Family Limited Partnerships Might Not Be Common, But They Can Save Money

You’re probably already wondering what they are. A family limited partnership is essentially a highly legalized way of assigning specific responsibilities to a particular partner, and this kind of partnership is most often used to transfer wealth from one generation to the next. It’s the type of thing that already happens all the time without the help of the legal world, so it isn’t such a shock that we might think to formalize the process.

In a family limited partnership, a “general” partner maintains the responsibility to manage investments. In this case, responsibility equates to liability. If those investments fall through, then the general partner is liable for that loss.

A “limited” partner gives up the right to manage these affairs, and as a result they enjoy limited liability. Because the legal function of the partnership is to limit responsibility to one party most of the time, the joint income and associated deductions will be reported on a personal tax return.

Okay, so now you know what the legal definitions of these family limited partnerships are–but what are they used for? Let’s say you’ve enjoyed a life of bounty, and you’re ready to retire from the world of responsibility. Your assets have grown to the point of bursting, and you no longer want to manage them. You also want your children and grandchildren to have an established portion of those assets either before or after you pass away. That’s where this type of arrangement can become beneficial. You’ll sign away some of these assets–maintaining all of the liability for those assets–but you can still govern how those assets are arranged. They’re yours to invest as you see fit.

These arrangements aren’t just for the super-rich, as there are other reasons you might want to draw up papers. That’s just one example of what you might do with such a partnership, but why would you do it?

The answer to that question is simple: it’s the same reason you would smartly invest time and money into any sort of estate management or probate action. You want to reduce the taxes you pay. By handing your assets to other members of your family, you can avoid some of Uncle Sam’s cut at the same time continuing to oversee the management of the assets and acquiring any interest accrued from them.

Another way to save money is by way of the annual gift tax exclusion. When your wealth transitions to the partners, the value of any shares you hold may be eligible as a tax deduction because the limited partners have no control over how the assets are invested. It’s this kind of flexibility that can result in mutually beneficial arrangements for your family. You can take what would normally be a number of different investment accounts for any potential heirs, and combine them into only one. This makes management of investments infinitely easier and less expensive than it would be otherwise.

You might be thinking that there’s a catch, but that really isn’t the case. The only thing that should worry you are the state laws where you live, which can change how the process is governed. Members of such an arrangement should all be well versed in the responsibilities they will hold once the partnership is established, not to mention the responsibilities that they will give up. What are your rights when you sign into such an agreement, and how much might they change as time goes on? These are questions to discuss with a trusted lawyer, who will be able to formulate a sensible financial and legal strategy for your family and its future.

If you think that a family limited partnership is something that your family might be interested in considering, then you must draft a limited partnership agreement in writing. Once the agreement is made, the transition of wealth will be formally conducted.

What Are The Guidelines For A Malpractice Suit Against Your Attorney?

You do your homework in order to hire the right lawyer for your case, but something goes wrong. What happened? If your attorney has made mistakes that have cost you in some way, can you sue him or her? Malpractice lawsuits against lawyers are indeed on the table, and there are different reasons why people end up suing attorneys. Let’s look at the reasoning behind a malpractice lawsuit and some of the different types.

Many people after losing a case are going to instantly feel like suing a lawyer for malpractice, but losing isn’t indicative of malpractice. It really matters that incompetence is proven, and your lawyer must have either failed to do something or not have done whatever it is properly. As you can imagine, the lines here can seem blurred regarding liability based on opinion, but what matters is what the law has to say. Naturally, the best way to see if your lawyer should be held accountable is to reach out to a legal expert for guidance.

Financial loss has to be proven, but as you can imagine, a paid lawyer not taking proper action certainly means you lost money. What types of malpractice cases exist anyway? One type of case is about negligence, and two other types involve breach of duty and breach of contract. Aside from suing your attorney, you can also take other actions, and you might want to know what those are, too.

For one reason or another, you feel that your attorney is responsible for the outcome of your case. Perhaps your case hasn’t even been resolved just yet. Look into your options for a malpractice lawsuit, and see what choices you have when it comes to other actions you can take, too. You are paying good money for an attorney, and you expect a reasonable case outcome as well.

