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

Wills and trusts can show you care for those you leave behind

While some New York residents choose to show their love on Valentine's Day with roses and chocolates, estate planning advisers suggest different ways to express their care for those who will be left behind after their deaths. Establishing wills and trusts, if done with care, can save loved ones having to figure out what the deceased person's wishes were. Death can occur at any time, as underscored by the recent death of Kobe Bryant, and it is never too early to attend to estate planning.

Regardless of the size of a person's estate, a will can formalize his or her wishes. Along with a will, a living trust can be established to avoid the government taking a significant chunk of the estate through probate. Advisers note that death is not the only matter to consider. An accident or illness could cause incapacitation, and designating powers of attorney before that happens is crucial.

Car accidents: The type of crash will determine the injury type

According to an analysis of data collected by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, head-on collisions cause more than half of all traffic fatalities. When it comes to injuries, rollover car accidents nationwide, including in New York, are the most dangerous type of crash. IIHS says the kind of accident usually determines the type of injuries that vehicle occupants will suffer.

Accidents are classified as head-on, rollover, side-impact or T-bone and rear-end accidents. However, they note that many rollovers occur as the result of side-impact or head-on collisions. Data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2004 show that rollover crashes involving passenger vehicles caused incapacitating injuries to about 12% of the occupants and less severe injuries to 46%. Furthermore, approximately 4% of the injured people were ejected as the vehicles rolled over.

5-year-old's injuries lead to medical malpractice claim

Health care providers in New York and across the country have rules by which they care and treat patients, known as the standard of care. Claims of medical malpractice or negligence are typically based upon al alleged breach of that standard. If a substandard level of care caused harm to patients, medical care providers might be held responsible.

A dentist in another state is facing medical negligence claims that arose during the treatment of a 5-year-old girl. Reportedly, the child's parents took her to the dentist and she was anesthetized for dental treatment. According to the complaint, the dentist used a piece of equipment to smooth the child's teeth, and it is alleged that this process caused a spark that ultimately left the girl with serious burn injuries.

After brain injury the victim's life might never be normal again

Recovering and getting back to normal are the primary goals for most people who were victims of accidents of any kind. Recovering damages is also typically the reason for civil lawsuits filed in New York by victims of the negligence of others. After all, paying for the best medical care and getting back to work is usually what people need to get their lives back on track. Unfortunately, a traumatic brain injury might prevent a victim from ever living life as he or she did before the accident.

The impact on a person's life depends on which part of the brain was damaged. Many TBI victims can still walk, move about and even drive their cars, but these activities often hide other not-so-obvious injuries. Cognitive damage affects the person's basic thinking skills like concentration, attention and short-term memory. This typically creates problems in remembering recent events and new information.

Wills and trusts to provide for a special needs child

According to financial advisers, the sooner parents in New York and elsewhere learn about the special needs of their child, the sooner they can start planning to ensure the child's financial future is protected. Too many parents think this matter can be addressed in their wills. However, they may not realize that inheritance to cover the child's unique needs might disqualify the child from receiving government grants and benefits.

Parents should study their health insurance to learn the level of medical care coverage the special needs child would have. Knowing what the health insurance would cover can help the parents to plan for coverage of other areas. Also, the child would likely only be covered until age 26, and provision must be made for when the child no longer qualifies for coverage under the insurance of the parents.

Wrongful death claim might follow fatal single-vehicle crash

The New York State Police reported the death of a teenager on a recent Friday evening. The accident happened in the Town of Erin at approximately 8:30 p.m. A preliminary crash report indicates that the 17-year-old girl was one of five occupants of a car that crashed when it left the road. A wrongful death claim may follow the tragic single-car accident.

Reportedly, another 17-year-old girl was driving a car that was heading west on a county road. For reasons not determined yet, she failed to maintain control of the vehicle. The vehicle crashed into some trees after going off the north side of the roadway. An ambulance transported the driver and another 17-year-old passenger to a hospital.

Medical malpractice: TV chat show producers sued by guest

"The Doctors" is a TV chat show during which a panel of medical professionals and an audience interact to discuss topics related to health and illness. The show's producers are facing a negligence lawsuit after arranging for a plastic surgeon with several medical malpractice claims against him to perform surgery on a guest of the show. New York residents might know Jenelle Butler as an influencer with many social media followers, a successful fitness business, corporate partnerships and an established clothing line.

Reportedly, she publicly admitted to making a dumb decision in 2010 to get butt implants, announcing her intention to have the implants removed. When the producers of "The Doctors" learned about her plans, they invited her to appear on the show, at which time they announced an offer to arrange for the corrective surgery to be performed free of charge. Although Jenelle Butler preferred having the procedure done by a surgeon with whom she had consulted, the producers indicated the proposal was only valid if done by a surgeon chosen by the production company, a condition to which she reluctantly agreed after considering the reputation of the show.

3 often-forgotten things that could be added to wills

Estate planning is something that many people in New York and elsewhere push to the back burner. However, even those who have their wills in place might have addressed property, money and children, but overlooked some things that could be included in their wills. Pet guardianship, digital assets and charitable contributions are all important concerns that can be addressed in a last will and testament. 

Digital assets and internet sites in general are often overlooked when it comes to estate planning. Appointing a digital executor makes sense for anyone with assets that are accessed online. That individual could attend to distributing the assets in accordance with the terms of the will. He or she could also close social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube as well as other online accounts. The digital typically attends to the distribution of digital assets and to closing all online accounts of the decedent.

Car accidents: 2 back seat passengers die when car strikes tree

Troopers in upstate New York say the investigation into the cause of a fatal crash that killed two teenagers is ongoing. Losing teenagers in car accidents is especially traumatic. Reportedly this accident occurred on Route 18 in Jefferson County shortly after midnight on a recent Tuesday.

According to a preliminary crash report, four people were in a sedan heading south in the early morning hours when the driver failed to maintain control of the vehicle. The car veered off the road and smashed into a tree. Two teenagers, ages 17 and 16, who were in the backseat were ejected from the vehicle during the crash. Both of them died at the accident scene.

How will the Secure Act affect wills and trusts?

The Secure Act was signed into law on Dec. 20. It offers expanded rules and incentives that aim to benefit part-time employees, and it will enable the owners of small firms easier ways to provide retirement plans to workers. The signing of this Act also affects the way people in New York and across the country deal with wills, trusts and other estate planning concerns.

In the past, qualified retirement account beneficiaries were allowed to withdraw funds out of 401(k) plans and other retirement accounts as they wished. Many people chose to do this over their remaining lifetimes. However, under the Secure Act, beneficiaries have only 10 years in which to withdraw all the funds from the retirement account. How they distribute the withdrawals is up to them, as long as the balance of the account is zero at the end of the 10 years.

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