Monday morning with Alex Williams’ cartoons

qccartoon

This cartoon is by Alex Williams who draws the Queen’s Counsel cartoons for The Times and in numerous books including The Queen’s Counsel Lawyer’s Omnibus. He offers almost all of his cartoons for sale at £120 for originals and £40 for copies and they can be obtained from this email info@qccartoon.com.

August 10, 2020 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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HOW TO BECOME A BARRISTER IN ENGLAND

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The word lawyer is an umbrella term used to refer to solicitors and barristers. Solicitors can provide general advice on a variety of legal issues. However Barristers are advocacy specialists and independent sources of legal advice. They are specialists in certain legal fields. If a legal court matter involves a complicated specialty issue, a solicitor will find a barrister to take up the issue in court and represent the client. Barristers become involved only once advocacy is needed before a court.

Can I become a Barrister?

Being a barrister is a highly demanding, yet rewarding career. If you think you have an analytical mind, can approach problems logically, and have a sharp attention to detail, you may be able to become a successful barrister. To become a barrister, a solicitor must take exams and meet the requirements set by the relevant Bar Authority.

Qualifications needed to become a Barrister.

The three components of training that are required in order to qualify as a barrister are Academic training, Vocational training, and Pupillage or work-based training.

Academic Training:

To qualify for the academic component, you need a UK honours undergrad degree with a minimum of 2:2 or Lower Second-Class Honours (50-60%) or equivalent. It is preferable that the degree is in Law, however, if it is in another subject, you will have to undertake a law conversion course. This conversion course is commonly known as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).  You will also need to take the GDL if your law degree is over five years old.

Vocational Training:

While some academic courses also integrate vocational training in their offerings, most people start their vocational training after completion of the academic component. To begin your vocational training, first you have to take the BCAT. BCAT stands for the Bar Course Aptitude Test. It is also essential for you to join one of the four Inns of Court. These are the Middle Temple, The Inner Temple, Gray’s Inn, and Lincoln’s Inn. Which Inn you choose to join will not affect the areas of specialization. The Inns are there to support students and barristers in educational and social aspects.

Vocational training equips you with all the specialist competencies required to be a barrister. So far the vocational training was done by taking the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). However from September 2020 the BPTC has been substituted by many new Bar courses. These courses have different names but all satisfy the vocational training component. Some of the courses are Bar Course, Bar/Barrister Training Course (BTC), Bar Practice Course (BPC), Bar Vocational Course (BVC), Bar Vocational Studies (BVS) etc.

Pupillage or work-based training:

Once you have completed the vocational component, you have to complete a pupillage or work-based training to become a fully-fledged barrister. A pupillage is normally split in two parts called the “first six” and the “second six”. Each part usually takes six months to complete. The “first six” are non-practising, whereas the “second six” months are the practising months.

Competition to get Pupillage is extremely tough. One should apply for a diploma before starting a bar course. You may apply to up to twenty different authorized chambers for your Pupillage. If your pupillage application is unsuccessful, you may reapply. You must keep in mind however, that you need to obtain a Pupillage within five years of your Bar Course completion.

There are new training requirements for barristers coming into effect in England and Wales over the next few years. These will hopefully make becoming a barrister less complicated and more affordable. These new policies will also make this career avenue more accessible to a larger number of people while maintaining a level of quality. It is also expected that more training pathways will be approved and be made available after September 2020.

August 7, 2020 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Do I Have to Pay Spousal Support When I Retire?

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As more and more “baby boomers” approach or enter retirement, the question of whether or not spousal support payments must continue after retirement is crossing the desk of every family lawyer in Canada. As with most family law matters, the answer to this question is—it depends. There are multiple factors that influence whether or not an individual will have to continue making full or reduced spousal support payments once he/she has retired.

