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will contest

Can Social Media Posts Impact a Will Contest?

Social media is an inextricable part of many of our lives. Whether it is sharing pictures of a latte on Instagram or him showing off your promotion at work on Facebook, it only makes sense that you want to keep your friends and loved ones updated as to what you are up to. While social media has made many things easier, it does present some unique challenges for legal cases. How could social media impact a will contests and other types of legal claims?

Social Media Posts Are Discoverable

Sometimes on social media you post things so that anyone with the link to your profile can see them. In other cases, you may intend for the posts to be private, but that does not stop your social media accounts from being potentially discoverable in lawsuits and used against you in a court of law. While many people understand the potential effects that social media can have for child custody or divorce cases, they do not necessarily think about a will contest as a potential place where social media posts could help or harm a case.

A Practical Example of Social Media and Will Contests

Johnny Hallyday was known as “The French Elvis” and worked in showbiz for over six decades. Like many modern celebrities, he also maintained an active Instagram account designed to show a mixture of his life at home and on the road. The account was also used in a heavily publicized will contest over his estate, which was valued at tens of millions of dollars.

The will contest arose because the singer had two different wills in his safe deposit box. One of the wills made his wife (at his time of passing) the heir and manager of his estate. This document was written in Los Angeles in accordance with US laws. However, France does not allow Hallyday to cut out his two adult children from his will.

As part of their evidence in the will contest, his children sought a way to demonstrate that Hallyday spent the majority of his time in France and not in the United States, where the will would be considered legally valid. When submitting evidence to the court, his son included a chart of his locations from 2012-2017 as substantiated by pictures from his Instagram account. These photos revealed that Hallyday lived in France for 151 days in 2015, 168 days in 2016, and over eight consecutive months in France in 2017 before his passing. This fascinating case is proof that social media posts can impact a will contest.

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help With Your Estate Planning Case

When your loved one has passed away and you aren’t sure where to turn, you need the right legal assistance. Our experienced legal team is looking forward to working with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.

Maryland Protective Orders vs Maryland Peace Orders: How Are they Different?

When you are being threatened, Maryland law offers you a certain amount of recourse and protection through protective orders and peace orders. These orders help keep you safe from the other party, and each one has different guidelines designed to protect you. While some people use the terms interchangeably, there are key differences between the two.

Are You Eligible for Protective Orders or Peace Orders?

First, it’s important to understand that you cannot be eligible for both protective orders and peace orders—you can only be eligible for one or the other. The primary determinant of which applies to your situation is the relationship that you have with the person you are trying to get an order against.

Protective Orders

You can apply for protective orders if you are:

  • A former or current spouse
  • A roommate or cohabitant
  • Related to the other party through marriage, adoption, or blood
  • A parent, stepparent, child, or stepchild
  • A vulnerable adult
  • Someone who was in a sexual relationship with the other party within 365 days before filing for the order
  • Someone who is alleging that the other party committed rape or another sexual offense within six months before filing for the order
  • Someone who has a child with the other party

Peace Orders

Peace orders are a tool that can be used in many different situations where protective orders do not apply. For example, if you are the victim of abuse but do not live with the other party or have a sexual relationship with them, peace orders provide you with a certain amount of recourse.

What Is Abuse?

When filing for protective orders or peace orders, you will be asked to demonstrate what type of abuse or harassment occurred. Maryland law defines the types of abuse that are covered by both protective orders and peace orders.

Protective Orders

  • Assault
  • Stalking
  • Acts that lead to serious bodily harm
  • Acts that put you in fear of serious bodily harm
  • Rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Attempted rape or sexual assault
  • False imprisonment
  • Abuse of a child
  • Abuse of a vulnerable adult
  • Revenge porn

Peace Orders

Many of the things above for protective orders are also true for peace orders, but peace orders also include malicious destruction of property, trespassing, and visual surveillance. If you are looking to get a peace order granted, the court will ask you to show that the abuse happened and that there is a likelihood that it will occur again.

How Long Do the Orders Last?

Depending on your situation, one order will be more appropriate than the other. However, you may also be granted a temporary protective order or temporary peace order. Temporary protective orders typically last for only seven days, but they can be extended for up to six months at a judge’s discretion in most cases, the final protective order will last for up to a year. Temporary peace orders last for about seven days, but they can also be extended up to 30 days. Final peace orders cannot last for longer than six months.

