Law and Daily Life - FindLaw Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Law & Daily Life - The FindLaw Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog


How many Americans have been victims of identity theft? According to a new FindLaw.com survey, 29 percent of U.S. adults say they've had their identity stolen. What's more, about 10 percent say they've been hit by identity theft twice.

Identity theft can include everything from having personal data stolen by a computer virus to the theft of credit cards and IDs from a purse or wallet, and can result in serious damage to a person's finances, credit, and quality of life.

What did the survey discover about identity theft victims, and what can you do to protect your own identity?

Want to amend your trust? As a recent case out of Missouri shows, you may need a few legal tips about how to do it right.

The case involved Dr. K.R. Conklin, who hand-wrote some modifications to his trust in 1996. He and his wife were embarking on a cross-country trip, and just in case something happened to them, they wanted to change the distribution of stuff in their trust.

Thankfully, Dr. Conklin survived the trip. However, when he eventually died in 2009, a fight ensued between his children -- who were beneficiaries in his original trust -- and his stepchildren, who were named in the hand-written amendment, but not the original trust. The Missouri Supreme Court determined that Dr. Conklin's hand-written letter wasn't an effective amendment to his trust.

So how can you amend a trust so that it's fool-proof? Here are a few legal tips to keep in mind:

Today is National Nut Day, a day dedicated to celebrating delicious, nutritious nuts. But for parents of children with severe nut allergies, nuts may not be something to celebrate so much as something to fear.

Nut allergies have been on the rise. According to a study published last year in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, the percentage of children suffering from peanut allergies in the United States more than tripled from 1997 to 2010, reports CBS News. In some cases, children with nut allergies who are exposed to even trace amounts of nuts can suffer fatal allergic reactions

What can parents of a school-aged child with a nut allergy do to help keep their child safe? Here are three legal tips to keep in mind:

More than 1 in 4 Americans -- 28 percent, to be exact -- admit to Internet "trolling," according to an online survey conducted by research firm YouGov. Trolling is defined as "malicious online activity" directed at a stranger. Trolls like to argue, harass, or sow discord just because they like the reaction it provokes.

Trolls aren't well regarded in the online community, and in fact, contribute to an overall decline in the quality of online discussion and debate. It got so bad on the website for the magazine Popular Science that the editors decided to turn off the ability to comment on articles last year. In so doing, Popular Science referred to a study showing that "uncivil comments not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant's interpretation of the news story itself" -- meaning that trolls debating an article in bad faith actually caused readers to disbelieve something that was true.

OK, so trolling is bad for debate. But can it carry legal consequences?

When you leave the country, you don't necessarily leave all your potential legal troubles behind.

Whether you're traveling abroad for an extended period or have moved overseas permanently, legal issues back in the United States may require your attention. But how can you handle legal matters while you're out of the country?

Fortunately, you may be able to take care of matters without having to book an international flight. Here are a few tips to consider:

A power of attorney (POA) is one of the most powerful (and potentially risky) documents one can sign: It gives a third party "agent" the ability to control the assets of the "principal" as if the agent were the principal. Depending on how broad the POA is, that could mean anything from controlling one's financial accounts to controlling everything: healthcare decisions, investments, property, and accounts.

With that much power comes a duty to act in the principal's best interest. As you might expect, that doesn't always happen. And if an agent is abusing his or her power, and the principal can't revoke the POA (a typical example would be a principal who is mentally incompetent), you might want to challenge that POA in court.

How? Here are a few ideas:

A new study examining the link between the amount of money spent on a wedding and the duration of marriage has come to a somewhat surprising conclusion: Couples who spend less on their wedding tend to stay married longer than those who opt for expensive weddings.

In the study, researchers at Emory University looked at over 3,100 married couples, reports the Chicago Tribune. In addition to the amount of money spent on a wedding, the study found several other correlations between wedding ceremonies and duration of marriage that seem to go against conventional wisdom.

What does your wedding say about the odds of your marriage ending in divorce?

Legalese From A to Z - FindLaw

For the last several months, our series Legalese From A to Z has been walking you through the sometimes wacky, sometimes confusing world of legalese , the specialized language of law used by those in the legal field.

Letter by letter, we've been examining some important, interesting, or noteworthy bits of legalese. This week, we take a look at five legal terms that start with the letter "N":

  • Next of kin. You may have heard the phrase "next of kin" in situations where a person has died without a will and that person's property will pass according to the laws of intestacy. But who is considered next of kin? Under the laws of most states, the next of kin is a spouse or domestic partner. If there is not a spouse or domestic partner, then the next of kin will usually be a person's children. If there are no children, the next of kin will typically be the first of any of the following blood relatives who are surviving: parents, then siblings, then grandparents, then aunts and uncles, and so forth. Depending on the laws in your state, relatives beyond a certain degree of remoteness may no longer be considered kin.

Pennsylvania was one of the original 13 colonies, and if you're in the Keystone State, you should be familiar with its rich history of laws.

While learning about the life of the Founding Fathers is a great way to enjoy the history of Pennsylvania, you may also want to focus on the present laws that will have a slightly more pressing effect.

Get ready for an updated page of Poor Richard's Almanac, with 10 laws you should know if you're in present-day Pennsylvania:

Cease-and-desist letters are often ignored, but that doesn't mean legal consequences won't follow.

While these letters have no real legal effect, failing to respond or follow up on a cease-and-desist letter may lead to some predictable responses from the sender. And while some cease-and-desist letters are simply legal-sounding huffing and puffing, others are the harbingers of potentially ruinous and costly lawsuits.

So what can happen if you ignore a cease-and-desist letter? Here are a few possibilities: