Leslie Leonard Named Partner at Cooper Cargill Chant
January 30, 2018
The law firm of Cooper Cargill Chant, PA. has named attorney Leslie M. Leonard a partner of the firm.
“We are pleased to welcome Leslie as a partner in the firm. She is a tremendous asset. Since joining the firm in 2010 Leslie has immersed herself in the community serving on many professional and nonprofit boards. We are confident that she will continue to use the experience, legal skill and work ethic she has demonstrated since joining our firm to achieve the best results for our clients” said Paul Chant, President of Cooper Cargill Chant.
Leslie began her career as a paralegal in Boulder, Colorado after graduating cum laude from the University of New Hampshire. During her years as a paralegal, she gained significant experience in the areas of personal injury and family law matters. Working in the field ignited her passion and she made the decision to attend law school. After eight years in Colorado she returned to New Hampshire to study law at Franklin Pierce Law Center (now UNH School of Law) where she graduated cum laude in 2006.
Since joining Cooper Cargill Chant in 2010, Leslie has focused her practice in the areas of family law, estate planning, employment law, personal injury and social security disability. She represents clients in both New Hampshire and Maine.
Leslie currently serves as President of the Rotary club of North Conway and President of the Carroll County Bar Association. She is a member of the Gibson Center Board of Directors and an ex officio member of the White Mountain Community Health Center board. She is a member of the New Hampshire Association for Justice and the Human Resources Association of Greater Concord. She is a past president of the Mount Washington Valley Children’s Museum board of directors and a past board member of the Ham Ice Arena. She was recognized as a “Rising Star” in 2015 and 2016 by Super Lawyers New England Magazine. Leslie was a member of Leadership Mount Washington Valley, Class of 2012.
Cooper Cargill Chant is the largest law firm in Northern New Hampshire with office in North Conway and Berlin. Its attorneys represent a wide range of individuals, businesses and organizations in central and northern New Hampshire and western Maine. Practice areas include: personal injury; real estate; business and corporate; planning; zoning and municipal; civil litigation; family law, bankruptcy, employment law, criminal defense and DWI.
For more information about Leslie Leonard or the firm, call (603) 345-5439 or visit the website at www.coopercargillchant.com/leslie-leonard
Attorney Leslie Leonard sworn in as President for the Rotary Club of North Conway for 2017-2018
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.
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.
The Second Time Around — The opioid epidemic is making grandparents parents again
March 17, 2016
NORTH CONWAY — If you’ve been reading the news, you’ve no doubt heard of the devastating effects that the opioid or heroin epidemic has had on New Hampshire. Unfortunately, New Hampshire is the state with the highest teen substance abuse per capita, and deaths from opioids jumped 76 percent in 2014. The effect of this epidemic is not confined only to the drug users, but also has a profound effect on the families of the users, often long before an overdose or legal involvement.
Recently Cooper Cargill Chant’s family law practice has seen a steep increase in grandparents seeking advice on caring for their grandchildren after their adult child has died or become incapacitated by addiction. While the state has directed substantial resources into treatment and law enforcement, it has done little to assist families of the addicts. Grandparents, who may have already retired, are finding they are the only ones who can now raise their young grandchildren. Many of these children who have lived through their parent’s addictions, may come with medical and behavioral challenges of their own.
In New Hampshire, parents have sole authority over their children and can exclude even grandparents from contact. Without court intervention, grandparents may not be able to help neglected grandchildren. In other instances, parents may live with or rely on grandparents to care for their children, knowing they, themselves, are unable to do so.
Even when parents are cooperative, grandparents will still face legal challenges. Without court orders, grandparents have no legal right to make parenting decisions such as schooling or medical treatment. Even a routine trip to the dentist can be challenging, as grandparents have no legal ability to authorize treatment.
The most common legal option for grandparents is guardianship. As a guardian, the grandparent is given the legal authority to act as a parent for their grandchild (also known as the ward). If the parent is cooperative, then obtaining a guardianship can be relatively routine; however, if not, it can involve a complicated and expensive legal proceeding. Of course once appointed as guardian, the grandparent becomes legally obligated to provide for the welfare of the child, and will be required to make periodic reports to the court regarding the child’s welfare and assets if any. The guardian will be expected to insure the child is cared for, receives medical treatment and schooling.
In more extreme cases, the grandparent may seek a termination of parental rights and/or adoption. These proceedings are significantly more complicated than a guardianship.
If you’re a grandparent, you were a parent and you know that raising children is a young person’s game. Add this to having to deal with the impact of having an adult child with a serious addiction as well as a grandchild who has lost their parent to addiction, either physically or emotionally. Finally, becoming a guardian while living on a fixed income can add financial difficulties.
Any person who is or may be in this situation will have to rely on a network of medical and legal professionals to navigate this challenge. Cooper Cargill Chant’s Charles L. Greenhalgh and Leslie M. Leonard are attorneys who have been successful in assisting families through guardianship proceedings. They have successfully dealt with the various state agencies involved, and can help families facing this challenge.
Cooper Cargill Chant is the largest law firm north of the lakes region in New Hampshire. With its main office in North Conway, Cooper Cargill Chant lawyers have over 150 years of experience. Cooper Cargill Chant attorneys are recognized leaders of the N.H. Bar Association, have chaired the Boards of the N.H. Bar Association, the N.H. Association for Justice, and the N.H. Bar Foundation. Their 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, Cooper Cargill Chant is counsel to hundreds of small businesses and associations, and thousands of individual clients throughout northern New Hampshire and western Maine.
For more information, call (603) 356-5439