CARES Act: Required Minimum Distributions (“RMDs”) for 2020

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or “CARES” Act enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020, aimed to provide financial relief and incentives to American families and businesses.  The highlights many people may be familiar with are: Eligible taxpayers received $1,200 checks; Forgivable loans to businesses to maintain their employees and … 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

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

5 Ways to Be a Better Caregiver When a Loved One Gets Sick

Did you know, more than 40 million Americans are caring for a loved one, whether it be an elderly parent or another family member. No one is ever prepared to become a caregiver. Caregiving is often a full-time job, yet many people who are caring for a loved one find they must continue to work to pay their own bills. … Read More

What is a MOST Form and Do I Need One?

MOST is an acronym for “medical orders for scope of treatment” and is specific to New Mexico. A MOST form is a great tool for outlining patients’ wishes for medical interventions and end-of-life care when individuals have a serious or life-threatening illness. It consists of a set of medical orders which are integrated into the patient’s medical record and are … Read More

What Happens to My Debt When I Die?

I have a classic lawyer answer to this question- it depends.  Here are some factors to consider when thinking about this question: Do you co-own the debt with another person? Is it a joint credit card with your spouse?  Did your parents co-sign the loan with you? If so, that person may continue to have an obligation to pay the … Read More

3-Part Vlog Series on Guardianship: Part III

Our firm is pleased to announce the final vlog, Part III in our 3-Part Series on Guardianship. In Part III, Kellie Knapp, talks with PBWS attorney, Bridget Mullins, to ask four final questions about guardianship in the state of New Mexico. The four questions are: 1) What does the Qualified Healthcare Professional report need to contain? 2) How long does … Read More

Final Regulations Applicable to Eligibility for VA Needs-Based Benefits

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) proposed new regulations in 2015 regarding net worth, asset transfers, and income exclusions for needs-based VA benefits. These regulations have been finalized and are effective as of October 18, 2018. A couple of the most significant changes are highlighted below: New bright-line evaluation of net worth; New 36-month look-back period for asset transfers. … 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

The Attorney-Client Privilege: When Does It Exist?

Much is talked about in the legal world about the “attorney-client privilege” and what exactly it entails.  The rules of evidence are lengthy and complicated.  Law students devote countless hours trying to figure them out and lawyers and judges routinely debate their applicability and relevance in the courtroom.  The attorney-client privilege belongs to the client.  Only the client can waive … 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

Intra-Family Conflict After Death – It Can Be Expensive

We all hear horror stories about siblings becoming estranged after the death of a parent because they couldn’t agree about who should get their mom’s teapot.  Unfortunately, most estate planning and probate attorneys can tell you these stories have a basis in fact.  What you might not realize is that those family conflicts can also become incredibly expensive.  It is … Read More

Serving the Public Good

Lawyers have an ethical responsibility to provide pro bono services to indigent or other deserving clients.  Rule 16-601 says that a lawyer should aspire to at least 50 pro bono publico (“for the public good”) legal services per year.  “For the public good” means undertaking professional work voluntarily and without payment. Recently in Albuquerque, the guardianship and conservatorship community was … Read More

Alternative Dispute Resolution for Seniors and Their Families – Blog Series Part 3

This is the third and final installation of the 3-part series: Alternative Dispute Resolution for Seniors and Their Families. Taking into account the previous questions addressed in this series, we will be discussing how to work through disputes with family members and the process for mediation. There are many reasons disputes might arise among families that act as caregivers. It … Read More

3 Simple Tips for Enjoying the Holidays with Special Needs Kids

Tis the Season- Holidays can be a stressful time in general, but particularly for children with a disability such as autism, Asperger’s or a sensory processing disorder. All of the hyped-up energy, excitement and new adventures is multiplied by ten for them, and can be really difficult to handle. I have seen how the holidays can overwhelm my typically developing … Read More

Reverse Mortgages – What Are They and Are They Right For You?

What is a reverse mortgage? Created in 1989 by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, a reverse mortgage is a home-equity loan for homeowners that are aged 62 or older. A reverse mortgage allows a homeowner to access the equity in their home, by turning equity into tax free cash. The homeowner does not have to make a … Read More

What Are the “Powers” in Powers of Attorney?

