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Personal Injury FAQ: What should I look for when choosing a personal injury attorney?

 

I remember (not so long ago) when my wife was pregnant with our first child, how anxious we were about EVERYTHING, and how helpless I felt because I knew NOTHING about what to expect. This was never truer than when we left the hospital with our baby girl, where we had been surrounded by constant care and help, and arrived home, where suddenly we truly took steps into the great unknowns of parenthood. Of course we were never alone, and were comforted by the fact that we could turn to our family and friends for guidance.

 

In much the same way, if you are injured through the possible fault of another person, after the initial shock of the accident wears off, you are left with physical and emotional pain, as well as the difficulty and uncertainty that inevitably blankets you when trying to manage your life with lost wages, medical appointments and mounting bills, and dealing with insurance companies. Like when I took my first newborn home, you do not want be left alone to deal with your personal injury matters. Rather, you should seek the assistance of a personal injury or “PI” attorney to help you through such a difficult and sometimes overwhelming period.

 

Of course, you do not want just any attorney. You want the right attorney for you. When selecting a PI attorney, I suggest that you follow these five guidelines:

 

1. Get the name of an attorney.
Your search must start with finding the names of possible attorneys. If you have family or friends who are attorneys, ask them who they would recommend. Don’t be surprised or insulted if they are not willing to take you on as a client themselves. As an attorney, I want to help my family and friends with all of their legal needs. However, once you become the client of a family or friend, it can change the relationship you have with that person, so it is often times best if you and your family member or friend can avoid creating an attorney-client relationship. Even if your family members or friends are not attorneys, you should still ask them if they have anyone they would recommend. Just like when my wife and I were trying to choose a pediatrician, we started by asking our family and friends, because people inherently trust the advice and recommendations given by those to whom we are closest.

 

You can also contact local bar associations, which are local legal organizations to which most practicing attorneys in the community belong. The bar associations can put you in touch with attorneys who are experienced in the area of personal injury law.

 

The internet can also serve as a valuable tool to find possible attorneys. When you use the internet as a possible source, take care to include in your search the firm with which the attorney is associated, self-described practice areas, and any quality ratings that may be possessed by the attorney or his or her firm.

 

2. Initial consultation.
After you have the names of potential PI attorneys, your next step is to contact them and schedule an initial consultation. The initial consultation is critical, because like my wife and I discovered when visiting pediatric open houses, there is simply no substitute for meeting someone face-to-face to “size them up,” particularly when it involves turning over your trust to their care and confidence.

 

When you contact a PI attorney, be sure you ask if there is any charge associated with a consultation. Generally, PI attorneys do not charge anything for a consultation. I certainly do not, and recommend that if an attorney suggests a fee for consultation, you move to the next name on your list.

 

You should also plan on taking with you to the initial consultation any and all documents relating to your accident and injury, such as: a police or incident report; medical records and bills; documents showing any wages or pay that you have lost because of the injury; photographs depicting your injuries and/or the accident and scene; and any correspondence you may have received from anyone concerning the accident, including insurance companies.

 

3. Attorney that will accept your case on a contingency fee basis.
At the initial consultation, the PI attorney should inform you how he or she will be paid for their representation of you. Most PI attorneys accept representation on a contingency fee basis, which means they will recover a certain percentage (generally 33%) of what you receive from settlement or a trial verdict. If the PI attorney is not willing to accept your case on a contingency fee, I strongly recommend that you move to the next name on your list.

 

4. Knowledge and experience.
During your initial consultation, take the time to ask the attorney about his or her education and experience in handling personal injury cases. You want to obviously have an attorney that is qualified to represent you, as well as someone who can educate you on what type of potential claims you may have, what the process will entail for presenting your claim to an insurance company or filing a complaint in the appropriate court, and what type of potential value or recovery you may expect.

