Frequently Asked Questions
- What does a general practice attorney do?
An attorney in general practice can be a general adviser on most legal matters. He or she will help you evaluate your matters and assist you in determining what options you want to exercise. If your general practice attorney cannot represent you in the manner you determine, he or she can help you find a competent attorney in the area you need. The general practice attorney will continue to work with you and follow the case with the referral attorney.
- What is equitable distribution?
Equitable distribution is the division of marital property and debt. It is meant to be fair and does not mean that the property will be divided 50/50. The law defines factors the court can consider when it divides marital property. Many times, it is not a 50/50 split. It is important that you understand what marital property is and how to maintain the distinction between marital and nonmarital assets and debts.
- What is ARD?
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition is a pretrial diversionary program that may be available to those facing first-time DUI and nonviolent criminal offenses. It is a function of state law, but is administered by each county district attorney's office and is processed a little differently. It is important to know the local procedure to maximize the benefits of the program.
Wills Powers of Attorneys and Advance Health Care /Directives
- Do I need a will?
Whether the value of your assets is modest or great, your will sets out your plan for their distribution. Otherwise your estate will be divided according to the law, which may not be the way you would have chosen.
In your will you appoint an executor, the person who is responsible for following the laws that govern what debts and taxes must be paid. He or she is also responsible to carry out your asset distribution plan. If you have no will the law determines who can apply to the court to be appointed as your estate's administrator. More than one person may ask to be appointed. There may be disagreements, even litigation over who should be in charge. In the end a person could be appointed that you would not have chosen.
If you have minor children you can designate in your will who should take custody of your children as their guardian. You can also chose who should manage any money your minor children might inherit. Without a will, your wishes may not be known or followed and the guardian appointed may be someone you would not have chosen.
The more your immediate family changes through marriage, children, divorce, stepchildren, etc., the more important a will can become. But, your will may not determine how all of your assets will be divided at your death. Please see our article about the effective and simple Estate Planning Guide we have created. It will help you create a plan and chose an executor.
- What is a power of attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document you can create to grant another person the power to handle your legal, financial and medical decisions. A power of attorney is important in case you become physically or mentally incapacitated and cannot handle your affairs. If you become seriously, mentally incapacitated and you have not created a power of attorney, someone will have to petition the court to be appointed as your guardian. This is time-consuming and expensive. And the person who is appointed my not be a person you would have chosen.
We have created a Power of Attorney Planning Guide to help guide you to preparing the best power of attorney for your situation.
- I hear all types of horror stories about powers of attorney. What are the risks?
Sometimes the person who has been appointed as the agent under a power of attorney abuses his or her power and takes advantage of the person who granted them the powers. A general power of attorney must be carefully considered because it gives another person a great deal of authority over all your property and transactions. So you need to appoint a person as your agent who is trustworthy, has common sense, and the time to act on your behalf.
- What is an advance health care directive?
An advance health care directive is a legal document we create for you which specifies who will make health care decisions for you if you are not capable of communicating with your doctors. It also contains your instructions about the types of treatment you may or may not want when you are at the end of your life. If you wish, it can also include your instructions for treatment if you should be diagnosed with advanced dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease, and have a medical emergency.
We have created a very helpful guide to help you make decisions about these difficult issues.
Business and Commercial - Small Business
- Should I incorporate my business?
We can help you incorporate if that is the appropriate business form for you and your company. You can form several types of business entities such as a sole proprietorship, a limited liability company, a general or limited partnership or a corporation. Each one gives you different responsibilities, levels of liability and flexibility. An owner or owners planning a startup business must analyze his, her or their needs and decide what form is best suited for the new business. Also, as a business grows and changes, its form and practices should be reviewed to ensure that the decisions made at startup are still valid.
- I have many questions about starting a business, where do i start?
First, take a look at our article titled Business Frequently Asked Questions. Second, call us for an appointment to discuss the specifics of your business goals. We've helped over a hundred small businesses get started.
Military, Reservist and Veterans Issues
- I just returned from deployment with the Reserve and I was told my job is no longer open for me. Can I do anything?
Reservists and returning military members do have protections under the law. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) established rights and responsibilities for uniformed service members and their civilian employers. USERRA is a federal law intended to ensure that people who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, Reserves, National Guard or other uniformed services are protected when it comes time to go back to their jobs. There are instances when an employer has a legitimate reason not to rehire a veteran. But if you are a returning veteran, come in and we will find out if your employer is living up to his or her obligation like you lived up to yours.
Family Law and Military, Reservist and Veterans Issues - Retirement Benefits
- I have 18 years of military service and I'm getting a divorce; does my spouse have a right to make a claim for my military retirement?
Military members and spouses of military members need to be aware that Congress enacted legislation to grant states jurisdiction over retirement benefits. The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act is a federal law that provides certain benefits to former spouses of military members. The benefits may affect receipt of retirement pay and medical care, as well as the use of exchanges and commissaries. But having a right to "part" of it and assigning a value to that part are two different analyses.
Residential Real Estate
- Do I need an attorney for a home purchase?
Many times the answer is no. But some home purchases are more complicated than you expect. Problems and questions can come up. It is important that you read your agreement of sale carefully. If you do not understand any part of it, you can ask your realtor but remember he or she is not a lawyer. The level of knowlege and experience from one realtor to the next often varies widely. The training it takes to become a real estate agent is nothing tike the three years of law school a lawyer must navigate.
Some agreements allow a seller to sue a buyer for failing to go through with the purchase of a house. Some agreements allow a seller to sell a house with defects. Buying a home is usually the most expensive purchase a person makes in his lifetime. It is reckless to not understand the agreement of sale.