| Read Time: 2 minutes | Personal Injury Lawyer

Keeping Your Child Safe On The Playground

Personal Injury Lawyer | Keeping Your Child Safe On The Playground The Playground is an exciting place. It gives children an adventurous place to play and use their imagination while providing an opportunity for teachers, parents and caregivers to let kids spend pent up energy in a productive and creative way. Little bodies, brains and social skills are hard at work when on the playground. To guarantee many more years of healthy playground play in the future for your children, it is important to keep your child safe on the playground. Think about the following tips next time you and your little one hit the playground. Playground Equipment Only Between 2001 and 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Commission investigated 40 deaths associated with playgrounds. Twenty-seven deaths were related to strangulation, often involving a foreign object or object from home. Drawstrings, pet leashes and jump ropes do not mix well with playground equipment. Leave these items in the car or at home and make sure to dress appropriately. Ensure Protective Surfaces The asphalt and concrete playground surfaces of the old days are gone. Or at least they should be. Falls account for 44% of playground injuries. Falls from playground equipment can lead to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Play in areas with impact absorbing surfaces like pea gravel, wood chips, sand or rubber. Quick Safety Inspections Doing a quick safety check when you arrive at the playground can go a long way. Make sure any heights have appropriate railings or enclosures. Encourage kids to go down the slide feet first and always monitor children on monkey bars. Thirty-six percent of injuries are attributed to monkey bars alone. Make sure children under four play on age-appropriate equipment and know to never run in front of swings. Explain the Right Way to Play Before stepping onto the playground, remind children of the safest playground behavior. Let them know that doing cartwheels from heights, running up a slide and swinging on their belly can turn bad quickly. Encourage kids to use the playground as it was intended to avoid scrapes, bangs and bruises or worse. The playground is an excellent place to watch your little one blossom. Take some time to make yourself aware of playground dangers so that your family can continue to enjoy the freedom and fun a playground offers. If you someone you know was injured on a playground, contact a Personal Injury Lawyer at Young Wooldridge, LLP. A personal injury lawyer can inform you of legal options you may not know you have.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 2 minutes | Personal Injury Lawyer

Highway Work Zone Safety Awareness 

Personal Injury Lawyer | Highway Work Zone Safety Awareness  Every spring in the U.S. we observe National Work Zone Awareness Week. Since 2000, when the first national event was held in Springfield, Virginia, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) have worked together to bring awareness to motorists about highway and road worker safety. Many other national, state and local agencies participate in events countrywide. A work zone is an area on our roads and highways where construction is taking place. It can involve reduced speed limits, detours, large equipment and lane closures. Road improvements and construction are conducted most often during the warmer months of spring and summer. That means that as Americans take to the road for vacation and as young drivers are out of school for the summer, there is an increased risk to the road workers as well as those drivers. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, three fatalities occur each day in highway construction areas. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports 61,000 injuries from work zone crashes in 2016. Work zone tragedies don’t only affect workers. Four out of five work zone deaths are drivers or passengers. By being aware, alert and cautious, every motorist can help prevent work zone accidents. Work Zone Safe Driving Tips Below are some tips from the California Department of Transportation when navigating highway work zones. Do not speed in work zones; obey the posted work zone speed limits. Expect the unexpected and stay alert. Drive carefully, always watching for workers. Don’t change lanes unnecessarily. Stay off the phone. Turn on headlights so that workers and other drivers can see you. Be especially alert at night while driving in work zones. Expect delays, especially during peak travel times. Allow ample space between you and the car in front of you. Anticipate lane shifts, and merge when directed to do so. Be Patient! If you someone you know has suffered injury from a work zone related crash, contact The Personal Injury Department at Young Wooldridge, LLP. A personal injury lawyer at Young Wooldridge, LLP can inform you of legal options you may not know you have.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 3 minutes | Personal Injury Lawyer

How Can You Help End Distracted Driving?

