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7 Things Your Estate Plan Might Have Missed

No matter your life circumstance, including your age and health status, it’s never too early to think about estate planning. Yet, many people put off creating or updating an estate plan.

 

Drafting an estate plan that covers all your bases can be challenging, as life circumstances are ever-changing. If you want to make it easier for your loved ones and ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death, consider adding these commonly overlooked items to your estate plan.

  • Plan for incapacity

“Planning for incapacity” means meeting with your estate plan attorney and preparing the legal documents required in the event an illness or accident leaves you unable to manage your finances, pay your bills, or attend to other personal and business matters. Don’t merely focus on what happens to your assets when you’re gone. Make a plan for incapacity. A Durable Medical Power of Attorney, Living Will, and/or Durable General Power of Attorney could come in handy if you are temporarily or permanently unable to do so yourself.

  • Consider asset management for children

Children, particularly minor children, are primary concerns when choosing estate planning options. You want to ensure your assets will transition smoothly to your children. How you do that will likely depend on whether they are adults, minors, or even special needs children. Consider how to manage any inheritance or assets they would receive upon your death. A revocable living trust can be a handy estate planning tool here.

  • Organize and identify digital assets

Digital assets are everything from domain names and electronically stored photos and videos to email and social media accounts. It’s essential to understand the terms of use regarding access and control of this data. Make a list of digital assets and passwords. Back up data stored in the cloud. And work with an attorney to provide consent in legal documents. 

  • Build in divorce protection

The end of a marriage often means that estate plans need to be reviewed, revised, and replaced. Estate planning after divorce must address your entire estate plan, including your legal documents and financial accounts.

  • Review and update your estate plan periodically

Once you have an estate plan, it never expires. However, it does need to be reviewed and updated regularly to keep it current with your life and applicable laws. An outdated estate plan could be challenged in probate court more easily or create unnecessary tensions between your loved ones. Make sure your estate is ready for anything life throws at you.

  • Review ever-changing tax exemptions

As major life events occur and things change, estate and gift tax rules and state death tax rules can be challenging to predict. Tax exemptions can affect your estate and its heirs, especially around lifetime gifting. If you have wealth or property, review your tax exemption options to lessen any potential financial burdens.

  • Seek expert guidance

Estate planning is a daunting process, one that can turn out to be disastrous if done incorrectly. Trying to save money by drafting your own plan could be more costly in the long run. You could overlook many things. 

 

Working with an expert can help you avoid catastrophic issues. The estate planning attorneys at Yee Law Group want to help and guide you through the challenging estate planning process. Contact us to schedule a consultation about your estate planning needs.

3 Reasons You Need Estate Planning

As adults, to-do lists seem to get longer and longer. There are too many things to do and too few hours in the day. Planning for the future may be something that gets put at the end of the list time after time, and it may be one of those things that you seem to never get around to. However, it is very important that you do some type of estate planning. Every adult should have a will that explains what will happen to their possessions and family in the event of an untimely death. While it can seem like something that will never happen, it is better to be prepared instead of taking the risk.

Preparing for the Unexpected

If you go to work, you likely have to drive to and from your work site every day. You may have health problems that go undiagnosed for years. There is no way to completely accident-proof your life. The unexpected can happen at any time and leave your family wondering how they should handle your end-of-life affairs. When you have this already done, it can make a difficult time less burdening.

Protecting Minor Children

Every parent should be concerned about what will happen to minor children if the parents die unexpectedly. There should be written instructions for who the child will live with and how the child’s inheritance will be allotted. When these things are not clearly outlined, there can be confusion and disorder when placing the children with a relative. You should also make sure that the person you appoint as your child’s guardian is aware and willing to accept that role if necessary.

Leaving a Legacy

If you do not have a family, you may wonder why it is important to plan what will happen to your estate upon your death. However, estate planning gives you the opportunity to leave a legacy for yourself. You can donate your life earnings to a charity that you feel passionate about, and you can have the peace of mind that your life’s work will have meaning even after you are gone.

While your to-do list is always getting longer, it is important that you prioritize the care of your family after you are gone. If you have been putting off estate planning, do not wait any longer. Contact a lawyer, like an estate planning lawyer from Wiseman Bray Attorneys, today to make arrangements for your legacy after you are gone and you will have the peace of mind that comes with it.

Seven Questions to Ask if You Slip and Fall

If you are ever involved in a slip and fall accident, make sure that you or someone you are with asks these questions as soon as possible:

What caused you to fall?

