Do I need an estate plan?

Are you wondering how you can make sure that your property reaches your beneficiaries after your death? Do you want to be sure that someone you trust will oversee any medical or financial decisions in the event of your incapacitation? If so, you’re already in the early stages of the estate planning process. Many people assume that estate planning only applies to those with significant assets. However, estate planning encompasses much more than the distribution of property. Contact us today to discuss your situation, and we’ll determine the best strategies to help you achieve your estate planning goals.

Is it better for me to create a will or establish a trust?

Our clients often want to know whether establishing a will or a trust might be a better option when it comes to the cornerstone of a sound plan. The answer is: it depends. Families who have less complicated asset portfolios may find that a simple will is enough to meet their needs, while individuals who have assets in real estate or family businesses may benefit from the flexibility a trust provides. We’ll work with you to determine the best way to ensure your assets, your loved ones, and your legacy enjoy sufficient protection.

What are the advantages of creating a trust?

Although often more expensive and time-consuming to establish than wills, trusts can be tailored to address a wide variety of estate planning needs. For example, families often combine irrevocable trusts with advance health care directives, powers of attorney, and other estate planning tools to ensure their health care and financial wishes are known and respected. One advantage of trusts, of course, is that they don’t have to go through probate court as wills do. Probated assets are harder to protect from excess taxation or creditors’ claims, and probate can be a costly and complicated process even with legal representation.

What is probate like in Alabama?

Probate is overseen by an executor or personal representative, typically identified in the will itself or otherwise appointed by Alabama. The executor is in charge of accounting for and gathering the assets of the individual who has passed away, notifying any creditors, honoring all legitimate debts, and then dividing the remainder of an estate among the decedent’s heirs per the instructions specified in the will. Probate and other estate administration matters are best handled by an experienced lawyer; in fact, a skilled probate attorney can sometimes help their clients avoid court altogether.

My SSDI application was denied. What can I do?

Unfortunately, the Alabama Disability Determination Services (ADDS) often denies first-time SSDI applicants the benefits they’re seeking. Some of these denials (called technical denials) stem from the applicant’s lack of sufficient work history to qualify for SSDI. If this is the case, you may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Other times, ADDS will deny an application because it finds the type or severity of the applicant’s disability fails to qualify them for benefits. Should this happen, you have the right to appeal your case and secure the benefits you deserve.

What does the SSDI appeals process look like?

If you are unable to continue working because of a physical or mental disability and have seen an initial appeal denied by ADDS for non-technical reasons, you have 60 days in which to submit a written letter to the SSA stating your intention of filing an appeal. If the SSA agrees to honor your appeal, you can schedule a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). Although it can take a long time to secure a hearing – sometimes as long as a year or more – it’s worth it because this is the stage of the appeals process in which applicants are most likely to see their denial overturned. During the hearing, you can present your case before the ALJ. A good SSDI attorney can help prepare you for your hearing by coaching you about the kinds of questions you are likely to be asked and see that you stand the best possible chance of getting the ALJ to grant your benefits.

What if the ALJ still won't approve my SSDI benefits?

If the ALJ doesn’t approve your benefits, you have one more option: submitting your appeal to Alabama’s Appeals Council. It can be challenging to get an application approved at this stage, but it’s not impossible. Although you can still make a federal appeal after this if necessary, you can expect to spend a considerable amount of time and money during this endeavor. Contact our Fort Payne office to get more information about the appeals process and how an SSDI attorney can help you protect your rights during this difficult time. We’ll guide you through the stages of the appeals process in the State of Alabama and make sure you’re doing everything you can to get the federal benefits you deserve.

What types of cases are tried in Municipal Court?

Under Alabama’s State Code, moving violations and most criminal misdemeanors are handled by the city’s municipal court in whose jurisdiction the offense occurred. Each city or town has its own laws governing traffic violations or criminal behavior as long as they do not conflict with the Alabama criminal code. Examples of cases tried in the municipal court include DUI, domestic violence, misdemeanor cannabis possession, shoplifting and other petty theft, criminal trespass, and speeding tickets and moving violations.

What are the penalties for misdemeanor offenses in Alabama?

In most cases, convictions in municipal court result in fines of up to $500 and a year in jail, although there are often other consequences, including mandatory counseling, restitution payments, or probation. However, drunk driving charges like DUI or DWI often result in harsher sentences, dictated by the Alabama Criminal Code. In some cases, defendants can expect to pay thousands of dollars in fines if convicted. If you’re facing misdemeanor criminal charges, contact Tate & Tate right away to discuss your options.

Can I appeal the Municipal Court's ruling?

The U.S. Constitution and the Alabama Constitution alike guarantee the right to trial by jury. Because of this, if you are convicted in municipal court, you have the right to appeal your case through the local County Circuit Court. However, there are strict timelines involved. Defendants have only fourteen days to file an appeal with the appropriate County Circuit Court, and the filing process can be very difficult without informed legal representation. Contact Tate & Tate to speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney about your case.

If you’re grappling with a legal issue in the Fort Payne area, call the attorneys at Tate & Tate today at (256) 845-1047 to get started.

(256) 845-1047