The Probate Process in a Nutshell

Drafting a will and deciding on how your properties and assets should be handled after death requires plenty of thought and consideration. It’s important to make sure to think ahead and decide on an arrangement for distributing your estate. As much as possible, you want to make sure that loved ones will be well taken care of after you’re gone. It’s also crucial to choose an executor, the one responsible for administrating your estate, that you trust enough to carry out your specific instructions.

With the details polished and a will prepared, the probate process will go on smoothly. Basically, the probate process involves the establishment of the validity of the will. Your appointed executor will have to wait until its content is checked and validated before administrating all instructions made.

The probate process starts with the filing of the will to the local probate court. After your death, the executor will have to file the necessary papers. Aside from the will, supplementary documents should be included in this step. These documents should help prove the validity of the will. An executor will also typically have to provide a full list of your estate, including details about your properties, assets and debts.

Afterwards, the court will officially approve the will and formally appoint the executor to act as an administrator of what you left behind. At this point, the probate process will involve two main stages. First, the executor will have to pay all the debts that you’ve left behind. In some cases, this might mean that the executor will have to sell a few assets and properties in order to make such payments. Next, the executor can finally distribute all the remaining assets and properties to your appointed beneficiaries.

The probate process can be drawn out by certain complications. As such, it would be better to work with experienced lawyers during estate planning. According to probate lawyers in Chicago, will disputes are a common occurrence in American courts. You can avoid future complications for your executor and beneficiaries by making a sound plan.


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Important Facts about Sinkholes

Sinkholes, like other natural hazards, can lead to a significant amount of devastation. Aside from damage to properties and infrastructures, sinkholes can lead to a lot of injuries and fatalities. As such, it’s important to learn important facts about how such accidents happen and how we can be prepared when it happens.

A sinkhole is basically a depression in the ground that is formed when the top surface collapses. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, sinkholes are a usual occurrence in areas called karst terrains. These are landscapes where the rocks beneath the earth’s surface are soluble and can be dissolved by the naturally occurring groundwater that circulates around it. Eventually, with enough water, soluble rocks such as limestone and gypsum will lose structural integrity, causing the ground—along with the structures built on top of it—to collapse.

In the U.S., karst terrains are common in Florida, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Missouri, and Texas. Certain areas in these states are particularly susceptible to sinkholes, especially during cases of intense rainstorms following dry spells or droughts. These, however, aren’t the only places where sinkholes can occur. In fact, sinkholes can also occur due to human intervention.

The same basic principle happens when the ground collapses into a human-induced sinkhole. These types of sinkholes are caused by poor practices and planning in water-pumping and construction. The water circulating around the ground and concrete will eventually make the surface unstable and collapse.

Natural hazards can be hard to predict, but individuals can keep an eye out on areas where sinkholes might possibly be forming. A sinkhole could be observed if there are structural cracks in walls and floors of a building. Depressions in the ground could also make it difficult to close doors and windows properly. Foundations, fence posts, and trees could also be seen becoming more and more exposed as the ground sinks further into itself. Any cracking in the ground with a noticeable circular pattern is another indication of a sinkhole.

Despite these indications, some sinkholes can still be hard to observe. As such, it might be hard to predict if your home or surrounding property is in any danger. The only way such accidents can be prevented is through careful observance of proper construction regulations. Contractors building homes should be wary of such risks and look up natural disclosure reports in the area.

For example, in California, there have been numerous reports of sinkholes in the past few years. Just last year, The Weather Channel reported several incidents of sinkholes in the state following several days of steady rainfall. Contractors should then check for a California natural hazard disclosure report that could help show significant patterns in sinkholes and other similar catastrophes.


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Important Facts about Child Custody Arrangements in New Jersey

When a married couple decides to file for a divorce, they will have to go through a rather complicated process before everything can be finalized. Before their union can be legally terminated, they will have to make important decisions about several factors. This is particularly true when children are involved, as one of these decisions is a properly accomplished child custody arrangement.

In the U.S., policies about child custody arrangements differ from state to state. In New Jersey, as stated on the New Jersey Courts website, divorcing parents can request for the following types of child custody arrangements:

  • Joint legal custody – Both parents will have the right to participate in making important parental decisions involving things like their child’s education and health care plan. However, only one parent will have physical or residential custody of the child.
  • Joint physical custody – Both parents will be considered as the custodial parent and share about equal amount of time living with their child. Both will also have the right to actively participate in important parenting decisions.
  • Sole custody – Only one parent will have physical custody of the child. That parent will also have the right to make major decisions about their child’s welfare without having to consult the other parent. Meanwhile, the other parent will be granted a specific amount of parenting or visitation.

