Accident, Injury & Settlement Tips – I Want To Fire My Attorney!

A previous article in this series explored what your attorney should be doing for you in a personal injury (PI) case. This article addresses how to deal with an attorney who’s not doing what he’s supposed to do.

It’s always amazed me how some PI attorneys sit on a case. Think about it. PI attorneys are usually paid on a contingent fee – meaning, they get a percentage of whatever they can get for you. Why then would your attorney let your case sit idle? To be sure, the attorney’s overhead expenses aren’t sitting idle.

The answer falls neatly into two categories – either your attorney is too busy, or he’s too lazy. While the former is certainly better than the latter, neither is good for you.

Here’s the steps you should take if you suspect your attorney is too busy or too lazy:

1. Speak to or meet with a top PI attorney in your area to find out what a real attorney would be doing on your case.

These consultations are almost always free.

How do you find the top attorney in your area? Not on TV and not in the Yellow Pages. If you like, you may call me or email me and I’d be glad to help you. The best way to email me is to get your claim value by filling out the 10 questions in the Claim Calculator link below. That will give me both your email address and specific information about your case (amount of property damage, medical bills, wage loss, etc.) I’m able to find, through trial lawyer association list-serves and other means, the top attorneys in every area of the United States. I communicate directly with the attorney about your case particulars, and if he’s willing to meet with you, I connect you with the attorney so you can schedule a time to meet or speak about your case.

How do you know an attorney is one of the best in your area? Simple – he posts his million dollar results right on his website. Attorneys that I help people find are the best – their results speak for themselves. An attorney that doesn’t post their results on their website is not proud of their results. You can rest assured an attorney that has repeatedly recovered over a million dollars for individual clients knows how to successfully handle your file. Successful attorneys also have reputations that insurance companies are aware of. That reputation can make a big difference when the insurance company is deciding whether to settle for a reasonable amount or jerk around your lazy attorney until he persuades you to take a low-ball settlement.

2. Fire him or make him quit?

What happens if you hire him? It varies state by state, so check with the new attorney you meet with. Typically, attorneys are entitled to be compensated for the work they’ve done on the case up till the time you fire him. Usually, this is determined by the number of hours he worked multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate (based on his experience). He must release the file to you (it belongs to you). He may keep a copy of the file, but usually the ethical rules require the copying be done at his expense. The attorney can place a “lien” for the time he spent on your case – which is only paid if and when you get a recovery with your new attorney.

Important: If your new attorney really wants your case (and you ask for it), the new attorney will often pay the old attorney lien out of the new attorney’s 1/3 fee. In other words, switching attorneys won’t cost you anything extra. In fact, for the same 1/3 attorney fee you were always going to pay, you now have a much better attorney who will get you even more compensation for your injuries.

What happens if he quits? If your attorney quits, he can’t claim an attorney lien for the work he has done. If your attorney quits, you don’t have to worry whether your new attorney will agree to absorb the attorney lien within his contingent fee. And the new attorney doesn’t have to worry about fighting the old attorney on an unreasonable attorney lien.

A lazy attorney will usually grow tired of a client who persistently calls the attorney demanding proof the case is moving forward. Frequent calls to the attorney usually do the trick, although it never hurts to “pop by” the attorney’s office and ask to meet with the attorney, or if he’s not available, his paralegal. If no one’s available by phone or in person, insist on a day / time to meet in person. Tell them you’d like to review the entire file. When you do meet (or speak by phone), find out when the attorney intends to file suit. Filing suit forces the insurance company to hire an attorney (i.e. pay money). It also triggers deadlines the insurance company must meet. Without deadlines, the insurance company is happy to keep your money in the stock market – which is really how insurance companies have historically built wealth. That’s why insurance adjusters are trained to delay the claim as long as possible. By repeatedly demanding that your attorney file suit, or withdraw from the case so you can hire an attorney that will, you may be able to get rid of that lazy attorney.

