Battisti & Garzo, P.C. is proud to serve the legal needs of the Southern Tier of New York. Our team is here for you when you need assistance with a legal matter. With a prompt and personal response, we are committed to providing you with the legal expertise you need now!
Our Law Firm provides a wide range of legal services:
• Criminal Defense: Felony, Misdemeanor & Violation Level Offenses
• Federal Practice: Criminal and Civil Cases
• Speeding Tickets
• Family Law
• Wills & Estate
• Real Estate
• Landlord / Tenant
• Personal Injury
• Workers' Compensation
After an Accident: When to Use a Lawyer
If you've been in a car or other accident, one of the key questions you will have is: "Do I need a lawyer?" The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the seriousness of the accident and severity of your injuries.
There are times when you may not need a lawyer's help after an accident. If you were in a minor fender bender and are sure you were not hurt, you may not need a lawyer's help.
But for most other times after an accident, it is vital to have a lawyer's help. If there is a dispute over fault, it is important to speak to an attorney. If you suffered serious injuries from the accident, you should definitely consult a lawyer. Even if your injuries are small, you should still talk to a lawyer because some serious injuries take time to develop.
One reason why it's vital to talk to a lawyer after an accident is because of the way insurance companies operate. An accident victim who deals directly with an insurance adjuster is taking on a huge risk. Insurance companies are in business to make money. One way they do this is to lower the amount they pay for claims, including your claim. They will try many tactics to do this, as they know you are inexperienced in handling accident claims. Having a lawyer help you deal with an adjuster gives you a much better chance to get a large settlement.
There are other reasons why you should use a lawyer after an accident. Your lawyer can explain your rights and duties, and tell you how much money you are entitled to receive. In addition, some claims have special rules. Not following them can cause you to lose your claim.
Maybe you are not only the victim, but are also accused of causing an accident. Your lawyer can help show if your "fault" was only small, to limit your liability. Your lawyer can also find out if you have insurance that will pay the claim or if someone else should share the responsibility.
As the above shows, in most cases you should have a lawyer's help after an accident, especially if you were hurt. Having a lawyer's help will increase your chances of getting the best settlement and make sure you don't become another victim of insurance company misconduct.
How soon will the beneficiaries of an Estate receive a distribution from an Executor?
The Executor must make sure that most if not all of the estate expenses and debts of the decedent are paid before any payments to beneficiaries are made. Included in this list are (i) funeral and burial expenses, (ii) income, estate and inheritance estate taxes, (iii)credit card bills, mortgages, and health care bills, and (iv) court fees and attorney fees. Accordingly, the Executor must take care of a great deal of expenses and bills before distributions can be made. We do not want an Executor to make premature payments to beneficiaries and then leave himself or herself short. As a rule of thumb we help the Executor to be in a position to make significant partial distributions to the heirs within seven to nine months of the date of death, and to have final distributions completed within one to two years.
Do I need a Power of Attorney and a Health Care Proxy?
These forms allow you to choose who will handle your financial affairs and health related decisions if you become incapacitated. Each state has its own Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy forms. The forms have a place for your name and address and the name and address of your primary “agent”. We suggest that you also name an alternate “agent” in case the primary agent cannot serve. The Power of Attorney form authorizes the agent to manage your assets, cash checks, pay bills, and sign pertinent forms on your behalf. The Health Care Proxy authorizes the agent to make health care decisions on your behalf, after consulting with your physician, regarding courses of treatment, medications, hospital stays, and the like. You can elect to give the agent the ability to make “life sustaining” treatment decisions. As with your will, we suggest using a lawyer to prepare these forms so that the state specific form provisions and execution requirements are satisfied.
The probate process – the process through which a person named as Executor in a will is authorized by the Surrogate Judge to assume his or her duties. What are some of the duties of an Executor?
The first thing an Executor must do is identify what assets a decedent owned and take steps to protect them. For example, if a decedent owned a house, the Executor should secure the home and protect any valuables located in the home. I suggest that the Executor change the locks on the doors, activate the home security system (if any), and prepare a list and take pictures of the contents of the house. Also, any cars should be taken off the road, locked and put in the garage if possible.
What about a decedent’s bank accounts, investment accounts, stocks and bonds?
The Executor should provide a copy of the Letters Testamentary – the proof of his or her appointment obtained from the Surrogate Court - to each bank and investment company where the decedent had assets. Hopefully, the decedent previously provided the Executor with the list of his or her assets. If not, the Executor will need to look for bank statements, brokerage statements, or even a decedent’s income tax return to locate the accounts. The more information which the decedent had provided to the Executor in advance the better. Once the bank or brokerage company is notified, then the Executor will be the only person who will be permitted to deal with the assets in the decedent’s account. Eventually the Executor will set up a new separate account in the name of the estate to transfer assets into out of which estate bills can be paid and distributions can be made to the beneficiaries named in the decedent’s will . The Executor will need to get certain information from the financial institutions, such as (i) written conformation of the date of death values of the accounts; and (ii) income which is earned from the account both before and after the date of death. This information is needed to complete several forms an Executor must file, including an Inventory of Assets, estate and inheritance tax returns, and final income tax returns for both the decedent and the estate