Tuesday, November 29, 2016

For Business Owners - The DANGER of Not Having a Power of Attorney & a Will!

If you own a business and haven't made proper arrangements, you are leaving your employees, customers, business associates, and family vulnerable.

For instance, what if something happened to you?  What if you were 1) disabled and unable to perform your duties; or 2) deceased?

Whether you have a family business, a sole proprietorship with employees, have a partner, or are a one-person show, you are going to need to have a couple things in place to be certain that things can proceed without you.

  1. Make sure that at least one other person has the knowledge to continue without you.  This doesn't mean that they have to know how to personally do every task, but they do need to have an idea of how to get it done. 
  2. Make sure that at least one other person has the legal authority to continue without you.  You need to have a Power of Attorney in place that allows your chosen agent to administer the business if you become unable to do so.  You also need to have a valid Will & Testament in case you are deceased. In it you need to name an Executor so that someone can get legal authority to make sure that your business continues or is properly sold or transferred.  (Some businesses may already have documents in place that specify with buy-out or transfer in the event of death of a partner or owner. In these cases the Executor will make sure this process happens). 
  3. When a business person dies without a will the situation is much more complicated as a legal matter and a practical matter. 
A little planning in advance will help take care of the business that you have worked so hard to establish.  Without this pre-planning, your survivors could be facing a difficult situation.  

Civil Attorneys, Family Law, Business Law, Real Estate Law, Probate
"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us to your family!

Warmest wishes for a holiday filled with good company, good food, and good health!

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Can Your Attorney Withdraw from Your Case?

Can your attorney withdraw from your case?

It is permissible for an attorney to seek withdrawal from a case. If your case is in litigation, the judge in the case will need to approve the withdrawal of the attorney.  This withdrawal may be approved by the judge as long as the case is not too close to trial (or other deadlines) and the case can proceed without that attorney. The judge may deny the withdrawal if s/he believes that it would be an undue hardship on the client, on other party or a hardship to the court's schedule. It may also be denied if the judge believes that the attorney is being unreasonable. 

If you have a case which is not in litigation (lawsuit is not filed yet, or it is not the type case in which a suit will be filed), the attorney may notify you that s/he is no longer representing you.   

There are times when the attorney's withdrawal is a mutual desire and decision upon which the lawyer and client agree.

Here are some other reasons that an attorney may desire to withdraw from a case:

  1. The client is not cooperating or communicating with the law office. 
  2. The client is not doing what is requested by the attorney or required by the law (refusal to answer discovery, for example).
  3. The client has stopped paying legal fees. 
  4. The client is rude, disrespectful or verbally abusive to the attorney or office staff. 
  5. The client has missed appointments with the attorney, or not shown up for mediation or hearings.
  6. The client has asked the attorney to proceed with the case in a way that the attorney believes is unethical, illegal or ill-advised. 
Keeping the lines of communication open, being respectful of each other, working together and meeting responsibilities of the attorney/client relationship make it less likely that either party will become dissatisfied with the relationship. 

Family Law, Business Law, Real Estate Law, Probate
"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.
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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Family Heirlooms: Gift or Guilt?

"Family heirlooms" can present a problem when drafting a will or when dividing property in an estate. When I am helping clients with their wills, I have noticed that this is often a sticking point. They sometimes agonize over which family member should inherit an item, a collection, or a piece of land.

Since I help Executors in probate cases, I also see how heirlooms are ultimately divided. I see the agony and the joy that the executor and the heirs go through as the heirlooms are settled in their new homes.

Determination of what to do with heirlooms is so personal. It is difficult to give "one size fits all" advice but here are a few observations.
  1. "Heirlooms" come in all shapes, sizes and values.  
  2. The monetary value of the object may have nothing to with its emotional value. 
  3. Very often, the value of the heirloom is different to the giver (testator) that it is to the receiver (beneficiary). 
  4. Sometimes younger family members do not feel the same attachment to historical items and may not even want them. 
  5. The value placed on items is very individual and may not be predictable. For instance, your daughter may not care about a vase worth five thousand dollars but may covet an inexpensive piece of costume jewelry worth about $12 that she remembers seeing her great-grandmother wear.
  6. Keep the personality and habits of your heirs in mind. For instance, if your son is completely unattached to "things" and throws away things of value regularly, you may want to reconsider leaving him your "collection" of anything. 
  7. Inheritance of heirlooms may lead to guilt (someone keeping something because they feel they "have to"). 
  8. Someone may hope fervently that they are going to be left an item in your will but feel that it is indelicate to ask. 
  9. If you are comfortable doing so, consider discussing important items with your heirs. 
  10. If you are comfortable doing so, consider allowing your executor to distribute the items as s/he sees fit, rather than specifying a distribution yourself. 
  11. Don't deprive yourself of selling items that you could use for your survival in the impression that you need to pass it down. This also goes for selling real estate. You may be thinking that your heirs would enjoy living on the family land or owning it and they may have no intention of ever moving there and may prefer that instead you take good care of yourself! 
  12. If you are a beneficiary who has been left with items that you don't want and cannot keep, try to look past the conflict that you are feeling.  Remember that the item(s) are an expression of caring.  That is ultimately the most important thing to remember.   If you must sell or give away what you have received, try to do so in a way that honors the person who left it to you. (suggestion: passing it on to another family member or selling it and making a charitable donation of all or part of the proceeds.).

Family Law, Business Law, Real Estate Law, Probate
"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.
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