Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary

“Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary” by the Editors of Nolo, Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen Thompson Hill is promoted as, “This is ‘not’ your grandfather’s law dictionary.” This law dictionary is written in clear English and contains compete definitions of legal terms you need today.

As an attorney, this book will not replace my “Black’s Law Dictionary” which is the standard for legal dictionaries, but this lighter, plain-English text is very convenient to have on hand. For most people, this text is all they would need when wondering about a legal term.

To illustrate the differences in dictionaries, let’s look at the word “partner.” Most of us know what it means, and it is a common word that we use in business all the time. The definition in “Nolo’s” is:

“One of the co-owners and investors in a partnership. Each partner claims a share of the the (sic) business’s income or losses on the partner’s individual tax return. General partners are responsible for the debts, contracts, and actions of all the partners in the business. Limited partners do not share responsibility for partnership debts and cannot share in management decisions.” (Note that I found a typo in the definition noted with the (sic)).

“Black’s” provides much more under the listing of “partner.”

“A member of partnership or firm; one who has united with others to form a partnership in business.” The there are definitions for each of the following: Dormant partners, full or general partner, junior partner, limited partner, liquidating partner, nominal partner, ostensible partner, quasi partner, secret partner, silent partner, special partner, and surviving partner.

“Black’s” contains much more than “Nolo’s,” but that is what you expect, and for most people who are not attorneys, “Black’s” has much more than is needed, and is not as easy to understand as “Nolo’s.” The size and cost of the books is very different too. “Black’s is a very large and heavy book, and much more expensive. “Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary” is smaller, paperback, easier to grab off the shelf or take with you, and costs less.

If you would like an easy to understand law dictionary, full of the most common terms non-lawyers will most likely need, this book will be a very good addition to your reference library.

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Legal Assistant’s Corner: Be Nice to Your Attorney’s Legal Assistant

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been the brunt of a client’s anger or irritation just to hear that same client interact completely respectfully towards the attorney just one minute later. We understand that you are likely going through one of the most stressful and traumatic periods of your life; however, it doesn’t give you license to treat us poorly during the process.

When we are mistreated, we always inform our attorney about it. More often than not, the attorney will note the poor treatment and insist on solely interacting with you in the future. If you don’t think that’s a “punishment”, then I suggest you study the differences between your attorney’s hourly rate and their legal assistant’s hourly rate. I’ve also witnessed attorneys firing clients over an interaction that was deemed particularly heinous. Assumably, if you didn’t want the attorney to remain your attorney then you’d have fired him rather than the other way around.

Legal assistants have long memories and more power to influence your case than you may give us credit for. A few of the tasks we routinely handle in a client’s case are:

Keeping a case organized and moving along
Providing the client with updates on their case
Drafting many of the pleadings and related correspondence
Filing documents with the court
Disseminating information about the case to those who have a need to know
While the majority of legal assistants won’t allow a negative interaction with a client to seriously affect any future work on their case, it’s fairly common for us to put “difficult” clients’ matters at the bottom of our to-do lists.
The Takeaway: Before you launch into an attack on your attorney’s legal assistant, you should first consider how important the above tasks are to you. Simply put: JUST BE NICE.

5 Easy Steps To Obtain a Grant of Probate

When disposing of an estate, you will sometimes need to obtain a document called a Grant of Probate, or, depending on the situation Letters of Administration. If needed, this document is an official statement to asset and debt holders, informing them that you are the executor in charge of distributing the assets and paying off the debts. It allows them to communicate with you, safe in the knowledge that they are resolving the estate with the designated representative.

You will need to apply for, and obtain a Grant if the value of the deceased’s estate exceeds £5,000.00 or if there is property, such as a house, to dispose of. Banks, building societies and other asset holders can, at their discretion, ask to see a Grant regardless of the value of the asset they hold.

That being said, you are unlikely to need a grant if the estate is passing to a surviving spouse, or if the assets are held in joint names and are passing to the joint owner.

Once you have established whether or not you need to obtain a Grant, you will need to follow the below steps to successfully obtain the Grant.