What are the “powers” in Powers of Attorney? It is very common for clients to say to us, “My mom/dad/friend/sister/etc. just made me their Power of Attorney.  What does that mean?” Here are some general rules to keep in mind if you find yourself in that situation: Read the forms In New Mexico, there are two types of Power of … Read More

Special Needs Children – Know the Types and Know Your Rights

18.5% of American Children under age 18 are Special Needs Children.  That doesn’t mean that they aren’t smart, talented or capable.  Just that they have specific challenges that a “normal” student would not face. There are four major types of special needs children: Physical – muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, chronic asthma, epilepsy, etc. Developmental – down syndrome, autism, dyslexia, processing … 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

Is There an Age Limit for Special Needs Trusts?

As usual, the answer is, it depends. Special Needs Trusts (SNTs) are a way to save money for disabled persons that do not risk a person’s eligibility for government funded programs, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). There are three (3) types of Special Needs Trusts. They are: Self-Settled Special Needs Trust Third-Party Special Needs Trust and Pooled … Read More

Five Truths and One Lie About Guardianship

Guardianship and conservatorship is the process where a court authorizes another to make decisions for someone who is incapacitated; i.e., someone who is partially or completely functionally impaired to the extent that he is unable to manage his/her personal and/or financial affairs. A guardian has authority to make personal decisions for the person who is incapacitated, including medical decisions and … Read More

Community Service: The Constitution for 4th

Working for the law firm Pregenzer, Baysinger, Wideman & Sale allows me to participate in different pro bono activities in our community. Last month I had the opportunity to talk to a class of 4th graders about the Constitution. The class had been learning about the Constitution for about a month. The teacher asked me to come discuss how the … Read More

Reflections on a Law Firm

A little over eight years ago four lawyers of diverse background and experience decided to open a law firm. Each of us had personal reasons for making a change but important to all of us was a belief that we could find a way to practice law differently, in an environment that encouraged collaboration and mutual trust.  We wanted a … Read More

Moving to a New State Can Get Complicated

Posted on July 5, 2016 by The Arc. To read the original article, please click HERE.  By Wendy H. Sheinberg, CELA written for The Arc in partnership with the Special Needs Alliance.  Moving to another state is a challenge for most families. If a family member has disabilities, that challenge is even greater. State benefit programs vary, and states administer federal programs at … Read More

9 Summer Safety Tips

The recipe for summer fun looks a little something like this: 1/3 preparation, 1/3 spontaneity and 1/3 awesome people to share it all. If only staying safe this summer were that simple. Between sunburns and the waves of nausea that erupt during long car trips, parts of summer can feel like one big hot, itchy, queasy roller-coaster ride. Of course, that’s no excuse … Read More

Committed to Community Service

I attended the Alzheimer’s Association New Mexico Chapter’s Dancing Stars Gala on Saturday night. As a member of the Board, I am sure I am somewhat biased, but this organization does great work. The Gala showcases members of the community who volunteer to work with a professional dancer and participate in a dance contest at the event. The dancer must … Read More

Elevator Pitch

It happened again last Friday, at a Starbucks. Someone asked me what kind of law I practice. No matter how many times I am asked that simple question, I panic. I’ve never been able to come up with an effective elevator speech (a clear, brief message about what one does for a living, typically about 30 seconds, the time it … Read More

Aid in Dying in New Mexico

No, New Mexico does not allow physician Aid in Dying…yet. This is a controversial and extremely polarized subject. Where some consider physician Aid in Dying to be assisted suicide, others look at it as opportunity to die with dignity. Oregon was the pioneer in Aid in Dying legislation, adopting the Death With Dignity Act in 1997. Since then, Aid in … Read More

Why do we Worry About a Conflict of Interest?

In our law practice, we represent family members.  When we are retained, it often has something to do with our client’s relationship with his or her family.  Families are organic and they have systemic issues that date back for many years.  We work very hard to design solutions to problems that aim at strengthening relationships in families, but sometimes, that … Read More