Do It Yourself Wills

By: Terry Bennett

Ms. X used an online legal form service to write her own will. She inventoried all of her property and left everything she owed to her sister. She also stated that she left all the listed property to her brother if her sister died before her. There wlast will and testamentas no “residuary clause” in the will. Ms. X’s sister predeceased her and after that Ms. X inherited a large estate from her sister. The property she inherited from her sister was not mentioned in the will. Ms. X then wrote a note that she put with the will stating that she wanted all of her possessions to go to her brother. Unfortunately, this handwritten note did not meet the requirements of a valid will.

Ms. X passed away and her two nieces challenged the will. They argued that everything Ms. X inherited from her sister should go to them because Ms. X’s will only talks about her possessions going to her brother prior to the time she had inherited a large estate from her sister. The Court ruled in the nieces’ favor.

The Florida Supreme Court went on to say that the cost of drafting a will with the use of a pre-printed form is likely cheaper than the cost of hiring a knowledgeable lawyer. The Court continued to say that unfortunately the ultimate cost of utilizing such a form can potentially be devastating and far exceed the cost of hiring a lawyer originally. The expense of litigation, having the estate tied up for years, as well as the fact that your property did not pass to whom you wanted it to, is very costly indeed. The attorneys at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Pike recommend you get legal advice when it comes to writing your will.

 

 

Attorney Terry Bennett

Terry joined the practice in 1974. His areas of focus include personal injury law, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, business law, corporations, and adoptions. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals 6th Circuit, United States District Court Western District of Kentucky, United States Court of Military Appeals, and all Kentucky courts.

A Hardin County native and former Army office in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps, Terry graduated from William and Mary in Virginia with an undergraduate degree in government. He received his Juris Doctorate from Wake Forest Law School in Winston Salem, North Carolina, where he graduated with honors.

Buyer Beware: Flood-Damaged Cars in Kentucky

With an intense hurricane season behind us and rainy, cold months before us, car buyers in Kentucky are cautioned to do their homework regarding flood-damaged vehicles.

In the state of Kentucky, it is fairly easy to procure a “rebuilt title” for a flood-damaged car. This means that a car deemed a total loss in another state can be rebuilt and sold in Kentucky, normally at a lower cost.

“‘There’s been estimates that between Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma there could be between 500,000 and one million vehicles that were totally destroyed,’” said Andrea Clifford, spokesperson for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (via WDRB-Louisville).

Of those vehicles, the ones that end up in Kentucky are likely to be rebuilt and sold on the market. Because salvage titles are so easy to obtain for sellers in Kentucky, it becomes a buyer beware situation regarding any hidden damage still remaining at the time of the transaction.

According to the Vehicle Titling page at Ky.gov, there are a few considerations one should make when considering purchasing a vehicle with a rebuilt title.

First, research the extent of damage of the vehicle by obtaining a vehicle history report and having a mechanic perform a thorough inspection of the car. Second, understand you may have trouble getting a loan for a car with a salvage title. Thirdly, be aware that buyers caught driving a car formerly deemed a “total loss” in the same state may have the vehicle confiscated. And fourth, the site cautions that rebuilt titles cannot be sold to a good portion of consumers in other states.

 

Dustin

Dustin joined the SBW&P team in 2010, coming to us from one of the oldest firms in Cincinnati. He earned his undergraduate degree from Bellarmine University, summa cum laude, and his law degree from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, where he graduated cum laude. Dustin’s law practice includes personal injury law, medical malpractice law, business law including corporations, LLCs and business planning, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, employment law, and family law.

Medical Review Mayhem: What you need to know about filing for medical malpractice

Are you considering filing a lawsuit for medical malpractice?

On Monday, Oct. 30, a Kentucky judge struck down a recently enacted law that requires lawsuits for medical malpractice to be screened by a medical review panel before the case makes it to court.

Normally, a lawsuit begins by an attorney filing a complaint with a court.  However, under the medical review panel law, an extra step was required.  The case had to first be reviewed by a medical review panel that would opine on whether a breach of the duty of care occurred and whether the breach was a “substantial factor” in causing harm to the patient.

From the beginning, the law’s constitutionality was debated.  Kentucky’s Constitution protects a person’s right to a trial by jury and opponents of the law said it infringed on this sacred right.

Judge Phillip Shepherd of the Franklin Circuit Judge settled the debate, for now, by ruling on Monday that the law was unconstitutional.  Shepherd’s order said that the law restricted a person’s constitutional right to go proceed to court, seeking “remedy by due course of law”.

