Financial & Legal Services Guide Family Law
Alabama Family Rights Association: Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time for a makeover
Money Matters: First Bank Mortgage: Practical tips for lowering your debt-to-income ratio
A Special Supplement to
The Trussville Tribune December 2018
Legal & Finance | The Trussville Tribune
Dec. 5 - Dec. 11, 2018
The durability of retirement income is critical By David Guttery When I’m working with clients to construct a comprehensive retirement plan, the focus is inevitably placed upon the income to be generated. The durability of that income is critically important. Durable implies that you can neither outlive the income, nor can the market take the income away. It’s dependable, and you know it will be there at all times. I want to help clients minimize the risk of outliving their income. An equally important concern is the mitigation of what I call “The Four Horsemen of Risk”. Those are risks associated with market timing, loss of principal, inflation, and longevity. You can’t have a discussion about income durability without also considering these risks. Market timing risk comes with retiring at the wrong time. You’ve retired, and have likely begun to liquidate shares for the support of income, but its September of 2008, and the beginning
of what eventually came to be known as “The Great Recession”. You’re compelled to sell an increasingly greater number of shares into the teeth of a declining market simply to sustain the same amount of systematic income. As the name implies, principal risk is simply the risk that the value of an investment can decline. Inflation is a concern because it’s the erosion of your purchasing power, and the risk is that your investment income will not keep up with future increases in the cost of living. Lastly, we have the risk that you might outlive your money. We call this longevity risk. I can’t think of any clients who have factored living with their children into their retirement plan. The problem is that most people generally don’t understand that defending against one type of risk generally comes at the expense of greater exposure to the other risks. Ideally, we want to structure a retirement plan that effective-
ly addresses all four. Each client strategy is different, and reached only through comprehensive planning. We identify risk parameters and portfolio objectives through the development of investor profile statements.
Then we plan for the production of inflation adjusted income through tax efficient sequencing, and coordination with other durable sources of income such as social security or pensions. As I discussed within the editorial of last October, the investments and platforms we may use are simply tools. Each tool brings a unique competency to the table and I help clients identify which of these tools might be of greatest use in their situation. It is possible to mitigate these “Four Horsemen”, but it’s a proactive process that begins long before someone’s retirement date. There are no one size fits all answers to be found in a box, and planning for retirement income is a unique process for every investor. As a planner, I’m not here to sell products. I’m your fiduciary. I’m your advocate. I’m here to maximize your best interests and help you cipher through strategies in order to
find the right one. I need to know how well you’d prefer to sleep at night if we go through another Great Recession. Believe it or not, everyone will not answer that question in the same way, and there’s a myriad of tools out there to fit each unique answer. My job is to understand who you are, your situation, construct a plan, and bring the right tool to the task at hand. It’s a challenging environment. The markets are volatile, inflation and interest rates are rising, the Federal Reserve is active, it’s an election year, and geo political risks are abundant. Times like these call for in depth, critical and creative thought. I stand ready to assist anyone for whom this is of importance. (*) = Securities products are subject to investment risk, including possible loss of principal. Before investing, carefully consider the investment objectives, risks,
limitations, charges and expenses of the product and any underlying investment options. This information can be found in the prospectuses or offering statements. Please read carefully before investing. David has been in practice for 27 years, with a distinctive focus on the management of retirement assets for the production of durable income. David R. Guttery, RFC, RFS, CAM, is an Investment Advisory Representative of Ameritas Investment Corp, and President of Keystone Financial Group, in Trussville, Alabama. David independently offers securities and investment advisory services through Ameritas Investment Corp. (AIC) member FINRA/SIPC. AIC and Keystone Financial Group are not affiliated. Additional products and services may be available through David R. Guttery or Keystone Financial Group that are not offered through AIC.
