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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 An Estate Administrator?

When someone passes away, their estate is usually handled by an executor that they name in a Will. When the decedent doesn’t have a Will with a named executor, the courts will appoint an estate administrator to manage the estate. The courts will also appoint someone if the named executor is found to be incompetent, the designated person unwilling to act as trustee, or the named executor dies before he can complete his duties.

Who is the court likely to appoint?

The courts may appoint another family member or friend of the decedent to administer the estate, but they are also likely to appoint someone who is professionally qualified to perform the duties such as an attorney, accountant, or another person who has experience taking on these responsibilities.

What are the administrator’s responsibilities?

An administrator is given full power to take possession of the estate, sell it if required, collect debts due to the decedent, and represent him in all matters which relates to the property. They are also authorized to pay the debts (with the sold assets if required) and is entitled to compensation as a commission on the amount which he handles.

He is bound to use due diligence in his responsibilities and may be held to account if he mismanaged the estate. He is also authorized to file and defend actions in court in his name to manage the property.

Individual administrators may not have the full power to administer the estate. They may be limited to a part of the property or if the named executor dies before completing the administration of the estate they will finish the job.

Washington D.C. Estate Planning Lawyer

If you have been appointed an estate administrator by the courts or someone has been nominated for your loved one’s estate, and you have concerns about the property being handled properly, you should speak to an attorney familiar with estate law. The Estate planning lawyers at Kamerow Law Firm serve the Washington D.C., and Alexandria areas with estate planning and will be able to advise you about your situation and how to proceed. Contact us by calling or fill out our online contact form.

 

Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury: When Is It Medical Malpractice?

Cerebral palsy is a disability that causes loss or reduction of muscle coordination and other disabilities.

What causes Cerebral palsy?

Cerebralpalsy.org states that “Cerebral palsy is a result of brain injury or brain malformation that occurs before, during, or immediately after birth while the infant’s brain is under development. But how a brain injury affects a child’s motor functioning and intellectual abilities is highly dependent on the nature of a brain injury, where the damage occurs, and how severe it is.”

Sadly, otherwise healthy children will suffer from this debilitating disability because of malpractice during their birth. Physicians that were negligent in their roles as caregivers during the birth may have caused the child to go without oxygen for an extended period injuring the brain during birth.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to prove that your physical was negligent. Hiring an experienced attorney to review the merits of your case will improve your chances to recover damages.

What to Look For

It can be difficult to identify cerebral palsy at a young age because of the nature of the symptoms. It may take several months before you suspect a problem. These symptoms can include:

  • Lack of muscle tone or baby’s inability to hold their weight when picked up
  • Failure to hold up their head while on their stomach or in a supported sitting position
  • Muscle spasms or feeling stiff
  • Poor muscle control
  • Feeding or swallowing difficulties
  • Preference to tendency to use one side of the body

When children get older, additional symptoms can include the delayed ability to walk or talk.

Washington D.C. Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you suspect that an instance of medical malpractice during childbirth injured your child, you should contact an attorney who may be able to recover damages. Medical bills, therapies, pain and suffering, and ongoing care expenses are something that families have to deal with when their child has a disability such as cerebral palsy. The attorneys at Kamerow Law Firm are available for a free consultation to discuss your case and how to proceed. Contact us via our online form or call 703-370-8088.

What is “Wrongful Death” in Virginia?

Wrongful death is the death caused by someone else’s misconduct or negligence, or by some intent to cause harm. This could include many situations, from car accidents and medical malpractice to nursing home abuse and intentional homicide. It is a legal action filed by survivors for their own losses. In the state of Virginia, you must be immediate family (wife, children, parents) of the deceased or a personal representative in order to file a wrongful death claim.

What must be proven in a wrongful death case?

The Plaintiff will have to prove three elements in a wrongful death case:

  1. Duty of Care- The Plaintiff must prove that the Defendant had a duty of care to the deceased. In most cases, this is easy to show, such as in a car accident or nursing home neglect. Other cases may be more challenging. For example, if the deceased consumed unprescribed pills at home which caused the death, the Plaintiff must prove that the Defendant (perhaps a doctor or caregiver) had an obligation to provide sufficient care so the deceased would not consume the pills.
  1. Breach of Duty- The Plaintiff must prove that the Defendant breached the duty of care. For example, the Plaintiff must show that the Defendant did not, in fact, provide the deceased with knowledge about the unprescribed pills. If the deceased took the pills despite the warning, then the Defendant may not have breached his/her duty. Most disagreements in these cases revolve around this issue of whether a duty was breached.
  1. Causation- The Plaintiff must prove that the breach of duty was the cause of the death. For example, if the deceased took the unprescribed pills and this caused his/her immediate death, the Defendant’s breach of duty would be the immediate cause of the deceased’s death.

Remedies to Pursue

Special damages and penalties are usually sought by those filing a wrongful death claim. This includes things like financial support, medical bills, pain and suffering, and funeral expenses. Furthermore, if the decedent had dependents, wages and parental guidance will be taken into major consideration under pecuniary injuries.

In a wrongful death case, your attorney will marshal specific information to show the full extent of losses as a result of the family member’s death. In many cases, showing the full extent of the loss (and fair financial amount due) is even more contentious than proving the underlying fault in the case.

Contact Alexandria’s Wrongful Death Attorney

To learn more about wrongful death rules in Virginia, please reach out to the Kamerow Law Firm. We help families in Alexandria, Washington D.C., and other nearby communities with many legal issues, including wrongful death matters. Contact us today to see how we can help in your case.

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.