A Guide to Understanding the Differences Between Wills and Trusts

We make a lot of decisions about the direction we want to go in our life on a daily basis. Whether we’re aiming for a big job promotion or planning for retirement, there are a lot of fun things to look forward to. But do you have a plan for what will happen to your money or the rest of your estate should you pass on?

If you don’t, you’re not alone. In fact, only 40 percent of Americans have a will or trust. Many put off post-life planning because it’s unpleasant, but many simply don’t know how a will or a trust could benefit them and their loved ones. They may not even know the difference between wills and trusts.

If you’re one of those people, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn everything you need to know about wills and trusts!

What Is a Will?

A will is a document that you create yourself or with the assistance of an attorney. Your will details exactly how you want your assets and personal property distributed after you pass. Once you have completed your will, you will need to sign it in front of one or more witnesses, depending upon the laws in your state.

A will is a living document. That means that you are able to make changes to your will throughout the rest of your life should the need arise. For example, you would amend your will if you had another child or if you acquired real property after your last will.

The only valid will upon your death is the last will you prepared, thus the common phrase “last will and testament.” Each amended will supersedes the previous version.

Will Considerations

What should you include in your will? A will can cover pretty much every conceivable thing that you have when you pass. It can even detail exactly how you would like your will to be executed.

One of the most important things you should consider is if you have minor-aged children at home, who will be your children’s’ guardian. If you do not designate a guardian for your minor children in your will, the state will appoint one for you. This person may not be who you would have chosen to raise your children.

This is something you should discuss with your partner or co-parent in the event you both should pass. You will also want to verify that your chosen guardian is prepared to take on the task of raising your children.

You will also want to think about what portion of your estate goes to your children if any portion at all. You have the option of disinheriting your children entirely if that is your wish.

Thinking about disinheriting your spouse and giving the entirety of your estate to your children? Think again if you live in a community property state. These states do not allow you to disinherit your spouse.

If you aren’t sure about how you want to structure your will, then it is important that you seek the counsel of an attorney. They can help you navigate the will creation process.

What Is a Trust?

When you create a trust, it creates a fiduciary relationship between a designated person and your beneficiaries. The designated person, often termed a trustee, administrator, or executor makes sure that your assets land in the hands of the right beneficiary.

Beneficiaries are generally people like your spouse or your children. You are not limited in who you can designate as a beneficiary. Some designate charitable organizations, cities, and even pets as beneficiaries.

Types of Trusts

There are three main types of trusts of which you should be aware.

The first type of trust is termed a revocable living trust. These are the most common type of trust and what you think of when you hear the term trust fund.

In a revocable living trust, you would be the grantor — a person who creates and funds the trust. You would also serve as the trustee during your lifetime, which basically means you would make sure that the beneficiary receives the property as necessary. You also have the authority to make any changes you feel are proper, such as adding or reducing the amount of property included in the trust, at any time.

The second type of trust is an irrevocable living trust. Once you set up this type of trust, there is nothing you can do to change it, and someone else would serve as a trustee. This type of trust has some tax benefits for wealthy people that make it worth creating over a revocable living trust.

The final type of trust is called a testamentary trust. These do not exist until you pass on, and the specifics of this type of trust is written into your will.

Essentially, this how the details of your will get executed, and it is created by the executor you designated in your will. This is why it is critically important that you choose an executor you really trust when you create your will.

Each type of trust has its benefits, and you should consider all of your options with the assistance of an attorney to make sure that all wishes and needs are met.

Wills and Trusts Are Essential

End of life planning is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that your money and property are handled exactly as you want them to be handled. Wills and trusts have separate, but equally important functions for the end of your life. Save your loved ones the stress of decision-making on your behalf and prepare your will and trust today!

Want more information that’ll help you live your best life? We’ve got you covered. Check out the rest of our blog for articles about everything from finding a divorce attorney to senior health and fitness tips.

How Is a Viatical Settlement Different from a Life Settlement?

Life settlements and viatical settlements both involve the sale of a life insurance policy so they may seem identical at first glance. However, there are some key differences to consider.

