What is the Difference Between Elder Law and Estate Planning?

Elder law and estate planning serve two different—but equally vital—functions. The main difference is that elder law is focused on preserving your assets during your lifetime, while estate planning concentrates on what happens to your assets after you die. Elder law planning is concerned with ensuring that seniors live long, healthy, and financially secure lives. It usually involves anticipating future … Read More

What is an Elder Law Attorney and Do I Need One?

Elder law is a practice area defined by the people whose legal needs are served—senior citizens. It is an area of law which grew out of the need for estate planning attorneys to address legal problems facing older clients and their children. Elder law is a remarkably diverse area of practice. It encompasses issues affecting the lives of the “elderly,” a population … Read More

How to Have a Financial Management Conversation with an Elderly Loved One

Guest Blog By SilverBills Having a conversation with an older adult relative about financial matters may be challenging. However, conversations such as these are essential as they provide an opportunity to talk about what a loved one may need help with as he or she ages. Starting these conversations can sometimes be problematic, as the idea of allowing others to help … Read More

President Biden Proposes Billions in Increased Funding for Home Health Care

a woman healthcare professional taking the blood pressure of an older man in his home

President Biden has introduced a plan to spend $400 billion over eight years on home and community-based care for the elderly and people with disabilities. The money would go to expand access to care and support higher-paying caregiving jobs.  As the elderly population grows, our long-term care system is becoming increasingly strained. The AARP found that in 2020, more than … Read More

Why Everyone Needs A Will

why everyone needs a will

Between one-third and two-thirds of Americans do not have a will — a legally binding document that records your wishes about the distribution of your property and assets after your death. Wills are not just about your material things; they are also about people. Wills allow you to name a guardian for minor or disabled children. Wills also allow you … Read More

COVID-19 Virus Concerns for a Law Practice

legal needs new mexico

The legal needs of New Mexicans did not go away when COVID-19 came calling and disrupted everyone’s lives. In fact, the virus made legal issues more urgent, particularly for individuals who needed an estate plan or Powers of Attorney. Many of our clients are older adults, one of the most at-risk groups for the virus. Rather than delay addressing their … Read More

When Is It Time to Revise Your Will or Trust?

Couple relaxing on bed in their new home

When completing a Will or Trust, oftentimes people believe it will never need to be changed. But typically, life is filled with changing circumstances, and it is important to revise your Will or Trust following major changes in your life. There are several major changes in your life which should prompt you to update or revise your Will or Trust: … Read More

A Lesson in Elder Financial Abuse: It Can Happen to Anyone

new mexico elder law abuse

Larry was 84-years old when he passed away last year.  His wife of 62 years died in 2018.  His only child, David, lived overseas and he had no other living family.  Larry was fiercely independent and was reluctant to ask for assistance with anything.  Concerned for his well-being and knowing that he would never consider moving into an assisted living … Read More

Summary of the SECURE Act and Retirement Savings: What You Should Know

Rolled up U.S. Money

The most significant change to estate planning law in 2019 was the passage of the SECURE Act in late December. The Act is intended to increase and encourage retirement savings. Benefits of the SECURE Act to Retirement Savings The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement, or SECURE, Act, is meant to address the fact that many Americans do not … Read More

Erin Wideman, PBWS Managing Partner, in Albuquerque Journal Regarding Wills

Many individuals are seeking to update their existing wills or start their estate plans due to the uncertainties around COVID-19. Erin Wideman, Managing Partner at Pregenzer, Baysinger, Wideman & Sale, spoke with The Albuquerque Journal about why the pandemic is driving people to update their documents, and the legal process involved. Read the story

Estate Planning Signing Safeguards


With the world in disarray due to COVID-19, you may feel more pressure than ever to ensure your estate planning documents and powers of attorney are updated and in place. In times of uncertainty, it is the small things that help bring us piece of mind. Our attorneys are working diligently to ensure our clients are taken care of when … Read More

Where Should I Keep My Estate Planning Documents?

