No estate plan: a lesson from the extraordinary life of Aretha Franklin

It’s been widely reported that Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul, died without any sort of Estate Plan leaving many people wondering: “Why would someone so successful not have a financial plan in place?”  We should all pause and THINK about what we’re trying to do with our assets after death.

Unfortunately, it is fairly common for people to die without even the simplest form of an Estate Plan.  Even tremendously successful individuals like Prince and Aretha Franklin have made this mistake.  While Prince and Aretha Franklin certainly have more complex financial affairs than most of us, Estate Plans are not just for rich people.  In fact, a basic plan can be relatively inexpensive, especially when you consider the potential legal fees and costs which arise when there is no plan at all.

WHY HAVE A WILL OR ESTATE PLAN?

Whether we are meeting with potential clients or giving estate planning seminars, we always stress the importance of having an estate plan in place no matter how simple the plan might be.  Even a simple Estate Plan gives your family guidance and allows them to R-E-S-P-E-C-T your wishes.

The only way you can be sure to “get what you want” is to properly (and legally) communicate your wishes. Simply telling someone won’t cut it. After all, neither a judge nor your family will be able to ask you after your death.  Having a plan in place can also help prevent family fights. You may think your family would never fight over your assets after you die. You may be right, but you may also be wrong. There’s no good reason to take a chance. Make your wishes so clear that your family members have nothing to fight about after your death.

An Estate Plan is important irrespective of your financial situation. You do not have to be rich or famous to need a Will. Even if you think you don’t have enough assets to justify an Estate Plan, it is likely that your possessions have real meaning to family members or friends.

WHY PEOPLE DON’T HAVE A WILL OR ESTATE PLAN.

Typically, people put off planning because they are “too busy” or they simply do not want to think about their own mortality. Death can be an unpleasant topic.  It is obviously an uncertain event which makes it is easy to put off and left for another today. However, death is an unfortunate reality for everyone.  As such, we should all learn a lesson from Aretha Franklin’s mistake and plan ahead.

WHAT HAPPENS IF SOMEONE DIES WITHOUT A WILL?

If you don’t have an Estate Plan or Will, your Estate may become subject to state law and Probate Court orders. This is likely to lead to family arguments and legal fees and costs, which in the end reduces the amount of assets remaining for your family members.

NEED A TENNESSEE ESTATE PLANNING LAWYER?

We work hard to make setting up your Estate Plan as easy as possible.  Basic plans can be relatively inexpensive even though they are drafted with your specific needs and concerns in mind.  If you do not have an Estate Plan or have not had your plan reviewed in a number of years, you need an Estate Planning lawyer Memphis trusts to guide you through the process.

Call Wiseman Bray PLLC at 901-372-5003.

Deadly Apartment Shooting in South Memphis at Cottonwood Apartments

We continue to read about apartment complex shootings in Memphis and can’t help but wonder what kind of security measures were in place at these complexes. Could a more thoughtful security plan have prevented these tragic deaths and injuries? 6 different people were killed in Memphis, TN over the weekend per reports of the Commercial Appeal.

Moreover, this all occurred over a 72 hour period. At about 5:30 pm on Sunday, the Memphis Police Department responded to a robbery call in the Cottonwood Apartments. When they arrived, the Memphis Police Department found three men with gunshot wounds. One of the victims is dead.  The other victims transported to the Med after the shooting.

COTTONWOOD APARTMENTS’ DUTY TO PROVIDE REASONABLE SECURITY

Did you know that in Memphis, TN apartment complexes usually have a duty to provide reasonable security measures?  Each case is different. In some cases, a crime victim injured on apartment complex property may be entitled to money damages from the apartment complex or its owner. Call Wiseman Bray, if you or a family member are the victim of a shooting at an apartment complex. You may be able to recover against the apartment complex, even though you were shot by a criminal. This depends on the facts of your case and the security measures that were or were not in place at the apartment complex. Every case is unique. It is important to call an experienced apartment complex shooting lawyer Memphis, TN to discuss your case.

WE REPRESENT VICTIMS OF APARTMENT COMPLEX SHOOTINGS.

Do you have questions about a potential case against an apartment complex based on the acts of a criminal assailant? Our law firm has significant experience in this type of case. We represent clients that are shot at apartment complexes, and we help obtain compensation for injuries. Not only do we have the necessary experience in this kind of case, but we treat our clients like family. You will never feel like a “file on a shelf” at Wiseman Bray PLLC.

Call us today at (901) 372-5003 or email us here.

