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

Considerations before appointing a spouse or child as a trustee

When someone in Upstate New York decides to fund a revocable trust as a part of estate planning, determining whom to appoint as the trustee would require careful consideration. The testator would want to know that his or her plans would be carried out as wished. A trustee could be a spouse, child or another family member, or the choice might fall on a professional person such as an attorney.

The duties of a trustee include, among others, impartiality between beneficiaries, making prudent investments of trust funds and providing relevant accounting to all the beneficiaries. Therefore, choosing a family member would require considering the weaknesses and strengths of potential trustees. When a spouse or a child is chosen, a testator should consider whether that person will have the necessary time to serve and carry out a trustee's duties?

Fatal car accidents may result from careless driving

A man has sadly lost his life in a wrong-way motor vehicle collision in New York. Meanwhile, another person was seriously injured in the two-car collision. Sometimes, wrong-way car accidents happen due to a driver's negligence, which is grounds for civil litigation.

The recent accident took place at about 7:30 p.m. on a recent Friday. According to police, two motor vehicles were driving along a highway on Long Island before colliding. A man, 44, who was driving one of the motor vehicles ended up passing away in the collision.

Wrongful death: Woman steps onto street, killed by cement truck

Most people know the importance of paying very close attention to their surroundings while walking on roads. However, even residents of large urban areas with years of experience sharing space with all kinds of motorized vehicles can be caught off guard and end up seriously injured or killed. Sadly, such was the case when a woman stepped off a curb in New York City and was hit and killed by a cement truck. Her family may now be suing for wrongful death.

The horrific incident happened on a recent Monday morning. According to police, a 34-year-old woman stepped out from between two parked cars and onto a city street. A cement truck was traveling down the street at the time and struck her. Reportedly, she was killed instantly. A witness has said the truck appeared to be traveling at a high speed when the crash happened.

Winter weather and premises liability

As New York residents usher in the holiday season, it may be wise to think ahead and use a little strategy to stay safe and organized. While certainly, people may be looking forward to special dinners, gathering with friends or family, or even watching a favorite movie, it is important to be aware of potential problems or dangers. During the winter months, there are often special circumstances, like bad weather, to plan for. If a person is injured, he or she may wonder if there is an appropriate cause to file a premises liability claim. 

One of the most common types of winter injury is the slip and fall. Darkness falls in the early evening, making it even more difficult to spot potential hazards. Slick surfaces may not be apparent, and when a victim loses his or her footing, a serious injury may occur. 

Researchers aim to help victims of brain injury

New York residents are gearing up for the winter months. For people with sensory issues, like persons who have suffered a serious brain injury, things may be extra difficult. Victims who struggle with balance, a common problem following a brain injury, may have a particularly difficult time navigating in longer periods of darkness, slick surfaces, and even holiday lights and loud music. 

Despite the commonality of balance issues following a brain injury, experts say very little research has been done to develop new therapeutic treatments that might help a victim regain some of their sensory control. A group of researchers gathered a group comprised of volunteers with and without a brain injury. They began by having the participants simply stand upright, and measured how much each person's body swayed with sensors. 

Wills: Begin estate planning early for peace of mind

Most New York residents recognize the importance of preparing end-of-life documents, but some may not know the steps they need to take to get started with estate planning. People who take the time to work through this process, including the preparation of wills, trusts and other legal documents, ensure that their loved ones will know how their affairs should be handled after their death. Following these steps earlier in life can ease a person's mind and make the process run smoothly.

People can begin by making a list of everything they own, including not only tangible items such as a home but also intangible assets like savings and investment accounts. Many people initiate estate planning as a way to be sure their family is taken care of in the event of their death. These people are wise to look into a life insurance policy that would help their surviving loved ones cover daily expenses and perhaps also future costs, such as college tuition. The difficult task of dividing up a deceased person's belongings can be made easier if a will exists that clearly indicates beneficiaries, in other words, who gets what. 

Winter weather requires extra care to avoid car accidents

Regardless of how many winters drivers in upstate New York have navigated snow and ice-covered roads, extra care is necessary as each winter comes around. Complacency causes many car accidents, often with devastating consequences. Safety authorities recommend specific tips to avoid crashes in extreme weather conditions.

The first steps for vehicle owners are to check windshield wipers, fill-up the washer fluid container and ensure that tire treads are safe. Authorities also recommend that cars are equipped with shovels, jumper cables, flares, ice scrapers and ropes. Additional emergency supplies include extra sets of warm clothes, blankets, flashlights and portable radios. Informing a responsible person the details of the planned route, destination and estimated arrival time is a good idea.

National initiative to reduce pedestrian vs. car accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration leads the National Pedestrian Safety Month during October. However, the New York Department of Transportation and other agencies are already collaborating on a commitment to improving pedestrian safety. Their focus is on Long Island and upstate New York, and the plan was initiated in 2016, with plans to continue it through 2021.

New York car accidents: Man injured in head-on crash

A vehicle may suddenly cross over into oncoming traffic for a variety of reasons: driver distraction, fatigue, impairment or even mechanical failure. Sometimes, such incidents result from circumstances out of a driver's control, but often, the human behind the wheel holds the responsibility. In any case, car accidents involving a head-on collision typically do not end well, as was the case in a recent New York crash that left a man with a head injury.

The collision happened late on a Wednesday afternoon on County Highway 21 in Franklin. According to investigators, a southbound vehicle crossed the center line and collided head-on with a northbound vehicle. The vehicle that was hit then rolled over several times. Both drivers were taken to different hospitals for treatment of injuries. Reportedly, the driver of the vehicle that caused the crash, a 50-year-old Walton man, was treated for a possible head injury, and the 62-year-old man driving the other vehicle suffered a head injury.

Wills and trusts can be established upon reaching legal adulthood

People nationwide, including New York, may think that estate planning need not be considered until they are middle-aged. However, the best time to draft wills, trusts and other documents is as soon as they are legally regarded as adults after turning 18. Estate planning is not only for people with significant assets. Having a job and a vehicle might only be the start, with marriage, children and buying a home in the foreseeable future. Life is unpredictable, and having estate plans in place can provide peace of mind.

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