Esther was 78-years-old when she passed away peacefully in her sleep.  She was a widow and the mother of four children.  Esther had always been a very private person who shared very little with her children about her finances, her end of life wishes, her funeral and burial wishes, and her estate plan.  Two years prior to her death, Esther … Read More

Choosing Fiduciaries from a Litigator’s Perspective

An essential part of estate planning is the selection of fiduciaries—those persons who will carry out your wishes; your agent, personal representative, or successor trustee.  What is a fiduciary? A fiduciary is a person who has a legal or ethical relationship with another.  In estate planning, we choose a fiduciary to manage our assets, either during life or at our … Read More

Common Mistakes Made When Estate Planning Without a Legal Professional

A close friend of mine and his wife obtained estimates from two contractors to remodel their kitchen. Shocked by the estimates, my friend somehow convinced his wife (and himself) that he had all of the necessary tools and the skills to undertake the project himself, and to complete it for nearly half of what the contractors were going to charge. … Read More

You Do Not Have to Wait Until You Die to Share

Recently my dad relayed to my sister and I that after his death, he has a playlist of songs he wants all of us kids to have to remember him by. He went on to say that he has an individual song for all eight of us. As an estate planning attorney, I asked him if he had written this … Read More

Using Estate Planning to Prevent Family Conflict

“My kids all get along great and would never fight or argue about the disposition of my estate after I’m gone.” This is a very familiar statement made by clients to their estate planning attorneys. Unfortunately, the reality is oftentimes very different from our perceptions and hopes. There is no question losing a parent is one of the most difficult, … Read More

Swedish Death Cleaning

A client of mine recently brought up “Swedish Death Cleaning,” which is a concept that is trending with the fairly recent release of a book entitled The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson. I had not heard of it, but I was curious because of … Read More

Update on Special Needs Planning Seminar 2018 Video and Handouts (April 11, 2018)

The Update on Special Needs Planning Seminar was held on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The seminar was hosted at the New Mexico Society of CPAs from 3:00pm to 5:00pm. Presented by: Pregenzer, Baysinger, Wideman & Sale, PC (PBWS) Zia Trust, Inc. The Arc of New Mexico ARCA Presentors: Elaine Solimon, Community Relations Director of ARCA Bridget … Read More

Who Should I Appoint As My Fiduciary?

As part of a comprehensive estate plan, each one of us should appoint fiduciaries to act on our behalf in the event that we are no longer able to do so during life or at our death.  Simply appointing a spouse, child, sibling, or good friend may not be the right choice in all situations. What many people do not … Read More

What is a Fiduciary?

A fiduciary is an individual or an entity in whom someone has placed significant confidence and trust to manage his or her financial and/or personal affairs either during their lifetime or after their death.  The fiduciary has a legally enforceable obligation and duty to act in the best interest of the person(s) the fiduciary serves.  Common examples of fiduciaries are: … Read More

People’s Motivation to Do Estate Planning

There are many reasons clients are motivated to do their estate planning, but the two I hear most are they are going to be travelling, usually overseas, or they have an upcoming surgery. Nothing like flying across the ocean or going under the knife to get you thinking about your mortality. Along those lines, my observations suggest people equate estate … Read More

Charitable Giving and Tax Benefits

Do you have a charity that is close to your heart? Maybe your church, your favorite animal shelter, or your alma mater. Consider including them in your estate plan and/or in lifetime gifts. If you don’t have a particular charity you want to support, but there is a cause that is important to you, like homelessness, animals, kids, education, arts, … Read More

Powers of Attorney – What They Are and Why You Need Them

Do you have financial and healthcare powers of attorney? Most people equate estate planning only with dying, but there are other important components of an estate plan that are relevant while you are alive, one of those is powers of attorney (POAs). In New Mexico, there are financial and health care powers of attorney. There are many benefits to having … Read More

Do You Need A Trust?