Personal Injury Lawyer | Help End Distracted Driving  Distracted driving is an ever-increasing risk on roads all across the country. Americans lead busy lives and have more and more technology that helps them manage these lives. Multitasking is an encouraged skill in our culture. Unfortunately, there’s at least one place where multitasking can become deadly: in your car. In 2017, distracted driving was attributed to at least 8.5% of crash fatalities– 3,166 people. This staggering statistic moves most of us to learn more about the problem and what we can do to help end distracted driving. An experienced Personal Injury Lawyer can inform you of your rights if you or someone you know has been injured by a distracted driver. The auto industry continues to produce vehicles with more connectivity than ever before, effectively making multitasking the accepted norm when behind the wheel. However, doctors are now learning that the human brain does not actually have the ability to perform two cognitively demanding tasks at the same time. Multitasking is a myth. Instead of performing two tasks at once, the brain actually switches back and forth between tasks. Each task is then completed at decreased performance rates. Thankfully, the distracted driving epidemic has been brought to our attention and campaigns across the country aim to snuff it out. Public awareness is getting better and you may have already made a pledge to refrain from distracted driving. There is still more that can be done. You may not realize that even when you aren’t behind the wheel, there are ways in which you are contributing to the unsafe, and in some states illegal, habits of your friends and loved ones. So What Can I Do? If you see or suspect someone of distracted driving, start by talking to them. Explain the risks they face and tell them how you feel about their habits. If you are in the vehicle with a distracted driver and feel unsafe, ask them to pull over and stop. If you, yourself are driving distracted, remember that you are not only risking your life and the life of your passengers but everyone else on the road. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) gives us these tips for managing distracted driving: Switch Off and Stow Away Before starting your car, turn your phone to silent and then stow it somewhere out of reach. Record a Driving Message When you’re on the road, record a message that tells other callers as much and explain that you will return their call when you have safely exited your vehicle. Pull Over If you absolutely must make a call en route, pull over to do it. Find a safe area off of the main road to stop and make the phone call. Use Your Passengers Ask a passenger to make the call for you. Passengers can be your co-pilot to find directions on the GPS and to respond to text messages. “X the Text” Never text, read email or surf the web while driving. Prepare Before you leave, set your GPS or thoroughly read printed directions. If you need to change course, pull over to reset your navigation devices. Properly Secure Pets and Children Make sure that all passengers who require your assistance are properly fastened into the vehicle before you set out. If they have needs that need tending, pull over to a safe place before attempting to help them. Decline the Call If someone is calling you when you know them to be driving, do not answer. If they are texting, wait until you know they have stopped to respond. Maintaining your focus on driving is essential. Reading, smoking, eating and drinking are all deadly tasks that can cause far more than a fender bender. When drivers engage in these activities they put everyone on the road at risk. If you or someone you know was injured by a distracted driver, contact a Personal Injury Lawyer at Young Wooldridge, LLP. A personal injury lawyer can inform you of legal options you may not know you have.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 3 minutes | Estate Planning Attorney

Estate Planning Attorney | Estate Planning Tips for Small Business Owners

An experienced Estate Planning Attorney can inform you of your options if you or a small business owner that you know needs help with their estate planning.  Starting with your initial idea, building and owning a business can be an exciting venture from day one. Developing a proper business plan, securing financing, marketing, paying taxes and all of the other small, but significant, details will surely be some of the most challenging yet rewarding work that you will perform in your lifetime. But have you ever thought about the role you will play in your business after your life is over? Developing a comprehensive estate plan provides a well-developed plan to ensure that your life’s work survives even after you pass. As a small business owner, you spend an incredible amount of time working to establish and grow your business throughout your life. It seems only reasonable that you should take the time to create a plan for your business upon your death. When talking to your estate planning attorney, consider these tips for your business: Avoid Exorbitant Taxes Upon death, the IRS may claim estate taxes on all assets of your estate. Reviewing your personal and business assets as part of a comprehensive estate plan can help minimize the tax exposure of your estate and facilitate the an organized transition or sale of the business. To avoid taxes, there are various IRS sections that can help. One section, Section 6166, will allow your loved ones more time to pay the tax by paying the estate tax in 10 annual installments. Another, Section 303, will allow your family to redeem your stock with very little tax penalties. You should talk to your family about these tax sections and determine if your business will be eligible. Creating a plan and instructions for your survivors will help them to navigate these filings.  Create a Buy-Sell Agreement If your business is owned by more than one person, a buy-sell agreement dictates how the partnership or LLC will be distributed upon one owner’s death or incapacitation. Without one, family members may be stuck owning a business they do not want, and partners may be forced to work with people they did not intend. A buy-sell agreement puts in place a plan that when an owner passes, their shares must be bought out by the other owners at a fair market price. These agreements can even establish a sale price so that family members know what they can expect to receive from the sale. In a buy-sell agreement, you can also block certain individuals from having a role in the business. Purchase a Life Insurance Policy It is possible that you have no intention of your business surviving after your passing. Referred to as owner-dependent businesses, some small businesses provide a stable income for the owner, however, there is not a lot of money reinvested in the business and exponential growth is not the intent. If you depend on your business for income and you have a family, when you pass, that income will be gone. A term life insurance policy can serve as income replacement for your family. Additionally, a life insurance policy or irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) can help your partners with the capital they might need to purchase your shares if you have a buy-sell agreement. As a small business owner, you owe it to your family and your business to make plans for your passing. Dealing with their loss will be complicated enough without navigating the intricacies of small business taxes and sales. Discuss your options with an experienced estate planning attorney and leave your legacy the way you would want it. If you or someone you know is a small business owner, contact The Estate Planning Department at Young Wooldridge, LLP. An estate planning attorney at Young Wooldridge, LLP can inform you of legal options you may not know you have.  