Feel free to contact me (through the free Claim Calculator below) if you have any questions.

Effective Tips For Choosing A Right Bankruptcy Attorney

Nowadays we hear lots of people losing their jobs as unemployment is increasing a lot. We can never say that we will not face the situation as the unexpected happens. We should be ready with the solutions for the life’s most unexpected and complex financial problems.

In case if you are unable to come out of your financial problems, then you can consider bankruptcy filing. But, you should be aware of how to choose an attorney. Choosing an experienced bankruptcy lawyer will make a big difference to your financial situation. Consult the attorney before making a decision as it will impact your financial situation. Search the internet and come to a decision by reviewing all the recommended lists of your state’s bankruptcy lawyers.

Bankruptcy laws exist to give a solution to the person who is overburdened with debt and want to start freshly. These laws change frequently, in order to get most out of these constantly changing laws, a debtor needs a smart and experienced lawyer who deals entirely with bankruptcy. If you are in financial hardship and have a need of attorney, below are few things to take into account while choosing.

Gather a list of bankruptcy attorneys: Call the local bar association, talk with your friends and neighbors who have already taken the help of bankruptcy attorneys for reference, browse the internet to find attorneys in your area. After collecting a list of bankruptcy attorneys, depending on what type of attorney you need – consumer, commercial, business or personal, choose the best bankruptcy attorney. Call the attorneys personally and talk to them, this will help you to narrow down your choices and helps you in choosing the best attorney.

Consult the attorneys personally: Bankruptcy attorneys provide free consultation for first time, if the attorney charges the fee move on to the next attorney in the list, speak with attorney personally and find out how much experience he has and number of cases they have handled successfully. The bankruptcy attorneys should be able to provide detailed information about the bankruptcy from the scratch. If they don’t provide the information confidently for the questions you ask and look unclear, move on to the next attorney.

Find out the amount you have to pay: Ask the attorney about the amount you have to pay fully from beginning to end. Depending on where you live and the type of debt you are in, the bankruptcy attorney will charge you $1,000 to $3,500. While choosing the bankruptcy attorney don’t always choose the cheapest one. Find out which attorney is more qualified and who has good experience. Some bankruptcy attorneys will ask you to pay the fee fully in advance before filing the case. Talk to the attorneys in advance and come to a conclusion.

Options with the attorneys: Discuss all your options with the attorneys, make sure that the attorney you choose is ready to work for you, there are several attorneys who file your case without having interest to take up the case for quick fee. You can find out easily whether the attorney you chose is really interested to take up the case by interviewing the attorney.

Ratings and reviews: Check out the ratings and reviews about the attorney from your friends and internet.

Surely all the above steps will help you to find out good bankruptcy attorney; as a result you will hopefully get out of your debts.

Are Attorneys Above The Law

If you have ever been in the regrettable situation where you need the assistance of a good attorney, then you know how much of a blessing they can be. It is possible that your marriage is falling to pieces, and you have children that your visitation rights you need resolved; or maybe you have been injured in an accident, and need to make assistance making a claim against the party that is at fault. No matter what your need, the right attorney can help make the entire procedure much easier.

Nevertheless, regardless of all the good work many attorneys do, there are a large number of attorneys who operate on the other side of the fence. These are the ones who will rip their clients off, ignore and break the law themselves in order to enrich their own lives.

These same attorneys will use suspicious moral practices to get questionable results, all of which directly affects you.
“Quis Custodes Ipsos Custodiet”, by the poet Juvenal, which means “Who Shall Watch The Watchers Themselves”, is an old Latin saying that sums up this situation perfectly – It is extremely apt in these situations, for if we cannot trust our protectors to actually protect us, what can we do? Who punishes the attorneys when they break the law?