Legal & Finance | The Trussville Tribune
Dec. 5 - Dec. 11, 2018
Three factors to consider when making charitable gifts By Edward Jones The holiday season is here, which means gift-giving is probably on your mind. In addition to giving gifts to your family and friends, you also may be interested in contributing to charitable organizations. But before you donate financial assets, such as stocks, you will need to consider several factors, including taxes, your portfolio balance and the reputation of the charity. Let’s look at these areas: Taxes – Your donations to qualified charities (those that are considered 501(c) (3) organizations by the Internal Revenue Service) can give you tax deductions – if you itemize deductions on your tax return. However, due to recent tax law changes, the standard deduction for 2018 has almost doubled to $24,000 for married couples and to $12,000 for single fil-
Mike Hunter ers. As a result, you may be less likely to itemize deductions, so you could have less incentive, at least for tax reasons, to make charitable gifts. However, if you give appreciated stocks, you may be allowed a charitable deduction for the full fair market value of the gift on the date of the transfer, even if your original
cost was only a fraction of today’s value. Plus, you may not be subject to the capital gains tax you might have to pay if you eventually sold the stocks. Also, depending on your age, you might be able to use your traditional IRA as a charitable-funding vehicle. Once you turn 70-and-a-half, you generally must begin taking withdrawals – called required minimum distributions or RMDs – from your traditional IRA. (Roth IRAs are not subject to RMDs during your lifetime.) These RMDs from your traditional IRA are taxable, but you may be able to exclude up to $100,000 of RMDs per year from your taxable income if you transfer the funds directly to qualified charitable organizations. In any case, consult with your tax advisor before donating appreciated assets to a charity. Portfolio balance – When
you donate financial assets to a charity, you are also taking them away from your portfolio. This could be an issue, especially if you repeatedly donate the same types of assets. For example, if you’re donating some growth-oriented stocks, will you lower the overall growth potential of your portfolio? You may want to consult with a financial professional to ensure your charitable gifts will still allow you to maintain a portfolio balance appropriate for your goals and risk tolerance. Reputation of the charity – You may want to do some homework to make sure you are giving to a reputable charity. Many experts on charitable giving say that a worthwhile charity should spend at least 75 percent of its income on programs, rather than administrative costs. You may be able to find this type of information on a charitable
group’s annual report and its website. You can also browse the web for the names of agencies that evaluate charitable groups. By considering the aspects of charitable giving described above, you can get more satisfaction from your generosity – because you’ll know that your gift not only supports a good cause, but also fits well into your overall financial picture.
Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor. For more information, contact your local Edward Jones adviser, Mike Hunter at (205) 655-0413
Money matters: practical tips for lowering your debt-to-income ratio for a new position at work or training to help you move to the next level in your career. Any additional salary that results can be applied directly to your debt while increasing the amount you bring home each month. That’s a winwin.
By Laura Byrum In Uncategorized If you’re thinking of buying a home, the amount of monthly income and monthly debt are important factors for you to consider. This relationship between debt and income is called a debt-toincome ratio or DTI. It’s a measure that compares how much debt you have to your overall income. Lenders – including companies like FirstBank that issue mortgages – will look at this measure to help determine what size loan you are eligible for. A healthy DTI can indicate that you’ll be able to repay the money you’ve borrowed. It’s calculated by dividing your total recurring monthly debt (like rent or house payment, car payment, student loans, child support, credit card payments, insurance, etc.) by your gross income. Gross income is how much money you make before taxes. Here’s an example of the calculation:
To calculate DTI, take your total monthly debt ($2,100) and divide by your gross monthly income ($6,500). This equals your DTI. In general, mortgage issuers prefer a debt-to-income ratio smaller than 43 percent, although there are some programs that are more flexible, like FHA and VA loans. If you have a low debt-to-income ratio, that demonstrates a good balance between your debts and income. As a general rule, the lower this percentage, the more likely you are to be approved for the
type of loan and loan amount requested. If you’ve done the calculation and your DTI is higher than 43 percent, there are ways you can change it. Read on for 5 simple tips for lowering your debt (and your DTI)! FIVE TIPS FOR LOWERING YOUR DEBT TO INCOME RATIO 1. CREATE A BUDGET Reducing debt is no easy task. To help avoid going into further debt, think about your monthly needs verses wants.
Needs include shelter, food, clothes, transportation and healthcare. Wants are just that – things you want but don’t need to survive. Limiting the amount of money you allow for “wants” every month will give you more cash to put directly towards your debt. 2. DEVELOP A DEBT REPAYMENT STRATEGY Writing down (and committing) to a higher monthly debt repayment is the first step. Extra payments each month can quickly help you lower your overall debt.
