The Best Time to Begin Estate Planning

A necessary and important life step, estate planning is the process of preparing the transfer and allocation of your assets and wealth in the unfortunate case of death or incapacitation. If you have wealth in the form of assets, bank accounts, pensions, life insurance, real estate, cars or other personal belongings, then now is the time to begin preparing for the future. Whether old or young, sick or well, rich or poor, it is important to ensure that when the time comes, your belongings and those dear to you are taken care of. It is advised, however, that estate planning be done while still relatively young and in good health, because whether we accept it or not, the future is very uncertain.

Although the time is always right to begin estate planning, there are significant life points at which these preparations may be especially vital. You should probably begin planning if:

  1. You’re Young, Single and in Good Health

Ideally, this is the best time to start estate planning. Though death is probably unfathomable at this stage in your life, it’s important to prepare for the unknown.

  • Creating a will at a younger age is beneficial in the case that something does happen, so that you are able to ensure your chosen family and friends receive whatever assets you may have. Plus, you can change your will at any time throughout your life. At the very least, you’ll be staying ahead of the game.
  • If living wills and trusts are of interest to you, this is also a good time to talk to an attorney and begin the process. Making important health decisions now, while in good health, can allow you to specify your wishes in the case of becoming incapacitated.
  1. You Have Children

Once you have had children it is especially important to begin estate planning, because it is the surest way to guarantee they will be taken care of if something were to happen to you. It is important to:

  • Leave a will or living trust to ensure they receive your assets as requested
  • Consider naming them as beneficiaries of your life insurance and other important accounts
  • Hire an attorney who can possibly prevent your assets from getting stuck in the probate process
  • Specify which children should receive what, in order to prevent possible disputes
  1. You’re Middle aged and Well Established

If at this point you own assets of significant value, you may want to have a plan for where they will go if something happens to you. Leaving behind a substantial amount of wealth without a will may create legal issues, lots of stress and possibly disagreements, among those in your life. You should:

  • Name who should receive what, and whether you want any of your assets to be liquified
  • Plan with a lawyer whether you want to leave your assets to your spouse, then children, or directly to your children.
  1. You Are of an Older Age or Have Serious Health Issues

If the possibility of death or incapacitation is more imminent, and you have not yet written out a will, you should contact an estate planning attorney as soon as possible. Planning your estate will relieve both you and your loved ones of the burden and stress.

When starting or continuing preparations, you should contact an estate planning attorney in your area such as the Scottsdale Estate Planning Attorney locals have been trusting for years. They can answer questions and concerns as well as help you set up a plan specific to your needs and circumstances.

Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys A special thanks to our authors at Arizona Estate Planning for their expertise in Probate and Estate Law.

Personal Injury Settlements and Paying Medical Bills | Wiseman Bray Law

If you are involved in a personal injury case, chances are you’ve been saddled with a great deal of medical bills. You may be waiting awhile if you’re waiting on an insurance company to pay out your fair settlement. How can you cover your current costs in the meantime? The following tips can help you pay your medical bills until the settlement comes through.

1. Seek a Lawsuit Loan

If you have a strong case, it’s possible that you could receive a lawsuit loan from a lender. Having your lawyer speak to the validity of your case might make such an individual more likely to help you and approve your request.

2. Have Your Attorney Negotiate an Out-of-Court Settlement

The process of taking your claim to trial can be long and drawn-out. When you work with an attorney, like a personal injury lawyer Brooklyn NY relies on, he or she may guide you through the process of settling with the insurance company outside of court. In so doing, you may get the money you need much sooner than you otherwise would have.

 3. File a Disability Claim

When you anticipate the recovery process being on the longer side, it is possible that your doctor could provide you with the necessary documentation to file a federal disability claim. If the recovery is expected to take at least one year, the possible benefit amount may increase.

 4. Sell Personal Belongings

If you own any items that you no longer have use for–for example, furniture, clothes, and media products–there may be room to sell these items to raise money for your bills. Having a yard or garage sale or listing these belongings online are a few ways you can take action quickly.

