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Why Do You Need a Medical Power of Attorney?

In the estate planning process, you probably have heard that you need a medical power of attorney. This is a document that allows another person to handle your medical care if you can no longer make medical decisions for yourself. If you don’t have a medical power of attorney or if you are on the fence about whether you should have one, there are a lot of reasons why you should. Here is why you need a medical power of attorney. What the Power of Attorney Can Do Your medical power of attorney acts on your behalf during a medical emergency. If you are mentally incapacitated for any reason, whether from an accident or illness, a power of attorney can make medical decisions for you. This person has to be a mentally sound adult and should be someone that you trust. If you cannot communicate your medical wishes, then this is the person who can relay your wishes to the medical professionals. What Happens When You Don’t Have a Power of Attorney There are several conditions that require a medical power of attorney. If you’re involved in an accident that causes a mental impairment or where you lose consciousness for an extended period of time, you can’t make decisions for yourself. Without a power of attorney, who makes those decisions for you? The decision is out of your hands if you suffer from an illness or injury that incapacitates you. The court has to designate someone to be in charge of the decision-making. Normally, this will be your next of kin. It may be a spouse or it could be your children. Your loved ones may struggle to figure out what your wishes would have been. There may be fighting amongst family members and you can never be sure that your loved ones will honor your wishes if they were unaware of them. To be appointed someone’s power of attorney is a big job. It is better if your power of attorney is prepared in case something were to happen to you. You do not have to suffer from an illness or predict that you will be incapacitated to have a medical power of attorney. Many people choose to have a power of attorney to protect them in case of an accident or emergency. It is better to be prepared. To help you appoint a medical power of attorney,...
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Answers To Questions About Legal Separation and Divorce

What does it mean to be legally separated? Is a legal separation the same as a divorce? During your marriage, you may have considered these questions only academically, if at all. However, now that your relationship with your spouse is no longer sustainable, the question has taken on concrete significance. Many people use terms like “divorce” and “separation” interchangeably. However, they do mean specific, disparate things in a legal context. It is important to understand these meanings to decide which action you want to take. How Are Divorce and Legal Separation Similar? When you divorce or legally separate from your spouse, you indicate that you no longer intend to live together and share the relationship you once did. In both cases, you will have to negotiate certain issues with your spouse such as property division, spousal and/or child support, and child custody. There will be a legally binding agreement that outlines each party’s obligations. How Are Divorce and Legal Separation Different? The most fundamental distinction is that a divorce ends your marriage to your spouse, while a legal separation does not. While legally separated, you are not allowed to marry anyone else, while a divorce frees you to remarry if you wish. If you and your ex-spouse were to reconcile after a divorce and wished to be married again, you would have to have a whole new ceremony. This is not necessary after a legal separation because the first marriage hasn’t ended. The availability of divorce and legal separation varies by jurisdiction. Divorce in one form or another is available in all 50 states. However, some do not recognize legal separation. Other states, however, not only recognize legal separation but require it for a period as a condition for granting the divorce. Why Do Some Couples Choose Legal Separation? Some couples are not yet entirely convinced that they want to divorce, even when the relationship is not healthy. These couples may choose legal separation on a trial basis to see if divorce is reasonable or determine if reconciliation is possible. Other couples have economic reasons for remaining married to one another. They may receive tax benefits or be close to qualifying for Social Security. Sometimes couples separate so that one spouse will remain eligible for coverage under the other spouse’s health insurance policy. Whatever your reasons for wanting to separate from your spouse, an attorney, like a family lawyer...
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When Do You Have To Appear in Court for a Traffic Ticket?

