Estate Planning Documents and Divorce

If you are considering or going through a divorce, it is critical to go over your estate plans to ensure that any changes that need to be made are done. In the eyes of the law, you are legally married until the divorce is declared final. This means that if something should happen to you and your spouse is currently the person who would inherit any of your property, they will still inherit that property unless you have an attorney make those changes. This is also a good time to draw up estate plans if you do not currently have any.

The following are some of the important documents you should update if you are in the midst of a divorce.

Wills

Each state has its own laws on how a person’s will should be handled if they still have their ex-spouse named. While some states declare any provisions made for your ex-spouse are invalid, other states declare these provisions are valid and your ex-spouse will inherit. There may be a legal gray area if you are still in the middle of the divorce process. Rather than risk leaving the decision up to the probate court, it makes more sense to have your estate planning attorney make any changes necessary to your will if your wish is that your soon-to-be former spouse not inherit.

If your will currently leaves any of your property to your ex-spouse’s children, they will still inherit no matter what the laws are in your state. Divorce has no effect. If your wish is to remove them from inheriting, you can also make those changes in your will.

Trusts

If you have a trust set up, it does not matter if your state has a law that excludes ex-spouses from inheriting what assets and property are in that trust if they are still named as beneficiary. If the trust you have set up is revocable, you will want to have your estate planning attorney change the beneficiary from your spouse to someone else right away.

Unfortunately, if the trust you set up is an irrevocable one and it does not stipulate that a divorce removes the current spouse as beneficiary, the trust cannot be changed. This is why it is critical to have a professional lawyer, like an estate planning lawyer Ridgefield CT trusts, assist you in all of your estate planning in order to avoid legal situations such as this one.

Guardianship and Power of Attorney

Many clients set up documents that will address how financial decisions should be made in the event they become incapacitated. Two tools available for this purpose are power of attorney and guardianship. If there is currently a power of attorney drafted that grants your spouse the authority as your power of attorney, the majority of states revoke this document when a divorce actions is filed by either spouse.

However, the divorce filing does not revoke any documents which name the spouse as guardian for the other spouse. The only way that could be revoked would be with the court’s approval. The guardianship does not become void until the divorce is legally final.

In addition, you have normally appointed your spouse as your Health Care Proxy and they will be able to make health care decisions should you not be able to.  You would normally have to change this to remove the spouse.

Connecticut has a law which revokes any dispositions of property and the former spouse’s role as executor and trustee in a Will. CGS 45a-257c.  New York’s law goes further and revokes beneficiary designations and other similar statuses. EPTL 5-1.4.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Sweeney Legal for their insight into estate planning law.

 

Massive Wrongful Death Claim Filed by Widow

In September 2014,  Aaron Martineau was incorrectly diagnosed with chest pain by a Springfield hospital, claiming that the chest pains he was suffering from, were unrelated to his heart. He died the next day, just five days before his 29th birthday. Following his passing, a wrongful death claim of $10 million was filed on his behalf. The claim was filed against the doctors who treated Martineau, in addition to the McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center.  

Martineau’s widow, Jamie, filed the lawsuit, alleging that her husband, Aaron Martineau went to the hospital for treatment and was sent home. The lawsuit claims that, on September 2, 2014, Martineau complained of chest pain, a slowed heart rate and shortness of breath. At that visit, a list of potential diagnoses was prepared by a physician’s assistant, which outlined that his conditions could be related to his lungs and heart and could be life-threatening. He was released from the hospital when doctors determined that his chest pain was unrelated to his heart, following a review of his X-ray. The next day, Martineau passed away from an aortic dissection. An aortic dissection is a rare heart condition that occurs when a blood vessel tears and ruptures outside of the blood vessel’s wall. Aortic dissections are fatal in most situations. Diagnoses for this is often delayed due to symptoms being commonly found in other diseases. If caught quickly, chances for survival improve dramatically.