A life settlement is typically considered when a life insurance policy is no longer needed, wanted, or if the holder simply can no longer afford it. In such cases, they may sell the policy to a third party buyer for an agreed upon price. For life settlements, the policyholder must be 70 years of age or older and have a policy value of $100,000 or more.

Viatical settlements are a type of life settlement. These types of settlements are for individuals with serious illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, ALS, or cancer. In these settlements, the policyholder sells their life insurance policy to a third party, at a discounted rate, in exchange for immediate funds. This is typically done in cases where the policyholder will need a great amount of financial assistance due to their illness. As with life settlements, most companies require policies to have a value of $100,000 or more.

History of viatical settlements

While many people have never heard of them, viatical settlements have been practiced since the 1911 Supreme Court ruling that life insurance policies are public property and can be legally sold to third parties. Viatical settlements became prominent during the AIDS epidemic of the 80s, in which patients were able to sell their insurance policies in order to afford treatments to significantly extend, and in some cases save their lives.

Qualifying for a viatical settlement

In order to qualify for a viatical settlement, the potential seller has to meet three basic criteria. First, the seller must be someone with a life-threatening illness. Second, the life insurance policy must be at least two years old. Lastly, the policy must have a minimum value of $100,000.

All life insurance policy types are accepted, although there are variables that will determine the amount offered from the company handling the settlement. These can include things like the type of illness the seller has, the stage of the illness, the policy’s value, or any other factors deemed relevant.

Reasons to pursue a viatical settlement

One of the most common reasons a person may wish to pursue a viatical settlement is because they simply can’t afford insurance premiums due to their illness. In such cases, the viatical settlement is a practical way to keep their policy.

Viatical settlements can also be a good option if a term policy is about to expire. Instead of letting the policy run out, it may be possible to convert it to a permanent plan and then sell it.

And, of course, a viatical settlement is the best option if there is simply no other way for the seller to afford the medical care they need. A viatical settlement could provide a way for the seller to not only afford their care but also afford a higher quality of life.

Advantages vs. other resources

If one decides that a viatical settlement is right for their situation, the following are the main benefits compared to other options. A viatical settlement will, in nearly all cases, provide a bigger payout than any form of financial assistance. Second, they have a great advantage over life settlements in that viatical settlements are tax-free.

For those who wish to pursue this option, the process is often as brief as a two-page application and a payout within days if the offer is accepted. 

“Do I Need a Will?” 5 Reasons Why the Answer is Probably Yes

Are you asking yourself: do I need a will? Then chances are, you probably do.

Having a will in place is always a good idea, especially if you have a business you want taken care of after your death. Here are 5 reasons why you absolutely should have a will written up.

1. Take Care of Your Pets

In the unfortunate event that you pass away, you need to consider what will happen to your pets. Without a will, there’s a good chance your beloved dog might end up in the shelter. But if you have one, you can designate a specific party who will be responsible for your pets after you are gone.

2. Help Your Parents

If you pass on before your parents do, it could cause a lot of problems for your parents. If they’re receiving government benefits, leaving them a lot of money could jeopardize their payments. This is because their newly boosted income could cause them to be disqualified from certain benefits.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, you should consider working with a lawyer who can help you to write the perfect will.

3. Avoid Bitter Disputes

When someone dies without properly leaving a will, it can cause bitter disputes within a family; this can tear a family apart. Without a proper will, people are left to guess what your intentions would’ve been, especially when large sums of money are involved. This can cause some intense arguments that can sometimes be drawn out for years.

The only way to ensure this never happens is to have a will properly prepared. Take a look at https://hardestylawoffice.com to get an idea of the services an estate lawyer can help you with. They can make sure you have all of your affairs in order in the event of your passing.

4. You Choose Who the Money Goes To

When you write a will, you assume control of who will get your assets and when they will get it. There might be certain individuals within your family who can’t be trusted to get a large amount of money at once. They could be too young or have a drug or gambling problem.

In these kinds of situations, you can use a will to ensure the right people get the money at the right time.

5. Anything Can Happen

Some of the worst estate disputes come about when someone dies out of the blue. Anything can happen in life, and you never know when it’s going to be your time.

If you have a positive net worth, you should always have a will in place, no matter how old or how healthy you are. Estate disputes can cause irreparable damage in relationships; don’t let it happen to your family.

