Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sibling Rivarly

death estate trusts wills
So, this lady came into our law library the other day looking for resources relating to defending against a will contest.  Turns out, she had been fighting with her sister for the last seven (that's right, seven) years over her deceased mother's will that gave her the lion's share of the estate.  To be fair, she actually deserved it since she quit her job and moved across the country just to take care of her dying mother - all while the sister was out partying and living the high life.  Another thing was that the will in question was written long before this lady moved in to take care of her mother - so there was no issue of fraud or undue influence (nothing blatantly evident, anyway).  

What the case boiled down to was that the sister's high life was expensive and she got greedy; sister didn't just want part of the estate - she wanted all of it.  Sell the house, rape and pillage the estate all in the name of greed.  Sad what money will do to some people.  Just hope the sister doesn't need a kidney later in life what with her burning the bridge to her only living sibling.

death probate trusts wills
Maybe you are having similar family problems OR you know you someone who is having similar family problems? If so, might I suggest you go to your local county law library and take a look at Page on Wills (Lexis), 8 Ways to Avoid Probate (Nolo Press), American Jurisprudence Pleading and Practice Forms Annotated, vol. 25A; Wills (West), and Plan Your Estate (Nolo Press).

So, whether you and yours are in dutch or you've decided to go dutch treat, know that your local county law librarian knows just what you need to help you get a leg up on your siblings before the sibling rivalry gets too out of hand.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Keep things in Perspective

fight war divorce anger hate sad kids
Having worked as a law librarian (professionally) for little over 8 years, there are two things that actually bum me out:  money and kids (and sometimes both are intertwined).  For example, yesterday I had a lady come into our library seeking guardianship of her daughter's kid.  Seems her daughter had recently died (as in 6 hours earlier) and left a child with downs syndrome.  Today, I had a guy come in seeking to secure his rights as a father.  Seems his estranged wife had just died the day before and now his mother-in-law was fighting to get guardianship of his son (who has downs syndrome) and wrest legal and physical custody of the child from the dad.  Both stories sounded too similar to be a coincidence and, as it turns out, they were the same - each party claiming to have the best interests of the kid in mind.  Both claiming the others purpose was less than virtuous.  Both claiming altruistic purposes; both claiming the other is/are evil.  The outcome?  The kid is royally screwed because no matter what happens, where he once had two loving parties - now both hate eachother.  Hate, hAte, haTe, hatE!

My job, as a law librarian, is to remain completely impartial.  So, to the grandmother, I gave her information about guardianships (how to obtain) in the form of California Guardianship Practice (CEB) and California Family Law: Practice & Procedure (Lexis).  To the father, I gave the same thing (the whole thing reminded me of a Star Trek episode where the bad guy sold guns to both sides and no one could get the upper-hand because there were evenly matched).

Moral?  Cut the attitude, work out your difficulties, and be agreeable because it really is about the kid.  Refuse to do so and I guarantee that the court is going to issue an order that will not be agreeable to anyone - and the kid loses.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dream a Little Dream

dream flying sleepHave you ever had that dream where you're flying?  Zooming amongst the clouds, birds, airplanes.  Great feeling, isn't it.  I've had that dream not a few times.  Don't know what it means other than the fact that I feel exhilarated and refreshed when I wake up.  On the other hand, I had a dream where I swallowed a spider.  Yeah - ugh!  I woke up in seconds in a cold sweat and couldn't get back to sleep thinking that #%@$#^ spider was just waiting to jump inside my mouth as soon as I fell asleep.  I'm afraid to wonder what that dream meant.  The thing is that normally I don't talk about stuff like dreams because, well,...I can't remember most anything when I wake up...except that lately I've been having some rather off the wall dreams and I'm hoping someone out there in blog-land can help me interpret the meaning.

