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Semmes Legal Articles

Semmes offers articles, relative to different areas of law, for information-purposes only. Semmes assumes no responsibility for the accuracy or timeliness of any information provided herein. The articles and information may not apply to your unique situation, and are not intended to be used as a basis for any particular course of action or as a substitute for legal advice.

Living Trusts—Panacea or Pandora’s Box?

January, 2016

Revocable living trusts have been marketed so successfully that many people think they can’t live—or die—without one. The promises of avoiding probate, ensuring privacy, and preparing for incapacity seem too enticing to pass up. Suze Orman, the popular financial guru, goes so far as to say that “everyone” needs a revocable living trust. But what everyone really needs is some good advice. Living trusts can be useful in limited circumstances, but most of us are simply better off without one. A revocable living trust is essentially a substitute for a Will. Rather than having your estate administered through probate, you would retitle your assets in the name of a trust created for this purpose. Because the trust is revocable, you can amend or revoke it as necessary during your lifetime. Upon your death, the trust becomes irrevocable and your trustee simply distributes the assets to your beneficiaries. Time is saved, costs are minimized, and probate is avoided. What’s not to like?

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Estate Planning to Keep Hostile Family at Bay

August, 2015

George Burns once said, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” He may have been on to something. Families can bring us joy, but they can also bring us heartache. For most people, of course, family woes are mere annoyances-the parent who complains we never call, the crazy uncle who…

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DIY Estate Planning: A Cautionary Tale

July, 2015

Ann Aldrich was a frugal lady. When it came time to write her Will, the Florida resident decided to use “E-Z Legal Forms” and leave everything to her sister, Mary. By preparing the Will herself, Ann thought, she would save the cost of using a lawyer and achieve the same result. What could possibly go wrong?

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The Top 10 Reasons You Need a Will

August, 2014

If you’re like most Americans, you’ve been putting off having a Last Will & Testament prepared for too long. Most of us have strong feelings about who should inherit our money, real estate, personal possessions, and other assets—and who shouldn’t. But the sad truth is that we usually fail to put our wishes in writing. By preparing a Will, you can leave the people you care about with clear instructions as to your final wishes and save them time, money, and a lot of stress.

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Estate Planning For An Owner Of A Special Pet

August, 2014

Anyone who has lost a pet knows a special sorrow. What happens, however, when it is the pet that loses its owner? That lingering question, and its potentially tragic ramifications, are leading more and more pet owners to plan for the care of their pets after their own death. A good first step is to…

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To Try or Not to Try: Who Decides Is the Question

May, 2014

The “Right to Try” refers to the right of terminally or seriously ill patients to acquire investigational drugs without waiting for FDA approval. It grants these patients the right to access certain drugs, specifically those drugs that have completed only phase one of the FDA three-phase drug approval process. Advocates of the Right to Try contend that the decision to try an investigational drug should be between a patient and his or her physician and, thus, exclude the government, i.e., the FDA. Opponents support the FDA’s role in the drug approval and distribution process. The Right to Try debate boils down to one question: Who should decide whether a drug is too risky to try?

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