Do I Need a Will? Yes!

There are very few circumstances where you shouldn’t have a will in place. Spending the time to put together a proper will now save your family from years of heartache and legal issues.

Your family will have enough to deal with in the event of your passing; don’t add asset disputes into the mix. Stop asking yourself “do I need a will?” and take action!

Want to improve your health? Here are some tips to avoid injury at the gym.

Is a Donald Trump Impeachment Likely and Legal? Everything You Need to Know About the impeachment Process

Is the President of the United States going to get impeached?

That’s a question that many people are asking. This president is currently under several investigations. There’s the Mueller investigation, which is looking into Russian collusion with the president’s campaign during the 2016 election.

There’s also the Southern District of NY, which is investigating Trump’s associates and business dealings in New York. Add to that upcoming congressional investigations now that the Democrats seized control of the House of Representatives.

Are these investigations are leading talk of a Donald Trump impeachment. Is this possible? How would it go down?

Let’s find out.

What Does it Take to Get Impeached?

Let’s start with what actually needs to happen for a president to get impeached. Up until now, no President has been impeached and removed from office.

Bill Clinton went through his mid-life crisis and was impeached by the House, but there weren’t enough votes in the Senate to remove him from office. Richard Nixon was likely to have been impeached by both chambers, but he resigned from office before that happened.

A president can be impeached and removed for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

The house would then have to introduce and pass articles of impeachment against the president. The house has to pass the articles only by a simple majority.

The articles of impeachment then move to the Senate, where there’s a trial, overseen by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The Senate will then go to a vote after the trial. Two-thirds of those voting will be required to convict the president and remove him from office.

The Enablers

Even though the Democrats took back the House, the Republicans still control the Senate. The fact remains that the president still has a lot of support within his own party.

If that support starts to erode, then the talk of a Donald Trump impeachment can become a reality.

The GOP has gone to great lengths to defend the president, leaving many to wonder if they have Russian ties as well.

They may need lawyers of their own at some point, in which case, they can check out this website to find one.

Will We See a Donald Trump Impeachment?

Whether or not we will witness a Donald Trump impeachment is yet to be seen. At this point, it is likely that the president will get impeached in the House of Representatives.

Will he be removed from office? At this time, he still has enough support in the Senate to avoid being removed from office. The only way that will change is if the Mueller Report is made public and there’s extreme outrage by what the report contains.

Once that outrage starts to impact the polls, then you’ll see a shift in party loyalties. Then you could see the president be removed from office. It’s still too early to tell, and if it does happen, we’re still at least a year away.

Is all of this impeachment talk stressing you out? Check out these articles to help you ease your anxiety.

You Have Been Stopped for a DUI – Now What?

Is having a few drinks then getting behind the wheel a common occurrence for you? There’s a good chance your luck will eventually run out.

In 2016 alone, an estimated 1,017,808 people got arrested for impaired driving. That’s about one out of 215 drivers.

It only takes a few drinks to become legally impaired, which means it’s possible to feel sober and still get arrested. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make the process go over smoothly. You could even increase your chances of getting your case dropped.

Keep reading to learn what to do when you have been stopped for drunk driving.

Pull Over Right Away

When a police officer decides to pull you over, they’ve already observed you driving erratically or violating traffic laws. The best thing you can do for yourself is to pull over right away in a safe and calm manner.

If you’re on a busy street, pull in to the nearest parking lot or side street. Once you’ve stopped your vehicle, turn your engine off and keep your hands on the steering wheel.

It’s important to remember the officer is watching what you do and will include everything from here on out in their report. Avoid showing signs of frustration or moving around inside your vehicle. This could make the officer nervous, which you don’t want.

Go ahead and roll your window down and wait for the officer to approach your vehicle. Under no circumstances should you exit your car unless directed to.

Remain Respectful and Polite

When the officer approaches your vehicle, it’s important to show respect when interacting with them. Showing anger, using harsh language, or failing to cooperate will only make the situation worse.

It’s also important to avoid acting overly friendly. Police officers deal with traffic stops on a regular basis and can see right through this. If they sense you’re putting on an act, they’ll become more suspicious.