New $5 Million Settlement For Worker Who Contracted Popcorn Lung

When we go into work each day, most of us have the expectation that the company under which we’re employed has taken basic steps in order to keep us as safe as possible. We don’t expect to experience extreme pain or debilitation from just another day on the job. Unfortunately, companies exist to turn a profit, and sometimes this expectation is a fallacy. That was the case of a Humphrey Farrington & MCClain PC client who won a $5 million settlement when he was exposed to diacetyl, a butter flavoring chemical that was once commonly used.

George Giles was a mechanic for a Ventura Foods located in St. Joseph from 1997 to 2003, and showed signs of respiratory issues as early as 1999. Even though he suffered a number of chronic and progressive injuries by the time he parted ways with the company in 2003, the damage was already done. He was diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans (or popcorn lung) in 2011.

When popcorn lung progressives far enough, it results in permanent lung damage due to scarring from regular inflammation of airways. Respiratory problems are caused after the damaged lung tissues lead to narrow airways that restrict breathing. Symptoms of popcorn lung vary greatly, and can present as subtle and mild, or painfully overwhelming and severe. The condition can be especially dangerous and difficult to diagnose in subjects who already have other respiratory conditions like asthma. Common symptoms include a dry cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, exhaustion, rapid breathing, or skin, mouth, nose and eye irritation.

Other causes of popcorn lung include fumes from chemicals like ammonia and chlorine, air particles and dust from industrial locations, welding fumes, and gases like nitrous oxide. The condition may develop after the subject experiences a respiratory infection, has a transplant, takes certain kinds of drugs like penicillamine, or already has underlying immune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

It took Giles another two years to file a lawsuit, which he did in 2013. His attorneys claimed that the food industry that used the chemical diacetyl to flavor butter already knew about the popcorn lung link, and could have acted to prevent workers from being exposed. It was especially negligent because employees were not provided any warning about the potential side effects of some of the chemicals with which they would be working.

This isn’t the first diacetyl-related victory for the prestigious law firm. They won a $30.4 verdict in 2010 and three more in 2004 and 2005 that led to a grand total of a whopping $50 million. Although these monies were distributed to workers who were exposed to the dangerous chemicals, the law firm alleges that money can’t reimburse the hardships which some of these people are now forced to cope with now on a daily basis.

Sadly, lawsuits like the aforementioned are common–and necessary–in the continuing fight to protect workers from companies and corporations that would put profits over the health and wellbeing of their workers.

Is An Estate Plan Necessary For You?

For those who are young, broke, or single, the idea of estate planning seems nonsensical. The average person in this position is going to be looking at making ends meet rather than planning for their future estate. Of course, this is why it is essential to speak to a financial advisor and make sure you are going down the right path.

For those who are in this boat, you want to think about your future as soon as possible.

This read is going to help answer the question about whether or not you should be setting up an estate plan in the future.

Simple Planning Is Key

Estate planning is not for the rich or old of society.

This is a misinterpretation of the regulations and the wrong way to approach estate planning. Instead, it is a tool used to make sure your future generations or family members are not left in stringent court battles, or things don’t unfold as you may have wanted them to.

This happens all the time, and even if you have minimal assets, it is always best to account for their future too.

Accidents can happen and being young doesn’t mean death isn’t a possibility. Of course, no one wishes to think about this, but estate planning is a must in such a situation.

What’s Required Right Now?

The standard will is great and a nice part of estate planning but you may want to think about current aspects of your life first.

What does this mean?

The idea is to have a three-step plan in place as soon as possible. This is going to include the following items.

1) Health Care Proxy
2) Power of Attorney
3) Living Will

Start with the health care proxy. This is a solution to make sure the right person is making all the decisions for your health.

If you were to get into a horrible car accident and can’t make medical decisions, it should be clear who is the next in command.

After doing this, you are recommended to have a proper power of attorney. This is going to include information about your financial matters and who is the next in command for making those decisions. It doesn’t matter how many assets you have; it is best to have someone’s name down.

The final step is a living will, where you look to set up a document stating what medical treatment you’re okay with and which ones you are not. This makes it easier for the decision to go the way you want it to.

I’m Completely Broke – How Do I Afford An Attorney?