New Jersey courts also encourage parents to make their own arrangements as much as possible. As long as they are in agreement and the arrangement is in the best interest of their child, parents have some leeway to make their own decisions. If, however, the divorcing parents can’t come to an amicable decision, the court will appoint custody evaluations to be carried out.

The court will also carry out risk assessments if there are concerns about one parent’s ability to take care of the child. New Jersey courts can deem a parent unfit if he or she has a history of alarming behavior that could endanger the child, particularly cases of substance dependency or addiction, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. In these scenarios, the courts could end up terminating the unfit parent’s visitation rights.

All in all, New Jersey child custody policies are most concerned with the well-being of the child. Most of the time, the courts prefer to grant joint custody arrangements to ensure that the child can carry out a loving and healthy relationship with both parents. If you are making similar arrangements during your divorce, don’t hesitate to seek out appropriate legal counsel to learn your best options. Consult experienced counsel in your area, such as an Ocean County divorce lawyer.


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Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Vehicular accidents remain a rampant problem in roads across America. Aside from car crashes and other similar accidents involving smaller vehicles, truck accidents and collisions are also a growing concern. In fact, when large vehicles such as 18-wheeler trucks meet accidents on the road, you can expect the damage to be more severe.

According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there were 3,062 large truck accidents report made in 2013. In all these cases, more than 570 truck occupants have died. There were also reported fatalities involving about 540 pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists, as well as at least 2,400 passengers of cars and other smaller vehicles.

As these numbers suggest, truck accidents can be extremely dangerous to those on the other side of the collision. This is because trucks weight about 20 to 30 times more than cars. While an average passenger car only weights about 4,000 pounds, a truck can weight more than 80,000. In a collision, this huge disparity causes a huge impact that could leave a car severely damaged.

Given its weight, trucks are also a lot harder to control than smaller vehicles. For example, compared to a car, it will take a longer distance before a truck can come to a full stop. Its huge size can also make it vulnerable to blind spots or “no-zones”, making it hard to see surrounding vehicles. As such, trucks should always be operated by highly experienced drivers. Accidents can easily be prevented if truck drivers remain diligent about following necessary safety precautions.

Unfortunately, there are certain moments when reckless and negligent behavior turns allow for such avoidable scenarios to happen. Most Texas truck accident lawyers will probably say that these situations arise when drivers or their trucking companies fail to comply with crucial safety requirements. The following are just some of the particular instances that could lead to truck accidents:

  • Failure to adequately train drivers
  • Violations in hours of service, leading to drivers who are overworked and fatigued
  • Failure to inspect and maintain vehicles, leading to defects and malfunctions
  • Driving while intoxicated or impaired
  • Negligent and reckless driving
  • Driving with overweight load
  • Failure to pay attention to truck’s no-zones or blind spots

As data already suggest, the truck accidents that result from these situations could lead to devastating consequences. Even when aggrieved individuals survive the crash, they will have to face a long road to recovery. Both the immediate and long-term effects of an accident can be difficult to deal with. Aside from the physical pain and trauma, individuals could suffer from emotional pain and significant financial burden due to costly medical treatments. Because of such outcomes, trucking companies and drivers should remain accountable in keeping roads safe from horrible accidents. If you have been significantly hurt in a truck accident, it’s best to seek out legal counsel to learn how you can pursue just compensation. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area, such as a Louisville car accident attorney.


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Five years later, BP claimants still fighting in appeal process

It’s been about five years since the 2010 explosion in Macondo Prospect, a British Petroleum (BP) oil field, caused a massive spill just off the coast of Louisiana. The accident caused devastating consequences for the surrounding area.

According to the Williams Kherkher website BP Claims Appeal, BP has made a commitment back in 2012 to mitigate the damages caused by the oil spill. Aside from the huge environmental concerns it raised, the oil spill also caused significant economic losses for individuals, business owners, and other groups near the affected coastline. Unfortunately, until today, these consequences have yet to be properly answered for.

Legitimate claimants, properly rewarded just compensation by the court, continue to fight to receive their settlement in appeals made by BP. As several news outlets continue to report, BP has constantly been appealing several claims in the last few years. BP was able to negotiate the right to make appeals against any claim over $25,000 and have been winning 75 percent of these appeals.

