| Read Time: 3 minutes | Estate Planning

Be Smarter Than Your Smart Device When It Comes To Estate Planning | Estate Planning Attorney

This article was originally published in the October/November 2015 issue of Kern Business Journal. Almost every day, it seems as if someone is trying to sell me on some hot, new technological device. Over here, I have someone selling the latest and greatest smartphone on the market. What’s so great about it? Well, for starters, it has a screen that is a whopping one-quarter inch larger than the three-month-old smartphone sitting next to me. They say it can even replace my computer! Later, I’m watching a program on my Smart TV and an ad comes along selling me a Smart-er TV, one that can operate as efficiently as the fastest computer. Why is everyone trying to turn every device I own into a computer…don’t they know that I have an actual computer for that? The era of technological innovation that we live in has many people demanding the best of everything. Luckily, these advancements have not been limited to the world of consumer products. People are living longer and healthier lives today, thanks to technological development in the field of medicine. Quite impressive, but it’s important to be aware that with advancement can come unforeseen consequences. As an Estate Planning Attorney, a major consequence I frequently see is that now our bodies often outlive our minds. Decades ago, there was little that could be done for a person whose body outlived their mind. In almost every case, the remedy was extensive – and expensive – court proceedings. They are called conservatorships and still exist today, however, proceedings can be long, emotionally painful and often result in more chaos than progress. Ultimately, through the efforts of attorneys, we were able to expand upon the principle of the power of attorney concept brought over from England prior to the American Revolution. Now, with a properly prepared Durable Power of Attorney, a person can grant a trusted agent the right to handle legal matters, before they are unable to do so for themselves. Today, Durable Powers of Attorney provide guidance on a number of issues to the selected advocate.  They can outline how to guide your medical professionals on your preferred care. They also cover important areas such as making retirement plan decisions and ensuring that you continue to receive insurance benefits. They can protect your assets from over taxation and allow you to make gifts to others, avoiding sending yet more money to the government. Ultimately, they protect you, your heirs and the assets you’ve worked your entire life to save. I’ve seen over the years that people are recognizing the importance of planning for the time when your mind isn’t keeping up with your body. However, another unforeseen consequence of this technological era is the emergence of online legal forms. When we are used to information we need being a click or the tap of the fingertip away, it’s quite easy to turn to the computer or one of the aforementioned devices trying to replace it, to complete a variety of legal documents these days. Though these documents may seem revolutionary, typically they are anything but. Most online estate planning documents that I see are poorly written, vague and not generally sufficient. They may not be tailored for your state’s laws, may not include provisions for your business to be properly handled and could even provide for heirs that you did not intend. Most often, the canned online documents result in higher legal fees for correction in order to make them enforceable. When planning for your family’s future, keep in mind, computers don’t always have the expertise to create a Durable Power of Attorney or comprehensive estate plan tailored to your unique situation. Be smarter than your smart device and consult an attorney when laying out your final wishes. Larry Cox is a partner at Young Wooldridge, LLP with over 30 years of estate planning experience.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 2 minutes | Personal Injury

Watch for Pedestrians | Personal Injury Attorney

Watch for Pedestrians | Personal Injury Attorney Bakersfield Pedestrian Struck by Two Vehicles, Hospitalized Personal Injury Attorney | A Bakersfield man landed in the hospital after being struck by two vehicles on October 17, 2014. According to police, the 31-year-old man was crossing Gosford Road when he was struck by a Dodge pickup and thrown into the path of a Ford pickup that also struck him. He was immediately transported to the hospital with major injuries. Police are still investigating the accident, but claim that drugs or alcohol do not appear to have played a role and noted that the man was not in a crosswalk at the time he was hit. It is sadly not uncommon for pedestrian to be injured or killed by cars. Every year, approximately 4,400 pedestrians are killed by vehicles. Though alcohol plays a part in almost half of these collisions (48 percent), there are other factors that play a role in pedestrian-car accidents. It is not always easy to spot a pedestrian, especially at night, and this can cause motorists to drive through intersections or other roadways when pedestrians are crossing. While drivers are accustomed to watching out for other vehicles, they need to take the same vigilant approach to keeping an eye out for pedestrians. This is especially true because collisions can be deadly to pedestrians due to the size and weight difference between pedestrians and vehicles. Additionally, it is just as important for pedestrian to observe the rules of the road, which includes using crosswalks. Often pedestrians will misjudge the distance or speed of a vehicle and believe they have enough time to cross a street ahead of it. By utilizing crosswalks, a pedestrian eliminates the risk of a miscalculation and increases his or her own safety. Both motorists and pedestrians need to respect one another’s presence on the road. If you have been injured in a pedestrian-car accident, you may have legal rights. Schedule a free initial consultation with the knowledgeable Bakersfield personal injury attorneys at Young Wooldridge, LLP to learn more. Call today for a confidential consultation! 661.327.9661 Like us on Facebook for more information!