Understand that some police officers are rude, disrespectful, and even unjust. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about this at the time of the traffic stop. The best thing you can do for yourself is to only speak when spoken to and take mental notes of everything.

Acting out during a DUI traffic stop will hurt your case if it goes to trial. Remember, the officer has a dashboard camera that’s recording everything.

Avoid Incriminating Yourself

The officer who pulls you over understands you may be nervous. If they suspect you’re driving under the influence, they’ll use your anxiety to pressure you into incriminating yourself. They’re trained to do this.

The fact of the matter is, you aren’t obligated to give the officer any information other than your name, license, and proof of insurance. You’re well within your rights to respectfully decline to answer further questions.

If you know you’re over the legal limit, avoid giving the officer any information about how much you’ve had to drink. You’ll get more pressure from the officer after doing this, but that’s better than incriminating yourself. Admitting guilt is a good way to get charged with DUI.

Don’t be afraid to tell the officer you’re practicing your 5th Amendment right to remain silent. Remember to be polite and respectful while doing so.

Field Sobriety Tests

When a police officer suspects you’re driving under the influence, they’ll want to perform a field sobriety test. These tests tell officers if they have probable cause to arrest you.

Field sobriety tests involve walking a straight line, standing on one leg, and Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, which tests the reaction of your eyes. While an officer may want you to perform these, many will ask you to take a breathalyzer test right away.

If the officer asks you to exit your vehicle, comply. However, you should not agree to take any field sobriety tests.

Refusing to participate in a test will result in an arrest, but this is better than providing proof of intoxication. If you know you’re impaired, this is your best move.

Some states such as Texas now have laws that allow the police to take a blood test if you refuse field sobriety testing. If you live in Texas, this blog will give you an overview of DUI laws.

Don’t Resist Arrest

If the officer decides to arrest you for suspicion of DUI, cooperating is the best thing you can do. Arguing, cursing, or resisting arrest in any way will only make things worse. At this point, you’re not getting out of going to jail, so it’s better to avoid additional charges.

Don’t talk to the officer while driving to the station. You’re still at risk of incriminating yourself. You can rest assured the officer will document everything you say.

If you refused to take a field sobriety test during the traffic stop, they’ll ask you to take a breathalyzer test at the station. Only take the test if you live in a state that has mandatory blood testing. A blood test is more conclusive with regard to blood alcohol levels.

Ask to Speak With Your Attorney

It’s important to understand that getting arrested for a DUI doesn’t mean you’re charged with the crime. You’ll have to appear in court before getting charged.

This means you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Once the officers have booked you, inform them you need to contact your attorney. You have a right to do this before answering any questions.

Make sure you have privacy when speaking to your attorney. If they deny you privacy, remember to let your lawyer know. This could help your case.

If you don’t have an attorney, try locating a local DUI or criminal defense lawyer. You may also want to call a family member or friend and have them find legal representation for you.

Understand Your Rights When You Have Been Stopped for DUI

A DUI charge is serious business. It can lead to jail time, probation, and heavy fines. However, understanding your rights will help improve the chances of your case getting thrown out.

If you have been stopped for DUI, remember to follow the procedures discussed above. Doing so will result in a better outcome.

Check out more articles related to legal issues and current laws.

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Recover Confidently: How to Find a Top-Tier Truck Accident Lawyer

Every year, there are almost 500,000 motor vehicle accidents involving large trucks that take place all throughout the U.S. About 4,000 of them result in fatalities, and more than 100,000 of them cause injuries to occur. Many of the crashes also lead to extensive property damage to passenger cars and trucks.

If you’re ever involved in an accident with a truck, it’s important for you to touch base with a truck accident lawyer as fast as you can. You could win a large cash settlement in court that will cover the cost of any medical bills and auto repair bills you might face.

Finding a truck accident lawyer in your area shouldn’t be too difficult to do. But finding the right one can be a challenge. Here are 6 tips for tracking down a top-tier lawyer to handle your case.

List the Truck Accident Lawyers in Your Area

The U.S. is overflowing with lawyers at the moment. There are more than 1.3 million of them scattered across the country.