 

5. Your comfort level.
Finally, during the initial consultation, take the time to assess whether you have a comfort level with the attorney. Being comfortable sharing information with your attorney is extremely important for several reasons: (1) a PI case may take a long time to reach a resolution, so you will be interacting with this attorney for many months; (2) you need to always feel free to ask questions and expect answers; and (3) because PI cases involve your physical and mental health, your case will require discussion of many private details surrounding your health and life, and you need attorney with whom you can comfortably discuss such matters.

 

If you have been injured in an accident, take your attorney search seriously so that you can have your claim properly evaluated, have all your questions answered, find the attorney that is right for you, and have your case placed on the appropriate path so that you can look with hope toward health and financial recovery.

 

This article is for general informational purposes only, is not for the purpose of providing legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with an attorney to obtain advice as to your particular issue or circumstances.

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The internet age has dramatically changed the way we interact with each other and gather information. While there are many positives about having the world at our fingertips, there are also many potential dangers, especially when using the web-o-sphere to learn about a topic for the very first time—indeed, just ask my wife about my dishwasher repair adventure after watching a YouTube tutorial!

 

Similar dangers await people who may be faced with legal problems. This is particularly true for people who suffer personal and bodily injuries at the hands of another, and then turn to the internet for guidance in handling their potential claim. A quick Google search may very well put you on a path to learning some information, but there is simply no substitute for immediately contacting a personal injury lawyer who is knowledgeable, compassionate, and seasoned with experience.

 

There are many reasons why you should contact an attorney immediately after suffering a personal injury through another’s fault. However, I would like to focus on two of the most important: (1) protecting your rights, and (2) protecting evidence for your case.

 

1. Protecting your rights
By contacting a personal injury attorney soon after an injury, you put yourself in a position to learn many things that simply cannot be found with a general internet search. You will learn what type(s) of personal injury claim you may have. You will be told who may be held responsible. You will also hear about the process that is required to present or file your claim. Perhaps one of the most critical things you will learn is whether there are any time-sensitive issues that you may encounter, which may in-turn require immediate action on your part.

 

There are statutes in every state dictating how long a personal injury plaintiff has to file their lawsuit in court. These are known as statutes of limitation. Should you fail to file your lawsuit before the controlling statute of limitation runs out, then you are forever barred from filing your lawsuit, which can be devastating to you, your recovery, and your family.

 

Of course, general information about statutes of limitation is also available on the internet, so you may think to yourself, “Well, I will just look up the statute of limitation.” Like with my dishwasher, I caution you to not rely upon your own capabilities and research. For example, let’s say you are walking on a brick-paved sidewalk in Covington, Kentucky, when suddenly a loose brick gives way under foot, causing you to fall and break your ankle. If you perform an on-line search for “Kentucky personal injury statute of limitation,” you will most likely find reference to Kentucky Revised Statute 413.140(1)(e), which creates a 1-year time limitation from the date of injury by which you must file your claim. However, here is what you may be missing: if the sidewalk is owned by the city, then you are required by a different statute (411.110) to put the city on specific and direct notice of your potential claim within 90 days of the date the injury was suffered. Failure to do so will preclude you from later trying to file suit, even if it is within the 1-year statute of limitation.

 

There are many other quirks and perils that can be hidden within statutes and common law. By acting quickly and contacting an attorney, you can navigate through these potential land mines.

 

2. Protecting evidence for your case
Another reason I strongly suggest that you contact an attorney soon after suffering an injury is so that evidence needed to prove your case can be properly gathered. In personal injury cases, proving liability or fault of the other party is critical. Proof of the other side’s fault is accomplished through evidence, which can generally come in the form of witness testimony, documents, and recordings.

 

Your attorney will know what types of evidence to seek, and where to seek it. For example, if you are injured in an automobile accident, witnesses to such an event may stop and speak with you or a responding officer. As it happens with all of us, memories fade over time, and in my practice, if I can learn about and contact the witnesses soon after the accident, I am in a better position to capture their statements for future use.

 

Additionally, in today’s world, despite new laws and on-going efforts to crack down on texting and driving, it continues to be an enormous problem and the cause of many auto accidents. Unfortunately, mobile phone providers do not keep records of phone and text usage for very long, and often have rigorous hurdles to leap when trying to obtain such records. Being contacted soon after the accident allows me to try to work with the responding police officer in gathering this type of very useful information.