5. Apply for a Peer-to-Peer Loan

Another kind of loan you can use to pay your medical bills is a peer-to-peer loan. Using one of many peer-to-peer lending sites, you can tell your story and share it online. When people know that it was through an accident that you were injured, they may be sympathetic to your situation and help by donating money.

Start By Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

Hiring an experienced and qualified personal injury lawyer can be in your best interest when it comes to getting compensation as soon as possible. There are many personal injury attorneys who work on a contingency basis, so making a call for a consultation can come at no risk to you. Be sure you bring as much evidence as possible when speaking with a lawyer, such as photos, medical records, and witness statements, so he or she can better evaluate your case.

Laurence C. Tarowsky Attorney at LawThanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Offices of Laurence C. Tarowsky for their insight into personal injury cases.

Comparing Civil Suits to Criminal Charges | Wiseman Bray

There are significant differences in how civil cases and criminal cases are adjudicated.

For starters, civil suits are tort law cases where one private party is claiming they have been a victim of the neglect of another individual. This can be a personal injury situation or a contractual dispute. Contract disputes can be both oral implied agreements and written definitive agreements, complete with signatures and exact language. Civil suits can involve governmental agencies. The plaintiff’s attorney in a civil case is the prosecutor in the tort matter, but if the civil case reveals activity that is against codified law, then the state may still step in and apply the criminal charges. Criminal charges may be brought by an individual, but the case is actually prosecuted by the state or federal government.

Burden of Proof in Civil Cases

The burden of proving guilt in a civil tort case is the duty of the plaintiff’s attorney. However, there is still a major difference in determining the final outcome of the claim.

Civil cases are decided by a “preponderance of the evidence based on a totality of the circumstances” instead of the commonly thought “beyond a reasonable doubt” that is applied in criminal cases. Even though a civil case may be supported by a large amount of evidence, technicalities can still matter when the question is one of reasonable duty of care or intended deceit by the respondent party. Preponderance is generally considered by the legal profession as an easier standard to meet. When a defendant loses a civil case, they do not face jail time but are usually subject to paying a monetary award to the plaintiff, the amount being decided upon by a jury or judge. The amount is often based upon the damages put forth by the plaintiff but the actual award granted can be for more or less than that amount.

Case Remedies for Criminal Charges

Remedies for criminal charges are usually incarceration or a fine, or both, with many times the defendant being placed on probation if it is a first offense.

Certain criminal charges require mandatory jail terms, such as a conviction for driving under the influence, and many times the punishment is severe in terms of a jail sentence. Fines can be extensive as well, depending on the criminal charge. Civil cases are remedied with money in most instances and only result in incarceration when a crime has been committed during the negligent or deceptive act claimed by the plaintiff.

Representation and Court Costs

It is not a requirement for an individual to have a legal representative to file a civil case, as pro se filings are legal. It is also not a requirement for the respondent to have legal counsel unless the civil case also connects to a criminal case that could result in incarceration.

A criminal case representative is not necessarily the legal counsel for a civil suit either because they are legally two separate issues. The tort suit is filed by the victim and the criminal case is filed by the state authorities. The court costs in a criminal case are paid by the convicted defendant, while the court costs in a civil suit are paid by the plaintiff. They are, however, recoverable in the final settlement as determined by the court. All individuals who may face incarceration for a criminal charge are required by the Constitution to have legal representation.

Courtroom Proceedings and Hearings

A final major difference in civil suits and criminal cases is that many civil cases never even make it to court.

The complaint is delivered to the respondent well before the court date and many times the opposing attorneys can work out a settlement before the court hearing. This never happens when criminal charges are pressed. The criminal defendant must be arraigned in an open public court hearing with an appropriate bond arrangement made at that time. All civil suits are settled financially, while criminal charges can result in major fines along with being incarcerated or having the case deferred if the attorney cannot win a dismissal. All criminal defendants also have their sentencing pronounced in an open public hearing after the state attorney proves the charge.

If you are facing criminal charges or a civil suit, contact an attorney like a skilled criminal defense lawyer Phoenix AZ relies on. Some attorneys offer a free consultation.

