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Historical Events

Same-Sex Marriage and Estate Planning after US Supreme Court Decision

By | Estate Planning, Historical Events, LGBTQ | No Comments

In a 5-4 decision by the United States Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, stated: “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity. The Petitioners in these cases seek to find that liberty by marrying someone of the same sex . . . .” Justice Kennedy concludes the opinion by saying: “They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Now that same-sex marriage is legal nationwide, every state must respect same-sex marriages performed in any other state.

With this decision, same-sex couples will have the following rights that every other married couple has:

  • They can travel within the United States without concern that their marriage will not be recognized. However, their marriage may not be recognized in other countries.
  • If they choose to divorce, they may do so wherever they are living.
  • They may be able to seek a state income tax refund for past open years.
  • They can file state income tax returns as a married couple.
  • They would get a state level gift/estate/inheritance tax marital deduction for assets gifted or left to their spouse, just like a traditional couple.

Simply because LGBTQ couples may now legally marry in every state does not mean they will. Thus, it is imperative for unmarried LGBTQ couples to create an estate plan; otherwise, should one of them die or become incapacitated, the significant other may not receive anything or have any rights.

dave-eastman  Contributed by Morris Hall, PLLC Arrowhead, Scottsdale and Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney and Partner, David T. Eastman.

What the Attorneys of Morris Hall, PLLC Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down.  Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Carefree, Tucson, Oro Valley, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

 

 

Independence Day – We are Free

By | Historical Events, Holidays, Other | No Comments

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Each July 4th, Independence Day, reminds us of America’s history.  I recently read an article regarding the lives of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  What the article made clear is the sacrifice made by each and every one of the signers.

 

Five of the signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, and another had two sons that were captured. Nine of the fifty-six died from wounds and hardships of the Revolutionary War.  They had signed and pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor so that a great country can be formed.

What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants. Nine were farmers and large plantation owners. They were men of means, well-educated, but they still signed the Declaration of Independence knowing that they could pay the ultimate price; the penalty would be death if the British found and captured them.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the sea by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and he died in rags. Thomas McKean was so hunted by the British that he was forced to constantly move his family. He served in Congress without pay and kept his family in hiding. His possessions were taken from him and poverty was his reward. The homes of many of them were vandalized and soldiers looted their property.

Throughout this time, many tragedies took place in the lives of each individual who signed the Declaration of Independence. It is time to enjoy and understand the real meaning of the 4th of July holiday and thank those Patriots for their actions and the price they paid. Remember, freedom is never free and will never be free. Thanks to those early Patriots, as well as today’s Patriots now fighting to help us all keep our freedoms.

Because of the years I spent in the military, I have a very strong feeling about protecting our freedoms.  Our forefathers created the greatest form of government that has ever existed, and granted all of us our freedoms under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Today, the understanding of what is required to keep us free is not as clear as it once was to our forefathers.  We must continue to honor those who sacrifice for us, so we can continue to live in this free country.

As you are eating your hotdogs and apple pie, and enjoying a spectacular fireworks display, I hope you take a moment and understand the meaning of the day and reflect on what sacrifices many have given through the years. We are free.  Let us give thanks.

dan-morrisContributed by Morris Hall, PLLC Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney and Senior Partner, Dan R. Morris.

At Morris Hall, PLLC we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 45 years.  Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects.  We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Carefree, Tucson, Oro Valley, Prescott, Sedona, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

By | Attorney Andrea Claus, Attorney David Eastman, Historical Events, Holidays | No Comments

On the third Monday of January we celebrate the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  King is remembered and honored for his work as a spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement towards ending discrimination towards African Americans.  King is best know for his “I have a dream” speech, where he passionately declared his wishes for the future in America – hoping for a land where his children would not be persecuted and would enjoy equal rights as full citizens of our great nation.

 

Shortly after King was assassinated in 1968 a campaign was begun to create a national holiday in honor of his memory.  The holiday was officially signed into law by Ronald Reagan 15 years later in 1983.  It was first observed on January 20, 1986.  It wasn’t until 2000, however, that all 50 states officially observed the holiday.

 

We hope today you have a happy and safe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

 

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

 

Veterans Day November 2014

By | Historical Events, Holidays, Other | No Comments

This day brings to my memory a number of events and thoughts about a number of the events of the past.  How freedom is not free.  How the sacrifice by brave men and women and good moral leadership of great people have given us in this nation the freedom we enjoy.  My memory, which covers the time from World War II to this day, tells me every day of our lives we need to be giving thanks to those who served this nation.

