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  • Blog or Newsletter Disclaimer: The information and material contained in this document does not constitute legal advice and are provided for informational purposes only.

Am I entitled to receive Social Security benefits from my spouse after divorce?

As part of their post-divorce financial planning, clients often ask whether they can receive a portion of their spouse’s Social Security payments.

Answer:  Yes, if you meet the requirements. 

The best part is that it doesn’t impact your spouse’s Social Security in any way.

Keep in mind that you can’t get your spouse’s Social Security in addition to your own, so this benefit was really designed to ensure that homemakers have another source of funds in retirement because it will only benefit you if your spouse’s Social Security payments would be higher than your own.

In order to qualify to receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record:

  • you must be divorced;
  • your marriage must have lasted 10 years or longer;
  • you must have not remarried;
  • you must be at least 62 years old;
  • your ex-spouse must be entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits; and
  • Your own Social Security benefit would be lower than the one your spouse is entitled to receive.  A spouse that meets these qualifications can receive up to 50% of their former spouse’s full retirement rate.  Claiming a ex-spouse’s rate prevents you from claiming your own rate, which is why you should elect to claim the higher rate.  For more information on what elections you should make in order to maximize your Social Security benefits visit the Social Security website here.

–Sean

Legislative School Law Update 2017

By Rebekah R. Jacobson, Shareholder

The 2017 Oregon Legislature passed many bills affecting school districts, ESDs and charter schools on topics ranging from drones, to “lunch shaming” to  pay equity provisions. We summarized the major legislation, as well as the technical bills, affecting schools and provided action items to pinpoint the immediate impact on your district. Highlights include requirements for volunteer background checks and new deadlines for complying with public record requests. Follow the link to access the full document: 2017 Legislative Changes

Quite a few community college specific bills were passed this session as well. Follow the link to access the full document tailored to community colleges: 2017 Legislative Session Summary: Community Colleges

2017 Legislative Changes Seminar

Presented by: Kelly Noor, Paul Dakopolos, Rebekah Jacobson, Hank Stebbins

 

2017 Special Education Legal Update

Presented by: Paul Dakopolos, Kelly Noor

Dentinger, Hoyt, Pollino and Hunt Selected to 2016 Oregon Super Lawyers List

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Garrett Hemann Robertson P.C. congratulates Tammy Dentinger, Kim Hoyt, John Pollino and Ryan Hunt for being selected to the Thomson Reuters 2016 Oregon Super Lawyers list.  Each year, no more than five percent of lawyers statewide are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor. These lawyers are nominated by their peers and selected for excellence within their practice areas.

Tammy Dentinger was included on the 2016 Oregon Super Lawyers list for the tenth consecutive year.  Ms. Dentinger has practiced family law for over 20 years and is a member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.  Kim Hoyt was selected for inclusion to the 2016 Oregon Super Lawyers list for her work in employment law.  After 24 years, Ms. Hoyt continues to defend business owners and public entities in state and federal court.  Ms. Hoyt currently serves as the firm’s Managing Officer.  John Pollino is a trial lawyer representing clients in professional malpractice matters, business disputes and other complex civil litigation.  Ms. Hoyt and Mr. Pollino are also members of the American Board of Trial Advocates, a national association of experienced trial lawyers and judges.  Ryan Hunt was also selected for inclusion to the 2016 Oregon Super Lawyers list as a Rising Star.  Mr. Hunt represents parties in family law, personal injury, and construction defect claims.  Ms. Dentinger, Mr. Pollino and Mr. Hunt are AV-rated by Martindale Hubbell.  For more information about these lawyers, visit www.ghrlawyers.com.

Legislative School Law Update 2015

By Rebekah R. Jacobson and Adrian W. Swindells, Attorneys

The 2015 Oregon Legislature passed many bills affecting school districts, ESDs and charter schools on topics ranging from student assessments to free lunches to whistleblower protections for students. We summarized the major legislation, as well as the technical bills, affecting schools and provided action items to pinpoint the immediate impact on your district. Highlights include significant changes to districts’ student discipline procedures, including limitations on student expulsions. 2015 Legislative Changes

Super Lawyers

Garrett Hemann Robertson P.C. congratulates Tammy Dentinger, Kim Hoyt and Ryan Hunt for being named Thomson Reuters 2015 Super Lawyers.  Each year, no more than 5% of lawyers statewide are designated as a Super Lawyer. These lawyers are nominated by their peers and selected for excellence within their practice areas.Tammy Dentinger was selected as a Super Lawyer for the ninth consecutive year.  Ms. Dentinger has practiced family law for over 20 years and is a member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.  Kim Hoyt was selected as a Super Lawyer for her work in employment law.  For the past 24 years, Ms. Hoyt has defended business owners and public entities in state and federal court.  Ms. Hoyt is also the firm’s Managing Officer.  For the sixth year, Ryan Hunt was named by Super Lawyers as a Rising Star.  Mr. Hunt litigates construction defect claims on behalf of businesses and public entities and is Martindale Hubbell AV rated.  For more information about these lawyers, visit www.ghrlawyers.com.

