Let Us Help You Protect Your Guns With A Gun Trust – Before It’s Too Late

The current political climate creates tremendous uncertainty for gun owners.  If you act now by creating a Gun Trust, you can be assured that your guns can stay in your family forever.

A Gun Trust is typically used to streamline the purchase of class 3 firearms, suppressors, fully automatic rifles, or short rifles.  However, in light of the current political climate, gun owners should seriously consider a transfer of ALL of their guns into a Trust in  order to avoid certain proposals under consideration that would ban ALL transfers of any so-called “assault weapon” (which would include hundreds of guns) as well as any magazine that holds more than 10 rounds.

One of the key Senate proposals under consideration would ban any and all transfers of certain guns and magazines – to ANYONE – including your own children.  You wouldn’t even be able to have your guns pass to your children through your Will at your death!  Instead, your guns and magazines would presumably be confiscated by the government at your death.

If you have a Gun Trust, though, the Trust would technically own your guns and magazines, and as a legal matter, Trusts never “die.”  You can serve as Trustee during your own life, and therefore possess and use your guns just as you’ve always done with no change.  The difference is that when you die, or when you want to allow your brother/son/friend to use or possess your gun, you can simply appoint another Trustee, or a Co-Trustee, or a Successor Trustee that automatically takes over at your death.  Those persons can then use or share the guns just as you did.  The Trust always owns the guns so there is technically never any “transfer” – even at your death.

Most regular Trusts have no instructions regarding the purchase, use, or access to your firearms. They also do not give the people involved with the Trust enough information to properly transfer assets. Indeed, if you become incapacitated, it may be necessary to sell some of the guns to provide for your needs. And when you die, your firearms will need to be transferred properly. A Gun Trust specifically provides information to determine whether the firearms are transferable or need to stay in the Trust, whether they are legal in the state where they might be transferred, and whether the  beneficiary is legally able to possess the firearm.  Another important feature is the peace of mind of knowing that, if you desire to do so, you can empower the Trustee to determine if the beneficiary is mature and responsible enough to receive the firearms in the first place.

A Gun Trust amounts to simple insurance against some of the more extreme political proposals currently floating around Washington D.C.  But time is of the essence.  Creating the Gun Trust must be complete BEFORE any transfer restrictions might be passed by Congress.  Protecting your rights is simple and affordable.  Cost for a Basic Gun Trust is only $950 $675.

If you own guns, we would love the opportunity to talk with you about how a Gun Trust will complement your estate plan.  Please contact our office to learn more about potential opportunities for you and your family using Gun Trusts.  Call us at 901-372-5003.

ObamaCare at the Supreme Court: Day 3 Recap

Sorry to be running late with this post concerning the final day of argument at the Supreme Court yesterday, but I wanted to again pass along the post by my friend Hans von Spakovsky at the Heritage Foundation who’s been following the hearings in DC.  Click here for his article over at PJ Media.

There’s been lots of talk by pundits and prognosticators about how the seeming skepticism expressed by the Justices during oral argument means that the ObamaCare law will inevitably be struck down.  I disagree.  Not because I believe it will be upheld, but rather because I believe there’s no way to tell much of anything simply by listening to the questions asked by Judges during their hearing of an appeal.

Mind you, while some of the questioning in this particular case has been unusually illuminating, I’ve been involved in numerous appellate hearings, many of which occurred while I was “on the inside” as a law clerk working for Judge on the federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  And based on my experience, I can tell you that a Judge’s questioning is often just that:  questioning.  It doesn’t necessarily indicate an opinion one way or another.  Indeed, sometimes the toughest questions are not from a Judge trying to signal what side he/she is on, but rather from a Judge who is genuinely trying really hard to make up his/her mind, and perhaps playing devil’s advocate or trying to rule out any doubts they might have.

Moreover, in this case, the legal theories could make for some interesting combinations of opinions by the Justices.  Some of the most conservative members of the Court, for example, may be inclined to allow their preference for judicial restraint to trump their misgivings over possible constitutional issues withe ObamaCare.

The best prediction is to simply stay tuned.  The Court’s Term will be over in a few weeks, and the latest that their rulings are handed down for a particular Term are usually in June.  So, we’ll know pretty soon what the answer is.