The decision dismissed the idea that the review panels would curb nonsensical lawsuits, calling them instead “unnecessary obstacles for all medical malpractice claimants”.

Governor Bevin’s administration plans to appeal Shepherd’s decision, so the debate on medical review panels is far from over.

Go here for more information.

Q & A: Understanding Contract for Deed

By: Dustin Humphreyindex

If you are a landowner, understanding the difference between a contract for deed and a regular mortgage sale is vital – especially in the state of Kentucky. Far too many times, our office sees clients that misunderstand a contract for deed, which can cost landowners quite a bit of money. The attorneys at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Pike don’t want this to be you.

Read the following Q&A to learn how you can avoid this costly mistake.

Q: What is a mortgage sale?
A: A mortgage sale is the most common type of land sale, in which the buyer borrows money from a lender to pay the seller for the property all at once. This allows them to get the deed at the time of the sale, followed by the buyer paying back the loan over a number of years. A mortgage is taken by the lender to secure payment of the loan.

Q: What is contract for deed?
A: Unlike a mortgage sale, a contract for deed, or a land contract, does not require the buyer to pay all at once; rather he or she makes payment on the property. This is the classic “rent to own” scenario. Once all payments have been made, the buyer owns the property.

Q: What is the main drawback of entering a land contract?
A: Issues mainly arise when the buyer is unable to keep up with their payments.

Q: As a landowner, how do I evict someone who has gotten behind on his or her payments?
A: This is where our attorneys see the biggest mistake. Put simply: You can’t evict the buyer under a land contract. The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that a default on a land contract must be treated like a default on a mortgage debt. In other words, the owner must file a foreclosure action and the property will be sold at a judicial auction. This is a time consuming and costly process. Often, our attorneys find that owners selling by land contract are shocked to find they cannot evict and must foreclose.

In conclusion, if you enter a contract for deed with a buyer, remember that he or she is not considered a “renter” that can simply be evicted in the case they stop making payments. The law says that a person buying a property on contract for deed acquires a legal interest in the property that can only be terminated through the foreclosure process. An eviction proceeding is a quick, summary process whereas a foreclosure is an expensive civil lawsuit filed in circuit court that can last from 6 months to a year and results in the property being sold at a judicial sale.

Make sure you understand contract for deed if you are landowner. Failing to do so can be an expensive mistake to make!

 

 

Dustin

Dustin joined the SBW&P team in 2010, coming to us from one of the oldest firms in Cincinnati. He earned his undergraduate degree from Bellarmine University, summa cum laude, and his law degree from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, where he graduated cum laude. Dustin’s law practice includes personal injury law, medical malpractice law, business law including corporations, LLCs and business planning, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, employment law, and family law.

Selling a Haunted House

Haunted-HouseBy: Terry Bennett

Would you consider buying a home that was thought to be haunted? What about a home where a murder occurred? Properties like these are called stigmatized properties. A stigmatized property could be a house thought to be haunted, a house where a murder, suicide or violent crime occurred, or a house infected with a contagious disease. Does such a stigma constitute a defect in the property that should be disclosed to a potential buyer? In Kentucky there is no specific law concerning whether sellers need to disclose what makes a property a stigmatized property. Other states have responded differently.

Several states have created specific statutes adding “stigmatized property” verbiage to their statutes. Those jurisdictions usually recognize several forms of stigmatized property. One stigma is called a criminal stigma where the house may have been used as a brothel, meth house, or crack house. Of the jurisdictions that require full disclosure, all of the jurisdictions require full disclosure of a criminal stigma. Some jurisdictions require sellers to reveal if a murder or suicide has occurred on the premises. California law requires disclosure if the event occurred within three years. Some state even require a potentially haunted house to be disclosed a buyer. When disclosure is mandated, the statutes vary as to whether the full facts surrounding the stigma or only specific facts should be disclosed.

To complicate matters further, even if the law does not require disclosure by the seller, the code of ethics governing the realtor may require that the realtor reveal the stigma if the realtor knows about it and believes it will affect the value of the property.

As a seller, you may want to decide whether a murder, suicide, violent crime, ghost, or contagious disease has created a stigma and a potential defect on your property. It may be better to disclose it up front than to close the sale and the buyer find out later about the facts surrounding the property.

If you have any legal questions about your real estate property, don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer. The attorneys at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Pike want to make sure you don’t accidentally find yourself in a lawsuit.