 

For another example, there are times when your injury may be caught on videotape, such as car accidents that are close to buildings equipped with outside security cameras, or slip and fall accidents that occur near or inside stores outfitted with camera and recording capabilities. Because security and store video is not kept indefinitely, there is a real danger that it can be lost or erased in accordance with stores’ policies. If I am contacted soon after the accident, I can visit the site where you were injured, look for whether any video potentially exists, and then issue a formal letter demanding that the owner of the materials preserve any and all such video and images.

 

There are many other examples to highlight how evidence helpful to your case can disappear. What is common to each is that by getting your attorney involved immediately, the likelihood of losing the evidence diminishes, and the prospect of building a strong case on your behalf increases.

 

Trust me, just like neither one of us wants me in your kitchen attempting appliance repairs, we don’t want you to misstep in your personal injury claim by unknowingly giving away your rights to recovery or losing evidence that supports your case. If you have been injured in an accident, you should strongly consider seeking legal advice so that you can have your claim properly evaluated, have all your questions answered, and have your case placed on the appropriate path so that you can look with hope toward health and financial recovery.

 

This article is for general informational purposes only, is not for the purpose of providing legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with an attorney to obtain advice as to your particular issue or circumstances.

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Just mentioning the “McDonald’s coffee case” is sure to evoke thoughts and opinions about personal injury law, and concepts such as fairness and just compensation. Unfortunately, personal injury or “PI” (as it is often called) is an area of the law that is often misunderstood, both in terms of what it entails, and what it is designed to accomplish. Such a misunderstanding stems in large part from the manner in which these cases have become highly publicized and politicized.

 

In this segment, I shall answer some of the basic, but critical questions that surround PI cases.

 

1. What is a personal injury case?On the surface, PI law generally tackles those cases or claims where a person has suffered harm through the fault of another. This harm can be in the form of bodily injury or death, emotional injury, or injury to one’s reputation.


2. How do I know if I have a personal injury claim?This is a question that is often asked, and quite frankly, it is easy to have a claim for personal injury. Based upon my loose definition of PI above, you have a personal injury claim if you have been injured through the fault of another.

 

What is more difficult, and the question that should be asked is “how do I know if I have a personal injury claim that is worth pursuing?” To answer this question requires a great deal of legwork on my part and consideration of many factors which are too numerous to list here. Generally, for me, I see each potential personal injury case as containing two halves. The first half is liability. That is, can we prove that the other party is at fault, and how complicated will it be to prove their fault? The second half is damages. That is, what is the amount of loss that you have suffered, and based upon other considerations, does that amount justify pursuing a legal claim? If, after an investigation into the facts and information, I believe there is strong evidence of fault and your losses, then yes, you likely have a PI claim worth pursuing. Of course, each person and client is unique, which means your case needs to be given individual attention, treatment, and analysis before a strategic opinion can be offered.


3. What are the different types of personal injury claims? There are many types of PI cases. While most people tend to associate PI cases with automobile accidents, the truth is, PI cases can be widely-varied, unique, and instrumental for pushing changes in the law and how companies do business.

 

To start, even in the auto accident arena, there are several types of PI cases, such as motorcycle accidents, big trucking accidents, accidents involving drunk drivers, and pedestrian injuries. These accident cases can lead to further legal claims such as uninsured or underinsured claims (where an injured driver may need to seek recovery from his or her own insurance company because the at-fault party did not carry insurance or did not carry enough insurance to compensate the losses caused). The key to the auto accident types of cases is whether the other driver operated their vehicle in a way that causes them to be at fault for the accident.

 

Aside from auto accidents, PI claims may fall under the umbrella of premises liability cases. These are cases where a person is injured on the property of another due to a defect in the premises. The most popular of these are “slip and fall” cases, such as slipping on an icy surface outside a store or upon a foreign substance in a restaurant. However, premises liability cases can also arise from strange events, such as being injured at a friend’s home by a falling dead tree branch. In premises liability cases, it is critical to find out what the owner or operator of the premises knew about the defect before the injury occurred.