Many clients come to us because they have heard they should have a trust. The usual reason for this is to avoid probate. Although trusts can accomplish the purpose of avoiding probate, if this is the only purpose to be served by establishing the trust, then in New Mexico, it is not that important. Probate is the process of transferring … Read More

When Should You Review Your Estate Planning Documents?

First, let’s clarify what your estate planning documents are. Of course, they include your Will and any Codicils, and perhaps your trust or trusts. But they also include any powers of attorney (both financial and health care) as well as all beneficiary designations for life insurance, retirement plans, annuities and transfer on death accounts. A thorough review of your estate … Read More

When is a trust necessary or helpful?

There are many causes of mental and physical incapacity and there are many people who are very bad a managing money, and for one reason or another, should not be left in charge of their own investments.  In these cases, a trust may be a good idea.  It can be a revocable trust or it can be an irrevocable trust. … Read More

Should I Create a Trust to Avoid Probate?

Avoiding probate is a common reason for creating trusts. One thing to note is that only a funded trust will avoid probate. Meaning, only assets that have been transferred and titled in a trust will avoid probate.  When properly funded, the trust document and not a Will controls the disposition of the assets and avoids the necessity of opening a … Read More

How is a revocable trust funded? Should all assets be transferred to a revocable trust?

Trusts are funded by re-titling or transferring title by deed or assignment of individual assets to the revocable trust.  Assets may include stocks, bank accounts, real estate, timeshare interests, or business interests. Once assets are transferred into the trust, a schedule of assets should be attached to the trust document as this assists the trustee in the management of the … Read More

What does a will do and why should I have one?

A will, also known as a “last will and testament”, is a legal document that gives instructions to an agent, known as a personal representative in New Mexico, about how to distribute your assets at your death to people and/or charities named in your Will. A will can help you protect your family and property by allowing you to: -Have … Read More

What is the criteria for a legal will in New Mexico?

Each state has different criteria for wills to be legal or valid.  It is important to understand your state requirements when executing a Will. For a will to be legal in New Mexico: -You must be over the age of 18 years or an emancipated minor -You must be of sound mind -You must have 2 witnesses present who watch … Read More

New Year Means New Beginnings and Time to Review Your Estate Plan

The New Year brings many new beginnings. We often start the New Year with good intentions and resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, curtail some of our other less than healthy habits, be kinder, more patient, travel more, and maybe complain less. But is there anything else we should be thinking about as we hang the fresh, new calendar on … Read More

Protecting Your Testamentary Wishes As An Older Adult

Just because you have retired and grown older does not mean you have lost the ability to make decisions about your life or to decide for yourself who will inherit your assets when you die. Perhaps you do not have children or grandchildren and want to leave your assets to a friend or charity. Perhaps you feel your children and … Read More

How to Talk to Your Family About Estate Planning

Discussing finances and end-of-life decisions is not an easy discussion to have with loved ones, but it is an important one.  Often many problems in probating an estate or caring for an elderly parent or grandparent can be avoided by simply making sure that necessary conversations occur before it is too late. What should a family discuss?  Here are some … Read More

How to Dispose of Tangible Personal Property

We have heard the time worn adage “One man’s treasures are another man’s junk.” Put more personally, when I have moved from one residence to another, I have always been surprised by boxes that are never unpacked, or by discovering household items in the back of cupboards that I have never used. What I thought were going to be precious … Read More

Estate Planning- Not Just for the Rich and Famous

Estate Planning- Is It for Everyone? Estate planning is not just for the rich and famous.  Ask yourself this – -Do you have now or have you had a spouse/partner? -Do you have children or grandchildren? -Are they under age 18? -Are they adults that behave like children? -Do you own your home? -Do you own a vacation home or … Read More

A Loved One Has Just Been Diagnosed With Dementia, What Should You Do?

