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Needing a will? Here are some things to think about:

Though we don’t like to think about it, we are all going to pass away at some point.  If it is important to you who will get your assets after your death, you should have a will drafted for you.  If you do not have a will and pass away, you will be deemed to have passed away ‘intestate’ and the disbursal of your assets will be done according to governing statutes. Complex issues often arise after a death in the family, and a will can help resolve any issues that arise.

One of the most important steps in drafting a will is naming an executor.  The executor carries out your last wishes and oversees the distribution of your assets.  You want to name someone who is dependable and trustworthy as your executor.  I recommend checking with that person to make sure they are agreeable to be named as an executor as you don’t want to surprise them with your designation.  Additionally, if you have minor children it is also important to name a guardian who will care for your children in the event of the death of both parents.

Another important consideration to think about is whether you need to set up a trust in conjunction with your will or to merely set up a trust in place of a will.  People with minor children may wish to set up a contingent trust as a part of their will in the event both parents pass away.  This allows them to have a say in the care of their children and to determine the terms of when their assets will be disbursed to their children.

Some important things to think about when formulating your will:

Children: If your children are minors, who will care for them and when do you want to disburse your assets to them.

Pets: List pets and provide instructions for the care of the pet.

Disposition of Property: Indicate who gets what and how much.

Children’s Guardian: A personal guardian is listed for the care of our children.

Property Guardian: If needed, an individual who is guardian of property held for the children until they are legal adults.

Executor: This person ensures the will is carried out.

Payment of Debts and Taxes: Instructions for how any outstanding debt or taxes are paid.

No-Contest Provision: This legal statement says that if a beneficiary contests the will, they get nothing.

In certain circumstances, if you are a business owner or have significant assets it may be beneficial to establish a trust instead of a will.  This allows your beneficiaries to bypass the probate system and can bring significant tax savings.  I recommend you speak with an attorney to determine whether you need a trust or if a will can provide the same benefits.

Simple tips for when you are involved in a car accident

There are many important procedures and precautions to know at the time of a car accident. During the confusion and anxiety you may not think of what to do. You very likely may never have given a thought about what you need to do. Here are some simple tips to be aware of when you are in a car accident.

1.      Driver and passenger injuries

Not every injury is apparent at the scene. You or your passengers may have adrenaline running through your body masking your injuries, sometimes serious injuries.  Many people feel fine the day of the accident, but wake up the next day with a stiff neck or back pain.  So it is extremely important to seek medical attention and get yourself checked out on the day of the accident.  If needed, you should follow up with your primary care provider or chiropractor the next day.

2.     Know your surroundings

There is nothing worse than being in a car accident and not being aware of the speed limit and traffic lights/stop signs in the area.  Look at the basics of the area and be able to use this information when presenting your side of the story to the office at the scene.

3.     Damages and injuries at the scenes

If someone is injured or the damages are over $1,000 you should call the police to make a report. Take pictures of all damage and make notes of everything that happened. If the vehicle’s repair cost exceeds its current value it is considered totaled. Generally, it does not take a lot of damage to total a vehicle.

4.      Witnesses

Witnesses are key in determining who is at fault in an accident. This witness can even be a traffic or security camera pointed at the street that taped the accident. Always get names and contact information of everyone who witnessed the accident or the scene afterwards.

5.      Driver’s Behavior

If the other driver has any level of impairment due to alcohol use, call the police immediately and do not confront this driver.

6.      Get their information

Get the information of the other driver, specifically get their name, contact information, insurance information, driver license, license plate number, and write down the details of the accident.

7.      Location of car

If no one is injured, move the car to a safe location out of traffic. If it cannot be driven put on the hazard lights (if possible). Don’t move the car if someone is injured or it will put anyone in danger. If you are unsure of what to do, wait for the police.

8.      Name the time, date and exact location.

Be able to recall the time, date, and exact location for the police officer/insurance company.

9.      Previous Damage

Check and see if the other vehicle has damage that may not have been caused by this accident. This can include damage away from the collision site, cracks or dents that were not caused by this accident.

Remember to always call the police in the event you are in an accident. Exchange information with the other driver, but avoid being confrontational.  If the other party is angry or aggressive, wait to exchange information until the police

What you need to know about personal injury law

Unexpected events happen rarely but when it does happen, you need to be prepared. You should always take legal action when there is a loss on your end monetarily or medically.

This is a quick overview on what to do in case you need in the event you have a personal injury case.

1)    Personal injury falls under many categories. The most popular categories are traffic accidents, slip and fall accidents, workplace injury, medical malpractice, or anything that causes harm to a mentally or physically.

2)    When you have a claim you need to get a lawyer so you can understand everything. You should meet multiple lawyers to make sure they are a good fit. Make sure you are important to them; they will answer your phone calls, and help you understand all of your options. The first meeting should always be free. You can also compare costs to make sure you are getting the best deal.

3)    Preexisting conditions can significantly impact your personal injury case. A preexisting condition is one you had before the accident or injury. They may harm your claim or increase the value of your claim if a preexisting condition was aggravated or made worse.  Always tell your lawyer about any preexisting condition you might have.

4)    See a doctor right after your accident especially if it is physical. You may not realize the extent of your injury so it’s important to have documentation to show your injuries.  You may be unaware that you have long term damage after a serious accident, so it is important to see a medical provider.

5)    You are not wrong, do not think it was your fault. You cannot be the nice guy in a personal injury claim.

6)    Find an experienced lawyer. You need to make sure you get a fair shake and you will be taken care of. Personal injury law requires experience dealing with major corporations and health insurance companies.

7)    Research a lawyer’s reputation and ask for references. Good lawyers will have past clients who will rave about them.

8)    Never give information to an insurance company until you seek legal advice. Speak to a lawyer before you do anything regarding the accident with an exception of cooperating with the police and first responders.

9)    Do not exaggerate or do anything unethical. Do not lie or try to embellish your case. It will always come back to harm you.

Six Tips If You Are Involved In an Auto Accident

The summer driving season is already upon us. If you unfortunately find yourself involved in an auto accident, there are things you should do in all cases, regardless of how much or how little you are hurt.

1. Report your accident to the police and your insurance company. The police report is key in determining who is liable for the accident. If you can, take photographs of the scene of the accident. Make sure to get pictures of the positioning of the cars, broken glass or car parts in the road, the presence of skid marks and all damage to the vehicles.

2. Get the contact information for all people who witnessed your accident. Neutral third party versions of the accident carry significant weight with insurance companies in making determinations of liability.

3. Exchange insurance information with the other drivers involved in your accident. If you fail to obtain information regarding the identities of the other parties, your insurance company may hold you responsible for your damages, even if the accident was not your fault. However, keep your discussions with the other driver limited as you don’t want to say something when you are in an excitable state that may damage your case later on.

4. See if anyone, including you, is in need of medical attention. If you are injured, you should promptly seek medical attention and notify those caregivers that you have been in an accident. Be sure to tell them of all your injuries and make sure to go to follow-up treatments if suggested.

5. Once you have sought medical attention, you should contact an attorney to discuss your case. The other driver’s insurance company will likely call you in the days following the accident to get a statement. You should always talk with an attorney before you give this statement to ensure it is accurate and your version is appropriately conveyed to the insurance company. (Note– if you are at fault for the accident, your insurance company will provide you an attorney if one is needed.)

6. Make sure to document any time lost from work due to the accident and medical appointments and keep track of the mileage for these appointments.

Following these simple steps will assist both you and your attorney in resolving your claim.