Step One

Your first step will be to work out the value of the estate. In the simplest terms, you will do this by adding together the estate’s assets and subtracting the estate’s debts.

The asset holders will inform you of the value of each of the assets at the time of death. You need to enter these figures into the Inheritance Tax form, and this will calculate the value of the estate.

You must do this even if the Estate is below the Inheritance Tax Threshold.

Step Two

Complete an Inheritance Tax form either IHT205 or IHT400.

To know which form you need to fill out you need to understand the differences between the forms. Form IHT205 is the form that you need to fill out if there is no inheritance tax to be paid, either because the estate is too low in value or because the estate is an exempted estate.

The IHT400 is the form that is filled out when there is inheritance tax to be paid. However, there will be some situations where there is no inheritance tax to be paid, and the IHT400 will still be the form you need to fill out so you need to be careful and assess the estate in detail. if you are unsure then start filling in IHT205 and it will guide you to form IHT400 if it is needed.

If you think that there is no inheritance tax due on the estate then you should start filling out IHT205, you may soon find however that you will need to change to form IHT400.

Step Three

Complete a probatePA1 application form.

To complete this form, you will need to know the basic details of the person who has died, e.g.: their first name & surname, date of birth, date of death, and marital status. You will also need to know some more specific information e.g.: did the deceased own any assets under another name, was the deceased adopted.

You will have to fill in questions about the Will if one exists. As well as any information on any foreign held assets e.g.: did the deceased own a holiday home abroad.

Section five of this form discusses the relatives of the deceased. Section six is a section where you provide your details.

Section seven is where you provide details of any inheritance tax owed by the estate. You can get these figures from the inheritance tax forms completed at Step Two.

Section eight applies to those who are applying on behalf of someone who has been nominated as an executor but has lost capacity. You will need to provide details of the person you are applying on behalf of.

Section nine is a helpful checklist that allows you to make sure that you have completed all of the forms and enclosed all of the necessary documents. Following this checklist means that your application is far more likely to be accepted.

Step Four

Swear an oath. You can obtain an oath from the probate registry or draft one yourself, although if you choose this, then you need to be careful as an oath will only be valid in certain formats.

Swearing the oath will not take long, you will need to swear it in front of a solicitor or a local probate office, and this will cost approximately £5.00.

Step Five

Send your application to the probate registry.

You should include:

The probate application form PA1,
The Inheritance Tax form, an official copy of the death certificate,
The Oath,
The original will and three copies – and any codicils,
The application fee of £215 – a cheque made payable to HM Courts and Tribunals Service (there’s no fee if the estate is under £5,000.00).
You can pay for extra copies of the grant (50p each) – this means you can send them to different organisations at the same time.
Once you have received the Grant of Probate, you can continue with gathering in the assets and paying the deceased’s debts.

You should now have a basic understanding of hen you might need a Grant of Probate as well as what steps to follow to obtain a Grant.

Tips to Hire a Private Investigator

If you need to hire a private detective to spy on your cheating spouse or some other family member who you are responsible for, make sure you consider the tips given below.

License

It’s very important to opt for a licensed detective. In fact, hiring an unlicensed one may lead to a negative outcome. You can check with the authorities to find out if the professional you want to hire is licensed. Another way is to ask the agency to show you their license.

Background and experience

You may want to be cautious when choosing a detective who is flashy, flamboyant, persistent or pushy. Good providers don’t make exaggerated claims regarding their experience or background. Actually, they try to impress their clients to get the deal. Most of these providers have poor business ethics and questionable backgrounds. Staying away from this is a great idea.

Don’t rely on TV ads

It’s not a good idea to hire a private detective based on the ads you see on TV. In the same way, hiring one who works as a “lonely wolf” is not recommended at all. Besides, you should never make the mistake of choosing one who operates illegally. You may get into serious trouble because of them.

Actually, real detectives carefully listen to their clients and be committed when doing their work.

What you need to do is do your homework and choose a professional who is reliable, experienced and licensed. They should have a clear background as well.

Pricing

You get what you pay for. When hiring a good private detective, price should not be your only factor for selection. An inexperienced, unprofessional or unlicensed detective may bargain with you or may offer discounted services. Know that they are not reliable and you should look for someone else.

