Category: General

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Can I Challenge a Will or Estate Plan in Court?

What do Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, John Denver, Prince, Heath Ledger, Martin Luther King Jr. and Howard Hughes have in common? Certainly, each has contributed to American culture in profound ways. But they also share the distinction of having passed away without first drafting an enforceable will. When a loved one dies without articulating explicit desires related to the care of his or her estate, the resulting aftermath can be chaotic. And even if a loved one has created an estate plan, if he or she dies without having updating that plan over time, it may not reflect accurate estate-related wishes at the time of his or her death.

The law does have procedures in place which allow judges to pass along property from the estate of a deceased individual to his or her descendants and others protected under the law. But not all estates are ultimately handled in a straightforward manner. Numerous factors may impact the process of probate, which is why judges are empowered to evaluate important information and claims brought forward by those who may be invested in the outcome of how an individual’s estate is ultimately processed.

If you have an interest in a loved one’s estate and believe that the estate is not being handled properly, you may be able to bring a claim in court. You may be able to enforce your inheritance rights, insist that your loved one’s property be handled in a specific way or stand in opposition to another individual’s legal claim. Please consider connecting with our firm so that we may advise you of your available options. Once we learn about your situation, we will be able to answer any questions you have about the law, probate claims and/or our approach to representation.

It is generally a good idea to reach out to an estate planning and probate attorney as soon as you suspect that something is not right with the way a loved one’s estate is being handled. Legal options tend to become more limited over time, as the law generally only allows estate-related challenges to be filed for a certain length of time following the death of an individual.

It is also worth noting that not everyone has legal standing to challenge the contents of a will/estate plan in court. However, if you are invested in a loved one’s estate and believe that you may be entitled to inheritance rights and/or a say in how that loved one’s estate is processed, it is best to seek legal guidance before determining that you should or should not move forward with legal action.

Estate Planning and Probate Assistance Is Available

If you have concerns regarding the estate of a loved one, please consider reaching out to our firm today. We have extensive experience related to the processes of estate planning and probate and we would be happy to speak with you about your situation.

Legal options in estate-related cases are not always straightforward. However, ensuring that a loved one’s wishes are properly respected and enforced is a noble goal and a goal that the law ultimately aims to achieve when possible. Once we learn about the details of your unique circumstances, we will be best placed to guide you as you make informed decisions about your situation. Regardless of whether you ultimately choose to take legal action, we are here to help in whatever way we can.

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Two Approaches for Estate and Trust Litigation

There are a couple approaches that can be used in attempt to resolve estate or trust disputes. At Yee Law Group, PC, we have found that these approaches can be very helpful, especially during such a sensitive time filled with emotions and grief. After a loved one passes away, they leave behind a legacy. This legacy that can be carried on for generations to come may include property, belongings, special treasures and even monetary amounts. Disputes over how a trust is handled or to be distributed is very common. Even if the loved one who passed on was very detailed and thorough in their trust, an unhappy beneficiary or relative may request the trust to be contested anyways. When a trust is contested, this means the person believes the estate is somehow not accurate or lacks validity.

In this article, we cover a couple approaches to litigation that can help resolve an estate or trust related disagreement.

#1 The Traditional Approach

Generally, finding solutions over disputes regarding an estate or trust often means going through litigation. When a disagreement arises, it commonly is due to the party not trusting the appointed executor, not fully comprehending the estate administration process, are unsure about their rights or duties, or do not have faith that their interests are protected. During the litigation process, an attorney is often hard at work to help their client gather supportive evidence, attend hearings and provide witness testimonies. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for each side of the litigation to grow in hostility, resentments and perhaps even an outright destruction of an amicable relationship. An attorney at Yee Law Group, PC can handle the litigation proceedings with tact, diligence and compassion.