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 2 minutes | Personal Injury Lawyer

Carbon Monoxide: What Is It and What To Do?

Personal Injury Lawyer | Carbon Monoxide:  What it is and what to do if you are exposed An experienced Personal Injury Lawyer can inform you of your rights if you or someone you know has been exposed to carbon monoxide. More than 20,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency room each year for carbon monoxide poisoning. Of those, 400 of them will die. Carbon monoxide has been called a “silent killer”and is a common industrial hazard. Even small amounts can be harmful, so it is important to know what carbon monoxide is and what to do if you are exposed to it. What Carbon Monoxide Is Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas produced from the incomplete burning of carbon containing materials like natural gas, coal, kerosene, oil, propane and wood. It is produced by forges, blast furnaces and coke ovens on large industrial sites. CO is also produced by the internal combustion engine in smaller equipment like forklifts, gas-powered generators, marine engines and power washers among others. How CO Harms         Improper ventilation can quickly allow dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide to build up. When breathed in, the CO binds with hemoglobin in your blood at 300 times the rate of oxygen. Carbon monoxide poisoning deprives your heart, lungs and the rest of your body from the essential oxygen it needs causing you to suffocate and lose consciousness. With enough exposure, this can happen in minutes. The Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning If someone has been exposed to carbon monoxide, they will experience various symptoms before losing consciousness. The amount of exposure will determine how quickly these symptoms move from bad to worse. Dull Headache Weakness Dizziness Nausea/Vomiting Difficulty Breathing Confusion Blurred Vision Loss of Consciousness Complications of CO Poisoning Carbon monoxide can cause reversible and irreversible damage depending on severity of exposure. Permanent brain damage Heart damage – potentially leading to severe cardiac complications Fetal death and miscarriage Death Those Most at Risk CO poisoning is dangerous for everyone, but some are more at risk for severe complication, faster. Fetuses Young children Elderly People at high altitudes People with heart or lung diseases Smokers or others with already elevated CO levels What to Do If you or someone you are with displays these symptoms and you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, follow the steps below to quickly get help. Move to a well-ventilated area or outside as quickly as possible. Call 911 immediately. Administer 100% oxygen with a tight-fitting mask, if the victim is still breathing. Administer CPR if the victim has stopped breathing. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious and swift acting hazard. Be sure that any fuel burning equipment has proper ventilation. If you feel uncomfortable with the situation at work, discuss it with your supervisor immediately. You could save the life of your co-workers and even yourself. If you or someone you know has suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, contact The Personal Injury Department at Young Wooldridge, LLP. A personal injury lawyer at Young Wooldridge, LLP can inform you of legal options you may not know you have.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 2 minutes | Personal Injury Lawyer