3. PUT OFF LARGE PURCHASES … unless you have cash. The less you put on any credit card, the better. 4. INCREASE YOUR MONTHLY INCOME Any increase to what you bring home can be applied to your debt and will impact your DTI. Some other sources of additional income include finding a second job, working as a freelancer in your spare time, or working overtime hours at your current job. Another option is to ask
5. RECALCULATE YOUR DTI MONTHLY Reducing debt isn’t always easy or much fun. When you recalculate your debt-toincome ratio each month, you can see the positive effects of your hard work. Seeing the results and keeping the end game in mind (like owning your own home) can help you stay laser-focused on your goal. At FirstBank Mortgage, our goal is to help our customers get to a better place – whether that’s in a new home or a new financial position. For more information, questions, or concerns, please call Tonya Golden 205-767-4293 NMLS#1150669.
It’s time for a makeover – Family Law By: Kenneth Paschal, Pelham, Ala., Alabama Family Rights Association State President, a child activist, and U.S. Army First Sergeant Retired. Families are the cornerstone of an orderly, prosperous, and free society. Children living without one of their parents, specifically their biological father, are placed at higher risk for a broad range of social pathologies, including academic difficulties, conduct issues, and involvement with the criminal justice system. While some parents abandon their parental responsibilities, surprisingly, the number one reason of one-parent involvement for children is that it is court ordered. Each year, approximately 40,000 of Alabama’s children are separated from one of their parents by domestic court orders, reducing the child’s time with one parent (the non-custodial parent) to as little as one to six days per month. Although referred to as the “best interest of the child” standard, current social science data shows just the opposite. In fact, the state is currently ranked fourth in the country regarding number of divorces, and 42nd regarding overall child well-being, which is based on four categories:
health, education, economic well-being, and family and community. These stunning statistics are what prompted to the formation of the Alabama Family Rights Association (ALFRA). ALFRA is a not-for-profit, all volunteer organization. ALFRA is not a fathers’ rights or even mothers’ right group. Why? Because it’s about the child having a right to be associated with both mom and dad, and their extended family. Unless there’s harm to a child such as drugs, abuse or neglect, children whose parents divorce or are separated should be afforded the same equal opportunity to love and spend time with both of their parents as children whose parents are not divorced or separated. These rights are independent of a child’s parents
marital status and protected by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Equal Protection Clause. Years of complaints from both parents, children of divorce, and results of the 2015 and 2016 surveys administered by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) indicate that a biased and unbalanced practice still exists throughout the state of Alabama, even though over 40 studies show and 112 experts agree that “… shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages.” In Alabama, primary custody is typically awarded to one parent, with standard visitation given to the other parent. Right now, we have a judicial system where the outcome is solely based on which county you live in or which judge hears your case.
There are more than 40 scientific studies that indicates when both parents are involved in a child’s life, the outcome is measurably improved. We cannot, knowingly, hurt our children by upholding policies that continue to harm generation after generation of innocent children. This will require a change of thinking and a shift in mindset and roles. We have been working extremely hard for almost a decade to bring awareness and education to our legislators, as well as the general public about this systemic problem. In 2011, we started the conversation and legislative process to update the outdated child custody laws. During the 2018 legislative session, a child custody bill was introduced and called the “Children’s Equal Access Act.”
The Children’s Equal Access Act aimed to maximize a child’s time with both parents. It made it to the senate floor for a favorable vote but was stalled in the House Judiciary Committee prior to the end of the legislative session. The key components of the Children’s Equal Access Act incorporates: • scientific data for best outcomes for children; • creates a rebuttable presumption that joint custody (meaning that the child has equal or as approximately equal as possible time with both parents) is in the best interest of the child, as the starting point; • give the court discretion to deviate from the presumption and require the court to indicate why joint custody is not in the best interest of the child;
• require the parties to submit a parenting plan in all cases, so the courts have a written idea of the parents desires; The primary goal of the Alabama Family Rights Association is to educate the public and government officials concerning the importance of equal involvement of both fit parents in a child’s life. As the nation seeks answers on how best to make schools and communities safer and how to combat increased violent crimes, ALFRA believes the long-term solution to prevent such actions must include protecting a child’s right to love both parents. Action steps for citizens to take today: 1. Visit alfra.org to learn more about our efforts to preserve, promote and protect family relationships. 2. Like the Alabama Family Rights Association Facebook page, 3. Donate to ALFRA by visiting ALFRA.ORG It’s imperative that concerned citizens take concentrated steps to update the child custody laws by the passage of the “Children’s Equal Access Act” during the 2019 legislative session. Our children are depending on us!!!