#2 Mediation

During mediation, there is an unbiased and neutral third party (mediator), who meets with the opposing parties regarding the disagreement. The intention is for the mediator to help these parties reach a resolution that they are both happy with. An attorney at Yee Law Group, PC can even be of help when trying to find a middle ground between each side. It can take up to one, or multiple meetings before a solution is found. The mediator is trained to help each side find a common ground and work through their opposition. Attorneys are not required to assist in the mediation process, but it can help to have a legal professional on your side working for you behind the scenes. Sometimes, a judge actually requires the two parties to attend mediation before litigation may begin. If for any reason a settlement is not reached during mediation, then litigation is to continue. If one or both parties are unwilling to cooperate, then mediation will likely fail fairly quickly.

At Yee Law Group, PC, we believe in protecting the rights of people and helping them find peace during an estate dispute. Not only is this time particularly fragile due to healing from the loved one’s passing, but now there must be the added stress of a legal battle. Let us help you get through this turbulent time.

What Happens if this Case Settles after Client Passes Away?

Lawyers, let’s say you represent a woman for a bodily injury claim in connection with a car accident.  The claim won’t resolve itself, so you file suit in a court of competent jurisdiction, serve the Defendant, and begin the discovery process.

At some point prior to trial, your client passes away due to unrelated causes.  However, her husband and three children come into your office subsequent to her death, and the five of you reach a settlement with the insurer.

Probate and Personal Injury Lawyer Little Rock, AR

How do you resolve the case and distribute the settlement proceeds?  The good news is that most jurisdictions won’t require you to substitute the party in the civil case, nor will the court require you to even ask for a stay of proceedings or leave of court to resolve probate issues.  However, you will need some expertise in probate matters in order to move forward.

Since the check cannot be made out to the decedent, you will need to initiate probate proceedings to have a special or personal representative appointed, and then you will have to have the settlement approved by both the civil court and the probate court.  If your client’s husband and all three children are in agreement with the settlement, prepare a Waiver of Notice and Consent to Settlement for each of them to sign and file of record in the probate matter.  If the decedent’s home is a probate asset, you will need full probate administration in most states.

Yes, you will need to prepare the family that this is a process, and that it will require some additional filing fees and hearings, and it may even require you bringing on a probate attorney if you don’t feel comfortable in the realm of decedent’s estates.  However, this will be the only way you can fully resolve this for your client’s family and close out the open civil case.  And, of course, if your client passes away prior to trial, nothing prevents you from having a personal representative appointed, substituting in the estate for the Plaintiff, and going to trial.

For these reasons, it is always smart to associate a veteran litigator and experienced trial lawyer who has been involved in these particular issues in personal injury and probate cases.  If you or a loved one has been injured or killed due to someone else’s negligence, contact a trusted attorney today.

Workers’ Compensation vs. Social Security Disability Benefits

As New York workers’ compensation attorneys handling workers’ compensation or on the job injury claims, we are very often asked about eligibility for Social Security Disability.  There is often confusion between the different types of disability and who is entitled to what benefits.  This article should help clear up the confusion

Workers’ compensation is paid when there is an on the job injury that prevents you from working.  It serves as a wage replacement system.   In contrast, if an off the job injury prevents you from working you may be entitled to temporary disability.  These are exclusive, opposite remedies and you are only entitled to one of them.

If you suffer from an injury or illness that is expected to keep you out of work for a year or more you may qualify for Social Security disability, regardless of whether the injury or illness was the result of your work.  While New York State workers’ compensation only covers you for a disability that is directly attributable an on-the-job injury, Social Security looks at your overall condition to determine if you are entitled to benefits.  You can receive both workers’ compensation and Social Security at the same time, with Social Security being offset for workers’ compensation.

So if, for example, you have a work injury to your back and you also suffer from high blood pressure, you can receive your workers’ compensation benefits for your back injury and Social Security for both the back and high blood pressure.  Even if the injuries from your work injury would not rise to the level of severity needed to win a claim in workers’ compensation,  you may  have other injuries or medical conditions, not related to the underlying accident, the totality of which could result in being approved for Social Security.

