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Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC
5001 Seminary Road, Suite 110
Alexandria, VA 22311
Phone: 703-370-8088
Fax: 703-370-1714

What Is Subject To Probate Litigation

The last will and testament provide for the distribution of an individual’s estate upon their passing. However, these documents are not entirely binding, and if certain circumstances occur, either a provision of the will or the will in its entirety may be challenged.

Probate process

When discussing probate litigation, it is important to overview the probate process. Probate is the term used to describe the process through which the last will and testament of a deceased person is recognized, and the process of arranging their affairs begins. An administrator will be appointed who will oversee the assets and debts left behind by the deceased.

Litigation

The litigation process begins when an individual challenges either a provision of the will, the appointment of an administrator, or the entirety of the will. Common litigation includes an area such as:

  • Lack of mental capacity;
  • Improper signing of the will;
  • Duress; and
  • Undue influence.

Each of these instances refers to a portion of or the entirety of the will be void due to circumstances surrounding the deceased. The will is invalid if the deceased did not create it or any of its provisions of his or her own volition, without outside pressure or diminished mental capabilities.

Limits

Challenging the will of the deceased does not have an unlimited time frame. As soon as the creator of the will has passed away, a challenge to the will may be issued. This must be filed before the first hearing for probate petition, during which the court discusses whether the will is, in fact, valid. If the will has already been deemed valid by a probate court, it is still possible to file a petition to revoke will probate up to 120 days after the date of the hearing.

Probate lawyers in Maryland

If you have questions about estate planning, contact the attorneys at Kamerow Law Firm. Our legal professionals have years of experience assisting clients with a variety of their estate planning needs.

If you find yourself in need of probate assistance, contact us online or give us a call at 703-370-8088. We get involved with our clients’ probate issues and are available every step of the way.

Estate Planning and Will Writing Tips

Planning an estate and writing a will are two important steps that anyone can take to aid in planning for the future. No matter how small or large, everyone has an estate, and planning for the distribution of this estate upon death can save many headaches down the line. Listed below are a few will writing tips to aid in the process.

Organization

One of the most important tips for writing a will is to keep it organized. Create a storage system for all financial records, titles, or insurance claims in a safe, marked location, which can be easily found by a family member. This ensures that all the proper information that is needed during the probate process can be found. This is also a great time for an individual to review all of his or her paperwork in order to make sure the wording is clear, there are no existing errors on the documents, and that any beneficiary designations are not out of date.

What is probate property?

When writing a will, it is important for an individual to understand which of his or her assets are subject to probate. Regardless of if a will is present, many assets must still go through the probate process. This is to ensure that after an individual’s death, all of his or her financial obligations are met, which may include selling parts of the estate that are subject to the probate process. There are certain assets, however, that avoid this route and may pass directly to any named beneficiaries. IRA accounts, life insurance policies, 401(k)s are common examples of non-probate property.

Professional Guidance

Although it is not necessary, seeking direction from an experienced attorney can aid greatly in the will planning process. These individuals can answer any questions about creating a will, maintaining a will, and the entire probate process and distribution of assets upon death.

Estate planning lawyers in Maryland

Clients who need help with their estate planning can find relief with Kamerow Law Firm knowledgeable and experienced in wills, estate and trust administration, and powers of attorney, we can help you to make sure your estate plans are in order.

If you find yourself in need of estate planning assistance, contact us online or give us a call at 703-370-8088. We get involved with our clients’ estate planning issues and are available every step of the way.

Things to Consider Before Planning Your Estate

Planning an estate is not something that anyone wants to think too much about. After all, you are planning for your own passing, which is never an enjoyable thing to consider. However, there are a handful of considerations that you should make before you start drafting your will.

Your Immediate Family

The first thing that you should think about is your own immediate family. Do you have a spouse? Do you have any ex-spouses? Do you have any kids? How many do you have and how old are they? Are they from your current marriage or from a previous one?

Your immediate family’s situation is often the most important thing to think about when you plan out your estate. How you distribute your assets to them can make a huge impact on their lives.

For example, if you have two children, and one of them is a doctor but the other is a struggling painter, then it can make sense to give more to the artist than to the doctor. However, if there is bad blood between the two, then not splitting things evenly might lead to the will being contested, which would take legal fees out of the estate to resolve, resulting in less for both of them.

Sometimes, there may be other reasons for splitting your assets unevenly between your immediate family. Many people use their wills as a final way to show their preference for one person over another. Deciding if this is something that you want to do, and how you want to do it, is something to carefully consider before sitting down to draft your last will and testament.

How Much You Have to Give

How much you have to give in your will is always a limiting factor to what you can do. In fact, for some people without many assets at all, deciding not to have a will might even be a fine decision.

Before drafting your will, however, it is a wise decision to make an extensive and detailed list of everything that you own. If you do this, you will rest assured that you are not leaving anything out, and are controlling who gets everything.