Lorona MeadThanks to our friends and contributors from Lorona Mead for their insight into the difference between civil and criminal cases.

Truck Rollovers and Personal Injury Settlements | Wiseman Bray Law

When a truck rolls over, the results can be catastrophic or fatal. A tractor-trailer can weigh 20 times more than a passenger car. There’s also the cargo spillage factor that can create a dangerous high speed obstacle course for other drivers on the highway.

Common Causes of Truck Rollover Accidents

As per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), about 327,000 large trucks are involved in accidents every year and an estimated 3,500 people lose their lives in them. About 15,000 of those accidents involve rollovers. The FMCSA has concluded that nearly half of all large truck rollover crashes involve the failure of drivers to adjust their speed to road curves. Other causes involve:

  • Drowsy or fatigued driving
  • Distracted driving like using a mobile phone or navigational device
  • Over-steering or over-correcting
  • Load shifts or improper loading

The Right to Compensation

Every trucker on the road has a duty to operate their rig in a safe and careful manner so as not to endanger the safety of others around them. Some truck drivers breach that duty and cause rollover accidents resulting in severe injuries or deaths. Injured victims and the families of those who died at the hands of careless and negligent truck drivers are entitled to seek compensation for their damages and losses. Those damages might consist of:

  • Previous medical bills and any medical bills that they may incur in the future
  • Previous lost earnings and any earnings that they may incur in the future
  • Any permanent disfigurement
  • Any permanent disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of a normal life
  • Loss of consortium, companionship, and guidance from a loved one
  • Funeral and burial costs when a wrongful death results

The Stakes Are High

When a large truck like a tractor-trailer is responsible for a crash involving one or more other vehicles, the insurer risks high financial exposure. Insurance companies are well aware of that fact, so it’s not unusual for them to dispatch an investigative team to the accident scene before the mess and debris are even cleaned up. Don’t expect their investigative report to mention any evidence that’s favorable to you. The purpose of that insurer’s investigation is to attribute blame, or shift a percentage of the blame, for the crash over onto you. For the insurer, it’s all about saving money.

Preserve the Evidence

Evidence can disappear, get lost or destroyed, and witnesses can vanish. Victims or their families will want to contact us right away. If needed, we can visit the accident scene and start our own investigation immediately. We might even obtain a court order to compel the trucker and his employer to preserve all evidence in connection with the crash. Evidence might include GPS data, onboard computer data, logbooks, maintenance records, physical objects, and the like.

Settlement

While all of the evidence regarding liability is secured and examined, witnesses are interviewed too. We’re also documenting our client’s damages up to the time that the client reaches his or her highest level of medical improvement. Even in a wrongful death case, the economic and noneconomic damages also take time to document. Our objective is to maximize our client’s settlement.

Along with proven and aggressive litigation techniques, we bring personal attention and compassion to the representation of accident victims and their families. Contact an experienced professional such as the Personal Injury Attorney DC locals trust right away by phone or by email after any truck accident for a free consultation and case evaluation. You don’t need to have a single dollar in your pocket; that’s because no legal fees are due unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for you.

Frederick Brynn LawA special thanks to our Author at Fred Brynn Law for their insight into Personal Injury Law.

Tax Issues Associated with Estate Planning | Wiseman Bray Law

An estate planning attorney is extremely useful to help you deal with the issues that arise when a family member suddenly passes away or requires intensive medical care. The attorney can provide services to facilitate asset distribution, minimizing tax fees and clarifying the final wishes of the family member. The Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, defines an estate as the net worth of a person at a specific time–in some cases at time of death. This includes the final amount of someone’s assets, legal rights and interest in property (real or intellectual).

Transferring property after someone’s passing can be difficult if they did not hold a title to the property. In some cases, a beneficiary can be allowed by a lender to inherit property. Usually a lender requires they be paid the full amount of the loan upon death of the property owner and typically the lender will not refinance a loan on property given to someone in the form of inheritance. It is highly advised to consult with an experienced Estate and Probate attorney such as the Estate Planning Attorney Scottsdale AZ locals have been trusting for years!

