• What Exactly Is a Trust?

    During the estate planning process, the idea of establishing a trust may arise. Trusts are a common part of estate planning as they allow for assets to be protected. Your attorney in Tracy and Livermore can help you decide if a trust is right for your estate.

    This video explains what a trust is and how they work. When you establish a trust, you create a set of rules about managing an asset the trustee must follow. The trustee must then distribute the asset to the beneficiary of the trust according to your guidelines. Trusts are often used in this way to preserve large inheritances until the beneficiaries reach a responsible age or otherwise achieve an established benchmark.

  • Should My Estate Plan Include Instructions for Debt Resolution?

    When your estate planning attorney in Tracy and Manteca helps you make decisions about how to allocate your assets, he or she may also ask questions about resolving any debt you may leave behind. Whether you leave instructions in your will about debt resolution and how you instruct your heirs to handle leftover debt depends on a number of different factors. Here is what you need to know.

    Two Types of Debt

    If you address your debt in your will, you need to address both secured and unsecured debt. Secured debt is debt that is guaranteed by an asset. Car loans and mortgages are examples of secured debt. If you plan to pass on an asset that acts as collateral for a secured debt on to a beneficiary in your will, then you should specify if the debt will pass to the new owner with the property. You may also wish to make provisions for satisfying the debt if you want the person to have the property but not be burdened with the associated debt.

    Unsecured debt is debt that is not guaranteed by an asset. Credit card bills, medical bills, and utility bills fall into this category. Typically, state law requires that these bills be paid from your estate. You can decide if you wish to allow your executor to simply make these payments from your estate as a whole or you can direct him or her to make these payments from specific portions of your estate.

    Deciding Whether to Leave Instructions

    You do not necessarily have to leave instructions for dealing with debt in your will. Generally, if your debts represent a very small portion of your estate or your estate is going to a spouse, then you do not need to address debts in your will. You can also forgo leaving instructions if you are fine with allowing your debts to be paid from your estate in accordance with state law. Your attorney can explain to you how the law will apply to the debts that you have. If you do not leave any instructions, the executor of your estate will use assets you have left behind to satisfy your debts in accordance with the law.

  • Get Compensated to Replace a Car Seat After a Crash

    After a car accident, there is a good chance that your child’s car seat should be replaced, even if there is no obvious damage. Many manufacturers suggest replacement after even a minor accident. If you are dealing with the aftermath of an accident that was not your fault, your personal injury attorney in Tracy or Livermore can help you navigate the process of seeking compensation for all of your damage, including your car seat.

    Under California law, a child’s car seat must be replaced if the seat was occupied at the time of the accident. If your child was in the car when the accident occurred, your attorney will pursue replacement on your behalf on these grounds. If the seat was not occupied when the crash occurred, then your attorney can still seek a replacement car seat at no cost to you based on the manufacturer’s recommendation or by demonstrating that the accident does not qualify as a minor crash.

  • New Traffic Laws California Drivers Need to Know

    If you are involved in an auto accident, your knowledge of the current laws could have an impact on your case. New traffic laws hit the books in California, so do you know the new rules of the road? Here is a look at some of the most recently passed traffic laws in California. Be sure to consult with your attorney in Tracy if you have any questions.

    Mobile Device Mounting

    Texting while driving is already against the law in California, but a loophole in the law let people claim that they were using their phones for GPS if they received a ticket for using their devices behind the wheel. This new law closes that loophole by requiring any mobile device that is in use to be mounted either in the lower right or left corner of the windshield. Further, drivers can only use one finger on the device or risk being ticketed. Drivers are not allowed to have their devices mounted in another location on the windshield that could obstruct the field of vision. If you’re involved in an accident in which the other driver appears to be violating this rule, try to obtain a photo of that driver’s phone placement. Your personal injury attorney could use your picture as evidence should you file a lawsuit.

