Monday, October 26, 2015

Powers of Attorney for Specific Events

Did you know that you can give power of attorney to someone you trust for a specific event or to cover a specific time? 

Well, you can!

The most common use of a specific power of attorney involves real estate closings.   A seller of a property who is leaving the area may not wish to return to the area simply for the purpose of signing the final paperwork.   In fact, returning for that one event often does not make good sense financially. In this case, the seller is able to give a power of attorney to his/her agent. The agent can be a trusted friend, family member, lawyer, or other professional and will attend the closing for the seller.

A power of attorney document may also be specific in other ways.  For instance, if you travel often for business you may wish to give power of attorney to your trusted friend solely for the purpose of paying your utilities/cable, or communicating with those companies if there is a problem.  There are many other uses for a power of attorney document in personal life and in the business setting. 

The power of attorney document can also have a specific term.   Most expire within a year or two. However, there are some situations in which it makes sense for the document to continue indefinitely (until it is revoked or the grantor (person who is signing it) dies.  They can also be written to take effect only if the principal (the person signing it) becomes disabled. 

This is a very flexible document that can be tailored to fit your specific needs.  So, if you have a situation where you need someone to "stand in your shoes" for you, consider getting a power of attorney.

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
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Monday, October 12, 2015

Now that You are Ready to Sign your Will ....

Once you have visited with your attorney, given careful consideration to the contents of your Last Will and Testament, and filled out and returned any forms that your attorney has requested, your will is drafted and ready for your review.

This post is a guide for our clients at Kalish Law Office.  If you have another firm drafting your will, the steps and procedures may differ.  However, all firms will want to be certain of two things before you sign your will   1) that your will accurately follows your wishes; and  2) that you understand what is in your will.

In our firm, we meet with the client(s) in a consultation appointment.   Occasionally, a client will know exactly what he or she wants and will have no questions at all for the attorney.  However, that is pretty rare. Most people have at least a few questions, even if they have a current will that they are updating.

At the consultation, the client and the attorney ask each other questions and share information to be certain that everyone has the same goals.  The client will be given a fill-in-the-blank form to take home.  This form assists the attorney in drafting the document and guides the client through the decision making process.

After the client has completed the forms and returned them and communicated further with the attorney to clarify issues and desires, the documents are drafted.

At this point, we have our clients review the draft completely.  We answer any questions the client has and share any further advice that we have for the client to consider.   We make sure everything is clear and accurate.  We ask the client to confirm the spelling of names of the people or charities named in the Will.  If the client requires and additional appointment, phone conference or explanation, we provide it.

After all changes have been made, questions are answered and the client is happy with the documents "as is", we print the final copy and schedule an appointment for the client to sign.  A notary and witnesses will be provided.   The client walks into the office ready to sign and is provided with the originals and a copy of the signed documents, once they are complete.

Our procedure was created to save valuable time for the client, attorney, notary and witnesses. It also helps ensure that the client has the encouragement to ask questions and  prevents a client from signing a document that s/he is not comfortable with or s/he has not reviewed.   Our goal is to provide accurate documents, provide good customer service to our clients, and help make the process easier!

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
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Monday, October 5, 2015

Terminating Parental Rights of an Absent parent

Clients often come to us asking for advice on whether they should try to terminate parental rights of their child's other parent.  In some of these cases, the biological parent has been literally absent for years, not paying support and not seeking visitation.
Each state has specific laws regarding how parental rights may be terminated.  This article pertains to the law in Texas.
Parental rights may be terminated voluntarily or involuntarily. When voluntary, the parent whose rights are being terminated will consent to the termination, and file the proper paperwork or appear in court.  If involuntary, the person contests the termination of his or her rights, and the judge will make the final decision. 
If you are a parent who is thinking about seeking termination of an absent parent's rights, here are some things you should know; 
1. The courts will be protective of the rights of all the parties. You may know that he/she has been a terrible parent, but you will have to prove it.  You should gather any evidence that you have. People are often shocked to discover that they have to go through several legal steps and have solid, specific proof to terminate a "deadbeat" parents rights.
2. The court may appoint an attorney to represent your child.  Often called an "attorney ad litem", this attorney will gather facts, interview involved parties and witnesses, appear at hearings, and make recommendations as to the "best interest of the child". 
3.  Another attorney may be appointed to represent an absent or unknown parent. 
4.  You will have to reveal where the other party is; or reveal his/her last known location. You, your attorney, or another attorney connected to the case will have to contact, or make best efforts to find that person. If there has been a long period of time with no communication, you should consider what might happen when communication is resumed.  (this is especially important if the other parent may be violent).
5. The court will require that a home study be performed by a qualified person, in order to gather information about the parties and their environment.
6. When budgeting for the case, you should consider the costs of the attorneys ad litem and home study. As the person filing the suit ("petitioner") you will usually pay these fees.  (some counties have "Family Services" departments which perform the home studies and the fees are on a "sliding scale" based on income).
There are times when the "best interest of the child" requires that the parental rights of a biological parent be terminated.   Although the procedure is an emotional one, it can be an important step to building a healthy family and moving towards the future. 

If you believe that this may be right for your family, the first step is to consult with a knowledgable attorney who practices family law and is familiar with Texas law involving termination of parental rights (or the law of your state).
Kalish Law Office has been representing clients in family law courts since 1984. The firm's website can be found at www.kalishlawtexas. com  

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