estate planning

How Estate Planning Can Protect You Against Exploitation

One recent study found that elder financial abuse leads to a range of $2.9 billion to $36.5 billion in losses every year. Furthermore, financial abuse can come from a variety of places, including family, staff, caretakers, and complete strangers. As a result, it’s important to protect yourself and the assets that you’ve worked hard to accumulate. Estate planning is one way to help guard yourself against elder exploitation.

What Is Elder Financial Exploitation?

Financial exploitation includes illegal, unauthorized, or fraudulent actions that involve taking resources from an elder and using them for their own gain or actions that can lead to depriving an elder adult of assets, benefits, or other resources to which they are entitled. Maryland has a special coalition of 16 different organizations called Project SAFE designed to help prevent and detect elder financial exploitation.

What Can Elder Financial Exploitation Look Like?

When many people think about elder financial abuse, they think about outright stealing money or things from the home. However, it includes a broad variety of things, including:

  • Grandparent scams
  • Tax or debt collection scams
  • Internet scams
  • Theft of property or money
  • Investment scams or fraud
  • Lottery scams
  • Telemarketing scams
  • Contractor scams

While estate planning cannot protect you against all of these things, it can help to increase your protection.

Create a Revocable Living Trust

A revocable living trust is a key part of estate planning for many people, and it will make it more challenging for people to access your assets. Because things placed in the trust are owned by the trust and not you, it can put more of a separation and wall between you and those assets. While this won’t deter everyone from making an attempt to scam you or take advantage of you, it makes things much more challenging.

Choose Your Fiduciaries Carefully

One of the biggest ways that estate planning can help protect you against exploitation is through choosing fiduciaries that will ensure your will is properly carried out in the event that you are incapacitated or no longer here. When choosing a fiduciary or someone to serve as your power of attorney or trustee:

  • Consider having someone that your agent regularly reports to so that there is another person looking through your financial transactions
  • Avoid appointing anyone who has had financial problems in the past or who currently has financial instability
  • Work with an attorney to ensure that all of your financial advisers and institutions know who your POA is
  • Avoid naming a paid helper or caregiver who is being compensated as your power of attorney

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

When you want to protect yourself against exploitation as you get older or want to get a head start on your estate planning, 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.

protect yourself from medical mistakes

4 Ways to Protect Yourself from Medical Mistakes

One Johns Hopkins University study found that over 250,000 people in the United States die annually due to negligence and other medical errors. Medical mistakes can happen, but they can also be deadly. As a patient navigating the healthcare system, it’s important to know how to protect yourself from medical mistakes.

Bring Someone With You

One of the best ways to protect yourself from medical mistakes is to bring a friend, family member, or partner with you to your important medical appointments. Sometimes, when you are getting challenging news about your health, it’s easy to misunderstand something a doctor tells you or miss other important information. Having someone there for you will help you ensure that you know exactly what the doctor said and provide you with a witness in the event that something untoward happens.

Keep Notes

It’s a good idea to keep notes of any medical events, including doctor’s appointments. Having your own records, along with dates and times, is not just important to protect yourself from medical mistakes; it can also be important if your insurance company rejects a claim and needs additional information.

Bring Your Medication List

Another one of the easiest ways to protect yourself from medical mistakes is ensuring that all of your doctors and healthcare specialists have equal access to information. Medication conflicts are very common, and they can be deadly. Never assume that any medical professional has access to your complete health history or medical record, especially if you have prescriptions from multiple providers. Bring a complete list of current supplements, vitamins, and medications with you to every appointment, even if you think it won’t matter. Additionally, make sure that you inform any healthcare professional treating you of any and all allergies that you have.

Advocate for Yourself

In a medical environment, it can be stressful to understand what is going on fully—especially when time is of the essence. That makes it even more important to advocate for yourself.  If you don’t understand something that is said to you, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. If you get a prescription from the pharmacy and the pills are a different shape or color than they normally are, ask the pharmacist to confirm what they are. It is always better to waste a minute of time instead of experiencing a potentially fatal error.

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

When you think that you have been the victim of a medical malpractice incident 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.

DUI in Maryland

How Can a DUI in Maryland Affect Your Career?

Receiving a DUI conviction is very serious, and it can have a broad range of impacts on your life. While many people know that a DUI will impact their ability to drive, they do not necessarily realize that a DUI in Maryland can also affect their career. How could a DUI conviction affect your employability in the future? Read on to learn more!

Background Checks Will Show Your Conviction

Many employers in Maryland and throughout the country require their employees to pass a background check as part of the onboarding process. Additionally, a disproportionate number of Maryland residents work in the local and federal government due to the proximity to the District of Columbia and many government agencies and military bases. If you are convicted of a DUI in Maryland, it will show up on your background check, which means that it may be considered as part of the application process.

The Type of Positions You Can Hold Will Change

If you work in an industry that requires you to operate a commercial vehicle as part of your employment, there is a high probability that receiving a DUI in Maryland will impact your employability. Anyone who drives commercially, including things like a school bus, will have their driving history and record scrutinized. In fact, a DUI conviction could lead to the inability to find a job in certain fields. You will likely be given the ability to offer an explanation regarding your conviction, but you should be prepared to address it throughout the application and interview process.

Your Current Job May Be Affected

When determining whether or not to disclose a DUI conviction to your employer, you should start by consulting your employee handbook and any contract that you have signed. Many companies require you to report a DUI in Maryland, as well as any other arrests or convictions. Because you are an “at will” employee in Maryland, that means that your employer does not need any reason to fire you. Depending on your industry and workplace, you may be let go as a result of your DUI conviction.

Professional Licenses Could Be Revoked

Many different professionals have to be formally licensed in order to provide services to patients or customers. For example, lawyers, pharmacists, nurses, accountants, dentists, and doctors all need to maintain an active license. Depending on what agency you are licensed through, you may face sanctions or fines due to a DUI conviction. In some industries, if you are charged with a DUI in Maryland, you may be required to relinquish your license entirely.

Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help With Your DUI 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.

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.