Calculating and awarding spousal support is a complex matter, as is determining whether payments should continue following major life changes. Let’s start by pointing out one very important fact—retirement alone is not enough to automatically stop or reduce spousal support payments. Every situation is unique, and the outcome of your particular case will largely depend on the reason for retirement, whether or not you or your ex-spouse has re-partnered, the paying spouse’s ability to continue making payments, and a laundry list of other factors.

Does the Retirement Constitute a ‘Material’ Change?

Under the Divorce Act, requests to changes in spousal support arrangements must be due to a “material change in the means, needs, conditions, or other circumstances of either party.” The burden to prove that a “material” change exists is placed on the person seeking the change in payment.

If an individual is approaching retirement, he/she may apply to have spousal support payments reduced or stopped, prior to the actual retirement date. However, timing is important; having an actual date and being able to show that retirement is a certainty and not speculative is necessary for a successful application. Giving the receiving spouse advance notice and being considerate of his/her financial situation will also positively frame the application in the court’s eyes.

Reason for Retirement

The number one question when it comes to the topic of support payments following retirement is whether the retirement was voluntary or forced. Let’s say Gretchen and Larry divorced six years ago and Gretchen has a court order to pay Larry $2,000 per month in spousal support. At 62, Gretchen is at the height of her career but wants to fulfill a lifelong dream of moving to the Seychelles, writing poetry, and trying her hand at organic farming. Does Gretchen have to continue making $2,000 monthly spousal support payments to Larry?

In Canada, the courts will analyze each unique situation to determine whether the retirement is forced or voluntary, whether the payor can seek new employment, and whether the retirement is solely the means to an end of support payments. In the scenario above, it seems unlikely that Gretchen’s early retirement will justify an end to support payments, but there are too many unknowns to say for certain. Is she suffering from such high stress that her therapist advised her to quit working immediately, lest she suffer a mental breakdown or stroke? With regard to spousal support, the devil is in the details. 

Is the Retirement Voluntary or Forced?

When someone chooses to retire, rather than being forced out, spousal support payments are less likely to be stopped or reduced. When it comes to certain financial obligations, people can’t just retire because they feel like it. This is especially true if the court believes the retirement is motivated by a desire to stop paying spousal support.

Is the Retiree Suffering from Health Problems?

When a medical condition negatively impacts an individual’s ability to perform the duties of his/her job or another position for which they are qualified, spousal support payments may be reduced or stopped. But this will be decided on a case by case basis and won’t occur automatically. Anyone wanting to stop support payments due to health-related retirement will need to provide documentation, including diagnosis and long-term prognosis, as well as the expected impact on his/her ability to continue working.

The Big Picture

In addition to the reason for retirement, courts will consider factors such as whether or not the paying spouse has re-partnered, and the financial situations of both the payor and recipient of spousal support. Basically, it comes down to the ability to pay. The courts are tasked with analyzing all circumstances of each request for a change in support payments. Income and assets, including that of a new partner, will likely be considered.

If the individual responsible for paying support has re-partnered with someone of financial means, this may result in an order to continue full or partial payments, even after retirement. In fact, a high-net worth partner may result in the decision to increase payments. If, however, the new partner has little to no income or assets, this may bode well for the payor’s desire to stop or reduce support payments.

Seek Experienced Legal Counsel

Regardless of the situation, a request to change spousal support should not be attempted without the help of an experienced family lawyer, such as the team from Vogel LLP. There are so many variables to consider, and a skilled lawyer will understand how to position you for the best possible outcome. The same is true if you wish to challenge your ex’s application to stop or reduce support payments on which you depend.

August 6, 2020 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?

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Penalties for driving under the influence (DUI), and how long this criminal offense will stay on your driving record varies from state to state, but the average in most states is five to 10 years. There are some exceptions, however. In Virginia, for example, a DUI remains on your driving record for 11 years.

What is a DUI?

Unfortunately, DUIs are one of the most common criminal offenses in this country; about one million DUI arrests occur in the U.S. annually. It’s easy to convince yourself that you’re sober enough to drive or won’t get caught. But both drugs and alcohol can seriously impair your judgment and ability to safely operate a motor vehicle; in fact, even one drink can affect your decision-making skills.

