Legal Nuggets- Wrongful Death
Although death is inevitable, many deaths come sooner than they should. A “wrongful death” is one that results from negligence, carelessness, incompetence, malpractice, avoidable-accident, neglect, assault and battery, recklessness, and other malfeasances by third-parties. I have handled many types of wrongful death cases over my twenty-plus years of practicing law. If you have a loved-one die in circumstances that you feel could be the result of wrongful actions (or failures to act), please contact me for a free consultation, during which I will gently advise you, not pressure you.
Legal Nuggets- Wills and Living Trusts
Many people contact me about setting-up a Living Trust, instead of a “Last Will and Testament”. I generally recommend the use of a Will, not a Living Trust, but there are exceptions to every rule.
One of the big differences between a Trust and a Will is that before a trust is effective the property has to be actually transferred to it. If you died before you actually signed a deed transferring your home to the trust, then the property would go into your estate. However, there may be restrictions on such transfers in your mortgage on the house. Also, the transfer of the property to the trust would in some circumstances constitute a taxable event, or as a gift that invokes the requirement to file a gift tax return with the IRS and/or your state taxing authority.
If you use a Will, then no deed is required to make the Will effective in controlling the disposition of your property after your death. You can change your Will as often as you please and however you like, prior to your death. But the amendment of your Living Trust could require that you deed real estate out of the trust or to the “Amended Trust.”
Many people simply want to insure that certain assets transfer to their spouse upon their death in the least expensive and simplest manner possible. In many such cases the solution is to title the property or account “jointly, with right of survivorship,” not create a Living Trust. Nonetheless, there are some cases that are appropriate for Living Trusts. It is best, therefore, to consult your tax adviser and your legal adviser before you make a decision on how best to proceed with your plans for how you want your property to be distributed upon your death.
Why Do You Need to Call a Lawyer?
For the same reason you call:
-the exterminator, he can spray strong poison without contaminating himself or you, just as a lawyer can say or write strong words against the other side without hurting you in the process;
-the dentist, he can pull out that painful, infected tooth without causing more damage to the other teeth, just as a lawyer can solve your main legal problem without causing you additional, painful problems;
-the plumber, he can get the toilet to flush again without your having to get your hands dirty, just as a lawyer can deal with the legal-manure without your having to get dirty;
-the car mechanic, he can get your automobile running smoothly so you can get places, just as a lawyer can get your legal-life running smoothly so you can accomplish your goals;
-a doctor, she can prescribe the proper remedy for your illness, just as a lawyer can advise the proper remedy for a legal problem;
-a minister, he helps you deal with life’s tragedies, just as a lawyer helps you deal with many of the same tragedies.
Just as it is a bad idea to try to cut out your own appendix, or perform some other surgery on yourself, so it is a bad idea to try to advise yourself on your legal rights and responsibilities. Just as medical science, computer science, international trade, and other fields grow more and more complex every day, so does the law. As long as legislators, judges, bureaucrats, and other rule-makers live and breathe, our legal system will grow in both the sheer number of laws and complexity. Please call someone who is trained and experienced to lead you through the legal mine fields or you are taking grave risks. I can be your guide if you call me at (864) 232-1676.
Legal Nuggets- Why Do I Need an Attorney on My Injury Claim?
The people insurance companies use to investigate and settle claims are called “adjusters.” Insurance adjusters know more about personal injury claims than you do. They may not be as intelligent as you or have as high an IQ as you, but they have had much more training and experience than you. Insurance adjusters get legal training and have access to lawyers for questions. They also learn a lot of medicine from both training and experience. They also have access to medically trained personnel.
Many insurance adjusters have attended jury trials and understand the legal system very well. They know about statutory deadlines for filing lawsuits and are aware of what basic types of evidence are admissible in a trial. Also, many adjusters have a good estimate of likely jury verdicts in injury cases. They know what type of cases jurors are likely to dislike.
Knowledge is power and the insurance adjusters have it. The only way to make sure you have equal power is to hire an experienced attorney. He or she will be able to advise you about the law that applies to your case. And an attorney will either know a lot of the medical information pertinent to your case or will know how to get the information.
If you want to be on equal footing (or better) with your insurance adjuster, consult a professional with the experience and knowledge it takes to successfully fight them.
Legal Nuggets- Underinsurance
In S. C., in the context of automobile accidents and insurance, “underinsurance” is the term usually used for a type of coverage that:
- Is optional;
- Requires the payment of a separate, additional premium;
- Can be purchased in amounts up to the amount of Liability coverage you are carrying;
- Is intended to supplement the basic liability coverage that is available to an injured person in a motor vehicle collision;
- Covers the policyholder, as well as resident relatives; and
- Is subject to rules under South Carolina’s law that are unique and that are different from the laws of our neighboring states.
In serious car wrecks many questions will come-up about underinsurance coverage. The rules on underinsurance in SC are complex. Our understanding of them comes mostly from reading cases that have been decided by our appellate courts. An attorney must be well-versed in those cases in order to fully understand this area of insurance law. The law surrounding underinsurance can be very confusing, especially to people with no legal training or education.