Do I Really Need an Estate Plan?

If I Don’t Have an Estate, Do I Really Need an Estate Plan? You don’t need to have a summer house in the Hamptons or a private art collection big enough to rival MOMA to consider yourself the owner of an estate. In fact, virtually anyone who owns anything has an “estate” in the eyes of the law. Although the term may conjure images of expansive country properties, expensive cars, or other symbols of high wealth, for the purposes of estate planning law, the term “estate” covers a whole lot more. What constitutes as an estate Ordinary possessions like homes, jewelry collections, bank accounts, cars, furniture — basically anything you can own — are also under the purview of your estate, meaning estate planning is something that profoundly impacts virtually everyone, not just the “country club” crowd. So even if you wouldn’t ordinarily consider yourself the owner of an estate,
Read More

Do It Now: Name a Guardian for Your Minor Child(ren)

I know it’s hard, thinking about someone else raising your children stops us all in our tracks. It feels crushing and too horrific to consider. But you must. If you don’t, a stranger will determine who raises your children if something happens to you – your child’s guardian could be a relative you despise or even a stranger you’ve never met. No one will ever be you or parent exactly like you, but there is someone who could provide for your children’s general welfare, education, and medical needs. Parents with minor children need to name someone to raise them (a guardian) in the event both parents should die before the child becomes an adult. While the likelihood of that actually happening is slim, the consequences of not naming a guardian are more than intense. If no guardian is named in your will, a judge: a stranger who does not know
Read More

When Injuries Occur, Open and Obvious Dangers on Construction Sites Do Not Always Negate Liability

Generally, an owner or the person in control of property owes a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition, but this duty is subject to the “open and obvious danger rule.” O’Sullivan v. Shaw 431 Mass. 201 (2000) According to O’Sullivan, a landowner is not liable for an injury from an open and obvious danger to a person of average intelligence. Construction sites are inherently dangerous places, and duties with respect to such a danger is can be negated because they are open and obvious. But, when the person controlling the property should anticipate that an open and obvious danger would cause an injury, the danger must be remedied. Even basic hazards such as construction debris that make a worksite unsafe should be remedied. When an employees’ advantage of encountering an open and obvious danger outweighs the apparent risk, a duty to remedy will arise. Papadopoulos v.
Read More

Municipal Board Members’ Ethical Breaches Must be Adjudicated with the State Ethics Commission

In Nantasket Beachfront Condominiums, LLC vs. Hull Redevelopment Authority, the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled that the allegation of municipal board members’ individual ethical breaches must be adjudicated with the State Ethics Commission. A Land Disposition Agreement (the “LDA”) for the purchase of land and the development of seventy-two housing units was executed between the Hull Redevelopment Authority (the “redevelopment authority”) and Nantasket Beachfront Condominium, LLC (the “developer”). Neighborhood opposition led to delays and appeals of the developer’s zoning permit. The redevelopment authority alleged that the developer defaulted, and the redevelopment authority retained liquidated damages. The developer’s subsequent action in the Superior Court was dismissed on summary judgment in the redevelopment authority’s favor; the developer appealed. The developer alleged that the redevelopment authority’s decision to terminate the LDA was tainted because two of the redevelopment authority board members had serious conflicts of interest. After the Hull Zoning Board of Appeal issued
Read More

Implied Warranty of Plans and Specifications in Construction

When an owner provides plans or specifications to a contractor, there is an implied warranty that the plans and specifications are sufficient and adequate to perform the contracted work. The Supreme Court of the United States first recognized this implied warranty of plans and specifications, known as the Spearin Doctrine, in 1918. U.S. v. Spearin, 248 U.S. 132 (1918). In Spearin, the federal government provided plans to a contractor who relied on the plans when relocating a sewer pipe. The plans furnished by the government to the contractor specified the dimensions, material, and location of the sewer pipe. The work was completed as specified, but a year later, during a high tide and after heavy rain, the sewer pipe overflowed. After the government terminated the contract because the contractor refused to take responsibility and remedy the improper sewer pipe, litigation ensued.  The Supreme Court found that “if the contractor is
Read More