 

There is another category of PI claims known as product liability cases. These are cases where a person is injured as a result of a defective or unreasonably dangerous product. For example, a defective tire that explodes causing a driver to crash; a defective component in a car that causes it to catch fire; a piece of machinery equipment that is without proper safety guards; an unreasonably dangerous pharmaceutical drug that causes its intended users to suffer injuries. As you can tell, product liability cases are tremendously important because not only can they help the person who was injured, but they can prompt companies, businesses, and even governments to correct defects and dangers so that others will not be similarly harmed.

 

A workplace injury is yet another category of PI cases. If you are employed and are injured in the workplace, you may have what is known as a workers’ compensation claim.

 

Sometimes, a person can be injured due to an overlap of different PI claims. For example, if a person was in a power plant, was exposed to asbestos, and contracted an asbestos-related disease, that person may have a workers’ compensation claim, a premises liability claim, and a product liability claim.

 

In addition to the sub-categories I have described, there are many other types of PI cases, including medical negligence or medical malpractice, assault, dog bite, and defamation (libel or slander) claims.

 

What is important to understand is that while each PI case is generally governed by the principles of fault and damages I have described, there are separate rules and laws that may apply depending on what type of PI claim you may have. If you have been injured in an accident, you should strongly consider seeking legal advice so that you can have your claim properly evaluated, have all your questions answered, and have your case placed on the appropriate path so that you can look with hope toward health and financial recovery.


This article is for general informational purposes only, is not for the purpose of providing legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with an attorney to obtain advice as to your particular issue or circumstances.

 

 

 

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CHILD SUPPORT
I am frequently asked how much child support I will receive in a divorce proceeding. In Ohio, child support is based upon a formulaic calculation which takes into consideration a number of factors, including each spouse’s gross income, local taxes, daycare expenses, and the cost to provide healthcare by one party or the other for the benefit of the children. The formula is used in all cases where combined income is $150,000 or less. When combined income is over that amount, the amount of child support is discretionary with the court.

 

Either party can asked for a deviation from the child support guideline amount, whether it be an increased amount or a lesser amount. There are many factors that the court would consider, including the family’s overall expense structure, extra-ordinary expenses associated with a child or children such as medical expenses or private schooling, or other factors which might make the formulaic income number inaccurate.

 

Under Ohio law, child support continues until the child turns eighteen (18) years of age and graduates from high school, but no longer than nineteen (19) years of age. By law child support is deducted directed from the payor’s pay check, and the employer then sends the money to Columbus, and thereafter the money is sent to the payee.

 

Child support can be modified in the future if there is a change in the financial circumstances of the parties. The law requires a ten percent (10%) change in the court-ordered support before support can be modified.

 

This article is for general informational purposes only, is not for the purpose of providing legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with an attorney to obtain advice as to your particular issue or circumstances.

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Power of Attorney
1. Why should I have a power of attorney?

A power of attorney allows you to designate another person to handle your affairs for you if you are unavailable or disabled. This document should be included in every person’s estate plan to allow uninterrupted access to any financial accounts in the event you are travelling for an extended period of time, or worse, if you are physically or mentally disabled. Without a power of attorney, your financial accounts can only be accessed through a court proceeding appointing a guardian for your financial affairs which can be a long and sometimes complicated process.

 

2. How does a power of attorney work?
In effect, a person you designate as your power of attorney becomes “you” for purposes of handling your affairs. In the event of your absence or disability, your designated power of attorney would present a copy of this document to your bank or brokerage to allow access to that account. Your designated power of attorney then has the authority to write checks and do whatever is necessary to manage your affairs. The power of attorney’s authority is complete but is limited by the overriding principle of law that states that a power of attorney must act exclusively in the best interests of the person he is representing.

