If you need to hire a lawyer, chances are you’re already stressed out. The last thing you need is the stress of hiring the wrong attorney. It could cost you a whole lot more money, and cost you your case. But where should you begin? Start by knowing what NOT to do. And that’s hiring an attorney you haven’t interviewed. You might as well rip a page out of the phone book, pin it to the wall and throw a dart. Your odds of hitting a bulls-eye are about the same.
Imagine sitting across the table from someone and not understanding half of what they’re saying – even though you’re paying hundreds of dollars an hour to listen to them speak! It’s common practice for people who sit down with an attorney. The lawyer is speaking English but the language is totally foreign. It’s actually “legalese,” and believe it or not most attorneys are not trying to make things more confusing or scare you into thinking that the law is so complicated only an attorney could possibly understand it – they just forget to use plain English. But you as the client can bring your attorney back down to literal reality and get them to talk in clear everyday language.
While the holidays can be one of the most hectic times of year, they also are one of the few times that busy families have a chance to come together and connect. And once the food and festivities are over, there’s that rare opportunity to talk openly about some important issues that affect everyone at the dinner table. Topics that go to the heart of what family is all about – being there for each other when the going gets tough. No one likes to think of parents aging and not being able to care for themselves, or a family member being in a life or death situation, but these things do happen and proper legal planning can make the hard times a lot easier. You really have to take it even a step further – loving, close knit families have been torn apart by a lack of clear direction on how to handle the most difficult types of situations. But you can avoid that happening in your family. (more…)
If you haven’t gotten around to putting a Will in place, or you haven’t updated the one you did years ago, you run the risk that when you’re gone; things won’t go the way you want them to. It’s important to recognize that no matter how many or how few assets you have – if you have a minor child, you need a Will naming who will be guardian if both parents die. If you don’t put this in place, your kids could wind up the center of an ugly court battle, be pushed on a relative who doesn’t want them, or be stranded in the foster-care system. To be safe, list your first choice for guardian as well as a back-up or alternate guardian.
When it comes to protecting your assets or taking care of your family – you want things to go your way. Now and in the future! But if you haven’t gotten around to putting together a Will, or you haven’t updated those documents you did years ago, you run the risk that when you’re gone; things won’t go the way you planned. It’s important to recognize that no matter how many or how few assets you have, if you’ve got something to give, you want to make sure it goes to who you want, the way you want. This is especially important if you have a spouse or children to take care of. Many people think that if something happens to them their husband or wife automatically gets everything – and that just isn’t the case in many states, including Massachusetts! If you die without a Will you’re considered to have died “intestate” – and the laws of your state will determine who gets how much.
The issue of who will be named caregiver of Anna Nicole Smith’s daughter may seem way beyond what happens in everyday life, but the reality is many people have no idea how things would play out if they suddenly weren’t around or able to care for their own children. No one wants to think about not being around to take care of their kids, but as a parent it’s something that really needs to be considered. Although you may not want to “go there,” not dealing with what could happen to your children if you suddenly became incapacitated or died is far worse. Imagine not having a say as to who would be stepping into your shoes and caring for your kids!
When you have a will drawn up or buy life insurance you’re doing it to make sure your family is protected – in case something happens and you’re suddenly not around. And when there are minor children in the picture, it’s even more important to get your affairs in order. But many well-intentioned parents and grandparents don’t know some common pitfalls to avoid, and in the end the money never gets to the kids who need it, when they need it.
Even as adults, many people still rely on their parents to give them solid advice and help them when times are tough. So when the tables turn and adult children need to step in to take care of their elderly parents, it’s often very difficult for everyone involved. There are things you can do now, however, to help with that transition – whenever and if ever the day comes. (more…)
When a loved one passes, the last thing you should have to worry about is what legal concerns you may have regarding the funeral. Federal and State laws have been enacted to protect families, but many people have no idea what to look out for. First and foremost, you need to recognize that the time to familiarize yourself with the laws pertaining to funeral parlors is before you ever need to engage the services of one. Obviously if you are grieving the sudden passing of a loved one, you are far more vulnerable to the practices of an unethical funeral director. (more…)
When people think about putting their affairs in order they typically sit down with an attorney to put together a Will or Trust. But for many people that isn’t enough. They also want to make sure their funeral arrangements are set ahead of time. Prepaid funerals have become a popular alternative, but before you put down any money with a funeral home you need to know what to look out for. Pre-Paid Funeral Arrangements (sometimes called “Pre-Need Funeral Arrangements”) can be a good planning tool if you want to make sure things go the way you want them to or if you want to save your family from having to make major decisions during what is sure to be a stressful time. You also can lock in the cost of these arrangements now. But while the concept of pre-paid funeral arrangements is a good one, it doesn’t come without some serious legal considerations.