Skinner & Associates Blog

The Importance of Estate Planning

You may have heard of estate planning, but do you know what it entails? It may sound complicated, but an estate plan just refers to the documents that almost every individual needs, regardless of how complex their financial and familial affairs are. The purpose of these documents is to help avoid problems that may arise in the event of your death. Without an estate plan, these problems are often resolved by courts and state law — a sometimes less-than-ideal situation for the surviving family members. A properly-prepared estate plan will let you decide for yourself ahead of time important choices like the care of surviving minor children or pets, division of assets, and who will ultimately be the executor of your estate. Here are just several ways estate planning will benefit you and your family, from the American Bar Association:

  • Get your property to beneficiaries quickly. You can opt to have insurance paid directly to your beneficiaries.
  • Plan for incapacity. This is important if you want to decide in advance what happens if you become physically or mentally incapacitated and life support is in question. You can also choose someone who will make medical decisions for you in the event of incapacitation.
  • Minimize expenses & ease the strain on your family. Good estate planning can keep the cost of transferring property to beneficiaries as low as possible, leaving them more money. It also takes the burden from your grieving loved ones if many of the big decisions, such as funeral arrangements, are prepared ahead of time.
  • Give to your favorite charitable cause and/or establish a trust fund. Have a charity you wish to help out? Or a grandchild whose education you want to assure? Philanthropy and trust funds can be a part of your estate plan, too.

Need assistance planning your estate? Skinner & Associates works with Ohio residents through the estate planning process to create a plan that may include a Will, Living Will, Healthcare and Financial Powers of Attorney, and a Transfer on Death Affidavit, if applicable. If you’re looking for a unique and useful Christmas gift for a loved one, consider an estate planning package from Skinner & Associates. Contact us for more information!

The information at the Skinner & Associates, LLC website is intended for general informational purposes only and not as specific legal advice. Use of this site is not intended to and does not in any way establish an attorney-client relationship. Visitors to this site should seek professional legal counsel regarding their specific matters. Attorneys at Skinner & Associates, LLC would be pleased to speak with interested parties, but we can only represent clients where we are licensed to practice, and where no other bar to representation exists. If the information provided by this website does not comply with the legal or ethical requirements of a particular user’s state or country, we may be unable to represent you.

Although we are a general practice law firm, we may be considered a debt relief agency because we help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

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A Closer Look at Child Custody

There are many facets to child custody cases, and the law differs from state to state, from married couples going through a divorce, to unwed single parents. Each case is different and takes special consideration. There are various types of child custody, each with their own upsides and downsides. Here are the four main types of child custody in family law, as explained by FindLaw:

Legal Custody

Legal custody gives a parent the right to make long-term decisions about the raising of a child, and key aspects of the child’s welfare – including the child’s education, medical care, dental care, and religious instruction. In most child custody cases, legal custody is awarded to both parents (joint legal custody), unless it is shown that one parent is somehow unfit, or is incapable of making decisions about the child’s upbringing.

Physical Custody

The parent who has been granted physical custody is the parent the child or children will live with. Most modern custody arrangements give physical custody to one parent (called the “custodial” parent) and grant visitation rights and shared “legal custody” to the non-custodial parent. Typically, visitation rights give the non-custodial parent exclusive time with the child every other weekend, alternating major holidays, and a number of weeks during summer vacations.

Sole Custody

A parent with “sole custody” of a child has exclusive physical and legal custody rights concerning the child. These custody arrangements are usually limited to situations in which one parent has been deemed unfit or incapable of having any form of responsibility over a child — for example, due to drug addiction or evidence of child abuse. In sole custody situations, the child’s other parent has no physical or legal rights, but may be entitled to periods of visitation with the child (though those visits may be supervised, especially in situations involving domestic violence or child abuse).

Joint Custody

In true joint custody arrangements, parents share equal legal and physical custody rights. This means that parents participate equally in making decisions about the child’s upbringing and welfare, and split time evenly in having day-to-day care and responsibility for the child — including the parent’s right to have the child live with them. True joint custody arrangements are rare because of their potential to cause both personal difficulties (stress, disruption of child’s routine) and practical problems (scheduling, costs of maintaining two permanent living spaces for the child).

If you are looking for help in the area of family law, look no further than Skinner & Associates. If you have questions or concerns regarding your rights or obligations, we will work aggressively to protect your rights and achieve an outcome that is best for you. We have 6 locations in central Ohio to help serve you better. Contact us today!