How Can I be Charged with a DUI?

Law enforcement can charge you with a DUI if they suspect that you are operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol. If you are pulled over, cause an accident, or are the victim in another accident, and an officer suspects that you are impaired, he/she may perform a field sobriety test. This may involve administering a breath test (often referred to as a breathalyzer), or having you walk in a straight line or recite the ABCs backwards. In most states, refusing to take a field sobriety test is still grounds to charge you with a DUI, and often leads to additional penalties.

In every state in the nation, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. However, the limit can actually be lower in certain circumstances. In Massachusetts, for example, the BAC limit is 0.02 percent for drivers under 21. This is called a “zero-tolerance policy” law and exists in many states, though the particulars of the law can vary. 

Most first-time DUIs, though still serious, have lighter consequences, such as fines and license suspension. But you can still do time behind bars for a first-offense DUI, and these consequences increase in severity if you are convicted of subsequent offenses. 

What are the Legal Consequences of a DUI?

First and foremost, an intoxicated driver is a serious public health and safety issue. If your driving leads to an injury accident, it will impact the charges against you. Causing injury or death will elevate charges to an aggravated DUI. But DUI’s can also be considered aggravated due to smaller infractions, such as driving with an invalid license or having a minor in the vehicle. Aggravated DUIs are often charged as felonies. 

DUI penalties are largely dependent on the state, the circumstances of your arrest, and whether you have prior DUIs or criminal convictions. For example, in California, the penalties for non-aggravated DUIs are as follows:

  • First offense: Up to six months in county jail, at least three months of a DUI program, a $390 to $1000 fine, and either a four-month license suspension or six months with an ignition interlock device (IID) installed.

  • Second offense: 90 days to one year in county jail, 18 to 30 months of a DUI program, a $390 to $1000 fine, and either one year with an IID installed or a two-year license suspension. 

  • Third offense: 120 days to one year in county jail; three to 30 months of a DUI program; a $390 to $1000 fine, and either two years with an IID installed or a three-year license suspension. 

At the fourth or higher offense, or in the case of an aggravated DUI, you will likely be charged with a felony.

Even after your license is reinstated, you may be put on DUI probation, which can look different depending on your unique circumstances. In whatever form it takes, DUI probation restricts your driving privileges. You may be issued a restricted license allowing you to do essential driving only, such as commuting to and from work.

It’s also important to note than a DUI shows up on two records–your driving record and your criminal record. Although it disappears from your driving record after a period of time, a DUI will remain on your criminal record permanently. There are some circumstance however where a conviction may be removed through a process called expungement.

Will a DUI Affect My Auto Insurance?

Outside of criminal penalties, a DUI can be devastating for auto insurance rates. Premium hikes are especially punishing in California, where the rate increases by an average of 164 percent in the wake of a DUI conviction.

The best form of prevention for all of these consequences is to avoid driving while under the influence of any substance. However, if you do find yourself facing DUI charges, a DUI defense attorney, such as the team from The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian, will explain your rights and options and help you with the process.

August 6, 2020 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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How to Get a Green Card in the USA

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A green card is a physical document authorizing a foreign national (citizen of another country) to permanently live and work in the United States. As long as the individual adheres to certain regulations and doesn’t break any laws, he/she can remain in the United States indefinitely with permanent resident status.

But getting a green card can be a difficult process, especially for foreign nationals who may not speak English and are unfamiliar with the system. As such, it is extremely important to hire an experienced immigration lawyer if you want to obtain a green card in the USA.

Paths to Becoming a Permanent Resident

There are multiple paths to permanent residency, but most individuals are sponsored by a U.S.-based employer or family member. Under certain circumstances, refugees and individuals seeking asylum may also be eligible for a green card, as may victims of human trafficking and other forms of abuse.

There are other means of obtaining a U.S. green card, however, and these different paths to permanent residency are explained in more detail below.

