Our Vermont real estate attorneys represent buyers, sellers and lenders in residential and commercial real estate transactions in Addison County and throughout central and northern Vermont. Whether our clients are first-time home buyers or experienced buyers and sellers, we provide personalized counsel throughout the entire process, from the purchase and sale contract through the closing. We encourage prospective buyers and sellers to contact us before signing a contract so that we can draft language that protects your interests. Once a contract is in place, we assist buyers by conducting title searches, providing title opinions and title insurance policies, and drawing on our experience to help with permitting and title issues that arise. For sellers, we draft deeds and other closing documents, assist with Vermont-specific taxes such as the Vermont Land Gains and Real Estate Withholding taxes, and work to resolve issues to ensure as smooth a closing as possible. Our attorneys and staff draw on their many years of real estate experience to provide personalized, responsive, and effective representation to our clients.
Our lawyers apply their broad range of legal know-how and experience to land use and permitting advocacy on behalf of individual landowners, developers, and businesses. For our clients interested in developing or subdividing land, we provide counsel on how to navigate regulatory proceedings including local development review board and planning commission hearings, Act 250 compliance, zoning and land use appeals before the Environmental Division of the Vermont Superior Court. We work with other professionals such as surveyors and wastewater engineers to help our clients carry out their plans in conformance with federal, state, and local laws and regulations.
We also counsel landowners regarding special situations such as boundary adjustments, enrollment in the Vermont Current Use program, boundary line disputes, and zoning and permitting violations. When conflicts between neighbors arise regarding land use, we advocate on behalf of our clients in all phases of the litigation process, including settlement negotiations, mediation procedures, and trials before the Vermont Superior Court.
Wills / Trusts / Estates
From simple Wills to complex estate plans, from document preparation to probate court litigation, our attorneys provide essential legal knowledge and skill to help ensure our clients manage and transfer their assets smoothly from one generation to the next. Proper estate planning occurs at many stages throughout life, and particularly in connection with major life events, such as marriage or remarriage, having children, separation or divorce, and retirement.
Our attorneys are experienced in developing estate planning approaches for all of these life stages including end-of-life care and medical decision-making. Although each estate plan is unique to each client, some of the common objectives sought during the estate planning process include: avoiding or minimizing federal or Vermont State estate taxes, facilitating the seamless transfer of assets at death without the need for the probate court process, mapping out the succession of family businesses, and giving appropriate loved ones decision-making power over finances and healthcare. In order to achieve these objectives, our attorneys often draw up revocable and irrevocable trusts, power of attorneys, Advance Directives for Healthcare (healthcare power of attorney), guardianships for minors and for disabled or incapacitated adults, and Wills.
We provide representation in a full range of cases in the Probate Division of the Vermont Superior court, including adoptions, guardianships, and estate proceedings. We help administrators and executors of estates in handling every aspect of the probate process, as well as individuals who may be heirs, beneficiaries, or creditors of estates. Opening estates in probate court, proving Wills, identifying and handling estate creditors, providing advice on the management of estate assets, and distributing assets are all areas we routinely handle. We also provide advice and court representation to trustees of trusts, as well as trust beneficiaries.
Over 16% of Vermont residents are 65 years of age or older. For individuals approaching or currently enjoying their retirement years, our firm provides a range of legal services to help ensure that the later years in life are well-planned, financially secure, and lived with peace of mind. Central to these goals is anticipating the potential need to qualify for long-term nursing care. The rules associated with qualifying for Medicaid long-term care benefits have become increasingly complex. To help navigate these complexities, we assist our clients during the planning and application process for Medicaid long-term care benefits in either the home setting and in a nursing care facility. Our lawyers who practice in elder law take a global approach to addressing the legal needs of elders, including qualifying for benefits, re-titling of assets, facilitating the succession of family business assets, obtaining legal guardianships for incapacitated elders, and handling denials or disqualifications from Medicaid long-term care benefits.
