:: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Are medical bills included in a bodily injury claim?
A: The term "bodily injury claim" usually refers to a personal injury claim. Economic damages include, but aren't limited to:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Rental car expenses, etc.
General damages include:
If you settle your bodily injury claim, it must include all the types of damages available to you, or you'll likely lose your right to recover for those losses.
Q: Can a will be changed?
A: Yes, if the testator is competent. A new will or a "codicil" can be executed to create a new scheme for disposing of the testator's property.
State law can change a will also. This is commonly done when there has been a divorce. Usually a divorce terminates the ex-spouse's rights under a will, unless a contrary intent is clearly shown. A separation doesn't terminate a spouse's rights under a will. The specific impact of divorce on an existing will depends entirely on state law.
Q: What is guardianship?
A: A court appoints a competent adult, called a guardian, for a person over 18 who's declared mentally or physically incapacitated - someone who's unable to make decisions regarding his or her health, living arrangements, finances and life in general. Some reasons may include Alzheimer's disease, mental disability or a recent stroke.
Guardians don't just watch over adults. A court can appoint a legal guardian for anyone under 18 whose parents can no longer take care of them. If parents abuse their children, become too ill or die, a guardian can be appointed. Sometimes parents voluntarily turn over guardianship if they think it's best for their children.
A guardian doesn't have to be a relative, spouse, friend or lawyer; a guardian can also be an organization or state-run agency. There are also professional guardians, who are paid out of the ward's funds, though the court must approve the arrangement.
What is a conservatorship?
A: A conservatorship is a court-supervised process whereby the court appoints a person or entity (i.e. the conservator) to be in charge of the affairs of and make decisions for another person (i.e. the conservatee), whom the court determines is unable to do so due to an incapacity, such as Alzheimer's or dementia.
Q: Who is eligible for Medicaid?
A: Many groups of people are covered by Medicaid. Even within these groups, though, certain requirements must be met. These may include your age, whether you are pregnant, disabled, blind, or aged; your income and resources (like bank accounts, real property, or other items that can be sold for cash); and whether you are a U.S. citizen or a lawfully admitted immigrant. The rules for counting your income and resources vary from state to state and from group to group. There are special rules for those who live in nursing homes and for disabled children living at home.
Your child may be eligible for coverage if he or she is a U.S. citizen or a lawfully admitted immigrant, even if you are not (however, there is a 5-year limit that applies to lawful permanent residents). Eligibility for children is based on the child's status, not the parent's. Also, if someone else's child lives with you, the child may be eligible even if you are not because your income and resources will not count for the child.
In general, you should apply for Medicaid if you have limited income and resources.
Q: What do I need to know if I am going into business for myself?
A: You certainly need some business savvy in order to go into business for yourself. Assuming you have a good idea on how to make money, you should develop a detailed business plan before you do anything else. Going through this process will give you a much better idea of what you need to know about your business before you begin operations. Things to cover would include the following:
- capital requirements
- costs of operating
- ownership and control
- profits and losses
- labor and employment laws
- potential liability exposure
- insurance coverage
- tax consequences
- regulatory hurdles
- administrative issues
- marketing angles
Beyond all these issues, it is also extremely important for all business owners to know that they can't know everything. By definition, business is always a risky venture. The best way to quantify the risk is, when appropriate, to rely on other people for advice and consultation. Every business, for example, should have a working relationship with a lawyer, an accountant, an insurance agent and a banker.
It likewise makes sense to delegate out certain job functions when it is either cost effective to do so (for example, payroll services) or when it helps to spread the risk of your business enterprise (for example, subcontracting out part of a project when someone else will assume the risk of doing a comparable job at a cheaper price).
Q: What exactly is commercial real estate?
A: Broadly defined, the term "commercial real estate" can be used to refer to any dealing with real property in a business context. It could involve leasing out office space, owning an apartment complex or selling real property along with and as part of the sale of a business. It might be industrial or agricultural property. It could even involve residential properties like apartment complexes or rental houses being held for business or income-producing purposes. It can even involve working with the government. Unless the property is a residence where the homeowner is living, you're probably dealing with commercial real estate.
Q: What is considered "construction"?
A: The terms "erection," "construction," "moving," "conversion," "alteration," "remodeling" or "addition" are all common terms used to describe a building which is under construction.
Q: What is a mechanics lien?
A: If a contractor or business is hired to work on your construction project and then you refuse to pay, the individual or business has the right to file a lien. The lien is a claim on your home. This means the contractors and suppliers could go to court to force you to sell your home to satisfy their unpaid bills from your project.
You may also receive a lien even though you have paid the general contractor in full for the project. If this happens, it may be because the general contractor did not pay a subcontractor or business, was slow in making payments or, possibly, closed up shop and filed for bankruptcy. Regardless of the reason, the individual or business has a legal right to be paid and can file claim on your property for the amount owed.
Making the homeowner pay twice for the work completed may seem unfair. But the homeowner, because he benefits from the improvements, is ultimately held responsibility for the debts. If you do end up paying twice - once to the general contractor and again to settle the lien - you have the right to file suit against the contractor to recover your costs.
Q: What's a "protected characteristic?"
A: A characteristic is protected if you can't be legally fired, laid off or not hired based on that characteristic. Protected characteristics include:
- Age - 40 and older
- National origin
- Sexual orientation in some states
Q: How does the Fair Housing Act protect me while I am looking for an apartment or house?
A: The Fair Housing Act protects you by prohibiting discrimination by many of the people involved in the housing process. This includes landlords, banks, real estate companies and insurers.
Q: What types of discrimination are covered under the Fair Housing Act?
A: Discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, familial status or disability is prohibited under the Fair Housing Act.