Martineau’s wife claims that his misdiagnoses in the emergency room at the hospital was due to hospital staff not administering rigorous enough testing or exams to rule out his condition. Jamie is asking for a total of $10 million. A large portion of this claim, $6.5 million,  is for emotional damages to help her family recover from his passing and the pain and distress that he suffered from following his discharge from the hospital. The remaining $3.5 million will be for recovery of financial losses from Aaron’s funeral and medical expenses. This also includes his future earning capacity as he provided financial support to his family.  When local media reached out to the Martineau family, they declined to comment. The defendants have not yet formally responded.

A family can be emotionally and financially devastated when a loved one passes away. Speak with a wrongful death attorney such as the wrongful death lawyer Orlando, Fl locals trust regarding the details of your case if you, or someone you know has lost a loved one due to another party’s negligence.


Thanks to authors at Needle Ellenberg P.A. for their insight into Personal Injury Law.

 

Unsafe Habits While Driving with Your Dog

Our canine friends commonly ride as passengers with us as we drive from one destination to another. If it is a quick trip, sometimes owners do not use safety measures for their dog. By not using safety equipment, it can greatly increase the chances of your pet suffering injuries in the event of a car collision, a skilled Milwaukee personal injury lawyer knows all too well. Here we have listed unsafe driving habits that can lead to your dog getting hurt if you both were to endure a vehicular crash together.

Unrestrained Dogs

The severe force of a sudden car accident can send unsecured objects flying, including any pets that are not restrained. There are many varieties of harnesses that are specially designed to hold your dog in place while sitting in a car seat. You can also use an appropriately sized crate to keep your dog in one place. The best fitting crates enable the dog to stand up and turn around, then lie down comfortably.

Dogs Riding in Owner’s Lap

If a dog is riding in the lap of their owner, severe injury or death can result from the pressure of the airbag if it were to deploy. Smaller dogs are especially vulnerable. A dog is most safe when they are restrained with proper tools in the rear seat. Use a restraint that prevents movement or leaning. Disable the airbag if your dog is riding in the passenger seat. In some states, you may receive a ticket for distracted driving by having a dog in your lap behind the wheel.

Dogs Riding in Truck Beds

A dog riding in a truck bed can suffer injuries from debris that hurt their eyes, mouth, or nostrils. Too hot weather conditions may lead to heat exhaustion, which can quickly become a life-threatening condition. Even minor bumps in the road can send a dog out from the back of the bed and into the street, where other cars may be passing by. It is safer for a dog to ride in the cab, compared to a truck bed. If a truck bed is the only option, keeping the dog a secured crate may be the safest way to transport.

Vet Bills Can Accumulate

If your dog has serious injuries including lacerations, broken bones, or head injuries, going to a veterinary emergency clinic can be costly. Also, the stress of seeing your beloved dog in pain can be emotionally terrifying. Purchasing equipment that suits your dog’s needs and size can prevent having to go through the expensive and heartbreaking scenario of rushing them to a veterinary hospital.

Canine pets are often seen as family members for many owners. A pet should be secured safely, just as if a young child were to be riding in the car with their parent. There are easy strategies that can be used to help keep your fur baby from suffering injuries during a car collision. Practicing safe driving habits with your canine can lessen the chances of him or her having to recover from agonizing injuries.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Hickey & Turim, SC for their insight into car accident.

Resources for Domestic Violence Victims

In all states, one can get legal protection from domestic violence through a civil domestic violence protective order or through the criminal process.  The American Bar Association published a helpful comparison of states laws in 2016. You should review the laws in your state to know what options are available.

If You Are a Victim.

If you are the victim of domestic violence the first thing you should do is separate yourself from the abuser and call the police.   In many areas, police get special training to deal with domestic situations.  

Typically, law enforcement must have sufficient evidence to arrest a person suspected of domestic violence and often that means that they will look for signs of physical injury.   Of course, domestic violence can be something other than physical injury in most states.  For example, placing a person in fear of bodily injury is also domestic violence in states like Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, North Carolina and many other states.

