real steps in identifying, communicating and documenting our end-of-life wishes.”
The Hospice Foundation of America selected the collaborative to host the event as part of the foundation’s “Being Mortal” public awareness campaign. The national effort is based on Dr. Atul Gawande’s best-selling book, “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Really Matters in the End.”
The project uses the PBS Frontline film, “Being Mortal,” to educate audiences on the importance of talking about end-of-life preferences and values with families and medical professionals. Gawande asks, “How do we start the conversation with our loved ones and health-care providers? What would our priorities be if our time was limited?”
Leona Cloutier, family nurse practitioner with Memorial Hospital Primary Care, says working in family practice means embracing end-of-life care. “We have to educate people that these are not sad conversations to have. By knowing how a person wants to be cared for at the end of life, you have the chance to honor their wishes.”
Cloutier also stresses the importance of conversations between patient and provider. “I think it’s important to have well thought-out and meaningful conversations with my patients. Being prepared gives family members the chance to spend more quality time with their loved one.”
A guided discussion will take place after the screening facilitated by Rev. Mary Edes and Julie Lanoie, hospice volunteer director. Panelists include Dr. Rachel Hamilton of Memorial Hospital Primary Care, Dr. David Ladly of Saco River Medical Group, Rev. Sean Dunker Bendigo, attorney Deborah Fauver of Cooper Cargill Chant, Christine MacDonald of White Mountain Community Health Center, Memorial Hospital’s discharge planner Jennifer Grise, Jayne Maher from ServiceLink and family caregiver Jane Duggan.
Ruka said the group felt it was important to have a diverse panel available to answer questions. “It helps people see how all of these roles are inter-related in the discussion of advance care planning.”
She added that more educational opportunities are already planned for later in October. For those in health-care related fields, Continuing Medical Education credits are available through Memorial Hospital for the Oct. 5 program. Cooper Cargill Chant and the Hospice Foundation of America are sponsoring the event.
In his book, Gawande wrote, “As our time winds down, we all seek comfort in simple pleasures — companionship, everyday routines, the taste of good food, the warmth of sunlight on our faces. We become less interested in the rewards of achieving and accumulating, and more interested in the rewards of simply being.”
“After all,” he concluded, “our ultimate goal is not a good death, but a good life to the very end.”
For more about the “Being Mortal” event or advance care planning services, call Visiting Nurse, Home Care & Hospice at (603) 356-7006 or (603) 800-499-4171, or Memorial Hospital Population Health at (603) 356-5461, Ext. 2187. Additional event information can be found at VNHCH.org.
Cooper Cargill Chant Attorney Chris Meier Accepts Special Recognition for the MWV Trails Association From Governor and Executive Council
September 14, 2016
Photo Caption: Chris Meier (third from right) Accepts Special Recognition for the MWV Trails Association From Governor Maggie Hassan (center) and Executive Council.
NORTH CONWAY, NH – Volunteerism and public service is part of the culture at Cooper Cargill Chant, northern New Hampshire’s largest law firm. This fact was exemplified on September 7, 2016, when Attorney and Partner Chris Meier received special recognition on behalf of the non-profit Mount Washington Valley Trails Association, on whose board Meier serves as President. Meier and the MWVTA received a special proclamation from Governor Maggie Hassan and Executive Council members at their North Country meeting last week at the North Conway Community Center in North Conway, NH.