3 Tips on Picking a Good Lawyer: Free Legal Information

Sooner or later, you may need a lawyer to defend you. It’s easy to think that all you need to do is, go to a law firm, hire a lawyer and let him/her represent you. But it’s certainly not that simple always! Lawyers are numerous, yet picking a good lawyer only constitutes to a small number. Compound this complication with the verity that the success of your case will greatly rely on how well you choose your legal representative. So, if you’re faced with this very daunting task, you have to specifically know who you’re really looking for.

You have to understand first that you’re looking for someone with whom you can frankly discuss the legal aspects of your case. You’re not looking for a friend, companion or a shoulder to cry on. You’re aiming to have a lawyer. Therefore, do not expect personal advices and treatment to come from your lawyer. Everything is limited to business and professional relationship alone.

Now in picking a good lawyer, you must look for specific qualities and specialties. If you have marital issues and are planning to ending your relationship, a divorce attorney would be suitable for your case. If you have real estate problems, an intellectual property lawyer would be of great help. And if you have a criminal case, then you must definitely opt for a criminal defense lawyer. Know your lawyer’s specialty and it will be easier for you to narrow down your choices.

Another great consideration is in terms of payment. Choosing a good lawyer would mean a hefty professional fee. Keep in mind that lawyers are paid on an hourly basis especially those handling criminal cases and those doing a regular legal work for you. However, if you don’t have funds for these kinds of lawyers, you can always go for public defenders. Their availability may be limited, but you can still make the most out of these defenders without shedding a hefty price.

Finally, picking a good lawyer is possible by doing your own research. You can ask people you know who have been on a similar situation as yours. This way, it will be easier to find a good lawyer, and at the same time, ask more information about that specific lawyer. Also, you can be assured that you’ll be dealing with a good one as referred to you by a colleague or a person close to you.

Power of Attorney Legal Information

A power of attorney is a type of legal document in which you declare that you are assigning another person (a close relative or a trusted friend) the authority to make certain decisions on your behalf while you are temporarily unable. The person to whom you give these rights to is called an “agent”. You, as the designator, are called the “principal.” The agent is a “fiduciary”, which means that he or she must perform any decisions with your best interests in mind and completely in good faith. Good faith simply means that something is being done without the intent to deceive.

If a person were going to be hospitalized for a common surgery, or was going to be physically unable to perform certain financial or legal obligations, an agent can be selected for a Limited Power of Attorney. This person could perform such tasks as banking affairs, paying bills or other tasks as assigned by you. As long as you, as the principal, are capable of making decisions with a sound mind, the agent must follow your directions. Once you are able to perform the required tasks on your own, the power and privileges are revoked. In other instances, there should be a time limit set for these powers, with an indefinite time frame or permanency clause avoided. This document is also null and void if you become permanently incapacitated or were to die.

The second type of authority is a General Power of Attorney. This document gives the agent the ability to perform any tasks that you yourself can do including, but not limited to decisions and follow through of banking transactions, opening safety deposit boxes, completing transactions involving securities, stocks and/or bonds, the buying and selling of personal property, purchasing life insurance, settling claims, entering into legally binding contracts, controlling real estate (which would include, selling, buying and/or managing), filing tax returns and decisions related to government benefits. The person acting as your agent should be a trusted individual. Again, the agent is someone who would act with only your best interests in mind.

A Health Care Power of Attorney designates an agent to make health care decisions for you if you are unconscious, mentally incompetent, or otherwise unable to make such decisions. It is important to understand that there is a difference between this document and a Living Will. A Living Will only provides directive in the event that life sustaining decisions are in question. Your agent would be entitled to make decisions including but not limited to surgeries, doctors, hospitals, after care and the amount of life saving efforts performed on your behalf. Again, the agent should be someone you have absolute trust in. With these documents and the power bestowed on the agent, it is imperative that an understanding be in place regarding your wishes before the document is signed. In most states, this person cannot be a health care provider or a hospital/care facility employee, even if they are related.

Identity Theft Crimes Against Seniors – How to Stop Them!

Seniors are victims of cons more often than any other age group. Seniors tend to be more trusting, and less apt to question someone who portrays himself as an “expert”. Here are two common scams against seniors that you should look out for!

Scam #1: Disabled Access Telephone Scam
According to the IRS, a new tax scam has been uncovered. Con artists sell expensive coin-operated telephones to individuals. Then, the salespeople offer to “lease back” the phones and service them for a fee. The unsuspecting “investors” are then charged outrageous amounts. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the phones are often never delivered, and the fees continue to be charged anyway.

The telephone salesman also informs the “investor” that they qualify for IRS Disabled Access Credits; a substantial tax break offered to businesses who invest in equipment and upgrades designed to make their businesses more accessible to disabled individuals. The phones do not qualify for the credit, and the victim is then also in trouble because of tax fraud. The responsibility for tax mistakes always lies with the taxpayer, regardless of where the information came from.

Seniors are particularly vulnerable, because most of them are unfamiliar with complex tax law. Seniors are eager for passive income, since most are retired and do not work. The scam artists promise to provide enormous tax breaks and a steady income. Multiple tax cases have been brought before the IRS regarding this scam. In at least three cases, the company “Alpha Telecom” incorrectly advised investors that the pay phones qualified for a Disabled Access tax deduction. Alpha Telecom was cited by the Federal Trade Commission for violating Federal law. Unsuspecting investors lost thousands of dollars, and Alpha Telecom filed for bankruptcy after being investigated in at least twelve states.