Legal & Finance | The Trussville Tribune
Dec. 5 - Dec. 11, 2018
Conservatorships and guardianships the incapacitated (protected) person. Guardianships often are needed along with conservatorships. The guardian is responsible for daily living decisions, and the conservator is responsible for the daily
By Brooks Burdette A conservatorship may be required when an individual needs assistance managing his or her financial affairs. Conservatorships may be necessary when an adult becomes incapacitated with a physical or mental illness, injury, drugs, advanced age or any event that prevents normal functioning. Brooks Burdette, of The Burdette Law Firm, P.C., in Trussville, assists families when there is a need for the appointment of a conservator. She said the most common example occurs when an elderly parent becomes incapacitated due to advanced age infirmities and no one has access to the parent’s accounts
financial decisions. Guardianships are not only common for minor children without a parent, but may become necessary if an adult becomes incapacitated with a physical or mental illness, injury, advanced age
servatorships are possession of assets for the benefit of the protected person. Most courts prefer that a family member petition the court to become the conservator and guardian when possible, because a trusted fami-
adult, both the conservatorship and guardianship are necessary to fully protect the incapacitated person. Burdette opened her law practice, The Burdette Law Firm, P.C., in 2003 in Trussville. Her office is a beauti-
infirmities or any event that prevents normal lifestyle functioning. Once appointed, the guardian can make daily caregiving decisions and meet and talk with medical professionals. The legal complexity of conservatorships and guardianships normally necessitates having an attorney. Burdette introduces the process to her clients by explaining that guardianships are possession of the welfare interests for the benefit of the protected person, and con-
ly member typically has more knowledge and compassion. There are situations where there may only be a need for either a conservatorship or guardianship. A common example is the need for a conservator when a minor child is to receive money or property, but no need for a guardian because the minor child has a parent. In Burdette’s experience, in most cases involving an incapacitated
fully renovated 1940s home and is conveniently located off Highway 11 on Glenn Avenue. Burdette attended Hewitt-Trussville High School and was thrilled with the opportunity to open her practice in Trussville. She has been practicing law for 20 years, after serving 12 years in law enforcement. Burdette is licensed to practice in all courts throughout the state of Alabama.
to manage his or her financial affairs. Once appointed, the conservator may begin taking care of the protected person’s assets, such as paying bills and safeguarding property. Conservatorships generally involve at least one initial court hearing, and always require testimony and documentation before the court can appoint a conservator to manage the property of an incapacitated (protected) person. The conservator must post a surety bond (insurance policy), which would provide for the repayment of funds if the conservator mishandled the funds in his or her care. An accounting must be filed with the court at least every three years showing all financial activity on behalf of
Ready to handle your legal needs This area of the law includes but is not limited to Wills, Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Decedent's Estates, Claims against Estates, Guardianships, Conservatorships, Adoptions, and Trusts.
Our practice in this area includes Child Custody, Dependency, Establishment of Paternity, and Child Support.
We represent individuals who have been arrested for any offense, both misdemeanors and felonies. Let us help you with the legal process.
We offer affordable pricing to review and prepare residential contracts, deeds, liens, releases and satisfactions. Talk to us before you buy or sell a home.
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Legal & Finance | The Trussville Tribune
Dec. 5 - Dec. 11, 2018
What is title insurance and why do I need it?
By Shami Malone
When we think of insurance, most of us would most likely think of casualty insurance, such as health insurance, homeowner’s insurance, auto insurance and the like. These types of policies insure against future losses such as illness, property damage and auto damage. If you have ever purchased or sold a home, or even refinanced a mortgage, you have probably heard of title insurance. However, most people do not know what title insurance actually is, except that it is associated with real estate closings. Unlike many other insurance policies, title insurance is a non-casualty insurance policy. It insures against future loss based on prior risk. Rather than being based on what might happen in the future, title insurance professionals search the history of the title to the property to determine any risks caused by prior title problems. During the title search, the title pro-
fessional will determine any mortgages, liens or judgments that must be paid or satisfied before the property can be sold. The search will also show who the current owner of the property is, as well as past owners. After these documents are examined, the title professional will prepare the title commitment. The title commitment is the “instructions” to the closing agent on the items that must be resolved in order for a seller to transfer clear title of the property to a new buyer. While this does not sound complex, there are always risks, even if the title examiner has carefully examined all of the documents that are public record. For example, what if a prior deed in the chain of title was forged or signed by a person who was not the true owner of the property? Or what if a prior owner had an unpaid mortgage that was filed incorrectly, so that it did not appear in the title search?
