February 2017 - Kamerow Law
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Estate Planning: How Can I Protect My Pet?

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5001 Seminary Road, Suite 110
Alexandria, VA 22311
Phone: 703-370-8088
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Estate Planning: How Can I Protect My Pet?

For most people, a pet becomes a member of the family. As such, a pet should be considered during a person’s overall estate planning process. It is critically important that you ensure that your pet is fully protected throughout the remainder of its life. Of course, it must be noted that the law does not consider a pet a member of the family; the law considers a pet a form of property. Fortunately, there are still estate planning tools available that can help you leave assets specifically for the protection of your pet.  

What You Need to Know About Pets and Your Will

You should not make your pet a beneficiary in your will. Obviously, since your pet cannot actually take possession of any assets, those assets will simply be passed on to another beneficiary. Still, in some cases, you can use your will to provide protection for your pet. For example, if you have full faith and confidence that your sister would be willing and able to care for your pet, you can leave the possession of your pet to her through your will. Additionally, you can also leave her funds to care for the pet. However, if you transfer those funds through your will, you will not retain much control over how the funds are spent. The good news is that you have another estate planning options available. You can establish a pet trust for your animal.

Setting Up a Pet Trust

Many jurisdictions have statutes that allow people to set up a pet trust. For example, you can set up a pet trust in Virginia and in Washington DC. A pet trust offers some major advantages over simply handing your pet and some money over to another party through your will. First and foremost, a pet trust goes into effect immediately after you become incapacitated. This is important because sometimes it can take awhile for a will to be executed. Since a pet trust goes into effect right away, your pet would be protected in the event that a protracted legal dispute arises. Additionally, a pet trust allows you to leave money for the care of a pet while also retaining control over those funds. More specifically, you will be able to control how those funds are distributed and used. Finally, a pet trust will last for the remainder of your pet’s life. If there is any money left over at the end, you can choose what will happen to it.

Contact Our Office Today

At Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC, our Alexandria estate planning attorneys know how important it is to protect the well-being of your beloved pet. For assistance establishing a pet trust, or for answers to any other estate planning questions, please call our office today at (703) 370-8088 to request your free initial case evaluation.  

After Seeing the Biggest Spike in Five Decades, Highway Fatalities Continue to Rise

Highway deaths had been slowly falling in the United States for the past several decades. However, the year 2015 brought a sharp change in that trend. In 2015, traffic deaths increased by more than nine percent. This figure was alarming as it was the single largest annual increase in highway fatalities that our country has seen in almost fifty years. Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the first round of data for the first half of 2016, and it appears that things are continuing to get worse. According to the NHTSA, U.S. traffic deaths were up by 10.4 percent over the first six months of 2016. Overall, at least 17,000 Americans were killed in car accidents over that period, the most in nearly a decade.

Why are Accidents Rising?

At this time, highway safety officials believe that there are likely several different factors that have resulted in our roads becoming less safe. One factor is simply that Americans have been driving more over the last two years. This is because of a combination of an improving economy along with lower fuel prices. However, this only explains a fraction of the overall rise. For perspective, highway fatalities per vehicle mile traveled increased by approximately 8 percent over the first half of 2016. While that is less than the 10.4 percent total increase, it also shows a sharp rise.

Blame Distracted Driving

Many believe that distracted driving is the primary culprit behind the increase in serious car accidents. The majority of drivers currently have some sort of handheld device on them while they are behind the wheel. For example, a driver may be distracted by talking on a cell phone, texting, streaming video, using a smartphone app or even using their GPS system. Distracted driving is extremely dangerous. Far too many people believe that they can take their eyes off the road for just a second to get a quick glance at their cell phone. Unfortunately, this is unsafe; that one second could be the difference between stopping safely and a serious highway accident. To counteract the rise in car accidents, we need to do more to fight distracted driving.

Do You Need Legal Assistance?

The experienced car accident lawyers at Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC are standing by, ready to help. We will work aggressively to help you recover every penny that you rightfully deserve. If you or a family member has been seriously injured in a car crash, please call our Alexandria office today at 703-370-8088 to set up a free review of your claim. We serve victims throughout the region, including in Washington D.C., and Montgomery County, Maryland.

Virginia Motorcycle Accidents: Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do Motorcycle Accidents Occur?

Motorcycle accidents take place for a wide variety of reasons. Though, contrary to some pop culture stereotypes, motorcyclists are generally not the party to blame for most multi-vehicle accidents involving a bike. Indeed, according to data provided by the Federal Highway Administration, the driver of a full-sized vehicle is far more likely to be responsible for a multi-vehicle crash than is the biker. Far too often the drivers of cars and trucks simply fail to notice the presence of a motorcycle.

When Can I Hold Another Party Responsible for My Crash?

In Virginia, the party who is at-fault for the accident can be held liable for the crash. In most cases, a fault is established by proving negligence. In other words, if you can prove that your accident was caused by another party’s failure to take proper care, you can hold that party liable for your motorcycle accident damages.

How Long Do I Have to Take Legal Actions?

Under Virginia law, personal injury victims typically have two years to bring their claim. There are very few exceptions to this two-year rule. Victims of an accident should get their case started as soon as possible.

What Compensation is Available?

Motorcycle accidents victims may seek relief for the full extent of their losses. In Virginia, financial compensation may be available for both any direct monetary losses as well as non-economic losses. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, our firm may be able to help you recover the following damages:

  • All medical bills;
  • Future medical costs and long-term disability;
  • Lost wages and loss of ability to earn of living;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Emotional distress;
  • Loss of limb;
  • Disfigurement; and
  • Wrongful death of a loved one.

How Should I Deal With the Insurance Company?

You should be very careful when speaking to an insurance adjuster. Ultimately, the insurance company is not interested in paying you the full and fair compensation that you deserve. Instead, they are focused on limiting their own liability. The best way to deal with the insurance company is through your Alexandria motorcycle accident attorney. Please do not give a statement or sign any documents without first receiving approval from your attorney.

When Should I Contact an Attorney?

You should call an attorney as soon as possible after your motorcycle crash. A serious accident can be completely debilitating and you need to focus on your healthy recovery and your family. Let your attorney focus on protecting your legal rights. For additional information, or to set up a free review of your case, please contact Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC today. We represent motorcycle accident victims throughout Northern Virginia, including in Springfield, Falls Church, Arlington, and Fairfax.