You need to know what exactly caused you to fall. Try to get as much information as you can from the property owner or manager, any employees if you are at a business, and anyone around you when you fell. In all cases, try to get as many photos of whatever caused you to fall. When gathering information, keep these things in mind:

  • If you slipped in something liquid, try to find out what exactly it was. If you can’t know for sure, try to write down a description notating things like color, feel (was it sticky, slimy, thick, watery, soapy, etc.), and odor. Write down an estimate of the size of the wet area.
  • If you tripped over something, try to find out exactly what it was. Write down an estimate of its size. If it was a cord or something similar, try to find out where it came from and what it was connected to.
  • If you fell because of something broken or damaged, try to find out exactly what it was. Try to write down the specific way it was broken or damaged. If you can, find out what caused it to break or become damaged. Try to find out if it was somehow defective. If at all possible, keep and preserve whatever it was that caused you to fall.

How did it get there?

No matter what it was that caused you to fall, you need to know how it got to where it was. Try to talk to as many people in the area as you can—if you are in a place with a lot of people, someone else may have information that the owner or manager may not know or be willing to say. Answering this question may be difficult, especially if you are in a place with a lot of people.

How long has it been there? 

It is important to establish a timeframe for whatever caused you to fall. A property owner or manager may not be liable for injuries if there was not enough time for them to discover and fix a dangerous situation. This may be a difficult question to answer, especially if the property owner or manager says that they did not know that something was wrong. Try to talk to as many people in the area as you can—if you are in a place with a lot of people, someone else may have information that the owner or manager may not know or be willing to say. If no one can tell you how long it had been there before you fell, do your best to estimate. See if there is any evidence that might suggest that it had been there for a while.

Who knew about it?

The property owner or manager may be liable for your fall if they or someone that works for them knew about the dangerous situation and did not adequately try to fix it. If you can, talk to the property owner or manager and get an explanation from them. Do not be surprised if they say that they did not know that something was wrong. Try to talk to as many people in the area as you can—if you are in a place with a lot of people, someone else may have information that the owner or manager may not know or be willing to say. If you are in a place that has security cameras, ask if you can view the security footage, but don’t be surprised if the answer is no.

Who saw your fall?

If there were any witnesses, make sure to get as much information from them as possible, especially their name and their contact information. Ask any witnesses if they would write, text, or email you a statement of what they saw. If you are in a place that has security cameras, ask if you can view the security footage, but don’t be surprised if the answer is no. If any incident reports or witness statements are taken by the property owner or manager, ask if you can have a copy, but don’t be surprised if the answer is no.

Which insurance covers them? 

If you can talk to the property owner or manager, ask them what insurance coverage they have. Make sure to write down as much information regarding their insurance as you can, including the name of their insurance carrier, their policy limits, their policy number, and the name and phone number for their adjuster. If it is a business or government entity, try to get as much information for their corporate offices or their risk management department, including an address and telephone number.

What evidence can you keep?

Make sure to keep as much evidence as you can. Try to take as many photos as you can of the area where you fell, whatever caused you to fall, and your injuries. Make sure to write down the names and contact information of everyone that you talk to. If you are in a place that has security cameras, ask if you can view the security footage. Ask any witnesses if they would write, text, or email you a statement of what they saw. If any incident reports or witness statements are taken by the property owner or manager, ask if you can have a copy. If at all possible, keep and preserve whatever it was that caused you to fall.

If you were injured in a slip and fall accident and you believe the property owner or manager could be responsible, schedule an appointment with an attorney to discuss your options. Premises liability is a complex area of law and finding a good lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer from Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC, will be crucial to pursuing a claim against a property owner and their insurance company.

3 Reasons You Need an Estate Plan

Estate Planning Lawyer

Planning for your future can be exciting, especially if it’s something you are looking forward to. However, some tasks that come along with being an adult are not always so uplifting. Crafting an estate plan is something that everyone should do as soon as they own property or any other kind of asset. Once you have children, the stakes of dying without a plan in place are higher and may place an undue burden on your family. Review four reasons why you need to create a plan for what happens after you die.

  1. You Get To Make the Choices

One of the most important reasons you should have an estate plan is it allows you to choose who gets what in many cases. If you are married, much of your estate will pass to your spouse. It is also likely that you will have a joint will. However, even in this case, you can document personal items you wish given to specific people. For example, an heirloom from your mother may be better suited in the care of a sibling.

