The Basics of Adult Legal Guardianship

Around 12 million people in the US require long-term care. 

Without advance planning directive, some of these adults will need a legal guardian to make their decisions for them.

If you have an adult relative who you feel will need a legal guardian, there are many things to learn about the process.

Read on to learn more about the concept of legal guardianship for adults and what you’ll have to do if you want to become a guardian.

When Should I Apply for Legal Guardianship?

If you feel that your loved one is incapable of making responsible decisions for themselves, it might be a good idea to consider guardianship.

A court will consider applications for legal guardianship in respect of adults with disabilities, or those who have reached an advanced age and are no longer mentally competent. This incompetence need not be absolute; many adults with guardians remain in possession of most of their mental abilities.

Is Legal Guardianship Necessary?

This is the central question in all adult guardianship cases. If the adult has a valid Power of attorney, a guardianship may not be needed.

Power of Attorney

The legal concept of power of attorney gives one individual the contractual right to make certain decisions in respect to another individual.

There are financial powers of attorney and healthcare powers of attorney. Each of these should be stipulated by a separate legal document.

The reason why power of attorney is a preferable arrangement in many cases is that the adult selects the person who is to have the power. If someone creates a legally binding document specifying who should assume power of attorney over their affairs, this takes effect if and when they become legally incompetent to do so themselves.

What’s Different About Legal Guardianship of an Adult?

Because adults are considered, by default, responsible enough to take care of themselves, legal guardianship can be much trickier to secure in respect of an adult than a child. However, it is still possible.

To secure a right to adult guardianship, there are certain things you’ll have to prove to a court. The key consideration is proof that the person is incapable of making important decisions for themselves.

In certain cases, such as where the person is in a coma or has very severe dementia, this won’t present a problem. However, most situations will be less clear cut than this.

The vast majority of adult guardianship cases involve individuals with many of their mental faculties. Such people might have no issue making themselves understood, but could struggle to manage their financial or healthcare affairs.

A person like this might not appear to need a guardian and may object strongly to the idea themselves.

However, that’s not to say that guardianship isn’t the best course of action. If a person’s behavior puts them at serious risk, even if only on occasion, guardianship may be the most effective way to keep them safe.

However, a judge must have regard for the constitutional right to self-determination. An adult should be free to make their own choices, even if these choices seem poorly thought out or even dangerous. An exception to this is only possible where a doctor determines that a person is medically incapable of looking after themselves.

Who Should an Adult Guardian Be?

If there is no alternative but to apply for legal guardianship, the most important thing to consider is who should occupy the role. A child or sibling of the vulnerable person is the most common choice.

However, if there is more than one suitable candidate, there may be a dispute as to who should do it.

If there is disagreement over who a legal guardian should be, finalizing the arrangement can be a long and arduous process. However, you should always try to agree on matters of this nature privately rather than going to court.

If your family is struggling to come up with a solution, it’s a good idea to hire a lawyer. A professional with expertise in this area will be able to highlight all the rights and responsibilities involved in the role and help you come to a decision on this basis.

If no suitable family member or friend can be found, a county-appointed guardian may be necessary. This is not ideal, as a county-appointed guardian is not going to be able to care for a ward in the same way a family member would.

What Is a Guardian Ad Litem?

A guardian ad litem is a guardian that the court appoints to protect a child’s interests in a single case. Courts will only take this course of action where they feel that a vulnerable person needs it, usually in a dispute around their estate or the arrangements about their continuing care.

It is important to note that a guardian ad litem is not the same thing as a county-appointed guardian. The former assumes the role of guardian only for as long as is necessary for the legal matter at hand.

A lawyer usually assumes the role of guardian ad litem. A judge may appoint a guardian ad litem without the ward’s consent if they feel the situation requires it.

Keeping Your Loved One in Safe Hands

Every adult wants to be able to take responsibility for themselves. Unfortunately, whether due to age or disability, there are some people for whom that isn’t a possibility.

If no other arrangement will work, legal guardianship can provide a dignified method of ensuring their safety and happiness.

To learn more about how we can help you with matters relating to the care of an adult, contact us today.

7 Essential Tips for Filing a Personal Injury Claim

Slips and falls, dog bites, car accidents: whatever the situation, personal injuries can feel overwhelming. Once you’re on your way to recovery, you’ll want to file a personal injury claim to help cover the costs associated with the incident.

The way you handle the personal injury claim process can impact the outcome. Even little mistakes could ruin your case or decrease how much money you receive. Do not speak or give a recorded statement to the at fault party’s insurance company before speaking with an attorney.

Follow these tips to increase your chances of success with your personal injury claim after you have spoken with an attorney.

1. Seek Medical Treatment

Getting medical care should be your priority after an accident. Even if the injury seems minor at first, you need a doctor to evaluate your situation. There could be something more serious that you don’t notice.

Some injuries don’t show symptoms right away and others get worse over time. If a doctor doesn’t diagnose and treat the situation soon enough, you might have serious complications.

The medical exam also shows the full extent of the injuries. This helps establish how much money you’re entitled to as part of the settlement.

The insurance company could also dispute your claims if you don’t see a doctor right away. They might question if you were actually injured in the accident. They might also suggest that the injury wouldn’t have been as severe if you would have seen a doctor sooner.

