Chipman Mazzucco Emerson LLC

Danbury Legal Blog

Nursing home agreements can be traps

Choosing a Connecticut nursing home is not a simple matter of looking at brochures and picking a place you can afford. Whether you are making the choice on your own or your family is helping, you certainly want to take the time to visit more than one facility, perhaps making numerous return visits before coming to a decision.

Even then, the process is not necessarily complete. Along with understanding the costs and benefits of the nursing home, you may face the confusing task of reading and signing an admission agreement. If your adult child is with you, he or she may also have documents to sign. Putting a signature to any of these documents without first obtaining a legal evaluation may be a devastating mistake.

Why succession planning is important

Business owners in Connecticut and elsewhere may not have a plan for what happens to their companies after they die. This can be problematic if there are no family members or trusted employees who can step up and run the business. Even if someone is willing to run the company, it may take time and effort to convince employees and customers to remain loyal to the organization. In many cases, the owner of a small business is also the face of the brand.

Therefore, it can be difficult to replace the goodwill and rapport that the owner had with customers and workers. If the deceased owner kept poor records, it can be hard to determine who the company's customers are or what its financial health is. It is not uncommon for business owners to create succession plans and then not communicate those plans to the chosen successors.

Why each spouse needs access to household data

Connecticut residents and others who are married should have access to financial records and other critical household data. In the event that a spouse passes away or becomes critically ill, it may be necessary to gain access to a computer or to an online bank account. Not having access to a device or an account may make it impossible to deactivate social media accounts or put a stop to automatic bill payments.

Having access to financial information may also make it easier for a spouse to manage money on his or her own. It isn't uncommon for one spouse to keep track of bills and take care of household financial issues. Individuals can start learning about their financial situation by reviewing bank statements or other documents that arrive in the mail.

Caterpillar Inc. takes on coffee chain in trademark dispute

Heavy equipment manufactured by Caterpillar Inc. is a familiar sight on farms and construction sites in Connecticut and around the country, but the Illinois-based company sells sweatshirts, mugs and hats as well as earth movers and diggers. To protect this part of its business, Caterpillar has asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel a Class 25 trademark it granted to a chain of California coffee shops named Cat & Cloud in 2016.

Caterpillar understands that the public may react poorly to news of a corporation with more than $50 billion in annual revenues taking legal action against a pair of entrepreneurs with only $150,000 in total sales. Attorneys representing the company are eager for the press to know that Cat & Cloud is not being sued and no damages are being sought. They say that they just want footwear and apparel trademarks issued to Cat & Cloud to be cancelled to protect their client's brand.

Why reviewing an estate plan can help beneficiaries

Many wealthy people in Connecticut have created key estate documents like wills and trusts. After all, the ability to pass assets on to benefit loved ones in the future is a major motivating factor for people to develop their wealth. However, creating an estate plan is often the first step in an ongoing process that can help people to make sure that their future vision is intact. While many people may want to avoid unpleasant conversations about death, open discussion about estate planning issues can help to prevent future disputes and family problems, especially when significant assets are involved.

Creating an estate plan is an important first step, but constantly revisiting it can be equally important. There are a number of reasons why people may want to revise their wills or trusts. In the first place, tax and estate laws are regularly changed. Alterations to adapt to legal changes can help people to save their beneficiaries significant sums of money and increase their flexibility. In addition, major life changes like marriages, divorces, births or deaths in the family can also prompt a review of an estate plan. Otherwise, people can wind up leaving behind their wealth to people who have already passed away or long-estranged former spouses.

It's not too early to plan for your long-term care

While you may have certain expectations for your later years, you are also realistic enough to know it is impossible to predict how things will turn out. You may hope to remain in your home the rest of your life, but your health issues may not allow it. You may anticipate one or more of your children taking care of you, but their lives may take unexpected turns that make this impossible.

Fortunately, as methods for caring for the needs of older adults improve, more options become available. You no longer have only the choice of staying home or going to a nursing home. While you may not know what you need until the time arrives, it is wise to be prepared by learning as much as possible about your options.

How property titles can affect estate plans in Connecticut

Simply having a will on file doesn't automatically mean assets will be transferred as intended when the time comes to fully execute an estate plan. This is because assets need to be properly titled to ensure they'll be distributed as per desired wishes upon the death of an estate plan's creator.

If a property's title isn't set up in accordance with how it's intended to be passed along, the property in question may end up going to certain beneficiaries even if this was not what was stated in a will. This often applies to real estate and financial accounts, which are typically transferred based on how they are titled or by the listed beneficiaries. Only assets that are part of a deceased individual's probated estate are controlled by a will.

Minimizing potential issues with family dynamics and estates

In a perfect world, proactive Connecticut parents or grandparents with high-net-worth estate planning needs would have their wishes respected by designated heirs or beneficiaries when they pass. Unfortunately, the reality is that squabbling siblings, spendthrift heirs and antagonistic step-relatives can sometimes complicate matters and contribute to legal headaches or costly court battles.

One of the more common issues with family dynamics and estate planning is sibling rivalries. This potential problem may be minimized if a trust creator names an impartial corporate trustee instead of allowing one sibling to set limits for the others. A letter of intention can also be created to explain any disparities with who gets what. Some estate plans even include stipulations that heirs will be disinherited if they sue to deter legal fights.

The truth about estate planning

Estate planning is not something that many people in Connecticut and elsewhere look forward to. Some people may lie to themselves to justify not creating a plan of their own. One lie that people common tell themselves is that they don't need a will because they don't have a lot of money. The truth is that a will can be helpful even a person does not have any money or assets of any kind. This is because a will can dictate who obtains guardianship of a minor child or whether an individual is cremated or buried.

For those who have a will, they may tell themselves that they have no need to create or update beneficiary forms. However, the language in a beneficiary designation trumps language in a will. Assets that may have a beneficiary designation attached to them include homes, retirement accounts and bank accounts.

The importance of the three types of intellectual property

Business owners in Connecticut may wonder if they should pay much attention to intellectual property matters. The answer is a resounding yes, and the reason is because IP is one of the most important assets a business owns. Trademarks, copyrights and patents, the three main types of IP, have some similarities, but there are also important legal differences worth noting.

Sometimes referred to as a brand name or brand, a trademark is a type of intellectual property that protects unique goods, services and company-related features, such as slogans, names, taglines, words and symbols. A business that owns a trademark can stop competitors, or anyone else for that matter, from using something that's trademarked or creating something that's too similar. Business owners are encouraged to do a comprehensive search prior to seeking a trademark to make sure there's not one already registered.

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