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Blog: Opinions & Observations

SWaM Certification - December 2012

December 18, 2012

In 2006, Governor Kaine issued Executive Order 33 by which a 40% goal for the award of contracts for the procurement of goods and services by any agency of the Commonwealth was established. By Executive Order 33, the Virginia Department of Minority Business Enterprise (“DMBE”) was given the responsibility for the certification of business enterprises as Small, Women Owned and Minority Owned business.  Hence, the term “SWaM” was created.   Since most public...

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To Give or Not To Give Before Dec. 31 - November 2012

November 02, 2012

For gifts made in 2012 and individuals dying in 2012, the estate tax exemption, gift tax exemption and generation-skipping transfer tax (“GSTT”) exemption are all $5,120,000 (less prior taxable gifts).  This exemption applies to each donor/decedent.  In addition, the surviving spouse of a decedent who died in 2011 or 2012 and who did not fully utilize his estate tax exemption can use his or her deceased spouse’s unused exemption (“DSUE”).  This opportunity is...

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Planning with Powers of Attorney – the Virginia Uniform Power of Attorney Act - October 2012

October 04, 2012

I have practiced law in Virginia for almost thirty years, focusing primarily on estate planning and administration, and related business succession planning. Over the last decade, I have found that the number of issues and controversies surrounding the use and abuse of powers of attorneys has increased dramatically. This is probably due to a number of different factors, including our increasingly litigious population, the easy accessibility of form documents via...

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The Top Five Issues Affecting Community Associations in 2012 - September 2012

September 12, 2012

          I have dedicated a significant part of my law practice to Common Interest Community Associations, educating both residents and boards of directors and helping them understand their rights and the value of their neighborhood.  As each year comes to an end, I am often asked about the most significant issues affecting community associations throughout the year.  The following is a list if the top five issues affecting community associations in...

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Deferred Action for “DREAMers” - August 2012

August 17, 2012

The Department of Homeland Security began offering deferred action for qualified undocumented immigrants on August 15, 2012. Deferred action does not confer lawful status to an individual, but it does stop the accumulation of unlawful presence for the duration of the deferral period. Qualified individuals may receive deferred action for a period of two years. The individuals receiving approval of deferred action will not be placed into removal proceedings or...

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Recent Developments in Virginia Sovereign Immunity Law - June 2012

June 25, 2012

The doctrine of “sovereign immunity” stems from the ancient common law proposition that the king or queen (“the sovereign”) cannot be sued without his or her consent.  While this was once absolute immunity under the common law, it has been abrogated in various ways over the centuries, but is still a strong factor in determining whether liability exists against public governmental entities and their employees within the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Recently, the...

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Vessel Operations & Environmental Law in the Chesapeake Bay: Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act - June 2012

June 04, 2012

Tug boat owners, cargo carriers, cruise ships, and pleasure vessel owners take notice -- this past February, the National Marine Fisheries Service acting under authority of the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. sections 1531-1544, listed the Atlantic Sturgeon as “Endangered” in the Chesapeake Bay.  The listing decision gives tremendous protection to the fish; anyone who treats the fish in a manner that qualifies as a “take” risks civil penalties up to $25,000.00...

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Keeping the "Fun" in Fundraising: Avoid Inadvertent Violations of the Internal Revenue Code - May 2012

May 22, 2012

School booster clubs, such as those formed to support bands or sports groups, have become a popular way for parents to get involved in their children’s extracurricular activities. One of the common activities that booster clubs participate in is assisting the students in fundraising, such as selling candy bars or washing cars. Naturally, some of the students may raise more funds than others. It would seem only fair to credit those individuals in accordance with his...

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One Size Does Not Fit All: Special Considerations for Spousal Support Provisions in Marital Agreements - April 2012

April 12, 2012

Spousal support issues in divorce proceedings will be decided by the court if the parties are unable to reach an agreement.  Virginia offers no uniform formula for determining whether or not permanent spousal support should be awarded, nor is there such a formula for determining the nature, amount or duration of spousal support.  Instead, the trial court makes these decisions based upon a number of factors and circumstances for each particular case.  Marital...

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An Introduction to Hiring Foreign Workers - March 2012

March 16, 2012

Employers seeking to hire foreign nationals must be careful to comply with all requirements of United States immigration law as well as the rules and regulations from the U.S. Department of Labor. Immigration laws are complex, constantly change, and present harsh consequences for those who fail to strictly conform to their requirements. Of paramount importance for both the employer and the foreign worker is the need to maintain valid work authorization and legal...

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