But you shouldn’t hire just any old lawyer to tackle a case involving a truck accident. Instead, you want to narrow your search down so that it includes only those who specialize in working on cases that involve truck accidents.

You can put together a list of these kinds of lawyers by Googling “truck accident lawyer in YOUR CITY.” This will bring up a long list of potential options for you to choose from. This law firm, for example, will pop up for those searching for truck accident lawyers in the Houston, TX area.

Compile a list of lawyers that might be right for your case. This will help you weed out lawyers in your area who handle other kinds of cases and get you one step closer to finding the right lawyer for your specific needs.

Look for a Lawyer With Tons of Experience

Once you have a running list of truck accident lawyers that might be right for your case, the next thing you should do is take a look at their websites to see how much experience they have.

Most lawyers will include a snapshot of their history right on their websites. You can read through a lawyer’s history to see how much experience they have when it comes to helping those who have been in truck accidents.

You don’t necessarily need to find a lawyer with, say, 40 years of experience working on truck accident cases. But you do want to find a lawyer that is familiar with the truck accident litigation process. It’ll give you the best possible chance to walk away from your case with a large cash settlement.

Find Someone Who Knows the Trucking Industry

One of the main reasons why you need to hire a truck accident lawyer with lots of experience is because the trucking industry is governed by some very complicated rules and regulations.

Working on a truck accident case is not the same as working on a case involving a regular car accident. Your lawyer will need to be very knowledgeable when it comes to the trucking industry and have a deep understanding of how certain rules and regulations could affect you.

When you speak with a lawyer for the first time, don’t be afraid to ask them how much they know about the trucking industry. They should be more than happy to tell you all about how they know the industry like the back of their hand.

Locate a Lawyer Who Understands Your Challenges

Those who have been in truck accidents often face unique challenges that make them different from the other people that lawyers work with.

For instance, many of the people who have been in truck accidents have undergone extensive medical procedures over the years. They’ve also been forced to live with certain injuries and ailments that might not ever go away.

A good truck accident lawyer needs to show empathy and compassion to a client while also working twice as hard on their behalf to get them a fair settlement. The lawyer that you bring on board to handle your case should show an understanding of the challenges you face and prepare to help you tackle them.

Check a Lawyer’s Reviews

You should not—we repeat, you should not—agree to work with any truck accident lawyer before checking out some of the reviews people have left for them in the past.

Many lawyers will include testimonials from past clients right on their websites. But even if they don’t, you can track down reviews for different lawyers on Google or Facebook.

Scan through these reviews to see what people have had to say about a particular lawyer over the years. You should look for a lawyer who has consistently racked up positive reviews from clients.

Consider the Costs of Working With a Lawyer

If you’ve never hired a truck accident lawyer before, you might think that it’s going to cost you a fortune upfront. But that isn’t true in most cases!

Unlike some other types of lawyers, most truck accident lawyers offer clients a contingency-based fee. That means that the lawyers only get paid if they’re able to get a settlement for their clients.

If you find a lawyer who insists on charging you upfront for their services, look around for a different lawyer. You could end up losing out on money if you hire a lawyer like that and don’t win your case.

Hire the Right Truck Accident Lawyer Today

Trying to find the right truck accident lawyer to represent you can be exhausting. There are so many lawyers out there who will want to represent you.

But as long as you follow the steps listed here, you shouldn’t have any problem finding the right lawyer for your case. You’ll feel a lot more confident about your situation when you have a good lawyer on your side offering you the best services.

Finding a lawyer following a car crash is just one of the things you should do. Read our blog to see some of the other steps you’ll need to take.

Bring Order to a Court Near You! 7 Must-Know Tips for Starting a Law Firm

Are you recent law school graduate who isn’t sure whether you want to join an existing law firm or start your own? You’re not alone. In 2018, the American Bar Association documented that nearly 112,000 students enrolled in J.D. programs across the United States.

If even half of those students graduate as scheduled, that’s 60,000 people entering the workforce at the same time. Finding jobs in an established law firm can prove difficult with all that competition, but starting a solo law practice can be even harder.

If you plan on starting a law firm after you pass the bar, check out these 7 excellent tips for building a law practice listed below.