    Motorcycle Lane Splitting

    Lane splitting occurs when motorcycles use the spaces between stopped traffic to continue traveling down the road. California is one of the few states in which motorcycle lane splitting is now legal, but only under certain conditions. Motorcycles may not travel more than 10 mph faster than the traffic around it, and they must be traveling in the same direction as the traffic. The California Highway Patrol also recommends that motorcyclists avoid lane splitting when traffic is moving faster than 30 mph.

    Rear-Facing Car Seats

    Under new laws, children must ride in rear-facing car seats until they are age two, regardless of their weight. The law assumes that children will reach 40 inches in height and 40 pounds in weight by that time, when they can transition to forward-facing seats.

  • Dealing with Dog Attacks

    Being the victim of a dog attack can be terrifying and can leave you with serious injuries. Once you have gotten treatment for your injuries after an attack, contact a personal injury lawyer in Tracy to determine if you should seek compensation to cover your medical costs and associated damages.

    Watch this video to find out what to do if a dog attacks. If you see a dog behaving aggressively, try to stay calm and avoid sudden movements. Avoid eye contact with the dog, which it may find threatening. Command the dog to stop forcefully. If you can’t stop the attack, yell for help. Seek medical attention as soon as possible after the attack, so your lawyer has the necessary documentation to file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf.

  • Shortcuts for the Probate Process in California

    After someone passes away, dealing with the transfer of his or her property can be challenging for loved ones, especially in the absence of a will. Because the probate process can be long and complex, it’s important to hire an experienced attorney in Tracy who understands California’s laws and who can help you navigate the system as quickly as possible. Here are some of the ways your lawyer may be able to help you speed up the probate process.

    Spousal Property Petition

    For surviving spouses and registered domestic partners, the process of transferring property can be easy, even in the absence of a will. Your attorney can submit a Spousal Property Petition in your behalf to the probate court, which can be approved much quicker than traditional probate procedures. There are no limits on the amount of property that can be transferred in this way, as long as the surviving partner has a legal right to the claim it. Your attorney can help you understand your eligibility for using this petition.

    Simple Affidavit

    A simple affidavit can be used to transfer property that is under a specified amount. For this procedure, your lawyer will help you prepare a document listing the property that you are claiming, which you will then sign under oath. The affidavit can be submitted directly to whoever is holding the property along with a death certificate, and the party with physical ownership will release it to the party who is claiming it. This process lets surviving family members avoid probate court completely. This procedure can only be used for property that is worth $150,000 or less or for real estate that is $50,000 or less in value.

    Simplified Probate

    If you can’t use either of the previous solutions, your attorney may help you file a request for a simplified probate process. This process can be used for small estates of $150,000 or less, excluding real estate outside of the state, death benefits, life insurance, and property that is not automatically transferred to a surviving spouse. Your attorney will help you determine if this procedure is right for you.

  • Do I Need Expert Witnesses for My Slip and Fall Lawsuit?

    Slip and fall injuries can range in severity from mild ankle sprains to life-threatening head trauma. If you fell on someone else’s property because of their negligence, and you sustained damages as a result, you shouldn’t have to pay for their mistakes. Talk to an attorney in Tracy or Manteca about your right to legal recourse. Hiring a personal injury lawyer will give you the best chances of securing a favorable outcome for your case. He or she may recommend hiring some expert witnesses to substantiate your allegations with evidence.

    The Role of Expert Witnesses

    An expert witness is someone who testifies under oath at a trial. This person is not personally involved with the case, but does have certain expertise and knowledge that pertain to a key facet of the case. When the expert witness takes the stand, the personal injury lawyer will first establish his or her credentials and ability to testify about the issues of the case. Then, the expert witness will be asked to explain the technical aspects of the case to the court.

    The Benefits of Hiring Expert Witnesses

    Slip and fall accidents can be difficult to litigate, especially if there is no video footage or eyewitness testimony available. A jury will only return a favorable verdict for you, the plaintiff, if there is evidence to support your side of the story. Expert witnesses can accomplish this. They can make or break your case. Using the testimony of expert witnesses improves your chances of getting a jury award, and may even bolster the compensation you’re awarded.

