Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Revocable Trust v. Will: What is the best choice for you and your family?

            We often get questions on whether a client should have a will or a trust, and what the benefits of each are. For each client, there are benefits to both types of estate plans.

            Wills are simple and can be much cheaper to complete then trusts. They direct where your property goes when you pass into the great beyond, and they can provide direction to your family when they deal with your passing. However, wills can sometimes be inefficient to deal with the property in a way that you want, and they require the will to be probated in Court. They are also public documents that can be viewable at Court, and for some more private people that can be a problem.

            Revocable trusts provide clients with more options on how to deal with their property. A trust can avoid the problems of probate, and address specific situations like what happens if you become incapacitated. Trusts are private agreements and do not become public records. They can provide a trustee to make decisions if a beneficiary is not properly prepared to receive the property. A trust can be effective for life, and most importantly you can maintain control over your assets during your life. Trusts also can provide protections for situations like divorce or drug abuse, and allow a person to maintain control over their assets during their life. There are some cons to trusts as well, like the cost which is more expensive than wills. Trusts can be time consuming, and may involve other potential costs as part of the trust’s creation.

            There are also ways to essentially combine a will and trust with what is called a “pour over clause” in your will. In this situation, you can create a trust through that provision which effectively funds the trust at the time of your passing. Any such provisions need the careful attention of an estate planning attorney who understands the estate process.

            No matter what you choose for yourself and your family, it is always important to get proper legal advice on which options would benefit you the most. The experienced estate planning attorneys at Parnell, Michels and McKay can help you determine which options are best for you, and prepare an estate plan tailored to your needs. Should you be interested in finding out which options work best for you, contact our office to schedule an appointment. 

Friday, July 11, 2014


                It is often a concern of clients of ours that are facing violations of New Hampshire’s driving laws that they normally face two hearings after being arrested. The most common forms of these are when a person is arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There is often concern and confusion about the dual hearings and what they both mean.

                In New Hampshire, when a person is arrested for driving under the influence they face two hearings. The first, if they request it, is called an “Administrative License Suspension Hearing” or “ALS hearing” for short. These hearings are done at an administrative office in Concord at the Bureau of Hearings, which is a part of the New Hampshire Department of Safety. These hearings are often based on someone testing with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, or because a person refused a blood or breath test. The result is a hearing at the Department of Safety where the hearing is held to determine whether the Department can suspend your license for a period of time. This is not a criminal conviction, but an administrative one. The difference is in the standard of proof that must be met.  In an ALS hearing, the burden for the State is much lesser to get the license suspension upheld than it is in the criminal case. In a criminal case, the standard is beyond a reasonable doubt, which the standard most people know in criminal cases.

                The reason that the State can suspend your license under a lesser burden of proof lies in the fact that a driving license is a privilege, and not a right. Thus, the standard of proof for the State is much lesser. Whereas the criminal case can involve jail time and fines, and the deprivation of personal liberty requires a much higher standard like beyond a reasonable doubt. Your freedom to be free is a right you have under the U.S. Constitution, and the State cannot take that away without proving you committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. 

                Now this lesser standard of proof at ALS hearings does not necessarily mean that winning an ALS hearing is impossible. The state has to meet a smaller burden, but still needs sufficient facts to meet that burden to sustain the license suspension. There are many issues that are created by arresting officers, and it is important to consult an attorney to find out what rights you may have in your case.

                If you find you need an attorney as you were charged with driving under the influence, contact our office today to find out what you can do to preserve your privileges, and your rights. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Injury Claims – The Road Map to Getting Back to Normal

The key to understanding injury claims is that claims handling is driven by insurance requirements. The vast majority of injury claims are resolved by settlement.  The parties to the settlement discussions are most commonly the injured party, his/her attorney and an insurance company. It is necessary to know how insurance companies process claims in order to achieve the best possible result. The most important thing to remember is that insurance companies rely heavily on objective information to form a valuation of each claim. This comes in the form of medical and billing records, accident reports, pictures, lost wages documentation, investigative reports and other related records. The more complete your documentation the better your chance of a satisfactory result. Gathering documentation should be your first priority when you suffer from an unfortunate injury.

Here at Parnell, Michels & McKay, we make information gathering a top priority in each injury claim we handle. Our attorneys and investigative team have the knowledge and experience to be able to track down every piece of important documentation on your claim. We understand what insurance companies are looking for, and we exert pressure on insurance companies based on that knowledge in order to obtain the highest settlement for our clients. We have secured millions of dollars in compensation for our clients using this time tested practice, and look forward to helping future injured parties get back on their feet.

If you were injured, read more about our personal injury practice here. As always in injury cases, consultations are free. Contact us today.