 

3. Who should I select to be my agent?
Since the person you appoint as your power of attorney has effectively unlimited access to your financial accounts, you should only designate a person whom you trust completely. In most situations, this would be your spouse and if your spouse is unavailable, one or more of your siblings or older children.

 

4. How does my agent sign as my power of attorney?
Your agent would sign as follows: “John Doe, by Mary Doe, Power of Attorney.”

 


5. In what types of situations can my power of attorney act on my behalf?
See above – generally if you are disabled or unavailable.

 

6. Do state laws vary?
State laws do very somewhat in terms of the formalities required to execute a power of attorney. Some states require a notary, some states require a notary and witnesses and some states only require witnesses. Regardless of the formalities, all states recognize powers of attorney.

 

7. What if I move?
If you move, you do not have to execute a new power of attorney. All states recognize the validity of documents signed in another state if you were a resident of that state when they were signed. That having been said, I usually advise clients to have new documents prepared after a move just to avoid any delays that may occur if a bank or other institution in another state wants to initially have the “foreign” document reviewed prior to recognizing it.

 


8. Will my Power of Attorney expire?
Powers of attorney automatically expire at death. Otherwise, powers of attorney are valid until revoked by the person initially granting the power of attorney. It is also possible to specify that a power of attorney is only valid for a limited period of time but this is rarely done.


This article is for general informational purposes only, is not for the purpose of providing legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with an attorney to obtain advice as to your particular issue or circumstances. 530045.1

 

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Wills

1. What Happens If You Die Without A Will?
Answer – if you die without a will, the law classifies you as being “intestate.” How this affects your situation depends on numerous factors. Each state has a set of laws called the intestacy laws which specify who receives your property if you die without a will. Generally, if you have a surviving spouse, most if not all your assets are transferred to the spouse. If you have a spouse as well as minor children (under 18), some states require that a portion of your assets be placed into guardianship accounts for your children. To accomplish the transfer either to your spouse or to your children, the local Probate Court will appoint an administrator for your estate. This person’s job will be to inventory all of your assets as well as your debts and then distribute assets according to the state’s intestacy laws. If you have minor children, the Probate Court will also appoint a guardian for them. This is automatically your surviving spouse but if you do not have a surviving spouse, the court may appoint one of your other relatives or may appoint a totally unrelated person.



2. What does a Will do for me?
Answer – a will lets you specify who gets your property and does not leave that decision up to a state statute. A will also lets you specify who should be the guardian of your minor children as opposed to leaving that decision up to the probate court judge. In effect, your will gives probate court a “road map” as to what to do with your property and who you would want to take care of your children.



 3. What doesn’t a Will do for me?
Answer – a will does not keep the administration of your estate out of probate court. What your will does is to issue the court instructions as to what to do. Only the proper use of trusts can keep probate court out of the administration of your estate.



4. How do I properly execute a Will?
Answer – each state has slightly different formal requirements. Ohio requires 2 witnesses, while Kentucky requires 2 witnesses and a notary. Wills can be done without meeting these requirements but then must be proven to be genuine to the court which can be a difficult process.


This article is for general informational purposes only, is not for the purpose of providing legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with an attorney to obtain advice as to your particular issue or circumstances. 530045.1

 

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Trusts

1. Are there different types of Trusts?

Trusts are divided into 2 basic types – revocable and irrevocable. A revocable trust is one that you reserve the right to change during your lifetime as often as you wish. An irrevocable trust is one that cannot be changed once it has been signed by the grantor and the trustee. In most cases, irrevocable trusts are used in estate tax planning situations to allow persons to make gifts to their children or other relatives but still retain some control over the amount gifted as opposed to making outright gifts to children or other relatives.

 

2. What is the difference between a Revocable and Irrevocable Trust?

See #1

 

3. How can a trust benefit me as opposed to only having a Will?

Trusts have several advantages over wills. First, any property held in trust does not have to pass through Probate Court to be transferred to your intended beneficiaries but that process is directly controlled by your designated trustee, who is typically a family member. This eliminates a large amount of paperwork, cost and also reduces the time involved in estate administration.

