Bankruptcy Saved my Family — Can it Save Yours?

3 Ways to Protect Your Small Business Trademark

Does your small business have a trademarked name, slogan, or other piece of marketing language? A trademark can be a great way to protect your brand and your ideas. However, a trademark is effective only if you take the time to protect it. The U.S. Trademark Office isn’t going to monitor your trademark for you. If you don’t take action to monitor and protect your trademark, then it’s almost as if you don’t have a trademark at all. Fortunately, there are at least three effective steps you can take to easily monitor your trademark and keep it unique to you:

Set up an online alert system. Perhaps the easiest and most effective step you can take is to set up an alert system on your favorite search engine. Nearly every major search engine has this functionality. You set up a news alert for your trademarked language. Then if that language appears anywhere online, you get an email alert. Some uses could just be coincidental and others may be legitimate uses of your trademarked language, so you’ll need to research uses before you fire off cease-and-desist letters. Still, though, you’ll at least be aware if the trademarked language is appearing anywhere online.

Use a monitoring service. Of course, your trademark may be so valuable that you want more in-depth coverage than just a news alert. In that case, you may want to hire a monitoring service. They’ll watch online just like a search engine alert system. However, they’ll also monitor trademark filings to see if anyone is attempting to trademark any language similar to yours.

They can also advise you on whether to pursue a cease-and-desist or whether a usage is legitimate. If you need to take action, they can help you do so, or refer you to an experienced trademark attorney.

Hire a trademark attorney. It’s possible that you may find someone using your trademarked language and you send a cease-and-desist letter, only to find out that it is the other party, and not you, who has the senior, legitimate claim. That can be frustrating and can do serious damage to your trademark.

Instead, work with a trademark attorney from the start. They can help you determine whether your name or slogan is unique and whether you have legitimate claim on the trademark. They can also help you with all paperwork and make sure that your trademark application goes through without a hitch.

For more information, talk to a trademark lawyer in your area, like one from Altman & Martin. They can help you protect your name, slogan, and other branding language.

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Probate And Adopted Children

Experts estimate that about 135,000 children are adopted each year in the United States alone. While bringing an adopted child into your home can be beneficial, adoption often presents some unique problems when it comes to inheritance.

In order to ensure that your adopted child is provided for in the event of your death, here are three circumstances you should prepare for when planning your estate.

1. Adopting a child that is not related to you.

Making the choice to adopt a child you have no relation to can be exciting. Many couples find that these types of adoptions provide a way for them to build their family when traditional pregnancy methods fail.

Fortunately, the law recognizes adopted parents as the sole parents of any non-related children who have been adopted. Work with your attorney to establish a valid will, and your adopted child will be taken care of according to your wishes after your passing.

2. Adopting a child from a relative.

Sometimes adoptions occur because one relative doesn’t have the ability to provide for a child. Another relative, like a grandmother or aunt, will take custody of the child through the adoption process. In these types of adoptions, it is essential that you have filed the necessary termination of parental rights paperwork.

Both biological parents must typically agree to give up their rights as a parent, and having documentation will allow your attorney to include your adopted relative as a beneficiary in your estate.

3. Adopting your spouse’s child.

Blended families are becoming more common in today’s social landscape. If you want to ensure that your stepchild will be provided for in the event of your death, completing the adoption process can be beneficial. In order to include your stepchild in your will, you must have your spouses ex terminate his or her parental rights. If this proves to be a difficult task, you can have parental rights terminated by a court of law.

You need to prove that your spouse’s ex has abandoned the child through lack of communication, prove that your spouse’s ex is unfit to be a parent due to lack of resources, or show that the father (where applicable) listed on the child’s birth certificate is not the real father in order to terminate parental rights. Once this process is complete, you can validate your adoption and include your stepchild in your estate plans.

Being able to provide for an adopted child after your death doesn’t have to be difficult. Take the time to identify the type of adoption arrangements you have made, and then work with your attorney to take the steps necessary to include your adopted child in the estate planning process.

To learn more, contact a law firm like Gruber & Associates, PC

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Should You Mediate Your Case Or Hire A Personal Injury Attorney?

If you experience serious injuries in an auto accident and lose the ability to work, you may want to settle your case right away because you need the money. In this case, you can mediate or work with the insurance company about your compensation. However, this may be the wrong action to take. The compensation you receive may not be enough to cover your medical expenses, repair your car and make ends meet. You should hire a personal injury attorney to fight for the compensation you deserve. Here’s why.