While the law says everyone has a right to an attorney, the unfortunate truth is that being poor makes that difficult. The best attorneys charge massive amounts of money, while the public defenders tend to be overworked and underpaid. That doesn’t give one much confidence in getting proper representation.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to overcome that. None of them will get you the top lawyer in the state, but you might get a bit more help than you would otherwise.

Low-Income Aid Organizations

There are a number of organizations that offer help to those who don’t make much money. These can be a great help since they can often pay for a large part of the expense. Sometimes they can even cover the entire cost!

However, many of these organizations expect people to be near or below the poverty line to qualify. It’s unfortunate when that happens, but keep in mind that however broke you are, there are enough people worse off that an entire organization must exist to help them.

Check With Law Schools

Much like dental and medical schools, you can often get aid from senior year students. Many of these students are licensed to practice law, as long as they have a fully licensed and accredited mentor standing watch.

Of course, as with all students, this is a hit or miss situation. First, you have to be lucky enough to check in when they’re testing students “in the field”, so to speak. Then you have to hope you get a knowledgeable student instead of one who’s close to failing.

Check With The County

At the end of the day, the public defender program is there for everyone to use. The funding is often lacking, which means public defenders tend to have too many clients and not enough time to properly help them all. Yet if you simply can’t afford a lawyer, then it’s an option you should look in to.

Whatever you do, do not represent yourself in court. Representation is more than simply standing in front of a judge and arguing for yourself. There’s a huge amount of paperwork that must be filed, as well a number of laws that must be followed. The likelihood of making a mistake that sends you spiraling further downward is high.

If you’re thinking of defending yourself, then you should go the public defender route. Otherwise, try pricing some attorneys on your own. You might be surprised at the cost.

What is Gresham’s Law?

Stick your hand in your pocket, take out the change you find and put it on your desk.  Take a look at all of the coins spread out in front of you. Some of them are probably shiny pennies or dimes, some of them may be well-worn quarters. Some of you, for one reason or another, might even lay out a half-dollar on rare occasion. All of them in various states of age and wear, some of them possibly to the point of being barely discernible. Most likely, however, many of you find a lot of relatively new coinage, minted within the last several years, even though modern money has been printed and minted in this country for decades. Some of it can be attributed to certain pieces of money or notes being removed from circulation. Others can be considered the end result of coin collectors holding them without using them to their once-intended purpose. This latter part is a consequence due to a principle known as Gresham’s law.

Gresham’s law (not really a law) is a monetary principle that states at its basic level that “bad money will drive out good.” Well, what does that even mean? This principle doesn’t apply itself to counterfeit money. It doesn’t apply to money laundering. And it certainly doesn’t apply to some money taking the moral low ground in a disagreement. Legally speaking, all marked legal tender is worth the same. Every penny (as long as it can be recognized as a penny) is worth one cent, every dime worth ten, and so on and so forth. Nowadays, regarding practical, everyday use, most of us probably don’t even think to consider the actual metallic content of the money we hold as loose change in our pocket. Most of it is made from base metals such as copper, nickel, and zinc with silver and gold completely discontinued as far as general circulation is concerned.

You may ask yourself why this is, considering all recognized legal tender holds the same value in commerce anyway. Due to the intrinsic value of gold and silver as opposed to the likes of nickel and zinc, a coin with a high silver content such as a half-dollar from the mid-1960’s – despite being worth just as much as a half-dollar made today – has the potential to hold greater value strictly due to its higher-valued metallic composition. This is why coins of certain eras are now considered collectors’ items and not often seen in circulation; they have been in possession by those who put greater stock in their intrinsic value rather than their value purely as legal tender. This is why Gresham’s law applies, particularly in the United States where the metallic quality of legal tender has shifted over the past century to include less precious metals in the actual, handled currency such as silver and gold as well as make the process of manufacturing money more cost-effective in the first place by using more common materials. “The bad money drives out the good” applies to legal tender of a lesser standard (a la “cupro-nickel” alloys that comprise most American-minted coins) driving out legal tender of the same face value, but of a higher standard of metallic quality, such as older coins that tend to have a higher silver content or any gold content whatsoever. For more information visit:

Donald Trump and the Treasury

In 2010, amid the backlash in 2007-2008 of financial bailout set upon the banks by the Federal government, the Obama administration put into place what came to be known as the Dodd-Frank Act (also formally known as the “Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act – a mouthful). The basic gist of the law was meant to protect tax payers and consumers by setting certain conditions, regulations, and preventive protocols into place so financial institutions would not succumb to such tragedies dumbed down to streetwise colloquialisms such as, “too big to fail.”

