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Estate Planning Just Can’t Wait

We get it, Estate Planning is scary. Creating what is known as an estate plan is a very important aspect of everyone’s life that they will need to undertake at some point.  Not only will it give you peace of mind, it will allow those you leave behind to know for sure what your final wishes are so they aren’t left guessing in a time of grief and heartache.  Beyond knowing your final wishes, it will also allow your assets to be distributed according to your wishes upon your death. Regardless of how important this process is, significant numbers of people do not have an estate plan, often making excuses about why they don’t need thinks like a will, a power of attorney and a healthcare directive.

One of the biggest excuses people have for not having a plan in place is thinking that they don’t have enough money, assets and prized personal belongings to warrant that kind of planning.  Even if you all you have is the roof over your head and the clothes on your back, you still need a power of attorney or health care directive so that your loved ones are able to make the kinds of healthcare and financial decisions you would want in the event you are unable to do so yourself.

Another excuse people make is the belief that having a joint bank account with your children or others is a good means of transferring that particular asset upon your passing.  The cold hard truth of that is, unless you only have one child you will have a very difficult time separating accounts equally for your children. This can leave hurt feelings amongst your heirs and even more trouble in life if you are incapacitated and unable to manage your finances.

Another reason people don’t have an estate plan is that they believe that it simply costs too much.  The truth of the matter is, nothing is potentially more expensive than dying without a will.  The attorneys at Harmon and Gorove offer a free, no pressure consultation to help clients understand how important and how easy it is to implement a proper estate plan.  Our fees are among the most competitive, at times, even less expensive than online tools you pay for. Furthermore, the filing fees at probate courts are usually minimal and only enough to keep the programs running in the future.  

Finally, most people simply state that they just haven’t gotten around to is and one day they will get it done.  Believe me, we understand. One our own attorneys put off proper estate planning until the death of a loved one prompted them to take action.  It NEVER pays to wait around, especially with something as important as your estate planning. Your estate plan allows loved ones to make decisions with peace of mind, knowing your wishes and desires. It also allows you to distribute your assets in ways that you deem fit, making sure that only those you deem worth inherit your most prized possessions.

Considering the consequences of not having an estate plan for our loved ones should we pass before making these plans should provide more than enough motivation to take the first steps of implementing an effective and meaningful plan. The attorneys at Harmon and Gorove understand how hard it is to make that first step.  We want you to feel comfortable and understand what your options are. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation where we can discuss your estate planning goals.  

Social Media and Divorce

Social media has changed the world in just a few short years.  The first real Social Media sites debuted in 2002 and 2003 with the biggest one of them all, Facebook, debuting in 2004.  Social Media has had a significant role in changing the world we live in and making our lives more connected. Sometimes these social media sites have made our lives better and sometimes they’ve made them much worse.  It allows us to connect to old friends and keep in touch with long distance relatives. Social Media has also had many negative effects. It has led to countless extra-marital affairs, numerous divorces both uncontested and contested.  33% of all divorce filings in 2011 mentioned the word Facebook and certainly the number of divorces has grown by leaps and bounds since then with the advent of even more social media sites and messaging apps.  Without knowing the state of your relationship, we can’t say for sure that social media can be the downfall of your marriage but it most decidedly has the ability to cause substantial problems.  Even an amicable, uncontested divorce can go off the rails when one party of another sees pictures of the other spouse dating someone new, spending money, partying or acting carefree. Divorce, as we all know, is extremely trying on one’s emotions, even for people who feel that’s their only option. Even if someone’s ready to move in with their life, it doesn’t mean that they don’t still have feelings for their soon to be ex.

At one point or another, most couples had some good times and when they see their spouse with their arms wrapped around a date or a new partner, it breaks their heart, quickly turning feelings of sadness into jealousy, anger and spite.

What’s going on in your situation?

Many people ask, “Should I stay off Social Media during my divorce?

The answer depends on your individual situation:

  1. Do you use social media every day for a job or other business purpose?
  2. Is your spouse on social media?
  3. Are your mutual friends and family members on social media

If a post on Social Media that could upset your soon to be ex is likely to be seen by them or shown to them by someone else during the divorce proceeding, it would be in your best interest to stay off social media until your divorce is complete.  If you must use social media, it’s in your best interest to not comment, post or like anything that could upset the other party.

In our experience, it’s best to be cautious and this often means to abstain from Social Media during your divorce. If this sounds too difficult, then don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want your spouse or their attorney to see.

During your divorce, we recommend avoiding the following posts at all costs:

  • Pictures of you partying.
  • Pictures of you drinking alcohol or using drugs.
  • Pictures of an unusual purchase like a new car or a lavish vacation.
  • Pictures of you with what could be construed as “dates” or romantic partners.