Child Custody

The information at the Skinner & Associates, LLC web site is intended for general informational purposes only and not as specific legal advice. Use of this site is not intended to and does not in any way establish an attorney-client relationship. Visitors to this site should seek professional legal counsel regarding their specific matters. Attorneys at Skinner & Associates, LLC would be pleased to speak with interested parties, but we can only represent clients where we are licensed to practice, and where no other bar to representation exists. If the information provided by this website does not comply with the legal or ethical requirements of a particular user’s state or country, we may be unable to represent you.

Although we are a general practice law firm, we may be considered a debt relief agency because we help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.


Skinner & Associates – Now Certified in Mediation

When two parties cannot come to an amicable solution, sometimes they call upon a mediator to help settle the issue. Mediation is a method of alternative dispute resolution that utilizes an unbiased third party. The mediator does not make a decision but rather provides suggestions and helps to create the dialogue to come to an agreement.

Why mediation?

Mediation is typically quicker, less expensive and a more simplistic way to settle a dispute. It allows both parties to consider all the situations that might have led to the dispute instead of a narrow legal issue. The question of fault and right or wrong is typically not the focus of the discussions, rather coming to an adequate resolution is the goal.

Should you use mediation?

If you are in a position of being unable or even unwilling to resolve a dispute, using mediation is a good option to provide a resolution. Mediation is a short term process which is very structured. The mediator works with both parties by overseeing the exchange of information. They help them find a common ground and resolve unrealistic expectations while determining appropriate solutions. They may also be called upon to draft a settlement.

When mediation is necessary

Mediation is typically a voluntary exercise but can also be court ordered. It is common in a small claims situation, housing issues and family law. It is also occasionally used in criminal court proceedings. While a litigation process involves a judge making the final decisions, in mediation, both parties and the mediator work together to determine the terms of the both the mediation process as well as the final agreement.

After a resolution is reached

When the mediation process is concluded the final agreement can be either oral or written. The laws in the jurisdiction in which the mediation occurs will determine if the agreement is binding. If an agreement cannot be reached the parties can pursue other legal measures to make their claims.

At Skinner & Associates, we are pleased to announce that in addition to our full range of legal practice areas, we are also certified to help clients through the mediation process. If you are considering mediation to settle a legal dispute, contact our trusted team today.  

Mediation

The information at the Skinner & Associates, LLC web site is intended for general informational purposes only and not as specific legal advice. Use of this site is not intended to and does not in any way establish an attorney-client relationship. Visitors to this site should seek professional legal counsel regarding their specific matters. Attorneys at Skinner & Associates, LLC would be pleased to speak with interested parties, but we can only represent clients where we are licensed to practice, and where no other bar to representation exists. If the information provided by this website does not comply with the legal or ethical requirements of a particular user’s state or country, we may be unable to represent you.

Although we are a general practice law firm, we may be considered a debt relief agency because we help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.


Five Things You Should Know About Personal Injury Cases

Being injured in an accident can be a very overwhelming and difficult time. In addition to the physical pain from an accident, you might also be strapped with lost wages and other stressors. Having a qualified attorney guiding you through the process is important as you navigate a personal injury claim.

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An insurance company will take the claim more seriously if you have a lawyer – While insurance companies are not out to get the claimant, they certainly don’t want to hand over money if they don’t have to. A qualified personal injury lawyer is well aware of your legal rights when it comes to a personal injury claim. This means that quite often, items that an insurance company might overlook, a lawyer will be sure to include in your claim.

You need a lot of information to go forward with your claim – Insurance companies sometimes ask for medical records, medical releases, statements, examinations under oath, and an independent medical exam. Your attorney can compile the needed documents for you and help you navigate these potential pitfalls.  

It will probably take longer than you think – It is common that a case is not settled while medical treatment is taking place. While your attorney will touch base to ensure that you are doing okay, monitor your progress, and make sure all your bills are being paid during your recovery, the case will most likely commence after all the facts are gathered.

Most cases don’t go to court – Because of the cost of a trial, most insurance companies do not want to go through the process. The only reason a trail typically occurs is if liability or negligence cannot be established or the insurance company will not provide an adequate settlement.

The final decision is yours – While your attorney will make recommendations on how to proceed with your case, ultimately the decision on how to move forward is yours. Your attorney should be acting in your best interest and should not force a settlement. If you do not trust your attorney to make appropriate recommendations, it is probably a good idea to seek another lawyer.

If you or someone you know has been injured because of the negligence of another person, contact the trusted attorneys at Skinner & Associates.