Now, President Trump seeks a work-around to reform these policies.

Attempts to circumvent Congress in order to apply a slew of changes to the regulatory policies set in place by the Dodd-Frank Act, many speculate, would heavily favor Wall Street while simultaneously dismantling many pieces crucial to the structure of the Act signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama. It has been noted that President Trump continues to nominate heads of prominent financial agencies that favor his political ideals, and so far he has managed to get Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton past the initial test that is Congressional approval, while other positions wait to be filled and are temporarily held by “acting” heads or maintained by those instated by President Obama.

Secretary Mnuchin recently proposed over 100 changes within a 150-page document on behalf of President Trump, many of which – he maintained – would go through channels of approval with regulators rather than Congress itself. In fact, Mnuchin himself estimated, “80% of the substance in the report can be accomplished by regulatory changes, and about 20% by legislation.”

Many of these changes, Democrats noted, would likely impose relaxing effects on the currently-implemented Dodd-Frank Act – changes such as restricting authority of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, relaxing restrictions on trade operations for big banks and easing back on the stress tests the same banks must undergo annually to ensure they can perform.

The proposals, while met with high regard from trade groups, did receive some light points of criticism – particularly in setting specific levels for bank assets before subjecting them to more rules regarding operation. But, the greatest criticisms came, without surprise, from the Democratic party – many of whom believe that the new regulations ready to be put into place are little more than a “handout to Wall Street” that could negatively impact the typical American consumer. Senator Elizabeth Warren, specifically, made claims that the regulatory reforms would only lend themselves to favor big banks and would further run the risk of corruption within financial institutions and the abuse of these institutions against American consumers. Others such as Senator Sherrod Brown also pointed out the Treasury’s significant neglect toward consumer groups as opposed to trade industry groups during consultations regarding these proposed regulatory reforms.

Unfortunately, hinging on the success of implementing these changes through regulatory channels as opposed to legislative ones, it doesn’t appear as if the Democratic party or any reform advocates will have much say in the new policies that the Trump administration will attempt to impose against the framework of the Dodd-Frank Act.

What is an Ambulance Chaser?

Basically, the term “ambulance chaser” is just a colorful reference to a personal injury lawyer. It is most often used derogatorily when referring to the branch of lawyers who spend more time chasing clients down for potentially frivolous lawsuits, rather than building a deeper client base on reputation alone. If a lawyer is actively searching for retail workers who tripped and slipped at work and got a nasty bump on their head, then that lawyer is an ambulance chaser.

Although that might not seem so bad from outside looking in, other lawyers will know the difference between a guy who really knows what he’s doing and wants to make a difference versus a guy who just wants to make a quick buck before he heads home to a TV dinner and his Xbox. Ambulance chasers make most of their money based off a percentage of the damages won in court. Granted, that means they have to win some of the time, but make no mistake: you’re better off finding a lawyer who means business and knows how to play the game for real.

Ambulance chasing is more about laying a trap for big companies using someone who might have a bone to pick, but not always. Let’s say you were in a car accident. You needed to alert the authorities and your insurance company because there was some damage done, but no one was really hurt as a result of the collision. Information is a commodity, and yours is a matter of public record now that you’ve been involved in the accident. If you weren’t at fault, you might find yourself contacted by a lawyer who seems to know a little too much about what happened during the accident. If that person tries to send you to see a medical professional for a free evaluation of your proposed injuries (even though you might say you have none), then you’re the target of an ambulance chaser.

There are regulations in place that try to prevent these people from getting hold of your information, but people still find a way to slip through the cracks and get what they need. Many law enforcement agencies will redact a lot of your information as a courtesy to you, but something might still give away what happened and where. It’s not a difficult task to find out who was involved.

Real legal professionals already have a hard time gaining public trust. It’s extremely difficult to change a perception when it’s so firmly ingrained into the public mindset, and most of us already feel that lawyers are in it only for themselves. The reality is that most of them do a lot of extremely hard work to get where they are, and the pay isn’t what most of us think it is when compared to the costs of their education. Ambulance chasers aren’t just a public nuisance–they’re a focal point of dread for other lawyers.