And last but certainly not least:

Rants about your spouse or divorce.

Social media can be a lot of fun and a great way to distract yourself from your divorce, but don’t forget to post responsibly. You don’t want to say or do anything that can anger or upset your spouse to the point where a cheap, uncontested divorce turns into a full-blown divorce battle. We say this because it happens all the time to spouses amid divorce, and it’s entirely preventable.

If you find yourself needing the counsel of a competent and compassionate attorney to handle your uncontested divorce, please give us a call today to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.  The attorneys at Harmon and Gorove have decades of experience in handling uncontested divorces in ways that KEEP them uncontested.   

 

Resuming Your Maiden Name after Divorce

Going back to your maiden name after a divorce is a deeply personal choice.  Many people wonder if it’s the right thing to do or not. Truly, it’s up to you. People who decide to return to their maiden name or keep their married name always have a reason as to why.  Here’s some of the common reasons people choose to go back to their maiden name or keep their married name.

REASONS WOMEN GO BACK TO THEIR MAIDEN NAME

Some women choose to return to their maiden name because they like it better. Sometimes it just sounds better on the tongue or when it’s read. Cauthen or Cheever? Williams or Willis? Occasionally the maiden name just looks much better on paper.

Sometimes marriages end poorly.  Whether it just didn’t work out or was physically abusive, many women are eager to return to their maiden names because they don’t want the reminder of a painful past. Even if their maiden name is less appealing, they may be in a hurry to go back to quickly erase all evidence of their abusive spouse from their home.  Sometimes going back to your maiden name is all about freedom and starting anew. Women feel as if going back to their life before their failed marriage will make them feel whole again.

REASONS WOMEN KEEP A MARRIED NAME

Some women who have become mothers choose to retain their married names because they want to have the same last name as their children.  Many may also not want to have to deal with a statements and questions like, “Oh, you’re divorced” or “Why do you have a different last name than Billy or Suzie?” Sometimes, the choice to keep a married name may be made because you are known professionally by that name. For example, if a woman has built her whole career or her brand around her married last name, it may be too costly or risky to make the switch. Finally, the hassle of a name change alone can be the driving force behind staying put for some women, especially if they really don’t mind keeping their married name.  If you’re a woman who’s getting a divorce in Georgia and you wish to go back to your maiden name, the attorneys at Harmon and Gorove can explain how to do that as a part of your divorce before the divorce is finalized. If you need to speak with an attorney regarding the prospect of uncontested divorce please call our office today to schedule a free consultation with our experienced team of lawyers.

 

Using Headphones While Driving

Often, automobile and truck accidents happen because someone was distracted while driving.  Driving while distracted is one of the most significant causes of accidents across the entire world.  This is mostly because there are tons of actions that fall into the distracted driving category. The actions most commonly associated with distracted driving is texting and using electronic devices to transmit data or make phone calls.  However, those are certainly not the only things that can cause distracted driving. Eating behind the wheel, changing the radio station, even reaching down to scratch an itch can distract someone. One of the things that most people don’t think about when it comes to distracted driving is the use of headphones.  People use them for a myriad of reasons but in the State of Georgia, you are not allowed to use any device that impairs your hearing or vision while operating a vehicle. This is spelled out in Ga. Code § 40-6-250. The statute does allow earbuds or headsets that are used for purposes of communicating hands free. Basically, the statute is meant to protect our roads from drivers who can’t hear what is going on around them. For example, drivers should be able to hear other vehicles’ horns in the event of an emergency. Drivers should also be able to hear sirens of approaching emergency vehicles in time to clear the way. There are a variety of instances in which it is imperative that a driver be able to hear their surroundings. Even people on bikes and pedestrians should think twice before traveling with earbuds or headphones that prevent hearing the environment around them. The ability to hear approaching motor vehicles may be the only way to prevent a serious, life-threatening bicycle or pedestrian accident.

Because we deal with victims of serious auto accidents every day, we understand the importance of safety on our streets and highways. It only takes one second of distraction to cause a serious accident that could change lives forever. If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of another person’s negligence in a automobile accident, contact the injury lawyers at Harmon and Gorove today for a free consultation.

 

The pluses and minuses of settling out of court

Settling a personal injury or product liability case can happen a number of ways.  Some of those ways involve a trial, a jury and a courtroom while others do not. An out of court settlement basically states that the involved parties wish to avoid a long and costly trial where the outcome is unknown.  Often times, this happens when both parties and their lawyers (occasionally with the help of a mediator) negotiate a settlement that both parties feel is fair. The specific circumstances of each case is different and the preferences of the parties to the case certainly matter.  However, listening to an experienced personal injury attorney can help you make the decision as to whether you want to take a case to trial or you wish to accept an offer of settlement. Many cases are settled out of court in a fair manner because both parties ultimately accept the facts of the case.  However, we’ve come up with a good list of pros and cons for you to consider when you think about whether you should settle your case or take it to court.