demon childFirst, there's the dream where I'm over at a friend's house.  It's a BBQ.  Lots of people are there in the same room as I am and then this one couple comes in the room and their freaking twin rabid babies try to take a chunk out of me.  The blasted things just won't stop coming at me.  Over and over and over they lunge at me trying to take a hunk out of my leg. Dang but it's disturbing and I wonder what it all means?
What it could be is that they're trying to take me apart financially.  Yeah - see, my wife is expecting twins as we speak and I'm betting my subconscious is telling me they're going to wreak havoc on my bank account.  Sure, that sounds plausible....on the other hand it could be a premonition that the next time we get invited out to a BBQ that a couple of babies are going to try to take a hunk out of my leg.  Perhaps it my psychosis taking hold but better safe than sorry.  Better go to the local county law library and read up on tort liability.  Yeah - maybe take a look at some great titles such as Personal Injury: actions, defenses, damages (Matthew/Bender) or Neighbor Law (Nolo Press) or even AmJur Pleading and Practice Forms (West).  Yeah, sounds like a plan!

Another dream I've been having is old cantankerous crotchety manthat I've finally turned 64 but nobody loves me.  Now, this could mean I've become all old, cantankerous, and crotchety....or, it might be that my subconscious is telling me I need to get on the ball and do a little legal research about social security and all other things dealing with getting old(er) at my local county law library.  Yeah, that sounds right.  Maybe I should look at such great titles as Social Security, Medicare & Government Pensions (Nolo Press), or Medicare & Medical Claims and Procedures (West) or Long Term Care: How to Plan & Pay for It (Nolo).

Yep, it's sure a comforting thought that no matter what my subconscious throws my way, I know that with a little effort all my problems can be solved (and my dreams resolved) at my local county law library. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Word of the Month for July 2012: Malpractice

Unless you've been living in a cave, you have probably heard about the latest round of U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding (among other things) medicine and all things medical.  As such, I thought it would be fitting to make this months definition something that concerns many persons around the world (if not everyone).  The word for the month of July 2012 is MALPRACTICE.  According to Black's Law Dictionary (West), Malpractice is defined  as: an instance of negligence or incompetence on the part of a professional.  Wowsers!  That one heck of a definition....but...uh, what does it all mean and how is it applied.  To see the application, let's look at two professions that are often the target of malpractice actions.

The first example deals with the medical profession. Medical Malpractice (as per Black's Law Dictionary) is defined as: A doctor's failure to exercise the degree of care and skill that a physician or surgeon of the same medical specialty would use under similar circumstances.  It is important to note the phrase "same medical specialty" because there are many, many different specialties in the medical profession.

For our purposes, let's look at one example that happened recently. A few weeks back this guy gets a diagnosis of cancer. He and his wife empty their bank accounts, sell their house, and they go on a spending spree to do everything on their bucket list. Then, after all the money is gone and he's waiting to die (a slow, painful death), the doctor comes back and says - "Oops, we misdiagnosed you. You don't have cancer and you're not going to die, after all!" Oops? OOPS!?! Is that all you have to say?!???!?!? If you think you're a victim of medical malpractice, might I suggest you take a look at

The second example deals with the legal profession. Legal Malpractice (as per Black's Law Dictionary) is defined as: A lawyer's failure to render professional services with the skill, prudence, and diligence that an ordinary and reasonable lawyer would use under similar circumstances (also termed attorney malpractice).

In this example, imagine having forked over $20,000 to an attorney to represent you in a family law matter. Six months later, you find out the attorney never filed anything, never responded, never did anything (just took your money). Or say you're in a case and your attorney accepts a settlement without consulting you (the client). Oops! Big no, no. Or, let's say you hire an attorney. He files the complaint. He files/argues motions on your behalf. He does everything he's supposed to do BUT on the day of trial your lawyer doesn't show up and you're left swinging in the wind. Can you say awkward!?
If you feel you've been the subject of Legal Malpractice, might I suggest you take a look at

I guess the bottom line to all of this is that if you think you are (or soon may be) a victim of malpractice, don't just sit there and take it.  Nope, you need to stand up for your rights, go to your local county law library, talk to your friendly neighborhood law librarian because if you don't do it, no one else will do it for you (for free).