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Keep the Skies Clear and the Future Bright
Sky Unlimited Legal Advisory offers you the perfect combination of trusted advisor, problem solver, keeper of secrets and deep listener.
Our attorneys are specifically trained to help you keep more money in your business and personal accounts, watch out for pitfalls, handle sticky situations (ideally before they even get sticky) and effectively tend to the parts of your business that are especially challenging.
At the same time, we work as your trusted advisor who helps you make the very best personal, financial, legal, and business decisions for your family throughout your lifetime.
You always said you wanted someone who could do all “that” stuff - the tasks that you’d rather not handle.
That's precisely where we step in - protecting your business and your family!
Notes from Our Chief Counsel's Desk
And though you may not want to believe such a thing could happen, you need to know that without the right planning in place, even the seniors in your own family could be at risk.
In fact, there are currently 1.5 million American adults under guardianship, with an estimated 85% of them over age 65. All total, these guardians control nearly $273 billion in assets. And a 2010 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found hundreds of cases where guardians were involved in the abuse, exploitation, and neglect of seniors placed under their supervision.
Exploitation disguised as protection
Although most of the reported abuse was committed by family members, an increasing number of elder abuse cases involving professional guardians have recently made the headlines. The New Yorker exposed one of the most shocking accounts of elder abuse by professional guardians, and the abuse suffered by these victims is so horrendous, it’s hard to believe.
The case involved the owner of a Las Vegas guardianship agency, who was indicted on more than 200 felonies for using her guardianship status to swindle more than 150 seniors out of their life savings. The craziest part of this is that many of those seniors had loving and caring family members, who were unable to protect their senior family members.
That case and similar cases of criminal abuse by professional guardians across the country has shed light on a disturbing new phenomenon—individuals who seek guardianship to take control of the lives of vulnerable seniors and use their money and other assets for personal gain.
These predatory guardians search for seniors with a history of health issues, and they’re often able to obtain court-sanctioned guardianship with alarming ease. From there, they can force the elderly out of their homes and into assisted-living facilities and nursing homes. They can sell off their homes and other assets, keeping the proceeds for themselves. They can prevent them from seeing or speaking with their family members, leaving them isolated and even more vulnerable to exploitation.
Additionally, many services that were not available in the past, including do-it-yourself (DIY) legal forms also exist. As a result, it is tempting to think that the forms provided by these DIY services can be a low-cost substitute for the services of an attorney. The reality is business owners need to be aware that using these one-size-fits-all forms may end up costing your business much more than they save. We know that it may seem self-serving for an attorney to warn of the dangers of using DIY legal forms, but the risks are genuine, and we want you to make an informed decision when weighing your options.
Several years ago, Consumer Report® magazine evaluated the services offered by these DIY legal sites. They first created several types of legal documents using their online forms and then asked three law professors specializing in business, consumer, and estate planning law, to evaluate the documents created. The professors found that the documents were inadequate to meet the needs of most individuals. Furthermore, they were frequently not specific enough to address each user’s unique circumstances and needs or contained language that could lead to unintended results. The results should act as a wake-up call for anyone considering using these services.
Estate planning, in particular, is one arena where these new rights and benefits are readily apparent.
With marriage equality, same-gender couples no longer have to pay exorbitant amounts of money for creative estate-planning work-arounds just to achieve similar protections offered to opposite-gender couples. Yet same-gender couples continue to face unique planning challenges.
Because you may have family members who remain opposed to the validity of your marriage, same-gender couples’ estate plans are often more vulnerable to dispute and even sabotage by unsupportive relatives. This could mean that family members are more likely to contest your wishes, or it might entail custody battles over non-biological children in the event of the biological parent’s death.
Unsupportive family members may even try to block the ability of your spouse to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated by accident or illness.
While the planning vehicles available to same-gender and opposite-gender married couples are generally the same, there are a few unique considerations those in same-gender marriages ought to be aware of.
Here are three of the most important things to keep in mind.
If you haven’t read it yet, you can do so here. Here in part two, we discuss the final three steps in the process.
4. Narrow candidate list, and rank your choices
When you’ve come up with all of the potential candidates for guardian, narrow down the list to your top five people. There’s no guarantee that your ideal candidate(s) will be willing to serve as guardian, so having more than one or two is a practical necessity.
To aide in this process, you should consider things, such as who really loves your children and who do your kids really get along with? Will this person be physically, mentally, and emotionally able to raise your kids to adulthood? The most important thing is to choose SOMEONE, even if you aren’t 100% sure about them, since you can always select a new guardian later.
Then rank your choices from top choice down to last. Again, backups are critical in case your first choice cannot serve.
In many of these states, ban-the-box statutes apply only to public employers, but 13 states (including some of the most highly populated, such as California and Illinois) and 18 municipalities and counties have applied them to most or all private employers as well. These laws have gained substantial bipartisan support, and more states and localities (and possibly the federal government) will likely enact ban-the-box statutes in the coming months and years. As a result, employers need to understand what these laws require—and what they do not.
What Is Required?
Ban-the-box laws prevent employers from including questions about a prospective employee’s criminal history on their initial employment application. The idea is to prevent applicants from being automatically eliminated from consideration by employers early in the screening process. Delaying questions about criminal history increases the chances that employers will consider all relevant factors. Some factors include the amount of time that has passed since the applicant’s conviction, whether the conviction was for a crime that could be related to the applicant’s potential job duties, and whether there is evidence of mitigating circumstances or rehabilitation. The precise requirements of these laws vary, with some allowing employers to inquire about criminal history after an initial interview and others only permitting the inquiry after a conditional job offer has been extended.