  1. You Can Decide End of Life Decisions

An estate plan is not only about what happens after your death. Some of the most important elements it should include are about what happens to you before you pass. End of life plans are essential to memorialize in legal documents. Doing this cuts through the confusion and helps defuse tense situations at an emotionally trying time, as a trusted Memphis, TN estate planning lawyer like one from Wiseman Bray Attorneys PLLC can explain. Documents that will help include things such as a living will or advanced medical directive and financial power of attorney. Both appoint the person whom you entrust to make end-of-life medical decisions. The financial power of attorney grants someone access to your finances if you become incapacitated. If you are married, a power of attorney usually passes to your spouse, but you can designate someone else.

  1. You Can Help Offset Uncle Sam

Taxes may do a great deal of harm to your heirs should you die either without a will or if you don’t handle your property correctly. An estate planning lawyer or financial advisor can help explain how helpful establishing trusts can be both while you’re alive and after you die. Any property moved out of your name and into a trust is no longer a tax liability. When you die, the trust is assumed by the beneficiary, who receives the property outside of probate.

Estate planning is crucial to ensuring your family is cared for when the unthinkable happens. An estate planning lawyer in your area can better provide guidance on traversing these decisions.

Do You Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer?

Losing a loved one to negligence might procure a broad range of emotions that include grief, anger, confusion, and more. You might be so overwhelmed that you struggle to cope with your situation. You might be so preoccupied with your loss that you feel as if you cannot focus or think about anything else. At some point, you might ask yourself whether or not you should ask a wrongful death lawyer to review your case. You may also feel that you don’t have the mental strength to proceed with any legal action. As empathetic wrongful death lawyers, we have known of clients in a situation like this which is why we offer emotionally sensitive-based consultations in our office or, sometimes, in a mutual place that is comfortable for you. 

Many of our cases involve a personal injury and wrongful death claim. Our experience in these areas of the law is considerably broad. Due to the nature of wrongful death cases, our lawyers are ready to provide you with a compassionate, supportive consultation that will be mindful of your emotions.

Should You File a Wrongful Death Claim?

After losing a loved one, you might wonder whether you should file a wrongful death claim. We know of many families who found a sense of closure after doing so, and we encourage you to consider whether this might be possible for you as well. A claim cannot bring your loved one back. However, compensation might help to make your life easier. You may be able to take some time to focus on recovering and healing. Some families will choose to use the compensation to make a difference in the lives of others or petition the government to make changes in legislation. 

In general, most wrongful death claims are settled out of court through negotiations that are handled by your wrongful death lawyer and the defense. In the event of negotiations being unsuccessful, or the death was a part of a class-action lawsuit, the case may be filed as a lawsuit rather than a claim. The process of a lawsuit is different than a claim and will need to be handled by a wrongful death lawyer. What is applicable, or likely, for your case will largely depend on the circumstances of what happened. In any case, damages for the following may be sought:

  • Medical expenses prior to the death
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Loss of income
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of consortium
  • Emotional anguish
  • Physical pain

In very select cases, a lawyer will seek punitive damages. In general, this is only applicable when a malicious act or gross negligence caused the death. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and are often significant. For a case review and consultation, please call a wrongful death lawyer. There may be other damages, and this can be explained by Kamper & Estrada, PLLC. It is important to understand that the value of your case cannot be estimated without knowing more details.

 Animal Attacks

Estate Planning Lawyer

Believe it or not animal attacks in the United States are fairly common. Just in the United States alone, the estimated number of animal attacks per year is around 4.5 million. And in some states, such as Texas, animal attacks are one of the main health concerns for hospitals. It’s important to remember when these animal attacks happen it isn’t only coyotes or hogs. Household pets like cats and dogs are also big contributors to this problem, this is where the law gets involved. 

If a dog or a cat is owned by someone, in most cases the owner can be held liable for the damage done by their pet, whether it was done on another person, or even another person’s pet. It’s important to take into consideration that animal attack laws vary by state. For instance, Texas has a “one-bite-rule”. This means the owner of a dog cannot be held liable for any injuries their dog has caused the first time their dog bites a person or someone else’s pet. But there are exceptions to the one-bite-rule — three to be exact. 

The first exception is if the dog owner knew the dog had the potential to bite someone. An example of this is when a dog is often standoffish with new people, or if their dog starts to growl and bare its teeth at a person minutes before attacking. The second exception to this rule is if the dog owner is negligent or encouraged the dog to bite the other person, this would apply if someone commanded their dog to hurt or attack you. 

The third and final exception to this rule is if the dog owner violated an animal control law, like not keeping the dog on a leash while taking it on a walk at the park. 

