7 Things You Must Consider Before Getting Divorced

No spouse enters into the decision to get a divorce lightly, but some may be surprised to learn of just how impactful divorce can be. If you are contemplating divorce, here are seven things to consider.

1. Is there any way to save your marriage?
You may think that you have communicated your concerns with your spouse, but does he or she really know how dire the situation has become? Have you tried individual and couples counseling? Have you talked about negotiating things in your household that would remove the strain on your relationship, such as renegotiating your roles or household duties? Divorce has a major impact on your finances, living arrangements, children and future. Before you take the next step in the divorce process, really consider if this is what you want and whether there is any way to avoid it.

2. How will the divorce impact your children?
It is well documented that divorce can have a big impact on your children. Their emotional development may be affected, along with their relationship with their parents. For these reasons, many parents stay in a marriage for longer than it is healthy. However, there are things that you can do to make the divorce process more amicable and to minimize its impact on your children, such as refusing to badmouth the other parent in front of your children, providing continued access to the children during the divorce process and trying to focus on their best interests.

3. Are you prepared for the financial stresses that a divorce may bring?
Divorce has a huge impact on your finances. Your income must now go to support two households. Your retirement plan may be subject to division, making it particularly difficult to recoup for older married people. Start thinking about the potential financial impact of divorce and ways that you can minimize it.

4. Can you put aside your anger for your own best interests?
Your spouse has probably done many things to upset you and you are likely justified in feeling angry or resentful towards him. However, responding in an angry fashion during your divorce by making unreasonable demands, fighting over every conceivable issue and not complying with the court’s orders will only hurt you more in the long run. Can you seek help from a therapist or support group so that you can keep things in perspective? Proceeding in an amicable fashion can reduce the time and expense involved in the divorce process, making it easier for you to move on.

5. Can you be patient?
The divorce process can be long and tedious. However, there may be some ways to speed up the process by being organized, promptly providing the information your lawyer requests and reaching an agreement with your spouse out of court. Nonetheless, this process will require you to be patient for the final decree to be entered.

6. Are you ready for divorce?
Along with preparing emotionally for divorce, you will also need to start gathering important documents to help your lawyer prepare the necessary legal documents. Start gathering documents related to your assets, deeds, titles, mortgage documents, credit card statements, pay stubs, tax returns and documents related to your children. This will go a long way once you start the divorce process.

7. Do you have a trusted divorce lawyer on your side?
It is important that you have a strong legal advocate on your side that will look out for your best interests during this pivotal time. Contact Robin E. Welch for help with your divorce.

For more information:
If you want to know more about divorce or other family law issues, contact Attorney Robin Welch at 831-540-5163 to discuss your case.

Robin Welch

Fundamental Insurance Issues Resolved Through Mediation

Mediation can be an effective way to resolve an insurance claim when you do not want to litigate the case. If you are trying to protect the insurance company or if you are representing the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, it is important that you have a firm understanding of the fundamental legal issues that may be part of the mediation process. Our mediators have more than 45 years in this realm helping parties reach mutually satisfactory agreements that resolve insurance claims. Below, we discuss some of the most common legal issues you may confront in mediation.

Continuous Loss Claims
In continuous loss claims, it is vital that all relevant insurance companies have been notified of the claim and that they are brought into it when necessary. This can ensure that your client receives compensation from more than one party or that the liability is spread between other insurance companies. You will want to investigate which insurance policies are involved in the case and obtain copies of these policies before mediation so that you can get a better idea about which policies may apply to the case.

Intentional Acts

If part of the claim is barred because of the insured’s intentional act but there were innocent co-insured parties, it is important that you are able to flesh out the potential damages that are still at play in the claim. You will need to analyze each insured’s coverage to ensure that you are complying with the terms of the insurance agreement while also minimizing the potential payout you make to the insured.

Bad Faith Claims
It is not uncommon for a plaintiff’s attorney to allege bad faith if he or she files a lawsuit. This is because, if successful, the amount of damages increases, as well as his or her ability to obtain attorney’s fees for a successful claim. Additionally, a bad faith claim can help provide a plaintiff with leverage when the claim is weaker due to liability or comparative negligence issues. Be sure that you have a clear understanding of bad faith insurance law and that you can successfully argue for or against it, based on your client’s objectives.

Umbrella Policies

If the case involves potentially relevant umbrella policies, be sure that you get a copy of these policies and carefully read over the policy language. It is likely that you will need to fully exhaust all of the coverage available under other applicable policies. This can be an important note if you are advocating for the plaintiff and you want to maximize recovery. If you settle with one company for less than the value of the claim, you may run the risk of excluding coverage from the umbrella policy.

For More Information
If you would like more information on the mediation process or how to prepare for mediation of an insurance claim, call Smith & Tomkins at 615-256-1280 or visit us at www.smithtomkins.com.