  • Family sponsorship: When an immigrant to the U.S. has a parent, spouse, child, or sibling that is currently a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and has the financial means to provide support, that family member may sponsor the foreign national’s green card. 
  • Employer sponsorship: Individuals with advanced degrees and unique skills may be sponsored by employers who want to hire them. Vocations that sponsor a larger percentage of immigrants for employment include engineering, research, tech, science and medicine, and academia.
  • Asylum seekers/Refugees: Citizens of another country who are being persecuted due to their race, religion, or nationality may be able to obtain a U.S. green card as a result. Those who are currently displaced from their home country due to the threat of violence or death may also be eligible for permanent residency.
  • Adoption: A child under the age of 16 who is adopted by a current U.S. citizen or permanent resident may qualify for an adoption-based green card.
  • Investors: An individual who invests into the U.S. commercial economy in amounts of at least $500,000 may qualify for permanent residency if the investment also creates a certain number of full-time jobs.
  • Lottery: Each year, a total of 50,000 immigrants are chosen at random to receive a green card.

In certain situations, individuals may qualify for permanent resident status based on other factors. These special circumstances may apply to foreign nationals who have lived in the U.S. since at least 1972, certain diplomats who are unable to return to their home countries, and some religious workers, government employees, and graduates of medical school.

Determining eligibility and how to go about applying for permanent residency should not be handled without the help of an experienced immigration attorney by your side. The system is complex and constantly evolving, and even minor errors can result in excessive delays and outright denials.

It’s also important to note that permanent residency is not the same as citizenship. Although a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) can live and work in the U.S. for as long as they choose, they have several limitations when compared to citizens. Namely, permanent residents cannot vote or get a U.S. passport. Furthermore, they can be at risk of removal (deportation) if they remain outside of the U.S. for more than one year. In most cases, green card holders may apply for U.S. citizenship through a process called naturalization after five years of permanent resident status.

Steps to Obtaining a Green Card

Step one is to consult with a reputable immigration lawyer in your area. He/she will be able to help you determine eligibility and complete all requirements in an accurate and timely manner. The remaining steps include:

  • Filing a petition for permanent residency;
  • Waiting for availability in your category of eligibility;
  • Filing a formal application for permanent resident status;
  • Paying filing fees;
  • Waiting for further instruction, which may include an interview and biometrics test;
  • Receiving a decision;
  • Appealing the decision if your application was denied.

Although the above steps are fairly standard, exceptions and extra steps may exist. The timeline for obtaining a green card also varies widely and depends on multiple factors, including the office in which the individual is filing and the basis for filing. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an application averages between 7 and 33 months. Not the most straightforward answer to a question so closely tied to a person’s life, livelihood, and future. Fortunately, an experienced immigration lawyer can answer some of those questions and help you reduce the time it takes to become a permanent resident of the United States.

Family sponsorship is the most popular way to get a green card because it is often the easiest. If you’ve married a U.S. citizen or green card holder, or another family member with one of these statuses is willing to sponsor you, family sponsorship is usually the preferred path to permanent residency. But for all its relative ease and benefits, countless variables can complicate the process. Furthermore, the qualifying situations listed earlier are not exhaustive; exceptions can be made and special circumstances are considered on a case by case basis. This is why it is so important to work with a skilled immigration lawyer, such as the team at Noble Vrapi, if you or a family member wishes to obtain a green card in the USA.

August 6, 2020 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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What is the Charge for Dangerous Driving?

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In Canada, dangerous driving is a criminal offence with serious penalties that can completely upend an individual’s life. In addition to the possibility of jail, hefty fines, and the loss of driving privileges, a conviction of dangerous driving can lead to a permanent criminal record. If you have been charged with dangerous driving, it is in your best interest to seek legal counsel from an experienced defence lawyer immediately.