We represent individuals and businesses in all areas of general civil litigation in the Vermont Court System and U.S. District Court for Vermont. From filing Complaints or defending claims, we handle litigation from the outset through discovery, hearings, trials, and appeals in front of the Vermont Supreme Court. We handle a wide range of civil cases and represent both plaintiffs and defendants. Some of the common civil litigation matters we handle include breach of contract, breach of warranties, real estate disputes, land use conflicts, and disputes concerning wills and trusts. Our litigation attorneys focus on meeting each client’s objectives using a variety of litigation tools including pretrial negotiation, mediation, and formal judge and jury trials. Our attorneys have successfully litigated civil cases before the Vermont Superior Court, and Vermont Supreme Court. We know that civil litigation can often be a stressful experience and expensive. In order to support our clients during this process, our attorneys are committed to providing our client’s with a clear overview of the litigation process and the strengths and weaknesses of their cases in order to help our clients make the best choices to achieve their goals and objectives through the litigation process.
Small Business and Nonprofit Law
Starting and successfully operating a small business can be a complex endeavor that requires a hard work and commitment. Our lawyers are committed to helping small business owners form effective and beneficial business structures, be it a corporation, LLC, nonprofit, partnership, or another appropriate structure. After business entities are formed, we work with small business clients to manage conflicts that might arise among partners, we assist businesses in the process of adding investors, we help businesses amend by-laws and operating agreements, and we provide representation during the purchase and sale of business interests. We also help business entities stay current with all filing requirements with the Vermont Secretary of State.
We advise nonprofit organizations on all aspects of their operations, including formation, compliance with legal requirements, mergers, and day-to-day activities. Our attorneys have provided many hours of volunteer service on boards of nonprofit organizations that serve our community.
Agricultural / Natural Resource Law
Like most Vermonters, we love the rural character of our state and the quality of life it delivers. We recognize and support the many individuals and businesses who rely on Vermont’s natural resources to earn a livelihood and grow the Vermont economy. Our attorneys are experienced in helping large and small farming operations, timber companies, and maple sugaring operations chart a course through the legal system in order to utilize our state’s natural resources effectively and responsibly. We assist dairy and other value-added farmers in qualifying for Vermont’s current use program, complying with accepted agricultural practice regulations, developing farm business succession plans for family-operated farms, purchasing and selling real estate, and many other issues. In the timber and maple sugaring industries, we advise clients in the areas of timber contracts, timber harvesting, forest and sugar bush land leases, purchase and sale of forest land, and Current Use issues.
Land conservation has become an increasingly important issue in Vermont, enabling owners of farms and forest land to protect their land and ensure its sustainable use by future generations. Our lawyers represent both conservation organizations and landowners in the negotiation and drafting of conservation easements and other documents to benefit our clients and the environment.
Putnam & Menard, PLC provides counsel to Vermont municipalities on a wide array of legal issues ranging from daily operations to complex litigation matters. Our municipal attorneys have many years of experience in areas of the law that affect local government bodies, including elections, town meetings, highway discontinuance and alteration proceedings, public records requests, development of town ordinances and bylaws, public utility issues, municipal land use and development, and compliance with Vermont’s open meetings law. Our attorneys represent municipalities in the purchase and sale of real estate, including drafting of easements and other land use covenants. We also provide the necessary insight and direction on the structuring of contracts between towns and third-party contractors.
For issues that require resolution outside of town governance, we represent municipalities in all aspects of litigation. We advocate on behalf of towns in zoning and land use appeals and general civil litigation matters before the Civil and Environmental Divisions of the Vermont Superior Court, and we handle appeals to the Vermont Supreme Court. Our attorneys also have experience conducting tax sales and navigating the tax appeal process.
Our attorneys also assist individuals and private businesses in their interactions with municipalities. For example, we advise clients with questions about property taxes, compliance with local ordinances, zoning/permitting issues, and negotiation of easements and other property transactions.