Once you see your doctor, follow the treatment plan exactly. Skipping medication, therapy, and other treatments puts you at risk for making the injuries worse. It could also work as an argument against your case since skipping treatment could make increase the severity of the injuries.

2. Record the Details

Supporting your claim with details and evidence increases your chances of getting the settlement amount you want. If you’re seriously injured, getting medical treatment is your first priority. As soon as possible, start collecting evidence and writing down notes to support your claim. Direct your notes and comments to your attorney in order to maintain attorney client privilege. 

Photographs from the scene help to show the circumstances. This can prove that someone else was negligent, which led to your injuries.

If the incident happens in a public area, you might be able to find security camera footage that shows the accident. The video might show unsafe conditions or someone else being reckless, leading to the injury.

Create a written document of the details of the incident. Include the events leading up the incident and what happened during the accident. Avoid emotional descriptions, instead focus on the facts of the situation.

3. Contact a Lawyer

Speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer no matter what you may think is the value of your claim. You can file personal injury claims yourself, but personal injury lawyers will make the process easier and more successful. Attorneys understand the personal injury claim process and strategies to get higher settlements.

Small personal injury claims may be manageable on your own. If your case is more complicated, a lawyer’s expertise can be useful. Examples include claims where you’re seeking larger sums or there’s some question of fault.

Complicated cases often get drawn out and require lots of negotiation. Some end up in court. 

Insurance companies have lots of strategies to fight claims. If the case ends up in court, they’ll have lawyers on their side. Going into a claim with your own lawyer prepares you to fight those strategies no matter what happens with the case.

Even if you don’t face a fight, your attorney can ensure you provide all the necessary information. They also ensure you meet the necessary deadlines.

Your attorney can handle all of the negotiations on your behalf so you don’t have to deal with representatives from the other side. Your lawyer’s strong negotiation strategies increase the change of getting a higher settlement.

Personal injury attorneys typically use a contingency fee approach. This means you don’t have to pay attorney fees upfront. Instead, you pay when you receive your settlement with the fee being a percentage of what you receive.

4. Limit What You Say

You might find yourself want to share what happened to you with anyone who’ll listen. Staying quiet about your personal injury case protects your claims and may help you get the outcome you want. Only discuss your case with your attorney.

It’s often best to avoid posting on social media during your case. Even posts that seem innocent, such as pictures of things you do, could hurt your case. If you show yourself doing something active, the insurance company could say you’re not as severely injured as you’re claiming.

5. Document Everything

Document all interactions and events from the time of the incident until you receive your compensation. This paper trail helps you keep track of the progress. 

Write down the date, time, and details of any conversations you have with the insurance company. Save any paperwork you receive during the case. 

Filing a Successful Personal Injury Claim

A personal injury claim helps you get the compensation you deserve after suffering an injury due to someone else’s negligence. An attorney with experience handling personal injury claims will help you recover what you deserve. Understanding the process and following these tips can help you receive a fair settlement.

If you’re dealing with a personal injury, contact us for a consultation on your case.

Estate Planning Checklist: 7 Items Every Estate Plan Should Have

Did you know that 58 percent of Americans don’t have a will?

Many people don’t have wills because they haven’t gotten around it or don’t believe they have enough assets to list in a will. Although many people haven’t gotten around to execute an estate plan, they can all agree on the value en peace of mind it can bring them.

If you’re ready to begin the estate planning process, you came to the right place. Read on for this simple estate planning checklist.

1. Determine Your Estate Planning Goals 

The first step in estate planning is to determine what your goals are. There are many different goals to consider when thinking about estate planning. 

For example, if you have minor children, you’ll want them to be taken care of in case something happens to you. You can even designate a caretaker if you have pets.

People also decide to do estate planning because they want to ensure their spouse and children have a financial plan in case of their passing. If they have a family business, they’ll want to make sure they control the business’s structure after their passing.

Those suffering from illness also want to put everything in order in case they become medically incapacitated. Whatever your reasons are, ensure you determine them before you start the process. 

2. Make a List of Your Assets and Possesions

Sometimes we underestimate how much stuff we accumulate over the course of our lifetime. When you’re in the process of making an estate plan, you need to make a list of all of your possessions and financial assets. 

If you want to facilitate the process, you can divide your assets between tangible and intangible assets. 

Your tangible assets include:

  • Real estate
  • Vehicles with deeds such as cars, boats, and motorcycles
  • Jewelry 
  • Antiques, coins, art, and more

Intangible assets include:

  • Savings and checking accounts
  • Mutual funds, bonds, and stocks
  • Life insurance policies
  • Retirement plans such as IRAs and 401K
  • Business owner deeds

Keep in mind if you will have to get an appraisal of your tangible assets to determine the value of your home, for example. 

3. How Will You Protect Your Family?

Once you have made a list of your tangible and your intangible assets, you have to decide how you will divide them or use them to protect your family. 

For starters, do you have enough life insurance to protect your spouse or children? You need to make sure you leave them with enough life insurance to help them cover everyday bills. For example, if you need two incomes to support your household, your life insurance should cover the other half. 

Some people also want to leave enough life insurance to cover their children’s tuition. 