Terrifying Statistics

Even though you may believe that attorneys who break the law are in the minority, the number of incidents that have been brought to the public’s notice is on the rise. Some of the most recent examples of this are:

o In 2001, a total of ELEVEN attorneys in Tennessee were still practicing law, even though there was a list of charges against them which included bank fraud, perjury, and even one attorney who was to blame for his failure to deliver evidence, which caused an innocent man to be kept in prison for four years on a rape charge.

o This year in Warren, Ohio an attorney was charged with fraud, including deceiving an elderly woman out of over $80,000

o Also this year, two attorneys in Boise, Idaho, were convicted of shocking financial dealings relating to real estate purchases at University Place

Yet, in spite of these findings, and the guilty parties acknowledging their criminal behavior, they are still permitted to work and practice law. Why is this, and what can you do about it if it affects you?

The Censure Debacle

While a child is growing up, and if they do something wrong, we as parents would punish them – this is how we have all learned right from wrong. The same in goes in our adult life – we all know that if we break the law, we will get punished. Depending on what it is we have done wrong or accused of, the punishment can vary – from an official warning for something minor, to losing your driving license for a road traffic offense, to spending time in jail embezzlement or something even more serious. There are even times when someone has spent time incarcerated when actually innocent.

However, the same set of laws do not seem to apply to attorneys. When they do something unlawful, as a rule, it does not look as if it affects their job too much, because they are still permitted to practice law. Still yet, if they are punished in a more serious manner, you can bet your bottom dollar it will not be anywhere near as severe as how we would be dealt with for the same crime.

The rationale for this is something attorneys love to fall back on, and that something is censure, a convenient scheme of publicly scolding someone without really doing anything official. Sure, when you hear that an attorney has been “publicly censured”, it might look and sound good on paper, but in fact it is anything but. The only thing that happens is that a public official, or if someone of prominence does receive a warning, it is like being a slapped on the wrist, and told not to be naughty again. Not exactly inductive to making someone alter his or her ways. However, it is not just this that is at fault here.

The Old School Tie Network

When any kind of law is broken, if it goes to court then it is normally attorneys who will work to see that the correct type of penalty is laid down out by the judges. However, if it is an attorney who is on trial (although this in itself can be hard to achieve, thanks to the censure procedure), then you can just about ensure that an old friend or colleague from law school will take their case.

As if that is not bad enough, you will find that the attorney is probably a friend of the judge that is hearing the case, which does not provoke confidence that the case is going to be heard fairly or with impunity. It is this kind of “all for one, one for all” attitude that has seen public faith in attorneys lapse to an unprecedented low, which is a particular embarrassment for the good attorneys that do their job well and look out for the people that matter – their clients.

If you have been a victim of malpractice by an attorney, there are ways that you can bring them to justice, and not just leave them to go the normal route of censure and favors from friends getting them off the hook.

Taking The Law Into Your Hands

One avenue that you can take to see the offending attorney brought to justice is by way of the state governing boards that are supposed to be responsible for attorneys being able to operate in a particular state or county. Unfortunately, this can be a tremendously costly and is usually a very long-drawn out process, which is not always successful, because the attorney can appeal it and generally the accuser is unaware and unable to speak out against them again. While the appeal is going on, they are allowed to continue to practice law…ergo the attorney gets away with it.

Another way you might consider is to use another attorney, which may sound bizarre as you are bringing a case against another attorney. However, just like any job and vocation, there are some exceptional attorneys who would like nothing better than to successfully charge and prosecute someone who is blighting their business and good name in such a negative manner.

If you are unsure of where you should start, there is usually a lawyer referral service in your town or you can go online and do a search with Google, Yahoo or MSN where you will find lists of firms in your city that would be more than willing to take this type of case on.

Another option is to go to the local and national press. People hate to think of those intended to protect our rights as operating in an criminal manner, and they like it even less when it is an attorney who is using the law to further enrich their own way of life. For that reason, you should take all your facts and dates to the press, who would love to chase these lawbreaking attorneys down for you.

No matter what you decide to do, please do not just sit and hope that the attorney will be found out without your help – that is why there are so many bad ones on the loose in the first place.