Deadly Shooting at The Cobra in East Nashville, TN

Just this Friday morning, another sad incident occurred at a bar in East Nashville, TN. At approximately 3:30 am, patrons of the Cobra bar in Nashville, TN were shot in the parking lot. Jaime Sarrantonio and Bartley Teal unfortunately lost their lives as a result of this shooting East Nashville, TN and the possible negligence of the bars owners. According to news reports, the two walked to a convenience store to get some snacks. When they returned, they were shot during an apparent robbery. This is just the latest shooting East Nashville, TN to occur recently. Sadly, one of the victims had just turned 33, and this may have been prevented.

NEGLIGENT SECURITY | PUTTING PROFIT BEFORE PEOPLE

Some bars and nightclubs are quiet places where no one ever raises their voice and fights are unheard of, but others unfortunately are hotbeds for arguments and fights night after night. What if you are attacked in a bar or nightclub or what if you accidentally get hit by a fist or a thrown bottle? Who is liable? Is the bar or nightclub liable to you? How does premises liability law cover these situations?

Bar owners must take reasonable steps to prevent guns from entering their establishments. With adequate security measures in place, shootings East Nashville, TN can be prevented. Sadly, when we investigate shooting lawsuits, all too often the property or bar owner negligently ignored their security needs. This results in negligent security cases. The purpose of these shooting lawsuits is to hold the bar accountable for the wrongful injury or death of the shooting victim(s). Although money will not bring the deceased back or make the injured healthy, it sends a message to the negligent owner.

DOES THE VICTIM HAVE A CLAIM AGAINST THE THE COBRA?

Maybe. There are many factors to consider. Tennessee law requires property owners and managers to take reasonable measures to protect guests from foreseeable criminal attacks. Whether the victims or their family will be able to recover against the The Cobra for this shooting East Nashville, TN  depends on a number of factors, including how exactly the incident occurred, what security measures the bar provided, and the crime levels for the bar and surrounding area.  Each negligent security case is unique.  As such, injured individuals and their families need a law firm that regularly handles negligent security cases.  Wiseman Bray PLLC has represented negligent security victims for years and understands victims’ rights.

ARE YOU THE VICTIM OF A NEGLIGENT SECURITY CRIME OR SHOOTING? IF SO, CALL THE NEGLIGENT SECURITY LAWYER NASHVILLE, TN TRUSTS.

We’ve helped other crime victims, and we can help you recover your damages if a bar failed to take reasonable measures to protect against foreseeable criminal attacks. Wiseman Bray PLLC are a personal injury and wrongful death attorneys Nashville, TN knows and trusts.

If you or your family member is the victim of a serious injury due to crime or negligent security, please call Wiseman Bray PLLC today at 901-372-5003.

Wiseman Bray Attorneys

Deadly apartment shooting in Antioch, TN

Another deadly apartment shooting in the Nashville, TN area.

There was another apartment shooting in the Nashville area this weekend.  Local news stations report that Craig Crisp was shot during an attempted robbery at the Hickory Lakes Apartments in Antioch, Tennessee early Saturday morning.  Craig Crisp was rushed to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, but, tragically he did not survive the attack.  According to news reports, authorities believe that there are two (2) suspects involved with the deadly shooting who may also be responsible for a robbery at the same complex just last weekend.

Does the victim have a claim against the apartment complex?

Maybe. There are many factors to consider. Tennessee law requires apartment complex owners and managers to take reasonable measures to protect tenants and guests from foreseeable criminal attacks. Whether the victim or his family will be able to recover against the Hickory Lakes Apartments depends on a number of factors, including how exactly the incident occurred, what security measures the apartment complex provided, and the crime levels for the apartment complex and surrounding neighborhood.  Each negligent security case is unique.  As such, injured individuals and their families need a law firm that regularly handles negligent security cases.  Wiseman Bray PLLC has represented victims of apartment crimes for years and understands victims’ rights.

Are you the victim of an apartment crime or apartment shooting? If so, call the apartment crime lawyer Nashville, TN trusts.

We’ve helped other crime victims, and we can help you recover your damages if apartment management failed to take reasonable measures to protect against foreseeable criminal attacks. Wiseman Bray PLLC is an apartment crime lawyer Nashville, TN knows and trusts.

If you or your family member is the victim of a serious injury due to apartment crime, please call Wiseman Bray PLLC today at 901-372-5003.

Memphis, TN Hotel Security and Shootings

apartment shooting lawyer in memphisViolent crime isn’t limited to urban centers, or run-down properties. Areas in Shelby County, including Memphis, TN experience violent crime, often at hotels and apartment complexes.

