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Is a Will Enough for Your Estate Planning?

At some point, we won’t be around anymore to take care of our loved ones. That’s why most individuals start creating an estate plan that ensures their wishes are met when the inevitable takes place down the road. Is a will always enough to ensure your needs are met? Here are some scenarios in which you may benefit from more than a will as you begin your estate planning.

Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney are simply documents that allow lawyers or other trusted agents to act on your behalf. You may choose to pursue this avenue for a variety of reasons. Most often, individuals do so to ease the burden of tasks like selling real estate, filing taxes, paying bills and providing clear healthcare treatment preferences.

Living Will

A living will, or advanced directive, allows individuals to make choices about their final days well in advance. Without a living will in place, there may be several unanswered questions regarding how to handle major life decisions, including Do Not Resuscitate orders, organ donations and palliative care preferences. Instead, your loved ones would be left with, and potentially emotionally burdened by these decisions.

Trust

A will is a great foundation for a solid estate plan, but a trust may be worth heavily considering as an add on for many people entering the estate planning process. A crucial thing to remember is that wills only take effect after an individual has passed. Until then, if they were to become incapacitated, they would be unable to provide critical information regarding the handling of their finances. Trusts, on the other hand, go into effect the moment they are signed.  Other advantages of trusts include the fact that they allow assets to bypass probate, distribute assets faster than a will, are more private than a will and allow you to set age requirements for asset inheritance.

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help for Families Who Need Estate Planning

If you are searching for an estate planning and family law attorney in Maryland and unsure where to turn, contact Mobley and Brown, LLP today. Our experienced legal team will work with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.

What to Look for in a DUI Lawyer in Maryland

Last month, we explored the potential penalties associated with a DUI conviction in the state of Maryland. The conviction ultimately results in a misdemeanor crime, but additional penalties such as fines, license restrictions, probation and jail time vary depending on the specifics of the case. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced attorney who understands the nuances of Maryland DUI law represent you. Here are a few tips you can use to select the right DUI lawyer.

Look for Experience and Past Successes

Experience is a valuable trait for a DUI lawyer, but its only part of the picture. Be sure to get a clear idea of how your prospective attorney has been representing their clients over the years. If you discover that they have a positive reputation, you should favor them over lawyers with spotty track records.

Great Communicators Make Great DUI Lawyers

Many attorneys offer free consultations before you enlist their services, and it’s an offer we recommend taking them up on. Before you commit to an attorney, you’ll want to confirm that they are an effective communicator. A precise understanding of DUI law is critical, but it shouldn’t overshadow the importance of first-rate communication skills when arguing in your favor. A confident communicator can offer a great deal of peace of mind to those trying to navigate through the DUI process alone.  This also includes making certain you understand the nuances of the Maryland DUI laws in its simplest form.

Stick to Your Area During Your Searching Process

You may come across attorneys from other towns, or even states, that catch your eye. Our best advice? Stick with an attorney who is local to the area the DUI initially took place in. Local attorneys are likely to have a firm grasp of local DUI law, and they will also bring their established relationships with district attorneys and judges to the table.

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help Fighting Your DUI Charge

If you are searching for the right DUI or DWI defense attorney in Maryland and unsure where to turn, contact Mobley and Brown, LLP today. We are committed to using our experience along with facts from your specific case in order to achieve the result you deserve.   Our experienced legal team is looking forward to working with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.

Do You Need an Attorney for Traffic Court?

Most of the time, drivers who receive traffic tickets choose to personally represent themselves in court. It makes sense! Traffic court generally only results in fines and added points to ones driving record. Even still, there are a few situations in which hiring an attorney is definitely the right move. Here is how we can help you out if you decide to do so!

When Should You Be Sure to Hire an Attorney?

While it is never a bad idea to have professional representation, here are a few instances in which we believe hiring a traffic attorney is absolutely necessary:

You Already Have Several Tickets

If you already have a blemished driving record, its likely worth hiring an attorney to represent you in traffic court. As tickets continue to pile up, the stakes only get higher with the looming threat of steeper fines or even license suspensions. Hiring an attorney could genuinely be the difference that allows you to steer clear of these punishments.

You Are a Commercial Driver

When your livelihood revolves around driving, it only makes sense that harsher punishment and judgement could be used when assessing your traffic court case. To protect your livelihood, it will likely be in your best interest to come prepared with an attorney as your ally.

How Can a Traffic Attorney Help You?

 

Cost Effective

Since traffic cases are generally quite minor, you won’t have to worry about steep legal fees if you choose to hire an attorney. On the other hand, if you do not have an attorney and your case goes south, you will likely be subject to steep insurance premium hikes.