10 FAQ’s for Attorneys Appointed Under a UK Lasting Power of Attorney

Lasting Powers of Attorney – The role of the ATTORNEY – UK

Have you been asked to be an Attorney and are you wondering what this really means? Are you concerned that you don’t know what to do?

This article explains your role and answers some key questions.

Lets start with what is expected of you as an Attorney.

FAQ’s

1. What does an Attorney have to do?

An Attorney is someone who has the authority to make decisions and act someone’s behalf.

So, you would be expected to make decisions and carry out tasks on behalf of the person who signed the Lasting Power of Attorney.

The following information should give you a good understanding of purpose of an LPA, but first, a little more background.

2. Who can be an Attorney?

Anyone over 18, you can be a friend or relative and people frequently ask their spouse to do it. Normally it is someone they trust and who knows them reasonably well. You can choose a professional attorney who will be paid for their service.

3. When do I actually have to do something? When do I become the attorney?

If the person with the LPA becomes too ill to look after their own affairs, then you as the attorney can start to make decisions and manage their affairs for them.

We call this losing capacity. You lose capacity if you are unable to make decisions.

4. How can I tell if someone has lost capacity?

Often medical staff will be the first to declare that someone has lost capacity. But you should still consider for yourself whether you think that they are able to make a decision. The law gives guidance on decision making:

  • Are they unable to understand information relevant to the decision?
  • Can they retain that information?
  • Can they weight that information as part of the process of making a decision?
  • Can they communicate it (whether by talking, using sign language or any other means)?

It may be that the incapacity is only temporary, but you may still be required to make decisions for them if they are incapacitated for a short time.

There is more information in Part 3 of the Mental Capacity Act Please bear in mind that the reason for the incapacity could be physical or mental, it could be due to accident, illness or for another reason. What is important is whether they are “incapacitated”.

If you are unsure, you must get further advice. Talk to medical professionals who are treating the person who made the LPA.

Please note that it does not matter if the person is making unwise or unexpected decisions, you may not agree with them but that doesn’t mean they lack capacity. Remember, you can only act when they are no longer able to make decisions.

As an attorney you should try to help the person who signed the LPA to make their own decisions if possible.

Useful information on the capacity to make decisions can be found in the Mental Capacity Act Part 3

5. What decisions can I make? What does “manage affairs” mean?

The first thing you should do is look at the LPA document. There are two types and you may be an attorney under one or both types of LPA.

  1. Lasting Power of Attorney – Health and Wellbeing or,
  2. Lasting Power of Attorney – Property and Financial Affairs.

If you are an Attorney under a Health and Wellbeing LPA you may be asked to make decisions about various aspects of the persons personal life. For example, you could be asked to make decisions on what medical treatment they receive or where they are to live, even what they eat and wear. You will only do this if the donor has lost the capacity (ability) to make the decisions for themselves.

If you are and Attorney under a Property and Financial Affairs LPA you can make decisions about money and property, you can pay bills, collect benefits and even sell the persons home for them. You can use authority this at any time, the person making the LPA does not need to have lost capacity.

6. Doesn’t this give me a lot of responsibility?

Yes, it does. You are in a very privileged position to help someone you care for. The LPA gives you the power to access someone else’s money and property and make intimate decisions over their personal lives.

However, you cannot abuse your position. You are legally obliged to always act in the persons Best Interests. This means you can only act on their behalf and you cannot make any decisions that aren’t in their best interests. You must also take reasonable care when making the decisions.

For guidance on what “best interests” means, you should look at Part 4 of the Mental Capacity Act.

Checklist:

  • Has the LPA been properly stamped by the Office of The Public Guardian? The LPA must have been completed and registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before you can do anything as an attorney.

Read through LPA document.

