Mar 24 2010

Preparing for the Future with Good Estate Planning

Take a look around your home; would you describe it as an “estate”? If not, you’re certainly not alone. The vast majority of persons in America today live a middle class lifestyle with a comfortable if not simple home and perhaps just enough money in the bank. However, estate planning is not just for those who have an actual “estate.” This simply refers to planning for the future, and specifically for after you’re gone.

Which, of course, is not something that most people want to think about, but a responsible adult knows the value of estate planning. Without proper planning and paperwork, your estate can wind up in probate court for months if not years, and your family may need to fight for what’s rightfully theirs.

Preparing a Will

Of course preparing a will is the cornerstone of good estate planning. You may not think you have enough possessions to make up a will but remember that it doesn’t need to be detailed, item by item. Most simply state their spouse gets control of the estate, or may direct that things be split equally between their children, and so on. Of course a will can be as detailed as you would prefer.

A will helps to keep your estate out of probate court any more than necessary. Without a will, your family may be forced to make several court appearances as someone else decides upon your possessions.

There are many other aspects of estate planning you should consider. For example, what about a living will? This gives direction as to your wishes if you should become incapacitated and need machines to keep you alive. Also, do you have adequate life insurance so that your family is provided for after you’re gone? What about your final resting place; have you made these wishes known and have put these things in writing?

Estate planning doesn’t need to be complicated; typically it can be handled with brief meetings with an attorney so that they can guide you through every necessary process. It may not be the most pleasant subject, planning for after you’re gone, but it is one of the most responsible things an adult can do. This article is not meant to replace the legal advice of a lawyer.

Find out how estate planning can help your family from the attorneys at Wurtzel Law of Long Island, NY.


Mar 24 2010

Debt Settlement Versus Bankruptcy

  • Bankruptcy can have long lasting and serious consequences

  • Debt settlement offers an alternative to bankruptcy

  • Under debt settlement a skilled negotiator will try and reach agreements with the creditors for large discounts on the debts

Bankruptcy allows someone who is struggling with high levels of debt to start again, free of debt, or through structured payment plans. However, applying for bankruptcy can have serious and long lasting consequences including making it extremely difficult to obtain credit in the future and preventing you from working in certain professions. It is a very serious step to take and anyone considering bankruptcy should take legal advice from a bankruptcy lawyer to make sure it is the best option for them.

Bankruptcy is not the only option if you find yourself drowning in debt and there are alternatives that should be considered before any decision is made about filing for bankruptcy. In America a common solution is debt settlement. With debt settlement you allow a skilled debt negotiator to talk to your creditors and try and agree deals to settle the debts for much less than what is owed. This way the creditor at least gets some of the money they are owed in a shorter time frame but agreeing that the creditor will take less than they are owed is not easy. While agreements are being negotiated the debtor can be earning and paying the money into a separate account and these savings can then be used at a later date to pay off the creditors. The whole process usually takes between two and four years.

While there have been some well publicised cases of unscrupulous debt settlement companies, generally if you find a good debt settlement company, they will advice you on whether it is worth pursuing a debt settlement agreement or just to file for bankruptcy. You should approach a debt settlement company with an established reputation and a long history of sorting out debt problems. You can make an application with several different companies to get a good feel for each before making a decision.

Other legal resources on bankruptcy: The Jodat Law Group bankruptcy attorneys with offices in Sarasota, Florida.


Mar 24 2010

Child’s Play Can Lead To Serious Injury

  • Playground accidents can lead to serious injuries

  • Necessary precautions should be taken to prevent injuries on playgrounds

  • 150,000 accidents a year on playgrounds

Children will always end up with bruises and scratches as a result of rough and tumble in the playground, from a game of football in the local park or tripping up while playing tag in the school yard. However, children can suffer horrific injuries from falls sustained from playground equipment or if a piece of loose clothing gets caught in the merry-go-round. Such incidents can result in brain injuries and spinal cord injuries if the child lands on his or her head, strangulation injuries, broken bones and serious frictional burns.

While it has to be accepted that accidents to happen, many playground accidents could have been prevented if the playground designer, equipment manufacturer or school took various precautions to stop these accidents from happening

Playgrounds should be fun and safe for children but a report by Safe Kids USA stated that around one hundred and fifty thousand children under the age of fifteen suffer serious injuries each year after accidents on play grounds and end up in hospital. These injuries are down to defects in playground equipment and around seventy five percent of these accidents occur in public places such as the school playground or the local park.

Not all playground accidents are a result of defects or due to a design fault, however injuries do occur because the playground had improper protective surfaces, the playground is not adequately maintained or children are allowed to play on playground equipment not appropriate for their age level. Inadequate supervision is a main cause of accidents in the school playground.

