Category: Uncategorized

Two Ways the Court Divides Property During Divorce

Personal Injury Lawyer

Splitting up with a spouse is a lot more complicated than simply moving out and on with your lives. Since you are legally married and have interests that are intertwined, a legal process is required to sever these ties before you can fully be regarded as single.

The steps required to getting a divorce may differ depending on the state in which you live. However, some elements are common across the board. One such issue is how the couple will split property between them. In most states, there are two ways that a court goes about doing it. Learn more about what this means and how it may impact you.

Community Property Split

If you live in a state that does community property split, there is a good chance that a court will divide property and assets evenly. In this type of action, property that was obtained jointly before or during the marriage is divided equally. This does not only include cash and property, but also investments and debts. For instance, if you and your spouse purchased two vehicles in the last year, and those are held jointly, each one of you may have the opportunity to keep your car if you take on the debt yourself.

Equitable Property Split

In some states, the courts look at splitting assets differently. Equitable distribution is a method used by almost half of the jurisdictions in the country. This method allows the court to decide the fairest way to divvy things up. This benefits those couples who had one spouse either unemployed to raise children or underemployed for one reason or the other. The judge takes each person’s financial and emotional contribution to the marriage into account before deciding on who gets what. Debt is divided similarly.

Premarital Property

In either situation, property and assets held by one spouse before marriage remain with that spouse. For instance, if you owned a home before you got married and you never added your spouse’s name to the deed, you will get to keep that free and clear regardless of how your combined affairs get divided. In equitable distribution states, the amount of premarital property held by one spouse or the other may sway how the judge splits the joint items. The only things obtained during a marriage that may stay with the spouse who got it was an inheritance or gifts.

Splitting things up after the end of a marriage may bring out the worst in some. It is a good idea to contact a family lawyer, like a family lawyer in Frisco, TX, as soon as you know the marriage is ending for guidance and assistance along the way.

 


 

Thanks to Scroggins Law Group for their insight into how the court divides property during a divorce. 

The Coronavirus, Its Impact On The Legal System, and Technology’s Role

Personal Injury Lawyer

The entire world is in the middle of a global crisis. This is a crisis that will be talked about in the history books of future generations. The coronavirus epidemic is being compared to the Spanish flu, an epidemic that killed millions of people. This comparison alone is frightening. 

Our economy has been significantly affected and unemployment is rising at a steep rate. Our legal system is also being impacted by the pandemic. The judicial branch is vital to our country’s success, and it is vital that we continue to keep it running during this scary time. Reality has started to sink in and people are realizing that there is no timetable for how long this is all going to last. One question remains — what does this new reality look like for our legal system?

In 2020 we are equipped with new technology and platforms that allow us to do things that people couldn’t or wouldn’t have dreamed of even as far back as ten years ago. Technology allows us to be able to video chat with large groups of people in our sweatpants! There are many professions that have adapted with technology, but the legal profession is not one of them. As a result, there are many courts that have been resistant to doing any non-emergency hearings of any kind. The problem with this mentality is that no one knows when this pandemic is going to end. People are hopeful this will be over within months, but it could go on for much longer. This means that both civil and criminal cases across the country will be put on hold until society opens back up. There is another solution, though.  

One way that courts in Texas have been holding hearings is via the technology platform, Zoom.  There is no federal or statewide mandate that a court has to hold hearings during the pandemic. As a result, many courts have stuck to the mentality that only emergency matters will be heard. There are some progressive courts that have decided that they will hear Zoom hearings on non-essential matters. Each week that goes by and every time a state pushes back their shelter in place order, the more the courts will realize that this isn’t a situation that we can put a bandaid on and hope we can wait the pandemic out. Technology allows us to do so without too much deviation from the status quo. We have to evolve and adapt. If you or someone you know needs legal advice during the pandemic, don’t hesitate to contact a family lawyer, like a family lawyer in Arlington, TX, to see how one can help you virtually today. 

 


 

Thanks to Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC for their insight into the way the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the court system in the United States and some good solutions to keeping them open. 

Wills for Newlyweds

Depending on when you marry in life, you and your partner may already have a will. Even so,  it is a good idea to revisit estate planning as a couple after the wedding. 

What’s in a Will? 

