At Hamilton Faatz, we are revolutionizing the way people think about attorneys. As one of Colorado’s oldest law firms founded in 1955, HF has the expertise and wisdom to accommodate your legal needs. Our broad experience in our practice areas allows us the breadth to cover almost all legal matters, while our size and personal approach allows us to have a close touch with every client.
We are attorneys who believe our clients’ goals have the same priority as our own. We view each clients' problem as a challenge waiting to be solved and work with each client on a proactive level to ensure that small issues stay small. Our HF team knows the value of your most recent contract, product or acquisition and we want to do everything in our power to help you develop it, protect it and capitalize on your opportunity from it. When you work with HF, you can look to us as a resource to help you in all aspects of your business. Our clients' consider us their trusted advisor, whether it is in the courtroom, the boardroom or the living room. Welcome to Hamilton Faatz, PC.
For more information about the firm’s areas of practice, please visit the practice areas page.
March 21, 2014
Our next Community Service project is Project C.U.R.E. April 23, 2014
New January 2014 I.R.S. Procedure
January 1, 2014
As a result of changes in tax law enacted in late 2010, the federal estate tax and gift exemption is now $5,340,000. If a person’s estate exceeds his or her unused exemption, it is currently taxed at a 40% rate. Since each spouse (today, that term includes a same-sex partner if they were married in a state which recognizes same-sex marriages) has his or her own exemption, it is possible for a married couple to design their estate plan to shield $10,680,000 in 2014 from estate taxes.
The new law also introduced a new concept called “portability,” which allows the unused estate tax exemption of the first spouse to die to be claimed by the surviving spouse. While this may make the planning process simpler for some, for others it might be better to design a plan to take advantage of each exemption without relying on portability, since (1) the unused exemption may not be enough to eliminate the surviving spouse’s estate taxes if the value of his or her assets grows substantially or the estate tax exemption is reduced in future years, (2) the unused exemption could be lost if the surviving spouse remarries, and (3) portability only applies to the unused estate tax exemption, not other taxes. Nevertheless, portability can be a significant benefit to married couples in many cases.
In order to establish the unused exemption amount available to the surviving spouse, portability must be elected on a timely filed estate tax return, even if no tax is due. If the election is not made, it is lost. For decedents dying in 2011 through mid-2013, that time has passed. However, on January 27, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service issued Revenue Procedure 2014-18, extending the time to elect portability to December 31, 2014 for decedents dying in 2011 and later years where an estate tax return was not otherwise required to be filed. Hence, there is still time for those estates to elect portability. Since some of those surviving spouses could ultimately have an estate which is greater than his or her own exemption, it is important to seriously consider taking advantage of this renewed opportunity to elect portability.
Marijuana Use By Employees
Can I Terminate Employees Using Marijuana?
Do your employees smoke or use marijuana products? If so, you can terminate them, but you better have the proper policies and procedures in place? If you have employees using marijuana either on-duty or most likely during off-duty hours, those employees may believe their use is protected as lawful after-hours activity off your premises, pursuant to Colorado Revised Statute § 24-34-402.5 (“Lawful Activity Act”). Interestingly, this statute was enacted in 1990 to protect cigarette smokers and has been challenged by an employee of Dish Network, which case is now headed to the Colorado Supreme Court. With Colorado legalizing marijuana for general consumption, it is imperative that you carefully define your employment practice policies and procedures. This is necessary to avoid confusion and other legal issues that could get you sued. Confusion often arises because legalization was decriminalized only at the State level. Marijuana use is not like alcohol use.
Like many employers, you may have employment policies and procedures in place; however they may not be adequate to protect you. Currently, there is not an adequate means of testing the level (nanograms of THC) of an employee being under the influence that does not create significant exposure to liability. Testing that can measure the level of THC exposes you to significant liability of an employee to sue you for illnesses and invasion of privacy. Negotiating around these issues can be treacherous, but a path created, involving random testing and reasonable suspicion, to protect you and allow the termination of employees for marijuana use.
Will Medical Marijuana Be Protected Under the ADA – The Colorado Supreme Court May Tell Us?
Adding to the complication of the legalized use of marijuana for employers, Colorado has both medical use and legalized use of marijuana laws. Medical marijuana has not been repealed. Since the Dish Network case arose under the State Constitution decriminalizing medical marijuana use, it is anticipated that decision will address issues related to medical use and what, if any, protected classes an employee may be included in under the ADA. The State Constitution expressly provides for medical marijuana in situation of a “debilitating medical condition.” However, the determination of that condition and the restriction imposed on a qualified medical professional are very loose, making it easy to obtain a medical marijuana card. While the Court has yet ruled on the matter, issues involving a debilitating medical condition arising to the level of protection under the ADA are extremely likely to arise. IF a protected class is created, the conundrum of what would constitute a reasonable accommodation is sure to be the focus of litigation in the future. Other issues that may come into play could involve the federal Controlled Substance Act and its impact on State law, especially since the DEA does not permit a licensed physician to prescribe marijuana.
By: Andrew Iverson