If you are one of the hundreds of claimants deeply affected by the oil spill, you might lose your chance at receiving just compensation by failing to respond BP’s appeal. You will stand better chances if you become familiar with appeals process and learn which appropriate steps to take.

A claimant will learn about an appeal upon receiving an official notice. The appeal could be a contest against the amount of compensation granted to the claimant. Sometimes, BP might also seek to deny any form of compensation at all. Upon receiving your notice, you will only have 14 days to respond and submit an initial proposal. After this deadline, both parties will have 10 days to submit at final proposal. Because preparing these documents can be hard to accomplish, it would be better to seek out appropriate legal counsel as you move along this process.


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Filing for Bankruptcy: Some Basic Facts

The financial crisis caused a hard blow all over the country. Thankfully, through the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, individuals and business firms have several legal options that could help ease heavy financial burdens. Those struggling with overwhelming debts can regain financial stability and rebuild credit by going through the bankruptcy process.

When an individual or a business files for bankruptcy, they legally declare that they can no longer afford to repay their debts to creditors. After legal status is imposed by the court, they go through the process that include the discharge of unsecured debts like medical loans and credit card payments, restructuring of the debt payment scheme, and the liquidation of particular assets and properties to pay debts owed to the government.

The specific details of the process will depend on what type of bankruptcy was filed for. These different forms of bankruptcy are delineated in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Among the details discussed in the Bankruptcy Code are the two main options most Americans consider: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. According to Greenway Law, LLC, Chapter 7 is the appropriate option for individuals or small business owners looking to completely eliminate their debt through the liquidation of some assets and properties. Meanwhile, Chapter 13 is the best option for debtors looking to protect their property while trying to resolve their financial issues.

Aside from particular advantages in terms of financial assistance and debt scheme reorganization, filing a bankruptcy can also help protect debtors from the possibility of foreclosure, repossession, eviction, and other similar outcomes. They will also be protected from possible harassment that could happen when creditors consistently contact them through phone calls, emails, and court requests. With what is called an “automatic stay”, creditors will be forced to cease all contact and attempts to reach out to debtors about their payments.

Regaining financial stability can be a challenge for anyone. If you think that filing for bankruptcy is the next best option for your situation, don’t hesitate to seek out legal counsel right away. An experienced lawyer can help you learn more about the options you have available.


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Common Types and Causes of Workplace Injuries

The workplace can be a dangerous environment for some people. Unfortunately, serious workplace injuries are far too common occurrences in America. As data from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OHSA) shows, there were about 2.9 million reported cases of private industry injuries in 2013. Particularly for people involved in industrial and manual labor, the risk of injury is simply part of their routine.

Even then, the issue of workplace injuries should never be taken lightly. Workers should not have to suffer devastating consequences while doing their jobs. As the website of Scudder & Hedrick, PLLC emphasizes, a workplace injury can do a lot to uproot the lives of workers and their families. One way to curb such incidents and prevent future injuries is through raising awareness about this pressing issue.

Workplace injuries are often the result of accidents that could have been easily avoided. According to OHSA, the following are just some of the most common causes of injuries that occur in workplaces across the country:

  • Getting hit or struck by hazardous objects
  • Slipping or tripping
  • Falling from significant heights
  • Overexertion from lifting, carrying, pushing, or pulling heavy objects and equipment
  • Accidents with heavy machinery and vehicles
  • Overly repetitive or rigid motions
  • Exposure to toxic substances

From such accidents, workers sustain a wide-range of injuries. Some of them are minor injuries that are easy to recover from. However, some can also be severe. There are also some alarming instances when injuries lead to fatalities. According to the website of the LaMarca Law Group, P.C., the following are just some of the most common types of workplace injuries:

  • Sprains or strained muscles
  • Bruises, wounds, lacerations, or contusions
  • Bone fractures
  • Heat or chemical burns
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tendonitis
  • Limb amputations
  • Brain trauma
  • Spinal cord injuries

Considering some of these devastating scenarios, employers should always make it their top priority to create a safe working environment. In the same way, the public should also encourage on-going discourse about how workers’ safety should be a top priority.

If you have recently been injured in the work place, it’s important that you seek out legal counsel and find the help you need. As it says on the website of lawyers Crowe & Mulvey, LLP, you have options that can help you move forward from the consequences of your injury. Contact a qualified personal injury lawyer in your area to learn more.


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