Firm Grasp of Maryland Traffic Law

When you choose an experienced traffic attorney, they have likely experienced many cases very similar to your own. This experience, combined with a firm grasp on Maryland law, allows us to add a lot of value by preparing a defense that improves your odds of minimizing or avoiding punishment. Sometimes, even the presence of an attorney can cause a judge to look upon a defendant more favorably.

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help with Traffic Court Cases in Maryland

If you are searching for a criminal defense or disorderly conduct defense attorney in Maryland and unsure where to turn, contact Mobley and Brown, LLP today. Our experienced legal team will work with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.

The Potential Penalties of a DUI Conviction in Maryland

Criminal convictions of any kind should be avoided if at all possible. A first time DUI charge is a misdemeanor in the state of Maryland. While the punishment is certainly less severe than the penalties associated with more serious felony charges, there are still long-lasting consequences involved with DUI convictions. What are the potential penalties of a DUI conviction in Maryland?

Maryland DUI Conviction Penalties

DUI convictions are considered a misdemeanor crime in the state of Maryland, as previously stated. In addition, first-time DUI offenders may face a fine of up to $1,000 and a sentence of up to one year in prison. First-time offenders also face a 12-point penalty on their driving record. This penalty alone is enough for license revocation, meaning you may end up having to reapply for your driver’s license down the road.  At the minimum, you can likely expect a six-month license suspension.

For second time violators, the penalties are increased even more. The fine can be increased to $2,000, and offenders could face up to a year jail sentence. The 12-point penalty is still in effect, and the offender’s license might be revoked for a full year rather than a mere six months. First- and second-time offenders may be required to attend an alcohol abuse treatment program as well.

Mandatory Ignition Interlock Program are imposed on any drivers who are charged with two DUI offenses within five years. DUI convictions can lead to a slew of further related issues. These aren’t penalties, per se, but they are complications that occur as a direct result of the charge:

  • Difficulty finding employment opportunities
  • Higher auto insurance rates
  • Higher life insurance rates
  • Loss of security clearance or professional licenses
  • Damaged reputation
  • Payments for alternative transportation

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help Fighting Your DUI Charge

If you are searching for the right DUI or DWI defense attorney in Maryland and unsure where to turn, contact Mobley and Brown, LLP today. We are committed to using our experience along with facts from your specific case in order to achieve the result you deserve.   Our experienced legal team is looking forward to working with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.

What Happens If You Fail a Breathalyzer Test in Maryland?

In the state of Maryland, a breathalyzer test is one of the ways that law enforcement officers will determine whether or not you are intoxicated while driving. During a DUI or DWI stop, the officer will typically ask you to complete a breathalyzer test. There are consequences for refusing the test or if you fail a breathalyzer test.

What Does Implied Consent Mean?

Maryland has an implied consent law, which means that anyone who is driving a vehicle is consenting to take a breathalyzer or blood test if they are pulled over under suspicion of DWI or DUI. However, implied consent only matters if you were legally detained under suspicion of intoxicated driving.

What Happens if I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

Refusing to take a breathalyzer test will have severe consequences separate and apart from a possible DUI conviction in court.  The officer will take your license and issue a temporary license (Order of Suspension) before forwarding the refusal information to the MVA.  You have an absolute right to contest the suspension by timely requesting a hearing at the Office of Administrative Hearings, to prove why your license should not be suspended.  It’s important to note you must request this hearing or you run the risk of having your license suspended on the 46th day after your license was confiscated.  A hearing must be requested within 10 days to avoid your license being suspended while you await your hearing date.  You have 30 days from the Order of Suspension to request an administrative hearing.  For a first offense the suspension is 270 days. A second suspension results in a 2 year suspension.

What Happens if I Fail a Breathalyzer Test?

If you blow a positive result on your test, a .08 or greater, there are many different things that could happen. A street breath test, or Preliminary Breath Test (PBT), will determine your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) at the time you are tested.  However, a PBT is not reliable for court purposes, but can be used to give probable cause for an arrest.  In many cases, you will then go to the police station to take another breathalyzer test that can be used against you. If you fail a breathalyzer test in this manner, you could be charged accordingly. It’s a good idea to contact your representation at Mobley & Brown, LLP immediately to determine your best legal options and protect you from the serious consequences of a DWI or DUI conviction.

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP if You Fail a Breathalyzer Test

Whether you have been pulled over by police and you are concerned about what could happen after you fail a breathalyzer test or you need help considering what the best path forward is for you, contact Mobley and Brown, LLP today. Our experienced legal team will work with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.

How Mediation Works in a Car Accident Case in Maryland

After a collision where you are dealing with injuries or damage to your vehicle, there are several different paths forward to get the restitution that you deserve. An experienced lawyer like Mobley & Brown, LLP can help determine the best path for your car accident case. In Maryland, one of the options is known as mediation. What exactly is mediation, and how does it work in a car accident case?