One of the things any victim of domestic violence should ask law enforcement for are resources.   Many areas have domestic violence counseling and shelters available and law enforcement will be able to provide you a list of resources.

If you can’t find local resources with referrals from law enforcement, or you are wondering how to escape an abusive situation, you should call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.   This is a free call and you can get support and guidance on how to protect yourself.  Before doing online research, you should make certain your spouse is not spying on your computer.

If a Child is a Victim.

If you have a child who is a victim of domestic violence by your spouse or someone in your household, you should remove the child from the situation immediately and contact law enforcement and your local child protective services office to make a report.  In some states, the failure to report child abuse is a crime and failing to act not only further endangers the child but it could put you in legal jeopardy.

Contact an Attorney.

You may want to consider contacting a divorce attorney to advise you.   Divorce attorneys in your area, like a divorce lawyer in Raleigh, North Carolina, will be able to identify further resources for you and give you advice not only on domestic violence, but on matters such as child custody, support and possession of property.   A local attorney will be able to thoroughly explain your state’s laws regarding divorce, domestic violence, and division of assets.

 

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 2.32.42 PMThanks to authors at Allen & Spence,PLLC for their insight into Family Law.

Detecting Drunk Drivers At Night

 

Drunk driving is a major problem and it causes many accidents, injuries and deaths. In fact, drunk driving is the leading cause of car crashes and is responsible for approximately 29 deaths every day. With so many alcohol-impaired individuals on our highways, there’s a good chance you will encounter one. Knowing how to spot a drunk driver at night and what to do can mean the difference between life and death.

Detecting a Drunk Driver at Night

While you may be uncomfortable accusing someone of drunk driving, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Wouldn’t you rather take action and be wrong versus doing nothing and letting a possible drunk bring terror to the highways, endangering every innocent person they encounter? Individuals who’ve had too much alcohol often show up on the roads after dark. Many are leaving bars after an evening of drinking, and instead of calling a friend or taxi, they put everyone in danger and try to drive themselves home. If you are on the roads at night and you notice the following signs about another driver, it’s time to take action:

 

  • Tailgating
  • Weaving or crossing the line
  • Erratically braking
  • Running off the road
  • Speeding up and slowing down
  • Making illegal turns
  • Driving without headlights
  • Driving 10 mph under the speed limit

 

Most people have been guilty of many of these violations at one time or another. What sets a drunk driver apart from the average person is that they are exhibiting several of these infractions all at once. When you notice this, you’ll want to take immediate action to get that driver off the road.

 

What To Do If You Spot a Drunk Driver

If you suspect another driver has been drinking because you’ve witnessed them committing several driving infractions, you will want to do what you can to get them off the road. Follow these steps if you find yourself in this situation:

 

  • Take note of the license plate number
  • Take note of the vehicle make, model and color
  • Pull over and call the police
  • Explain where you are and in which direction the suspected drunk driver is traveling
  • Explain to the police what you witnessed and give them the description of the plates and car

 

Now that you’ve done your part, the police will take over. Although you can never know if another driver is drunk when they act erratically while driving, if you witness them acting strangely you should always report it. The worst thing that will happen is that you are wrong. Any wrongfully convicted driver should seek the help of an experienced DUI lawyer such as the DWI Lawyer Cherry Hill NJ locals turn to. No one is going to be hurt if you’re wrong. But, if you report something suspicious and it turns out you helped get a drunk off the highway, you may have just saved a life.

 

What You Shouldn’t Do

You should never ignore your gut feeling. If you witness another individual driving suspiciously, report it. If you think someone is driving while drunk, the last thing you want to do is to take the matter into your own hands. Don’t try to get them to pull over and don’t confront them in any way. In fact, it would be best if the driver didn’t notice you at all. If an individual is under the influence of alcohol it can really affect their behavior and may even make them violent. Avoid a confrontation at all costs. After you’ve contacted police, let them handle it. They are equipped to deal with volatile situations while the average citizen is not. You don’t want to risk getting hurt or worse. If you call the police they will be on the scene and ready to handle the situation so that you can be on your way. You will have peace of mind knowing you did your part to get a dangerous driver off the road.

Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 1.20.38 PMThanks to authors at Levow DWI Law for insight into Drunk Driving.

Types of Time-Sharing schedules

Custody cases come in all shapes and sizes.  When a judge makes a decision they will look at each case on a case by case basis.  Your case is unique and you will more than likely not have the same time-sharing schedule as your neighbor.  Here are a few examples of time-sharing that we see often.

50/50, Equal Time-Sharing Schedule

A very popular time-sharing schedule today is a 50/50, equal time-sharing schedule.  This time-sharing schedule is based on the premise that both parents have equal time with their children.  The standard 50/50 time-sharing schedule is a schedule where the children rotate between parents each week. This schedule tends to work best with older children.  Another popular 50/50 schedules is what we refer to as a 2-2-3 schedule.  In a 2-2-3 time-sharing schedule, one parent has every Monday and Tuesday, the other parent has every Wednesday and Thursday and then they rotate the weekends.  This schedule tends to work best with younger children, as they need frequent and continuing contact with both parents. 

Every Other Weekend Time-Sharing Schedule

One of the most traditional time-sharing schedule is an every other weekend schedule.  With this schedule, the children live the majority of the time with one parent.  The other parent will get time-sharing every other weekend.  Usually from Friday after school and returning the children to school on Monday morning.  Often with this schedule, the children will spend time with the non-majority parent one night during the week as well.  

Long Distance Time-Sharing Schedule

Sometimes one parent lives in another state or even another county.  In this instance, it is impossible to send the children to visit with the other parent every other week or even every other weekend.  In that instance, the children will live with one parent the majority of the time and will visit with the other parent on holidays and during the summer.  Usually the other parent will have time-sharing for all or most of the summer.  The other parent will also have time-sharing during the winter break, spring break and Thanksgiving.  When crafting a long distance time-sharing schedule, its best if you delineate how travel will take place and who will pay for the travel.  A Tampa custody lawyer familiar with these type of schedules can help navigate some of the pitfalls that come with long distance time-sharing schedules.  

Supervised Time-Sharing Schedule

On rare occasions, it might be dangerous to leave the children alone with one parent.  For example, there might be drug or alcohol abuse involved.  Or one parent might have psychical limitations that prevent them from adequately caring for the child alone.  In these situations, a supervised time-sharing schedule for that parent may be more appropriate.  With this schedule, the children are never left alone with that parent.  Instead, a supervisor is always present to monitor the visitation.  Often these supervisors are other family members who volunteer to supervise the visitation.  Sometimes you can hire a private supervisor to help supervise.  In some instances, a supervised time-sharing schedule will set forth steps the other parent must complete in order to transition to unsupervised time-sharing.  A supervised time-sharing schedule may also be used when one parent is absent from the other parents life for an extended period of time and reunification is necessary.  

Determining your time-sharing schedule can be complicated as numerous issues and questions may arise.  Discussing these numerous issues with your Tampa divorce attorney can help navigate common pitfalls and give you a better idea about what time-sharing schedule will work best for your family.  


Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Mckinney Law Group for their insight into family law.

Need to Know Information About Personal Injury Awards

Personal injury awards are meant to help you cover day to day expenses, medical costs and lost wages while you are recovering from your injuries. Money can help you pay for your bills while you are out of work, but it may come with added tax increase and other complications. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind after being awarded a settlement. .

  1. What damages does the award cover?

You may ask for a number of damages to be compensated for including medical bills, lost wages, medication, physical therapy, and emotional damages like pain and suffering. Your settlement may also include compensation for expected future wages lost. An experienced attorney can help you strategize to prove you deserve both physical and emotional damages.