 

The information at the Skinner & Associates, LLC web site is intended for general informational purposes only and not as specific legal advice. Use of this site is not intended to and does not in any way establish an attorney-client relationship. Visitors to this site should seek professional legal counsel regarding their specific matters. Attorneys at Skinner & Associates, LLC would be pleased to speak with interested parties, but we can only represent clients where we are licensed to practice, and where no other bar to representation exists. If the information provided by this website does not comply with the legal or ethical requirements of a particular user’s state or country, we may be unable to represent you.

Although we are a general practice law firm, we may be considered a debt relief agency because we help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.


What is a Guardianship and Why Does It Matter?

A guardian is a person who is legally responsible for another individual who is unable to manage his or her own affairs. The guardian is appointed by a judge and is able to make a variety of important decisions on behalf of the individual. They are called on to protect the individual and their property. Depending upon the specific terms of the agreement, as well as a state’s rules overseeing this designation, a guardian might be able to make legal, financial, and health care decisions on behalf of the individual. You might be asked to handle the following if you are appointed as a guardian.

  • Oversee and make investments
  • Take care of day-to-day expenses
  • Oversee real estate transactions
  • Handle Social Security benefits
  • Obtain and oversee Medicaid benefits
  • Speak on loved one’s behalf regarding medical concerns
  • Handle insurance claims
  • Oversee distribution of pension benefits

Who Needs a Guardian?

The standards for determining the need for a guardian can vary from state to state. In general, it will be ordered if the individual is unable to make decisions on their own behalf. It must be proven that they are unable to act in their own best interest. A guardian is appointed in the absence of a power of attorney (this includes financial and medical powers of attorney).

Who can be a Guardian?

While the best case scenario is to appoint a family member in the role of guardian, the
State may select a friend, neighbor, or even a public or private agency to take
on this role. This further speaks to the importance of making these important
decisions in advance whenever possible.

Legal Proceedings

A guardianship can be requested by any party who believes it is in the individual’s best interest. This party will likely hire an attorney to file the petition. After this happens, a hearing will be held to determine what is in the best interest of the individual.

If you are looking for more information about guardianship proceedings, contact the trusted professionals at Skinner & Associates. They have six offices to serve clients in Reynoldsburg and throughout central Ohio.What is Guardianship and Why Does it Matter


Real Estate Attorneys – Here to Assist You in the Complicated Legal Maze

Buying or selling a property brings with it a flood of emotions. From the excitement of finding a place to setting down roots or moving on to a new location, to the apprehension of ensuring that you are getting the very best for your hard earned dollar, there are a lot of things to consider. While a real estate professional may be able to help you choose the best property for your family, they are not always aware of the legal intricacies of the real estate process from both a buyer’s and seller’s perspective. Having a real estate attorney on your side is a great way to ensure the process is handled in your best interest.

  • Real estate transactions are complicated – There are a lot of details that go into a real estate transaction. Buyers need to be aware of any concessions as well as contract contingencies. In addition, if the property you are considering is a leaseback or short sale, there are additional things you need to be aware of that could impact the transaction. An experienced real estate lawyer will help you understand all the terms of the real estate contract and make you aware of any risks that could hinder the process.
  • Legal issues with the property – In addition to the property purchase terms, there are additional things that could have a dramatic impact on the property sale. These might include unknown property liens, zoning restrictions, property easement requirements or issues with the property title. Each of these could have a profound effect on your real estate investment. A qualified attorney will help you understand each of these and determine the best options moving forward.
  • Move negotiations forward – If the deal seems to be faltering, your real estate attorney can assist you in finding options to save the proceedings and get things back on track.
  • Legal ramifications – If the real estate sale ends on a sour note or starts to move in a contrary direction, a trusted real estate attorney can assess your options to determine if you should consider further legal recourse to enforce your rights.

Skinner & Associates Attorneys at Law LLC has experienced real estate attorneys that can ensure your best interests are being met. Contact their qualified legal team to discuss your legal needs.

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Discussing Safe Driving with Teens

This summer, your teenager may be hitting the road for the first time, or driving further than their usual routes. Summer jobs, roadtrips, and moving for college can mean letting teens go further afield than before. Prepare your teenager for responsible driving well in advance to help ensure their safety on the road.

Seatbelts: A Non-Negotiable Necessity

The invention of the modern seat belt changed the face of the auto industry and has prevented millions of deaths and serious injuries worldwide. Yet, according to the CDC, only 86% of Americans wear their seat belt, and auto accidents remain the biggest cause of death in the United States for those under the age of 54.

Auto fatalities are highest in the 16-24 year-old age range, according to safecar.gov, with 53% of teenagers involved in fatal crashes not wearing seat belts. Unfortunately, not all young drivers can be trusted to buckle up even if an adult modeled excellent seat belt usage. Tell your teen they should never take “no” for an answer when it comes to every passenger in the vehicle wearing a seat belt.  