Your last will and testament is a legal document that allows you to clearly communicate your wishes as to how your property is to be distributed after your death and as to which person is to manage the property until it’s final distribution. A complete last will and testament should clearly outline the following:

  • The Executor or Personal Representative: the people you appoint to carry out the provisions of your will upon your death.
  • The Beneficiaries: the people who will be inheriting your assets
  • Instructions for How and When to distribute the Assets
  • Guardians for Minor Children: the people you wish to legally care for your children if you become incapacitated or pass away 

But wait, there’s more!

In addition to a last will and testament, there are several other important documents to include with your estate plan to ensure that the people you have directed to carry out your wishes are legally able to do so. 

Financial Power of Attorney 

A financial power of attorney allows you to appoint a representative to manage your finances should you be unable to do so for yourself. A general practice is to provide this person with all the legal authority over your finances that you hold, so that they may truly act on your behalf. 

Healthcare Directives

Healthcare directives are a compilation of three specific documents intended to clearly communicate your healthcare and end of life desires. 

  1. Healthcare power of attorney: this document allows you to appoint a representative to make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do so for yourself.
  2. Living will: in this document, you can specifically outline any healthcare services you wish to receive, or perhaps, more importantly, those you DO NOT wish to receive.
  3. HIPPA Authorization: this document allows you to name an individual who can have access to your medical information so that your healthcare provider or insurance company has no reservations about sharing your protected medical information with them.

Beneficiary Designations

Perhaps the easiest way to plan for your estate is to name beneficiaries on all accounts where such a designation is possible. In general, this means that the assets held in that account will pass to the person(s) you name upon your death, most likely your new spouse. Common accounts that allow for beneficiary designation include:

  • Bank Accounts
  • Retirement Plans
  • Life Insurance Policies

Hire An Attorney

Do-it-yourself estate planning services might seem like an inexpensive and “good enough” option. However, it is highly recommended that you hire an attorney to help create legal documents. The do-it-yourself forms rarely account for the specific needs of couples. 

If you and your spouse are interested in creating an estate plan, contact Kamper Estrada, LLP today. An experienced estate planning attorney, like an estate planning attorney in Phoenix, AZ, may offer free one-hour consultations.

Car Accident Injury Lawyer

While getting into a car accident is not uncommon, in many circumstances the victim in a car accident may only have slight bruising or minor injuries. However, some people may suffer from more serious injuries in their back that can cause them to need extended hospital stays or have a permanent disability. When you have gotten a back injury from being a victim in a car accident, you should not have to settle for paying your medical bills on your own. In fact, car accident attorneys strongly believe you are owed compensation. To see how they can help you get compensation for your back injury after you have been in a car accident, please give a law office a call. 

What are the common types of back injuries you can get?

A few days after the accident you may begin to realize that your backache and soreness are not going away. You may be wondering what kind of injury you sustained. Below are some of the most common types of back injuries you can sustain in a car accident.

  • Upper Back Injuries. Your upper back, also known as your thoracic spine, can become easily damaged in a car accident. When this happens, you may experience temporary or permanent nerve damage. 
  • Herniated Disc. A herniated disc is also a common back injury and it happens when a disc is displaced in your spine. Your discs are there to provide a cushion to the vertebra in your spine and when a disc is herniated, you may feel extreme pain and pressure on your nerves. When this occurs, you may also feel tingling or numbness in your lower body.
  • Spinal Cord Injury. This is one of the most severe types of back injuries you can suffer from after an accident. When a car accident has bruised or severed your spinal cord, not only can you suffer from permanent nerve damage, but you may also find that you are partially or fully paralyzed in your limbs. You may experience loss of your reflexes and an inability to move. 

The kinds of injuries you can suffer from after a car accident can be catastrophic and can force you to have extremely high medical bills. For more information on how a car accident attorney in Des Moines, IA can help you, please contact a law office now. 

Thanks to Johnston Matineau, LLP for their insight into personal injury claims and car accident injuries.

Pedestrian Accidents

If you were tangled in an accident with a motor vehicle that involved a pedestrian, the driver is usually automatically seen as the at fault party. But that isn’t always the case. Sadly, proving that you’re innocent can be hard. So if you know anyone that happens to be involved in a motor vehicle accident involving a pedestrian and you know that this pedestrian is the cause of it, you should get in contact with a personal injury attorney in Dekalb County, GA to fight for your rights and ensure that you are compensated for any damages. The details of the incident play the biggest part here. When you hire an experienced attorney, their team would review the evidence and even look for more evidence at the scene of the accident to help prove your innocence, or the innocence in which the pedestrian lacked.