What Is Mediation?

Mediation is an alternative to taking things to court. During mediation, the involved parties will sit down and try to reach a settlement that works for both parties. A mediator, or unbiased third party, will help to guide both parties to a conclusion and agreement that works. In Maryland, there is a pretrial conference that can also serve as a mediation meeting with both sides. The pretrial conference is typically held with a judge, and it is one way to prevent cases from reaching the courtroom and taking more money and time to conclude.

What Happens During Car Accident Case Mediation?

Typically, the mediator will meet with the parties to introduce themselves. Next, each party will go to a separate room to negotiate. The mediator will go back and forth between the two parties to discuss offers, requests and demands. Many people think of mediation as a contentious process between the two parties, but in reality, it is designed to be as seamless and peaceful as possible. If you are concerned about extensive interaction with the other party in your car accident case, you don’t need to be!

Are Arbitration and Mediation the Same Thing?

No! While both of them can involve a lawyer or judge to help orchestrate the mediation process, they are quite different. During mediation, you cannot be forced to participate. If you do not want to negotiate during your car accident case and would prefer to let the court or a jury decide, that is your right. You can walk out the door at any time.

In arbitration, you can think of it like a less formal trial. While you are not in a courtroom, the decision of the arbitrator will be final and you will be forced to live with it. Unlike mediation, you cannot simply choose to not participate in most cases.

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help with a Car Accident Case in Maryland

Whether you have been the subject of a car accident case in Maryland or you need help considering what the best path forward for you is, contact Mobley and Brown, LLP today. Our experienced legal team will work with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.

The Sale of a Structured Settlement in Maryland

One of the more complex areas of personal injury law involves structured settlements. Structured settlements are a negotiated agreement, in which a person agrees to resolve a personal injury claim in the form of periodic payments, rather than a lump sum. One of the most critical aspects of the sale of a structured settlement in Maryland is an Independent Professional Advisor (IPA).

Why Is an IPA Required for the Sale of a Structured Settlement in Maryland?

Since structured settlements can be very complex, the state of Maryland wants to protect the annuitant and make sure that they are receiving fair market value from the buyer. The Statealso wants to ensure that the transaction is in the best interest of both the selling party and the associated dependents. One of the ways that Maryland seeks to protect these parties during the sale of a structured settlement is by receiving independent professional advice from an IPA.

An IPA is a third party with no personal interest in the matter. The IPA is able to give an honest appraisal of the situation. The decision to sell structured settlement payment rights is a serious one, and you should never make it without proper consideration.

Who Can Act as an IPA?

In Maryland, attorneys, accountants and financial planners can all provide advice on the sale of a structured settlement. Because structured settlements are such complex legal matters, it’s recommended that you work with an experienced lawyer like Mobley and Brown, LLP. The IPA process is not merely a checkbox that we will mark off for you. Instead, we make sure that you thoroughly understand the pros and cons.

What Types of Things Will Be Discussed Before Your Sale of a Structured Settlement in Maryland?

An IPA is there to advocate on your behalf and make sure that you are not getting the bad end of the deal. Is the total after the discount that you will be getting better than the amount that you would be getting through a hardship exchange through an insurance carrier’s program? What things could selling the lump sum payment at a discount affect? We are experienced in handling cases that involve the sale of a structured settlement in Maryland, and we will fight for your best interests.

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help with a Structured Settlement in Maryland

Whether you have been involved in a structured settlement in Maryland or you need help considering what the best path forward for you is, contact Mobley and Brown, LLP today. Our experienced legal team will work with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.

Understanding Bench Warrants in Maryland

In the state of Maryland, both warrants and bench warrants are used by judges and the court. However, there are a broad range of warrants and bench warrants in Maryland that could have serious consequences if you are named in one. You should never ignore a warrant, as it will not disappear on its own! Here’s what every citizen should know about bench warrants in Maryland.

What Are Bench Warrants?

While often confused with arrest warrants, bench warrants are significantly different. Bench warrants can be issued by a judge after you failed to appear in court when requested to do so. When you do not show up at a court date when you were served notice that you were supposed to appear, the state’s attorney can request a bench warrant.

It’s important to note that a bench warrant is not automatic. One example of this can occur if you have a speeding ticket and request a trial with the state instead of paying the ticket. If you fail to appear at the hearing you requested, the court will not bother issuing a bench warrant. Instead, you will have a failure to appear and simply need to work things out with your attorney, the MVA and the court. However, if you have a more serious charge, like a possession charge or drug-related charge, a bench warrant will probably be issued if you do not show up to court.

Do Bench Warrants in Maryland Mean You Will Go to Jail?