 

Attorney Terry Bennett

Terry joined the practice in 1974. His areas of focus include personal injury law, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, business law, corporations, and adoptions. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals 6th Circuit, United States District Court Western District of Kentucky, United States Court of Military Appeals, and all Kentucky courts.

A Hardin County native and former Army office in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps, Terry graduated from William and Mary in Virginia with an undergraduate degree in government. He received his Juris Doctorate from Wake Forest Law School in Winston Salem, North Carolina, where he graduated with honors.

The Importance of Hiring a Local Lawyer

By: Dustin HumphreyCloseup of business people shaking hands over a deal

There have been a lot of attorney advertisements on television lately, but interestingly enough, none of them seem to be from Kentucky. Many are based in other states, some as far as Florida. This may not seem like a problem at first glance, but there are many reasons the attorneys at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Pike believe you should “shop local” when it comes to hiring a lawyer. Here are some things that a local lawyer knows that those TV lawyers may not:

  • A local lawyer knows the local customs and procedures.

Every community has a different way of doing things, making a commercial attorney unreliable when it comes to understanding local customs and courtroom procedures. A local attorney on the other hand is very aware of these things

  • A local lawyer knows the opposing counsel.

This is a great advantage to hiring local. Having an attorney that understands how opposing counsel is likely to practice the case gives you you an immediate leg-up. Commercial attorneys will most likely never have dealt with your opposing counsel, which can be a great weakness in the courtroom.

  • A local lawyer knows the personalities and pet peeves of the judges.

Every judge has their own set of unique personality traits and pet peeves. A local attorney who has practiced in front of the same judges year after year understands these things and is able to navigate accordingly.

  • A local lawyer knows the character of the community and people who will ultimately decide if a case goes to trial.

A commercial attorney can do all the research in the world, but they will never be able to fully grasp the character of the community without being a part of the community.

The attorneys at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Pike believe hiring a local attorney is the wisest decision when it comes to protecting yourself legally. Don’t hesitate to contact your local attorney when you are in need.

 

 

Dustin

Dustin joined the SBW&P team in 2010, coming to us from one of the oldest firms in Cincinnati. He earned his undergraduate degree from Bellarmine University, summa cum laude, and his law degree from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, where he graduated cum laude. Dustin’s law practice includes personal injury law, medical malpractice law, business law including corporations, LLCs and business planning, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, employment law, and family law.

PIP Benefits: What They Are and How Do They Work?

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Benefits are extremely important PIPto someone who has been injured in a car accident. Often called “no-fault” benefits, PIP pays for necessary medical expenses and lost wages when a person is involved in an automobile accident. These are referred to as “no-fault” because the benefits are readily available regardless of who is liable for the mishap.

PIP is a mandatory coverage in the state of Kentucky. Basic PIP is to be paid by the insurer of the vehicle in which the injured person is riding at the time of an accident or the vehicle, which strikes a pedestrian, regardless of who was at fault in the accident. Basic PIP provides up to $10,000 per person per accident for medical expenses, lost wages and similar “out of pocket” costs due to an injury, while higher benefits and deductibles are optional.

Following an accident, it can become overwhelming to navigate the confusing world of insurance benefits. If you should find yourself in this situation, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney that can walk you through the advantages of PIP.

Why Small Businesses Need Key Man Insurance

5139847759_811bc2e7e1It’s no easy feat to start a business from scratch. Between the saving, the planning and the many payments that are necessary, entrepreneurs often overlook a component that the attorneys at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson &Humphrey find vital. If you are starting or already own a small business, we encourage you to consider getting key man insurance.

Q – What is key man insurance?
A – Key man insurance is simply life insurance on the key person in a business, usually the owner. Sometimes this extends to the founders or perhaps a key employee or two. Basically, it is whoever is found to be crucial to a business. If this person were removed, the entire ship would sink. These people need to be insured for the sake of the business.

Q – How does key man insurance work?
A – Key man insurance works when a company purchases a life insurance policy on the key employee, pays the premiums and then becomes the beneficiary of the policy. If, by some unfortunate circumstance, the key person dies, the company receives the insurance payoff.

Q – Why do I need key man insurance for my small business?
A – Key man insurance is important to a small business because the death of a vital person can often cause the immediate death of the company. Key man insurance would help your company survive the blow of losing the person who makes the business work, rather than declaring immediate bankruptcy.