Estate Planning Services

A licensed and insured estate planning attorney can help you with protect your assets in case of unforeseen circumstances through trusts. Trusts contain real estate, titles for your vehicles, beneficiary deeds and the transfer of bank account balances. Creating a trust will help establish inheritances, choose your executor, and decide who distributes your funds and assets.

Attorneys can help with documents such as living wills, medical directives, living or revocable trusts, choosing who is granted power of attorney, formation and administration of trusts, probate litigation and guardianships and conservatorships.

A Guardian and a Conservator

Before you become unable to manage healthcare or financial matters, you may want to consult an estate law attorney to form a conservatorship and guardianship. A court-appointed conservator manages the financial situation of a patient and a guardian provides care and makes medical decisions for the patient. .

“What if my loved one doesn’t have a will?”

Probate litigation happens when someone dies without a will; if a conservator or guardian is unable or ineffectively honoring their obligations and duties; or possibly if seniors have been financially taken advantage of. They could be victims of fraudsters, caregivers or family members.

Important Tax Concerns

It is incredibly important to hire an attorney with a thorough knowledge of estate tax law, especially one who can inform you of IRS regulations.

An estate of $5 million or more (or $10 million or more for married couples) is subject to a federal estate tax and estates affected by this tax owe 40 percent in gift estate tax or generation-skipping transfer tax. This affects gifts from grandparent to grandchild.

An estate law attorney can negotiate IRS regulations and protocols on your behalf and provide other services including dealing with unfiled federal and state tax returns; IRS and state payment plans; and wage garnishments, liens and audits. Ensure your financial future and meet with an estate planning attorney to discuss your financial options and obligations for yourself and your loved ones.

Arizona Estate Planning AttorneysA special thanks to our authors at Arizona Estate Planning for their insight into Estate and Probate Law.

Estate Planning with Your Children in Mind | Wiseman Bray Law

Estate planning is something that every person needs to keep in mind, regardless of their family structure, age, or even their asset value. Estate planning is more than delegating and splitting up your belongings, it is about ensuring that your family will be well prepared in the event of your death. It is highly recommended to consult with an experienced professional such as the Estate Planning Attorney Scottsdale AZ locals have been trusting for years.

What is Estate Planning?

The process of creating legal documents that allocate your goods to your family and friends is called estate planning. There are many upsides to having an estate plan. You can protect your family by creating a last will so that they will know what your final wishes were and can properly follow them. It can also protect them by establishing your wishes for guardianship of your children, beneficiaries for your belongings and even select an individual in case you are incapacitated and cannot make your own decisions regarding your healthcare. Estate planning can establish a trust fund in order for your assets to be protected from over taxation and also allow for effortless transfers to another individual. If you hire an estate attorney, they can recommend additional legal paperwork that you can complete so that your estate planning is based on specific issues surrounding your property.

How Does Estate Planning Protect My Children?

Estate planning can help protect your children in many ways. An estate planning attorney can have you write up guardianship papers for children who are minors in case you temporarily are unable to care for them or you pass. These arrangements should be made in advance as this can ensure that your children will not be put into foster care and can be placed with the right people that you trust who can raise them in a manner you prefer. If you are married with minor children you should consider preparing paperwork that will assure any inheritance that they receive as adults. By doing this, their inheritance will protected until they turn 18, and you will ensure that nothing can happen to what is rightfully theirs in the event that your spouse remarries or dies before your children reach adulthood. However, if your children have already reached adulthood, having estate plans in place can prevent them from encountering issues that often emerge after the loss of a parent. Estate planning, if it is done correctly, can help to reduce the likelihood that your assets will have to enter into the probating process. This will alleviate the tax burden and your children, whether they are adults or minors, will have one less thing to worry about after you pass. By having your estate planning in place ahead of time, you are protecting your loved ones in so many ways. You should seek out the guidance of an estate planning attorney today to find out more information on how to protect your loved ones after your passing.