Those individuals with children also want to designate a guardian for their children during their estate planning process. To get peace of mind, some people even like to name a backup guardian.

Also, you should leave in writing how you would like the guardian to raise your children. Because people have different beliefs and ideas, you should leave them with your wishes for the upbringing of your children.

4. You Will Need Several Directives

Depending on the goals for your estate planning, you will need to leave several directives. The most common directives include medical care, financial power of attorney, a limited power of attorney, and trust.

Health Care Power of Attorney

A health care power of attorney designates an agent to make decisions regarding your medical care. 

Financial Power of Attorney

With a financial power of attorney, you a designated agent to manage your financial affairs — your power of attorney will have the responsibility of paying bills, taxes, and having access to your assets on your behalf.

Limited Power of Attorney

As the name suggests, with a limited power of attorney, you designate an agent to act on your behalf when it comes to certain issues. For example, you might be able to grant them limited power to sell your home. 

The agent won’t have any other responsibilities aside from selling the home.

Trust

You can designate a living trust to divide or designates portions of your estate while you’re alive. For example, you can designate a certain portion of your assets to go towards your medical care should you become sick.

5. Keep Track of Your Beneficiaries

Once you’ve done an inventory of your assets and selected your directives, the next step is to review your beneficiaries. 

Start by going through your insurance and retirement plan policies and making sure you have the correct beneficiaries. For example, with life insurance, you can designate what percent each of your beneficiaries will receive. 

When it comes to your other material possessions such as jewelry, motorcycles, and more, you should name who will receive each of those items. 

It’s also a good idea for you to name backup beneficiaries for each of the items.

6. Get the Opinion of a Professional

Because creating an estate plan is a complex process, you should enlist the help of an expert. Estate planning attorneys will help you walk through the process and even include items you never thought about.

When you have a large estate or children, it’s advised you work with an estate planning attorney. They will be able to answer all of your questions. 

Follow This Estate Planning Checklist

Now that you know about this estate planning checklist, you’re ready to get the process started. Remember to do an inventory of your assets, designate beneficiaries, determine your goals, and get the expert’s opinion.

Do you need the help of an estate planning expert? Contact us today for a consultation.

The Basics of Child Guardianship

Today, there are over 400,000 children living in out-of-home care. 

There are manyreasons for this. While some of these children have no living parents, the majority do have at least one living parent.

If you know a child whose parents are unable or unwilling to take care of them, you could consider applying for guardianship to ensure that their rights are protected.

Read on to learn more about child guardianship and whether it might be a good option for you.

What Is Guardianship?

So, what does it mean to be a guardian? Child guardianship is a legal process that gives guardians the right to make certain decisions in respect of children (a child under guardianship is called a ward).

These decisions will often mirror parental decisions. For example, a guardian may be entitled to decide where a child attends school, where they should live, and what medical treatments they should receive.

Guardians are also generally responsible for a child’s day-to-day requirements. This includes the provision of food and housing, and transport to and from school and other activities.

There is also a form of guardianship in which a guardian takes charge of just a child’s estate. This is common in situations where the child has significant wealth, or where they require ongoing medical care. A guardian’s role here is to ensure that funds are used responsibly, in the way that best serves the interests of the child.

In all cases, guardianship continues until the child turns 18. 

Is Guardianship Necessary?

Applying for legal guardianship is a complex and potentially costly affair. You should therefore try to avoid it unless it’s entirely necessary.

In a case where a child has no parental figure, it will usually be required. Quite simply, a child needs a competent adult to manage their affairs, financial and otherwise.

Who Should Act As a Child’s Guardian?

If a deceased parent has named someone to act as guardian in their will, the responsibility will fall to this person in most cases. If there is a dispute over their suitability, the judge will place a lot of emphasis on the wishes of the parent but will independently evaluate suitability.

In many instances, however, more than one person might be well-suited to the role of guardian. If there is a dispute as to who should do it, the application can be a much more difficult process.

If there is disagreement as to who should occupy the role of guardian, a family lawyer can help you to tease out the important issues. Guardianships impose obligations which your lawyer will understand and be able to explain. Usually, the person best-positioned to meet these obligations will be the best guardian.

If no one from the family is fit to act as guardian, a county-appointed guardian may be required. 

Child Guardianship

Courts recognize that children are not legally capable of making important decisions for themselves. Therefore, a child who does not have a responsible adult in a position to make such decisions is assumed to need one.

So unless there is disagreement from another potential guardian of the child, courts are usually happy to consider a willing adult for the role.

Adults, on the other hand, are assumed to be able to take care of themselves. While this is not true in every case (such as where a person is disabled or suffering from dementia), judges require substantial proof that an adult is incapable of making important decisions before making them a ward.

The Benefits of Child Guardianship

There are a couple of reasons why child guardianship might be right for you.

Guardianship allows children to receive basic care where their biological parents are not in a position to provide it. 

It is a more secure option than custody. While custody of a child allows you to see to the day-to-day welfare requirements of a young person, it confers very few solid rights in terms of their long-term care.

Guardianship can also be used in cases where a child has to live away from home but still has a good relationship with their parents. This might be due to attending school in a different state, for example.

