A Westborough lawyer and his firm recently have earned (your) honors.
Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP attorney Marvin Silver has been named to the 2013 edition of Best Lawyers in America in the area of trusts and estates. Silver also was named to the 2012 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list in the area of estate planning and probate.
And Partridge Snow & Hahn was noted in the U.S. News Media Group and Best Lawyers’ 2013 Best Law Firms rankings in several categories, in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
“It’s wonderful to be recognized, especially recognized essentially by your peers,” says Silver, who notes he has earned both honors for at least five years. He is based at the firm’s Westborough office, at 1700 West Park Drive, Suite 200.
Silver attributes the honors partly to his involvement in panels for continuing legal education, which “discuss the latest techniques and the latest type of planning that goes on in the estate planning and the estate administration area.” He said he has done panels for the Worcester County Bar Association and the Massachusetts Bar Association, among others.
Although Silver is being honored for his estate work, he says he began his career as a business lawyer. He then earned an advanced degree in taxation from the Boston University Law School in 1981.
That year, coincidentally, “a major tax act was passed that in retrospect, revolutionized estate planning,” he recalls.
“It made some very significant changes, and I found that there was more and more demand from then on for estate planning. What happened was estate planning basically took over my business,” says Silver, a Westborough resident and one of the initial officers and directors of the Westborough Education Foundation.
Silver says that “nowadays, it’s very difficult to be a general practitioner.”
“Most attorneys tend to specialize to some extent. It’s difficult to be a jack of all trades, because you end up being a master of none,” he explains.
The struggling economy has “affected estate planning somewhat, only in that there are certain group of people that have less wealth now than they had. People who have lost their jobs, and perhaps are underemployed, tend not to be able to save perhaps as much as they used to,” Silver says.
“Changes in the estate tax laws” have been another factor, he says.
“In general, the exemptions have gotten much higher. So that a lot of people don’t have to worry about estate taxes anymore, although many people still do,” Silver says.
Estate planning is “a lot more than estate taxes,” he says.
“It’s really a case of people determining, when they die, how they want to dispose of their property: who they want to be in charge of making it happen. And there’s really some thought that goes into that,” Silver says.
“The best type of planning is when you plan when there is no urgency. Because you can clearly think about things. You can think about the consequences. And you can make a nice, objective rational decision. Unfortunately, many people wait until the last minute and then try to plan under crisis.”
Children at least need health care proxy and durable power of attorney once they turn 18, he says.
“I remember telling my children that when they turned 18, and my kids looked at me like I was crazy,” Silver says.
“But the fact is that kids graduating from high school go off to college and sometimes they get hurt. And when their parents try to get medical information on their status, they’re adults, and hospitals won’t give them any information because they don’t have authority.”