Leslie Leonard to receive Bruni Young Leadership Award at MWVEC annual meeting Nov. 15
November 9, 2018
Attorney Leslie M. Leonard of Cooper Cargill Chant of North Conway will be given the second annual Bruni Young Leadership Award at the 28th annual meeting of the Mt. Washington Valley Economic Council, to be held Nov. 15 at the Red Jacket Mountain View in North Conway.
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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
Attorneys Paul Chant and Leslie Leonard voted Super Lawyers Again!
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.
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.