Staff

Do you know if the investigator has enough time to handle your case? The agency should have the require staff and support to take your case. Typically, most detective agencies have several investigators and other staff members in order to take on multiple projects and handle them very well.

If the agency is too busy, make sure you look for another agency that has the time to handle your case.

Fake promises

Good investigators don’t make promises about the result of their investigation. They just try their level best to provide you the information you need. So, if the service provider makes this type of promises, leave the office and look for some other provider.

Other expenses

Before you choose an investigator, make sure you know what you getting for your payment. Most agencies work by the hour. In most cases, other expenses like mileage fees also apply.

In addition, investigative agencies work with other entities to handle a case, such as insurance companies and lawyers. So, their fees may also need to be paid.

Contract

You may have to sign a contract with the agency before they start working. So, you should keep this in mind.

Lastly, it’s important to ensure that the agency follows the law. You don’t want to get into trouble just because the investigator used unlawful methods to work on your case.

So, these are some important tips that may help you hire the right private detective.

What To Do After Buying A Lemon Car

For many, buying a car is a major investment. Unfortunately, not everything planned goes well. There are many hidden lemons, waiting for the unaware buyer. And by “lemon” we refer to cars which have serious malfunctions. If you suspect that you have bought a lemon, you should immediately take action. Find out more about what to do after realizing that the vehicle has serious problems.

Every state has laws to protect consumers from products that have serious defects. Lemon laws protect consumers from automobiles that are plagued with serious defects. If an item cannot be satisfactorily repaired within a certain time-frame or after a specified number of repair attempts. In California, if within the first 18 months, or 18,000 miles, a car will be considered a lemon if one of the following three conditions is met:

• There were at least 2 unsuccessful repair attempts and the defect causes the vehicle to be unsafe to drive
• The manufacturer or dealer has attempted to fix the same defect four or more times without success
• The vehicle has been out of service for over 30 days because of warranty repairs

The defect must be severe, functionality-related and it must impair the use of vehicle or it must pose significant safety issue to any of the drivers or passengers. For example, anything related to brakes or the ability to take corners. An aesthetic problem, like damaged paints, will not cause safety or functionality problems and will not determine the car to be labeled as lemon.

If you are stuck with such vehicle, then under consumer laws, you may be entitled to a manufacturer replacement or refund of the money you spent buying and fixing the vehicle.

• Manufacturer’s buyback: In this option, the manufacturer of your car replaces your lemon vehicle with a similar vehicle from its own stock.

• Refund: For this option, you need to return the lemon car to receive compensation. In this scenario, you may receive compensation for the number of monthly payments you’ve made, your down payment, any fees and taxes paid, as well as any money spent on repairs and rentals you purchased while your lemon was being serviced.

So, all you have to do is to consult the laws, make sure that the vehicle meets all the requirements, and then contact the dealer or the manufacturer and explain the problem. Make sure to provide all documents required (repair bills, repair reports) and so on.

Bilingual Legal Dictionary

A good bilingual dictionary serves as an extremely useful tool for people who interact in at increasingly global workplace. I recently published a bilingual legal terminology dictionary. As a professional translator, I had to render an excellent reference to dictionary users, including Latin American terms. Being familiar with the cultural and legal-bound semantic fields of terms, law dictionaries made in Spain are not always useful given differences determined by the American context.

As an experienced translator, I collected more than forty-four thousand legal terms and phrases for a comprehensive bilingual dictionary. When using this reference, the user always has to consider the contexts and the meanings in the different branches of law.

Knowledge of comparative law in both English and Spanish and my work made me sensitive to the semantic fields of words. Thus, it is often difficult to find consistency in, for example, the legislation in different Latin American countries versus legislation in English-speaking countries. In other words, semantic differences are also observed in the different rules, codes, laws, regulations, etc. in Latin America, the United States, and other countries.

Yet, globalization forces us to seek the best and most appropriate terms to perfect legal instruments in different countries. For example, globalization is translated into Spanish as ‘mundialización, internacionalización, globalización,’ as shown in this dictionary. However, every country has its particular preferred terms referring to the same concept.