 

Second, since trust property does not pass through Probate Court, your financial information remains totally confidential and is seen only by your designated trustee and beneficiaries. If a trust is not used, Probate Court requires a filing of a complete inventory of all assets, which then becomes a public record.

 

Third, if you have minor beneficiaries (children under 18), a trust allows the trustee (who is also typically the guardian of any minor children) considerable more flexibility. Without a trust, any money designated for minor children must be placed in guardianship accounts which have many restrictions. Money in guardianship accounts cannot be spent on the children without first securing court approval. Money in guardianship accounts cannot be invested in stocks or bonds but must be invested in CDs, money markets or other cash equivalents. Also, if you have minor beneficiaries, a trust allows you to have the trustee manage the money for the childrens’ benefit past the age of 18 (for, example, until they finish college or attain age 25). Without a trust, Probate Court requires that any funds in guardianship accounts for children under 18 be fully paid out to the children after their 18th birthday.

 

This article is for general informational purposes only, is not for the purpose of providing legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with an attorney to obtain advice as to your particular issue or circumstances. 530045.1.

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1. What is Estate Planning?
Answer – Estate planning is the process each family goes through to make sure that all the family’s assets can pass from one generation to the next. The process involves both family and tax considerations and may wind up being reviewed and maybe redone several times during the average person’s lifetime.

 


2. What are Estate, Gift, and GST Taxes?
Answer – The Internal Revenue Code imposes 2 basic levels of tax on transfers of wealth from 1 generation to the next. Transfers during an individual’s lifetime to a person other than that individual’s spouse are subject to gift tax. Transfers following an individual’s death to a person other than that individual’s spouse are subject to estate tax. Gift taxes and estate taxes both currently have a threshold limit of $5,250,000 i.e. gifts and inheritances below that amount are not subject to tax. This figure is a combined limit for transfers during life and at death. Transfers above that amount are subject to tax at a starting rate of 30% with a maximum tax rate of 40%.

 

The Generation Skipping Tax (GST) is an additional tax imposed on direct transfers to individuals more than one generation removed from the person making the gift or transferring assets after death. Lifetime transfers to grandchildren (or other persons one generation removed i.e. great nieces, great-nephews, etc. become taxable at a 40% rate for any gifts over $1,000,000 while at-death transfers only become subject to tax for amounts over $5,250,000.

 

This article is for general informational purposes only, is not for the purpose of providing legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with an attorney to obtain advice as to your particular issue or circumstances. 530045.1

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1. What are types of non-probate property?

In answering this question, it is important to realize what Probate Court does. In simplest terms, Probate Court changes the name on accounts, real estate and other property where no other method exists to legally change that name or title. Any account that a person has at a bank or a brokerage house can be structured so that on the owner’s death, it is transferred to another person by beneficiary designation on the account registration form. Any account in a 401(k) or profit sharing plan can (and should) be set up with a beneficiary designation so that on the employee’s death, the account balance is automatically transferred to a surviving spouse, children or other beneficiaries without resorting to Probate Court. If it is possible to transfer an account or other property by contract, Probate Court is not needed.

 

A second broad category of non-probate property is that which is owned by trusts. One of the main reasons to establish trusts is to avoid probate court involvement in the settlement of an estate. This is why whenever a person establishes a trust as part of their estate plan, it is good practice to “fund” the trust i.e. change the registration on property from “John Doe” to “John Doe, Trustee of the John Doe Trust.” As soon as property is registered in a trust, it becomes non-probate property and is transferred after a person’s death by contract i.e. the trust.

 

2. Why is it important to know how your property is owned?
The ownership of property plays a large part in determining how it will be handled after your death. Any property owned by you individually which is not in trust or is not governed by a beneficiary designation can only be transferred by Probate Court in the event of your death. A good estate plan will insure that all property is either in trust or governed by a beneficiary designation.