1. Figure Out Your Niche

The very first thing you need to do is figure out what kind of law you want to practice. Taking on a multitude of case types might seem like a great way to get more clients, but it often leaves you without any clients at all. It’s better to choose a single niche to center your practice around.

Maybe you want to fight to put criminals behind bars. Or maybe you want to help injured victims get compensation after a car crash.

Think back to what you enjoyed studying in law school and any other knowledge you possess. Use this to help you pick a niche and become an expert.

Choosing a niche narrows down your competition and makes it easier for you to stand out against them. It also helps build a referral network within your field of expertise.

2. Choose an Appropriate Name for Your Solo Law Firm

Next, once you know what kind of law you plan to practice, you need to choose an appropriate name for your solo law firm. It’s important the name reflect the types of cases you plan to take.

If you want to work on criminal cases, it’s best not to mention anything about personal injury or family law. Aim for something that combines your location with what you do like the Central Florida Criminal Defense Firm.

Try to avoid cliché names ending in “PPLC” or “and Associates.” And be sure that you do some research to see if you can include certain keywords that will improve search engine optimization. This makes it easier for potential clients to find your website.

3. Create a Detailed Business Plan with a Budget and Set Goals

Make a detailed business plan when starting a legal practice for a better chance of success. Do some research to figure out what your future competition is doing and to evaluate the market for your niche.

Your business plan should include very specific and time-sensitive goals, so you know when you’re on track. It should also contain a budget and other important financials like how much you need to earn to break even.

You can get help funding some of your first cases with the help of a litigation funding service like Pravati Capital that provides funding for lawyers.

4. Decide on a Permanent Physical Address

The address you choose for your solo law firm should be a permanent one, if possible. Most people search for a lawyer near them using the Internet. So including your address in business listings and in Google Places makes it easier for search engines to present your website when someone near you searches for a lawyer.

Avoid moving from this address for as long as possible for the best results with local search marketing. Also, if your firm is located in a large building with multiple businesses, be sure you map your exact office in Google maps, Bing, etc.

5. Build an Attractive Website

As stated above, most people in need of a lawyer search online to find one. So you need a professional website that details all the vital information about your firm and its services.

Choose a user-friendly theme that works well on both desktop and mobile. Take the time to choose your typeface, color scheme, and other visual elements that reflect your unique firm.

Learn about search engine optimization and optimize both your website and your content to appear on the correct search results pages. You should also work with a graphic designer to come up with a memorable logo to improve brand recognition.

6. Connect with Other Lawyers and Build Your Network

When you’re just starting a law firm, you won’t have much name recognition to help you get clients. Connecting with the other lawyers in your area can help you build your network and get referrals. They may also offer advice on how to find clients and how to best present your practice.

You should also join professional legal associations in your area. Not only will this connect you with other lawyers in your niche, but it also gets you access to their listserv. Use this listserv to meet fellow lawyers and discover new clients.

7. Be Confident

Finally, don’t listen to any naysayers and remain confident in your skills and your desire to start your own law firm. Most clients won’t ask you about your age or your GPA. They often won’t even ask for references from the former clients that you don’t have yet.

Simply put all your effort into working hard and performing your job to the best of your ability. If you focus on being honest and dedicated to researching your cases, everything else will fall together.

Remember to Take Care of Yourself When Starting a Law Firm

Now you should have a better idea of what it takes to start a law practice just out of law school. Establishing a business from scratch is never easy, but it’s very rewarding. While you’re focusing on starting a law firm, don’t forget to take care of yourself as well.

Building a law practice can take a lot out of you. Remember to do some self-care and spend time away from thinking about your business. Head on over to the SmartHealthShop blog today for some great health tips and additional lifestyle advice to keep you feeling fresh!

The Best Offense Is a Good Defense: How to Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Whether you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, have been falsely accused, or even if you made a poor decision, you’re now in a position where you’re facing criminal charges.

It’s hard to think clearly and rationally, but you know one thing for certain: you need a good attorney.

In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to find a criminal defense lawyer. We know that facing possible fines, personal and professional consequences, or even a prison sentence is terrifying.

The right lawyer can ensure not only that you receive a fair trial, but also that you have the best possible chance of being found innocent.