A traffic officer may issue a citation for a number of violations of traffic law. These can include offenses like speeding or running a red light as well as driving drunk or reckless endangerment. The ticket will usually carry information informing you whether or not you need to go to traffic court. The requirement is usually based on the seriousness of your offense. Criminal Offenses There are two types of criminal charges that may arise from a traffic violation: felony or misdemeanor charges. The less serious of the two is the misdemeanor. Misdemeanor charges arising from a traffic violation include driving under the influence, driving with an invalid license, or reckless endangerment. These offenses are crimes that involve the possibility of prison time if convicted. Therefore, you are usually required to go to court for offenses such as these. While most criminal offenses relating to traffic violations are misdemeanors, some are so serious that they rise to the level of a felony. If someone is seriously injured, killed, or put in mortal danger as a result of your behavior behind the wheel of an automobile, these may be considered aggravating factors that can raise the offense to the level of a felony where it would otherwise be a misdemeanor. Traffic Infractions However, most violations of traffic law are only infractions. These are not serious offenses committed with criminal intent. Mostly, they are the result of carelessness or thoughtlessness. Nevertheless, they still pose a potential danger to yourself, your passengers, and others with whom you share the road. It is often not required for you to appear in court for a traffic infraction. As an alternative, you can choose to pay the fine and mail it in with your ticket. However, if you take this course of action, keep in mind that it amounts to an admission of guilt that will stay on your driving record for a long time and could result in demerit points against your license. You may choose to go to traffic court to contest the ticket even if it is not required of you. If you can present a valid, reasonable case, it may be possible for you to get a favorable ruling from the judge. Another possibility is that the judge may choose to throw out your case summarily if, for example, the officer who issued the ticket does not show up to court....
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Full Circle: When Insurance Companies Want Their Money Back

In most personal injury cases — whether it’s an auto accident or a slip and fall — it’s usually an insurance company that pays the resulting settlement in any case. Companies try to undershoot the amount they believe one is owed in damages and a lawyer puts together a convincing argument with compelling evidence to persuade why their client deserves a certain amount of money. That said, insurance companies are very knowledgeable and know how much any case is worth in terms of damages. After a settlement has been made, everyone goes back to “normal” and the case is all but forgotten. It takes a very special set of circumstances to cause an insurance company to sue someone to get their money back, like a scenario playing out in Hanover, WA. The Hanover Area School District What happened was that the Hanover Area School District had overpaid a special education student transportation contractor. After several months of failed negotiation attempts to get the money back, the insurance company, American Alternative Insurance Corporation, paid the district for their loss. Now it’s the insurance company who is suing the contractors Frank J. and Dorothea Ciavarella in the amount of $244,121 plus interest and costs. The district isn’t off the hook though, as a state auditor’s office had investigated the initial overpayment where amongst several other issues, the office called out a school board member on abstaining from voting to approve the payments to the contractors who happen to be closely related. The contractors in particular just so happen to be the parents of a board member. In the case lies four counts against the contractors:  Breach of contract for failing to return the money after being notified of the error. Unjust enrichment by keeping the money despite knowing of the error and over-payment. Conversion of “the overpayment money for their exclusive use.  Negligence “for failing to realize the over-payments that were being made to them” and “failing to reimburse the overpayments.”  Looking at the details more clearly, one could argue that in there may have been some conspiring between the district and the contractors and that ultimately, the real victim wasn’t the district, but rather the insurance company for getting wrapped up in the matter in which, a separate case may need to be opened up against the district. State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said, “The district should also develop a...
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Why Is a Financial Disclosure Important During Divorce?

Splitting up after years of marriage is difficult for many reasons. Aside from the loss of companionship and future plans, you may face an uncertain financial future. One of the requirements of all divorcing couples is an accurate accounting and disclosure of all financial matters. This means you and your spouse must account for all assets and debts held jointly or separately. What are the repercussions if this step is not performed? Find out more about the impact the financial disclosure has on your divorce and what a judge might do if you hold something back. Individual Bank Accounts You and your spouse may have shared equally in all income, assets and debts while married. Thus, you assume your disclosures will look similar. However, there may be more going on than you know. If your spouse initiated the separation, they might have opened a separate bank account. Attorneys and financial advisors tell clients it is wise to start an individual checking account before or during a separation. Your financial disclosure should include this personal account. Dividing Assets and Debts A fundamental element of every divorce, regardless of the state, is the division of property between the spouses. There is no uniform way this is done. States usually either split property equally or equitably. The court will use the financial disclosures and the identification of what each spouse owned before the marriage. Most laws allow divorcing spouses to keep anything they held before the union. Only the items procured during the marriage or those with both spouses named that are divided. Hiding Finances The court does not look kindly on a spouse who attempts to hide assets. The court itself does not go in search of the money, but the opposing spouse may. The reason for one spouse stashing cash from the other usually has to do with the fear of paying a substantial settlement. For example, if one spouse stayed at home to raise children while the other’s career advanced and flourished, the career spouse may feel it unfair that they have to share some of that money with the one who didn’t have a job. However, according to many courts, staying at home to raise children is worthy of equal or equitable compensation during a divorce. When one spouse is found to be hiding money, the court may penalize them with the loss of the asset in its...
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