Legal Insights

  • Social Host Liability Laws

    Social host liability is a legal concept that holds a person who hosts a party or gathering responsible for injuries that occur as a result of providing alcohol to guests. If a host supplies alcohol to minors or excessive alcohol to anyone, and that guest is involved in or causes an accident, social host liability laws allow the person who suffered injury to recover damages and can result in the host facing criminal charges.  What are social host liability laws? As stated, social host ...
  • What is Probate?

    Probate is the process that occurs after a person’s death, when the deceased person’s debts are resolved and their remaining assets are distributed. The probate process differs depending on whether the deceased had a will or not, as explained further below. Will If the deceased had a will, the probate process includes validating the will, taking an inventory of the deceased person’s assets, appraising the value of the assets, satisfying all taxes and debts, and distributing the rema...
  • Mediation in Child Custody Disputes

    When parents make the decision to separate or divorce, custody issues are usually the most difficult to resolve. In most cases, both parents want to be an integral part of their children’s lives, so reaching a custody agreement can be difficult. Child custody cases can be long, drawn out, and adversarial, especially in the midst of a divorce. However, mediated custody agreements are increasingly popular with separating couples, and can offer a less stressful, time consuming, and expens...
  • What You Need to Know About IRS Tax Audits

    A tax audit can be random or it can be based on underreporting of income, failure to file a return, or under-paying taxes owed. This article will provide basic information on the types of IRS audits, the timing of audits, and the reasons for conducting an audit. Types of IRS Audits There are several different types of IRS tax audits, and any audit can result in interest, fines, and penalties being assessed after the audit, so each audit type must be taken seriously. A correspondence audi...
  • What Does Your Homeowner’s Insurance Cover?

    Insurance policies are convoluted and difficult to understand, so it’s important to know what is and is not covered under a standard homeowner’s insurance policy, and when you might need to purchase additional coverage. What Is Included in a Typical Homeowner’s Insurance Policy? There are several different parts of a homeowner’s insurance policy. First, the policy covers the home or dwelling itself, and damages that may occur to the interior or exterior of the home. For example, if...
  • Sick Animal Liability: Pet “Lemon” Laws

    Getting a new pet should be a joyous occasion. Pets are often a significant investment of time, resources, and emotions. Pet owners bond with their pets, and they typically become a part of the family. Unfortunately, people sometimes purchase pets who are later found to be diseased or defective. Many states have developed pet purchase protection laws, also known as “puppy lemon laws,” to protect pet purchasers and prevent breeders and sellers from profiting off the sale of pets in ba...
  • Obtaining Refugee or Asylum Status in the United States

    Asylum and refugee status are legal protections available to people who have left their home country out of fear for their safety. Typically, refugee and asylum status are granted to people who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social or political group. The primary difference between refugee and asylum status is where you apply for the protection. People outside of the U.S. apply for refuge...
  • Non-Disclosure Agreements

    What is a non-disclosure agreement? In its simplest form, a non-disclosure agreement (“NDA”) is an agreement that creates a legal obligation of privacy or confidentiality among the parties to the agreement to protect confidential or proprietary information shared between the parties. It is generally used when parties are entering into, or considering entering into, a business agreement and trade secrets or other highly sensitive or confidential information (i.e. financial information) wi...
  • Child Custody Types

    When a child is born out of wedlock or the child’s parents are divorced or separated, custody arrangements – whether entered into voluntarily or ordered by a court – determine who will live with, care for, and make decisions for the child. Each state has different rules for how custody is determined, but the same general principle applies in most states--custody is determined based upon what the court finds to be in the best interest of the child. There are two main types of custody ar...
  • Partnership Agreement Fundamentals

    If your business is organized as a partnership, a written partnership agreement is a necessity. The purpose of a partnership agreement is an attempt to address areas where confusion or conflict might arise, and to determine in advance – and in writing – how those issues will be resolved, and who will be responsible for resolving them. Ideally, the partnership agreement should be prepared at the beginning of the partnership. Nevertheless, existing partners who do not already have an agree...
  • The Basics of Assault & Battery