Distracted Driving: A Modern Epidemic

Distractibility causes many of the minor collisions involving teens. Emphasize at all times that road safety is the first priority when driving. Phone calls, texting, loud talking, and too much activity from other passengers in the vehicle can distract any driver. Unfortunately, teens are far more likely to be involved in collisions or near-collisions while texting.

Although texting while driving is now illegal in 39 states and Washington, DC, 23% of all accidents in the United States involve cell phones, resulting in over 1.3 million crashes in 2011 alone. Unfortunately, many teens feel confident they can text, websurf, or talk on their phone while driving, and justify this habit by claiming their parents do it, too. Being a good example, and having your teen sign a “no cell phones” pledge can help him or her resist the temptation to reach for the phone.

Good Judgment: A Learning Curve

Learning how to drive involves practicing good judgment on the road. Many teen accidents are due to the “learning curve” of judging distances and hazards. Examples include underestimating the danger of road conditions, such as wet and icy surfaces, following another vehicle too closely, and driving too fast at night. Remind your teen of how to adjust for various road conditions, and what to do in case of an emergency.

With your help, your teen will have the confidence they need to get themselves from point A to point B safely.   

Skinner & Associates of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, provide trustworthy, knowledgeable legal services to our clients in the central Ohio area. To schedule a no-obligations consultation today, please call (614) 664-0200.

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The information at the Skinner & Associates, LLC web site is intended for general informational purposes only and not as specific legal advice. Use of this site is not intended to and does not in any way establish an attorney-client relationship. Visitors to this site should seek professional legal counsel regarding their specific matters. Attorneys at Skinner & Associates, LLC would be pleased to speak with interested parties, but we can only represent clients where we are licensed to practice, and where no other bar to representation exists. If the information provided by this website does not comply with the legal or ethical requirements of a particular user’s state or country, we may be unable to represent you.

Although we are a general practice law firm, we may be considered a debt relief agency because we help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.


What is Civil Litigation?

Civil litigation is a legal process that enables individuals, businesses and other entities to utilize the court system to work through disputes. Unlike a criminal case, in which an individual is prosecuted for violation of a law or statute with the end penalty being monetary fines, imprisonment or both, civil litigation is a personal disagreement in which one or more parties is seeking for a judge to award monetary restitution for a wrong committed against them. There are five common types of civil litigation which might be heard in a court of law.

  • Personal injury
  • Breach of contract
  • Divorce and family law
  • Property disputes
  • Landlord and tenant disputes

Personal injury

A person injured case is filed because of the negligence of another individual or entity that results in some form of bodily injury. The most common cases are the result of a motor vehicle accident, a slip-fall case or a product liability.

Divorce and family

A family law case can be a particularly difficult civil litigation process because of the emotion that is involved in family dynamics. Generally, these are the result of a petition for separation or divorce, child custody, child support and domestic violence cases.

Breach of contract

Contracts typically state very clearly the expectations one party has of another. When the terms of this documentation are not met, the wronged party has the right to file a lawsuit for breach of contract. The plaintiff can sue to recover the monetary loss as a result of the default of the contract or they might request that the judge order the defendant to act in accordance with the stipulations of the contract.

Landlord and tenant

One of the most common forms of landlord/tenant legal matters is an eviction. This typically arises when the tenant does not comply with the terms of the lease agreement.

Property disputes    

Typical property disputes include property line disagreements, ownership rights and concerns and title claims. While the plaintiff might choose to seek financial compensation for these cases, often they are simply looking for the right of ownership.

At Skinner & Associates, Attorneys at Law, we are professionals in civil litigation cases in the State of Ohio. If you or someone you know has a civil dispute, contact our trusted team for a free consultation.

Civil Litigation

The information at the Skinner & Associates, LLC web site is intended for general informational purposes only and not as specific legal advice. Use of this site is not intended to and does not in any way establish an attorney-client relationship. Visitors to this site should seek professional legal counsel regarding their specific matters. Attorneys at Skinner & Associates, LLC would be pleased to speak with interested parties, but we can only represent clients where we are licensed to practice, and where no other bar to representation exists. If the information provided by this website does not comply with the legal or ethical requirements of a particular user’s state or country, we may be unable to represent you.

Although we are a general practice law firm, we may be considered a debt relief agency because we help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

 


Chapter 7 vs 13 Bankruptcy: Making the Best of a Difficult Situation

Filing for bankruptcy can be a very trying experience. At Skinner & Associates, we understand that good people can find themselves in unfortunate circumstances. Navigating the waters of a bankruptcy proceedings can be confusing. Determining the right option can be even more overwhelming. This iswhere a skilled bankruptcy attorney can help you make the best decisions for your situation.

