Road Map to North Carolina Civil Litigation

Road Map to North Carolina Civil Litigation

By E. Drew Nelson, Attorney Many people come to an attorney when they feel they have been wronged and want to know what legal options may be available to them. What many people do not know are the steps necessary to litigate a claim. Once you and an attorney have met to decide that you have a valid claim then several steps happen down the road that ultimately may or may not lead to a trial before a judge or jury on your case. Often times an attorney will send a letter to a person in an attempt to settle the matter prior to litigation. If that does not work to encourage a settlement, then you may decide it is in your best interest to file suit to protect your rights. Steps to Litigate a Claim First you need to decide what court you want to sue in. This is fairly simple as most cases depend on the dollar amount of damages in question. In the North Carolina court system, Small Claims or Magistrate Court can handle matters up to $10,000. District Court handles matters up to $25,000 and Superior Court handles all disputes over $25,000. The legal action does not really start until you file a complaint. A complaint is essentially a recital of facts that support your claim. In the complaint an attorney will lay out the relevant facts and specify the legal remedies that you seek. The filing fee for a complaint is currently $150 in District Court and $200 in Superior Court. Next the complaint must be served upon the Defendant. The Clerk will generate...
Open Hands to Offer Free Seminar on Basic Legal Issues

Open Hands to Offer Free Seminar on Basic Legal Issues

Attorney E. Drew Nelson to present overview and answer questions Lexington, NC – Brinkley Walser Stoner attorney E. Drew Nelson will discuss common legal issues and navigating the court system on July 27, 2016 at the St. Stephens United Methodist Church in Lexington. This free event is presented by Open Hands of Davidson County. “The court system can be frightening for people who have had no experience with it,” says Nelson. “Many people worry, ‘What happens if I am arrested?’ ‘What happens if I am served with legal papers?’ Many people aren’t even sure where to start. In this session, I’ll present some basics on navigating the court system in regards to both criminal and civil matters and answer questions from the audience.” Nelson is an Attorney with Brinkley Walser Stoner. He focuses his practice on Estate Planning, Corporate Law, Probate and Estate Administration, Elder Law, Guardianships, Real Estate, Landlord/Tenant Law and Traffic/ Criminal Law in Davidson, Guilford and surrounding counties. Seminar details: Date/time: July 27, 2016, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. Location: St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church, 102 East 1st Street, Lexington, NC (corner of E. 1st and North Salisbury Street) Cost: Free, registration is required Please register in advance by calling Caitlin McAlhany or Bob Harmon at Open Hands of Davidson County at (336) 242-6142. About Brinkley Walser Stoner, PLLC Brinkley Walser Stoner prides itself on providing new and cutting edge legal counsel built on a foundation of knowledge and integrity. Brinkley Walser Stoner’s attorneys are first and foremost counselors, advising clients on their legal rights and options for appropriate solutions. Practice areas include business law, real estate,...
Restricted Firearms Legislation Update, July 2016

Restricted Firearms Legislation Update, July 2016

By E. Drew Nelson, Attorney On July 13, 2016 ATF regulation 41P will go into effect. This regulation significantly changes the landscape of acquiring and possessing Title II or restricted firearms. You may have heard about this regulation on the news or during a recent visit to your local gun shop. Over the past several years there has been ongoing debate about amending the requirements to purchase and possess Title II firearms. ATF regulation 41P makes some very important changes in regards to both individual ownership of restricted firearms and ownership via a gun trust or other legal entity. The most significant changes are as follows: The Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) will no longer have to sign off on any application to purchase a restricted firearm. Under the old regulations any individual submitting a Form-4 for purchase would have to have the CLEO sign off on the application. Many people set up gun trusts to avoid having the CLEO sign off on an application. This will make it easier for individuals to purchase restricted firearms. However, it does not help protect an individual from any liability incurred with improper possession or transfer of the firearm. Form 5320.23 will be required for all “Responsible Persons”. This is a major change that affects trusts looking to purchase restricted firearms. This is a new form required to be sent in with your Form 4. A copy is also required to go to your CLEO. This form will require a recent passport style photo taken within one year. A “Responsible Person” is any member of the trust “who [has] the power and...
Summer Safety Tips