  1. Is the money considered personal income?

The money you will receive in a settlement is usually regarded as compensatory which means it is not taxable income. However, you may have to pay some tax for ny deductions you claimed for previous medical bills before they earned the award.

Rarely, punitive damages are awarded to a plaintiff if the court wants to send a message to the defendant that their acts are negligent and to persuade them to never do them again. Those funds are subject to taxation and is filed as income. If you have further questions about those distinctions, call an estate planning lawyer to sort out what you will have to prepare for.

  1. You may not be able to access the money right away.  

You may need to sign a release once you settle a claim and so will the opposing side. This process of creating the release as well as signing it can take weeks so you may not see your money right away and you will need to verify it has been paid.

  1. Your award may be subject to division if you get a divorce.

Your award may be considered marital property depending on the state laws where you live. If it is considered marital property, you may have to give up a portion to your ex spouse. A divorce lawyer can go through the specifics with you as well as how you can protect your money.

Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney

If you are sure that you will be receiving a payment sometime soon, you will need to plan ahead for it. Cal an estate planning attorney such as the Estate Planning Lawyer Sacramento CA locals turn  to figure out how to best manage your new found wealth. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to give you more specific advice related to the amount you are awarded and the assets you already have. Don’t wait, secure your financial future today.

 

Thanks to authors at The Yee Law Group for their insight into Personal Injury Law.

Avoiding Slip and Fall Induced Knee Injuries

Injuries may occur anywhere on a given day. Individuals may experience a slip and fall on a public or commercial property, or even on a close relative’s or friend’s property. In many accidents, victim’s may suffer mild to severe knee injuries. If a victim’s foot gets stucks before falling, it can lead to abrupt twisting of the knee resulting in torn ligaments or even dislocation of the patella. Both of these injuries can be incredibly painful and may likely require surgery. Though, insurance will often cover medical costs, ideally, the accident would never occur. Consider the following tips to help avoid slip and fall related knee injuries.

How to Avoid Common Accidents

A primary reason slip and fall accidents occur is due to the surroundings. Ice covered sidewalks and loose rugs are just a couple common hazards victims may encounter. Exiting the shower tends to be relatively high hazard in homes due to wet floors and slippery bath mats. If you are visiting someone’s home, pay close attention to these hazards:

  • Assess the tiling. Look for loose or cracked tiles that may cause someone to slip or trip. Avoid any hazardous tiles if possible.
  • Examine the carpeting for holes, rips, or tears that your foot may get stuck on. Pay close attention to the rugs to verify whether or not they are secure or loose. If possible, move around the hazards.
  • Examine the walkways for puddles of water or layers of ice. If they have either, avoid them.

Dangerous Exteriors

Not only should you be aware of hazards that could potentially cause you to slip and fall, but also hazards that could endanger your children. Though, children’s bodies often recover from falls quickly, a more common hazard pertains to heavy objects. Children may attempt to climb on unsafe furniture or furniture with large objects on them. When they do, objects can fall on top of the children, resulting in severe injury. It is important to pay careful notice to the surroundings to identify whether or not the child will be safe in the room.

Exterior Dangers:

  • Trees may have rotting limbs that could break and fall if a child swings from them or attempts to climb on them.
  • Pool decks are notoriously slippery when wet. Move with caution when on a pool deck and warn children as well. It is important to walk and not run when moving on a slippery surface.
  • Be aware of stacked yard furniture. Children will often attempt to climb on the furniture which can cause the stack to collapse. Children may be hit by falling furniture, resulting in injury.

An accident can occur anywhere. Though, it may result in a mild to severe knee injury, insurance will often cover the medical expenses. However, the property owner may also be held accountable for the accident. If the injury was caused by the negligence or gross negligence of a property owner, contact a personal injury lawyer and discuss the accident  such as the personal injury lawyer Cheyenne WY locals turn to. You may be advised to file a claim requesting compensation for damages. Though, a personal injury lawyer may prove to be beneficial in representing your case, the ideal scenario would be for the accident to never occur. Pay close attention to your surroundings and avoid hazards when possible.