Just recently, the Memphis Police Department responded to a shooting that occurred at an America’s Best Value Inn Suites because of poor hotel security in Memphis, TN. This is not the first incident to occur at this property. In April another fatal shooting also occurred. The Commercial Appeal reports that one man fatally shot Luther Street at the hotel and then fled the scene of the crime. The Commercial Appeal reports that the fatal shooting of Mr. Street was the third such fatal shooting at the hotel since 2016.

Crime Victim Lawyers & Hotel Security

In Tennessee, commercial property owners and managers, including hotel owners and managers, must take reasonable measures to protect guests from foreseeable criminal attacks. The victim of a fatal shooting, or his or her family, like the one that occurred in Whitehaven may have a claim against the hotel. Whether the victim would be able to recover against America’s Best Value Inn Suites depends on a number of factors, including, but not limited to, the facts of how the incident occurred, security measures provided at the hotel, and crime levels for the hotel and surrounding area.

Our firm handles negligent security cases, and Tennessee law requires that commercial property owners, like a hotel, store or shopping mall, provide reasonable security to its customers. What is reasonable? That’s ultimately up to a jury to decide after hearing evidence about crime history, neighborhood statistics, etc., but it sure sounds like the security provided by this particular hotel was not sufficient.

Because remedies in criminal court do not adequately compensate the crime victim, we may be able to help a crime victim recover compensation for injuries and financial losses due to the failure of a business, shopping mall, store, or apartment complex to provide reasonable security measures in accordance with Tennessee law.


Wiseman Bray Attorneys

If you are the victim of a serious injury due to hotel crime, please call Wiseman Bray PLLC today at 901-372-5003. We’ve helped other crime victims like you, and we can help YOU recover your damages if hotel management failed to take reasonable measures to protect against foreseeable criminal attacks. Wiseman Bray PLLC is a crime victim lawyer Memphis, TN knows and trusts. We will meet or speak with you and discuss whether you might have a case at no charge.  Call us today.

Lang Wiseman Sworn in as Member of the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees

Lang Wiseman was sworn in on August 1, 2018, as one of eight members of the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees.  Governor Bill Haslam called the meeting to order, and Chief Justice Jeff Bivens of the Tennessee Supreme Court administered the oath of office.  Others joining the UT Board included Bill Rhodes, the Chairman, President & CEO of Autozone, Donnie Smith, former President & CEO of Tyson Foods; John Compton, former President of PepsiCo and current partner with the investment firm Clayton, Dubilier & RiceJohn; and Amy Miles, former CEO of Regal Entertainment Group.

Lang Wiseman during the UT Board meeting.

Lang Wiseman during the UT Board meeting.

Chief Justice Jeff Bivens administers the oath to the UT Board of Trustees.

Chief Justice Jeff Bivens administers the oath to the UT Board of Trustees.

Chief Justice Jeff Bivens and Lang Wiseman execute the Board oath.

Chief Justice Jeff Bivens and Lang Wiseman execute the Board oath.

Congrats to Lang!

Governor Bill Haslam calls the UT Board meeting to order.

Governor Bill Haslam calls the UT Board meeting to order.

Non-compete agreements in Tennessee

Are non-compete agreements enforceable in Tennessee?

It depends. Generally speaking, non-compete agreements, also called ‘covenants not to compete’, are disfavored in Tennessee. See Hasty v. Rent-A-Driver, Inc., 671 S.W.2d 471 (Tenn. 1984). Courts interpret these agreements strictly in favor of the employee, in part because the agreement is a restraint on trade. Having said that, courts will uphold non-compete agreements if there is a legitimate business interest to be protected and the agreement sets reasonable time and territorial limitations. Id.

What makes a non-compete agreement reasonable?

When deciding whether a non-compete agreement is reasonable, Tennessee courts will consider the following relevant factors:

1. the consideration supporting the agreement;
2. the threatened danger to the employer in the absence of the agreement;
3. the economic hardship imposed on the employee by the agreement; and,
4. whether the agreement is against the public interest.

Additionally, the time and territorial limitations must be no greater than necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate business interest. In other words, a company cannot expect a court to uphold a non-compete agreement which purports to prevent an employee from ever taking a job with another company in the same general line of work.

Does the employer have a legitimate business interest which deserves protection?

Obviously, employers cannot restrain ordinary competition. Therefore, employers must show that without the non-compete agreement, the employee would gain an unfair advantage in future competition with the employer. Id.

Courts consider the following to determine whether an employee would have an unfair advantage:

1. whether the employer provided the employee with specialized training;
2. whether the employee is given access to trade or business secrets or other confidential information; and,
3. whether the employer’s customers tend to associate the employer’s business with the employee due to the employee’s repeated contacts with the customers on behalf of the employer.