Realizing that a loved one has dementia is heartbreaking and overwhelming and most families find that there are many more questions than answers.  One of the best initial steps families can take is to contact their local Alzheimer’s Association chapter.  The New Mexico chapter has locations in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces, Farmington and Roswell.   You will not find … Read More

Special Needs Planning – For You and Your Child

Just like parenting a typically developing child, parenting a Special Needs Child is full of challenges and rewards.  Milestones are anticipated and often met, but many times much later than the typical age and often with much therapy, intervention and work.  While there are many books and articles about parenting children with various special needs, every child is different and … Read More

Pet Trusts: Providing for Your Furry Friends Even After Your 9 Lives Are Up

Generally, peoples’ estate planning revolves around providing for their spouse and children, and maybe other family members and charities. While some people consider their pets to be their children, at a minimum, most people consider their pets to be part of their family. Although you can’t claim a pet as a dependent on your tax return, New Mexico law, and … Read More

What is a living trust and should I have one?

Many people in New Mexico have what they call “living trusts.” Although there are many seminars offered on living trusts, many people who have them do not need them. On the other hand, our office does prepare these trusts for our clients, but only in circumstances where the trust will solve a present problem or a future one. The use … Read More

Charitable Trusts

Charitable trusts are effective estate planning tools for providing benefits to charitable and non-charitable beneficiaries. Because the benefits of charitable trusts are split between these two types of beneficiaries, they are referred to as “split interest trusts.” There are two primary types of charitable trusts, remainder trusts and lead trusts. Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRTs) provide an income stream to non-charitable … Read More

What My Family Should Know

My adult daughter asked me once what medications I was taking.  I told her that I took two prescription medicines.  She asked me what they were and what they were for.  I told her that one was a medicine for hypertension and that the name started with a B, and the other was for high cholesterol, and the name of … Read More

Ho Hum. Oh! Ho Ho Ho

The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, also known as the Tax Relief Act of 2010, was signed by the President on December 17, 2010.   For those of us interested in estate and gift taxes, we learned right away that this Act provides significant estate and gift tax relief by increasing the federal applicable exemption … Read More

President Obama Signs Tax Bill

On Friday, December 17, President Obama signed tax legislation that extends the current income tax rates and capital gain rates for two years.  Below are the income tax rate schedules. The capital gain rate will remain 15% for long term capital gains. Single Filing Status [Tax Rate Schedule X, Internal Revenue Code section 1(c)] 10% on income between $0 and … Read More

Over the River and Through the Woods

The cover of The New Yorker this week features a turkey with different slices marked for different nutty relatives.  It is an example of the dread that many families feel about the holidays.  What will happen around the table this year?  Will we have a repeat of the anger, frustration, silliness, shame or embarrassment that has happened in years past?  … Read More

Pets, You Gotta Love ‘Em

Our pets are beloved family members.  Most of us will go to more trouble caring for our pets than we might for our children.  My daughter used to criticize me because in her eyes, I would wisk our family cat off the vet if she had a warm nose, and if my daughter felt sick I would say “Well, let’s … Read More

Legislative Risk

No federal estate tax in 2010.  No step up in basis in 2010 (except for $1.3 million).  Will the Bush tax cuts expire?  No more two year GRATs?  What will happen in 2011?  Uncertainty.  Like we do not have enough of it! Are there opportunities for planning in all of this uncertainty?  Here are a few: If you have an … Read More

New Test for Alzheimer’s

The New York Times ran an article on August 10, 2010, reporting that a study had been completed showing that a spinal fluid test can predict whether or not a patient has Alzheimer’s.  It is now well known that a person can have this dreaded disease for ten or more years before symptoms appear.  Once the disease has become evident, … Read More

Do I Need an Estate Plan?

My short answer to this question is “Yes!” “Oh,” you might say, “of course you would say that; you are an estate planning lawyer and you are drumming up business.” Setting your suspicions aside, let me tell you that everyone has an estate plan already, provided for you by state and federal law.  If you are over 18, and legally … Read More