What Does a Child Guardianship Lawyer Do?

Child guardianship cases are not always straightforward.

A child guardianship lawyer will be able to advise you whether or not you need a child guardianship. If you do, they’ll support and inform you through every step of the process.

What Is a Guardian Ad Litem?

If a judge feels it is necessary in a given situation, they can appoint a guardian ad litem. This is a person who represents the interest of the child in any legal action that concerns them.

The guardian ad litem will usually be a lawyer. It is important to note the difference between a guardian ad litem and a county-appointed guardian; a guardian ad litem is an attorney that participates in the legal proceedings only.

These figures ensure that the interests of the child are the guiding objective in all legal matters.

Give a Child a Chance at a Better Life

Nobody wants to see a child in distress. If a young person does not have a responsible adult who can make important decisions for them, it will have huge implications for their quality of life.

When there is no better option, a child guardianship can be a positive force in the life of a vulnerable young person.

To learn more about how we can help you become a legal guardian, contact us today.

5 Things to Consider Before You Create a Trust

setting up a living trust

You’ve worked hard to build up your property and your savings. What’s the best way to protect your estate and pass it on to your heirs?

You could write a will, but a will has its drawbacks. An estate can be tied up in probate for months, with fees eating up some of the inheritance. People concerned about these issues have another option: creating a revocable trust.

Here are 5 things to consider when setting up a revocable trust.

1. What Is a Revocable Trust

A revocable trust is a legal arrangement in which an individual (the settlor) shifts ownership of personal property into the legal ownership of the trust. This property can include all types of assets, including land, bank accounts, houses, jewelry, or intellectual property. A revocable trust can be set up at any point and can also be changed or dismantled if desired.

The trust is overseen by a trustee, who may be a family member or friend, a corporation, a bank, or the person who originally created the trust. 

The trust agreement documents the settlor’s instructions, including how the assets are to be managed, who receives income from the trust, and who the beneficiaries are.

The trust names the beneficiaries that will inherit at the termination of the trust, such as when the settlor passes away. The beneficiaries could be individuals, such as friends and family members, or organizations, such as charities.

2. Differences Between a Revocable Trust and a Will

When choosing whether to create a revocable trust or a will, there are many aspects to consider.

Going Through Probate 

The main reason people chose to establish a living trust is to bypass probate, the process through which the courts oversee the distribution of property from a will. Since a revocable trust does not go through probate, it can sometimes be settled faster, and can save the costs of the probate process.

When a will is executed, going through probate can take a year or longer, and the personal representative in charge of the will might need to report regularly back to the courts. The estate must also pay probate costs, such as fees owed to executors, attorneys, or accountants. These fees can add up to 5-10% of the total estate.

Fees

Since the creation of a revocable trust requires a property to be listed and then transferred to the living trust, the process of setting up a living trust can be much more expensive than writing a will.

Creating a Will and a Trust

In most situations, you will need to create both a will and a trust.

A will created in addition to a revocable trust can address the distribution of all assets not included in the trust. In one simple type of will, a “pour-over will,” everything that hasn’t been assigned to the trust gets “poured” into it, including property that was not originally transferred to the trust, or property that was acquired after the trust was created.

3. Revocable versus Irrevocable Trusts

There is another type of trust commonly used in estate planning: irrevocable trusts.

A revocable trust transfers ownership of estates and assets to the trust, but the settlor keeps the power to change or terminate the revocable trust.

An irrevocable trust permanently transfers ownership of assets to the trust. The settlor cannot revoke the trust or control the property. For this reason, most people choose a revocable trust instead. However, some people favor an irrevocable trust because it can assist in nursing home planning.

4. Transferring Assets to the Trust

Since a revocable trust holds the estate and assets of the settlor, it takes a lot of paperwork to set up a trust. 

When creating a trust, make a list of all the assets you own. This can include the land you own, large items like your home or car, small items such as your jewelry, or financial assets such as stocks and life insurance properties.

Once you have listed your assets, you will need to find paperwork for all the assets, including automobile titles, property deeds, stock certificates, or life insurance information. Some of this paperwork will need to be redone as you transfer your assets to the trust. For instance, after you set up a living trust you will need to get a new deed for your house, showing that the house is the property of the revocable trust.

After the assets have been placed in a trust, the settlor can allow a trustee to manage the estate and administration work. This is one reason people choose revocable trusts.

5. Providing for Minor Children

If you have children who are under 18 years old, you must create a will to name legal guardians for your children in the event of your death. You cannot name a legal guardian for a child in a revocable trust. 

However, you can set up a child’s subtrust within a revocable trust. In this case, the successor trustee would manage the property you leave to the child. 

Setting up a Revocable Trust

If creating a revocable trust seems like the best way to protect your assets, our team can advise you on all the details that go into the creation of a trust. Contact us to learn more.

5 Essential Tips to Have in Mind When Looking for a Corporate Lawyer to Represent Your Business

Business attorney

As a business owner, you need to have a business attorney to represent you in times of need. Troubles with a contract, employee problems, and customer claims are just a few reasons why a business lawyer is an essential part of your team.

Because of their importance, hiring a business lawyer is a task that shouldn’t be taken lightly. A simple search on your internet browser can lead you to many local business lawyers, but you don’t want to hire anyone you come across. 