World War II has bright recollection to me because of my brother in law who served as a pilot of a B-17 in the European theater.  From his base in England he flew many missions over France and Germany in a plane that had no heating system nor insulation in the walls of the air craft.  Not only did he and his crew survive the 30 and 40 degrees below zero inside the plane,  the constant flack and German fighters bullets, he also survived being shot down.

Books like “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand also taught me what the war was like in the Pacific Theater.  What those who served in this area of the war endured and what it was like to be a prisoner of war.  It was just as difficult as others have experienced in subsequent wars.  The sacrifice that was made by the families of those who served also needs to be recognized.  Families like that of a very good friend who’s husband was killed in a landing accident on a small island in the Pacific ocean.  She has been a stalwart citizen faithful all these years.

 

My 5 years of military service as a navigator in a KC-135 before and during the Vietnam war remind me of the constant concern and fear which existed then about the possibility of another global war.  The time that was spent on alert always prepared to take off before missiles could reach bases and cities in this land still remind me of the need to always be prepared to defend our freedom.

Many men and women have given much, some all, to see that you and I remain free from the terror of evil men who desire to enslave the minds and bodies of others.  We must always remember freedom is not free. It was not free when this land was freed from the King of England in the Revolutionary War and will never be free as long as there are people who would seek to conquer others.

This is a day to give thanks to those who gave so much for so many not only this land but many people.  This thanks can be in so many different ways.  Thanks for being in a land of the free.

 

Phoenix, Arizona Estate Planning Attorney Dan MorrisContributed by MH Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney and Senior Partner, Dan R. Morris.

About Morris Hall:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years.  Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects.  We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

By | Historical Events, Holidays | No Comments

martin luther king jr

On the third Monday of January we celebrate the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  King is remembered and honored for his work as a spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement towards ending discrimination towards African Americans.  King is best know for his “I have a dream” speech, where he passionately declared his wishes for the future in America – hoping for a land where his children would not be persecuted and would enjoy equal rights as full citizens of our great nation.

Shortly after King was assassinated in 1968 a campaign was begun to create a national holiday in honor of his memory.  The holiday was officially signed into law by Ronald Reagan 15 years later in 1983.  It was first observed on January 20, 1986.  It wasn’t until 2000, however, that all 50 states officially observed the holiday.

We hope today you have a happy and safe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

César Chávez: You can leave your legacy too.

By | Celebrity Estates, Estate Planning, Historical Events, Other | No Comments

The National Parks Service is looking at a Phoenix site to be named in connection with other sites as a national historic park in honor of César Chávez.

Mr. Chávez worked tirelessly to improve the working conditions of migrant laborers.  He has left a legacy that includes recognition from U.S. Presidents, and parks, streets, university buildings, public schools, a college and a Navy ship named for him.  His greatest legacy is in the eyes and hearts of the many people whose lives he helped elevate.

Not many of us reading this blog will be as well known as César Chávez.  And not everyone who has followed his activities has agreed with every one of his positions.  However, there is no question that he has left a legacy.

In our perhaps more limited spheres of influence, most of us want to leave a legacy.  We might not aspire to have a postage stamp in our image, or to win the Presidential Medal of Freedom, or to have great structures named after us, but we hope that the fruits of our labors will be recognized, appreciated and well used by those who succeed us.

The organizing efforts of César Chávez that became effective and that had a lasting effect took careful planning and execution.  To leave our own legacy, we must also engage in effective planning.  One great opportunity we have is in creating and carefully maintaining a proper estate plan.  The worldly means and the principles we stand for can be left in an effective manner to bless generations to come.

West-final-web-2Contributed by MH Cave Creek, Phoenix and Flagstaff Estate Planning attorney, B. West Hunsaker.