Summer Safety Tips

Summer is here and many people will be heading out on vacation or just spending more time outdoors enjoying the great weather. Unfortunately, the statistics show that certain types of accidents and injuries increase during the summer months. So what can you do to keep yourself and your family safe? The best thing you can do is be aware of the risks. Get out there and have fun—but give some thought to possible issues and prepare ahead of time. Here are a few thoughts: Safety At Home The kids are out of school, it’s light outside later at night, and the water is inviting. One of the most important safety tips we can provide is the reminder that heat can be dangerous, especially for the very young, elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Know the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and how to treat it and always remember to consume plenty of non-alcoholic drinks to stay properly hydrated. Check out the American Red Cross website at www.redcross.org to learn more. Water safety is also important. Whether you are swimming in a pool, river or lake, swim with a buddy. Use life jackets for kids and adults who don’t know how to swim. Also consider signing up for swim lessons at your local community pool or YMCA. If you are going boating or out on a personal watercraft, know the rules and follow them. Remember that in North Carolina, it is against the law to operate a boat while drunk. Auto accidents are another risk during the summer months. There are more motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians...
Medicaid Countable Resources

Medicaid Countable Resources

By David Inabinett, Attorney at Law Most families, whether parents assisting children or adult children assisting aging parents, are doing so for “all the right reasons.”  As a result, most are not considering and, therefore tracking, day to day whether it’s Mom’s money being used to pay for each and every item Mom may need if adult child is at the grocery picking up food or medications for the parent, or if receipts are brought back when Mom insists on repaying adult child for using their money to purchase the necessary items.  Going a step further, once aging parent becomes incapable of managing day to day finances and bill paying, family members who are invariably busy and stretched to the limits already are concerned more with efficiency and ease of handling not only their own family’s financial decisions but how to best manage the overlay of Mom or Dad’s income/resources without duplication.  These “best practices” in the world of efficiency may include putting adult child’s name on aging parent(s) accounts, setting up automatic drafts and deposits, online banking for adult child to manage parent(s) resources from their desk, to even transferring monies from parent over to adult child in order to simply manage them from one single account that adult child is already utilizing for their own bills. Fast forward to the day when aging parent requires institutionalization and their resources are not sufficient to privately pay, so adult child, acting as attorney-in-fact, submits a Medicaid application and is asked by a Department of Social Services caseworker for five (5) years worth of aging parent(s)’ bank statements and proof...
The ABCs of Medicaid Planning

The ABCs of Medicaid Planning

Medicaid planning is a topic that can generate considerable confusion. While Medicaid is a federal program, each state has its own set of rules for eligibility. Under the current Medicaid rules in North Carolina, an individual is not eligible for Medicaid until his or her total assets have been “spent down” to $2,000 or less. What are the exceptions under this calculation? The most notable exclusion to the $2,000 limit is equity in the primary residence. An amount equal to $552,000* in equity may be excluded from the asset calculation. If the spouse or another dependent relative continues to reside in the home, it can be excluded from the asset calculation regardless of equity. One car may also be excluded, provided that vehicle is used to transport the individual to/from medical appointments. Household furnishings and personal property are generally not counted, and term life insurance is excluded (a portion of whole life policies may be excluded, but the remainder is countable). Retirement investments, including annuities and IRAs, are generally countable with some exceptions, depending on the date they were started, how they are titled, the individual’s life expectancy, who funded the account, and other factors. Reducing overall assets to such a low amount can put a serious burden on a spouse or family member. While the value of equity in the home may sound like a lot of money, unless the house is sold or a loan taken against it, the money is not available to pay monthly living expenses, medical bills, etc. Planning ahead to protect a portion of assets may give you peace of mind knowing that...
BWS Supports DCCC Foundation

BWS Supports DCCC Foundation

Brinkley Walser Stoner sponsors hole at annual golf tournament Lexington, NC – Brinkley Walser Stoner is sponsoring a hole at the DCCC Foundation’s 25th Annual Golf Tournament planned for May 5, 2016. Proceeds from the tournament fund scholarships for  students and initiatives that benefit Davidson County Community College. “We are excited to again support the DCCC Foundation through their annual golf tournament,” says Karen Greene, Business Manager at Brinkley Walser Stoner. “This is the 25th anniversary of the tournament – and the Foundation has built this into a solid fundraiser for scholarships and strategic initiatives for the College. We expect to see the event continue for another 25 years!” The tournament will be held Thursday, May 5 at the Colonial Country Club in Thomasville. Those interested in learning more may contact the DCCC Foundation office at (336) 224-4596 or via email at...
Custody Issues | Planning for Summer Vacation