1. Investigate Their Credentials

When you’re trying to find a criminal defense lawyer, the first thing you need to do is ensure that their license is current in your state. You can confirm their credentials on the American Bar Association website.

Don’t stop there.

You should also ask how long they’ve been in business, where they went to school, and if they’re a member of any local legal associations or nationwide guilds.

Ask how they continue their education, which conferences they attend, and even if they’ve contributed to any legal journals or websites.

2. Study up on Their Trial Record

As much as we’d all love to, it’s nearly impossible to find a criminal defense attorney with a perfect trial record.

It’s not that your defense lawyer needs to have won every case. Instead, it’s that they’ve won the majority of their cases and that they have lots of experience with cases similar to your own.

Find out more about how often they’ve defended someone who was charged with the same crime you’ve been accused of.

A strong trial record also demonstrates a clear understanding of how the court system works. You don’t want to be responsible for filing your own paperwork when you’re facing criminal charges — and you certainly don’t want to risk doing it incorrectly.

3. Speak to past Clients

When interviewing a potential private defense attorney, you need to take the time to speak to their references.

When you speak to these references (and if possible, do so over the phone) ask how quickly their calls or emails were answered. Ask about how the attorney behaved in court. Were they on time? Professional? Able to calm their nerves and clearly explain to them what was going on?

Did the client feel as though they were a priority? Did they feel confident when working with the attorney?

Only a direct conversation will be able to give you the answers to these essential questions.

4. Ensure They Have the Right Connections

Sometimes, winning a case is all about having the right connections on your side.

A good lawyer should have a strong network of colleagues in the legal profession so that they can ask for additional opinions on your case and the routes they’ll use to defend you.

They also need to know mental health professionals, medical experts, and other figures of authority that they could call on to evaluate you, or even serve as a witness.

You also need to get to know who else might be working on your case. You want to be certain that your attorney isn’t going to push the majority of your casework onto someone else in their office — someone who isn’t really qualified to defend you.

5. Evaluate Their Communication Style

Depending on the length of your trial, you could be working with your lawyer for several months.

You need to know that you can get along with your lawyer and that you’re on the same page when it comes to your style of communication.

Most importantly?

Your lawyer has to be able to convince a jury that you’re innocent or convince a judge to give you a lighter sentence. If they can’t even convince you to work with them?

The likelihood of you getting the outcome you want in court is slim.

Schedule a consultation (usually, a lawyer provides this for free) and ask them some questions about their experience and your specific case.

Pay close attention to how well they explain their opinions, and if they can create a sense of trust between the two of you.

6. Ask About the Billing Structure

Especially if you’re looking at felony charges, your legal fees could easily fall in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.

Though you can’t put a price on freedom, we understand that’s not exactly a sum you can easily pay off.

In order to afford your attorney, you’ll need to be smart about your finances. You’ll also need a clear understanding of their overall fee and billing structure.

Before you make any final decisions about your representation, make sure you understand how the payment process works. Understand how and when you’ll be billed, the services you’ll be billed for, and how long you’ll have to pay it.

Be honest about your current financial situation. Some legal professionals may be willing to work with you.

Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer with These Tips

You don’t have to feel helpless just because you’ve been charged with a crime.

Start your journey to justice by taking the time to find a criminal defense lawyer with the right credentials, demeanor, and reputation to help you fight the right way.

Looking for additional legal advice? Want to learn more about how to keep both your physical and mental health strong during your trial?

Keep checking back with us to learn how to stay as stress-free as possible while your case is in court.

It’s Over, Now What? How to Find a Good Divorce Attorney

The divorce rate in America is not 50 percent. That’s a common myth that doesn’t hold up to basic scrutiny. As of 2018, the divorce rate was a bit under 40 percent.

If you’re thinking of getting a divorce, you shouldn’t feel embarrassed.

We’re long past the days where unhappy spouses fled to Nevada for an easy divorce. You can get no-fault divorces in all 50 states now.

Should you get a divorce attorney? For most people, the answer is yes. Very few marriages are simple enough to dissolve themselves without lawyers getting involved.

Read on for our top tips on how to find a good divorce lawyer.