Why Choose Morris Hall:
You have a number of options when it comes to estate planning, so why pick Morris Hall?  First off, estate planning and asset protection are a very complicated endeavor and you should only trust someone who focuses exclusively on those matters.  Also, MH is a proud member of The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA) which provides us additional support, advanced training, tools and information that is not available to others – which means that we can better protect your assets and your loved ones.  We are one of only two firms in Arizona that belong to the AAEPA and are the only firm in New Mexico that has been granted membership.  If you have assets and loved ones that you want to protect, you are in good hands with MH.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

100 Years Later - The Centennial Anniversary of the Sinking of the Titanic

By | Historical Events | No Comments

On April 15, 1912 at 2:20 in the morning, the fateful voyage of the RMS Titanic came to an end as the grandest ship of her time sank to the depths of the North Atlantic Ocean.

The story is a familiar one, but many of the details are not so commonly known. In remembrance of those that endured such a horrific event, and those who lost their lives to it, we want to ensure that the Titanic is remembered, especially today, 100 years later.

The RMS (Royal Mail Steamer) Titanic was built by White Star Line, a company known for their large and luxurious steamships. In fact, they were one of the two main corporations striving for dominance in their industry. The RMS Titanic was the largest ship to be made at her time. In fact, some of her engine components have still never been outdone in relation to size.

The Titanic was created as the final statement in luxury, elegance and oceanic transportation. Many people of the time felt that they had gotten beyond the point where ships could be sunk. While the oft-heard statement that "Even God could not sink the Titanic," is generally assumed to be falsely attributed to the ship's builders and captain, the Titanic was often termed as "unsinkable".

In the month prior to the maiden voyage of the Titanic, there was a great reduction in the availability of coal due to the economy and strikes. White Star Lines cancelled a number of their other ships' voyages in order to accommodate the Titanic and ensure she had sufficient fuel to make her journey. Many of the passengers from the other ship were moved onto the Titanic to make their way to New York.

The common practice of the time was to christen a boat before embarking on its first trip. In fact, this practice is often done today and, for many, is considered a necessity for the safety of the boat and crew. In a boat's christening, a bottle of champagne or wine is released and swings on a rope until it hits into the ship. If the bottle does not break on its first swing, it is considered a bad omen. However, the White Star Line did not believe in christening their boats, feeling that it was an unfounded superstition, and as such, the Titanic was never christened.

The Titanic departed from Southampton, England on April 10, 1912 to much hoorah from the media and the hundreds of thousands that had come to see the ship off. The suction created by the ship was so vast that it actual broke the ropes holding the S.S. New York to the dock and nearly caused a collision between the two. Ironically, if a collision had occurred, it may have prevented the tragedy of the Titanic from occurring four days later.

Although traveling on the Titanic was exciting and highly coveted, the titanic was over 1,000 short on its capacity, which later turned out to be a blessing. The ship only carried lifeboat seating to accommodate 1,178 people. Although this has received a great deal of condemnation as we look back on the event, White Star Lines actually provided more lifeboats then were required by the maritime laws and the British Board of Trade's regulations. In fact, only 962 seats were required. With 2,240 people on board, about half could have had a place in the lifeboats, if the lifeboats were filled to capacity. If the ship had been carrying its maximum load of 3,300 people, the lifeboats would have been able to hold only one third of those on board.

The ship was making good time and was sailing almost full speed ahead, potentially in order to make headlines, especially considering the ships fame already. However, sailing full speed was not an uncommon practice at the time. Also, the Titanic didn't initially expect any difficulties as the ice was generally not so far south at that time of year, and shouldn't have posed a problem.  However, the Titanic did receive a number of warnings regarding ice on their course, but these warnings were either ignored or left unreported.

At approximately 11:40 PM on Sunday, April 14, 1942 an iceberg was spotted and the alarm bell on the ship was sounded. The captain ordered that the ship be reversed and turned in an effort to miss the iceberg. However, the side of the ship collided with the iceberg, causing a 300 foot hole to be dug through the metal of the ship's hull. This area of the ship contained "watertight" compartments, which were watertight except for one major flaw: they were open at the top, allowing water to spill into neighboring compartments. If four of the compartments had filled with water the ship would have stayed afloat and awaited rescue. However, five compartments filled and the ship began to sink.

At first, the captain and crew had no idea that a large hole had been created by the iceberg. In fact, it wasn't until over an hour later when the ship had lowered noticeably and the captain had toured the damaged area that the order to load the lifeboats was given. Unfortunately, the lack of belief that a ship such as the Titanic could be sunk led to a severe lack of training in case of such an emergency. Chaos ensued upon the ship, and lifeboats were sent out woefully under-filled. The first lifeboat went out with only 28 aboard, although the capacity was set for 65. Some went out with a mere handful of passengers, women and children generally being boarded first.