Everyone has a job to adhere to the rules of the road, whether they are driving, riding a bicycle, or walking. The driver and the pedestrian both have traffic rules this follow while they are accessing the roadways. If those rules are broken in any capacity, any party that broke any laws or done anything wrong should be held accountable no matter if you’re walking or behind the wheel. For the ones who are on foot, there are crosswalks in place to make sure to keep them safe and in the proper crossing areas on the road. There are lights by traffic lights and on the corners of the street that lets the pedestrian know when it is safe to cross the street and helps to ensure that other people on the road can see them. When there’s an occasion when a pedestrian doesn’t cross at the crosswalk correctly, they can be seen at fault for the motor vehicle accident they’re involved in because they did not follow the rules of the road. There are laws that protect drivers as well as pedestrians and pedestrian at-fault cases. It’s simple to speculate injury makes and involves a party victim, yet this isn’t true. For instance, if someone crosses the street while there is a green light, and is also in the middle of the street, it’s possible that the driver wouldn’t be able to notice the pedestrian crossing the street. The driver is also supposed to pay attention to crosswalks as well as pedestrians having the right way, if not done the suitable way they can be held responsible for any injury that happens. These precautions are in place for everyone, to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Thanks to Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into personal injury claims and pedestrian accidents.

Conservatorship and Estate Planning

Wrongful Death Lawyer

When you are planning your estate, you may have questions regarding how to leave certain assets to people who may be unable to care for them. For example, if you have minor children and you want to leave property to them, you cannot expect the minor child to be able to take care of this property yet. When this is the case, you would announce who your conservator is in your estate plan so that someone can manage the property for them until they are old enough (or for a longer term). On the other hand, if a grandparent or someone else chooses to leave property to their grandchild who is still a minor but does not name a conservator, it is likely that a judge may nominate a parent as a conservator. If you have any further questions about appointing a conservator or estate planning, please contact a law firm now. 

What can a conservator do?

Lawyers get this question from clients often because leaving property to minor children or to people who may not be able to fully care for the property happens all the time. There are a few things you can expect a conservator to do.

  • Paying For a Minor’s Needs. If a minor’s parents pass away, one of the roles of a conservator can be to help pay for the child’s needs. For example, if the parents leave money for the child, this money could go directly to funding the child’s education or taking care of any medical or hospital bills the child may have. Other uses for the money can go to things like clothes, food, and other general needs. If there is no cash for these purposes, the conservator can make the choice to liquidate certain assets and use the cash for these needs.
  • Investing and Paying Taxes. When a minor is left with a large amount of money, the conservator will be responsible for ensuring the financial aspects are taken care of. They may be required to invest the money, pay taxes, or even hire a financial adviser to ensure the money is saved and used wisely. 
  • Working With Guardians. While it is entirely possible that a child’s guardian could also be their conservator, many times a conservator will simply be working very closely with a child’s guardian. This is a good relationship to have because the child will be living with the guardian and the conservator will be handling the financial aspect of a child’s life. 

While not exhaustive, the list above includes some of the important duties you can expect a conservator to take hold of when they are listed in a person’s estate planning document. For more information on a conservator’s duties and how an estate planning lawyer in Arlington, TX can help you with your estate planning, give a law firm a call. 

 


 

Thanks to Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC for their insight into estate planning and conservatorship.

Do I Need A Lawyer for Probate?

A probate lawyer assists and advises the Personal Representative (Executor) through the probate process of administering a deceased person’s estate. But how do you know if you really need to hire a probate lawyer? It is not required by law, but unless you are a practicing probate lawyer yourself, there are many good reasons to consider hiring one. Below are a few questions that can help you determine if hiring a probate lawyer is the right for you:

Is there a Will?

If the deceased had a Will, then it should state who is to serve as the Personal Representative. If there was no Will, then court filings will need to be made to determine the Personal Representative. When it comes to dealing with the court, it is best to let an experienced lawyer handle the filings. 

Is there Ambiguous Language in the Will?

