Everyone from Ohio knows that "toward the lake" means north, and "toward the river" means south. In Ohio, when someone asks you how far away something is, you respond in minutes, not miles ("it's about 15 minutes from here"), and the University of Michigan is your mortal enemy.
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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:
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:
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:
Florida is a great place to raise a family, vacation, or even retire. But you'd be a fool to do any of the above without knowing at least some of the Sunshine State's laws.
Don't even think about passing down that "Golden Girls"-style South Beach pad without first learning if your will is valid under Florida law. And while you may have the pants and the look of "Miami Vice," you should probably know the DUI laws before you hit the road.
To make your Florida fantasy a legal reality, check out these 10 laws you should know:
No owner wants to think about burying his or her pet, but it's often necessary to find a final resting place for your furry friend.
But before you get a shovel and a large cardboard box for your pet's backyard burial, you should know about the kinds of laws you may be violating. This is especially true if you're thinking about burying your pet in a public park.
Before you say your goodbyes, check out our legal how-to on burying your pet:
Ah New York, there's really no way to fake the Empire State. And that's certainly true of its laws.
But even if you're not a native New Yorker and are just visiting or passing through, you should definitely have a basic understanding of New York's legal structures.
Don't be one of those out-of-town yokels who gets a ticket for texting while driving in Manhattan. Check out these 10 laws you should know if you're in New York:
With today being National Stepfamily Day, it's a good time to remember that if your family includes stepchildren, you may need to revisit your estate plan.
Stepchildren are often considered by their stepparents to be on equal footing with any biological children that parent may have. But legally, a parent's natural-born children may be treated differently than stepchildren for purposes of distributing your property after your death under the terms of a will or through your state's intestacy code.
What do you need to know when your estate planning involves stepchildren? Here are three questions you may want to ask a lawyer who's familiar with your state's laws:
Advanced directives are legal documents allowing you to express your wishes regarding your medical treatment in the event that you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions yourself. But along with living wills and durable powers of attorney, there's another form of advanced directive that may be useful for long-term planning: the psychiatric advance directive.
What can a psychiatric advance directive do? Here's a general overview:
Delaware is pushing estate planning into the digital sphere with a new law that allows loved ones to access online accounts after a person's death.
The Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets and Digital Accounts Act (HB 345) was signed into law by Delaware Gov. Jack Markell last week, broadening digital access for legal heirs. In a press release from the Delaware House Democrats, the bill was described as the "first comprehensive state statute dealing with the disposition of a decedent's digital assets in the nation."
But what will the law actually allow for digital estates after death?