The Titanic continued to sink further into the ocean, causing the stern of the boat to begin to rise into the air. The pressure and strain of this weight was too much for the ship, which broke in half between the third and fourth funnels (smoke stacks). The bow of the ship, now separated from the stern, plummeted toward the ocean floor. The stern of the titanic, after falling backwards from the momentum of breaking apart from its bow, came nearly vertical before beginning its rapid decent into the depths. By 2:20 AM, April 15, the Titanic was gone.

Over 1,500 people died in the tragedy of the titanic. Most died of near-immediate hypothermia due to the freezing Atlantic temperatures. If the life boats had been filled to capacity, approximately 500 more lives could have been saved. Instead, only 705 people survived the ordeal. Of those, the last living survivor, Millvina Dean, died in 2009. She was only 9 weeks old when the Titanic sunk.

Because of the poor methods of communication in those days, it was first reported that the Titanic had in fact hit an iceberg, but that it remained afloat and was being towed to harbor with all passengers safe onboard. Several hours later when the misinformation was corrected, the public found it difficult to believe that the "unsinkable" ship had been sunk.

Although many attempts were made, it wasn't until July 14th, 1986 (74 years later) that the Titanic's remains were rediscovered. The Titanic had been believed to have sunk in one piece. It wasn't until it was discovered in two pieces, separated by nearly half a mile, that the truth was discovered. Because the bow had already filled with water before it broke from the stern and sank, it retained much of its momentum and withstood the pressure of the

deep waters, burying itself between 50-60' deep in the ocean floor. The stern had not had time to fully fill with water and was crushed and mangled by the intense water pressure. The ruins of the titanic lie over 12,600 feet (2.33 miles) below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

We take a moment today to remember those lost in this tragedy, and the many individuals who grieved over friends and family that would never come home. We recognize our own mortality, realizing that even an "unsinkable" ship is susceptible to the strength of nature and the corrosion of time and the elements. We honor those that gave their lives to see others survive the tragedy. Stories abound of people giving comfort to others in this greatest time of need, giving up their seat in lifeboats in order to save others and of rallying the spirits of those that survived. Our world has seen so many tragedies, but we must never forget. We must always remember.

The Final Days of World War II

By | Historical Events, Veterans | No Comments

From Bob Anderson, United States Veteran

In reflecting on my long and interesting life, I recall that only once, in a very minor way, had I ever been close to or participated in an event of national or international importance.

In the summer of 1945, I was stationed on the island of Tinian that, along with Saipan and Guam, is part of the Marianas and home to the air bases that carried the air war to Japan.

Some time in June or July of that summer, the 509th Bomb Group arrived on Tinian. Almost immediately there was a mystery surrounding their presence. They were housed in a fenced area patrolled by military police. They didn't fraternize with anyone outside their own group and they were not scheduled to fly missions to Japan as were the crews of other groups on the island. Of course, if was only a short time until the Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima and the reason for their presence became abundantly clear.

Shortly after Hiroshima was leveled, the second atomic bomb destroyed Nagasaki and the Japanese surrendered; but the surrender was not yet official. At this point, my group and others were sent on a "show of force" mission to the Tokyo area.

Hundreds of B-29's dispatched and we flew over Tokyo Bay and the city of Tokyo in formation and at a very low altitude. We did not carry bombs but our turret guns were loaded and we were extremely cautious. We saw a few Japanese fighter planes, but they kept their distance and we returned to our bases without incident.

A few days later we were scheduled again to fly to Tokyo bay where we were able to observe some of the official surrender ceremony being held aboard the battleship USS Missouri. At our low altitude, General Douglas MacArthur and his entourage (including his good friend General Jonathon Wainwright, who had just recently been released from a prisoner of war camp in the Philippines), were plainly visible. MacArthur was informally dressed, but the Japanese contingent was in top hats and coattails.

We made a couple of passes over the Missouri and then proceeded to fly over the burned out city of Tokyo. It was a dreadful sight. Thousands of citizens had been killed in the fires that had destroyed the very flammable homes and buildings in which they lived and worked.

We completed the thousand-mile trip back to Tinian without incident, thankful that the war was over and the return home was in our near future.