IRS SCRUTINIZES FARM RENTAL INCOME

Theresa M. Wade

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is planning to make important changes in regards to the manner in which the IRS treats income derived from rental agreements between farming entities renting land from individuals owning an interest in such farming entity.  Specifically, the IRS plans to inspect and audit farmer tax returns for evidence of these types of arrangements, and assess self-employment tax on related net rental earnings for the current tax year.

Rental income is typically considered “passive income” and exempt from self-employment tax, however, if an individual land owner “materially participates” in the farming operations, either through crop share arrangements, or actual production of the commodities or the management of production, that material participation could trigger self-employment tax.

This circumstance often arises when a farmer who owns real estate leases it to an entity through which the farmer performs farming activities on the leased property.  Many farmers using such a lease arrangement for their real estate elect to report the net rental income as a passive activity under the general real estate rental rule and do not pay self-employment tax on their net rental income.

Under the new IRS position, the lessor will no longer have the option as to whether to report the rental income derived from the lease as self-employment income.  If the farmer-lessor materially participates as an owner in the business entity farming the property, earnings under the lease arrangement will be subject to self-employment tax.  It does not matter the type of business entity farming the property, whether partnership, LLC or corporation.

If the situation described above applies to you, please contact Theresa M. Wade at twade@ghrlawyers.com or at 503-581-1501 to discuss proper application of the material participation regulations and whether another solution may be pursued to accomplish your business and tax objectives.

 

ESTATE PLANNING UPDATE

Update on Estate Planning with Digital Assets

By Theresa M. Wade

           This article describes the changes in the use of social media, attempts by the legislature to provide default language in the event of disability or death of an account holder, and steps that you can take to ensure that appropriate people have access to your digital assets in the event you are unable to monitor or manage them, whether as a result of disability, absence for an extended period of time or death.

Digital assets include all electronic communications, information and documents stored in electronic memory, but do not include the underlying asset or hardware.

Digital assets are “intangible” under Oregon law.  Some assets may have value (such as an online “PayPal” or similar account, Internet business account, or “bitcoins”).  Other digital assets may have no dollar value but great sentimental value, such as photographs, music selection, and email exchanges with friends and family.

You may have signed a service agreement (or electronically “checked the box”) which imposes restrictions on who may access the account on your behalf or allows the digital asset manager or service provider with complete control over the asset or account upon notification of the incapacity or death of the owner/user.  The following is a sampling of current service contract provisions for a variety of digital assets:

iCloud – This account has no right of survivorship. By entering into the service agreement, you agree that your rights to this account are not transferable, and Apple has the right to delete your account upon receipt of a copy of your death certificate.

Source: https://www.apple.com/legal/internet-services/icloud/en/terms/html

Yahoo! – Continues to deny access to an owner’s account absent a court order.  Yahoo has taken the position that this account has no right of survivorship and cannot be transferred.  Yahoo reserves the right to simply delete your account and all content upon notice of your death.

Source: https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index

Google – Google, which operates Gmail, requires a written request for access to a deceased user’s account. You must give specific instructions to Google relating to who should have access to your information and whether you want your account to be deleted upon notification of your death.  Google uses an “inactive account manager” for these purposes.  However, use of the inactive account manager or written instructions to Google will not necessarily be honored.  Google reviews each request on a case-by-case analysis.

Source: https://suppport.google.com/accounts/contact/deceased?rd=1

Microsoft Outlook – Microsoft, which manages not only Outlook but Hotmail, Live.com, Windows Live.com and msn.com, has a “next of kin process,” which allows the release of the contents of an Outlook account, including emails and attachments, address book and contact lists to the next of kin following an authentication process.  Microsoft will not provide a password to the account, or change the existing password or transfer the account to anyone else.  The contents of the Outlook account are transferred to a DVD, which is sent to the next of kin.

To prove the identity as next of kin an individual must submit an original death certificate for the user (if deceased), a certified document signed by a medical professional in charge of the case (if the user is incapacitated), and a government-issued document proving next of kin relationship, or executor status (which could include a marriage certificate for the surviving spouse, a birth certificate for the user if the next of kin is a parent, or signed power of attorney which includes authority of the agent to receive this information).

The information required by Microsoft in order to gain access once next of kin status is proven, consists of eight pieces of information, including the email address, first and last names of the account holder, date of birth used by the account holder, city, state and zip code of the account holder’s residence, approximate date when the account was created, the next of kin’s contact information, and the type of computer in use (PC, Mac, etc.).