Not necessarily. Particularly if you are working with an attorney or hire an attorney, you might not see any jail time despite your failure to appear. When you find out that you have been the subject of bench warrants in Maryland, you should contact an attorney before turning yourself in. If you choose to turn yourself in without the help of an attorney and the commissioner that meets with you deems you a flight risk, you could be put in jail if you cannot post bond.

The most important way to avoid bench warrants in Maryland is simply by appearing in court on time when you are supposed to. If you have a more serious charge and you fail to appear, you can count on a bench warrant being issued and facing the consequences.

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help with Bench Warrants in Maryland

Whether you have been the subject of bench warrants in Maryland or you need help before turning yourself, contact Mobley and Brown, LLP today. Our experienced legal team will work with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.

3 Myths About Non-Compete Clauses

While non-compete clauses are very common in Maryland, there are many myths about them that detract from employees understanding if the agreement they are signing is enforceable and businesses creating legally valid clauses. It is critical that every employer understands exactly what activities they can restrict and how to best use non-compete clauses to protect their business.

3 Common Myths About Non-Compete Clauses

  1. They Are Unenforceable in Maryland: Because Maryland has strict rules that can determine whether or not non-compete clauses are valid, some businesses assume that virtually all clauses are unenforceable. In reality, that isn’t the case. Noncompete agreements are completely enforceable. Maryland has four requirements to make an agreement enforceable. The clause must have adequate consideration to support the contract, be ancillary to an employment contract, be limited in duration and geographic scope, and it must not be against public policy or causing undue harm. Maryland allows portions of noncompete clauses to be enforced even if part is voidable, and the court will simply remove the unenforceable portion and enforce the rest.
  2. Employers Should Use Broad Noncompete Clauses Just in Case: Some businesses interpret Maryland’s rule about striking the unenforceable portion and enforcing the rest to mean that they should try to make the broadest clause possible just in case. However, this can backfire in court. Any clause that restricts an employee from being employed by a competitor in any role imaginable will not hold up, even if it does not protect your business interests. Work with an experienced attorney like Mobley and Brown, LLP to create clauses that are well-designed and enforceable.
  3. Once Non-Compete Clauses Are Violated, There Is Little Recourse: This myth stops many companies from getting the restitution that they are entitled to. If a former employee breaks the clause and it was valid, you can pursue preliminary and permanent injunctions, damages and liquid damages. Mobley & Brown, LLP can evaluate your case and determine the best path forward. If your trade secrets are divulged or an employee knowingly violates the contract they signed, you deserve help.

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help with Arbitration Clauses

If you are part of an arbitration agreement and unsure it if is valid or you need help and you are unsure where to turn, contact Mobley and Brown, LLP today. Our experienced legal team will work with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.

How Do Arbitration Clauses Work in Maryland?

Arbitration clauses are a common element in many contracts and terms and conditions agreements throughout the country, and Maryland is no different. Arbitration agreements allow employers and businesses to protect themselves by lowering the potential financial burden if a contract or dispute goes to court. Alternative dispute resolution can be a great thing, but it is not appropriate for every situation. How do arbitration clauses work in Maryland?

What Makes Arbitration Clauses Enforceable?

An arbitration agreement can exist between two or more parties to resolve things with an arbitrator instead of taking things to court. However, every arbitration agreement is not necessarily legally valid if it is presented to the court. Maryland has a special law, the Maryland Uniform Arbitration Act (MUAA), that dictates how arbitration clauses can be used in the state. A written clause cannot be revoked unless it is invalid or unenforceable.

An arbitration clause in a contract might be invalid, as some businesses do not consult with an experienced business attorney like Mobley and Brown, LLP before creating one. Some of the grounds that a clause can be challenged on include:

  • Waiver: If one party acted in a manner that indicated without a doubt that they were not actually interested in seeking arbitration for legal claims, it would act as a waiver. This could occur if a party immediately filed suit instead of starting the arbitration process.
  • Fraud: If a party misrepresented or omitted a material fact in order to convince the other parties to sign the arbitration clause, that would count as fraud.
  • Duress: If a party was coerced or threatened to sign the contract against their best interest, it could be argued that they signed the arbitration clauses under duress.
  • Unconscionability: Finally, if one party did not have a significant amount or an equal amount of bargaining power when entering the contract, it could be argued in court.

If arbitration clauses themselves are signed on contracts that are invalid, that also automatically invalidates the arbitration section. Remember that every arbitration clause is not applicable to every situation, so there might be disagreement over whether or not a particular clause requires arbitration. Your business attorney at Mobley & Brown, LLP is here to help.

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help with Arbitration Clauses

If you are part of an arbitration agreement and unsure it if is valid or you need help and you are unsure where to turn, contact Mobley and Brown, LLP today. Our experienced legal team will work with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.