ObamaCare at the Supreme Court: Recap of Day 2

My friend Hans von Spakovsky has been attending the oral argument at the Supreme Court and has summary of what how things went yesterday in his article over at PJ Media

One interesting quote in particular from the article:

Both before and after the arguments, I had revealing conversations with a liberal professor in the courtroom.  He agreed that the government’s chief problem is that it had not provided a limiting factor or boundary line in any of its previous arguments.  Thus, if the Supreme Court agrees that Congress has the power to compel the purchase of an insurance policy from a private company, it could compel the purchase of virtually anything considered good or prudent.  After the arguments ended, the professor agreed that Verrelli had been unable to come up with a concise and reasonable answer to that question, which was asked of him multiple times by different justices.

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

There are a lot of different phrases and slogans to describe a situation where you have too many people in charge. Democracy may be preferable in some situations, but your estate plan is often not one of those situations. People often tell me they want to be fair so they want to name all their children as executors, trustees or powers of attorney at their death or incapacity. They feel that naming everyone will insure that things go smoothly and that there is no tension among the siblings that one child was treated preferentially. In fact, naming multiple children does not relieve tension or promote harmony…it creates tension, confusion and sometimes complete chaos.

As I frequently tell the disgruntled sibling who is upset that his or her brother or sister was named as trustee or executor, serving in these roles is a job, not a privilege. As a beneficiary, you get to sit back, let someone else do the work and then collect the proceeds. As an executor or trustee, you have to do all the work, deal with the disgruntled beneficiaries and then receive, in many cases, the same proceeds as the person who got all the benefits without any of the work.

The decision as to who will serve in these important roles is a big decision and should not be taken lightly. But in many cases, less is more. One person or entity is often the best choice. Two can insure that checks and balances are in place in case one person is out of line. More than two guarantees administrative headaches, fighting and taking sides. The administrative process of probate and trust administration is challenging enough because it usually involves families and money, two very emotionally-charged topics. When you add the grief from the loss of a loved one, too many cooks in the kitchen adds insult to injury. Instead of looking at what will be viewed as the most fair, consider who is the best-suited for the task and the most able to navigate family issues and money. In so doing, the result is often more fair for everyone. Unfortunately, fair or not, too many cooks in the kitchen rarely leads to a desirable result.

Texting while driving… some practical solutions

Every cell phone owner has repeatedly heard about the dangers of texting while driving, yet texting continues to be one of the major contributing factors in vehicle accidents.  Here are some eye-opening facts that show the true dangers of texting while driving:

  • Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field. (2009, VTTI)
  • A texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into a crash than a non-texting driver. (2009, VTTI)
  •  Of those killed in distracted-driving-related crashes, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction (18% of fatalities in distraction-related crashes). (2009, NHTSA)
  • Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (2005, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • 49% of drivers with cell phones under the age of 35 send or read text messages while driving. (2011, Harris Poll)
  • 60% of drivers use cell phones while driving. (2011, Harris Poll)
  • For more facts, please see here

While the best solution is to turn your cell phone off as you drive, here are a few free smart phone apps that have been designed to lessen the dangers associated with texting while driving:

  • http://www.parkthephone.org/ – This free app is great for parents of teenage drivers.  It has the ability to detect when a person is in a vehicle, and if the person is driving, the app will silence the phone, auto reply to text messages, send calls to voice mail, and monitor speed and report speeding exceptions [Note: this app is not yet available for the iphone].
  • http://www.drivesafe.ly/ – DriveSafe.ly is a free mobile app that reads text (SMS) messages and emails aloud in real time and automatically responds without drivers touching the mobile phone.
  • http://www.vlingo.com/ – This app has been likened to Siri on the iPhone 4S.  For driving purposes, this app will allow you to speak a text message or ask for directions without having to type anything on your phone.

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25 Documents to have before you die

I ran across this Wall Street Journal list today and am reminded of how important it is to get certain life affairs in order.  The start of the new year is as good of a time as any. 

Number one on their list should come as no surprise.  An original will is the most important document to keep on file.  If you don’t have a will and you do have kids, call a lawyer and make an appointment.  If you do have a will, pull it out and read it.  You may want to update certain provisions or maybe even remove certain beneficiaries who haven’t been as nice to you as you would like.

If you need help organizing your estate, call us.  There is no fee for our initial estate planning meetings.

Law FAQ: I bought a car yesterday but now think I made a bad decision. I have 3 days to get my money back, right?

No.  There is no “cooling off” period in Tennessee that gives you the right to back out of a car purchase simply because you’ve had a change of heart.