Custody Issues | Planning for Summer Vacation

If you are separated or divorced and have children, spring may become a stressful time as you work through custody issues and planning for summer vacation. Child custody agreements are typically spelled out in detail – often down to the specific time the children must be returned to the other parent. While this level of detail can protect the rights of each parent – especially in situations where the separation was not amicable – life sometimes gets in the way! Summer vacation may mean summer camp, visits to see grandparents, sports activities, special trips or even summer school. The standard school-year schedule no longer applies, but the custody agreement remains in force.  What happens if the kids are supposed to go out of state to visit dad for a month but one child has to attend summer school? What if the 10 days at summer science camp junior wants to attend cut into mom’s time? Here are some suggestions to help make planning for the summer a bit less stressful: Plan ahead. The more advance notice you have to adjust schedules, the easier it will be on everyone. Be reasonable. We often see situations where the parents are so at odds they will refuse a request for a schedule change even when it is reasonable and they have no conflicts that would cause issues. Step back and consider the impact to your child. A lot of stress and hurt feelings may be avoided if both parents make equal accommodations for the child’s benefit. Set priorities. Your child’s health and safety come first. Education is also important. If there is...
Automobile Accident Checklist

Automobile Accident Checklist

If you have ever been in an automobile accident, you know that disjointed feeling of, “what do I do next?” Here’s a helpful checklist for you to review: If you are injured: Call 9-1-1 and ask for the police and paramedics to respond. Seek immediate medical attention, even if it means an ambulance ride to the hospital. Automobile accidents are stressful. Stress can mask the symptoms of an injury. If you are not sure whether you are injured, or if symptoms of any injury arise after the accident, go to the emergency room or get checked out by your family doctor. Do not worry about your vehicle. Your health is more important than your property. If you are not injured and it is safe to do so: Call 9-1-1 and ask for the police (and paramedics if anyone is injured) to respond. Get the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all drivers, passengers, and witnesses. People sometimes leave the scene of an accident, so get this information as soon as possible. Get all the drivers’ insurance company names and policy numbers, license numbers, and the make, model, year, and tag of the vehicle they were driving. Take pictures of the vehicles and surrounding area, including any traffic lights, traffic signs, skid marks, debris, etc. If your car must be towed, remove all personal items and valuables from the vehicle (don’t forget your garage door opener). Do not make statements about or respond to statements about fault. When the police arrive, give a factual account of what happened. Do not say the accident was your fault – even if it...
Good News & Bad News About Automobile Accidents

Good News & Bad News About Automobile Accidents

Federal, state, and local governments have been tracking automobile accident data for many years now. In North Carolina, the data from 1960 through 2014 show positive and negative trends. On the positive side, there has been a steady decline since the early 1970’s in the rate of people killed in automobile accidents. This is due to a number of factors, including engineering and safety improvements in the manufacture of automobiles and advances in the medical field. Beginning in the mid-1990’s, the rate of injuries has also declined steadily, likely also due to safety improvements in automobiles and an increase in seat belt usage from the mid-1990’s to the mid-2000’s. On the negative side, there are still on average more than 600 accidents every day in North Carolina, with more than 30% of those resulting in injuries and 0.5% in deaths. Those statistics increase when there are tractor-trailers, motorcycles, scooters, mopeds, bicycles, or pedestrians involved. When the weather gets nicer, the number of motorcycles, scooters, and bicycles on the road increases (e.g. most motorcycle accidents occur between May and October). Speed is a big factor in many automobile accidents, accounting for approximately one-third of all accidents, injuries, and fatalities. For teens, speeding is a factor in one-third of accidents, but still accounted for 65% of fatalities. While you may not be able to avoid being involved in an automobile accident, here are some steps you can take to minimize your risks: Wear your seatbelt and ensure your children and other passengers are properly restrained. Avoid distractions while driving (cell phones, eating/drinking, adjusting the radio or GPS, talking with passengers, etc.)....