Warren Smith

Understanding Estate Planning from Basic to Complex

Attorney Carol R. Sellers helps clients throughout the Bonita Springs area with all aspects of their residential real estate ownership, sales and other transactions related to real estate. The Law Offices of Richardson & Sellers, P.A. serves as legal counsel for buyers and sellers, providing effective legal advice and representation during all aspects of the home buying and selling process. Ms. Sellers is also a strong advocate who helps clients involved in real estate disputes and who are confronting other complex residential real estate matters.

Assistance with Complex Real Estate Transactions

For more than 21 years, individuals have turned to Carol Sellers to handle their most complex residential real estate transactions. When you are confronting a complex real estate transaction, it is important that you have an attorney who has the resources and knowledge to competently handle your real estate matter.

We assist clients with a broad range of real estate transactions and regularly deal with complex contractual provisions and contingencies. We can assess the unique challenges that are present in your case and structure your real estate transaction to best protect your interests. Additionally, we help clients with high-asset real estate transactions, protecting the value of their investment at every turn. Ms. Sellers’ in-depth knowledge of real estate law equips her with the ability to expertly guide clients through the process. Place your real estate matter in her trusted hands to ensure a seamless and proactive process.

Helping You with Routine Residential Real Estate Transactions
As a seasoned real estate lawyer, Carol R. Sellers is experienced in all routine residential real estate issues and can help you have a smooth, stress-free process when you are buying or selling a home. She constantly helps clients with the following legal issues during residential real estate transactions:

  • Sales contracts–We draft and review sales contracts to ensure accuracy related to the agreement between the parties, the purchase price, a summary of the property and conditions related to the transaction.
  • Financing and mortgages – Our lawyers will review documents related to the financing of your purchase.
  • Title insurance – We complete a thorough review of documents related to your property’s history and help you obtain title insurance.
  • Closings – We assist you with all aspects of the closing process, including preparing and reviewing documents and executing the formalities necessary to complete the transaction.

Ms. Sellers guides you through the home selling or buying process, focusing on protecting your rights at all times during the process. Her full services include:

  • Drafting and reviewing sales contract
  • Reviewing financing documents
  • Researching and clearing title
  • Addressing easement questions and other restrictions on home ownership
  • Obtaining necessary permits and zoning
  • Reviewing all closing documents

Providing full Services for Residential Real Estate

Ms. Sellers also assists clients with all other aspects of residential real estate, including:

  • Home construction
  • Construction funding
  • Easements and restrictions
  • Lease agreements
  • Landlord/tenant disputes

Contact a Qualified Real Estate Lawyer
Our firm regularly handles simple and complex real estate matters and everything in between. We help clients dealing with a unique range of legal challenges related to residential real estate. Ms. Sellers can provide guidance for individuals in real estate transactions from our office in Bonita Springs. If you would like more information on how to resolve a real estate dispute, real estate law, or tips on how to have a smooth transaction, visit www.richardsonsellers.com/carol-r-sellers or contact the Law Offices of Richardson & Sellers, PA. at 239-992-2031.

Carol Sellers

7 Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

Estate planning is the process of getting your legal affairs in order so that you can pass your property to the people you trust in the way that you want. However, people often make mistakes with their estate plan, which can lead to complications, family disputes and unnecessary waste of the estate assets. Here are seven estate planning mistakes that you need to avoid.

1. Not Having an Estate Plan at All
Statistics show that more than 60% of people are without a will or trust. Whether this is due to not wanting to confront your own mortality, poor planning or any other reason, it is important that you do not make this mistake. Failing to have a will can result in unexpected results. New York’s intestacy law will determine the priority and value of assets that go to your heirs instead of you being able to make these decisions ahead of time. Also, if you become incapacitated, your family may have to go through the expensive process to appoint a guardian over you, rather than following your pre-determined instructions. Ron Axelrod can help you devise a thorough estate plan that protects your wealth and your family.

2. Not Having Contingencies
If you do have an estate plan, you may have failed to consider contingencies. You may have stated that you want a particular person to receive your property. Many people write wills that give all of their worldly possessions to their spouse. However, if your spouse predeceases you and you failed to include contingent beneficiaries, this plan will do no good. Think through various scenarios and address them in your estate plan so that if someone predeceases you, you get divorced or you have more children, these considerations are already factored into your estate plan.

3. Failing to Fund Your Trust
A trust is a powerful tool that allows you to designate how the property in the trust will be managed. You can choose to manage the property during your lifetime and they allow a person close to you to take over management of the assets after your death. However, many people skip the last step of establishing a trust and forget to fund it. This means that there is no property that is actually in the trust, so all the work that you went through to establish the conditions of the trust is worth nothing. Be sure that you transfer property to the trust by executing the necessary titles, deeds and other legal instruments and sending them to the proper sources.