Dangerous Driving Explained

Most people understand the dangers inherent in speeding, distracted driving, or driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But what exactly is dangerous driving? In Canada, dangerous driving is a crime that occurs when:

  • a driver uses “wanton and reckless disregard for the lives and safety of others,”
  • while in a public setting with a likelihood of people,
  • even if no people are actually present.

To understand what is meant by the term dangerous driving, we have to first understand what actions may be considered wanton and reckless when performed by a driver. If the driver’s conduct created a public danger and went against the actions of a reasonably prudent driver, he/she may be charged with dangerous driving. This can occur even if the incident did not result in any physical injuries or property damage.

For example, let’s say that Alan had a bad day at work and became overwhelmed with emotion on his drive home. In an angry rage, he turned into a store parking lot and pushed the gas pedal to the floor, flying across the parking lot at top speed. Terrified bystanders dropped their bags and ran to get out of the way. Just before smashing into a row of parked cars, Alan slammed on the breaks, stopping the car.

Even though no physical injury or property damage occurred, Alan is likely to be charged with dangerous driving. Such reckless behavior in a public setting could have easily caused serious bodily injury or death to one or more people, making Alan’s actions criminal in nature, even if he didn’t intend to cause harm to anyone.

Was there Intent?

Although dangerous driving is a serious criminal charge, the prosecution must prove intent to commit the act of dangerous driving in order to get a conviction. In the scenario above, Alan did not intend to hurt anyone, but he did have intent to speed through the parking lot.

To further illustrate what is meant by intent, let’s consider another scenario. The day after Alan’s incident, Stephanie had a heart attack while driving through the same parking lot. As she clenched her chest and folded over in pain, her foot accidentally pressed the gas pedal to the floor, resulting in speeds as high as Alan’s. Again, people dropped their bags and ran to get out of the way of the speeding car. Even though Stephanie could have caused serious bodily injury or death, any resulting harm would have been out of her control. Simply put, Stephanie did not have intent.

Considerations of the Court

In addition to proving intent, the court must consider the following circumstances before convicting someone of dangerous driving.

  • The nature of the setting (whether it was private or public and its use);
  • The amount of traffic or number of pedestrians that would typically be present in that particular setting;
  • Whether or not the driver’s actions constituted a danger to the public;
  • If there were any passengers in the vehicle with the driver;
  • Whether or not the driver had intent to commit the act of dangerous driving.

Penalties for Dangerous Driving

If you have been charged with dangerous driving, the penalties will vary based on the severity of your offence and whether or not you have a prior criminal record. However, typical penalties include:

  • Up to two years less one day in jail for summary convictions;
  • Up to 10 years in prison if indicted;
  • Up to life in prison if the crime results in death;
  • Hefty fines;
  • Criminal probation;
  • Suspension of your driver’s licence for a minimum of one year;
  • Criminal record;
  • Increase in vehicle insurance for five years or more.

Dangerous driving is significantly more serious than other traffic-related charges found under the Traffic Safety Act; police will take your photograph and fingerprint you, and a conviction can result in a lifelong criminal record. Do not make the mistake of attempting to fight these charges on your own. Even if no injuries or property damage occurred as a result of your actions, the prosecution can still file charges if it can prove that the public was in danger. Any person facing charges for dangerous driving is advised to consult with an experienced criminal defence lawyer, such as the team from Oykhman Criminal Defence Toronto, immediately.

August 6, 2020 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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What is the Difference Between DUI and DWI?

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In the United States, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs may lead to jail time, hefty fines, the suspension of your driver’s license, increased auto insurance costs, and a permanent criminal record.

When DUI and DWI Mean the Same Thing

In some states, the acronyms DUI and DWI are used interchangeably when referring to the criminal offense of drunk or drugged driving. While DUI stands for driving under the influence and DWI stands for driving while intoxicated, both may be applied in cases involving the act of driving under the influence of alcohol, illicit drugs, or even prescription medications.

In New Mexico, for example, DUI and DWI are similar charges. Although someone arrested for drunk driving may be charged with DUI or DWI in New Mexico, DWI is most commonly used. Even so, there is no legal difference between the two.

