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Please submit your questions below and Thomas “Tom” Cleator, Esq., William “Peyton” Akers, Esq., and their Associate Attorney, Deborah “Deb” Goodwin, Esq. are standing by to help, for free! During the unbillable hour, we are answering questions that pertain to our legal expertise, so if we cannot help you, we will make sure we can point you in the right direction. We cannot wait to hear from you and look forward to assisting you.
One question on the latest episode of the Unbillable Hour was regarding a person involved in a divorce. She was tasked by her husband to use the same Attorney or she would not get anything from him. However, she is under the impression that you need different Attorneys in a divorce. Attorney Tom Cleator stated she should take a hard pass on her husband’s recommendation of using the same Attorney for reasons of ethical dispute. Attorneys have an ethical duty to represent the interests of their client. So, in this case, it presents a conflict when trying to divide money or estate and allowing each party to have fair representation. There have been instances where one Attorney drafts one document for both parties to review, such as a Consent Order, however; it must be made clear that the Attorney only represents one party.
The second question presented was regarding Probate. The caller asked how they can ensure that her husband and daughter do not have to go through Court or Probate when she dies and if a Trust is best option. Attorney Deb Goodwin stated that the cheaper and most basic resource would be a self-proving will. These typically only cost around $200.00 and give your family direction on what to do when she passes away, however; it does have to be witnessed, notarized, and filed with the Court. Furthermore, the most expensive option would be setting up a Trust, and those can cost around $2,000-$5000. The benefits are you can avoid Court, they are protected from Estate taxes, and it gives very detailed and explicit instructions. Depending on if you choose an irrevocable trust or a revocable trust, will depend on if you can make continual changes to the Trust as the years go by. The recommended type of Trust is the revocable trust that allows flexibility.
The third caller indicated that they were driving at night in a speed zone of 35 mph. They noted that they had their lights on, but almost hit a man crossing the road while wearing a black hoodie and carrying a bag. They only saw the bag but were concerned that had they hit this man that they would be in a lot of trouble. They want to know if there is any liability if they were following the rules of the road. Attorney Peyton Akers mentioned that under Virginia Code Section 46.2-924 explains that anyone not crossing the road in a crosswalk or attempting to avoid oncoming traffic would be liable. This driver did nothing wrong and had they hit the pedestrian could still have potentially been sued, in which they should contact their insurance company, but would not be at fault. If at any point the driver was found speeding or driving recklessly, then liability would be in question even if the pedestrian was not using the crosswalk.
Listen to the full audio here
As a reminder, Akers & Cleator Law Group practice multiple areas of law. They specialize in Family Law (divorce, child/spousal support, and custody & visitation), Criminal Law (traffic, domestic, misdemeanors, and felonies), Personal Injury (auto accidents, premises injuries, wrongful death, and negligence), Civil Litigation (mental health, contracts/breech of contracts, property damage, and more), and Debt Collection (whether you are collecting a debt or have a debt against you).
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