Of course, an employer does not have a protectable interest in the general knowledge and skill of an employee. Id. However, an employer can typically prevent former employees from using its trade or business secrets or other confidential information in competition with the employer. While figuring out what constitutes a trade secret is generally easy, determining what constitutes confidential information can be much more difficult. Indeed, in one particular case, a Tennessee court held that customer lists, customer credit information, pricing information, and profit and loss statements did not constitute confidential information because such information is easily available from sources other than the employer. Id.

If you are an employee with a potential non-compete dispute or an employer looking to prevent unfair competition and/or protect confidential information from your competitors, you need a business litigation lawyer Memphis knows and trusts to handle the matter for you.

Call us today at 901.372.5003.

Child Support Lawyer Memphis, TN

Parents are eligible to receive child support payments from another parent as a result of divorce. Parents can also make a request for child support in a paternity action in juvenile court. Unfortunately, many parents go through the child support process without understanding how payments are calculated.

How is Child Support Calculated?

In the state of Tennessee, guidelines are in place that help to calculate how much child support must be paid. Deviations from the guidelines may occur if the Court finds that it is in the best interests of the children.

The Tennessee guidelines require that the combined monthly gross income of both parents first be determined. This means that it is necessary to add up income from all sources from both parents. The gross income is then used to determine how much basic support the child or children will receive. This basic support amount is affected by the number of children the parents have and the number of days of parenting time with each child.

Credits are also given for other supported children, medical expenses, day care, and health insurance coverage.Once the appropriate amount of basic support is determined, each parent becomes responsible for a percentage of that support amount equal to the share of the combined family income he or she earns.

Child Support Enforcement

Child support orders in Tennessee are generally enforced by garnishing the wages of the parent who is required to pay. Wage garnishment means that when a child support order is issued, money is taken directly from the paycheck of the parent who is obligated to pay.

When this method of enforcement is not sufficient to ensure that a parent pays, there are other enforcement methods used by child support services or by the court. The court, for instance, may hold the delinquent parent in contempt. The delinquent parent may be reported to the credit bureau; may have his or her driver’s or professional license taken away; may have liens placed on property or have tax returns seized; and may sometimes face criminal charges.

Modifying Support Orders

In some cases a substantial change in circumstances will occur that will result in a need for modification of child support. At such time, parents may request that the court or child support services review the order to determine if modification is appropriate.

Tennessee has outlined rules for when modification is appropriate and specifies that modification will be granted if there is a “significant variance.”  Essentially, this means that unless there should be a 15 percent difference between the current support order and the new proposed child support modified order. As such, the new amount of support must be 15% more or less than the old amount of child support.


Wiseman Bray Attorneys

If you are in need of help with child support issues, or have other family law related questions, and need counsel to discuss family law issues, call or schedule a consultation with our family lawyer Memphis, TN attorneys at Wiseman Bray PLLC today.  Call our office at (901) 372-5003 to ask for a consultation!

When can a subcontractor file a lien?

Under Tennessee law, a subcontractor is considered an indirect lien claimant since he or she typically does not have a contract with the owner of the property. Even though a subcontractor does not have a contract with the owner, he or she might still have lien rights. To determine if a subcontractor has lien rights, you must consider the following: Did the subcontractor contribute to an improvement in real property? Is the improvement part of a residential or commercial project? Has the subcontractor taken the necessary steps to ensure he or she has not lost whatever lien rights he or she may have had?

Improvements

In most situations, this is obvious. The subcontractor has either performed services or delivered materials as part of a construction or renovation project that permanently alters or “improves” the real property.

Residential or commercial property

For subcontractors, Tennessee law treats residential projects and commercial projects differently.

Residential projects

Generally speaking, subcontractors do NOT have lien rights for improvements made to residential property. One exception in which a subcontractor does have lien rights against residential property is when the owner is acting as the general contractor. In that situation, the subcontractor has a direct contract with the owner/general contractor. As an aside, a subcontractor may have a cause of action against an owner that is acting as the general contractor even if their contract is not in writing.

Commercial projects

Subcontractors have lien rights for improvements to commercial property. However, they must follow specific statutory requirements or they risk losing those rights. Subcontractors must send a Notice of Nonpayment to the owner and general contractor to keep their lien rights. Tennessee law has strict requirements for Notices of Nonpayment. Subcontractors must include very specific information and must send their Notice timely otherwise they risk losing their lien rights. After sending a timely Notice of Nonpayment with all the required information, subcontractors must then send a copy of their Notice of Lien to the owner and general contractor too. Once both the Notice of Nonpayment and Notice of Lien have been timely sent, a subcontractor can file his Notice of Lien.