The only other way to take legal action against an animal attack (from a household pet owner) is if the person who was wounded acquires a personal injury attorney and presses criminal charges against the pet owner. This can only be applied if the dog attacked the person unprovoked and left serious bodily injury. If the owner is found guilty of their dog’s actions, then he or she will be charged with a third-degree felony. A felony of this caliber is punishable by two to 10 years in prison, and they may be given a fine of up to $10,000. Moreover, if the person who was attacked dies, the owner can be charged with up to a second-degree felony, with more prison time and a higher fine amount.

Despite animal attacks being somewhat common in the United States, attacks from household pets like dogs or cats can be almost just as dangerous as those from wild animals. When bitten by a household pet, the person who has been attacked must take the best course of action they can after the event occurs. Whether that be to brushing it off and moving on from the incident, of course, if there was no major injury that was caused during the attack or to get a personal injury lawyer from a law firm like Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC, and discuss the incident with them to understand the best course of action to take. Even in Texas, where there is a one-bite-rule, if serious damage has been done, do not hesitate to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

holiday dinner estate planning

Gift Yourself Security for the 2020 Holidays

With the holiday season here, it has many of us thinking about our loved ones. The holidays often give us joyful and spirited feelings, especially as lights go up and decorations are hung around the house. However, with the numbers of COVID rising in California, you may be wondering whether it is safe to travel or have family get together to celebrate. Despite the facts and information we have received about COVID, there is usually a big question mark as to whether this virus is in someone’s system when they arrive for a holiday party.

What may give you some relief during a time of such unpredictability is getting tested routinely at a local testing site, along with reviewing your estate plan and updating wills, just in case. We don’t know when COVID will end for good, but at least we can prepare in the event that tragedy were to unfold. With most people having recently gotten together with family for Thanksgiving, it would not be an odd thought to consider updating your will. 

 

A Sense of Security Through Estate Planning

Perhaps this year more than ever before, people have been acutely aware about their own mortality. This may cause them to think about whether their affairs are in order and if their estate plan needs to be updated. Estate planning has become an increasingly urgent priority and many people have found that it reduces their anxiety to have a plan set if the unimaginable were to happen.

If you or someone you care about has felt the fragility of what it means to be human lately, then there is no harm in taking action where you can. We can do our best to be careful when interacting with others, but at the end of the day we cannot know for sure if the spread of COVID happened until someone comes up positive later on.

You may want to speak with an estate planning lawyer in the near future, who can help you start completing necessary paperwork, or assist with updating an outdated document. Here are other tasks that your estate planning lawyer can help you with:

 

  • Designate beneficiaries
  • Establish durable power of attorney
  • Implement legal documents including wills and trusts
  • Offer advice that would be in the best interest of you, your family, and assets
  • Answer questions as needed
  • Provide insight about state and federal laws related to estate planning
  • Ensure wishes are carried out by a trusted person
  • Help protect your loved ones and legacy for the future
  • Speak with close friends or relatives of those associated with the estate
  • Help prevent a costly and long probate process
  • Develop solutions such as how to reduce fees or taxes imposed on the estate
  • Handle retirement plans, charitable contributions, life insurance plans, etc. 

 

Don’t hesitate to begin establishing or updating your estate plan as a way to help protect the legacy of you and your family this holiday season. A reputable estate planning lawyer from a law firm near Sacramento can offer the support you need.

Contact Yee Law Group today to discuss your options.

Why You Need a Personal Injury Attorney to Deal with an Insurance Company

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If you sustain an injury through no fault of your own, you can file a personal injury claim to receive compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage

Dealing with insurance companies requires persistence and negotiation skills to reach the settlement you deserve. A skilled personal injury attorney can combat the following tactics insurance companies use to minimize or eliminate your compensation.

Claiming a Pre-Existing Condition Caused Your Injury

An insurance company’s mission is to pay out as little as possible for every claim it receives. Inevitably, you will need to disclose details about your health. The insurance company will claim that your condition results from your health issue and not the accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can combat this argument by making a case that the accident exacerbated your condition.

Creating an Alternate Version of What Happened

Insurance adjusters justify low damage payments by creating loopholes, contradictions, and alternate scenarios that make victims responsible for their accidents. A sharp personal injury attorney can predict these tactics and knows how to counter them.

Pushing You to Settle Quickly

An insurance company may try to force you to settle quickly before the full extent of your injuries is known. This rush to pay takes advantage of your concerns about medical bills or your inability to resume working. It is not unusual for the full consequences of many injuries to first appear weeks or months after an accident. A personal injury attorney will advise you to get a full medical assessment and complete your recommended treatment before acknowledging your injuries’ extent and cost.