Estate Taxes

A final thing to consider is estate tax. Minimizing how much money goes to Uncle Sam maximizes how much ends up in the hands of the people you want to give it to.

Let Us Assist You with Estate Planning Services

The estate planning attorneys at Kamerow Law Firm can help you prepare you will. Contact us online or by phone at 703-370-8088.

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.

Estate Planning: What You Need to Know About Charitable Giving

For many people in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., charitable giving is a way of life. By giving to charity, you will be able to support the activities of a worthwhile organization for years to come. If you are a donor, considerations for charitable giving may be an important part of your estate plan. It is critically important that you structure your estate plan properly so that your resources can provide the maximum benefit to your family and to causes that are important to you.  

Charitable Giving: Understanding Your Options

Ultimately, the best estate planning method to donate to charity will depend entirely on your individual circumstances. Many different factors will need to be reviewed by your estate planning attorney, including the type of assets you possess, the type of organization that you are supporting, and how the rest of your estate plan is structured. For some basic perspective, some of the most popular options for leaving charitable bequests include:

  • Giving a lump sum payment: If you want to leave money directly to a charity, your best option may be to use your will. This is an easy method that can be used if you want to grant one lump sum payment to a beneficiary of your choice.
  • Gifting assets: If you are looking to leave assets to a charity, whether real estate or a stock portfolio, things can be a little more complicated. You do not want to accidentally leave the charity with tax problems or tilting issues. Fortunately, an estate planning attorney can help you plan ahead so that you are able to pass on any of your assets on without trouble.
  • Charitable Trusts: You may choose to use one of the common charitable giving trusts to leave your gift. Both Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRTs) and Charitable Lead Trusts (CLTs) are frequently used as estate planning tools in this circumstances. These trusts offer several key benefits, including certain tax advantages. The trust that makes the most sense for your particular situation will depend on your goals. For example, a CRT easily lets you leave some money to a relative while paying the interest to a charity. Alternatively, a CLT lets you structure a monthly or annual annuity payment to a charity of your choice.
  • Starting a family foundation: Finally, in some cases, you may wish to start your own personal or family foundation for a charity. Family foundations can be useful in a lot of different situations. For those who are giving a large amount of assets and would like to have some involvement with the charity during their lifetime, a family foundation may be the best option available.

Our Estate Planning Team Can Help

At Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC, our dedicated estate planning attorneys have more than twenty-five years of experience offering our clients cost-effective legal services. We are located in Alexandria and proudly serve clients throughout the Washington, D.C. metro region. Please do not hesitate to call our office today at (703) 370-8088 to schedule your free initial consultation.

Bicyclists Have a Right to the Road

Bicyclists face a major safety threat from automobiles. According to a report filed by Greater Greater Washington, more than 100 bicyclists have been killed in car accidents in our region over the last two decades. Many thousands more have suffered serious injuries. Often, these accidents take place simply because motorists do not know how to share the road with bikes. Bicyclists have a legal right to the road. If you were injured in a bike accident anywhere in the Washington metro area, please contact our Alexandria bicycle accident attorneys today for immediate legal assistance.

Bicyclist Rights: Correcting Three Common Misconceptions

Myth #1: “That bike should get out of my way.”

The Reality: Cyclists have the right to control an entire lane.

Too many drivers in our region fail to understand the fact that cyclists have a right to control an entire lane. When a bike is on the road, the rider can, and should, ride in the center of their own lane.

Myth #2: “What is that bike doing in the left lane? It should not be there.”

The Reality: Bicyclists should use the left lane when appropriate.

Bike riders are obligated to follow most standard traffic regulations. Of course, this means that when a bicyclist needs to make a left turn, he or she should be in the far left lane. Unfortunately, drivers sometimes get frustrated and confused when they see a bike in the left lane. This is because drivers simply do not know the rules of the road. Cyclists have every right to the left lane when turning left.

Myth #3: “My car can squeeze by this bike.”

The Reality: The unsafe passing of a bicyclist is unlawful and dangerous.

Unsafe passing leads to many serious bike accident injuries each year. Trying to squeeze your vehicle past a bicyclist is known as ‘buzzing’. At least 30 jurisdictions in the United States have laws that protect bikes against ‘buzzing’. Both Virginia and the District of Columbia are included on this list. Under these laws, you are required to give cyclists at least three feet of clearance when you pass them. If there is not enough room to give a three-foot clearance, you simply must wait to make a pass. Please be patient when passing bicycles. You do not want to put someone else’s safety at risk.

Our Bike Accidents Lawyers Can Help

If you were injured in a bicycle accident, you need aggressive legal protection. At Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC, our attorneys have helped many injured pedestrians and bike accident victims recover full and fair compensation for their damages. To learn more about what we can do in your case, please contact our office today to request your free case evaluation. We serve victims in Alexandria and throughout the region, including in Washington, D.C. and Maryland.  