Enforcing a valid lien

To enforce a valid lien claim, a subcontractor must file his or her lawsuit within ninety (90) days of their Notice of Lien. If they fail to file an appropriate lawsuit within that statutory time frame, he or she will lose his or her lien rights.

If you are dealing with a general contractor that has not paid, you need a construction lawyer Memphis trusts to help you through the process.

Whose fault is it anyway? Pedestrian hit by a vehicle.

We have all heard news reports of a pedestrian being struck by a vehicle.  Here in Memphis, it seems pedestrians are hit at alarming rates.

In one common scenario, the injured pedestrian is hit while crossing a public street outside of the designated crosswalk.  That is precisely what happened to a friend of mine last year.  He was “jaywalking” when he was hit by a speeding vehicle.  Thankfully, he recovered well and is back at work.

Interestingly, when I talked about his accident with our common friends, most assumed that because he was jaywalking, he is at fault and cannot recover for his injuries.  However, despite what you might initially think, these types of accidents are not so straightforward.  Drivers are not allowed to plow into pedestrians simply because they are crossing the street outside of a designated crosswalk.  Indeed, these matters are highly fact-dependent.  Was the driver talking on his or her cell phone, speeding?  Was he or she under the influence of drugs or alcohol that might have slowed his or her reaction time down?  What other factors might have contributed to the accident?

In a case involving a jaywalking pedestrian, whose fault is it anyway?

Tennessee law – comparative fault generally

Historically, the general rule was that if a plaintiff contributed to the accident, he could not recover for his injuries.  In Tennessee, the rule initially stated that “if a party, by his own gross negligence, brings an injury upon himself, or contributes to such injury, he cannot recover;” for, in such cases, the party “must be regarded as the author of his own misfortune.” Whirley v. Whiteman, 38 Tenn. 610, 619 (1858). Subsequent court decisions followed that same general rule that a plaintiff’s contributory negligence completely barred recovery (citations omitted).

In 1992, the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned that general rule, commonly referred to as contributory negligence, and “conclude[d] that it [was] time to abandon the outmoded and unjust common law doctrine of contributory negligence and adopt in its place a system of comparative fault.” McIntyre v. Balentine, 833 S.W.2d 52, 56 (Tenn. 1992).  The Supreme Court discussed the two (2) different types of comparative fault systems used in various states around the country (i.e. pure comparative fault and modified comparative fault).  Under a pure comparative fault system, “a plaintiff [that is] responsible for 90 percent of the negligence that caused his injuries nevertheless may recover 10 percent of his damages.” Id.  In a modified system, “plaintiffs recover . . . only if the plaintiff’s negligence either (1) does not exceed (“50 percent” jurisdictions) or (2) is less than (“49 percent” jurisdictions) the defendant’s negligence.” Id.  Ultimately, the Tennessee Supreme Court rejected the pure form of comparative fault choosing instead to adopt a modified comparative fault system.

More specifically, the Supreme Court held that “so long as a plaintiff’s negligence remains less than the defendant’s negligence the plaintiff may recover; in such a case, plaintiff’s damages are to be reduced in proportion to the percentage of the total negligence attributable to the plaintiff.” Id.

What does Tennessee’s comparative fault system mean for injured plaintiffs?

Ultimately, the jury, as the factfinder, determines what fault, if any, to attribute to the plaintiff.  The plaintiff’s proportional fault is then used to offset his or her ultimate recovery.

In a case involving a jaywalking plaintiff, the jury will undoubtedly hear about the plaintiff’s own fault for walking out into traffic, but that fact alone does not necessarily mean he cannot recover for his injuries.  Of course, that does not mean the jury will ignore his fault.  Indeed, a jury is likely to attribute some portion of fault to the plaintiff.  The amount of fault a jury may give the plaintiff will, of course, vary from case to case.

To illustrate how a plaintiff’s fault effects his recovery, let’s assume a jury determines that a jaywalking plaintiff is 25% at fault and the driver defendant is 75% at fault, then the plaintiff’s recovery would be reduced by 25% of the total damages.  Therefore, if the jury awarded $100,000 in damages, the plaintiff’s net recovery would be $75,000 (before case expenses & fees) taking into account his 25% fault.

Of course, these types of cases are highly fact dependent and, often times, difficult to prove.  If you or someone you know was involved in an accident as a pedestrian or otherwise, you need an experienced attorney to help you analyze your potential case and guide you through the legal process.

If you need help with a potential personal injury claim, call us today at (901) 372-5003 for a free consultation.