  • Look at any restrictions in the LPA has the person written anything in it? Look at page 6, section 5 of the LPA and make sure you comply with these restrictions. At section 6 the donor may have given the Attorneys guidance. This is does not have to be followed but should give you an idea of what the donor would have wanted if they still had capacity and it may help you decide what is in their best interests.
  • Does the document allow you to make decisions alone or do you have to make them with someone else “jointly”? You must make sure you comply with these directions. If it says “severally” this means that each attorney can act separately to the other attorney(s). Look at the LPA on page 5. You need to make sure that you can communicate with any other attorneys, especially where need to make decisions together.

Are you clear on your role and responsibilities? If not, have a look at chapters 4 and 5 of the Code of Practice of the Mental Capacity Act.

7. What happens if I have to spend my own money?

As a donor you are always entitled to claim your reasonable out-of-pocket expenses that you incur on their behalf. You should always keep a record and receipts for these expenses.

The donor may wish to pay a professional attorney for their services, in which case this will be detailed in the LPA on page 6 at section 7.

8. Do I have to be an Attorney?

No, you don’t. It is always better to tell someone that you don’t want to do it at the time they are making the LPA, so that they can choose someone else. If you withdraw later it can cause many problems and a lot of confusion.

9. Can I operate a bank account for the donor (person who signed the LPA)

Yes, you can if the LPA is a Property or Financial Affairs LPA. Always look at the guidance and restrictions in the document. Also make sure that you only use their money for their best interests.

If you are managing a bank account for someone else and finding the bank is not being helpful, then have a look for the “British Bankers Association Guidance for Consumers”. It gives guidance to you and the bank to help the attorney to access an account. You may wish to take it to the bank to remind them of their role.

10. Can I act on behalf of a parent, child or friend who has completed but not registered the Lasting Power of Attorney?

No, unfortunately it doesn’t matter how much you care for them or how much they would like you to help. It must be registered or you will not have the authority you need to conduct their affairs. In these circumstances you will unfortunately have to apply to the Court of Protection for the authority to act. They have to make a decision who should help and they usually place restrictions on the role of the attorney.

Assigning Power of Attorney (PoA) With Confidence

Incapacity planning, ensuring that there’s a strategy in place if you ever become incapable of managing your affairs, is important.

We all know that. Yet, it’s uncomfortable to think about and therefore easy to put off doing.

A key part of incapacity planning is assigning power of attorney (a legal document giving someone else the right to act on your behalf), but it’s also the biggest hurdle. Giving extra thought to who you choose, and what powers they’ll be granted, can give you the peace of mind to complete your plan with confidence.

Choosing your lawyer

Choosing someone you trust to assign power of attorney is essential. Acting as your attorney involves significant duties and obligations. Your attorney’s overarching duty is to act with honesty, integrity and in good faith for your benefit if you become incapable.

The law lays out specific obligations for the person chosen to hold your power of attorney. Among other things, they will:

  • explain their powers and duties to the incapable person
  • encourage the incapable person, to the best of their abilities, to participate in decisions concerning their property
  • foster regular personal contact between the incapable person and supportive family members and friends, and
  • keep account of all transactions involving the grantor’s property.

The attorney or attorneys you choose to act on your behalf should know these rules, and be aware of other rules set out in the act as well.

For instance, they’re expected to ensure you have a will and, if so, know its provisions. The main reason for this is that your attorney must not sell or transfer property that’s subject to a specific gift in the will, unless necessary.

The act also contains explicit instructions regarding both required and optional expenditures. Examples of the latter include charitable gifts where an incapable person made similar expenditures when capable and so long as sufficient assets are available. Your attorney should also be familiar with rules covering how or when he or she can resign, what compensation they may be entitled to and the standard of care expected of them.

Safeguarding your estate

You can also build a second opinion directly into your power of attorney documents by appointing more than one person. If you name two or more people, they’ll need to act unanimously unless the document states otherwise.

A joint appointment provides a level of protection in that any appointed attorneys must agree on all actions, while a “joint and several” appointment grants flexibility, allowing any one attorney to conduct business independently.