Purchasing title insurance at closing would indemnify a buyer from any loss or damage suffered as a result of such defect, lien or encumbrance. Imagine buying a home and deciding not to purchase title insurance, only to discover that the person you bought the home from was not the true owner. Unfortunately, not only would you not be the proud owner of a new home, but you would be left with the expense incurred in attempting to recover the money you paid for the property. Unlike most other types of insurance, the title insurance premium is paid only once. The coverage is long-term and can protect the insured and the insured’s heirs even after the property is sold. Considering that for most people, the purchase of a home is the largest financial investment they will ever make, it only makes sense to purchase title insurance so that the investment is protected.
CHAMBLEE & MALONE, LLC ATTORNEYS AT LAW Carl E. Chamblee, Jr Shami S. Malone Eric Heath Johnson Areas of Practice: • Real Estate Closings, Document Preparation • Estate planning Will, Trust, Power of Attorney, Living Will • Litigation • Social Security • Probating and Administration of Estates • Adoptions • Business Formations Corporation/Partnership/LLC • Criminal Defense Felony, Misdemeanor, DUI • Divorce/Family Law Ph.: 205-856-9111 Fax: 205-853-7034 5582 APPLE PARK DRIVE BIRMINGHAM, AL 35235
Legal & Finance | The Trussville Tribune
Dec. 5 - Dec. 11, 2018
“It’s morbid.” “It’s expensive.” “I’m healthy.” “My family already knows my wishes.” By Jeremy P. Summers We hear it all when it comes to estate planning. I know that thinking about your own mortality is not a fun topic, but it is a necessary consideration. Few of us have any advance warning of when we die or when we cannot make our own decisions. It has been my experience, that the people most likely to already have a Will and a Durable Power of Attorney (“POA”) are those who have dealt firsthand with the hardships of the death or care of a loved one. I also hear several misconceptions about Wills and POAs. A Will is an instrument in which a person directs where, and to whom, they would like their assets to go upon their demise. Wills can designate people as guardians, custodians or trustees for your minor children (or pets!) upon your passing and even include specifics about funeral and burial wishes. A Will also designates a person whose duty it is to carry out the wishes of the deceased. A Will only has power after the maker dies, and has no bearing whatsoever while the maker is alive. The main advantage of a Will is that you decide where your assets go and how they are to be distributed. Without a Will, the Court determines who inherits from you and to what extent. By not having a Will, you take away your own input, and can potentially add extra costs and time in administering the estate. A POA is an instrument wherein a person grants another person the ability to handle decisions and perform duties, on their behalf, when they cannot make those decisions for themselves. Those situations could include loss of competency by injury, mental deficiency, or illness. POAs allow that designated person to consent to medical procedures and to communicate with banks, hospitals and insurance companies. They can even name who will make “end of life” decisions for the person if the medical prognosis is poor. A POA only has power if a person reaches incompetency but is still alive, and has no bearing whatsoever on that person once they die.
Jeremy P. Summers The advantage of a POA is simple: if you wait until a situation arises where you need a POA, it is likely already too late to make one. The person executing a POA has to be competent. If an incompetent person doesn’t already have a POA, someone may need to seek a guardianship or conservatorship over that person through the courts. Guardians are people appointed to take care of and manage the property of an incompetent person. Conservators are people appointed to protect and manage the financial affairs of an incompetent person. Guardianships and conservatorships involve the added costs of attorneys, court hearings and bonds, plus the strain and time of court proceedings. So, what are the costs and time involved in preparing these instruments? Although those factors are dependent on the attorney you use and the complexity of your Will, most people should be able to accomplish this for a few hundred dollars and less than an hour of their time. The costs and time of preparing now, will certainly be worth saving your loved ones from the costs and time of being unprepared in the future. A simple Will and a POA can go a long way toward easing the burden on your loved ones when you pass away or should your mental capabilities decline. A licensed attorney experienced in estate planning can assist you in preparing these instruments for you.