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help With Your Criminal Case

When you are preparing to go to court for your criminal case, you need the right legal assistance. Our experienced legal team is looking forward to working with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.

What Happens to Your Spouse’s Debt When They Pass Away?

When your spouse passes away, it can be overwhelming to figure out what you need to do next. Once funeral services are taken care of and the other most pressing matters are done, it’s time to move on to a variety of logistical things behind the scenes. For example, how is their estate going to be distributed? One such matter that needs to be taken care of is debt. In the state of Maryland, what happens to your spouse’s debt when they pass away?

Is Debt Inherited?

Your debt will only be inherited by family members or a spouse if they are cosigners on the debt. Instead of them, your estate will inherit the debt. This debt will need to be paid off before any remaining assets can be distributed during the probate process. Maryland is not a community property state, so no spouse can inherit debt if it is not shared.

What Will Happen to Student Loan Debt or Credit Card Debt?

When the estate is in probate, credit card companies and other creditors can file for repayment. In the event that the value of the estate is lower than the total debt that the deceased owns, the estate is considered to be insolvent. Depending on the priority of each type of debt, multiple creditors may never be repaid. It is not your responsibility to repay them, and you should not offer to do so. The state of Maryland ranks some creditors over others, with the IRS and the attorney for your estate near the top.

What About Medical Bills?

Providing that you did not sign onto any agreement for the healthcare treatment or medical bills, you are not responsible for paying medical expenses after your spouse has passed away. Debt collectors may try to ask you to pay for it, but it is critical that you understand you are not liable for hospital or hospice bills that you personally did not agree to pay for.

What About Unmarried Couples Who Live Together?

Spousal debt laws only apply to spouses, so unmarried couples who live together are not subject to them. Under state law, you are not liable for any debt that your partner incurred. If you have a domestic partnership agreement in place, you may be liable for debts incurred jointly but not responsible for any debts incurred individually.

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help With Your Estate Planning Case

When your loved one has passed away and you aren’t sure where to turn, you need the right legal assistance. Our experienced legal team is looking forward to working with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.

commercial lease agreement

4 Things to Watch Out for in a Commercial Lease Agreement

Renting any commercial property is a large financial investment. If you do not understand the terms of the commercial lease agreement fully, you can find yourself unnecessarily exposing yourself to risks, including eviction. What are some of the different things that you should look out for before you sign on the dotted line?

What Is the Lease Term?

It might seem obvious that you need to understand the term of your commercial lease agreement before signing, but it is still something that you should confirm. When does your lease start and end? When will you be able to access the property if you need to perform improvements or renovations beforehand? Will you have an automatic opportunity to renew the lease at the end of the term, and are there any guidelines as to how any rent increases will be handled?

What Will You Be Paying?

Another one of the key factors in your commercial lease agreement will be what you are paying. There are multiple types of commercial leases, and depending on what your lease dictates, it could include:

  • A gross rent lease, where you are paying the same amount every month for rent
  • A percentage rent lease, where you are paying a percentage of gross sales past a specific amount on top of a base rent charge
  • A net lease, where you are responsible for paying a flat fee and other expenses, which may include property taxes or insurance

On top of the actual amount of your rent, it’s also critical to understand other expenses that you may be responsible for, like parking lot maintenance, snow removal, HVAC maintenance, and lawn care.

Can the Lease Be Terminated?

Your commercial lease agreement should also be clear about how termination could occur. For example, does the landlord have the ability to terminate your commercial lease agreement early? Do you have any rights in a situation like that? If your lease ends normally, do you have any obligations to the property? For example, some leases require you to make repairs and leave the property completely cleaned. Get all of these details in writing upfront.

Will You Have Exclusive Use?

The concept of exclusive use is critical, particularly in shopping centers and similar areas owned by the same developer or landlord. An exclusive use clause helps protect you against direct competition in neighboring rental properties. For example, if you are a Mexican restaurant moving into a shopping center, you may ask for an exclusive use clause that prevents another Mexican restaurant from moving into the shopping center.