Many people choose to appoint the same people or trust companies to be both their power of attorneys and their executors. Although you don’t need to do so, the same list of key traits – expertise, availability, accountability and trustworthiness – apply to both roles.

It’s also possible to limit the powers granted to your attorney. If you’d like your attorney to act only for a specified time period (maybe a vacation or hospital stay) or in respect of a specific transaction (the closing of a real estate deal), a limited or specific power of attorney is worth considering.

In the case of a general continuing power of attorney, many people want the document to be used only if and when they become incapable of managing their affairs themselves.

Although the document is effective when signed, it is possible to include provisions in the document itself that defers it to a future date or the occurrence of a specified condition (for example, the grantor has a stroke). These are sometimes referred to as “springing” powers of attorney.

Whichever way you prepare your power of attorney documents, careful consideration of who you choose as well as availing yourself of available safeguards will help ensure your confidence in your incapacity plan.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Making a quick decision: Many people name their PoAs without thinking about their choice’s financial capability, much less their ability to get along with other family members.
  2. Assuming family is always the best choice: It’s far more important to choose someone who truly has your client’s best interests at heart.
  3. Waiting too long: If there’s already a question of diminishing capacity, it’s likely too late to make a power of attorney ironclad.
  4. Not reviewing it: Changing life circumstances and new provincial legislation can make an old PoA invalid.

Plan for Incapacity

Your estate plan doesn’t end with an up-to-date will. It should also anticipate possible future incapacity, which usually means preparing powers of attorney for both property and personal care.

Power of attorney, a legal document that gives someone else the right to act on your behalf, has two main types: one for management of property, another for personal care.

Will and estate planners generally advise preparing both types of powers of attorney. While they are often prepared at the same time as your will, they can be created at any time.

Personal care

With a power of attorney for personal care, you can authorize someone to make decisions concerning your personal care in the event that you become incapable of making them yourself.

You can give power of attorney for personal care if you’re at least 16 years old, have “the ability to understand whether the proposed attorney has a genuine concern” for your welfare, and can appreciate that the attorney may need to make decisions.

Personal care includes decisions concerning health care, nutrition, shelter, clothing, hygiene and safety.

Property

A continuing power of attorney for property authorizes someone to do anything regarding your property that you could do if capable, except make a will.

The law says you’re capable of giving a power of attorney for property if you’re at least 18 years of age, know what kind of property you have, along with its rough value, and are aware of any obligations owed to your dependants.

The term “continuing” (sometimes called “enduring”) refers to a power of attorney that may be exercised during the grantor’s subsequent incapacity to manage property. Ensure the document stipulates that you want the power of attorney to be used only if you become incapable.

What you need to know

A continuing power of attorney for property is a powerful document. Unless otherwise stated in the document, it’s effective when signed, granting considerable power.

In fact, the act explicitly requires you to acknowledge this authority can be misused. And, as part of the capacity test for granting a continuing power of attorney, you must also acknowledge the property you own may decline in value if not properly managed.

A financial institution, land titles office or other third party presented with a continuing power of attorney for property with the restriction “effective only in the event of the grantor’s incapacity” will want evidence of the incapacity.

That evidence could be hard to get. One solution is to set out terms of use in a separate document and have all original copies of the power of attorney held by a trusted third party. You could, for example, direct that document be released only if:

  • You tell the attorney you want him or her to start acting;
  • You are legally declared incapable of managing your property;
  • One or more doctors advise that you’d benefit from assistance in managing your affairs; or
  • Certain family members advise the attorney should begin acting.

No direction could be costly

If you fail to prepare power of attorney documents, it may take an application to court before someone can be appointed to make decisions for you. That can leave you scrambling when you’re in no physical shape do so. Having a will doesn’t help because an executor is only authorized to act after you die.

On top of that, court processes can be both costly and time-consuming. Depending on the circumstances, the Public Guardian and Trustee may have to get involved.

You also lose the opportunity to appoint people or companies of your choosing and aren’t able to establish parameters regarding the actions of your substitute decision makers.