You See Better Doctors

Personal injury cases are generally compensated based on a number of factors, which include your pain and suffering. If the insurance company doesn’t think that your pain and suffering is substantial enough, it can offer you a lower settlement for your accident. You may disagree, especially if your pain and suffering keeps you from working in the future. 

If you try to mediate your accident claim with the insurance company, they may send you to their own doctors for an evaluation. Although this isn’t always the case, the physicians may side with the insurance company and dispute your claims of long-term pain and suffering. The doctors may only use simple medical tests and exams to determine your health status. 

Your attorney may use their own accident medical doctors to examine you. The doctors may use the most up-to-date diagnostic techniques during your exams and tests. The techniques may reveal hidden problems that require ongoing care, such as a damaged kidney or ruptured disc, that can help you receive a higher settlement amount.

You Receive Compensation for Your Job Loss

A personal injury attorney will look at your loss of employment when determining how much your case is actually worth. If they see that your injuries prevent you from working in any job setting, your attorney may ask the insurance company for a higher settlement. The extra compensation may keep you financially afloat until the lawyer can secure disability benefits for you.

Your lawyer may also go after the other driver for some type of compensation. If you mediate with the insurance company and receive a settlement right away, you may lose the chance to obtain funds from the at-fault driver. 

The other driver may have hidden assets, such as real estate property, that can benefit your case. It’s a good idea that you let your personal injury attorney handle your case from start to finish.

Although it’s hard waiting for the personal injury attorney to complete your case, it may be in your best interest to do so. Having the ability to pay your bills, take care of your family and live without worry are all incentives you should consider.

For more information, contact Dunnigan & Messier P.C. or a similar firm.

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Can A Living Trust Protect Assets From Creditors?

A living trust provides many benefits, including making it easier for your assets to be distributed to your heirs after your death. Unfortunately, one thing it can’t do is prevent creditors from taking your assets to satisfy debts. Here’s more information about this issue and what you can do to place your assets out the reach of lawsuits and other debt collection action.

The Lowdown on Living Trusts

The way a living trust works is, assets are transferred into the responsibility of a trustee who then manages the assets for the benefit of the named beneficiary. For example, the trust creator would place his or her home into the trust and name an adult child as the trustee who would then take care of the asset for the person or other beneficiary.

There are two types of living trusts, but the most common type formed is a revocable living trust. Many people like this type of living trust because it can be changed at any time, assets can be added or removed at will, and the trust creator retains ownership of the asset. The person can also create the trust and name his or herself as both the trustee and beneficiary.

However, since the person still owns the assets in the trust, creditors can legally go after them. While the person is alive, lenders can file court orders to force the trust creator to remove and sell (or return) assets within the trust. After the person’s death, creditors can go after the people who inherited the assets and compel them to sell or hand over any money or property they obtained from the trust to satisfy debts.

Protecting Your Property from Creditors

If you want to ensure your assets are protected from creditors, one way to go about it is to create an irrevocable trust. In this setup, ownership of the assets is transferred to the trust, which removes the trust creator’s rights to it. Once the trust is created, it cannot be changed and the assets can only be removed upon terminating the trust.

Since the person no longer owns the assets, creditors have no legal recourse to go after them. You’ll still enjoy most of the benefits a living trust provides, but control over the assets will be in the hands of the trustee.

Be aware, though, that creditors can sue to have the trust dissolved if they can prove it was set up to dodge debt obligations or for other fraudulent reasons. Therefore, it’s essential that you work with an attorney who can ensure the trust is set up correctly so you can avoid accusations of impropriety. For more information, contact a local law firm like Tessneer Law Office

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What Happens With Your Will After You Die?

At some point in your life you should have written a will. That will dictates what you want done with your belongings and financial holdings after your death. It may also set up a guardianship for any children you may have. After you die, that will goes into effect.

However, it isn’t an automatic process. There are steps that need to happen before everything can be disbursed. The process to getting that done is called probate:

What Is Probate?

Probate is both a legal document and the process. There is a probate court that the will must be submitted to in order to test the will. A will being tested means that it’s being checked to make sure that all the claims are valid and legal.

If the will is out-of-date and some beneficiaries are no longer around, a probate court can make decisions as to what will happen in that case. The probate court also handles any counterclaims or suits against the will. If a person dies intestate, or without a will, the probate court will also help to decide where the estate is to go.

Once the court has made their decision, they will issue the probate document, which lays out their decision and what should be done. 

Who Handles Probate?