If you have been out of work due to an on the job injury for more than 6 months you should apply for Social Security Disability.  The benefits you receive from workers’ compensation can be supplemented by your Social Security.  While you can get Social Security and workers’ compensation at the same time, in most circumstances, the maximum combined amount is about 80% of what your earnings were before you were injured.   It is very important to keep Social Security advised of the money you are receiving from your workers’ compensation case.  If your workers’ compensation benefits are lowered, your Social Security may go up as the reduction may bring you below the level of the original offset.

Obtaining workers’ compensation and Social Security can be very challenging and it can be very important that you speak to attorneys who specialize in these areas to get the legal advice you need to protect your rights and your benefits.

pasted-image-0 Thanks to our friends and blog authors at Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen, P.C. for their insight into workers’ compensation and Social Security benefits.

California Now Allows Transfer-on-Death Deeds

Beginning January 1, 2016, California joined many other states across the country in allowing transfer-on-death deeds. In years past, people who wanted to pass real property to another person without the necessity of probate typically used joint tenancy deeds. For example, a parent might add an adult child’s name as a joint tenant to a real estate deed to make sure the child inherited the property once the parent passed away. Continue reading “California Now Allows Transfer-on-Death Deeds”

Is Your Business Internet-Savvy?

If you are running a business today, you need a business lawyer who also understands what it means to do business online. In today’s marketplace, the average American spends an incredible 11 hours each day using some form of digital media. There is no question the internet plays a vital role in the success (or failure) of a business.

In years past, doing business online meant registering a domain and putting up a website. Now, it’s not enough to simply maintain an online presence. Today, business owners must work closely with seasoned business lawyers who understand the laws and regulations that govern both cyberspace and the brick and mortar companies that do business there.

Why Understanding the Internet Is Important

Most modern businesses exist in the real world and online. With an online business comes a host of issues you may not have seen coming. For example, does your website use stock images without the proper licensing rights? Are you collecting visitor data without disclosing it in a privacy policy on your site? Even one innocent mass email can violate the CAN-SPAM Act. This is where the help and advice of a knowledgeable business lawyer is invaluable.

Although the laws governing the internet are constantly changing, there are several statutes that frequently coming into play. For example, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act aims to stop website owners from infringing on a copyright owner’s property. The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy helps individuals and entities involved in disputes over domain names.

Don’t Wait to Speak to a Business Lawyer

Running a business takes a lot of time and money. Many business owners delay contacting a lawyer until they absolutely need one, such as when they receive notice of a lawsuit in the mail or from the hands of a process server. This approach may save you money in the short-term, but it is likely to cost you down the road. By working with an attorney now, you can safeguard your business against potentially costly disputes involving intellectual property, domains, and rules governing commerce conducted online.

California Business Lawyers

Whether your business is new or well-established, it’s never too late to protect what you have worked to build. Safeguard your time and your investment by working with experienced California business lawyers. Call Yee Law Group, PC, PC today at (916) 599-7297 to speak to a knowledgeable business lawyer about the next steps for your business.

Data Security Breaches Are Costing Businesses

In recent years, cyber-theft and data loss have dominated business news headlines. Giant retailers like Target have paid out millions in settlement dollars after network security breaches resulted in the loss of credit card and other sensitive information for customers across the country. In Target’s case, experts estimate about 40 million consumers had their credit cards hacked by cyber-criminals. Verizon has become one of the latest causalities in the cyber-crime arena. A flaw in the company’s systems allowed a hacker to steal the contact information of as many as 1.5 million customers. Continue reading “Data Security Breaches Are Costing Businesses”

Should I Use a Partnership for My New Business?

When it comes to starting a business, choosing an entity type is one of the first (and most important) decisions you must make. Will your business be a sole proprietorship, or a limited liability company? What about a corporation? These are all popular choices for new businesses. Another popular choice is a partnership. Many of the largest companies in the world – including Google and Microsoft – began as partnerships. Continue reading “Should I Use a Partnership for My New Business?”