If your child has been injured as a result of a playground accident you may wish to consult a lawyer to see if a defect in playground equipment has contributed to the accident or of lack of supervision of your child led to the injury.

For more legal information on playground equipment defects visit the website of The Barber Law Firm in Dallas, Texas. This article should not constitute legal advice.


Mar 22 2010

What is Felony?

In the United States and in other countries, the crime of felony is considered very serious. The term comes from English common law where it originally referred to a crime involving the amputation of the lands and goods of a person found guilty of the act. Other crimes were termed misdemeanors. Majority of the common law countries have eradicated the distinction between felony and misdemeanor. They use other distinctions instead, such as between indictable offenses and summary offenses.

Is Felony a Crime?

The United States is one of the exceptions among these countries. To the present, the U.S Federal government classifies a felony as a crime which has a corresponding sentence of either more than one year imprisonment or death penalty. Misdemeanor is a classification of crimes punishable by a year or less.

Forms of felony

Felonies include crimes such as murder, rape, aggravated assault and/or battery, illegal use or sales of drugs, arson, burglary, robbery, grand theft and vandalism on national property. Broad classifications of felonies depend on the circumstances when the act was committed – it could either be violent or non – violent.

Some offenses may be considered as felonies or misdemeanors. The circumstances play a significant deciding factor. For instance the possession of a deadly weapon is known to be generally illegal, however the offense becomes more serious when the same weapon is brought into a constrained area such as a school, regardless whether the offender intends to use the weapon or not. Some convicted of felony may face one or more years of imprisonment but in more serious forms of felonies like murder, death penalty is also probable.

Punishment for Felony

In 1776 at common law when both the British and American legal systems separated, felonies were punishable by death or confiscation of property. The penalties have been adjusted in modern times depending on the severity of the offense. The sentences could range from something as minor as probation or imprisonment to something as severe as execution for murder or other grave offenses. In the United States, convicted felons are deprived of the comforts of a normal citizen such as the loss of the right of suffrage in many states, loss of opportunities to work in certain industries or difficulty in getting employment. One may also be prohibited from acquiring certain licenses, or firearms, bullets and body armor. Moreover, one may lose his right to acquire a position in any public office. In some states, the conviction of felony may also be used as basis for uncontested divorce. These privileges that will be deprived from a felon are termed as collateral consequences of criminal charges. Aside from the privileges listed, the judge may include other loss of privileges upon sentencing. Lastly, a felon who is not a citizen of the United States will be deported after he has served his sentence.

This article is not intended to give legal advice.

Further Legal Information: Visit the site of Attorneys at Law Will & Will and learn more about felony crimes and punishment. Locally serving businesses in San Bernardino, California.


Mar 22 2010

Illegal Income and Tax Evasion

In the United States, even when income is obtained illegally, by gambling, theft, or drug trafficking, are still required to report their income in annual tax return filings if they are subject to the Internal Revenue Code who. Anyone who is suspected of lawbreaking, including, most famously Al Capone, have been successfully prosecuted for tax evasion when it has not been possible to prosecute them for their non-tax related crimes.

Reporting Illegal Income

According to the United States Supreme Court, reporting illegal income does not violate an individual’s right to remain silent should they be put under arrest for illegal activities. The process of tax evasion remains a popular method for prosecutors to trap criminals.

In other instances, tax evasion is applied and used as a final nail in the coffin by prosecutors. It is often deemed that if a person earns illegal income, they are also likely to be guilty of tax evasion. Anyone who attempts to report illegal income by suggesting that it coming from a legitimate source can be charged with the crime of money laundering.

According to UK law, however, law enforcement agencies cannot generally have access to tax returns information. This makes it a lot harder for illegal earnings to be safely declared. In practice, however, anyone undertaking criminal activities will usually try to avoid reporting the income, rather than risk discovery. Notably, a Soviet spy, Aldrich Ames, earned more than $2 million cash for his espionage and was subsequently charged with tax evasion as none of the Soviet money was reported on his tax returns. Ames also tried to argue that the tax evasion charge should be dismissed on the grounds his espionage profits were illegal. This effort was unsuccessful, however.

Reporting Tax evasion and Corrupt Tax Officials

When it comes to illegal income and tax evasion, however, it is not only the income itself or the lack of reporting that opens up problems. There are sometimes issues with tax officials that affect individuals with illegal income that they either do not report or otherwise try to report on their income tax returns. Corrupt tax officials are those officials working for the IRS who may nonetheless choose to cooperate with the tax payers who intend to evade taxes. They may, for instance, avoid reporting tax evasion when they discover it, in return for a bribe. Such corruption among tax collectors is certainly a problem in underdeveloped countries although it is sometimes also a problem in countries like the US. Tax lawyers and chartered accountants can also be involved in helping taxpayers including firms and companies, to evade taxes, in much the say way that Clearing and Forwarding agents help in evasion of Customs duties. The removal of human interface is considered the best solution to this problem.