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help With Your Commercial Lease

When you are preparing to sign a commercial lease for your business, you need the right legal assistance. Our experienced legal team is looking forward to working with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.

hearsay evidence

Understanding Hearsay Evidence in Your Maryland Criminal Case

There is a good chance that, if you have watched any legal drama on television or at the movie theatre, you have heard the term hearsay tossed around. While you might think that you are familiar with what it means, there are many misconceptions about the term that may give you the wrong idea. What should you understand about hearsay evidence, and how could it impact your Maryland criminal case?

What Is Hearsay?

In simple terms, hearsay refers to statements that are made outside of a courtroom that are presented to the court as evidence. This concept can be a little bit confusing, so think of hearsay evidence like this—James was talking to Mary, and he said that he saw Robert stealing something from the break room at work. If this case makes it to court and Mary is called to the witness stand to talk about what she heard from James, the things that she heard would be considered hearsay. At no point did Mary actually see Robert steal something. Instead, she only knows what James told her.

What Does Maryland Have to Say About Hearsay Evidence?

The state of Maryland has a general rule against the use of hearsay evidence in the courtroom. This is for a good reason, as many different studies have shown that hearsay can be untrustworthy. Because the person who initially made the statement is not there in court, there is no way to truly verify the accuracy of anything that was discussed. While this is a general rule, there are a few notable exceptions that you should understand.

What Are the Exceptions to the Hearsay Evidence Rule?

  • One of the most common exceptions to hearsay evidence is known as present tense impressions. When someone is making a statement that explains something as they are seeing it or in the immediate aftermath, this is considered to be a present sense impression and completely admissible to the court.
  • Another exception to the hearsay evidence rule is statements that are made about someone’s current physical, emotional, or mental condition.
  • If there are any business records, there is a good chance that they are also exempt and completely admissible in court. Business records can include things like receipts, logs, invoices, and other paperwork that is filled out over the course of doing business.
  • Any public records or official records are considered exceptions to hearsay evidence rules, as they are trustworthy and legally binding documents.

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help With Your Criminal Case

When you are preparing to go to court for your criminal case, you need the right legal assistance. Our experienced legal team is looking forward to working with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.

medical malpractice in Maryland

What Is the Statute of Limitations on Medical Malpractice in Maryland?

If you have been injured as a result of a mistake by a healthcare provider, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, you only have a certain period of time to do so. If you do not file your suit within the statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Maryland, you will be unable to collect the damages that may help you cover your loss of income, pain and suffering, or healthcare bills. How long do you have to start your legal proceedings?

Understanding a Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is how much time someone has to start legal proceedings for a civil case. Once the statute of limitations is over, your options for getting damages or other types of recovery may be seriously limited or non-existent. The statute of limitations varies from state to state, so it’s important to understand specific requirements for your area.

How Much Time Do You Have to Seek Damages for Medical Malpractice in Maryland?

Medical malpractice in Maryland is slightly more complex than other statutes of limitations, as the length of time that you have varies based on a few factors. As a rule of thumb, you must start legal proceedings before the lesser of three years from the date of discovery or five years from the date of your injury. If the person involved is under the age of 18, the statute of limitations will not begin until they turn 18.

What Counts as Medical Malpractice?

Medical practice in Maryland is a broad category that includes a variety of types of breaches of the standards of care that doctors are expected to obey. Unfortunately, these cases are very common throughout the United States. Some of the things that can fall under medical malpractice cases include:

  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Prescription mistakes
  • Delivery errors
  • Emergency room mistakes
  • Unsafe hospital or medical practice conditions
  • Defective equipment
  • Anesthesia mistakes
  • And more!

Some of these issues may be immediately apparent, but others may not be discovered until a great deal of time has passed.

Understanding How Much Time You Have

As mentioned above, the clock starts ticking for medical malpractice in Maryland when your injury happens. For example, if you had surgery on January 1, 2023 and your injury occurred during it, the length of time that you have may be calculated using that date.

However, things become more complicated when you consider when the issue was discovered or when it is reasonable that you would have discovered it. If you have surgery and an object is left behind in your body, it might not be discovered until a few years later during another surgery. Instead of your clock starting on the date of your surgery, in this case, it would start on the date that the second surgeon found the object.