In Spain there exists a tendency to continue using Castilian Spanish, whereas in Latin America the influence of the legal terms used in places like Miami, California, New York, etc is evident. Latin American Spanish borrows many English terms which are used by large Spanish-speaking communities. However, you will find some equivalent terms used in Spain as well.

Also, differences include words’ spellings. For example, the word cost is translated as ‘coste’ in Spain and ‘costo’ in Latin America. This Work is intended to provide a 21st century legal reference, which is required for a better understanding of the transactions conducted between nations. Translators, lawyers, paralegals, investors, managers, and law students should have this type of reference.

Legal Assistant’s Corner: We Don’t Know It All

I work in a small general practice law firm. Despite that description, I am not familiar with every area of law. There are dozens of areas of law, some broad in scope and others very specific. Some law firms opt to practice in limited areas of law while others, like the one I work in, practice in several areas of law. There are benefits and drawbacks to each law firm model; however, I prefer working in general practice firms because they provide diversity each day. Forrest Gump famously said, “… life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” The same is true with general practice law firms.

Unfortunately, “general practice” commonly confuses, well, just about everyone. Friends and family members ask me questions concerning all kinds of law which is all well, fine and good except when I tell them I don’t have the faintest idea because I’ve never worked in that area of law before. They are almost always dumbfounded when I don’t know anything of substance about copyrights, patents, bankruptcy or the dozens of other legal areas I’ve failed to work in (yet). Folks apparently assume and/or believe that once someone starts working in the legal field, they are automatically bestowed with knowledge of all things legal, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

In addition to failing to know everything about law, I also don’t know everything about the following legal things:

All legal procedures;
All Latin terms;
All laws/statutes/rules/codes;
All lawyers/judges;
All current events concerning the legal arena; and,
On and on, ad nauseam (<— see what I did there?).
While it pains me to admit it, I don’t actually know it all. Google is my bestie, yo!

How Inheritance Funding Works

The passing of a beloved person is always a sad moment. Some of us cope better with this new reality. Things get really complicated when that person was an important source of income for the family. Furthermore, deciding what will happen with the remaining belongings is usually a legal matter. The entire process of distributing the goods to the rightful inheritors is called a probate and it can take even years before things get sorted out. Of course, not all of us can afford waiting several years. If you need urgent money, you can always get advance inheritance funding from advance inheritance loan companies.

There are companies which are willing to give you money in exchange for renouncing your inheritance benefits in their favors. This may sound a bit crazy, but keep in mind that companies can afford waiting several years, in order to get their “reward”. If this is not the case for you, then getting an inheritance loan is your best option.

Of course, the first step of the process is determining your eligibility. You must be an intended Heir of an Estate in Probate, or are a Beneficiary of a Trust. Next, you must talk with a specialized layer and see if you can transfer your inheritance rights and benefits to another person or company. There are cases when the transfer is impossible and your loan demand will not be approved. And this can happen due to many reasons, like geographical location of some terrains or the others’ inheritors rights.

Next, determine the value of the inheritance. Most companies accept to give you a loan if you meet a minimum specified value. Talk with representatives and make sure you meet the minimum requirements.

If you are sure that you want to renounce your inheritance for money, announce the estate administrator about the changes. This financial representative will tell you more about the taxes which must be paid and if there are any other debts to be paid before being able to change the beneficiary.

Once you’ve paid all the taxes and you’ve consulted financial specialists, it is time to gather all documents and send them to the lender. The necessary paperwork includes:

• An official death certificate for the deceased
• A copy of the will
• Any probate court documents or letters
• Documentation of the appointment of the estate administrator
• A certification from the administrator of the amount of your planned inheritance

Then, all you have to do is to wait for approval and your money to be delivered.

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Does My Dog Have Rights? Why Do Courts Value Pets As Property?

We love our pets. They welcome us home with love and kisses, we consider them family, and Americans spend billions of dollars on them yearly – specifically $61 billion.