This article does not give any legal advice.

Contact the business tax lawyers Thorn Law Group about business tax issues. Offices located in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia.


Mar 22 2010

Labor Occupational Safety and Health Standards in US

This is concerned with ensuring the safety, health and welfare workers in the environment they work in. The goal is to foster a safe working environment. In addition, it applies at a secondary level where it also protects co-workers, customers, family members, employers, suppliers, neighboring communities, and other members of the public who are likely to be affected by the workplace environment. Basically, the contract spells out what the employee should expect in terms of wages, holiday rights, dismissal notice and job description among others. This may vary from one party to another, but depends on the legislation of the country the work is present.

International Labor Organizations

The International Labor Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have shared a common definition of occupational health since 1950, having been adopted by the Joint ILO/WHO Committee on Occupational Health at its first session in 1950 and revised at its twelfth session in 1995.

The Labor Law History

Labor Law can be traced to the Industrial Revolution era when there was an increase in the demands of the labor market. Demands increased for better working conditions and the right to organize, with opposing demands from employers restricting the workers from gaining power in order to keep labor costs low. This was seen as a threat because the workers’ organizations would push for the implementation of laws that require health and safety standards as well as higher wages and equal opportunities. Trade unions were seen as political driven in order to gain power through industrial disputes. The Labor Law has transformed over the years depending on the state of the society at the time.

The US Labor Law consists of both state and federal laws. Federal Law overrides the state law in many jurisdictions giving workers in the private sector rights to organize while limiting the federal government employees. However, these Federal Laws do not apply to state and local government employees, agricultural workers or domestic employees.

This article is not meant as a legal advice.

Located in Florida, the Shavitz Law Group can provide legal advice about labor occupational safety and health hazards.


Mar 22 2010

Vehicle Defects and Accidents

The sad reality is that several people are killed on an annual basis as a result of car accidents. A large percentage of these accidents can be avoided if people rectify their vehicle defects. Many of the defects are attributed to manufacturing anomalies. If a vehicle does not meet the necessary standards, this can cause serious injuries and even death to the people who occupy the vehicle.

Filing for Vehicle Defects Related Accident Claim

If a person is hurt owing to the failure of the manufacturer to produce safe cars, he or she can hire an attorney who deals with vehicle defects cases. The attorney begins by taking a critical look at the situation before establishing whether a lawsuit can be filed against the manufacturer of the vehicle. Anyone who suffers an injury that they strongly believe was caused by vehicle defects should contact a lawyer who will help him to get compensation for whatever loss is incurred.

An accident that results from a defective vehicle cannot be considered to be a typical accident because the vehicle defects caused the accident. There are specified standards that vehicle manufacturers are expected to meet and this determines the rating of cars when they crash. There are a number of vehicle defects that the law recognizes. Manufacturing defects are those that occur in the process of manufacturing a vehicle. If a manufacturer fails to include a safety feature such as air bags when designing a car, this is regarded as a defect caused by the negligence of the manufacturer.

Who is liable for vehicle design defects related accident?

Design defects are defects that come about in the designing process such as wrongful placement of certain devices that can interfere with the functions of the vehicle. If a manufacturer does not provide adequate warnings about a possible hazard within the vehicle, this makes the manufacturer liable for any damages that may result from the dangerous aspects of a vehicle. It is always a good idea to keep the vehicle as evidence that will be required during a trial. Manufacturers are responsible for the safety standards of vehicles by making sure that they are not hazardous.

This article is not made for providing legal advice.

Visit SearcyLaw.com to know about vehicle design defects law. Assisting drivers all over Florida.


Mar 22 2010

The Corporation and Legal Personality

The major and most interesting feature of the corporation is its legal personality, which is separate from the incorporators or shareholders. The court refers to the legal personality of the corporation as the state of being an artificial person or plainly the corporation’s personhood. The English law confirmed the legislation of the legal personality in 1895 under the House of Lords from the case Salomon v. Salomon.

Legal Personality

The creation of the corporation being a legal personality serves its own purpose as it relates to the corporation’s unintended consequences. This is specifically true with small family owned companies. The case proceedings of the B v. B in 1978 led to the well thought development of the legal personality of the corporation. The discovery order pursued by the wife towards her husband became ineffective against the company of the husband because it was separate and considered as distinct person. The court did not recognize the claim for the proceeds of an insurance policy under the case of Macaura v. Northern Assurance Co. Ltd. The policyholder transferred the name of the beneficiary of the insurance policy from the policyholder’s name to the name of the company wholly owned by him. The fire destroyed the company but the insurance policy and the property now belonged to the company, which terminated the insurable interests of the policyholder. The claim for the proceeds of the insurance policy failed considering the company is a separate legal person distinct from the owner and previous policyholder.

