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Leominster Legal Issues Blog

Why you should include an advance directive in your estate plan

No matter at what point you are in your life, planning for the future is necessary. If you are starting a family or your career is just taking off, it is time to think about what tomorrow will bring. Estate planning is something that you should start early and continuously update as things change. For example, you should update your will each time you have another child. Another part of estate planning that may be necessary is creating a health care proxy.

Since accidents can happen to anyone at any time, it is imperative to have a health care proxy in place. This document will specify your wishes regarding medical treatment if you should become incapacitated at any time. Read further to find out why you should establish a health care proxy sooner rather than later.

Preparing for divorce

Even in the most amicable of situations, divorce in Massachusetts is hard in a variety of ways. Not only are couples affected financially, but there are also social and mental consequences that accompany the process. Those who are prepared before filing will have a better outcome and recover quicker than those who stick their head in the sand.

According to the Huffington Post, being aware of assets and the spouse's financial situation is important to prepare for the process. Getting appraisals for not only big assets such as the house and vehicles, but also for artwork, jewelry, stamp collections and other assets, will assist each party in getting their fair share when it comes to dividing up property. When tracking a spouse's income, it is a smart idea to look at loan and credit card applications, as income amounts are often reported more truthfully.

West Brookfield car crash claims the lives of three teens

Teens may tend to hit the road for the first time in Leominster convinced that their driving skills are already on par with those of any other motorist. Sadly, this can often lead them to engage in potentially reckless behavior while on the road. It is only experience that will help them get to the point of fully comprehending the subtle nuances it requires to safely handle a vehicle at all times. Yet unfortunately, if their inexperience does allow them to drive recklessly, they might never get the chance to gain that experience. 

Three teens from West Brookfield will never get that chance after their lives were tragically cut short in the single car crash in Worcester County. The car that the three were traveling in reportedly hit a tree and rolled over after the leaving the road. All three were pronounced dead at the scene. 

Child support modifications

Divorced parents in Massachusetts may encounter life changes during the course of taking care of their children. When this occurs, one or both sides may seek modifications to a current child support agreement depending on the specific circumstances.

According to FindLaw, child support payments cover a number of essential and nonessential items the child requires up to a certain age. Monetary support covers shelter, food, clothing, basic education and health insurance. Support may also include:

  • Unexpected medical expenses
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Expenses related to child care 
  • Travel costs associated with visitation

Domestic violence and divorce

Domestic violence in Massachusetts is a serious problem, and women who experience abuse in their marriage need to make an escape plan. Preparing for safety is priority number one, especially if there are children involved. However, women also need to plan in other ways, such as financially, as going through a divorce can be challenging even in the best circumstances.

According to Forbes, domestic violence can occur in all age groups, income levels and social classes. It states that around 33 percent of women have been physically abused by their partner, and that every nine seconds a woman is beaten. Divorce can escalate hostility and anger and, as a result, some violence begins during the separation process or divorce proceedings. Although it is not always the case, men who are abusive are often very controlling, which can cause additional issues during divorce. Abused women may find they experience economic hardship due to the husband cutting off access to marital funds, purposely ruining the women's credit or putting all major assets into her or his name.

Potential causes of dispute in workers' compensation claims

The filing of workers' compensation claims has the potential to sour even a perfectly cordial professional relationship. Many of the disputes in Massachusetts regarding such claims arise when trust breaks down between the two parties. These suspicions are often compounded as medical costs rise, when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration begins an investigation or when the following factors come into the discussion:

  • Permanent disability compensation
  • Lost wages due to injury
  • Occupational disease

Employers have a legal responsibility to provide a safe work environment for their employees. Failure to comply with state and federal regulations may result in not only diminished productivity due to workplace injury accident, but also a costly audit by the government. As illustrated on the Department of Labor's online data resource, discovery of an OSHA violation, or set of violations, might result in high initial penalties. Workers typically initiate these investigations by submitting a formal request to the appropriate office. Fees are issued in addition to costs associated with legal proceedings, such as court fees or damages paid to injured workers filing civil action, and often start at around $40,000 for serious incidents. 

Estate planning is something to handle early in life

Far too many people think that estate planning is something for you to worry about when you retire. Doing that can prove to be a major mistake. While everyone hopes to live a long and healthy life, you never know when an accident or sudden medical event could leave you incapacitated or even dead. Estate planning now can protect the people you love, as well as your assets and medical preferences, if your life takes an unexpected turn.

Generally speaking, if you have dependents (a spouse or children), a home or a lucrative career, it's time to think about estate planning. Creating an estate plan that outlines your medical wishes about issues like life support or organ donation, as well as the division and allocation of your assets early in life, provides you with peace of mind and your loved ones with more security.

What is separate support?

Married individuals in Massachusetts who feel their spouse is not supporting them appropriately may want to file for separate support. While legal separation is not an option in the state, separate support is one way to decide on similar issues as one would in a divorce without terminating the marriage.

According to the Massachusetts Court System, there are a number of reasons why one would file for separate support. These include:

  • The filing spouse was deserted
  • The couple is living together but the filing party does not feel the other spouse is providing suitable support
  • The couple is living apart for justifiable reasons
  • The couple is living together but should be living apart for justifiable reasons

New laws let you refuse the use of opioid medication

Imagine you suffer from a severe stroke, and you can't make medical decisions for yourself. Your designated health care proxy, or your spouse, will have the right to step in and advise your doctor how to care for you. But what if your doctor prescribed an opioid and your proxy wasn't there to approve it? The doctor would administer the prescription anyway.

A new law from last year -- supported by Gov. Charlie Baker -- gives patients the right to say "no" to opioids, even if they're incapacitated.

Changing career paths after a car crash

People often realize some of the immediate consequences of a motor vehicle crash, such as injuries and even the loss of life. Moreover, many people understand the emotional and financial consequences of a wreck, from hospital bills to mental trauma. However, our law firm knows that traffic accidents carry a wide range of consequences for victims, some of which do not receive as much attention. For example, if you have been hurt in a car accident, you may not be able to work in your occupation any longer.

There are many reasons why motor vehicle collisions can leave victims unable to work again. For starters, a serious injury may prevent someone from being able to walk, bend over, carry large objects, or perform other tasks that are necessary at work. Additionally, someone whose job responsibilities involve driving, such as a truck driver or taxi driver, may find that they cannot get behind the wheel due to flashbacks or other mental consequences following a collision.

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