Delaying a Settlement

If you don’t accept an insurance company’s initial settlement offer, you may find that processing your case begins to slow down. Unavailable insurance representatives, misplaced paperwork and ambiguous communication are tactics insurance companies use to delay settling claims until they exceed the statute of limitations for legitimacy. A personal injury attorney can prevent this by issuing a formal demand letter with a detailed request for damages.

Requesting a Recorded Statement

Insurance adjusters may ask for a recorded statement with answers to specific questions about the accident. They may use this to manipulate you into saying something that may reduce or eliminate your claim. Personal injury attorneys know that this is unnecessary and can firmly deny the request.

An insurance adjuster’s job is to look out for the insurance company’s best interest. Hire a lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer from Kamper & Estrada, PLLC, to look out for yours.

How Your Estate Gets Handled If You Die Without a Will

Estate Attorney

Some people feel they don’t need a will because they don’t own a whole lot. Others just don’t get around to making one before they die. In any case, if you die without creating a will, things may not run as smoothly as you’d like. The following outlines what would happen to your estate if you died before creating a will.

When You Die as a Single Individual

If you’re single at the time of your death, and you also don’t have any children, your entire estate typically goes to both of your parents. If your parents have preceded you in death, your siblings and half-siblings would receive equal shares of your estate. If none of your nuclear family are still alive, nieces and nephews would receive the estate, divided equally. When there are no nieces or nephews to be found, the relatives from your mom’s family would get half of your estate, and the relatives from your dad’s family would get the other half.

If you’re single and have children, those children typically get the entire estate, divided equally. If you have a child who preceded you in death, and there’s a grandchild from that child, your grandchild would get the equal portion.

When You Die and Are Married

Anything you own jointly with your spouse will be completely your spouse’s property. If you have property you own solely, it could be split between your spouse, parents and siblings. This is only the case if you have no children. If there are children in the picture, and your current spouse is their other parent, the spouse would inherit everything. If your children’s other parent is not your current spouse, your spouse would receive half or less of your estate. The children’s other parents would receive the other portion, but it would be to care for the children.

When You Die In an Unmarried Relationship

If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend you’re living with at the time of your death, and you don’t have a will, the situation would be handled the same as if you were single. Intestacy laws don’t recognize anyone who is not a legal relative. If you’re worried about your partner being taken care of, you should either get married, make a will or set up a trust.

Making a Will to Protect Loved Ones

When you start thinking about what’s going to happen to your property after your death, it’s time to make a will. Contact an estate attorney, like the attorneys at Klenk Law  to discuss your obligations.

Divorce v. Legal Separation: What’s the Difference?

Estate Planning Lawyer

If you are considering the process of legally ending your marriage, you have likely heard two common terms: divorce or legal separation. These terms are typically used interchangeably, but each have different significance in court. So what is the difference between the two? What are the processes? And what is the best choice for your lifestyle?

Divorce

A divorce is the legal end of a marriage. Throughout the court process, your assets will be divided, custody arrangements will be determined and spousal and child support amounts will be calculated. The estates of both spouses are officially split and they are no longer permitted to share health insurance or tax benefits. At the close of the divorce filing process, the wife is legally allowed to change her name.

Separation

In official terms, a “seperated” couple is still married. You can live in a completely different zip code, or even country, from your spouse and still be legally bound together. The only thing that might change in some states is your filing status on your taxes (you would file as “separated” instead of “married’). However, separated couples don’t have legally mediated conclusions regarding bill payments and custody; so if issues arise between you and your spouse, you would need to go through some special procedures with an attorney to ensure you receive the support you’re due.

Legal Separation

A “legal separation” is an official status change for your relationship. To obtain a legal separation, you must file a petition in court. Similarly to a divorce, the court will mandate spousal support and duties, but the couple will remain married.

While legal separation aren’t as common as divorces, they are helpful if the spouses just want time to work through lifestyle or financial decisions currently impacting the marriage. Other couples choose to pursue a legal separation because they hold religious or moral beliefs against the concept of divorce. Still more want to function independently from their spouse but still receive the insurance and tax benefits they enjoyed during marriage.

After filing for a legal separation, you can choose to move forward with the divorce, or just remain separated from your spouse permanently. If the wife does not finalize a divorce, she is not allowed to legally change back to her former name.

Choosing how to end your marriage can be a painful and confusing process, as a divorce attorney, such as from Brandy Austin Law Firm, knows well. This is made even more perplexing by the fact that some states refuse to recognize legal separation. No matter which route you choose, you should work with an attorney who can help you work out the intricacies between divorce and legal separation.