Legal Personality and the Court

The concept of the distinct and separate legal personality is not flexible enough when it comes to tax planning. The multinational corporations still handle and manage the responsibility over their overseas operations liability. The case proceedings of Adams v. Cape Industries Plc prohibited the asbestos poisoning victims to sue the English parent of the American subsidiary for tort case. There are conditions that the court may interfere behind the corporate walls and impose liability directly at the incorporators of the company such as representation of the company as a mere façade, the company plainly operates as an agent of the controllers, and the company’s representative took personal responsibility over an action or statement. The court can also move in when the company proves to be engaged in serious criminal or fraudulent activities.

This article does not imply any legal advice.

Legal Resource: Attorney at Law Ned Kimmelman, serving corporations in South Florida.


Mar 22 2010

The Constraint of Sovereign Immunity

Accidents involving government vehicles are administered by the Federal Tort Claims Act. The government can only be sued when circumstances involve a private person who is found accountable to the claim according to the place where the act occurred.

Sovereign Immunity and Car Accidents

Vehicle liability is normally exempted from sovereign immunity. This happens when a government employee is involved in a car accident. Often these include emergency vehicles like police cars on a pursuit, fire trucks hurrying to a fire or ambulances rushing through to reach the hospital. It is possible that these cases do not take place in emergencies, for instance, a car being rear – ended by a government truck or public school bus.

The application of government immunity laws may vary depending on the state where the accident occurred. The point that must be exceeded to begin establishing the driver’s liability and fault is considerably higher when you are making claims against the government compared to what is needed in a normal accident case where the vehicle involved is owned by a private entity. Cases which involve emergency vehicles are more complex. The system naturally differs when circumstances include an actual emergency. However factors such as whether the emergency crews had employed measures to preserve the safety of the public (e.g. turning on the siren) are also considered.

How to Recover Damages

If you want to recover damages caused by a government employee, first you will have to file an administrative claim with the government entity. Majority of government entities give a victim very little time to carry out this action, typically between 30 – 180 days. After this period imposed, it will be impossible for you to get compensation for your losses. A number of government units provide claim forms which you can fill out and then submit to the agency liable for your accident. If the government will ask a settlement, make sure that you will receive an equitable amount. On the other hand, if your claim is denied you will be sent a letter, however you still have an option to sue the government in a law court. The letter will inform you the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit.

Litigations against the government are typically more complex therefore it is very important to seek advice from a knowledgeable car accident attorney regarding this type of case.

This article is for information purposes only and not a legal advice.

Contact Injury Attorneys Kenneth J. Allen Associates for more information on government immunity laws from. Helping citizens in the states of Illinois and Indiana.


Mar 22 2010

Avoiding the Probate Process

The probate process is not a one day affair. It can take several months or a year at the most. Substantial monetary costs associated with attorneys and the courts are incurred during this period. Living trusts help in avoiding probate. This entails the transfer of property from an individual to a trust. In this case, the individual is referred to as a settler/creator. The trust established is controlled by the said settler. The beneficiaries obtain ownership of property after the death of the settler. A living trust has the added advantage of maintaining privacy through avoiding public scrutiny.

Using Bank Accounts and Brokerage Accounts

Another sure way of avoiding probate is through having bank accounts with paid on death designations and brokerage accounts with transfer on death provisions. This ensures automatic transfers to the chosen beneficiary or beneficiaries. If the property happens to be real estate, a life estate deed must be executed through the naming of a beneficiary to a deed by the testator.

As a matter of fact, naming beneficiaries on all assets is a sure way to avoiding probate. Life insurance is a good example of this. Declaring an estate belonging to the insured person as the contingent beneficiary will once again lead to probate. Incorporating right of survivorship to joint tenancies and savings accounts also avoids probates. Probate and the estate can be bypassed through the use of segregated funds. These have a provision within them that enables the designation of a beneficiary. This is however not a guarantee of tax elimination. The definition of a taxable estate under the modified federal estate law is any property received by a party after the death of the owner including payable on death and transfer on death finances, life insurance and property held in living trust.

Overcoming Tax Advantage Limitation

Properly structured inter vivos trusts have been known to reduce tax but not eliminate it. The complete avoidance of tax is only possible through the irrevocable give away of an entire estate or leaving it to a recognized and qualified charity. Heirs can benefit from up to twice the total estate if a married couple had credit shelter trusts that enabled them to preserve both unified credits.

This article should not be treated as a legal advice.

For more information about probate process, visit the website of Attorney Adrian Philip Thomas. Serving clients in the state of Florida.