4. Leaving Assets to a Minor
Minors cannot legally inherit property, so it is important that you name a custodian who can manage any property you leave to them.

5. Not Having a Residuary Clause
A residuary clause concerns any other property that you own at the time of your death and that is part of your probate estate that you did not otherwise specifically mention in your will. It is important that you include a residuary clause to determine what will happen to any property you forgot or that becomes part of your estate after your passing.

6. Not Planning for Disability
Many people only think of estate planning as setting up a will or trust to dictate how their property is handled after death. However, a good estate plan should also account for disability. You can work with our knowledgeable estate plan to develop instructions on the type of health care treatment you want, who should make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself and who should manage your property and financial affairs if you become disabled.

7. Not Updating Your Estate Plan
It is important to periodically update your estate plan by scheduling a review with your lawyer. If major events have happened since your last meeting – such as marriage, birth of a child, death of a beneficiary or administrator – then you may need to create new estate planning documents.

To know more information about estate planning visit http://www.ronaxelrod.com/ or contact an NY Estate Planning Attorney today at (585) 203-1020.

Ronald Axelrod

What are the Benefits of Family Mediation Over Using a Lawyer?

Family law disputes can involve a variety of legal issues, including divorce, property division, child support, spousal support or child custody arrangements, just to name a few. There are generally two paths available for people confronting these legal challenges to seek a resolution: litigation or mediation. As a seasoned litigator and experienced mediator, Steven Garver understands the advantages and disadvantages of each option. Below, we discuss the advantages of mediation over litigation. Our highly skilled family legal team at Garver Law Offices can discuss when mediation would be a good option for your case.

Less Expensive
Mediation is usually less expensive than using a lawyer. Lawyers often charge a high hourly rate. The more conflict there is, the more likely it will be that your lawyer has to expend additional time to make discovery requests and legal motions. You may also have multiple hearings for which you must pay your lawyer to attend.

Mediation costs can be split between the parties. Mediation may help resolve legal problems in as little as a day, so there are not ongoing expenses like there is when you involve a lawyer.

Mediation can resolve family legal issues much faster than litigation. You do not have to wait for a clear spot in the court docket to address your issues. You and the other party can arrange mediation when it is convenient for you. Working out family legal issues sooner can have positive benefits, such as avoiding additional costs involved in litigation and being able to get along better with the other party.

Preservation of Family Relationships
Mediation is a collaborative process that is focused on addressing problems in a respectful manner. Therefore, families who participate in mediation are far more likely to be able to preserve a civil relationship than families that battle it out in court.

Privacy and Confidentiality
The mediation process is private and not held in open court. This allows you to maintain your privacy. Additionally, the process is confidential. Anything you say in mediation cannot later be used against you in court if you are unable to reach a compromise in mediation. This aspect makes it more likely that the parties will openly communicate and not withhold information in order to gain some type of legal advantage.

More Likely to Amicably Resolve Issues
Because mediation is founded on respect and civility, you are more likely to resolve your issues in an amicable manner. You will also have a blueprint for how to address any issues that come up in the future in a way that allows you to avoid unnecessary legal expenses.
Creative Solutions
No one knows your family better than you do. Mediation allows you and the other party to reach creative solutions that will work for you and your family. You are in control of the outcome of your case.

For more information on the mediation process and why it is a good alternative to litigation, visit the firm’s website at www.garverlaw.com or call 703-471-1090.

Steven Garver

How to File an Appeal for Sentence Reduction

Many people believe that when they are sentenced that is the end of their case and
there is nothing they can do about it. In many instances, sentencing does
represent the end of the case. However, in some situations, you may be able to
file an appeal for sentence reduction.

Reasons to File an Appeal

A person can generally appeal a final decision in a case, including a criminal
defendant who believes that the sentence he or she received was too harsh or
otherwise unfair. A defendant can ask for the court of appeals to review a
conviction if he or she questions whether the trial was fair and if the verdict
was correct.

There are a variety of reasons why a person may request an appeal, including:

  • The court did not have jurisdiction of the
  • There was a procedural error
  • A clerical error was made
  • An arithmetical or technical error was made
  • The sentence failed to follow the applicable
    sentencing range
  • The sentence is ambiguous
  • They believe there was a target of malicious
  • A new law is passed that provides a better
    outcome and you want the court to apply it retroactively
  • The punishment was too harsh

An appeal is not the same thing as a new trial. Instead, it asks a higher court to
simply review the record of the lower court. The defendant cannot introduce new
evidence. However, an appeal might raise arguments that justify a reduction in
a sentence or even the overturning of a conviction.

