Coates & Davenport, P.C.

Richmond Legal Blog

Give your loved ones the gift of estate planning this season

As 2018 draws to a close and 2019 is upon us, it is a time of reflection. As a person takes stock of their life, what they've done and what they wish for the future and beyond, one thing that they may want to contemplate is executing an estate plan. A well-rounded estate plan can protect you and your loved ones should you become incapacitated, and it can ensure your assets will be handed down to your chosen heirs once you pass on.

Of course, people in Virginia might execute a will or a trust as a means of leaving an inheritance to their loved ones. However, an estate plan can be so much more comprehensive than just this. For example, what if you are the parent to a minor child and you and the child's other parent both pass away before the child becomes an adult? In an estate plan, a parent can appoint who they want to serve as guardian of their minor child should just such a situation occur. Without a guardian named in an estate plan, the court will determine who will best be suited to be guardian of your child. Most parents want to have a say in what would happen in this situation, so estate planning can be key.

'Birdnesting' is a unique approach to child custody after divorce

If parents go through a divorce, it is a huge transition not just for them, but for their child as well. Parents in Virginia may be concerned about how their child will cope with transferring between two separate homes. Thus, parents will try to establish a parenting plan that disrupts the child's life as little as possible. One creative way for doing so is through "birdnesting."

Through birdnesting, it is not the child but the parents that will rotate between living in the family home and living in a separate home. So, one parent will live in the family home when it is their turn to have custody of the child, while the other parent lives in a separate residence. Then, when it is the other parent's turn to have custody of the child, that parent takes their turn living in the family home while the other parent lives in the separate residence. Thus, the child continues to live entirely in the family home they are familiar with, and parents will take turns residing with the child per the terms of their parenting plan.

Child custody and religion can be an issue this time of year

The winter holidays are just around the corner, but, for many in Virginia, holidays are about more than just celebrating family and gift giving. These holidays often have a deep religious significance for many. So, in addition to the festivities, many people may be heading to their place of worship over the coming month. However, what happens if a child's parents have different religions and are divorced? How is it decided which religious faith the child will practice?

In general, if parents share joint legal custody, then they both have the right to make major life decisions on behalf of the child, including what religion the child will practice. While they may come to an agreement on this issue out of court, oftentimes a court needs to determine what is in the best interests of the child. Many courts determine that the child will not be harmed if they are exposed to one religion by one parent and another religion by the other parent. However, noncustodial parents generally cannot intentionally interfere with the custodial parent's religious choices.

Don't let a DUI mar the upcoming holiday season

The winter holidays will soon be upon us, and, with them, the many celebrations that are part of our cherished traditions. Whether it is a cocktail at the company holiday party, a favorite wine with your Christmas dinner, or a glass of champagne to ring in the New Year, alcohol is often served at celebrations this time of the year. What people need to keep in mind, however, is that police will be on the lookout during the upcoming weeks for drunk drivers.

Drunk driving is taken very seriously in Virginia, and is in fact one of the most commonly filed charges. A first-time offense can result in heavy fines, and a second offense will lead to even harsher punishments. No one can afford to have a DUI on their record. Not only can a DUI charge carry serious financial repercussions, but it could also affect one's personal life and professional reputation for years to come.

How to defend against a DUI charge

The holiday season is nearly upon us and that means holiday parties that involve alcohol. If you plan to attend one of these parties and to drive home, it’s advisable to avoid drinking any alcoholic beverages as this is the best way to avoid an arrest and accusation of drunk driving.

Even if you don't drink anything before driving—or drink a very small amount—there's still a chance that you'll be stopped and accused of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. If this happens, there are several possible DUI defenses that may apply to your situation and case.

How do LLCs and S corps differ under business law?

Business owners have a lot of stake in their enterprise, financially and personally. They may work hard to see that their business is a success. However, they may also want to be shielded from personal liability for the debts and actions of the business. This can be done by structuring the business as either a limited liability corporation or as an S corporation.

Both of these entities protect the business owner's personal assets, meaning that the business's creditors cannot go after the owners' personal assets to fulfill the business's liabilities. There are also tax advantages to each of these business entities. However, LLCs and S corps differ in the way the business owners are paid. Owners of an S corp receive a salary along with dividends from the business's profits. In an LLC, however, the business's activities are reported on the business owner's personal income taxes. However, this does mean they will have to pay self-employment taxes each quarter on the business's income.

Virginia employers must comply with federal safety regulations

Most employers in Virginia want to ensure they keep their premises safe for their workers. They know that workers have certain rights should they be exposed to dangerous work conditions. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, outlines the regulatory compliance measures employers must take to keep their workplaces safe for employees.

Employers are responsible for keeping their premises free from recognizable dangers as well as comply with federal standards and regulations. This means they must regularly inspect their workplace to ensure they are in compliance with OSHA standards. An employer's operating procedures should be updated when necessary to comply with federal rules, and they need to let workers know of these changes.

Address Halloween in your child custody and parenting plan

Halloween is approaching and that means tricks and treats for many little ghouls and goblins in Virginia. Whether your child is going trick-or-treating, to a trunk-or-treat event, or to a holiday party, Halloween is a special time for them. However, for children whose parents are divorced, this holiday can become more complex.

To ensure their child has a fun Halloween, divorced parents need to plan ahead regarding their holiday child custody schedule. Some parents will alternate years that they have their child in their care on Halloween. For example, the child may spend Halloween with one parent on even-numbered years and with the other parent on odd-numbered years. This may work well for parents who are not on good terms with one another and need separate time with the child.

Are there cases in which a family home may be considered separate property in divorce?

Going through a divorce can be an emotional and frustrating experience. Every divorce case has unique factors that will affect how assets and property are divided. For many divorcing couples, a family home is among their largest and most hotly-contested assets.

Educating yourself about how property and assets are divided in Virginia divorces can help you plan and prepare for your post-divorce life. If you believe that you may retain sole ownership of a home, careful exploration of state law and precedent is important.

Why is it so important to create an estate plan?

No one really wants to think about their death. However, death will come to all of us sooner or later. Through estate planning, we can address issues such as inheritances, end-of-life care and more. However, for a variety of reasons, not everyone in Virginia has executed an estate plan. But, they may want to consider doing so, for the benefit of themselves and their loved ones.

First, without a will or trust, a person will be considered to have died intestate. When this happens, their estate will have to go through probate. This is a court process in which the person's heirs will be located, creditors and taxes will be paid, and the remaining estate assets will be passed on to the person's heirs based on state statute. In the end, probate can take a long time and wind up costing a lot of money. Moreover, since an estate without a will or trust is subject to state intestacy statutes, a person's estate may not go to the heirs they would have selected.

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