Advantages:

  1. Fewer Costs. The cost of a jury trial can multiply quickly.  Between hiring experts, travel costs and display materials the fees add up fast.  This doesn’t include the higher attorney costs incurred as well. You could also miss a great deal of time away from work and be tied up for months or even years before seeing any real payoff in your case.  You could even end up in a worse financial position than you were in before the trial.
  2. Less Stress. The pressure of taking a case to trial isn’t just on the attorney, it’s also experienced by the client.  This stress can take a serious toll on people. An out of court settlement reduces that stress significantly.
  3. Privacy. Taking a case to court involves a great deal of disclosure and if privacy is a concern of yours, know that trial documents in a case that actually goes to trial are a matter of public record.  If there are potentially embarrassing things that you don’t want made public, you can keep a great deal of that out of the public eye by settling the case out of court.
  4. Finality. A lot of people do not realize that the outcome of a trial can be appealed by the losing party. However, when settling out of court, the final outcome usually can’t be appealed. Additionally, if a case does go to appeal, it will certainly drag the case out over a substantially longer time, which will only lead to more time between you getting the money you deserve and significantly higher legal expenses.

Disadvantages:

  1. Fear of Settling. Occasionally, you just can’t get the satisfaction you want out of settling a case.  This can lead to people being unfulfilled with the settlement for reasons that don’t even involve money.
  2. The Unknown. Perhaps one of the biggest negatives of taking a case all the way to a jury trial is the fact that a group of complete strangers will decide the outcome of your case.  You can NEVER predict a jury and anyone who tells you they can is lying and you shouldn’t hire them. With an experienced attorney they can however more easily predict a settlement.  A good PI attorney has experience in settling and trying cases. As the song, “The Gambler” goes, you gotta know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em. A good PI attorney knows.
  3. Purpose. Each case has its own unique merits and many lawsuits are filed for very personal reasons. Some cases involve circumstances that deserve to be made public for the good of the country as a whole or the challenging of a unjust law. If a case is settled out of court, the awareness of the issue can often go unnoticed.

At Harmon and Gorove, our attorneys have each client’s best interests in mind and will be transparent with advice given. Our lawyers have many years of experience in both trial cases and out of court settlements and will work with you to not only giving you peace of mind during the process, but will also work valiantly in making sure you achieve the justice that you deserve.

 

The Rings, After the Divorce

There are a lot of decisions that have to be made when a couple decides to divorce.  There are marital debts and the division of assets that must be discussed and negotiated.  What do we do with the wedding videos, pictures and other momentos? Do I hold on to the dress? Who gets the dog and who gets the cat?  I want the sofa and you want the bed. One of the things that often gets overlooked is what to do with the rings. The wedding rings hold a great deal of symbolism and quite possibly, monetary value.  

There are lots of options for dealing with now unwanted wedding rings and lots of questions as well.  Does the woman automatically hand her wedding rings back to her soon to be ex considering that he gave it to them.  Do exes keep the rings to give to their children one day when they get married? Do they go down to the nearest pawn shop or jewelry store and ry to get as much monetary value from them as possible.  Honestly, there’s no one right answer. What works for you may not be what someone else does and you have to make your own decision based on your personal feelings.

All things considered, what are my options?

The feelings you have about your wedding rings are very personal.  Some people may look back and remember, “the good times” in the relationship.  Some people, especially those with children may want to hold on to the ring(s) to pass down to children due to sentimental value.  On the other hand, if your marriage was tumultuous, stressful or even abusive, you may have no desire whatsoever to hold on to a reminder of just how tough things were.  

Here are some possible options for what to do with your rings:

  • You can always give the ring back to your spouse.
  • You may save the rings and give them to your children when they decide to get married.
  • You can sell the rings and use the money to make some positive steps like paying off debt, investing in yourself, or buying something special.
  • You can have the ring melted down and used to created a new piece of jewelry.
  • You can sell the rings and donate the money to charity, especially if you were in an abusive relationship.

Even if the rings remind you of a bad marriage, it doesn’t mean you should toss them into the nearest body of water. They’re likely worth some money, so it’s more productive to sell them and use the money for something positive.

If you find your marriage is struggling and you and your spouse have decided to end it, give the attorneys at Harmon and Gorove a call today to discuss how we can help you file an uncontested divorce to end your marriage in an amicable and cost effective way.