Process of Filing an Appeal

To take advantage of the appellate process, you must file an appeal within the
applicable time limit and in conformance with strict procedural rules. In many
states, a notice of appeal in a felony case must be filed within 30 days of
your sentencing date. If you fail to raise grounds in your appeal, you may not
be able to later raise these arguments, so it is vital that you work with a
legal professional who can ensure that you present the strongest legal
arguments. You do not have to use the same lawyer as you used during your

State law or federal law determines when you must submit the actual appeal. The
appeal must follow certain technicalities. Additionally, the record of the case
in the lower court must be prepared by the court reporter. Your lawyer can
prepare a brief that sets out the mistakes that were made and why the sentence
should be reduced. This brief is the primary form that will explain to the
appellate court why the sentence is not fair.

In many states and in federal courts, the judge loses the power to modify the
sentence shortly after sentencing. Depending on the reasons for the sentence
reduction and the jurisdiction, the appeal or motion for sentence reduction may
need to be filed with the appellate court.

If you are interested in learning about your options for reducing your sentence, visit http://www.nlpa.com. The National Legal Professional Association can help. Our legal professionals can discuss the possibility of having your sentence reduced or other ways of achieving your goals, such as fighting for a new trial, filing a post-conviction petition, or seeking a compassionate modification of a federal sentence.

Hugh Wesley

10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Elder Care Attorney

When you are considering hiring an elder care attorney for you or your loved one, it is important that you ask any attorney you are considering questions to understand their knowledge of this particular area of the law. The Zapor Law Office, PC encourages you to schedule an initial consultation with an elder care attorney and ask the following questions:

1. What makes elder law unique?
Elder law is part of the estate planning umbrella, but it involves many other aspects of the law than estate planning. Elder law encompasses legal services to help individuals deal with Medicare and Medicaid issues, healthcare and long-term care arrangements and retirement benefit. An experienced elder care attorney will have a good understanding of a variety of laws and how they interact. He or she can also help with the decision-making process and in identifying trusted individuals who can serve as your representative for healthcare decisions, your finances and your estate.

2. What do I need to do?
Elder law may involve many difficult decisions, such as what you want to have happen to your property after you pass away, who should make healthcare decisions on your behalf, how you plan to provide for your family in case of long-term disability and who should take care of your financial and medical needs if you are unable to do so for yourself. You will likely be asked to think through some of these difficult concepts while receiving helpful tips and guidance on making these difficult decisions.

Also, since elder law often involves insurance and financial issues, you may need to gather documentation so that your lawyer can properly advise you. As an experienced elder care lawyer, Rose Mary Zapor can carefully walk you through the planning process.

3. What services do you provide?
Not all elder care lawyers provide the same legal services. Some focus primarily on estate planning while others focus more on Medicare and Medicaid issues. Some elder care firms may provide asset protection strategies and provide comprehensive trusts. Be sure that you discuss your legal issue in depth with prospective lawyers to ensure that they will actually be able to handle your legal matter.

4. How much of your practice is elder law?
While many attorneys provide general legal services in a variety of areas, elder law is a subspecialty and niche area of the law. You may prefer to work with a lawyer who spends most of his or her time practicing elder law.

5. How long have you practiced elder law?
You want to select an elder care lawyer who will understand the legal issues involved in your case, the laws that apply to your case and the strategies that you may be able to use to bring about the best outcome for your case. Be sure that your lawyer has adequate experience with elder law and that you are not paying him or her to learn on your dime.

6. Are you familiar with my specific legal issue?
If you are dealing with a complex legal issue, you will want to be sure that your lawyer can handle it. Provide a basic description of your legal issue to ensure it is something your prospective lawyer can help you with.

7. Will you personally handle my case?
Some firms hand off cases for paralegals and other less trained personnel to handle. Be sure you know who will personally be working on your case.

8. How do you charge?
Elder law attorneys may charge differently for their services. Some may charge a flat rate for a particular service while others charge an hourly rate. Still others may combine these options and charge a flat rate for certain services and then add an hourly rate if the job took longer than expected. This information should be clearly spelled out in your written fee agreement. Also, be sure you understand what you are being charged for, such as every phone call, email and other communication.

9. How can I avoid probate?
Probate is often a long and time-consuming process; so many people try to avoid it. We can discuss some probate avoidance strategies such as using payable on death accounts, trusts and beneficiary designations that can help you avoid unnecessary probate proceedings.

10. Can you help me prepare for a disabled child or adult?
If you are concerned about planning for a disabled child or adult, discuss this issue with an elder law attorney. You may be able to establish a special needs trust to provide for their needs without jeopardizing their public benefits.

If you like to know more information about hiring an elder care attorney, elder law, or tips on how to establish a solid plan for later life, visit zaporelderlaw.com.

Rose Mary Zapor