Arizona Estate Planning AttorneysA special thanks to our authors at Arizona Estate Planning for their insight into Estate and Probate Law.

Why you should speak to an attorney in your personal injury case

We’ve all heard those silly jokes about attorneys. Lots of people like to say a lot of things about why you should or shouldn’t hire an attorney. But if you have been injured and suspect that you may have a personal injury case on your hands, it is important to at least speak with one. To break it down, here are four reasons why:

  1. The Law is Complicated

There is a reason why attorneys go to law school, and there is a reason why they are required to pass the bar. The law is complex, and the specifics vary on a state by state and city by city basis. Effectively pursuing a personal injury lawsuit involves hours of tedious paperwork and difficult negotiations. Even simply determining how viable a personal injury claim is can take hours of legal research and resources that only an attorney would have at their disposal.

  1. Navigating the legal system alone is dangerous

The law isn’t just complicated. There can be serious repercussions from acting on a case without knowing your rights to the fullest extent. Missteps in the law can have lasting effects and can result in expensive losses and fines. If the opposing party is represented by a skilled attorney, you may find yourself out maneuvered on every turn.

  1. You need to heal

After an injury, severe enough to constitute a personal injury lawsuit, the stress of successfully filing and arguing a case can only be detrimental to the healing process. Make no mistake, fighting your way through the legal system is stressful and defeating. After an accident, you should be focused on resting and recovering.

  1. Most Personal Injury Attorneys Won’t Get Paid Until you do

Most personal injury attorneys will perform their services on a contingent fee basis. This means that they receive a fixed percentage of any settlement they negotiate for you. This arrangement helps you rest assured that you will receive the best representation possible and the highest settlement that can be reached. It also means that you have nothing to lose by contacting an attorney who is highly recommended to represent you.

All of this means one simple thing. If you have been hurt in an accident, contact a skilled lawyer, like a personal injury attorney Atlanta GA trusts,  in your area and see what next steps are appropriate for you. The risks of trying to represent yourself are simply to high.

Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. Thanks to our friends and contributors from Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into personal injury accident cases.

Can Airbags Injure You in a Car Accident?

There has been an alarming increase in the number of auto accidents resulting in airbag injuries during the past decade. Sometimes the protection devices deploy without impact and are essentially the actual cause of the accident. The number of vehicle models that have been recalled due to this problem has also increased drastically in the past year after the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration began investigating the specific accidents. At issue are various Takata airbags that are now known to have been installed in a very wide variety of vehicle models for practically every car manufacturer.

This is not to mention the injuries that occur when airbags do release properly after being impacted by a vehicle. Airbags effectively explode when they engage, releasing fast and with considerable force. When the passenger is turned in a vulnerable position, the final result can be injuries to the face, arms, and neck area, potentially causing central nervous system problems that can prove catastrophic in some instances. However, pinpointing that an injury was caused by an airbag can be a difficult task without an experienced car accident lawyer Fort Collins, CO trusts investigating the entire material case evidence record.

External Injuries

Common external injuries resulting from an exploding airbag are usually to the upper torso, with many of those injuries being lacerations to the arms and facial area. While external injuries to the arms are often considered superficial, lacerations to the face can result in permanent scarring and potential surgical repair. In some instances, the parts of the body the airbag is designed to protect are actually the body parts that are injured.

The chance for upper body and facial injuries is more likely for drivers, while passengers tend to experience injuries to lower extremities as well because of airbag installation design. It is important to remember that the airbag is designed to protect the passengers, but an impacted automobile can also experienced damage that could also cause injuries when debris is dislodged inside the vehicle.

Internal Injuries

While external injuries are obvious, the same cannot be said of internal injuries that assuredly can happen from an airbag during a collision. The problem with internal injuries is that they are not always immediately recognized unless there is significant pain. Injuries such as a twisted back or whiplash around the neck around can easily manifest later. Even if an accident victim has no apparent external injuries, it is still best for the accident victim to seek treatment at an emergency facility. Internal organ damage is common, as well as separated shoulders or broken limbs, and internal problems can be very dangerous. Internal bleeding situations can worsen quickly, even resulting in a fatality, and time is of the essence even though the symptoms may appear minimal.