Highway Safety Basics

PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER | HIGHWAY SAFETY BASICS FOR ALL An experienced Personal Injury Lawyer can inform you of your rights if you or someone you know was injured in a motor vehicle accident. In 2017, there were 37,133 people killed in motor vehicle crashes. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), 16 percent of these fatalities were pedestrians, 14 percent were motorcyclists and 2 percent were bicyclists. sixty-four percent of crash fatalities in 2017 were passenger vehicle occupants and 2 percent were occupants of large trucks. While highway safety is improving over the last decade, we still have work to do to mitigate the vast majority of vehicle crash related fatalities. From the statistics stated above, everyone is at risk. The three biggest causes of vehicle crash fatalities are: Alcohol Speeding Distracted Driving Basic highway safety tips can help to combat these poor driving habits and can keep you, your staff and your loved ones safe on the road. ALCOHOL As the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA) puts it, “if you feel different, you drive different.” All 50 states have laws against driving under the influence of alcohol. Thinking, reasoning and muscle coordination are all affected by alcohol making it dangerous to have even one drink and drive. Remember these tips before making the mistake of drinking and driving. If you are planning to drink alcohol, designate a non-drinking designated driver. Use taxi services, if needed. If you are the host, make sure all of your party guests leave with a sober driver. If you see a drunk driver on the road, call law enforcement immediately. Always wear your seatbelt to protect yourself from other impaired drivers. SPEEDING In 2017, speeding accounted for more than a quarter of all traffic fatalities. Data tells us that speeding is on the rise. This trend could be due to many factors like increased traffic congestion, stressful schedules or a general detachment and disregard for other drivers. Whatever the cause, we can all do more to keep the roads safe from speeding accidents. Always observe speed limits and reduce your speed in inclement weather. Give speeding drivers plenty of space. If someone is trying to pass you in the left lane, move over and let them by. Use good judgement to avoid aggressive drivers tailgating or intimidating you. Call the police if you believe another driver is harassing you. DISTRACTED DRIVING NHTSA reports that approximately 481,000 drivers are using handheld devices daily. There are three main types of distraction where driving is concerned; manual, removing hands from the steering wheel, visual, taking eyes off the road and cognitive, thinking about anything other than driving. Texting is exceptionally dangerous because it engages all three of these distractions. Adhere to the following safety standards to keep our roads safe of distracted driving. Never text and drive. Pull over if you must or wait until you’ve reached your destination. Save phone calls until the end of your trip. Don’t try to multitask while driving. Using a handheld device, changing the radio, setting GPS and even eating are dangerous activities that can increase the risk of an auto accident. Remain focused on the task at hand, driving, for the entire time you are behind the wheel. If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident, contact The Personal Injury Department at Young Wooldridge, LLP. A personal injury lawyer at Young Wooldridge, LLP can inform you of legal options you may not know you have.  

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 2 minutes | Personal Injury Lawyer

What do you know about Brain injuries?

Personal Injury Lawyer| Brain Injuries  An experienced Personal Injury Lawyer can inform you of your rights if you or someone you know has suffered a brain injury. Brain injuries occur when a person sustains an impact to the head. These types of injuries are common and very serious. There are varying degrees and causes of brain injury. Knowing more about brain injury could mean the difference between long term and short-term effects. When the brain is injured due to an impact to the head, it is called Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI. The leading cause of TBI is falls. In moderate to severe cases, the biggest cause was car accidents. These are followed by gunshot wounds and assault. If you have suffered a personal injury, it is imperative that you rule out brain injury quickly. While some head injuries are quite apparent, with cuts, broken skin and bruising, perhaps the most alarming thing to know about TBI is that it can be imperceptible to the eye. It is often the case that a person in a recent accident thinks that they are aware of all of their injuries while under the surface, a dangerous brain injury could be causing more damage every minute it is left untreated. Doctors use the scale “mild”, “moderate” and “severe” to describe the level of injury in every case. Below are some symptoms to look for: Mild Brain Injury Loss of consciousness – this can be for just a few seconds up to a few minutes No loss of consciousness, but a feeling of disorientation and confusion Headache Drowsiness or fatigue Dizziness Nausea Difficulty with speech Difficulty sleeping or excessive sleepiness Sensitivity to light or sound Other sensorial complications – ringing in the ears, bad taste in the mouth or effects on the sense of smell Moderate to Severe Brain Injury The above symptoms may be present in moderate or severe injuries and the below list of symptoms could appear within hours or may take days to present. Loss of consciousness – from several minutes to hours at a time Persistent or worsening headache Continual vomiting and nausea Clear fluid draining from nose and ears Dilation of pupils – one or both Numbness in fingers or toes Loss of coordination Seizures Slurred speech Coma or inability to awaken from sleep Unusual behavior – agitation, combativeness Profound confusion Additionally, when young children and infants are injured it is important to pay close attention to their possible symptoms. Since children can’t effectively communicate, symptoms to watch for are: Seizures Inconsolable crying Sadness and depression Loss of interest in favorite games and toys Change in sleep habits or drowsiness Change in eating/nursing habits Always see a doctor after an injury has occurred even if you believe that you have no injuries. If you are experiencing any of the items listed above in the days following an accident, seek emergency medical attention. Even mild brain injury victims can experience symptoms for up to a year after an accident. If you suspect that you or someone you know has suffered a burn injury, contact The Personal Injury Department at Young Wooldridge, LLP. A personal injury lawyer at Young Wooldridge, LLP can inform you of legal options you may not know you have.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 3 minutes | Personal Injury Lawyer

