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Binghamton Law Blog: Covering Topics from Personal Injury to Estate Planning Law

Wills: What are the options for special needs trusts?

People in New York who have special needs children may be unsure of the options available to make sure the children are provided for if the parents should die. Special needs trusts are designed for this purpose and can be set up along with the drafting of wills and other estate planning documents. There are two types of special needs trusts -- one is funded with the beneficiary's own assets, and the other is funded by a parent or other third party.

A self-settled special needs trust is often established when the special needs person is awarded a settlement for injuries that result from a civil lawsuit dealing with the cause of the disability. The trust is typically managed by a trustee and can be used as a supplement to assistance programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). It may also be used for rehabilitation, necessary electronic equipment and more. Any services provided by the government must be paid back with any funds remaining in the trust if the beneficiary dies.

Wrongful death lawsuit may follow bus accident in New York

A tragic collision between two buses occurred in New York early on a recent Monday morning. Reportedly, three people died, and many others were injured. There will likely be wrongful death lawsuits filed in the aftermath of this crash. The accident involved a private tour bus that crashed into an MTA bus.

It was reported that the MTA bus was struck by the tour bus at an intersection, causing the MTA bush to rotate, and the tour bus to smash into a fast food restaurant -- Kennedy Pizza & Chicken. The impact started a small fire in the building. The city bus was occupied by 15 passengers who became trapped in the bus. Hydraulic devices had to be used to extricate the passengers.

Wills -- where do powers of attorney fit into estate planning?

New York families may not be aware of the importance of proper planning before a person becomes unable to handle certain financial and medical aspects of his or her life. Although such circumstances are typically associated with old age, an accident can incapacitate anybody at any time. Along with estate planning documents, such as wills and trusts, two other documents should be included in people's plans to protect their interests in case of such eventualities.

The first one is a power of attorney for health care by which the person drafting the document -- called the principal -- designates a family member or other trusted individual to assume the authority of decision maker for health care issues on behalf of the principal when that person is no longer able to make those decisions. The second is the same type of document that is called a power of attorney for finances. The same or a different person can be chosen to fill the role of decision maker for financial and legal matters on behalf of the principal.

Car accidents: Single-car crash injures driver and 4 passengers

Speed and alcohol have been proved to be a perfect recipe for disaster. These two ingredients have caused numerous New York car accidents that resulted in serious -- and often fatal -- injuries. Officials believe this also to be what led to a recent crash in Queens.

Reportedly, this was a single-vehicle accident that occurred at about 2 a.m. on a recent Saturday. The accident report alleges the 26-year-old driver traveled at a high rate of speed when he lost control and smashed into three other vehicles before slamming into the pole of a traffic light. There were four passengers in the car.

Premises liability suit follows 7-story fall from parking garage

Property owners nationwide, including in New York, must provide reasonable safety to those who visit their premises. If anybody suffers an injury due to the negligence of the landlord or his or her tenant, a premises liability lawsuit may follow. After miraculously surviving a multi-story fall from a parking garage, a woman in another state is seeking over $1 million in damages.

According to court documents, the plaintiff was driving on the seventh floor of the parking garage when -- for unknown reasons -- she drove off the side of the building. The cables that were supposed to prevent a vehicle going over the edge broke, and her car struck the building on the opposite side of the road before landing in an alley below. It is further alleged that building inspectors identified numerous damaged cables in the parking garage.

Unsafe passing maneuvers often lead to car accidents

A family who was recently vacationing in New York wound up in the hospital after a terrible motor vehicle collision. Car accidents are often caused by motorist negligence, as is suspected in this case. An unsafe passing maneuver may have been the leading factor that caused one allegedly fast-moving car to smash head on into another.

Inside the vehicle that was struck was a man and his family, including several young children. He said he immediately noticed the vehicle that shot out from behind another car in the opposite lane and attempted to complete a pass by entering the lane in which he and his family were traveling. The man said he saw the car coming straight for them.

Wills are not required but are often crucial to successful plans

Many New York residents are currently considering executing estate plans. Others would rather have teeth pulled than even talk about the subject. Such hesitance is sometimes related to fear of discussing mortality, but it also often arises when there's confusion regarding estate laws or various documents, such as wills, powers of attorney or trusts.

Some people would rather simply ignore the issue altogether than try to understand what all the different documents are for and how to go about designing a solid estate plan. At the same time, they often want the security of knowing their loved ones will be provided for when they're gone, and also that their own wishes will be carried out if they experience a medical emergency that renders them incapable of acting in their own self interests. Seeking clarification regarding the various types of wills is typically a good place to start if you want to understand the estate planning process and alleviate your fears.

Hospital facing premises liability problem re woman's injury

Many New York residents will be visiting friends or family members in hospitals throughout the state in the near future. Anyone concerned with potential safety risks may want to pay close attention to a premises liability lawsuit filed in another state. The case involves a woman who was severely injured at a hospital when she was trying to exit the building.

The woman reportedly owns a high profile catering business that she says she is no longer able to run due to the injuries she suffered when an automated door at the hospital slammed shut on her and catapulted her to the ground outside the building. The woman is said to have screamed out in excruciating pain, which was likely related to the broken hip she later learned she had endured. The 68-year-old says the incident has ruined her successful career.

Caring for a loved one with a brain injury

It can be devastating to see a loved one, who once functioned in mind and body as most healthy people do, suddenly become completely or partially dependent on others for basic living assistance. For instance, if a traumatic brain injury occurs, simple tasks like brushing hair or feeding oneself may prove impossible without help. Understanding the recovery process of brain injury patients may help New York family members better provide necessary care for their loved ones.

Those who suffer severe brain injuries often remain in unconscious states for extended periods of time, perhaps weeks, even months. Sometimes, a coma may be medically induced to give a person's brain time to heal; other times, comas are directly related to injuries. When a person is in a coma, he or she can often still hear voices and other sounds nearby.

Simplifying complex laws regarding wills and other estate issues

Matters pertaining to estate planning often involve complex legal issues that may be difficult for the typical person to understand. In fact, even with a single category -- wills, for instance -- there may be various types of documents and possible reasons for choosing one over the other that someone well-versed in probate and estate administration would understand and be able to provide effective counsel to help simplify the process. Many people in New York are on the fence as to whether they should execute an estate plan. Others are ready to do so, but unsure where to turn for help.

Where wills are concerned, it often helps to keep things as basic as possible. Determining the most viable options to suit one's immediate needs and ultimate estate planning goals is a logical step to take when deciding what to include in an individual estate plan. It often depends on the priorities of a given situation.

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