Your Legal Checkup and Review – $500
Published to: 000113, 000114, 000115, 000116, 000117, A Small Town Lawyer's Perspective, Perspectives of a Small Town Lawyer, West Virginia Lawyer - Tips and Techniques
on January 30, 2012 9:12 pm
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A Note from Mr. Hunter:
We hope will contact us for a review of your legal status, your will, powers of attorney, estate planning, insurances coverages, and any “loose ends” such as pending claims or lawsuits . Below is some information that you must have if you are going to maintain “good legal health”. As always, we will honor your confidentiality.
1. Durable General Power of Attorney: these powers of attorney allow the person receiving it to sign most legal documents in the name of the person issuing the power of attorney. The recipient becomes his “attorney in fact” for opening up accounts, signing return receipt cards, and even conveying real estate. Just remember to record the power of attorney in the county clerk’s office if you intent to use it to convey real estate. The title attorney will not certify the land’s title unless he finds it on record. BE SURE that you trust the person receiving the POA because he/she can empty your bank account, and send you a post card from the beach! If you doubt it, I know of a case where the “attorney in fact” conveyed her father’s house TO HERSELF! We were able to reverse that, but it was expensive.
2. Special Power of Attorney: Special POA’s are designed for a particular purpose. In the military, we often prepared special POA’s so that a spouse could sign all documents relative to the transportation of household goods. A special power of attorney can define, as narrowly as you choose, the purposes for which someone can sign a legal document for you.
3. Medical Power of Attorney: the two powers of attorney listed about can be used the moment they are delivered, and, being “durable”, they can be used even after the signor becomes incapacitated, say by a stroke. But, a medical power of attorney can be used ONLY if the signor has lost the ability to communicate his wishes with his/her doctor. This person needs to know the signors values and wishes, especially regarding end of life care, resuscitation, etc.
4. Living Will: I do not prepare living wills. Having heard the hype and the scare tactics, “You don’t want to be hooked up to some machine do you?”, I decided that the big push for living wills is from insurance companies and hospitals who want to save money. They will provide you a living will form at no charge, but I believe careful selection of the medical attorney in fact is sufficient for most people. I certainly do not want the doctor pulling the plug on me if my wife or son has decided, based on their knowledge of my wishes, that I am not ready to go. But it is your choice.
1. Do you or a loved one need:
a. Durable General Power of Attorney? _______________________________
b. Special Power of Attorney? _______________________________
c. Medical Power of Attorney? _______________________________
2. Do you, your spouse, your parent, child,
or friend need a will? _______________________________
(Please note: for most of us the answer to this is yes. And, for heaven’s sake, do not download a form and do it yourself. There is a statute defining a “holographic will”. That is a handwritten will. There are so many things that can go wrong, I cannot count them. And, a will has requirements such as the number of witnesses, dispositive language, who may witness a will, etc. Get any one of those requirements wrong, and your heirs may be inheriting a lawsuit. And make sure your lawyer is part of the signing ceremony, NOT his/her staff!!
3. If you need a will, do you need it to be videotaped? _____________________
(Note: the answer to this is yes if someone is going to be unhappy with the contents of the will. No matter how good the intentions, a will signed in secrecy, or one that disinherits a child or spouse, is going to cause resentment and perhaps a lawsuit.)
4. Have you reviewed your insurance coverages in detail so you know what the following are;
a. Personal injury liability coverage? _____________________
b. Property damage liability coverage? ____________________
c. Med Pay (medical payments) coverage? ____________________
d. Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage? ____________________
e. Underinsured (UIM) coverage? ____________________
f. A “Personal Umbrella” ? ____________________
(Note: the short summary of these coverages is”:
a. and b., above, protect you if you negligently injure or damage someone else. They pay if you are at fault.
c. Pays your or your passenger’s medical bills, up to a limit such as $5000 to $25000, before any other coverage kicks in. It can be a lifesaver.
d. Protects you in case the guy/gal who injures you was driving with no insurance.
e. Protects you if the other guy who injures you does not have ENOUGH insurance. $20,000 of coverage is nothing for a person who spends a month in the hospital or a week in ICU. And,
f. Is exactly what it says, just like an umbrella, it is coverage of everything else, backing it up, and protecting your assets. Usually it is at least $1,000,000, and be SURE your umbrella coverage includes UM and UIM! This can make the difference between bouncing back and financial ruin.
5. Do you have an elderly relative or mentally challenged relative or friend who needs protection? _______________________________________
(Note: Of course, if it is protection from abuse, call the WV Dept. of Health and Human Resources, DHHR, Adult Protective Services. But what if someone is handling the elderly person’s affairs and lining their own pockets, or inducing them to sign a will or deed against their wishes or without their understanding? Recently an “old friend” of the decedent (dead person) managed to get herself named as beneficiary in a $100,000.00 life insurance policy. Another woman got her friend to deed her her house for $100! There are ways to protect such persons before the lawsuit is needed.)
6. Are you, your adult child, your parent, or your friend beginning to sense the marriage is going downhill? _________________________________
(If so, note: a remarkably few people spend the $200-$500 for a legal consultant, before they know for sure a divorce is coming, to help evaluate the options. A competent, honest lawyer will not lobby for a divorce. She/he will tell you the rules of the game, give you copies of the statutes, share important forms and checklists and, where appropriate, help you to find a trained expert, marriage counselor, CPA, realtor, financial planner, or doctor to help protect your, or their, interests, and chart a plan of action.)
7. Do you know someone trying to do their own divorce? ___________.
(If so, please urge them to read my blog, www.burtonhunteresq.blogspot.com to see examples of horror stories of persons who made that mistake. And then call, or have them call, me. 304 472-7477.
7. Are you or a loved one planning a second or “September” wedding, and wonder if you need a “prenuptial agreement”._________________________________
(Note: Surprisingly few need one, but most people are hesitant to visit a lawyer to discuss their options. It is so sad to meet with a party to a divorce who made the wrong choice and now finds their unfaithful or alcoholic spouse owns half their parents’ home place, or their car, or other property. And imagine the shock to a person, married only a year, who is facing the payment of lifetime alimony! Spending $200-$500 could be the best investment you ever made.)
8. Have you or a family member or friend been injured by a negligent driver, store employee, or employer, but are afraid to speak to a lawyer because, “I am not that kind of person.” or “I don’t want to sue anyone.”? What kind of person do they mean? One who needs funds for medical bills, to replace lost wages, or just to have a fresh start?! We all could be such a person but we prefer to think we will never be injured by an at fault person. _______________________
(Note: talking to lawyer in those circumstances costs nothing, and turning your claim over to a good lawyer, REDUCES, rather than increases, the chance you will become embroiled in a lawsuit. You pay no fee unless the money is recovered.)
9. Do you have a neighbor encroaching on your land, using your right of way, cutting your timber, of siphoning off your gas? _________________
(Then you need to talk with a lawyer.)
10. Do you have any legal problem where you just need to ask a lawyer a question or two? _____________________________________________________
If you have answered yes to any of the above, Mr. Hunter and his staff will be happy to set up an appointment at your convenience. Or just call him before 8:00 a.m. at 304 472-7477, or write him through his website, www.hunterlawfirm.net .
Thanks again for taking advantage of our free offer. I look forward to serving you.
Yours very truly;
J. Burton Hunter III
This post was written by Burton Hunter