Q – Why do I need to talk to an attorney about key man insurance?
A – There are many different ways to structure a key man policy agreement. When you are working with a key policy, we recommend talking to an attorney to make sure all aspects are well taken care of.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

By: Dustin HumphreySide_on_collision

We have all heard the horror stories of someone badly injured in a car wreck by a person with minimal insurance or none at all. As the victim’s medical bills mount the negligent party’s insurance is quickly exhausted, leaving the victim on the hook for the balance. To avoid this predicament, the lawyers at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Humphrey recommend our clients consider uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is designed to help victims of car crashes caused by a person who either doesn’t have an auto insurance policy or has a policy with liability limits that are too low to cover the cost of damages. This extra coverage helps pay for the bills associated with the crash that would otherwise be left uncovered.

In Kentucky, the law requires uninsured motorist coverage at certain levels; however, the driver can opt-out of this coverage by stating so in writing. The lawyers at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson and Humphrey do not recommend opting out of the coverage.

When purchasing uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, first consider how much insurance you may need. Factors such as the worth of your car, the type of medical insurance you carry and whether your employer offers access to short- and long-term disability are all important to consider. The limits for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can range anywhere from $25,000 to $1 million.

While the particular coverage depends on the wording of the policy, the insurance typically covers bodily injury and can also cover passengers in the insured car at the time of the crash.

To be fully protected in the event of an accident, you must have both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. The lawyers at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Humphrey recommend that our clients be proactive when it comes to their protection. Don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer for advice if you are considering purchasing uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. You may be very thankful one day for doing so.

 

Dustin

Dustin joined the SBW&P team in 2010, coming to us from one of the oldest firms in Cincinnati. He earned his undergraduate degree from Bellarmine University, summa cum laude, and his law degree from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, where he graduated cum laude. Dustin’s law practice includes personal injury law, medical malpractice law, business law including corporations, LLCs and business planning, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, employment law, and family law.

Checklist: Preparing to Meet with an Attorney After Your Car Accident

By: Dustin Humphrey

You’ve been in a car accident and you need legal representation. What sort of things will your attorney want to know? How should you prepare to meet with him or her? What documents should you have? The personal injury lawyers at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Humphrey have developed the following checklist to help you in your first meeting with an injury lawyer:

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
Are you prepared to explain the details of the accident?

What day did the accident occur?
What time of day did the accident occur?
What was the exact location of accident?th
What was the weather like?
What was the roadway like (wet, dry smooth, pot-holed, etc.)?
Were other cars or people involved?
How did the accident occur?
Were police called to the scene?
Was a police report filed?
What traffic violations, if any, were you charged with?
Was an ambulance called to the scene?
Were any photographs taken at the scene?
Were any television or other media crews at the scene?

Are you prepared to provide information about witnesses or other individuals involved in the accident?

What are the names of witnesses or other involved parties?
What is their relation to you (if any)?
What are their addresses?
Telephone numbers?
License plate numbers?

Are you prepared to provide information about your injuries?

Did emergency personnel treat you?
Were you taken to a hospital?
What was your immediate diagnosis?
What treatments were you initially provided?
Did you have x-rays or other scans taken?
Were you hospitalized? For how long?
What follow-up or additional treatment have you had?
What are your present symptoms?
What is your present diagnosis?
What normal activities are you unable to do because of your injuries?
What are the names and locations of all hospitals, clinics, doctors, specialists, chiropractors, physical therapists or other providers you have seen for your injuries, including the names of providers who have referred you to other providers?
Who is your general or family physician?
Have you ever had similar injuries in the past?

 

Are you prepared to provide information about yourself?

Your age and birthdate?
Your address?
Your telephone number?
Your social security number?
Your marital status?
Your children, if any?
Your present employment, if any?
Your wages or salary?
Have you have missed time from work as a result of the accident?
Do you have a valid drivers’ license?
Do you have automobile insurance?
Who is your insurer?
Have you previously been involved in any car accidents?
Have you ever been convicted of a crime?

Are you prepared to provide information about your car?

Make and model of car?
Year?
Is there a lien-holder or bank interest in the car?
How long have you owned the car?
What is the working condition of the car?
When was your car last serviced or seen by a mechanic?
What damages were sustained to your car during the accident?
Have you received an estimate for the damages?
Did your car have any damages, dings or dents prior to the accident?
Do you have photographs of you car both before, and after, the accident?

 

hs_dustin_humphreyDustin joined the SBW&P team in 2010, coming to us from one of the oldest firms in Cincinnati.  He earned his undergraduate degree from Bellarmine University, summa cum laude, and his law degree from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University,  where he graduated cum laude. Dustin’s law practice includes personal injury law, medical malpractice law, business law including corporations, LLCs and business planning, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, employment law, and family law.