Top 5 questions about probate

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About half of the people who call me about probate cases are often experiencing emotions: grief, confusion, bitterness, and sometimes a sense of peace. Out of all of these, confusion tends to multiply the most when it comes to trying to figure out what to do next with the deceased loved one’s legal affairs and property. Continue reading

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On Casey Kasem, and avoiding massive probate battles

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On the radio yesterday, I heard the morning hosts discussing the deceased American Top 40 host Casey Kasem, and how his kids are trying to get a death certificate to go after the life insurance money coming to them. In response, one of the hosts commented “That’s awful!” But I argued back (into the radio speaker), “Hey, if Kasem’s kids were my clients, I might have advised them to do just that!” Kasem’s kids have been in legal battles with his spouse for the last year or more, and unfortunately, probate battles almost never go smoothly, and can happen in any family, not just with celebrities. Continue reading

3 ways to put the “civil” in civil litigation

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Something I’ve always found easy is keeping calm about going to court. My clients, on the other hand, are often a ball of nervousness when it comes to even thinking about it. But for me, staying calm isn’t about education or experience; there are plenty of attorneys who cringe at the idea of court – and probably some judges, too! It’s more about staying focused and remembering a few key principles. Continue reading

May 1: A nexus of civil liberties

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Today is the crossroads of three important days on the calendars of government, faith, and laborers around the world. Although May 1 is always designated by Federal law as Law Day, and throughout the world celebrated as Labor Day (except in the United States), the first Thursday of May is also the National Day of Prayer by Federal law. Each represent a certain sector of our basic civil liberties, but as these three days may seem to be unique from each other, there is actually a commonality between them that makes today a day to celebrate one single reality: our liberty as Americans. Continue reading

The resurrection and the nature of evidence

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While my blog is not usually about comparing religious texts to legal issues, I’d like to continue this Easter week to explore how the resurrection stories touch upon the nature of evidence in a court proceeding. Specifically looking at the Gospel of John, in describing Mary Magdalene as she goes to the tomb, John portrays her as a witness that the stone has been removed from the tomb. She immediately rushes to a prejudicial conclusion based on the evidence before her: someone must have taken the body.

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The trial of Jesus vs. the American system

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“What evil has this man done? I found him guilty of no capital crime” Luke 23:22

Constitutional rights in criminal cases are something that can be easily taken for granted in our 24/7 TMZ world. Often people complain that defendants get off on a technicality, and they wonder how criminal defense attorneys can even sleep at night, or go to church on Sunday. So I’d like to take this week before Easter Sunday to compare the modern system to the trial of Jesus, as it is presented in the Gospel narratives.

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Ashes: A Reminder of Our Mortality

Image is Public Domain

Public Domain — from WIkipedia

“All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.” Ecclesiastes 3:20

Ash Wednesday is a good reminder of our mortality, a part of life Americans tend to put off considering for a long time.

As an estate planning / probate attorney, I’ve experienced the same thing with my clients. Often when someone comes to me for a comprehensive estate plan, they have to face some tough questions about their own death and what will happen to them on their deathbed, and what will happen to all the things they can’t take into the afterlife. Sometimes this brings about unpleasant memories of loved ones who have passed already, and sometimes fears about death itself.

But remembering our mortality is important, because Continue reading