When states use both terms interchangeably, it can get quite confusing. Occasionally the penalties will be the same, but one will refer to impairment by alcohol and the other will apply only if drugs were involved. But there is no rhyme or reason to this distinction from state to state. Some states that use these terms interchangeably will often refer to the offense as a DUI/DWI.

OUI/OWI

Further complicating the matter is the use a third and fourth acronym in three states. In Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, OUI means operating under the influence, and OWI stands for operating while intoxicated. While OUI and OWI are used somewhat interchangeably, the use of the word “operating” broadens the scope of what is considered illegal; these states want to emphasize that someone can be charged even if they were not actually driving. An example would be an intoxicated person who is parked in a parking lot with the keys in the ignition, even if he/she isn’t driving.

When DUI and DWI Mean Something Different

In other states, DUI and DWI have distinct meanings and the penalties for one can be much more severe than the other. In Texas, for example, the two charges are quite different; a DUI is only issued in cases where the driver is under the age of 21. For underage drivers, any amount of alcohol (even below 0.08 percent) can result in a DUI. Anyone age 21 or over who drives with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher will be charged with the more serious offense of DWI. 

It’s important to note that in most states, a driver doesn’t actually have to be over the legal limit to be charged with DUI, DWI, OUI, or OWI. If you are stopped for reckless driving and your BAC is less than 0.08 percent, you can still be charged with a drunk driving offense if you are visibly impaired. Impaired driving that puts the safety of others at risk is illegal, whether or not your BAC is above the legal limit.

Penalties for DUI/DWI

As with all criminal charges, anyone charged with DUI or DWI is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Penalties for DUI/DWI vary from state to state and are dependent on multiple factors, including whether it is a first or subsequent offense and if aggravating circumstances were present. An example of an aggravating circumstance would be if the impaired driver had a child passenger or was in possession of an illegal firearm at the time of the incident. In all states, however, a first-offense DUI or DWI without aggravating circumstances is considered to be a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to six months behind bars. Jail time may be increased if the driver’s BAC is particularly high.

Some states impose minimum jail sentences of a few days, even for a first-offense DUI/DWI. If the DUI/DWI is charged as a felony because it resulted in serious injury or death, the defendant may spend several years in jail or prison. And hefty fines are common for DUI and DWI convictions, with fines in some states totaling up to $2,000.

Another commonality among states’ DUI/DWI penalties is the suspension of the defendant’s drivers license. Depending on the state and the unique circumstances of the case, first-time offenders may lose their license from between 90 days and one year. Refusing to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test will increase the length of suspension in most states.

Finally, most DUI/DWI convictions require the completion of an alcohol education course. For first-time offenders, the course may be the only “rehabilitative” component, but those convicted of subsequent offenses or who had a particularly high BAC may be required to enter a treatment program for substance abuse or dependency.

Seek Legal Help Today

There are multiple moving parts when it comes to charges for impaired driving, which is why it is so important to hire an experienced DUI/DWI defense attorney if you have been charged with a drunk driving offense. Do not make the mistake of assuming that legal help is not needed for a first-offense DUI/DWI. If your constitutional rights were violated at any point during the arrest or ensuing investigation, the legal team New Mexico Legal Group may be able to help you.

August 6, 2020 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Why is Estate Planning Important?

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It’s a common misconception that estate planning is only for the rich. People of modest means often believe that estate plans are reserved for high-net-worth families with significant assets to distribute to their heirs. Although estate plans are especially necessary for such families, they can help just about any family protect their loved ones. And estate planning doesn’t focus solely on wealth distribution; even naming your children’s guardian in the event of your early death is part of the process.

Maybe you and your spouse own a home with some equity, earn modest incomes, and both have retirement accounts in the form of IRAs. You’re in excellent health and the thought of leaving an inheritance for your teen and pre-teen children hasn’t even crossed your mind at this early stage. But the reality is, now is the perfect time to create an estate plan.