If language in the Will could be interpreted in more than one way, get a probate lawyer involved. Failure to do so could look suspicious on the part of the Personal Representative and slow down the probate process.

Can Assets Pass Outside of Probate?

Assets that were held jointly, with rights of survivorship, or have named beneficiaries can often go straight to their new owners, bypassing probate all together. But, if the assets are left with no clear owner, they will need to be a part of the probate process, which can require court filings, appraisals, distributions, etc. Best to let a probate lawyer handle that one.

Is there a Business Involved?

Probate can be complicated enough, throw a business into the mix, and things can become messy very fast. Dealing with a business as an estate asset is a job for a professional probate lawyer. 

Is there Enough Money for Debts?

If the Personal Representative finds that there is enough money in the estate to cover the deceased’s debts and pay out to the beneficiaries- no problem. However, if the opposite is a true, then consider hiring a probate lawyer. The lawyer will be familiar with the state laws that give some creditors priority over others.

Does the Estate Owe Taxes?

It is rare, but estates valued over $5.34 million may owe federal estate tax. Dealing with an estate that large, and dealing with federal estate taxes, can be overwhelming for an unexperienced Personal Representative. Bringing in a probate lawyer might be the right call. 

Is Anything Being Contested?

If an heir or devisee contests any part of the probate process, seek out a probate lawyer. The right lawyer can serve as a much needed third party when things get heated and may even be able to prevent the disagreements from landing in court.

If you are unsure if you need a lawyer for probate, consider having a free one-hour consultation with a probate lawyer in Phoenix, AZ who can help guide you through the probate process.

Thanks to Kamper Estrada, LLP for their insight into estate planning and probate.

What Is an Online Divorce and When Is It a Good Idea?

Thanks to ever-evolving technology, practically everything today can be done online. From getting a university degree to drafting a will or renewing a driver’s license, the internet has seemingly endless possibilities. In several states it is also possible to get an online divorce. The advertisements for online divorce may be appealing to some. For example, they often claim the couple will have no lawyer fees or court dates. 

Divorce lawyers, know of many couples who tried the process of an online divorce and failed to get anywhere apart from garnering unnecessary debt. This is not to say that online divorces don’t work, but rather, that you should understand what you are getting into before you participate in a DIY online divorce. Failure to weigh out your options could result in you overlooking your rights and interests or agreeing to something you did not understand. Choosing to end your marriage is a major life decision and could impact your life and that of your children. Therefore, how you get a divorce deserves due care and attention, regardless of whether you choose to do it in person or through the internet. 

Understanding Online Divorce
An online divorce does not mean that you simply complete the form and press a button that will dissolve the marriage. Rather, it is similar to the standard process. The difference is that you will be responsible for most of the work instead of hiring a divorce lawyer. You will begin by downloading and completing various forms. Without a divorce lawyer, this can take some time. Once the petition for a divorce is filled out, you will need to submit it to the county courthouse. Only select courthouses will take this paperwork online. If this is not allowed at your courthouse, you will need to appear in person. 

After this, a summons will need to be served to your spouse. You can hire someone to do this if you are uncomfortable to do so. It is very important that you complete this process correctly; otherwise, your spouse might claim they never got the summons. If this should happen, a judge could rule the divorce as being invalid. Proof of the summons will need to be submitted. 

If children are involved, an application for child custody and visitation will need to be completed and submitted. You and your ex will also need to establish a parenting plan. In general, this can be difficult with a divorce lawyer present. 

To finalize an online divorce, both you and your spouse will need to complete the final disclosure forms. These documents must be submitted within 60 days from the date of the petition for divorce. Depending on the circumstances of your divorce, further documents might also need to be submitted. If your spouse agrees to the petition, it is possible for a judge to sign off on the divorce without you ever going to court. If your spouse does not agree with the petition, or you are unable to come to an amicable divorce terms, an online divorce will likely be impossible. 

Who is an Online Divorce For?
Online divorce might be convenient; however, it can also cause unnecessary challenges. This is particularly true for couples who have anything more than a straightforward case. In an online divorce, you will not have a divorce lawyer to support and guide you, and you will lack someone who can answer your questions. All you will have is the internet and a lot of general information. That said, if you believe any of the following apply, you should not pursue an online divorce:

  • You have been in a long-term marriage
  • You have a bad relations