You need to ensure that the attorney you decide to hire is one who will represent you when needed and provide you with excellent service as someone you can trust for years to come. Continue reading below for a few secrets on how to find the right attorney for you and your business!

Here’s everything you need to know about finding someone who’ll be the best fit!

1. Request a Consultation

If you believe you’ve found a lawyer that you like, request a consultation before making a final decision. When you sit down with him or her, this is the time to figure out as much about him or her as possible. Get to know the attorney’s personality and if it goes well with yours and your business.

Use this time wisely. Ask all questions you have and give full details about your business and what you expect from the attorney. 

Then, allow the attorney to explain how he or she will provide you with your business needs and how he or she will meet these expectations. Ask what the process for attorney and clients is as well. 

It’s a good idea to ask about the cost of this consultation before the meeting, so you know what to expect.

2. Ask for Recommendations 

If you’re having a hard time finding a lawyer or two to schedule a consultation with, then begin asking friends and family members for recommendations. There’s a good chance that someone you know knows a good attorney that is well respected in your area.

As a business owner, you most likely have a few business partners or business friends. If this is the case, then be sure to ask them what attorney they work with as well. 

Choosing someone who has a good reputation with your business friends gives you peace of mind knowing that you’re making a solid decision. 

3. Research Their Experience 

Having a few recommendations from friends is a great starting point. You should do some of your own research as well. Take the time to do an online search to research in-depth the attorneys that you’ve selected.

How much experience does each attorney have? Aside from years of general experience, how many years of local experience does each attorney have? 

You should try to find someone who has plenty of experience working in the area where your business is located. Each state and city has its own guidelines, laws, and regulations for businesses. 

You’ll want to hire someone who is familiar with all of these specifics. 

4. Ask for Referrals 

Another great thing to ask from the attorney is for referrals. If he or she is a reputable attorney, then he or she will have several referrals to offer you. Once the attorney gives you a few referrals, be sure to reach out to these past clients. 

Call each referral and ask them questions about their own experience with the attorney. Learn about all the good the attorney has done for them and even some of the not-so-great experiences. 

5. Assess Different Fees 

The fees that an attorney charges shouldn’t be the only determining factor you use to decide who you’ll choose. There are great attorneys who charge hefty fees and great attorneys who charge much smaller fees. 

What you need to be aware of, however, is that not all attorneys are great attorneys. Don’t let the price of one sway you in a certain direction without doing the rest of your research first. Once you have a few great attorneys narrowed done, you can then use their fees to determine which one is a better fit for you. 

6. Locate a Local Attorney

Locating a local attorney is important because this will be someone who knows about the area and other local businesses as well. Think about what legal needs your business has. A local attorney should know how to handle these legal needs in the area where your business is located. 

Choosing someone who’s local also helps when it’s time to set up a consultation. It also helps when it’s time to meet up with your attorney in person for future meetings as well. A local attorney might also have strong relationships with local officials and courthouses. 

All of these factors can come in handy when it’s time for the attorney to defend you in a case. You can access local lawyer directories to ensure you’re only shifting through attorneys that are local. 

Do You Need an Experienced Business Attorney? 

If you’re a business owner, then you need to hire an experienced business attorney who can be by your side during your most crucial times of need. 

You never know when you might be faced with difficult times and in need of an amazing, experienced, local attorney who you can trust.

Click here to contact us today to see how we can help you with all your legal business needs!

What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do? This is What You Need to Know

By 2030, one out of every five Americans will be 65 years of age or older. Never before has the country had such a large over-60 population. 

As the population ages, elder care and elder law are becoming more complex. Families are increasingly struggling with the documentation and processes associated with living well in old age.

Keep reading to learn how an elder law attorney can help you and your loved ones manage the changes and challenges of aging. 

What Is Elder Law?

What is elder law, exactly? At its simplest, it is the body of law that deals with the elderly, their needs, and their rights. 

Elder law covers a wide range of concerns, including:  

  • Estates, estate planning, and trusts
  • Guardianship or conservatorship issues
  • Disability and special needs planning 
  • Long-term care arrangements 
  • Elder abuse 

Within each of these categories are numerous sub-categories of laws, rights, and limitations.  

Estates, Estate Planning, and Trusts

Estate planning is the process of deciding what will happen to a person’s belongings, including their home and finances when he or she dies. Although estate planning is its own category of law, it is also considered elder law. 

Guardianship or Conservatorship Issues

Illness, dementia, disabilities, and other conditions can render elders incapable of making decisions for themselves. When this happens, another person must step in and make decisions for them. Determining who that person should be and completing the paperwork to make that decision legal is elder law. 

Disability and Special Needs Planning 

The disability planning portion of elder law includes protecting one’s assets and ensuring resources for care in the event of a disability. Disability planning is important for elders, but also for families in which a child or other disabled party is dependent on the elderly person in question. 

Long-Term Care Arrangements 

Long-term is consistently more expensive than Americans realize. To make matters worse, few Americans understand the complicated restrictions associated with Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ benefits. Hiring an elder law attorney is often the only way to properly prepare to meet the demands of long-term care costs. 