Chapter 13 Overview

Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to retain ownership of your property while you pay off your debts. Under this type of bankruptcy, you will work with your attorney to create a repayment plan over a predetermined period of time. Generally, the plan lasts from three to five years. During the repayment period, creditors cannot seek collection of outstanding debts. At the end of the plan most unpaid debts are discharged by the court.

Chapter 7 Overview

Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires you to sell all non-exempt property. Once property is sold, the proceeds of the sale are distributed to the creditors in an effor
t to repay debts. The nonexempt assets are sold by a trustee of the estate. After the sale of property and repayment of creditors, most remaining debt incurred by an individual will be discharged by the courts.

Who is eligible?

Corporations are not able to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, nor are individual debtors with an annual regular income of a certain level. Conversely, both corporations and individuals are able to file Chapter 7. There is no limit to the amount of debt you can seek relief from, however it is important to point out that the discharge of any unpaid debt is only available to individuals, and not corporate debtors.

Freezing debt

In the case of both Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcies, all outstanding debts are frozen until the legal proceedings are finished. Individuals filing Chapter 7 can still be subject to foreclosures on property.  Additionally, it will not stop a creditor from filing a lien on the property. Chapter 13 does stop the foreclosure process and gives the debtor time to make up past due payments (the debtor is still required to make current payments).

If you or someone you know is considering filing for bankruptcy, contact the professionals at Skinner & Associates. They have been providing reliable legal representation in Columbus, Ohio and surrounding communities for over 25 years.  

The information at the Skinner & Associates, LLC web site is intended for general informational purposes only and not as specific legal advice. Use of this site is not intended to and does not in any way establish an attorney-client relationship. Visitors to this site should seek professional legal counsel regarding their specific matters. Attorneys at Skinner & Associates, LLC would be pleased to speak with interested parties, but we can only represent clients where we are licensed to practice, and where no other bar to representation exists. If the information provided by this website does not comply with the legal or ethical requirements of a particular user’s state or country, we may be unable to represent you.

Although we are a general practice law firm, we may be considered a debt relief agency because we help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

Chapter 7 vs Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Get to Know Skinner & Associates

At Skinner & Associates, our goal is to provide our clients with the best possible legal care.  This means that we take the time to get to know the issues they are facing and come up with strategic plans to help them through these uncertain times. We provide clients with full service legal care.

  • Bankruptcy It should be a last resort when clients are facing financial difficulties. We have the legal expertise to help our clients explore a variety of possibilities.
  • Civil Litigation – We believe that going to court should be the last option considered, and work hard to mediate your case and come to an amicable agreement.  However sometimes litigation is necessary. In these cases, we work hard for our client’s rights.
  • Criminal law – We believe that everyone is entitled to fair legal representation. We are passionate to protect the right of our clients while fighting for the best possible outcome. Skinner & Associates represents everything from felonies to traffic violations.
  • Employment law The laws that govern the relationship between an employer and employee are crucial to creating healthy and effective workplaces. We understand the intricacies of these relationships and help draft contracts to protect your best interest.
  • Estate Planning – Determining end-of-life decisions can be complicated and emotional. We develop comprehensive plans that protect client rights when they are unable to speak on their own behalf, including living wills, health care directives and other important estate planning issues.
  • Family Law – Ensuring that the rights of all family members are heard in the event of a divorce or other family issues is important. We help protect families and help create the best possible outcome for all involved.
  • Probate The complexities of adoptions, guardianships, custodial accounts and conservatorships can be confusing and overwhelming. We are here to protect the rights of families in these unique cases.
  • Real Estate Understanding the fine print in transactions between a buyer, seller, developer landlord or tenant can be complicated. Our qualified legal team has a high degree of expertise in working through real estate matters to ensure that your best interests are being served.

If you or someone you know is facing a legal matter, contact the team at Skinner & Associates for a consultation.

The information at the Skinner & Associates, LLC web site is intended for general informational purposes only and not as specific legal advice. Use of this site is not intended to and does not in any way establish an attorney-client relationship. Visitors to this site should seek professional legal counsel regarding their specific matters. Attorneys at Skinner & Associates, LLC would be pleased to speak with interested parties, but we can only represent clients where we are licensed to practice, and where no other bar to representation exists. If the information provided by this website does not comply with the legal or ethical requirements of a particular user’s state or country, we may be unable to represent you.

Although we are a general practice law firm, we may be considered a debt relief agency because we help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

Skinner & Associates


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