5950 Chalkville Mountain Road, STE 114 Trussville
Legal & Finance | The Trussville Tribune
Dec. 5 - Dec. 11, 2018
Alabama’s man for the people From The Trussville Tribune staff reports “2000 years ago, in Roman times when Christ walked the earth, if a person was wronged, they were given a shekel of gold,” Alexander Shunnarah, Alabama’s “Man For The People,” said. “And we sit here in 2018, centuries later, as civilized and advanced as (we) have become, we still have not been able to make a civil wrong right, other than giving a shekel of gold.” It’s true. Think about it. If someone becomes hurt or disabled due to something considered to be an “accident,” be it on the job or in their personal life, it’s human nature to seek some atonement or justice. The civility in us, however, certainly wants to refrain from the barbaric “eye-for-an-eye and toothfor-a-tooth” mentality. The only other way to establish restitution is financially. Getting injured on the job can be a bit complex and is
where a challenging adjudicature arises. The first thing you should know about workers’ compensation is whether or not your employer has it. “An employer can be exempt from workman’s compensation if the number of employees is five or less (including the owner),” Shunnarah said. “If an employer employs more than five, they are required to provide workers’ compensation.” Signing a piece of paper recognizing there is no workers’ compensation never relieves an employer of their duty, because the law requires them to provide it. “A lot of people worry if they file a workers’ comp claim, that they will get fired,” Shunnarah said. “You cannot fire an employee for filing a claim because (then) they can bring a retaliatory discharge claim against the employer.” In case you are injured, there are specific steps in the process. “You give notice,” Shun-
narah said. “The most important thing anyone can do when injured on the job is to give the employer notice immediately. Then, personally document the fact that they gave notice to the employer. Follow up with an email. At this point, the employer contacts their workers’ comp insurance to file a claim. A claims adjuster then contacts the injured employee and sets the appointment within the network of doctors affiliated with the insurance company.” If an employee is found to be hurt, the employer’s workers’ comp insurance company is responsible for paying those medical bills. “That doctor then, if he deems necessary, decides that this is the type of injury where the employee needs to be taken off work (and) informs both parties,” Shunarrah said. “The law is clear: the employee is entitled to two-thirds of their average weekly salary over the past 52 weeks. This includes bonuses and overtime. The injured employee
Alexander Shunnarah should also be reimbursed for their mileage back and forth to the doctor. “If a doctor takes an employee off work for an extended period, to get paid, you have to comply with those doctor’s orders to get well. Go to physical therapy, make it to your doctor’s appointments. The goal is to get the employee back to normal and release them back to work.”
The third component at the end of treatment, if the treating physician says the employee has an impairment rating, is that the employee is to be compensated in a onetime payment for that impairment rating. “At some point, the doctor will say you have reached M.M.I. (maximum medical improvement) and clear you to go back to work,” Shunnarah said. “There are certain situations in a workers’ comp setting, for example, you have a young man employed by a plumbing company,” he said. “He is on his way to a job. Unfortunately, a commercial vehicle runs a red light—an absolute liability—and runs into this plumbing company truck. (The) plumbing company employee, injured very seriously, hires our firm. In this setting, you have potentially three different claims. You have the claim against the trucking company for his bodily injury, pain and suffering, emotional distress, etc. At the same time, you have his workers’ compensation claim, because he was injured on the job. And then eventually, if the result of his physical manifestations and injuries lead him to be disabled, we file a social security claim for (him) also.” Shunnarah said he is passionate about the people of Alabama because, “Anyone who has a family member they love would never trade that family member for any amount of money. It bothers me when other attorneys try and tell me human life is worth $3-4 million. Every case that we have ever been
a part of, insurance companies and their lawyers have told us the Alabama Supreme Court has never confirmed a case more than $6.75 million on a wrongful death case in Alabama. So the trend in Alabama is that human life is not worth more than $6.75 million. In California or New York, wrongful death cases settle all the time for $10-12 million. So the question then becomes, (is) a human life worth more in California or New York than it is in Alabama? If it is, my question, for a guy like me that has done this for 20 years, is why?” According to Shunnarah, the laws of Alabama workers’ compensation has not been modified since the early 1970s. “(That) should tell you that we are in need of some desperate changes in our code,” he said. “However, the business association is a very strong entity, the politics around it, the employers, big companies are so strong with the lobbyists in Alabama...In Montgomery with the legislature, we just haven’t had any modifications in Alabama to protect the employees of the state of Alabama versus the employers.” Hearing this allows you to understand why Shunnarah chose the slogan, “A Man For The People.” Occasionally, unfortunate things happen. Accidents happen. These are things out of our control. However, when they do occur, it’s in your best interest to know your rights. Know you can call an attorney. Get a free consult. The Shunnarah firm will take your case and only collect if they win.