Benefits of Creating an Estate Plan Today

You don’t need to be in your 70s, with grown children and a valuable art collection to benefit from an estate plan. You can benefit right now. Here are a few reasons why you should consider creating an estate plan today:

Choose a Guardian for Young Children

Nobody wants to think about dying while our children are young, but responsible parenting isn’t always easy. If you want to ensure that your children are raised in a way that aligns with your beliefs, morals, and world views, it is absolutely essential to name their guardians in the event that both parents die before they reach the age of 18. In the absence of a Will with instructions for your children’s care, the courts will decide. Leaving assets to the wrong people is a terrible thought, but leaving your children to the wrong people is a nightmare.

Protect Your Spouse and Children in the Event of Your Death or Disability

Although it’s unpleasant to think about the possibility of you or your spouse dying, or suffering a disabling injury or illness, it will be more unpleasant for your family if misfortune strikes and you are unprepared. Planning for death or disability doesn’t make these things more likely. Quite the contrary, in fact. Knowing that your family is protected no matter what happens can dramatically reduce stress, which is proven to have a negative impact on overall health and well-being.

Having an estate plan protects beneficiaries by allowing you to designate heirs for your assets, such as retirement plans, family heirlooms, or a small stock portfolio. In the absence of an estate plan, it can take years (and fees galore) for the courts to decide who gets what, and assets without the protection of an estate plan will likely be subjected to unnecessary taxation.

It’s also a common misconception that the surviving spouse will automatically get everything. If you have questions about how an estate plan might benefit your family, consult with an experienced estate planning lawyer in your area today.

An estate plan also allows you to name who will control your assets, finances, and personal care if you become disabled or mentally incapacitated. You may want one person to make financial decisions on your behalf and another person to handle your personal care, including day to day tasks, medical care, and end of life decisions.

Pay the correct Taxes

Again, you don’t have to have millions in the bank to want to avoid paying excessive taxes on your assets. In fact, protecting modest assets is even more important; if you’re only leaving behind a small inheritance, every dollar counts.

A well-crafted estate plan will allow you to transfer assets to your heirs with the smallest legally correct tax burden.

Reduce or Eliminate Family Conflict

We’ve all heard horror stories of families who have gone to war immediately following the death of a family member. Maybe one sister cared for the mother while she was ailing and feels entitled to more of an inheritance than another sister who hadn’t visited their mother in years.

Without designating specific heirs to specific assets, things can get ugly. You don’t have to leave behind millions for family conflict to ensue. Even Grandma’s collection of fine china can lead to sibling rivalry. Furthermore, when there are multiple children, don’t expect the court to know that Bobby and Jenny are responsible and should have access to a lump sum of cash, while Timmy’s should be put in a trust because he will likely blow all of it on drugs in less than a month.

Special Situations

An estate plan is also useful in more complicated situations, such as having a child with special needs who may require lifelong care, having been married multiple times, and having children with multiple partners. In these cases, a comprehensive estate plan is particularly urgent.   The legal team at The Law Offices of Hoyt & Bryan can support your estate planning needs.

Plan for the unexpected, avoid unnecessary tax burdens and family conflict, and ensure that your wishes are carried out in the event of sickness, disability, or death with a well-crafted estate plan.

August 6, 2020 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Monday morning with Alex Williams’ cartoons

qccartoon

This cartoon is by Alex Williams who draws the Queen’s Counsel cartoons for The Times and in numerous books including The Queen’s Counsel Lawyer’s Omnibus. He offers almost all of his cartoons for sale at £120 for originals and £40 for copies and they can be obtained from this email info@qccartoon.com.

August 3, 2020 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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What Happens After A Car Accident?

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Accidents can happen in a blink of an eye, and nobody wishes to find themselves in these unfortunate situations. You should expect to be confused, shaken, disoriented, or have a concussion after an accident. This is usually the case, regardless of whether you have just had a massive crash or a minor bump. 