Medical Malpractice: Birth Injuries

Unfortunately, birth injuries still happen far too frequently in the United States. According to a study conducted by the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), approximately 160,000 preventable injuries occur to infants and mothers during childbirth each year. Some of these injuries can be quite serious, even having life-altering ramifications. Birth injury victims deserve justice. If you or your infant suffered an injury during birth, please contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney today to learn more about your legal options.

Five Common Malpractice-Related Birth Injuries

While birth injuries take many different forms, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have found that the following five complications are the most common:

  • Fractures: Fractures generally occur when a medical professional is too rough with a newborn infant. The most common type of fractures are to the shoulder and the collarbone. Fortunately, most fractures heal without long-term problems.
  • Brachial Palsy injuries: This type of injury also generally occurs as a result of a doctor being too rough with an infant during the delivery. A brachial palsy injury happens when damage is done to the nerves that control the arms. Nerve damage during birth is always serious and can have long-term consequences.
  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is an abnormality that affects the development of a person’s hip. This type of injury is often not caused by the birth itself. However, medical professionals have a professional duty to catch this abnormality as soon as possible in a young infant. By taking quick action, medical professionals can help to alleviate the pain and adverse effects that come with this condition. If a doctor fails to identify and correct hip dysplasia in a timely manner, they can often be held liable for medical malpractice.
  • Brain injuries: During the birth, most infants will experience very short periods of oxygen deprivation. However, if these periods extend for too long, serious brain damage can occur as a result.
  • Facial paralysis: When too much pressure is applied to an infant’s face during the birth, facial nerves can sustain major damage. This nerve damage can have long-lasting impacts and can even result in partial paralysis of the face.

What Type of Compensation is Available for Victims?

Birth injury victims and their families are legally entitled to compensation that accounts for the full extent of their losses. Our attorneys can help you seek recovery for any direct financial losses, your non-economic losses, and long-term damages. More specifically, we can help you recover:

  • All medical costs;
  • Any expenses associated with rehabilitation;
  • Long-term disability;
  • Lost of future income;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Disfigurement; and
  • Loss of life enjoyment.

Contact Our Office Today

Birth injury medical malpractice claims are notoriously complex. At Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC, our attorneys have the experience necessary to help protect your legal rights and financial interests. If you or your infant was a victim, please call our Alexandria office today at (703) 370-8088 to set up a free review of your claim. We serve victims throughout Northern Virginia, including in Arlington, Sterling, and Fairfax.

How a Virginia Truck Accident Attorney Can Help You

Truck accidents remain a major problem in Virginia, throughout the region, and around the country. Indeed, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that around 90 large commercial trucks are involved in deadly crashes in Virginia each year. That accounts for nearly 10 percent of all fatal accidents that occur within the state. Many more tractor trailers are involved in very serious crashes that lead to life-altering injuries. Commercial truck accidents also create particularly complex legal situations. If you have been injured in an accident with a large truck, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Alexandria truck accident attorney who can help protect your legal rights and financial interests.

Your Attorney Will Collect Evidence

To recover the full and fair truck accident injury compensation that you deserve you will need to produce evidence that supports your claim. Key evidence comes in many different forms. Specifically, the following forms of evidence can be used to help support your legal claim:

  • Photographs of your injuries;
  • Your medical records;
  • Supporting statements from your doctor;
  • Photographs of the accident scene;
  • Testimony from accident scene re-creation experts;
  • Supporting statements from witnesses;
  • Truck inspection or maintenance records;
  • Electronic recording data from the truck.

Your Attorney Will Sort Out Liability

Truck accidents are especially complicated for many different reasons. One of those reasons is that sorting out liability is far more complex. Put simply, there are just many more parties that could potentially be held responsible for the accident. In some cases, more than one party may actually split the liability for your crash. Parties that are commonly found to be liable for commericial truck crashes include:

  • The driver of the truck;
  • The driver’s employer;
  • The manufacturer of the truck or trailer; or
  • The company that was leasing the truck.

Your Attorney Will Handle the Insurance Company

Finally, it is also necessary that you have an attorney by your side to help you handle the insurance company. As the American Bar Association (ABA) notes, the majority of personal injury claims settle before they actually go to trial. This means that you need to ensure that you reach a settlement agreement with the insurer that truly accounts for the full value of your injury claim. Ultimately, insurance companies do not have your best interests at heart. They will try to settle your claim for the lowest value possible. You need an attorney by your side who can fight to protect your rights.

Contact Our Office Today

Truck accident victims need aggressive legal representation. The experienced truck accident attorneys at the the Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC are standing by, ready to help. To learn more about what our attorneys can do for you, please do not hesitate to contact or call our Alexandria office today at (703) 370-8088. Our truck accident attorneys will review your case free of charge, with no further obligations to you.