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Columbia Family Law Blog

What are the penalties for a Maryland DUI conviction?

It is common for people facing driving under the influence (DUI) charges to believe they have no way to defend themselves. However, as with any criminal charges, those facing allegations of drunk driving still have the right to a criminal defense.

You might believe that accepting a plea deal could make your life easier by helping you avoid court. However, doing so likely means that you will face both serious criminal consequences and a future saddled with a criminal record that could keep you out of the best jobs.

Why you should update your will regularly

Establishing a will is crucial to a strong estate plan, ensuring that your loved ones clearly understand your wishes when the time comes. Unfortunately, many people do not realize that creating a will is only part of protecting your interests. As you experience a number of significant life changes, you may need to amend your will so that it represents your life and the people you wish to include as beneficiaries.

If you choose to create your will and never update it, you may leave behind a legal mess for your beneficiaries and family members to clean up, which commonly leads to conflicts between these parties. Not only does an updated will ensure that your wishes remain protected, it can minimize conflict between the people you love after you are gone.

What’s the best way to fight a traffic ticket in court?

There are times when it makes sense to pay a traffic ticket, as well as situations in which you're better off fighting back. With the right approach, you may be able to prevent the serious consequences often attached to a traffic violation.

There is no surefire way to fight a traffic ticket in court and win, but here are some of the strategies to consider:

  • Dispute the officer's opinion: There are times when officers issue tickets based on their personal opinion. For example, if you're cited for an unsafe turn, you can do your part in proving to the court that the turn was legal and 100 percent safe.
  • Dispute the evidence: Even if the officer has evidence, you may be able to dispute it. The use of diagrams, photographs of the scene and witness statements can help back up your position.
  • Explain that your behavior was necessary: Rather than search for mistakes, you can admit to your actions but explain that your behavior was justified. For instance, if you received a ticket for speeding on the interstate, you can present evidence claiming that it was necessary in order to get away from a distracted driver.
  • Argue that you were trying to prevent an accident: This is similar to the defense strategy above, with presenting evidence that your driving behavior was necessary to prevent an accident. An example includes swerving out of the way to avoid an object on the road. The key to success is to prove that had you not taken action, someone would have suffered an injury.

Use a prenuptial agreement to protect yourself in divorce

When you tie the knot, you don't want to think about anything going wrong in the future. However, it's better to be safe than sorry, as you never know if your marriage could take a turn for the worse.

Creating a prenuptial agreement is the perfect way for both individuals to protect themselves in the event of a divorce. This allows you to do things such as:

  • Protect yourself from debt that your spouse brings into the marriage
  • Protect the inheritance rights of children from another relationship
  • Specify ownership of specific assets

Estate planning can help you avoid federal estate taxes

Estate taxes, also called death taxes by some, only apply to estates of a certain size. There are different limits for the gross value of an estate at both the state and the federal level that impact whether heirs and beneficiaries have to pay taxes out of the estate proceeds.

Understanding state and federal estate taxes can help you determine what planning efforts are necessary for your estate to limit its potential tax liability at the time of your death. The greater the overall value of your estate, the more important planning for the tax implications becomes for your legacy and the people you love.

Who will you name as your health care agent?

Deciding who to name as your health care agent is a big decision, as it could impact you and your loved ones in the future. Fortunately, when you take all the right factors into consideration, it's easier to narrow your list with the idea of making a confident decision that will put your mind at ease.

The first thing you should do is list out anyone and everyone who initially sounds like a good candidate. You'll only choose one person, but it never hurts to start with a large list.

Change in circumstances and your child support obligation

When you first learn of your child support obligation, you may be okay with the idea of making the monthly payment. However, as time goes by, your financial situation could change. If your circumstances no longer allow for you to make your monthly payment in full, it's time to consider your options.

While not always the case, a change in financial circumstances may result in a change to your child support obligation.

Keep the future in mind when asking for a divorce

If the time has come to ask your spouse for a divorce, don't make the mistake of approaching them at a bad time. This is one of the most important and difficult conversations you'll ever have, so you need to prepare accordingly while considering the impact of your approach on the future.

The right approach to asking for divorce can put you on the path to moving through the process in the most efficient way possible. Conversely, if this conversation turns ugly, it could make for more problems than you need in the weeks and months to come.

Negotiating a commercial lease can be more complex than you think

If you are a business looking to change or expand your office or retail space in Columbia, it is important that you approach the process in the right way. As the prospective tenant, the terms of the commercial lease may not be in your favor, and it is important that you understand the terminology as well as the legal implications before you sign anything.

As a tenant, you are effectively the customer in the scenario. Because of this, you have some power over the situation. You can usually afford to take some time and to demand modifications to the lease terms when you think it is appropriate. The following are some complexities that businesses often fail to consider when signing a new commercial lease.

Understanding the benefits of a revocable living trust

With so much to consider, creating a comprehensive estate plan is easier said than done. Even if you have an idea of what you want to accomplish, there's typically more than one way to reach your end goal.

Many people assume that a will is all they need to feel confident in their estate plan. While it's a good place to start, it would be in your best interest to learn more about a revocable living trust.