Massachusetts Law Articles

Watch out for ‘business compliance’ scams

A number of Massachusetts companies have been receiving official-looking letters recently offering to file corporate minutes with the government for a fee. These appear to be scams designed to trick business owners, according to the Secretary of State’s office. Many businesses have received letters from something called “Compliance Services” offering to file corporate minutes statements with the state and asking for payment of a $125 “annual fee.” The trick? There is no requirement to file corporate

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Resident sues condo association after slipping on snow and ice

A condo resident can file a lawsuit after he slipped on snow and ice while taking out his trash, according to the state Appeals Court. After a 16-inch snowfall, a landscaping company hired by the condo association plowed out the area. However, it plowed a large pile of snow up against the dumpster. The resident attempted to make his way through the snow in order to dispose of his garbage. He slipped and fractured his wrist,

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Company sued for telling employees why someone was fired

Staples, the office-supply retailer, can be sued for firing an employee and then sending a mass e-mail to other employees saying why it fired him. That’s the word from the federal appeals court in Boston. The employee can sue Staples for “libel” … even if what it said about him was true. In most states, truth is a defense to libel. But Massachusetts is unusual. In Massachusetts, it’s illegal even to broadcast the truth about someone

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Probate law in Massachusetts is changed

A brand new law in Massachusetts will make many changes in the way people’s estates are handled. The “Uniform Probate Code,” signed into law by Gov. Patrick, includes the following new rules for what happens if someone dies without a will: In many cases, an estate representative can begin distributing assets to heirs before getting a formal court judgment. If the dead person’s spouse is raising young children from the marriage, the spouse will in most

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Most landlords make mistakes on their income tax

A majority – some 53% – of individual landlords make mistakes on their federal income tax when it comes to reporting rental income and expenses, according to a study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. That means that out of about 8.9 million individual landlords in the country, nearly 5 million aren’t paying the correct tax. And of those 5 million, fully a quarter paid too much tax and should have had a lower tax bill,

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Grooming policy for employees may be illegal

Can an employer adopt a grooming policy that requires male workers who have contact with customers to be clean-shaven and have trimmed hair? Maybe … but this might amount to religious discrimination, according to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The worker in this case was a technician at a Jiffy Lube service station. He was a Rastafarian and his religion did not permit him to shave or cut his hair. The company told him that if

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Nursing home employees could be sued – despite contract

The family of a patient who died in a nursing home could sue the nurses who took care of her – even though the patient’s contract with the home said that the home couldn’t be sued and any complaints had to go to arbitration instead. The family claimed that three nurses ignored warning signs of the patient’s heart problem, and she died as a result. The contract said that the family couldn’t sue the home. However,

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Why a recession is a good time for estate planning

All of us are affected by the economic recession, but you should know that certain estate planning techniques become much more valuable when asset prices plunge – so this is a good time to take advantage of them. Some of the best estate planning strategies involve giving a partial interest in your assets to your heirs now, while retaining effective control over the assets. The idea is to get these partial interests out of your estate

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Binding mediation: a new alternative to going to court

“Binding mediation” – a hybrid of mediation and arbitration – is catching on as an alternative to a full-blown court trial. In arbitration, a private arbitrator acts as a judge and issues a binding decision. In mediation, a mediator or “go-between” tries to resolve the dispute by working with both sides, but can’t force an outcome. Binding mediation is a combination of the two: A mediator brings the parties together and tries to negotiate a compromise,

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Here’s a second chance if you elected early Social Security benefits

Did you elect to take Social Security benefits before your full retirement age? If you did and are now looking for extra income, there may be an answer. Once you reach full retirement age, you can pay back the money you have received and reapply for full retirement benefits. Although you can collect Social Security benefits between age 62 and your full retirement age, if you do, your benefits will be lower. For example, if you

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