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help With Your Medical Malpractice Case

When you are interested in exploring your options for recovery due to medical malpractice in Maryland, you need the right legal assistance. Our experienced legal team is looking forward to working with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.

draft your own will

3 Reasons Not to Draft Your Own Will

When it comes time to draft your will, it may be tempting to write it yourself. There are countless resources online, many of them free, including DIY templates and walkthrough guides for completing it, but remember that your will is a legal document. As such, it’s much safer to hire legal counsel to guide you. Creating estate planning documents is something that many legal professionals spend their entire careers focusing on. Trying to draft your own will is likely to cause confusion and unintentional feuding between mourning relatives for the following reasons.

Your Will May Not Be Valid

There are legal procedures that vary by state that determine the validity of a will. In the state of Maryland, for example, two credible witnesses must sign the will after the testator (the person executes the will) has signed. That might sound simple enough on the surface, but what makes a witness credible? What if you draft your own will while living in another state from the one in which you currently reside? Some states require wills to be completely typed and notarized, while others allow it to be handwritten. Knowledge of these laws is imperative for ensuring that you didn’t pour your time into a will that is determined invalid in the end.

Problems Assigning Your Executor

If you draft your own will by following an online template, you could miss a step or two regarding your executor. This is the person you choose to carry out your will once you’ve passed, but there are some laws around this role that must be checked.

Your state will determine who can and cannot serve as your executor. If you choose someone who cannot serve this role, then when your will goes to probate, the role could be assigned to someone else. The new person taking over the role may not be someone you want in charge of distributing your assets to your beneficiaries. If you work with an attorney, you’ll be advised who can and cannot take on this role, and that keeps this choice in your hands.

The Will Isn’t Clear

You may feel you were clear about your intentions, but if you draft your own will, you’re likely to miss some key items in distributing your assets. You may even try to distribute things that you aren’t allowed to. For example, have you thought about what you’ll do with the funds from your retirement account? Much like funds from a bank account that are classified as “payable on death,” you can’t designate the beneficiaries in the will. Similarly, you could forget property. There are too many items to designate, and too many A, B, and C scenarios in estate planning to go it alone. Employing legal counsel will help you navigate each of these areas so that nothing is left unclear.

Don’t Draft Your Own Will; Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help with Estate Planning

If you need help drafting your will, contact Mobley and Brown, LLP today. We are committed to using our experience along with facts from your specific case 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.

burden of proof

What Is the Burden of Proof in a Maryland Criminal Case?

When you are involved in a criminal case in Maryland, one of the elements that will determine the outcome of the case is the burden of proof. In line with your constitutional rights, anyone who is charged with a crime is presumed innocent until they are found guilty in court. In order to get that guilty conviction, the side of the prosecution has to satisfy the burden of proof. What does that mean?

The Burden of Proof 101

The burden of proof is used in criminal law to describe the standard that is used to determine whether or not a criminal charge is appropriate. The prosecution must meet this standard beyond a reasonable doubt, otherwise, the criminal charges are not justified. The burden of proof is argued in front of a judge or judge and jury depending on the format of the trial.

What Does ‘Beyond a Reasonable Doubt’ Mean?

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ before, and it’s used to describe the burden of proof standard in a criminal case.  Simply wondering if someone is guilty is not enough. The evidence that is provided by the prosecution needs to make it so that a reasonable person would see that the defendant is clearly guilty.

It is important to note that reasonable doubt does not require removing all doubt. There is no burden of ‘absolute certainty’ required. Working with an experienced attorney is the best way to ensure that you are able to satisfy the needs of the court.

Is Burden of Proof the Only Standard of Proof?

Some people are so used to hearing about the burden of proof that they assume it is the only standard of proof. However, there are other standards that might be used throughout a criminal trial. Some of the other standards of proof that could be used include:

  • Reasonable suspicion, which is used in cases where the judge is determining whether or not a law enforcement search that led to an arrest was performed lawfully
  • Probably cause, which is a standard implemented in cases where law enforcement must have met a certain standard before getting a warrant, performing a search, or making an arrest

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help With Your Criminal Law Case

If you are concerned about your criminal case and want to make sure that you are prepared for court, you need the right legal assistance. Our experienced legal team is looking forward to working with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.

executor

3 Tips for Choosing Your Executor

Nobody wants to think about what will happen when they are no longer here, but waiting to make decisions and plans can leave your loved ones without the guidance that they need. One of the many important things that you will need to choose is an executor for your will. The executor will be responsible for performing a broad range of legal tasks, including distributing assets and selling off properties to pay creditors. What are some of the things you should consider when choosing your executor?