With so much love for our furry friends, why haven’t our laws kept up to speed with how we value our pets should something go wrong? It may surprise some people to hear this, but cats and dogs are considered simple property in the eyes of the law with no additional value; no different than a microwave or sofa.

With pets being considered members of the family by most, the law is starting to reflect these changes – yet very slowly.

In custody cases, we’re starting to see some judges talk about the best interests of Fido or Fluffy, and which home is better suited for the pet. We’re also seeing some states flirting with the idea of potentially allowing wrongful death cases brought by pet owners in certain circumstances.

With more and more people buying pet insurance in order to better-protect their fiends from injury, cancer, or other ailments, the natural next step may be to allow pet owners to pursue claims against veterinarians for poor treatment or negligence; essentially a medical malpractice claim.

Veterinarians have long-benefited from the emotional relationships we have with our animals, and many people believe that they should also be held responsible when their actions result in the further injury or death of their pet.

The problem is that courts consider pets as property. If we begin giving legal status to pets, though, where do we end up?

Where Do We Draw The Line?

If our animals are legally treated similar to humans, do we lose rights as pet owners? Do we suddenly have to go to court to determine if we can spay or neuter our pet?

The ultimate answer is that a dog or a cat is still an animal, certainly one to be protected and loved – but not a human with the ability to make decisions for itself.

I think we all should certainly be able to recover, through the court process, the emotional and sentimental value of any loss caused by another person’s negligence or actions, including when that involves a pet. I think most people would agree with this in principal, but by the letter of the law, you’re not likely to be compensated for emotional damages or sentimental value.

Montgomery Law is a Dallas personal injury law firm that genuinely cares about their clients and takes pride in getting them the compensation they truly deserve.

Why You Should Have a Corporate Lawyer on Staff

Corporations and small businesses are sites of expertise in their own industries. Business executives are highly specialized professionals whose primary focus is on the efficient and profitable management of their businesses. These professionals should be able to devote their time and energy to that purpose-not to worrying about legal issues large and small for their companies. If you are managing a corporation or small business, you should seriously consider keeping a lawyer on retainer or as in-house staff to help you navigate legal matters. Below are a few of the reasons that you should retain a dedicated lawyer who is familiar with your business.

Contracts and other business agreements

Whatever your business, chances are good that you routinely enter and execute contracts with a variety of parties. Typical corporate contracts include sales contracts, leases (real estate and otherwise), supply agreements, and partnership or corporate structure documents. The consequences can be severe if one of these agreements contains an unfavorable or unenforceable provision. While your business staff may be skilled negotiators, a lawyer can review these documents to help protect your company from litigation or other negative effects from unenforceable contracts.

The human resources minefield

Employment law is a complex area of law with radically different requirements for different types of businesses and employees. A general counsel can assist you and your human resources staff with common legal issues surrounding employee leave, benefits, and hiring practices.

Regulatory compliance

Depending on the nature of your business, you may be subject to various regulatory requirements at the local, state, and federal levels. Examples include securities regulation, environmental regulation, campaign finance/political regulation, and intellectual property filings. Since regulatory infractions can result in substantial fines, it is important to remain on top of these ever changing rules. A lawyer can help you identify relevant requirements and complete any necessary filings or reports to the government.

Tax counseling

Your tax liability and responsibility depends in part on the corporate structure of your company. While you should use a certified accountant for tax preparation, a lawyer can assist you with tax planning and counseling to help you minimize your overall tax burden. A lawyer can even help you structure your business at the outset in a way that reduces tax liability.

Litigation and crisis management

While the other examples have concerned mainly “chronic” legal issues, having a lawyer on staff can also help you in case of “acute” legal issues such as civil or criminal litigation or government investigation. In addition to drafting pleadings, a lawyer can assist you with settlement negotiations.

Since these legal matters can be incredibly time-consuming, maintaining a lawyer on staff ensures that your company devotes the proper attention to legal obligations while your business professionals remain focused on the business itself. You can retain outside counsel from a firm that has experience across each of these areas, or you can hire in-house counsel as an employee of the business itself. Whatever option you choose, you can rest assured that a trained lawyer will minimize your business liability and ultimately save your company money in the long run.