Not all car accidents are criminal

On behalf of Nicole Diaz of Patel & Dalrymple, PLLC posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2018.

After a deadly accident, many people try to look for a criminal explanation. Was the driver intoxicated or distracted by a smart phone? Driving well over the posted speed limit? Unfortunately, there are not always such reasons for fatal car accidents. Sometimes, a negligent driver simply not focusing well enough is all there is to blame. 

A Virginia woman died after she was involved in a recent tragic collision on U.S. 29. She was driving around 8:30 p.m., when an oncoming pickup truck veered across the median and into her lane. Although the driver of the pickup initially hit a road sign, the pickup then moved into the woman's path and struck the car head-on. 

According to emergency responders, the car driver died at the scene of the accident. It is not clear if the driver of the pickup suffered any injuries in the wreck, or required any medical treatment. Police are currently investigating the events that led to the collision, but so far do not believe that the driver was intoxicated or otherwise distracted. 

Many Virginia families rely on evidence gathered by police when pursuing wrongful death claims with regard to their loved ones. When police determine that a driver was not criminally negligent, some people worry that they will not be able to bring a claim for monetary damages against the driver. However, criminal charges are not a prerequisite for these types of civil suits, and families can still take action to achieve compensation after these types of deadly car accidents.

Reviewing trusts, wills every few years is a smart move

On behalf of Nicole Diaz of Patel & Dalrymple, PLLC posted on Thursday, August 23, 2018. 

No set rule is in place for how frequently people who own assets in Virginia should review their estate plans. Nonetheless, there are a few basic guidelines that are wise to follow. Here is a look at these general guidelines for reviewing wills, trusts and other estate planning documents.

Ideally, those who have created wills and set up trusts should look at their documents at least every three years. This will help them to ensure that they are still in agreement with the provisions of the documents. For example, they can check to see if they would still like the parties they previously selected to be their trustees, powers of attorney or personal representatives to maintain these roles. In addition, do they want the same parties to receive their assets when they pass away?

In addition to completing their own estate planning reviews every three years, those who own assets may want to have an attorney review their plans at least every four years. An attorney can be helpful in this regard since estate planning laws are constantly changing. Updating an estate plan is also a smart move following big life events, such as a marriage, the birth of a baby or a change in one's financial status.

Setting up trusts and creating wills are not high on many people's to-do lists, as people generally do no want to think about the possibility of death. However, the reality is that death is inevitable and can strike at any time, so it only makes sense to be prepared. An attorney in Virginia can help those who own assets—whether they are many or few—to set up trusts or wills that will satisfy their current wishes in the event that they pass away.

Understanding a commercial lease

On behalf of Sam Patel of Patel & Dalrymple, PLLC on Monday, August 20, 2018. 

If you are starting a new business in Virginia or looking for a new or additional location for your existing business, you likely will need to sign a commercial lease. Most businesses start out operating in leased premises, and many, particularly those in the retail sector, never operate from anything other than leased premises.

As you already know if you have leased commercial property before, commercial leases are a completely different species than residential leases for homes or apartments. One of the main differences is that you have far more flexibility to negotiate the terms of a commercial lease than you do with a residential lease. In addition, a commercial lease usually contains fewer protections for either the lessor or the lessee. This is because contract law presumes that both parties to a commercial lease have more business acumen than residential lease parties.

Common negotiable terms

No two commercial leases are exactly alike because no two commercial lease situations are exactly alike. While the lessor may own a building in which numerous businesses lease space, each lessee brings his or her own unique needs and desires to the negotiation table. That being said, negotiable terms almost invariably include the following:

  • The amount of the rent
  • The amount of the security deposit
  • The length of the lease term
  • The events and mechanics involved with rent increases during the lease term
  • Which property improvements are the lessor’s obligation and which are the lessee’s obligation
  • Type, size and placement of signage

Common lease types

Make sure you understand which type of commercial lease your potential landlord is offering you and what obligations you are assuming by signing it. Each of the five main types of commercial leases has its own name as follows:

  1. Gross lease
  2. Net lease, also called a single net lease
  3. Modified net lease, also called a modified gross lease
  4. Double net lease, also called a net-net lease
  5. Triple net lease

Owners of multi-tenant buildings usually offer either a gross lease or modified gross lease. This means that you and your landlord likely will split building repair and maintenance costs. You may also split the building’s operating expenses such as its taxes and insurance. Since neither you nor your landlord can predict whether these costs will increase or decrease during your lease period, your rent amount may or may not be tied to such fluctuations. That could be yet another negotiation point between you and your prospective landlord.

Trusts offer many unique estate planning benefits

On behalf of Nicole Diaz of Patel & Dalrymple, PLLC posted in Trusts on Thursday, August 9, 2018. 

Many people throughout the United States, including in Virginia, prefer not to think or talk about death. For this reason, estate planning is oftentimes ignored. However, creating wills or living trusts is essential for protecting one's assets long term. Here is a look at what trusts in particular can do for asset owners.

Setting up a trust involves the execution of a trust deed as well as the transfer of a person's estate to a selected trustee for the estate beneficiaries' benefit. Three kinds of trusts are available: a private trust, public trust, and religious or charitable trust. In addition, trusts can be either irrevocable or revocable.

Trusts offer several benefits, with one being that they provide for the management of people's estates during their lifetimes. They also provide for the management and distribution of a person's wealth following the person's death. With irrevocable trusts, people can maintain control of their assets by allowing their appointed trustees to consult them as needed. With revocable trusts, individuals can easily access, as well as control, their assets just as they did before setting up their trusts.

The benefit of a living trust over a will is that it keeps an estate from having to go through the time-consuming process of probate when the estate owner passes away. In addition, living trusts are not part of the public record, so people who use them can keep their estate information private. Also, trusts can be used no matter how large or small a person's estate may be. An attorney can provide asset owners with the guidance they need to set up trusts in the most personally beneficial manner possible in Virginia.

Families can seek compensation after deadly car accidents

On behalf of Nicole Diaz of Patel & Dalrymple, PLLC posted on Thursday, August 2, 2018. 

There were no survivors of a recent two-vehicle crash in Virginia. Police indicated that it had been at raining the time of the wreck, but this is no excuse for negligent behavior. Drivers must adjust their behavior behind the wheel during inclement weather to avoid causing car accidents. 

The accident occurred shortly before 10 in the morning, when the driver of an eastbound vehicle apparently lost control of his vehicle. He drove across the center median of the road and directly into the path of a second car, which was heading west. Unable to break in time to avoid a collision, the second car hit the other vehicle on the passenger side. A witness reported seeing one of the vehicles smashed up and resting in the median, while the other appeared to be missing its roof. 

The 20-year-old driver who caused the wreck initially survived the wreck and was transported to an area hospital, where he later died. His passenger—another 20-year-old—and the 52-year-old driver of the westbound vehicle both died at the scene of the accident. Police temporarily blocked the surrounding road for clean-up efforts. 

Unexpectedly losing a loved one because of another driver's negligence can be devastating. Virginia families often feel lost after these types of car accidents, unsure of which steps to take when seeking justice. In such instances, a family can file a wrongful death suit even if the person responsible for the wreck was also killed. Any resulting compensation from a successful suit will come from the driver's estate, which will then be applied to the victim's estate.