Here are some random legal tips that I think most people would appreciate. These are from recent phone calls I’ve had.
- Police stop. If you are pulled over, it’s in your best interest to provide basic information, such as license and registration, but it’s not required that you answer questions. You don’t technically have the right to remain silent until you are under arrest, so don’t annoy the police officer by asserting this “right.” You can simply – and politely – decline to answer questions. The police cannot search your car without proper cause, which means they have to have good reason. However, they can search your car anytime if you consent. Know that you do not have to consent.
- DUI. You have the right to refuse to take a sobriety test at the side of the road. There may be a penalty (losing your license for a time), but it’s your choice. A DUI conviction, including charges that end in court supervision, cannot be sealed or expunged from your record. So take these charges seriously. Jail time and extensive fines are possible, as well. This is one of those cases where having an attorney can make all the difference.
- Power of attorney. There are two types of power of attorney. A healthcare power of attorney appoints someone to make decisions about your medical care in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself. You can name anyone you choose. A power of attorney for property is used to appoint someone to be in charge of your finances if you become incapacitated (mentally ill, in a coma, etc.). Any powers of attorney that you set up end automatically upon your death. If you want a specific person to oversee things after you die, name them as executor in your will.
- Child support. There is no deadline on collecting child support. If you have a court order in place, you can collect at any time. If the other parent doesn’t work, the court can require them to find work and report back to the court. If they do work, their wages can be garnished. If they are deceased, child support can be taken out of their estate. There are public agencies that can help you collect child support, but they often are overworked. If you can hire a family law attorney you should see results faster.
- Nursing home abuse. Unfortunately, most of us will spend some time in a nursing home with a parent or loved one as they age or fall into ill health. There is a wide range of care available, as well as wide range in of quality of care. The tip here is to keep your eyes open for any signs of abuse or neglect. Visit at odd hours, ask questions, be involved. Watch for signs of depression in your loved one, especially feelings of fear. Falls, bruising, bedsores and other injuries should be addressed immediately and not overlooked. If something happens, legal action is an option.
If there’s something you’re wondering about that’s not on this list, just let me know.
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