 

Thanks to authors at Cannon Hadfield Stieben & Doutt  for their insight into Personal Injury Law.

What is an independent medical examination?

If you were injured while at work, you may be required to get an independent medical examination (IME) to affirm the seriousness of your injury. The physician’s treatment recommendation will also be taken into consideration by the workers compensation board should you file a claim.

The Examination

A doctor who is approved by the workers compensation board will perform your IME. It’s standard for the board to request you to see their physician for an exam. An IME may also be requested by you if you do not agree with the assessment of the first board-approved physician who examined your injury.   

Preparation for the Examination

The physician who performs the IME is expected to be professional and neutral, but not all adhere to these expectations. In fact, some make an effort to disprove workers’ injuries in order that the worker’s employer or insurance company, who is also paying the physician, does not have to approve the claim. For this reason, you may wish to have a trusted person with you as your witness. The IME physician will likely ask you about the accident that resulted in your injury. Be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • How did the accident happen?
  • When did it occur?
  • What, if any, treatment have you received for your injury?
  • How much time have you had to take off from work?
  • What are your physical limitations as a result of the injury?

During the Examination

During the IME, it’s important to remember that anything you say can be used against you to deny your workers compensation claim. However, it’s also important to be truthful. If you work with a worker’s compensation lawyer, he or she can provide guidance as to what information is reasonable for you to provide the physician.

  • When asked about the circumstances of the accident that caused your injury, stick to only the relevant facts.
  • Request copies of the physician’s notes and other documentation such as x-rays, blood test results, and other diagnostics as well as treatment recommendations.
  • Remember that if necessary, you can get a second opinion. Talk to a New York Workers Compensation Lawyer about your options for seeking an additional examination by another doctor. Your attorney may be able to petition the workers compensation board to accept a non-approved physician’s assessment of your injury.

If you were injured while at work, it may be in your best interest to contact an experienced workers compensation lawyer to protect your rights.

 

Thanks to authors at Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen LLP for their insight into Workers Compensation Law.

 

What is a Warrant… and what are the Different Kinds of Warrants in Criminal Law?

A warrant is an order that is issued by a Magistrate (or District Court Judge) authorizing a law enforcement officer to perform an act – usually an arrest, or a search of property, involving an alleged crime.  The most common warrants that are dealt with in the criminal arena are arrest warrants, bench warrants and search warrants.

Arrest warrant

An arrest warrant is issued by a Magistrate or other Judge when a law enforcement officer establishes that there is probable cause that a crime has occurred and a particular person has committed it.  In some federal jurisdictions, the criminal complaint and the arrest warrant are on one document filed with the Court.  It contains a sworn statement by the officer, detailing the criminal conduct.  

Bench Warrant

A bench warrant is typically issued when a person does not show up for Court after being advised or summoned to court.  A bench warrant authorizes a law enforcement officer to go get a particular person and bring him or her into court.  It is also sometimes referred to as a fugitive warrant.

Search Warrant

A search warrant authorizes a law enforcement officer to search the property (real or personal) usually for evidence of a crime.  There are also different warrants within this section, including “no-knock warrants” “knock and announce” “anticipatory warrants” and “nighttime warrants,” all of which set out the particulars of the actions permitted by the law enforcement officers, in carrying out the warrant. This warrant directly implicates the Fourth Amendment, which protects persons from unreasonably searches and seizures.

 

There are also many other warrants out there, such as extradition, dispossessory or eviction, and execution.  All of these warrants touch upon criminal law practice.  Speak with an experienced attorney such as the New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney.

 

Screen Shot 2017-12-18 at 6.57.36 PMThanks to authors at Lorraine Gauli-Rufo for their insight into Criminal Law.