An experienced car accident lawyer would advise those with airbag injuries of any type to seek medical attention immediately following a crash. Timing is very important documentation when damages are being recovered in an auto accident case, especially when the injury is not apparent. Attorneys must connect the injury to the accident and use the case evidence regarding the deployment of the airbag configuration to establish cause and effect for the injured victim. Lapses in time can provide the respondent insurance provider an opening for an case issue that can be used to deny or lessen the value of an injury claim.

Cannon Hadfield Stienben, LLCThanks to our friends and contributors from Cannon Hadfield Stienben, LLC for their insight into car accident cases.

The World’s Largest Airbag Recall — Are You Affected?

Takata, one of the world’s largest airbag suppliers, is settling for $1 billion after pleading guilty to distributing defective and fatal airbags.  Even with a minor fender-bender, these airbags can explode and fire bits of shrapnel into the cabin.  These airbags have been the cause of at least 17 known deaths worldwide.  These airbags are incredibly dangerous, and what’s worse, is that millions of cars have had their airbags recalled, but many people don’t know!

Please look through this list to see if your model has been affected, or look up your VIN to see the specific recalls here: https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/

 

 

 

Estate Planning – Protecting Your Assets

One of the issues that is often overlooked in the estate planning process is the protection of assets from third parties.  Most of the effort in estate planning is around making sure that the right heir gets the right asset at the right time.  What many of us do is forget to make sure that those assets are protected so that they are actually there when the time comes to pass them to the heirs. Let’s take a look at some of the basics around how to protect assets so that we actually have those assets to pass on.

How can Your Assets be Vulnerable?

One of the biggest ways that your assets could be vulnerable to a third party is through some sort of personal injury claim, as an estate planning attorney Leawood, KS trusts can explain.  These arise in two major circumstances for most employed persons:  First, someone comes onto your property and gets injured.  Let’s assume that you have a great Independence Day celebration planned.  Everyone is over and having a great time when someone falls off your deck and breaks their leg. Unfortunately, there are complications and the medical claims now exceed the limits from your homeowners’ policy.  Second, you are in a car accident where the other party is substantially injured.  Again, their injuries substantially exceed your automotive liability limits. They then look to you to make them whole for their injuries. This could include a lawsuit and them trying to attach any property that they can get their hands on.  

Trusts – Protective Clauses

One of the most common techniques to protect assets is a trust.  People have been using them for a long time to protect the assets of the grantor.  Of course, one of the biggest keys to having a trust that fully protects the assets is to have a trust that is irrevocable.  An irrevocable trust is one that cannot be changed by the Grantor after the trust is created.  What the Grantor does is to create the trust and then give (or sell) the assets into the trust.  Accordingly, the assets no longer belong to you (they belong to the trust) and would, therefore, not be available to satisfy any claim against you. You need to be sure that you do not keep any substantive control over the trust.

Trusts are also great vehicles to keep assets away from potential creditors of the beneficiaries of that same trust. If a beneficiary does not have access to the assets within the trust, and the language is property drafted, then the potential creditors cannot reach the assets that are within the trust.  These clauses, commonly called anti-alienation provisions, keep creditors away from the assets. So, trusts are typically drafted to have several protective measures so that the beneficiary does not have access, which will severely limit (if not eliminate) any creditor from going after those assets within the trust.  Some of the more common types of trusts that exist for asset protection purposes are support trusts, spendthrift trusts, blend trusts, and discretionary trusts.

Please note that there are claims that are able to pierce even the most bulletproof of trusts.  Those claims include such things as claims by a child for support payments, some federal or state claims, etc.

Conclusion

Estate planning is about more than setting up the basic documents. One thing to think about is protecting assets from creditors, or potential creditors. These creditors can include such things as claimants from a car accident or other personal injury claim.  There are certain trusts that can protect those assets from most of those claims.

This article was brought to you by The Eastman Law Firm.