Scam #2: Website Mall Scams
In a similar scam, a salesman offers to set up an internet “virtual mall.” The internet mall supposedly qualifies the buyer for the Disabled Access Credit, and the scam promises huge profits from internet sales, which, of course, never materialize. The website company sets up a “dummy” website and then charges the buyer an inflated commission. When the unsuspecting investor attempts to claim the tax credit, the IRS disallows the deduction. The investor is then liable for additional taxes and penalties.

A Las Vegas telemarketing company, National Audit Defense Network (NADN), is one of the companies involved in this “Virtual Mall” scheme. In 2004, NADN filed for bankruptcy after the justice department discovered that it had sold numerous abusive tax shelters, costing the US Treasury over $320 million dollars. The justice department obtained NADN’s customer list, allegedly comprised of 640,000 taxpayers, all of which may have unknowingly participated in an unlawful tax shelter.

If you feel that you may have been a victim of an abusive tax shelter, contact a tax professional immediately. Enrolled Agents, CPAs, and attorneys are all qualified to represent taxpayers in an audit and in tax court. They can file an amended return for you, and help represent you, if necessary. Enrolled Agents may be the least expensive of the three, because they specialize only in tax.

Remember, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”

A Rabies Dog Bite – Assessment and Legal Information

Thanks to movie dramatization we all have a general knowledge of what rabid dogs look like. The glassy eyes, the foaming mouth, the uncontrollable aggression…

Despite the widespread knowledge of the existence of rabies, most people don’t know the full details and are often left wondering how to handle rabies (and if it is even present at all).

This article looks to explore how rabies dog bites occur, what treatment can be done, and what legal liabilities are at stake.

Please understand this article is not a substitute for medical treatment and assumes no responsibility for the proper care and diagnosis of the illness.

Where Do Dogs Get Rabies?

Most cases of rabies in dogs come from bites from wild animals. The most common animals to carry rabies are skunks, raccoons, bats, and foxes.

What Are the Symptoms of Rabies in Dogs?

Rabies generally go through three stages in dogs. The first is called the predomal stage and generally lasts 2-3 days. Symptoms during this phase often include fever, chewing at bite site, and behavioral changes.

The next phase is called the furious stage and lasts 2-4 days. The furious stage is the one most people are familiar with, and is associated with aggressive behavior, barking, disorientation, and attacks.

The final phase is called the paralytics stage and can last 2-4 days. In this stage the animal suffers from the oft-mentioned mouth foaming, paralysis of limbs, and dropped jaw. This is followed by coma and death.

How Likely Is It That A Dog Has Rabies?

Sometimes people get confused that an aggressive dog automatically has rabies. This is not the case. As you’ll notice in the cycle mentioned above, rabies penetrates a dog quickly and mainly occurs when the dog has been bitten by a rabid wild animal. These circumstances are less prevalent than people are led to believe.

Nevertheless, if you’ve been bitten by a dog, it is always wise to take as many precautions as possible.

Assessing the Bite for Rabies

The most important step for assessing a bite is getting in contact with the dogs owners. From there you can discuss when their last rabies shot occurred (if at all), and if the animal recently had any fights with wild animals or has been experiencing changes in behavior.

If the dog is a stray you will want to contact animal control asap and have them locate the dog.

Legal Rights of a Bite Victim

When bitten by a dog that may be rabid, medical treatment is your primary concern. However, once the animal has been properly diagnosed by a professional and your health is on track for recovery, you need to concern yourself with legal rights.

If you’ve been bitten by a dog, rabid or not, you may have the right to pursue for damages. The most important piece advice in this process is to get in contact with a skilled dog bite injury lawyer right away. Early in the process he/she will help you obtain the information you need from the offending party and avoid many of the common traps that insurance companies and dog owners will try to catch you in.

Seek Help – Call the Identity Theft Hotline

On November 1, 1999, Federal Trade Commission started the Identity Theft Hotline. This is a toll-free number that victims of identity theft can call to report their case and get assistance on how to start combating the crime. On the eight month of its operation, the hotline has been receiving an average of more than 1000 calls every week.

Forty per cent of those calls were inquiries from ordinary consumers concerned on their safety. They proactively sought advice on how they can protect themselves. The counselors have provided safety measures and steps on how these consumers could minimize the risks, particularly on how to avoid credit card fraud, the number one id theft crime in the United States. They also gave advice on how to maintain financial privacy.

The remaining sixty per cent, or generally, the bulk of calls received, were from those who have already become victims of the crime. They were given steps on how to prevent further harm to their credit records. They were also given instructions and contact numbers of agencies where they can obtain copies of their credit records, how to request for fraud alert, and how to request for closure of erroneously created bank accounts. Victims were also educated on their rights under Fair Credit Reporting Act, and how they can use it to correct erroneous entries on their financial records. They were also educated on their rights under the Fair Credit Billing Act and the Truth in Lending Act, which limits their responsibility for unauthorized credit card charges. Victims are also educated on their rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which specifically states the practices that collectors are allowed and not allowed to do. Victims were also advised to notify law enforcement agencies, mainly because police reports usually help victims in proving that they are the real victims and not the impersonators. And most importantly, victims were being referred to proper agencies if the id theft crimes they have experienced fall under a more specific agency’s jurisdiction. For example, if a victim would report that somebody is using his or her social security number, the victim will be referred to the specific identity theft or fraud hotline of the Social Security Administration.

These, so far, are the assistance that victims and concerned citizens could get by calling the FTC Identity Theft Hotline. The counselors are specially trained to handle identity theft issues and would be the best people to answer queries on this crime.