Downs Law Firm, P.C.

Laurel Maryland Estate Planning Blog

snowballed out of control

Snowballed Out of Control

Mobs are dangerous. Homes and businesses get destroyed, police officers get killed, and people are lynched. Judgment is sometimes blinded by companions.  Mobs do things that the individuals comprising them they would never dream of doing alone. A Collective nerve can be hazardous.

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Georgia Senate

Georgia Senate On My Mind

I never thought I would be quoting with favor the words of Richard Nixon. He believed in a “Silent Majority” of reasonable people, who in recent times seem largely unrepresented. Maybe with a split government, we can hope for some reason for compromise.

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Christmas Tradition

Holiday Traditions

Traditions Can Define Us As we round the corner for Christmas, I wanted to share a few thoughts on a longstanding Holiday Tradition that has been part of my life for the last 38 years: The Lazzati Christmas Card. My in-laws, Jimmy and Rosemary Lazzati, started a tradition of a family Christmas Card in 1955, that has now spanned 65 years. They eventually had ten children: “Jimmy, Virginia, Mary, Dodie, Joanie, Margie, Joey, Johnny, Philip, and Paul”, often said as one word, like the alphabet. I entered the picture, literally, in 1982 after Margie and I were married. At that time, between 1500 to 2000 cards a year were mailed. As I went to events in Baltimore, thereafter, I was vaguely familiar to more and more people. The annual fall migration to take the picture has become more and more challenging. Just trying to pick a date to gather that would work for everyone, or at least as many as possible, can be difficult. However, the gathering afterward was like another Thanksgiving (if it wasn’t really already Thanksgiving). The day of the picture is less frantic for us than it once was, as our children are adults. Prepping all the outfits for the little children and keeping their attention for the photographer caused some tense moments for us. Carrying forward a ChristmasTrandtion as its own unique obligations and expectations. Ask Tevye, Tradition connects and binds us. Our matriarch, Rosemary, is still very much alert and aware, despite her now advanced health challenges and loss of vision. Father in law Jimmy died in 2007. When he did, some of us wondered if that would end the tradition of the picture. It has forged on. We have since then also lost siblings Joan and John. The remaining children, along with accumulated spouses, significant others, and grandchildren today total 38, with three more to be joining us shortly. Brother Jimmy sends a large set of cards to relatives in Italy, and visited yearly, keeping that Christmas Tradition of the card and its many family connections active. As an estate planning attorney, I work with people on reviewing their lives and what really matters to them. In the end, for most people I talk to, life all comes down to their relationships. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly are all going there when people are involved. When I look at these past Christmas Cards at one time, it is a bittersweet walk down memory lane, reminding me undeniably of my aging but also the joy of our own family’s growth and changes. This year we didn’t gather together to take the picture, for the first time, due to the Coronavirus. That presented its own challenges to carrying on our tradition, but better done than perfect. This year we collected pictures and combined them, to do the best we could this year. I am sure you have your own Holiday Tradition (Christmas or another Holiday that you celebrate), your version of the Lazzati Christmas Card,

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Proof of Election Fraud

President Trump continually insists that he is a victim of fraud and this election has been stolen from him. As someone who practiced law for 38 years, I want to point out a few factors our legal system uses to test whether someone has committed fraud.

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Legacy Planning

What Will Be Your Legacy?

Your legacy is what you leave behind: What people will remember about you and receive from your life? Legacy planning is about fostering your relationships and passing on what is most important to you for your loved ones.

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A Day that Will Live In Infamy

December 7, 1941, is still a day that will live in Infamy. The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor changed the course of life for all Americans, and ultimately of the world. President Franklin Roosevelt called on our people to unite. The people of that time rose to the occasion, and persisted for years to prevail to “inevitable triumph“. Those efforts and sacrifices defined that as “The Greatest Generation”. We now enter the winter season with a frightening surge in the spreading coronavirus and are called to our own individual sacrifice and adjustments. I was talking with a man the other day who expressed doubt about the overblown coverage of this pandemic. We are all suffering from fatigue at battling an invisible and unrelenting foe. But to the doubters, we have a death and dying practice and have worked with many families who have suffered deaths from Covid-19. The strains on the hospitals are attested to by my relatives and clients, some of whom are doctors and nurses. We are in for an unusual Christmas and maybe more limitations on movement. I don’t enjoy wearing a mask or miss seeing many of my family members. These are sacrifices of a different scale than those of World War II, but they are ours. We, unfortunately, are also torn apart by bitter politics and dysfunctional leadership at a scale unmatched in my lifetime. Let this not be our season of infamy. We all can only do what we can individually. I will try to respond in a positive and patient way with myself and those I interact with during the upcoming months. We have hope that a vaccine will be a game-changer. However, I hope that how we can rise to our challenge to handle this trial of our time together, and follow the better angels of our nature. As Abraham Lincoln urged his countrymen at another during the challenge of their time: “We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the ‘better angels of our nature.’ ” Failing to unite in action now will cause unnecessary death and suffering. Inflicting this on families by our own failure to take care would be our own season of infamy. We must do better.  

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