So, what’s next after the accident? If you’ve just had an accident, read through this article and get a comprehensive guide on the steps to take following this incidence.  

  1. Take Deep Breaths to Relax Yourself 

It’s vital to remain calm after an accident because the more relaxed you are, the better placed you’ll be at handling this situation. Therefore, count to ten or take a few breaths to try and relax immediately after the crash. By doing this, you’ll be able to deal with the many emotions, including anger, nervousness, fear, guilt, or shock. It’ll thus allow you to make an informed decision on what’s the best course of action to take.

  1. Confirm the Safety of Everyone 

Once you calm down, you should immediately get out of your car and confirm whether you or any of the passengers are injured. If there’s anyone who has sustained severe injuries, call for emergency medical assistance immediately, or ask for help from bystanders. 

  1. Call the Police 

The next thing you should do is contact the police regardless of the seriousness of the accident to collect evidence, take statements, and enquire the witnesses. They’ll then document the scene and write an accident report. 

You should go to a nearby police station and report the accident yourself if the police aren’t in a position to come. It’s vital always to report an accident to the police because insurance companies expect you to produce a copy of an accident report during the claim process. 

  1. Exchange Appropriate Information 

You need to exchange personal information with the person whom you’ve been involved in a car crash. Doing this is essential, even for a minor car accident and some of the details to exchange should include the following: 

  • The driver’s plate number and license. 
  • Name, phone number, and address of the driver. 
  • Insurance company contact details.
  • Policy number. 

If you decide to hire a lawyer or want to streamline your insurance claim, then exchanging the relevant information is crucial. 

  1. Document the Accident  

It’s necessary to collect every detail about the accident to make it easier to claim compensation from your insurer. These includes the following; 

  • Getting a copy of the accident report which, your insurer may request when filing for an insurance claim for your vehicle. 
  • Identifying the responding police officers by taking down their names and badge number. 
  • Jot down the names and addresses of everyone involved in the crash, including the passengers. 
  • Talk to witnesses and request them for their names, addresses, or phone numbers to say exactly what happened. It’s especially crucial should the other driver contradict with what you’re saying. 
  • Take photos of both vehicles involved in the crash from different angles. By doing this, you can clearly show the damage extent, which is essential during the claim process. 
  1. Contact Your Insurer 

Make sure to inform your insurance company about the accident immediately. This is very important because most insurance companies have a policy requirement on how soon you notify them about the accident. If you fail to do this, there’s a high likelihood of your claim getting rejected. Moreover, you need to contact your personal injury lawyer, especially if you suspect your insurer might not be open to covering the accident. 

However, make sure not to answer questions or give any statement to the insurance covering the other driver with whom you’ve been involved in ab accident. You should instead, first get legal advice from your lawyer before discussing any matter related to the accident. 

  1. Know What Is Covered by Your Insurance Company   

It’ll be easier to follow the insurance process after the accident once you know your coverage details. For instance, you should confirm whether your insurer covers some costs, such as replacement rental car or towing costs. Another question that needs to get answered is who’ll cover any damage to your vehicle following the accident. 

If the damage was minor, you should still involve your insurer and resist the temptation of you and the other driver covering the costs. Doing this is crucial since the other driver might later choose to contradict the earlier agreement, if they find the repair costs are too high. By this time, it might be too late for your insurer to collect the evidence needed to back your claim. 

  1. Deliberate on Hiring a Lawyer  

Hiring an expert attorney is crucial, especially if you were at fault for the accident or if someone got injured. With their experience and expertise, an attorney will be able to best prove your innocence. The best part is the payment to lawyers is made on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if you get a settlement or awarded damages. 

Conclusion

Getting involved is, without a doubt very traumatic. However, it’s vital to remain calm following each of these steps mentioned above to ensure everyone is safe. Additionally, it helps you get duly compensated for injury or damage caused by accident.

July 29, 2020 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: Uncategorized