Legal & Finance | The Trussville Tribune
Dec. 5 - Dec. 11, 2018
Building your case: Attorneys share the value of experience and the power of documentation By Tanna M. Friday Massey, Stotser & Nichols, P.C. is a general practice law firm offering a wide variety of services. The Trussville firm represents business clients from formation of a new business to transactions, collections and litigation as well as represents individual clients in many different areas such as personal injury, family law, estate planning, contracts, probate, corporate and general litigation. The firm has represented individuals and business clients facing a variety of legal issues for nearly 40 years. Attorney Spenser Templeton shares that the broad range of knowledge and experience the team holds at Massey, Stotser & Nichols, P.C. brings value to a widerange of clients. “What a lot of people don’t realize when they go to firms practicing in one area is that some cases involve several areas of law,” said Templeton. “Our firm is unique and helpful because there are
attorneys here with so much experience and knowledge that allows us to cover many issues in many areas of law. We can all draw from each other’s experiences to provide our clients with a greater level of support.” Anne Durward shares that this knowledge and expertise allows attorneys to walk both sides. “Since we represent both the Plaintiff and Defendant, it makes for a unique set of skills because we can see a case from both sides,” said Durward. “This helps us take care of our clients better. Because you can see both sides and be more thorough in the development of your case.” In addition to the firm’s experience and knowledge, the attorneys at Massey, Stotser & Nichols, P.C., believe that these areas of law all require one common form of action that will bring value to the outcome of a case - documentation. From personal injury, domestic relations, to corporate litigation, there is value in gathering documen-
tation before beginning litigation or initiating a business transaction. When you have a legal issue, whether it concerns personal injury or divorce, it is important to get the details and provide evidence when you can. Attorneys at Massey, Stotser & Nichols, P.C. explain how to approach the research and information gathering you will need in order to document your claims properly, and to help have a
successful outcome. Attorney Spenser Templeton shares that in personal injury claims documentation is key. “One of the largest problems I have seen in personal injury cases is documentation,” said Templeton. “A lot of people think that they will remember a particular event, but what they don’t realize is by the time the case goes to trial, it is sometimes two years after the fact. One thing I tell clients is to keep a journal, which can serve as a good memory refresher down the road.” Templeton adds other documentation that would be valuable for your case would include including photographs, journaling (about incident, injuries, names, symptoms, and medical attention), medical-related receipts and records, records of travel expenses and income lost due to injuries. Durward adds that the same applies in family law. “Make sure you know how much money you have, what your documents are,”
said Durward. “The more you can gather before coming to see an attorney, the better we are able to advise you.” Durward says that whatever documentation you have, the better off you will be in the long run. Some documentation examples include keeping a journal, saving emails, text, and social media posts, and financial documents. “Because you are your own best witness in a case,” said Durward. “We can only represent you thoroughly with the information you provide us.” In corporate law, there is not much difference in documentation, however, in order to be represented well in a corporate transaction, attorney Michael Brymer says that in tax liability issues, a CPA is needed. “We will work hand in hand with them to make sure that whatever corporate entity you are creating or transaction to close, we will work hard to provide the best outcome for
our clients,” said Brymer. “To know that someone is here that can handle a wide array of things and really create that lifelong relationship with our clients is the goal.” Attorney Stephanie Weems adds that not only do attorneys at Massey, Stotser & Nichols, P.C. want to create a client’s L.L.C.s, but they also want to be involved in their company. “We want you to not only to complete your documents for us to create your L.L.C., but come back to us when you have a question about the company you just started,” said Weems. “Our goal is to be that contact, to take care of the one thing that is needed while figuring out what else we can do for you, your company, and your family or friends.” For more information about Massey, Stotser and Nichols, P.C., visit www. msnattorneys.com or for a consultation, call (205) 5022451.
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