Child Car Seat Safety Do’s and Don’ts

Personal Injury Lawyer | Child Car Seat Safety  An experienced Personal Injury Lawyer can inform you of your rights if you or someone you love is injured in car crash. An estimated 46% of car and booster seats are misused in a way that could reduce their effectiveness according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This sobering statistic and others cause government agencies and local organizations to launch child safety seat campaigns every year. Raising awareness around car seat safety can save children’s lives. The Facts In 2016, in the U.S. 732 children, under the age of 12 died in car crashes. Of those, 35% of them were not buckled in. Restraint use among young children often depends upon the driver’s seat belt use. The use of a car seat reduces the risk of injury in a crash up to 82% and boosters 45%. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP) lead the conversation on child car seat safety. Together, they inform the public as well as car seat manufacturers on best practices for child passenger safety. Follow these tips for keeping your child passenger safe. Don’t: Turn children facing forward until at least 2 years of age. When a child rides rear-facing, the head, neck, and spine are all supported by the hard shell of the car safety seat, allowing the car seat to absorb most of the crash forces, and protecting the most vulnerable parts of the body. Purchase used car seats from an unknown source. If you don’t know a car seat’s history, don’t use it. Used seats should Come with instructions and a label showing the manufacture date and model number. They should not be more than 6 years old and should not have been in any previous accidents. Assume you know how to install a car seat if you’ve never done it before. Cars made after 2002 have a latch system that you should use to secure car seats to your vehicle. Before that, belt installation varies from seat to seat. Find a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician in your area to help show you how to install your car seat free of charge. Often these can be found at your local fire station. Place car seat in the front seat. The back seat is the safest place for your child’s car seat. Airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat. Never place a rear-facing car seat in front of an airbag. The middle of the back seat is the safest spot in the car to place children. Do: Keep all children in car seats or boosters until at least age 8. It is safe to move your child out of the booster when he or she reaches a height of 4 feet 9 inches, sits against the back of the seat with knees bent comfortably at the seat edge and when the seat belt rest comfortable over the hips and the shoulder, not below hips or on the neck or face. Opt for the 5-point harness Older seats may have a 3-point harness. Choosing a 5-point harness ensures that your child is secured to the seat in five places preventing them slipping out of the safety of the seat in the event of a crash. Buckle children safely for every trip. No matter how short the trip, an accident can happen. Make sure you are properly securing children every time they are passengers in a moving vehicle. Model proper vehicle safety by buckling up every time you ride in a car with children. Make sure that any family members or other caregivers know how to properly install and buckle car seats. Proper car seat use will greatly reduce the risk of child injuries in your vehicle. If you or someone you know has suffered a personal injury in a car crash, contact The Personal Injury Department at Young Wooldridge, LLP. A personal injury lawyer at Young Wooldridge, LLP can inform you of legal options you may not know you have.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 3 minutes | Personal Injury Lawyer

How Much Do You Know About Workplace Safety?

Personal Injury Lawyer |  Workplace Safety An experienced personal injury lawyer can inform you of your rights if you or someone you love is injured on the job.As the National Safety Council states“every worker deserves to make it home safe – every day”. In 1970, the federal government instituted OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Act which governs workplace health and safety regulations and compiles annual statistics relating to workplace safety incidents. Despite OSHA conducting 32,020 federal inspections and 40,993 State Plan inspections, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, 5,147 workers were killed on the job in 2017. That equates to about 14 people per day. For every worker and employer, knowing more about workplace safety will lead to less injuries and fatalities on the job. The “Fatal Four” In 2017, one in five workers deaths was in the construction field. These four causes were responsible for more than half (59.9%) of those. Falls Struck by Object Electrocution Caught/Crushed The Department of Labor says that eliminating these Fatal Four could save 582 workers’ lives every year in America. OSHA and other state and federal departments are working hard to make workplace safety the highest priority in every industry. However, there is a lot of misinformation out there. Believe it or not, in some industries, workplace safety has a bad rap. Below are 3 myths about workplace safety, debunked. Myth One: It’s impossible to create a hazard-free work area. This line of thinking is dangerous because it creates a “safety is a futile effort” mentality for employers. When employers are informed and proactive about what it takes to create an injury-free workplace, safety is a very attainable goal. The proper planning, education, discipline and diligence can create a hazard-free workplace in any industry. Myth Two: Following OSHA safety standards requires too much time and money. Anyone who feels this way has clearly never considered how much time and money is wasted when accidents do occur. From direct costs: workers compensation, medical payments and legal fees to indirect costs: training replacements, damaged equipment, lost productivity, lower employee morale and more absenteeism, employers pay for unsafe work environments. Myth Three: Accidents happen. Research shows that most workplace accidents are preventable. By taking workplace safety seriously and actively participating in and pursuing a safe environment every day on the job, workers and employers can achieve an injury-free workplace. But what happens when an employer fails to create a safe environment for their workers? Ultimately the worker is the one who will suffer most from this situation. OSHA laws state workers right in these situations. Determining the best course of action depends on the severity of the situation. The question is: Are you in imminent danger? If You Are In Imminent Danger You have the right to refuse to work. Immediately call the OSHA phone line at 800-321-OSHA and 911 if anyone needs medical attention. Imminent danger situations require that the following criteria are met: you believe that performing your work poses a real danger of death or serious physical injury your employer refuses to correct the problem, and there isn’t enough time to eliminate the danger through other means, such as requesting an OSHA inspection. If You Are Not In Imminent Danger Start by bringing the hazard to your employers’ attention. Document your report by putting it in writing with the employer or simply by keeping your own record including the date, time and who you reported it to. If you are afraid to talk to your employer, you may report it directly to OSHA or other governing state agency. If your employer does nothing or threatens to take action against you for reporting a hazard, you should contact OSHA to file a complaint. You can do this anonymously or give your name. If you or someone you know has suffered a personal injury on the job, contact The Personal Injury Department at Young Wooldridge, LLP. A personal injury lawyer at Young Wooldridge, LLP can inform you of legal options you may not know you have.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 3 minutes | Estate Planning Attorney Bakersfield