Source:  http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook_com/oaccount-omyinfo/my-family-member-died-recently-is-in-coma-what-do/308cedece-5444-4185-82e8-0623ecc1d3d6

Facebook – Facebook will transfer a user’s site into “memorial status” upon notification of death, but will not provide information for anyone to edit the account after death.  Verified immediate family members may request the removal of an account from Facebook, but have no other access or rights to the content.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/help/150486848354038

Senate Bill 369 has been introduced into the Senate to enact the “Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act” (UFADAA).  This act would authorize fiduciaries (agents under power of attorney, personal representatives in an estate, trustees under a trust, and conservators of a fiscally incapable individual) to access electronic communications and digital assets of their principal (the incapacitated individual, deceased testator or deceased settlor).  This act would establish procedures for obtaining access and control of digital assets, regardless of the service agreement that the individual may have signed when opening the account or establishing the asset.  UFADAA would allow the fiduciary access to these accounts and assets, under the same restrictions that a fiduciary has for all other tangible assets, in that the information or digital asset would be used only for the benefit of the principal in cases where the principal was unable to take those actions for himself or herself.  If UFADAA is enacted, estate planning will be relatively simple in that UFADAA provides a default provision in the Oregon statutes.  Specific language within your estate plan documents would not otherwise be required, unless you had a specific concern or wished to limit the types of accounts that your fiduciary might have access to.  In those instances, specific information would need to be included in your estate plan documents.

If a bill like UFADAA is not enacted, then your estate plan documents must provide specific authority for your fiduciary to take these same steps.

It is critical that a list be maintained, and made available to a trusted family member or fiduciary, reflecting the username and password for each of these assets.  Further documentation would be prepared by your legal counsel, tailored to your specific needs, wishes and circumstances, to assist your fiduciary in carrying out your wishes with respect to these assets.

If you would like help preserving your digital assets, or to discuss other business succession or estate planning tools, please contact Theresa M. Wade at Garrett Hemann Robertson P.C. at twade@ghrlawyers.com or at (503) 581-1501.

 

 

Child Support: How is it calculated?

In Oregon, child support is calculated using the Oregon Uniform Child Support Guidelines.  Attorneys, Judges, and parents who are trying to agree on a child support figure all calculate it the same way, using the Child Support Calculator located on the Oregon Department of Justice website.  In order to run a child support calculation, you need to know (at least) five things:

  1. Each parent’s gross monthly income;
  2. Any spousal support paid to or received from a parent;
  3. The number of overnights per year each parent has with the child or children (overnights calculator here);
  4. The cost of work-related daycare and who pays it;
  5. The cost of health insurance for the parent who is insuring the child, as well as that parent’s cost for the child.

There are certainly complications, but here is a basic child support calculation based on the information below:

  1. Wilma earns $2,500 per month and Fred earns $3,500;
  2. Fred does not pay spousal support to Wilma;
  3. Wilma has Pebbles for 255 overnights per year and Fred has her for 110 overnights;
  4. Wilma pays $400 per month for Pebbles to go to daycare while Wilma and Fred are at work; and
  5. Fred pays $50 for his own health insurance, plus another $100 to insure Pebbles.

The calculation (shown here) shows Fred would presumptively pay Wilma $528 per month in child support.

Remember that this is a very basic calculation.  Child support can deviate from the Guidelines amount for any number of reasons, a list of which appears at ORS 25.280.  One common example is increasing child support above the Guidelines amount when the child has significant, recurring health care expenses.

Need more information?  Your lawyer should ask you lots of questions to identify whether a Guidelines support obligation, or a deviation, would be more appropriate for your particular set of circumstances.  The Calculator can be tricky, so if you run your own child support scenarios, consider asking your lawyer to review them for you to be sure you have run them correctly.

–Sean

 

Garrett Hemann Robertson P.C. sponsors the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s 2014 “Walk for Wishes.”

On April 26, 2014 at Salem’s Riverfront Park, Garrett Hemann Robertson P.C.’s shareholder and Make-A-Wish® Oregon’s Ambassador Board member, Luke Reese, will be joining family, friends and colleagues for the foundation’s annual Walk for Wishes.  This year’s walk will highlight one of the many children who benefit from the Make-A-Wish®.  Ten-year-old Portland resident, Destiny, has a rare and incurable metabolic disorder known as NKH, which affects her brain functions.  Even smiling is difficult.  Last October, Destiny was connected with a woman from Michigan named Cassie through a website that matches runners with those who cannot run.  Since then, Destiny and Cassie have developed a special bond, and Cassie has committed to dedicating at least one 5k run a month to Destiny.  It’s a commitment that has changed both of their lives.  Destiny’s one true wish was to meet her hero, Cassie, and participate in a 5k together.  On April 26th, Destiny’s wish will come true when she and Cassie lead the Walk for Wishes.

In addition to sponsoring the Walk for Wishes, GHR is encouraging employees to share Luke’s passion of making wishes come true for children with life-threatening medical conditions by sponsoring a “Jeans for Wishes” week April 21-25, 2014.  Employees who donate $20 to the Make-A-Wish will be allowed to dress casual throughout the work week.

We invite you to join hundreds of local Make-A-Wish supporters for the 2014 Walk for Wishes.  If you would like to participate, follow this link to the registration page:  http://walkforwishes.kintera.org/2014.

Patient Protection and Affordable Care: Will it Help or Hurt?

As of this writing, a government shutdown is imminent as the Senate and House face off over whether to fund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).  It is hard to know what Obamacare will look like in the coming months and years, but it’s still worth checking out the Federal government’s website here.  Just by answering a few questions you’ll learn whether you stand to benefit from the legislative changes.  And if you’re an Oregon resident, you can find more information here.

–Sean