Elder Abuse

Vulnerable elders may become victims of physical, emotional, or financial abuse. Elder law covers their rights and protections. 

What Is an Elder Law Attorney?

An elder law attorney is a lawyer who specializes in elder care issues. He or she: 

  • Understands the complexities of elder care law
  • Knows the laws and regulations specific to Wisconsin Medicaid planning
  • Is experienced in helping families walk through the legal processes necessary to protect themselves and their assets 
  • Can break down complicated legal topics into easy-to-understand language
  • Can protect your rights or your loved one’s rights in the event of abuse 

Elder care attorneys can assist you and your family in:

  • Making important decisions
  • Financial planning
  • Completing critical paperwork to ensure your decisions will be recognized and respected

Decision Making

Often, elders aren’t even aware of all the decisions they need to make. Many have incorrect assumptions about what they need or can expect. 

Elderl law attorneys can educate elders and their families on what questions they need to ask and answer. They can explain standard practices and options. Through this, they can help families reach the decisions that will serve them best. 

Financial Planning

As one gets older, financial planning becomes far more involved than simply having a 401k or other investments. Depending on one’s age, health, and assets, it can include:

The laws and restrictions regulating these activities vary by state, so it is important to get the help of a legal professional when drawing them up. 

Completing Paperwork

In the modern world, aging comes with an abundance of paperwork. Much of it is obscure or confusing. Worse, if it is not done absolutely correctly, it may be considered invalid. 

An elder care attorney can help families complete or draw up: 

  • Medicare or Medicaid applications
  • Veterans benefits applications 
  • Revocable living trusts
  • Estate planning documents
  • Living Will and airtight Power of Attorney documents

When to Get an Elder Law Attorney

Now that you know what elder law attorneys do, how do you know when you need one?  Realistically, if you or a loved one is 65 years of age or older, or is at or approaching retirement age, it is smart to consult an attorney. 

Finding an attorney is particularly important if the elder: 

  • Is disabled or has disabled dependents 
  • Owns a business or other substantial assets
  • Has acute or chronic health conditions
  • Has been married more than once or is recently divorced
  • Has no children or does not have good relationships with their children

When in doubt, best practice is to consult with an attorney to ensure that your plans and documents are adequate, legal, and complete. 

How to Find an Elder Law Attorney

When choosing an elder law attorney, there are few key factors to keep in mind.

First, make sure you are selecting an attorney experienced in elder law. Not just “any” attorney will do. You need to select an attorney or firm with experience in elder law

Second, choose an attorney located and licensed to practice in your state. Elder law varies widely from state to state, as do the requirements for essential documents such as living wills and trusts. Choosing a local attorney can ensure you get assistance customized to your state’s requirements. 

Finally, choose an attorney that you or your loved one is comfortable with. Elder law involves discussing and making decisions about deeply important and personal issues. Selecting an attorney that you trust can make those difficult conversations easier.  

Talk to an Attorney Today

If you or your loved one is aging, don’t wait to contact an elder law attorney and make sure your affairs are in order. There is no substitute for the peace of mind that comes with knowing your family will be protected even if the worst happens and no better gift you can give the ones you love. 

Contact Wisconsin elder law attorneys to get started today.

What Is Municipal Law? A Simple Guide for Beginners

There are so many areas of practice in the law; criminal, bankruptcy, family, civil rights,  entertainment, and many more. 

We hear about these areas of law and the court cases that come from trying to uphold this laws all the time. 

But there is one less known area of law which actually affects every day life quite a bit. And that is municipal law. 

If you want to learn more about municipal law and if it even applies to you, you are in the right place!

What Does Municipality Mean?

In order to really understand municipal law, we need to back all the way up and learn what a municipality is. 

The definition of a municipality is a community with a local government and specified boundaries. This includes towns, cities, or villages. 

These areas are formally organized by the larger state where they are located. They are given the authority to have their own laws and standards, as long as they are in line with the state’s laws as well. 

Municipalities and their governments were created in order to give the state’s a way to outsource some of the necessary services. This includes water, garbage disposal, and utilities. 

What Does Municipal Mean and What Is Municipal Law?

Since we understand that municipality is a defined area with a local government, it follows that municipal is a part of that. 

The municipal definition is the governing body in that area. And municipal law is the rules, regulations, and standards that are set by that governing body. 

This type of law gives those in the municipal government set limits to their power and also gives the community regulations to keep things running as smooth as possible. 

Municipal government officials are elected by the people living within their boundaries. After they are elected they are then responsible for upholding the law, adding to the law, and in certain circumstances working with the community to change outdated or unnecessary laws. 

Some of these municipal government titles include mayor, city council, or commissioners. 

Many of these elected officials are required to follow the laws set by their municipality but many of them were not actually trained lawyers before getting their position. 

Who Does a Municipal Attorney Represent?

There is a lot that a municipal government may want to do to help or improve their community. But they do not just have free reign to do whatever they think is necessary. 

A municipal law attorney is their advisor on what they are and are not allowed to do within the government. 

These types of attorneys do not represent a person but instead represent community governments, council boards, or other municipal groups. 

Often a municipality will have a contracted attorney that they can use often for counsel, not just when they are a part of a lawsuit. That attorney is hired through the government.