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 2 minutes | Frank Wooldridge

Trouble at the Start: GM Recalls Defective Cars

In a move that was too little, too late, General Motors (GM) has recalled millions of cars with potentially life-threatening mechanical defects. In February, GM recalled more than a million cars for a defective ignition switch it had known about for years. Concerns about the switch include: In 2006, GM distributed a technical service bulletin noting problems with the ignition cylinder. A heavy key chain, or an inadvertent bump, can pull down on the switch, causing the car to move from run to accessory In accessory mode, power to the car and its safety systems is terminated, including steering, braking and airbag deployment. By 2006, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had already received complaints about the car and ignition switch. GM acknowledges the defect led to at least 34 accidents and 12 deaths. In a study released in March, an independent research group using NHTSA data reviewed front-seat fatalities between 2002 and 2012 in two models recalled by GM. The evaluation revealed 303 deaths occurred in cars when airbags did not deploy during collision. If you were a part of these accidents you may need help from a personal injury attorney. GM is currently under investigation by NHTSA and the United States Justice Department for potential criminal charges and fraud relating to its 2009 bankruptcy filing. In late March, one of the first wrongful death actions brought against the company was filed in Minnesota. The collision, investigated by NHTSA, killed two teen girls and gravely injured another. During the accident, power to the vehicle was lost, causing the car to hit a utility box, vault a driveway and strike a clump of trees. The airbags did not deploy. Despite detailed knowledge of a deadly defect, GM did not act to inform regulatory agencies or consumers. If you have questions about injury from this or another automotive defect, speak to our personal injury attorney at Young Wooldridge, LLP.     Photo Credit: JM3 via Flickr Creative Commons

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 2 minutes | Frank Wooldridge

Truck Accidents are More Complex than Most Auto Accidents

Truck Accident Lawyer | When a small vehicle becomes involved in a crash with a massive commercial tractor-trailer truck weighing as much as 80,000 pounds loaded, serious injuries are almost guaranteed. These injuries, combined with the complex legal issues of identifying and proving liability, result in extensive challenges for victims seeking the compensation they need to effectively deal with their injuries. Due to the significant size and weight of semitrucks, sharing the road with them is more difficult and dangerous than dealing with smaller passenger vehicles. With the number of trucks increasing on the roads, it is not surprising that accidents where truckers are at fault are also increasing. According to the most recent data available from the California Highway Patrol, from 2010 to 2011, fatal collisions with trucks increased from 41 to 57, and injury collisions increased from 2,156 to 2,257. Each of these collisions represents one or more claims by injury victims or their families. However, trucking accident claimants face a more complex legal situation than the victims of passenger vehicle accidents, such as the following: The cause of the accident does not always point solely to driver error. Equipment failure, faulty cargo-loading, and countless other issues can extend liability to anyone from workers responsible for loading and inspection to trucking company management personnel who set policies. The severity of injuries is likely to result in extensive medical and rehabilitative costs. However, victims often also need compensation for long-term disabilities, requiring them to accurately predict a potential lifetime of additional expenses. Trucking companies employ a dedicated legal staff that focuses solely on defending against liability. Individual accident victims usually do not have the knowledge or power needed to help protect their rights to the full value of their claims. If you or a loved one suffers injuries in an accident with a large commercial truck, never assume a simple insurance claim can guarantee that you receive the full and fair compensation needed to deal with extensive losses. It costs nothing to consult with a truck accident lawyer at Young Wooldridge, LLP.   Photo Credit: Al Pavangkanan via Flickr Creative Commons

Continue Reading