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Blog: Opinions & Observations

Riparian Rights When You Own Land in Contact with the Water: A Mix of Environmental, Admiralty and State Law - June 2013

June 19, 2013

By James T. Lang.Why do people pay extra for property “on the water”?  Besides the ambience and the view, owning land in contact with the water of a river, bay, creek or ocean includes valuable riparian property rights.  The Virginia Supreme Court in 2012 wrote:The littoral or riparian nature of property is often a substantial, if not the greatest, element of its value. This is true whether the owner uses his access to the sea for navigation, fishing,...

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Provisional Waivers for Unlawful Presence - April 2013

April 22, 2013

By Anne C. Lahren.Prior to March 4, 2013, there was no relief from within the United States for a alien immediate relative (such as a spouse, parent, or minor child) of a U.S. citizen who had previously entered without inspection (EWI), regardless of the hardship that such alien’s departure from the U.S. might cause the U.S. citizen immediate relative and family. Aliens who are EWI are ineligible to adjust status and must depart the U.S. and apply for an...

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Recent Court of Appeals Case Highlights Importance of Protecting Accounts Early in a Separation - April 2013

April 08, 2013

Wright v. Wright. The Wright case involved a divorce between a couple who had been married thirty (30) years.  Mr. Wright is a well known attorney in the Richmond area with a successful practice. Mrs. Wright, while highly educated, had been a homemaker for over twenty (20) years.  During the course of the divorce case, Mrs. Wright sought ongoing spousal support and also sought to have Mr. Wright refund monies he had taken from joint accounts to pay...

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The Legal Side of Aging and Dementia: Advance Planning Tools, Commitment Proceedings, Guardianships & Conservatorships - March 2013

March 06, 2013

By Kathryn N. Byler.During the 2013 session, the VA General Assembly unanimously passed a law against the financial exploitation of incapacitated persons making it a felony punishable with incarceration of between one and twenty years. This law touches on the growing concern of protecting the elderly without taking away their rights unnecessarily.Elderly persons who once were savvy community leaders may experience effects of dementia that leave them...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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,...

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