 

3. What is an annuity?
An annuity is frequently a product sold by life insurance agents or financial planners. An annuity is a contract that you pay into, typically in a lump sum, that will pay you a guaranteed income for life starting at a certain age typically 70. Annuities have 2 main advantages. First, the money paid in is permitted to grow income-tax free. When distributions commence, typically at age 70, the amount distributed is treated partially as taxable income and partially as a return of your investment which is not taxable. The second advantage is that an annuity shifts at least some of your investment risk to the annuity company. By purchasing the annuity, you are guaranteed a retirement income of some amount each month. This amount will be paid no matter how well or how poorly the investments actually do. You may lose out on large gains that could occur but you will be guaranteed a retirement income.

 

4. What is the difference between an annuity and an IRA?
The phrase “IRA” stands for Individual Retirement Annuity. The main difference between a traditional annuity and an IRA is that annuities are usually funded with post-tax money (money that has already been taxed) while IRAs are usually funded with pre-tax dollars (money that has not been taxed). Both IRAs and annuities allow the money in the account to grow income-tax free. Distributions from IRAs are fully taxable as ordinary income while distributions from annuities are taxed partially as ordinary income and partially as a return of your investment.

 

This article is for general informational purposes only, is not for the purpose of providing legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with an attorney to obtain advice as to your particular issue or circumstances. 530045.1

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The proper choice of a divorce lawyer can make a significant difference in how your divorce is handled. It is imperative that you find an attorney who you are comfortable with, and who will handle the case consistent with your goals.

 

Under Ohio law there are two basic proceedings, one is known as a divorce, and the other is known as a dissolution. A dissolution is simply a no-fault divorce in which the parties agree on every aspect of the divorce, from parenting time, to support, and property division. A dissolution from a legal perspective is a relatively simple process and requires the attorney to prepare the appropriate paperwork to incorporate the parties’ agreement. Most attorneys can handle a dissolution for you without significant cost.

 

A divorce, on the other hand, implies that the parties cannot agree on certain aspects of their separation. A complaint for divorce will be filed by one of the party’s attorney, and the unresolved issues will be litigated. As lawyers are paid for their time on any hourly basis, litigation can be very expensive.

 

Most individuals facing a divorce find themselves an emotional wreck which can lead to a less than rational response to the divorce process. If you let your emotions cloud your judgment you are liable to make decisions which result in needless litigation and substantial legal fees. As part of the process of selecting an attorney you will need to find someone who not only has good legal skills, but who understands the importance of counseling you through difficult times. When emotions take over, many individuals will choose an attorney the client perceives as being particularly aggressive. If that is your desire, there is nothing wrong with hiring such an attorney; however, it is important that you make the selection with the understanding of the cost involved. It is important that you learn as much as you can about an attorney you are considering hiring. You should feel free to consult with several attorneys as part of the process of choosing an attorney.

 

When parties initially believe they cannot reach an agreement on a number of issues, generally counsel for each party will meet with them to discuss the issues in detail and attempt to resolve them. It is well worth your time and money to explore a resolution of any contested matters simply due to the cost involved in litigating them, and due to the fact that if you and your spouse do not resolve the issues, a judge or magistrate will do so for you. As a result, both parties may be forced to live with the decision that neither are particularly happy with.

 

One word of caution. There are a number of attorneys who participate in a concept known as collaborative law in which the attorneys agree to meet with the parties and attempt to resolve all issues short of litigation. The concept is well intentioned, and this procedure can work well if the issues are ones which are resolvable, and both spouses refrain from emotionally based views that have unrealistic expectations. Pursuant to the rules of this group, if the parties are unable to reach a resolution of all issues neither attorney can represent the parties going forward if a divorce needs to be filed. As a result, if the negotiations fail, the parties are required to hire new attorneys to handle the case. This results in substantial expenditures with the first attorney, which are for naught, and the end result is a significant more expensive divorce process.

 

In summary, when choosing a divorce lawyer you need to fully understand the manner in which the attorney you are hiring practices law so that you receive the best representation possible consistent with your goals.

 

This article is for general informational purposes only, is not for the purpose of providing legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with an attorney to obtain advice as to your particular issue or circumstances.

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