Of course, if the Dealer offers a return policy – i.e. a money-back guarantee or a “return with no questions asked” policy – then you may indeed have a contractual right to return the vehicle, but that would have nothing to do with a so-called “cooling off” law.  You should remember to get a written copy of the policy when you purchase the vehicle and then read it very carefully.

If you’re talking about a defective vehicle, or a vehicle that doesn’t live up to its warranty, then you’re not necessarily dealing with a “cooling off” issue, but rather a warranty claim.  Speak to the Dealer to see if your complaint can be resolved, or perhaps even the manufacturer if necessary.  If your new vehicle has had to have the same part repaired 3 times in the first year of ownership, you may even have a lemon law claim.  For more information concerning Tennessee’s Lemon Law, please refer to my blog post last week.  Be diligent in your efforts to correct the problem and speak with an attorney so that you don’t miss any deadlines to pursue your claim.

While there is a Tennessee “cooling-off” law and a federal “cooling-off” law, they only apply to home solicitations.  In addition, both “cooling-off” laws specifically exclude automobiles.

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Law FAQ: Is my car a lemon?

Tennessee’s Lemon Law is intended to protect new car purchasers from the occasional vehicle that, for some reason or another, has problems that are beyond repair.

The core of the Lemon Law is at T.C.A. § 55-24-102, which states as follows:

If a new motor vehicle does not conform to all applicable express warranties and the consumer reports the nonconformity, defect or condition to the manufacturer, its agent or its authorized dealer during the term of protection, the manufacturer, its agent or its authorized dealer shall correct the nonconformity, defect or condition at no charge to the consumer, notwithstanding the fact that the repairs are made after the expiration of the term. Any corrections or attempted corrections undertaken by an authorized dealer under this section shall be treated as warranty work and billed by the dealer to the manufacturer in the same manner as other work under warranty is billed.

[Note: many internet sites wrongly reference the old law: T.C.A. § 55-24-201 et seq.  The most up-to-date Lemon Law provisions can be found here.  Also, despite referencing the outdated statute numbers, the Better Business Bureau has two good summaries of the Lemon Law here and here.]

Please be careful when following this statute, as it contains many specific provisions that could make or break your case, such as which particular consumers or vehicles are protected by the Lemon Law.  Indeed, I would recommend that you consult with an attorney before proceeding with a Lemon Law claim.

Here are some of the important highlights from Tennessee’s Lemon Law:

  • Basically, you MAY have a Lemon Law claim if you purchase a new motor vehicle or motorcycle that is ‘substantially impaired.’
  • A ‘substantially impaired’ vehicle is one with problem(s) so pervasive that it is unreliable or unsafe for normal operation, or that reduce its resale market value below the average resale value for comparable vehicles.
  • A vehicle is presumed to be ‘substantially impaired’ if either:
    • The vehicle is out of service by reason of repair for a cumulative total of 30 or more calendar days during the term of protection; OR
    • The manufacturer, its agent, or its authorized dealer has made 3 or more repair attempts for the same nonconformity and the nonconformity remains.
  • In order to claim that a vehicle is substantially impaired, the owner must notify the manufacturer of the need to correct or repair the problem via certified mail.  After the notice has been sent, the manufacturer has 10 days to correct or repair the nonconformity.
    • If the manufacturer has an approved informal dispute settlement procedure, the vehicle owner MUST participate in the procedure.  Yet, the decision reached is nonbinding, therefore if the owner is not happy with the result, he/she may simply file a lawsuit under Tennessee’s Lemon Law.
    • If the manufacturer does not have an approved informal dispute settlement procedure and it does not correct or repair the nonconformity within 10 days, the vehicle owner may file a lawsuit asserting the Lemon Law within the applicable time period.
  • A consumer must file a lawsuit asserting the Lemon Law within 6 months of the expiration of the express warranty term or 1 year following the date of the vehicle’s original deliver to a consumer, whichever is later.  The limitations period does not include the time during which a consumer participates in a manufacturer’s informal dispute resolution procedure.
  • In the lawsuit, a consumer may request either a replacement vehicle or reimbursement of the purchase price.
  • Lastly, even if a consumer has an otherwise valid claim, a manufacturer can defeat the claim if it proves either of the following:
    • That the nonconformity does not ‘substantially impair’ the vehicle; or
    • That the nonconformity was caused by a consumer’s abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modification or alteration of the vehicle.

If you think that you may have a Lemon Law claim, feel free to contact our office.

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