Consider Your Goals

Most people do not respond well to the idea of their marriage ending. A few people feel a sense of relief, but many others feel hurt and betrayed. That hurt and betrayal may tempt them to lash out through their divorce papers.

A family and divorce lawyer can tell you why that’s not a good idea. Judges want to see reasonable, mature people in divorce court. Unfortunately, they often run into spouses who will stop at nothing to destroy each other.

Most divorces don’t spring up overnight. The problems have been simmering for a long time. Your lawyer should tell you what issues are relevant to court, and what issues are relevant to a therapist.

For instance, take cheating. It’s common, but that doesn’t mean the divorce court will care. Some states have laws that punish spouses who cheat, but they’re a lot less common than they used to be.

Infidelity may be relevant if it affects the children. Let’s say your spouse didn’t pick up your son from school because they were meeting up with their affair partner. That could be relevant to resolving child custody issues.

But what if your spouse is a bad partner but a decent parent? In that case, your divorce attorney may suggest it’s not worth airing that dirty laundry up in court.

Ask Your Friends

It’s unlikely that you exist in a social circle where no one has gotten divorced in the last few years. This isn’t the 50s, after all. If you have a divorced friend, ask them if they liked their divorce lawyer.

Your divorce lawyer is not going to be your best friend. But they should still be an ally in court. You should still be able to trust them to represent your interests.

Family law is one of the most common practice areas for attorneys. You’ll see no shortage of ads for such services in your city. Your goal should be to find someone who has substance rather than sizzle.

Divorce has a well-earned reputation for being emotionally tough. But your friends can tell you if their lawyers made the divorce easier or harder. Steer clear of attorneys who do the latter.

Shop Around

It’s also a good idea to talk to a few lawyers about how divorce looks in your state. Different states have different ways of dividing up the property.

Let’s use Texas as an example. Per the team at Underwood Law Offices, Texas is a community property state. This is good news for stay-at-home parents who believe they’ll get left with no assets or property after their high-earning spouse leaves them.

Talking to a few lawyers may help you realize that divorce doesn’t have to be the end of the world. In all likelihood, your spouse will not be able to leave you homeless and without child support.

Worried that talking to multiple lawyers might get expensive? Don’t be. The majority of divorce lawyers offer free initial consultations.

But be wary of talking with too many lawyers. If you talk to every lawyer in town, then it’s going to look like you’re trying to block your spouse from finding good divorce attorneys. That’s because a lawyer who has talked to you about your case would be unable to represent your spouse.

Money Matters

If you have children, you need a divorce attorney. This is doubly true if your estranged spouse has hired someone. You cannot afford to walk into a custody hearing without someone to fight for you.

But if you’re walking in with a certain budget, don’t get shy about saying so. You should feel comfortable saying, “I can afford X amount. Is that reasonable for a divorce like this?”

Good divorce attorneys don’t want to waste your time. If your number is unrealistic for the area, they’ll tell you.

Divorce is more expensive in some parts of the country than others. But don’t despair if you feel like you can’t afford an attorney.

Let’s go back to the stay-at-home parent example mentioned above. If your marriage had an extreme financial imbalance, the court may order your spouse to pay for your divorce attorney. Good judges want the proceedings to be as fair to both sides as possible.

If you made a lot less than your spouse, talk to lawyers about this possibility. You may very well have more divorce attorney funding options than you realize.

Stay-at-home parents generally don’t sit around the house eating cake and watching Netflix. Instead, they’ve sacrificed their potential earnings to be the primary caregiver for the children. That’s not insignificant.

Ask About a Timeline

It’s easy to forget to ask, “How long will this take?” But you need to do that for a few reasons.

States have mandatory waiting periods before the divorce can get completed. Other states may require you and your spouse to be legally separated for a set amount of time first.

Some states require a waiting period of three months. Other states will make you wait a year or two unless both sides agree to waive that right.

You may dream of changing your name back by Christmas. But where you live will determine whether that’s a realistic option.

Beyond Getting a Divorce Attorney

A reliable divorce attorney is crucial to most divorces. But it’s not the only key ingredient.

Your divorce attorney can take care of depositions and court filings. But it’s up to you take care of other things. That includes your health and well-being.

For more, check out our post on taking charge of your health during the divorce process.