But a citizen may also need a lawyer who understands and is familiar with the local municipal law as well. If they believe there has been an issue with the upkeep of the law, they need someone who can argue that law for them. 

Many law firms can help people understand specific laws in their community, like estate planning or property management. 

What Falls Under Municipal Law?

Okay, so a municipal government has the responsibility to continually improve their community and make sure it is successful. But they also have the responsibility to stay within the bounds of the law. 

So what exactly falls under municipal law that these government bodies are working under and also creating?

This list obviously varies from place to place, as each governing body has come up with different regulations to cover specific needs. 

But, generally speaking, municipal law covers any liability the municipality may have, use of power, and space management. 

One of the most important aspects of municipal law is in drafting new ordinances for the municipal laws. There are very specific processes and standards that adding to the law takes. A lawyer can help the government body make sure that what they are doing is legal so that it can go through. 

Another common practice of municipal lawyers has to do with zoning for properties. Each community is divided up into sections; business, residential, etc. So the municipal government keeps up with all things concerning the zoning and building in the city. 

Municipal law also covers police operations, what they can and cannot do. These lawyers also deal with some traffic prosecution as well. 

There are a lot of areas that are covered within municipal law. A lawyer with specific training in this type of law is so helpful to make sure everything is done correctly. 

Why Is Municipal Law Important?

There are laws in place to keep order and structure, to maximize safety, and to promote personal rights. 

Each government entity has their own set of laws that are within their jurisdiction, from Federal to State to County to Municipality. That is a lot of laws to keep track of and uphold. 

A municipal lawyer is someone who is trained in municipal law but also has a thorough knowledge of all applicable laws (Federal on down).

This type of lawyer is critical to making sure the government runs as smoothly as possible and that citizens are also protected against abuse of power. 

If you want to learn more about municipal laws or anything legal, please contact us today! 

What Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit? 5 Main Types of Personal Injuries

personal injury lawsuit

We all know it in the back of our minds: injuries and accidents happen, we’re just waiting for the next time they happen to us. It’s bad enough when an accident is inevitable, but when it occurs because of someone else’s negligence, you shouldn’t be left to foot the bill.

That’s why personal injury cases are so common today. They give you an opportunity to hold the person accountable while minimizing the damage you have to suffer.

Although every case is unique, they all boil down to a few top categories and types of personal injuries.

1. Car Accident Cases

Every year, there are 2.35 million people injured in vehicle accidents in the US alone. Many of these injuries are mild, but some of them are life-changing.

In a car accident lawsuit, you need to prove that the other driver was at fault or mostly at fault for the collision. You also need to be able to prove your injuries and damages.

It’s important to recognize that your settlement isn’t only meant to cover the costs you’ve already incurred. You need to consider the future repercussions of your injuries too.

For instance, you may need ongoing physical therapy or even home nursing care. If your future career prospects are damaged or ended because of your injury, you should be suing for that loss as well.

2. Medical Malpractice Cases

To many victims, medical malpractice cases are especially emotional. After all, you put your trust in a medical professional, and when they are reckless with your health, it feels like a betrayal.

With a medical malpractice case, one of the most critical challenges is proving that the provider failed to meet the minimum standard of care.

For instance, there are known risks to certain procedures and medications. If you happen to have complications despite the doctor taking all the necessary precautions, you wouldn’t win a malpractice suit.

Instead, these lawsuits are meant for cases when doctors fail to meet their minimum requirements. For instance, if a surgeon doesn’t sterilize their equipment properly and it causes an infection, you’re likely to win that lawsuit.

3. Assault, Battery, Other Intentional Injuries

Most of the time with vehicle accidents and medical malpractice cases, the person who injured you is being reckless and neglectful. They aren’t necessarily injuring you on purpose.

Assault, battery, and other intentional injury cases are different. The person actively chose to do harm to you rather than just choosing to take risks with your safety.

For this reason, plaintiffs in these cases are more likely to receive damages above and beyond their financial losses. That could include pain and suffering payments or punitive damages. If you aren’t familiar with the term, punitive damages are meant to be punishment for a defendant’s actions.

In these types of personal injury cases, the more documentation you have, the better. This is one of several reasons why it’s important to file a police report when an assault or battery occurs. Police reports are viewed as highly reliable evidence rather than he-said-she-said stories from the people involved.

4. Slip and Fall or Premises Injury Cases

Personal injury cases don’t always deal with a person’s actions in the moment an incident happens. Sometimes the problem is that the person didn’t take preventative measures to keep you safe before the incident occurred.

Premises injuries like slip and fall cases are prime examples of this.

Any property owner has a responsibility to take precautions to make their property safe for visitors. That includes commercial properties like stores and restaurants.

A slip and fall case is exactly what it sounds like. You’re on someone else’s property and you injure yourself because they didn’t take precautions like mopping up a spill.

However, you may also be able to sue a property owner due to their failure to protect you from crime.

For example, you’re leaving a restaurant late at night. Thanks to a lack of lighting or security in the parking lot, it attracts criminals and they rob you. You can seek damages from the property owner for failing to take precautions against a known risk.

5. Dog Bite Cases

This category might seem specific but it’s surprisingly common. As much as every pet parent loves their furry friends, there is always a risk involved.