    The Types of Expert Witnesses

    Your injury lawyer can use a few different types of expert witnesses for a slip and fall case, although not all of them may be needed in every case. Any of the following types of experts can be helpful:

    • Medical and rehab experts
    • Vocational/life care planning experts
    • Accident reconstruction specialists
    • Flooring and traction experts
    • Building inspectors or architects

    Building inspectors might testify that the defendant failed to follow the local building code. A flooring or traction expert could testify as to the slipperiness of the floor and the risk of falls. An accident reconstruction expert can explain to the jury exactly how the accident happened, and medical and vocational experts can discuss the impact of the accident on your daily life.

  • What Happens When Personal Injury Victims Have Pre-Existing Conditions?

    Accident attorneys serving Tracy and Livermore typically handle cases in which a plaintiff sustains injuries and financial losses as a result of someone else’s negligent or intentional actions. For instance, a drunk driver might run through a red light and strike the victim’s car, causing brain injuries, fractures, and lacerations. Cases such as this are fairly straightforward, but not all plaintiffs were in good overall health prior to the accident. This can make litigation more complicated, although an attorney can still help the plaintiffs receive the compensation they’re entitled to.

    Disclosing Pre-Existing Conditions

    In order for an injury lawyer to represent a plaintiff’s best interests, he or she needs to be fully informed of the circumstances of the accident and how the plaintiff’s health was affected. It probably isn’t necessary for plaintiffs to disclose every detail about their medical history. However, they should discuss pre-existing medical conditions that might have been affected by the accident, such as orthopedic impairments or mental health disorders. It’s best to be upfront about these issues in court, so that the attorney for the defendant cannot argue that the plaintiff attempted to conceal information.

    Identifying Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

    In some cases, plaintiffs might not realize that they had a pre-existing health problem before the accident. For example, a car crash won’t cause osteoporosis, but it can cause weakened bones to easily break. This means that the defendant won’t be on the hook for paying for the plaintiff’s bone health medications, although he or she should be liable for the cost of medical care for the fractures. Another pre-existing condition that might not have been previously diagnosed is degenerative disc disease. This occurs when the discs in the spine become weakened and compressed, and more vulnerable to physical trauma. A car crash can cause a disc to rupture. It’s the responsibility of the physician to determine which conditions were pre-existing, and which were directly caused by the crash.

    Finding Evidence of Worsening Health

    Personal injury lawyers can help their clients secure compensation for damages stemming from the worsening or aggravation of pre-existing health conditions. The plaintiff’s medical records will be invaluable in proving exactly how the accident caused additional harm. The lawyer may also hire an expert witness to testify about the exact way the accident worsened the pre-existing condition.

  • Why Don’t More Americans Have an Estate Plan?

    Millions of American adults don’t have an estate plan , despite it being the only way to ensure one’s wishes are carried out after death. One of the primary reasons why so many adults are in this situation is because it’s assumed that one must be wealthy in order to visit an estate planning attorney in Tracy or Livermore. If you’re one of these millions of American adults, it’s worth your time to explore the many benefits of estate planning.

    Estate attorneys do much more than just draft wills. They can create trusts, offer guidance on advance directives, and minimize estate taxes. With the help of your lawyer, you can make arrangements to manage your property during your life and after your death, and you can put a plan in place just in case you become incapacitated. If you have minor children, you can designate a legal guardian for them in the event that you die before they reach the age of majority. A comprehensive estate plan can make arrangements for family businesses, and provide for special needs dependents. In short, nearly every adult can benefit from visiting an estate planning lawyer to discuss future arrangements.

  • How Can I Amend My Will?

    There may come a time when you need to amend your last will and testament. Perhaps you would like to leave inheritances to the newest generation of family members, or you need to eliminate someone from the will after a divorce. To make legally recognized amendments to your will , visit a lawyer serving Tracy or Manteca.

    You can also watch this video for a general overview. It explains that you can either have a completely new will drafted or you can attach a codicil to the original will. A codicil amends specific parts of the will. You must sign the codicil in the presence of two witnesses in order for it to be legally valid. If the instructions in the codicil contradict those in the will, the codicil’s instructions will be carried out instead of the will.