The executor of your will needs to get legal assistance in order to get the probate finished. There are probate attorneys who can get through the entire process. The probate attorney doesn’t need to be the lawyer who helped you draft your will, however, it really is a good idea to have someone who is familiar with your estate handle to process.

The attorney will also defend the will against anyone who is trying to overturn it or who has objections to it. After the will has gone through the entire probate process, the attorney will help the executor handle the disbursement of the will, especially if there are any legal trusts or guardianships that were laid out in the will.

If there is no executor appointed in the will, the probate attorney can also help set someone up as the executor or representative to handle everything. 

A will makes sure that what you want to happen is followed after you are dead. But it needs a little help to make sure that happens. Dealing with a probate attorney will make that process happen, and make sure that your heirs get what you wanted them to. To learn more, contact a company such as O’Connor, Mikita & Davidson with any questions or concerns you have.

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Filing For Divorce: 3 Facts That You Should Know

If you are planning to file for divorce, there are a few facts that you should know before heading to the courthouse. Taking the time to review these facts outlined below can help you to avoid potential delays in the processing of your divorce petition and will allow you to seek out the legal services that are best suited to your needs.

Fact #1: Divorce Paralegals Cannot Represent You In Court

Nowadays, many paralegals offer their services to individuals who are looking to get divorced but are looking for a more affordable way to complete the necessary documents. While these services will be beneficial for some people, it is important to understand that these services cannot replace the services of a qualified divorce attorney. This is because a divorce paralegal will be legally limited in the services that they can provide. For instance, while a paralegal can help you to complete your divorce petition, they will be unable to provide you with legal advice or represent you in court if your spouse chooses to contest your divorce.

Fact #2: An Uncontested Divorce Is Not The Same As A Simplified Divorce

Individuals often assume that they can file a simplified divorce petition due to the fact that both spouses agree upon the need for a divorce. However, the truth is, being uncontested is just one of the requirements that a divorce must meet in order to qualify for the simplified process.

In order to file a simplified divorce petition, your divorce case will need to meet all of the following criteria.

  • You and your spouse agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken
  • You and your spouse share no children in common
  • You and your spouse agree on the division of all marital property and debts

If your case meets all of these criteria, you may be able to finalize your divorce faster by choosing to file a simplified divorce petition rather than a traditional petition. In the end, this simplified process can save you both time and money.

Fact #3: You Cannot Personally Serve Your Spouse With Divorce Papers

On television, you routinely see individuals serving their spouse with divorce papers after a big argument. This is not the way things work in real life. In order for delivery of your divorce papers to be legally binding, your spouse must be served by another legal adult that is able to testify to the fact that your spouse was served. This is often done by an attorney, like those at Hart Law Offices, PC, or legal service that specializes in serving legal notices.

In order to ensure that the processing of your divorce petition is not delayed due to improper procedure, you will need to ensure that you have made arrangements for your spouse to be served in a timely manner after filing this petition with the court.

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3 Reasons Why Every Person Should Have a Trust in Their Estate Plan

Many people are wondering how they can protect their estate. You have worked hard your entire life to save money, acquire assets and take care of your family. But if you don’t take the necessary precautions your estate, and all that you worked for, could be withheld, put on public record and not go to the people that you want it to. A trust is one of the best ways to care for your estate. Here are three reasons why every person should have an estate plan that includes a trust.

1. A Trust Bypasses Probate

One of the most frustrating things is probate. This is a process that a will must go through before it can be executed to your heirs and family. If you leave everything that you have in a will then your estate will have to be mandated by the state when they divide it. This means that it could take months, even years if it the will is contested.

A trust is different. A trust does not have to go through probate. The courts do not oversee the execution of a trust. Instead, the trustees that you have named in your trust get their inheritance immediately. This speeds up the process for your loved ones and keeps the courts out of it.

2. A Trust Doesn’t Go on Public Record

When an estate goes through probate it becomes public record. This means that anyone can look up what your net worth was, what kind of assets you had and what you gave to whom. This is very uncomfortable for many people. Luckily, a trust is not put on public record. Because the trust is not overseen by the court no one will know about the execution of your trust except for your family and your lawyer. This provides you and your family the most privacy.

3. A Trust Is Designed by You

Trusts have a lot of flexibility. You can go through and decide how you want everything to be executed. You get to name the trustees, if there are restrictions on the estate, and how the money will be divided. This is perfect if you have special needs in your family. For example, if you have one child who has special needs you can put specific provisions in the trust to accommodate them. This allows you to maintain control over the estate.

These are just three of the many reasons why you should do your estate planning with a trust. Consult with estate planning attorneys to learn more.

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