As far as the law is concerned, a pet owner is liable for any damage or injury their pet causes. It varies from state to state, but in Wisconsin, owners are liable for the cost of any dog bite or other injuries their pets cause.

In some cases, the damages can be more extreme. If an owner knows their dog has bitten someone in the past and the dog bites someone again, the owner may need to pay double the financial damages to the second victim.

This is meant to force dog owners to take more responsibility if their pet is known to be aggressive. While any dog can bite at any time, owners need to take extra precautions if they know their dog has this tendency.

As with other injuries, you may be able to receive damages for future consequences of a dog bite. For instance, perhaps the bite scarred you and you need reconstructive surgery for the scar. You can seek damages to pay for that surgery.

Understanding the Types of Personal Injuries for Your Case

In all types of personal injury lawsuits, one of the biggest problems for plaintiffs is a lack of knowledge. Some people don’t bring a lawsuit at all even if they deserve compensation because they worry about the process and the hassle or they don’t realize they have a case.

While it helps to have a basic understanding of the types of personal injuries, your next step is to hire a lawyer who can take the case off your hands. To find out if you have a case, call our personal injury attorneys today.

Estate Planning 101: All You Need to Know About Estate Planning

estate planning 101

No matter how old you are, it’s never to early to start some estate planning.  Some simple measures can make a world of difference for you and your family, even if that eventuality is way in the future.

You also do not have to be a multimillionaire to take advantage of the laws surrounding trusts and estates. Some careful planning with the assistance of a qualified attorney can help you make preparations now while you are creating your legacy.

Here is a broad overview of Estate Planning 101 to help you get started. These questions will help guide you as you begin to plan for the future.

1. Where Do You Live? 

When you begin to plan your estate, you first need to consider where you live.

If you live in Wisconsin, you will not have a state estate or inheritance tax. However, if you own property in a state that does have this kind of tax, like New Jersey or Pennsylvania, that state may levy taxes on your beneficiary or your estate.

If you are very wealthy now or in the future, your estate may be subject to federal taxes.

However, there are other financial benefits to estate planning, even if you do not expect a large tax bill. If you place certain accounts in trust for your children, they may derive tax advantages while the money grows over time.

2. What Do You Have? 

Owning property, a business, life insurance, or other items of value means you should plan for their distribution after your death. 

The more money you have, the more you need an estate plan. However, even people who consider themselves middle class can benefit from having a will and even trusts to determine who gets what. 

If you have a large family, you may want to specify who gets how much of your estate. You may wish to include only those who will need it. You may wish your money to go to your children, but to be managed by another family member until they are aged 25 or 30.

Passing your assets to beneficiaries through a trust can also be more expedient than going through probate. Probate can be a long and contentious process. If you plan your estate carefully, the people you leave behind will have access to your property and money through a trust more quickly.

3. Who Do You Take Care Of?

If you have small children, you should have a will and estate plan. No one in their twenties or thirties likes to think they may die one day, but unfortunately, terrible things do happen. You want to take care of your family, just in case the worst happens.

In addition to making financial arrangements for your children, you may also want to designate who will take care of them. Some wills will name a guardian for minor children if both parents die.

You may also name someone to administer the estate, (control the money) after you pass away. They might be given the responsibility of deciding on what the money in the estate can be spent for the benefit of the children. For example, they might be able to approve college tuition but not the purchase of a motorcycle.

If you have someone with disabilities in your family who is unable to work for a living, you may want to make special provisions. There are trusts that can be set up for the benefit of disabled people which provide special protection. These special needs trusts may be funded by an inheritance from you.

These trusts aim to ensure that your family member is taken care of throughout their life.

5. Who Do You Trust to Take Care of Your Affairs? 

When you plan your estate, you must choose someone to pay your debts, distribute your assets, and make sure that all of your wishes are followed. This will be your Personal Representative. 

You can give your Personal Representative a wide range of power, including the ability to file taxes on trusts, distribute monies to beneficiaries, and even arrange your funeral.

Your Personal Representative can be your spouse, a trusted child or friend, or a lawyer or accountant. You should also name alternative Personal Representatives in case they predecease you.

You can also assign someone the responsibility to make end-of-life medical decisions on your behalf.

6. What Does Your Family Structure Look Like? 

Did you remarry late in life? You may want to make specific provisions to leave your estate to the children of your first marriage.

Do your children fight over money frequently? Is there a member of your family who is unworthy of inheriting from you? 

Are your family members well off, or do you want to teach them the true value of hard work? You may wish to give a portion or all of your estate to a charitable organization.

Estate planning will solidify your wishes to reduce infighting in your family and make sure your assets go to whom you want them to go. 

7. How Do You Want to Enjoy Your Retirement? 

Estate planning specialists and lawyers can help you get the full value of your money before you die.

Estate planning should start well before you retire.

Estate Planning 101: Not As Hard as You May Think! 

Estate planning 101 does not have to be difficult or morose. In fact, it is a great feeling to understand you can make the most of your income and provide for yourself and your family in the future. 

By exploring your options and setting up your affairs now, you will reap the rewards for a long time to come.

For more information on planning your estate, contact us