Choose Someone Responsible

While creating a will can be emotional, as you want to think about what you are leaving behind to the people that you love, the decision of who your executor will be should be practical. You want to choose someone who is responsible and whom you can completely trust to carry out your wishes and take care of estate matters. The executor will have to make hard decisions, stay extremely organized, and work until everything is taken care of. If you do not think that anyone in your family is up to the task, remember that you can always name an attorney as your executor.

Think About Finances

Finances are a sensitive subject for many people, but they are another critical consideration when choosing an executor. If the person has a very poor credit history or bankruptcies in the past, it might not be easy for them to get bonded. Bonding is one of the types of insurance that courts require to make sure that the executor is spending money properly. Bonding companies are very hesitant to bond people with poor financial histories, so the court may not accept your executor nomination.

Choose a Co-Executor

It is important to update your will as circumstances in your life change, but we also recognize that many people create only one will in their lifetime. As a result, you should also name some co-executors that will be able to serve if the executor is unable to do so. It’s a good idea to choose someone who is younger that will likely outlive you. You don’t have to name a specific person for this, as adding a mechanism in your will is good enough. For example, “My Successor Co-Executors will be any of my children who are 35 years or older at the time of my passing.”

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help With Your Estate Planning

When you are preparing the legal documents that represent your last wishes, you need the right legal assistance. Our experienced legal team is looking forward to working with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.

pain and suffering

Understanding Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Case

Many accident or malpractice victims are aware of the terms “pain and suffering” in a legal context, but there is a great deal of confusion around what counts as pain and suffering and what juries can award. What are some of the basics of this type of damage, and how can pain or suffering be calculated?

Damages in a Personal Injury Case

When you are asking for some forms of damages during your personal injury lawsuit, they will be easy to calculate. For example, if you are asking for the jury to grant you damages for your lost wages or medical bills, the precise dollar amount of those can be calculated with relative ease. However, non-economic damages are harder to quantify, which is part of why it’s so important to work with an experienced attorney.

Maryland law asks juries to consider the plaintiff’s damages based on the specific situation, not in broader and more general terms. In other words, instead of considering the fact that someone had three surgeries to recover from an accident, the jury should think about that person’s specific suffering and not the suffering of someone in a hypothetical situation who received the same surgeries. Your pain and suffering damages will be uniquely yours.

The Types of Pain and Suffering

The law will consider two different types of pain and suffering, physical and mental. Physical pain and suffering include the pain associated with the physical injuries that were sustained during the accident. Importantly, it does not just include pain or discomfort in the immediate aftermath of the accident. Instead, it also considers the pain and suffering that might be faced in the future due to your physical injuries.

Mental pain and suffering can touch on a broad variety of mental health challenges and conditions, including anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, depression, shock, loss of enjoyment, fear, and more. Your mental suffering includes any negative emotions that you feel due to your accident.

How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?

Your attorney at Mobley & Brown, LLP will be able to guide you through the process of calculating pain and suffering. This process is not easy, as there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Some of the things that will be considered when calculating pain and suffering damages include:

  • What injuries you experienced
  • The severity of your pain
  • How long the pain has lasted or will last
  • Potential issues that you may face in the future due to the injury or accident
  • How the injuries and their impacts have affected your quality of life, including things like your ability to participate in hobbies or sports
  • What evidence you have that you have experienced a decreased quality of life, pain, or suffering
  • Support from medical providers and other individuals as to your claims

Because every case is unique, working with an experienced attorney can make a big difference in your outcome.

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help With Your Personal Injury Claim

When you are suffering in the aftermath of an accident, it can be overwhelming to know where to turn. Working with the right attorney can make the claims process easier and make sure that you receive what you deserve. Our experienced legal team is looking forward to working with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.