    In 2015, over 1.1 million violent crimes occurred in the United States, and more than half of those crimes were assaults. Below are the basics of both the civil and criminal acts of assault and battery. Assault vs. Battery “Assault” generally defined as an attempt to injure someone else, and in some circumstances, can include threats or threatening behavior against others. Assault has three elements (1) intent; (2) apprehension of harmful contact; and (3) causation. Assault typically d...
  • Fair Lending: Mortgage Discrimination

    Financing your new home can be a trying process and it can become even more difficult and complicated if you are the victim of mortgage discrimination. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA) were enacted to protect potential borrowers against discrimination when applying for a mortgage, a mortgage refinance, or a home equity line of credit. What is mortgage discrimination? Mortgage discrimination is the practice of lending institutions denying loans to one o...
  • What To Do If You’re The Victim of Identity Theft

    When someone uses your name and personal information without your consent to receive money, credit, goods or services, you are the victim of identity theft. If you suspect your personal information is being fraudulently used, you must act quickly and aggressively to recoup any losses you sustained and prevent your identity from being compromised further. Below are a few steps to take to stop and minimize the damage of identity theft. Types of Identity Theft Identity theft is a crime that c...
  • Tips for Handling Debt Collectors

    If you are behind on paying your bills, or if one of the individuals or businesses you do business with believes that you owe them money, you may be contacted by a debt collector. The call may come directly from the creditor you owe, but sometimes creditors, including credit card companies and mortgage lenders, send the debt to a third party debt collector for collection.  What should you do if you receive debt collection calls? If you receive a call from a debt collector, use cautio...
  • Domestic Violence: What To Do

    According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. It is important to understand what constitutes domestic violence is so you can identify it when you see or participate in it. There are federal protections against domestic violence; however, the legal ramifications generally vary from state to state. Her...
  • Parental Liability for the Actions of Minors

    Being a parent is hard. This is especially true if your child commits negligent, intentional, and/or criminal acts. Most parents don’t know that they can be held legally responsible for the actions of their children. Parents have a legal duty to reasonably supervise their children, and if they fail to fulfill that duty, they may be held responsible. What Is Parental Liability? Parental liability is the legal responsibility parents have for the negligent, intentional, or criminal acts o...
  • The Basics of Adult Guardianship

    When the health of a person you love or care for takes a turn for the worse or they otherwise become incapacitated, it is time to determine whether an adult guardianship is appropriate. Guardianship allows a person or people to make decisions for the incapacitated person, and is a serious process that should be handled with care. Below are the basics of adult guardianship. What Is Adult Guardianship? People—especially the elderly—can have mental and/or physical disabilities that impose ...
  • What Can Debt Collectors Legally Do to Collect?

    If you owe money to a creditor or if you get behind on your bills, you may receive debt collection calls and may receive a debt collection notice in the mail. There are rules that debt collectors must follow when contacting you to collect. Governing Laws There are federal laws, including the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), that govern what debt collectors can and cannot do in order to collect debts owed, and each individual state also has its own laws that govern debt collecti...
  • Car Accidents: Making the Case for Your Personal Injury Claim

    According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2015 over 2.4 million people were injured in car accidents. From fender-benders to massive collisions, car accidents can leave lasting injuries. Handling the situation properly immediately following the accident will help strengthen your claim in the long run. Proving Your Case In order to be compensated for your injury following a car accident, you must demonstrate that the other driver was negligent, and that their negli...
  • Is That Job Interview Question Legal?

    Job applicants and employees have legal rights. There are restrictions on what a potential employer can legally ask during a job interview, and what they can do as part of a background check. Below are some of the key points on both topics. General Law An employer cannot discriminate against applicants or employees differently based on certain protected characteristics, such as race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, religion, disability, genetic information (includin...