What Is Joint Ownership?

Estate Planning Attorney Bakersfield | What Is Joint Ownership? An experienced Estate Planning Attorney in Bakersfield can inform you of your options if you or someone you know is looking to establish joint ownership of a property.  Probate is the act of proving a will is genuine or broadly, “the process of administering an estate.” When you pass, your assets and finances will undergo the process of probate to sort out the details of your estate. Probate can be a long and arduous process for loved ones and beneficiaries. It can tie up your assets for months and can open them up to estate taxes which could, in some cases, deplete your financial standing significantly. Proper estate planning can help your loved ones avoid probate. Joint ownership is one way to keep your property out of probate. Just as it sounds, joint ownership is when a property is shared by two or more people. There are several forms of joint ownership, all of which can help avoid probate when one owner dies. The forms of joint ownership are: Joint Tenancy With Rights of Survivorship In joint tenancy with rights of survivorship or JTWROS, two or more people legally own a property. When one of those owners dies, the property simply stays under ownership of the remaining partner(s). The heirs of the deceased have no legal rights to the property. Upon death of one of the owners, the surviving owners fill out a form and present it along with a death certificate to whoever keeps the records. Depending on what type of property it is, this could be a bank, state department of motor vehicles or county real estate records office. Tenancy By The Entirety In certain states, Tenancy by the Entirety exists. Abbreviated TBE, this form of joint ownership functions in the exact same way as Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship, except it is restricted to just two people who are married or are registered domestic partners. When a spouse dies, the other becomes the sole property ownership when a death certificate is presented to the property record keeper just as Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship. Community Property Currently nine states are considered Community Property States. In these states, property, income and debt acquired during a marriage is considered community property between spouses and an assumed 50-50 ownership exists. Although simply stating in a will or trust that you wish your property to be otherwise distributed after death cannot override the community property laws. However, each spouse is able to bequeath their share of the property to a person of their choosing, like a child or other family member. If no heir is named, when one spouse passes, the property is automatically transferred, and the surviving spouse becomes the sole owner. Only a prenuptial agreement may supercede the community property laws in these states. Tenancy In Common As Tenants In Common, TIC, each owner of a property holds a percentage. Percentages do not have to be equal, instead they are determined by how much an owner contributes to the purchase of the property. Each owners share becomes part of that owner’s estate. It is named in the will and left to a person of their choosing upon death. The other owners, unless named as heirs in the will or trust have no claim to the other percentages of the property. One pitfall with this type of property ownership is that as part of individual estates, the percentage can become subject to probate and the state’s will in the settling of an estate. This can put the property and the other owners in difficult position. When considering the various types of joint ownership, consulting an experienced estate planning attorney will help you decide which is best for you and your family. If you or someone you know is looking for more information on joint ownership, contact The Estate Planning Department at Young Wooldridge, LLP. A estate planning attorney at Young Wooldridge, LLP can inform you of options you may not know you have.

Continue Reading