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Which Type of Law Makes The Most Money

It isn’t always easy to discern the difference between a high-paying, fruitful career track and a great big dead end. If you’re about to embark on a path that will take you into the realm of law, then it’s one of the big questions: who makes the most money, and where are the clients? Then again, you might want to ask yourself where you’ll make the biggest impact for the most people, or where you’ll have the most fun and gain the best life experience. Answering those other questions is up to you, if law is what you plan to do with your life. These are the lawyers that make the most money in their given fields!

Medical-legal malpractice lawyers earn a median salary of about $86 thousand per year. If the hospital screwed up big time during an important surgery or your doctor prescribed the wrong medication and set your loins on metaphorical fire, then you’ll need one of these bad boys to set the world to balance. They are also important figures in determining the outcome when you have to sue a different lawyer.

Third from the top is the business lawyer, who enters the fray with a median income of $96,533. The fact that they’re so close to the top of the list should come as little surprise. Every business or corporate entity out there needs one of these lawyers, and most provide a ton of billable hours. If you haven’t been sued yet, then you’re not a real player in the world of business.

Tax lawyers make a median income that just barely hits over a hundred thousand–which makes sense because most of us love keeping our hands on as much of own money as we can. This might be one of the most boring legal professions out there, but it’s certainly one of the most important.

At the top of the list is the intellectual property lawyer with a median salary way above the rest: $141,763. It’s not too surprising that lawyers who specialize in IP make the most money right now since IP law is constantly evolving to meet the needs of a newer, more digitally inclined world. For the most part, they help prevent theft of an individual’s intellectual properties–think movies, music, art, or Facebook (yes, it’s a very long list–almost anything can be considered intellectual property these days).

When many of us think of lawyers, we think of super-rich legal heavyweight champions who devote nearly every waking moment to the cause of justice (or injustice). As it turns out, that’s not true. The median salaries for most lawyers are close to six-figured but not quite there yet. Considering the hefty price you pay just to find your way into the fighting pits, working your way into the colosseum might not be worth the time or money when there are so many other alternatives out there these days.

Do Lawyers Get Paid For Pro Bono Work?

To answer that question, it actually may depend on how you define “get paid.”

In the law world, many attorneys are asked (if not required by the state or their firm) to take on pro bono cases every so often, either to promote the firm’s agenda or as a public service to an individual or a group of people that can’t afford to stand up to a government entity or large company on its own.

Pro bono work can also be taken if a case will be highly publicized and winning the case could mean a high level of recognition for the lawyer – and perhaps future clients.

Pro bono means what it means – it is Latin, meaning “for good” (or the public good, as it is short for “pro bono publico”). An attorney who works pro bono generally does not get paid for the work on the case, not by the parties in the case. Some pro bono work can be free for the parties, but the lawyer may be paid by a third-party entity with a vested interest in the case (such as an abortion case that might be paid by Planned Parenthood, for example).

So that might beg the question, why would an attorney do a lot of work for a pro bono case, when there is no financial benefit from it?

Most pro bono cases are about passion for the attorney. Passion for serving, passion for publicity, passion for the cause of which he or she is standing, all can be ways that an attorney gets “paid” for pro bono work. The work comes from the heart, and often an attorney just might work as hard or harder in these cases than in others where he or she is making billable hours.

Pro bono cases are usually not assigned to the attorney – the attorney usually gets to choose the causes, cases, and clients he or she takes on. If the attorney knows and expects to not get paid for the work, he or she will usually want or need some motivation to take the case, so that the attorney will put forth the work and energy to win the case. Winning the case may mean more business later, some of which will be paid. Attorneys can often consider these cases an “investment” in the business.

In order to cover the “loss” of income, attorneys will often cover pro bono cases through charges to paying clients. How many pro bono cases an attorney will take may depend at least partly on how lucrative the practice is and how much time the attorney can “afford” to spend with no billable hours.

Pro bono work is part and parcel of the legal profession with many attorneys. It is a form of charitable service that can often give attorneys a sense of purpose and mission to their practice, outside of money. Attorneys can sometimes get a bad rap, and pro bono work (and wins in these cases) can help burnish the image within the community in which these attorneys serve.