Technology in the Legal Sector

It is safe to say that we are firmly into 2018 now, and the first month of this year has been filled with brand new technology that is set to change the way we live our day to day lives. Not only has it changed the way that we live our lives but it has changed many different sectors of business.

As technology progresses at this pace, we should probably look at what this means for the legal sector. Firms all over the world are adopting and investing in new technology to effectively compete with the other competition out there. Not only do they need to use this technology to compete with other firms, but clients are wanting more and more engagement with technology in all of the sectors of business. In this respect, the legal sector is quite far behind but they are catching up rapidly.

According to SEO experts, voice searches are expected to take over. With Siri and Alexa already setting the bar very high, and voice searching are expected to account for 50% of online searches by the year 2020. You may be wondering how this can affect the legal sector. Because a quarter of all voice searches are for local information, it is likely that people will be searching for information on local lawyers. This means that law firms will have to make sure that their websites and online presence are adapted to be found in this way. Law firms will already be used to optimizing their page for traditional searches, SEO for voice will be slightly different. It is worth finding out what the difference is and how you can get prepared.

Law firms should also expect to get used to the idea of automated technology. The Law Society has predicted that this type of technology will take over 67,000 jobs in the legal sector by the year 2038. Although many people are worried that this means they’ll lose their jobs, they need to remember the positives to this. Machines can take on a lot of the legal work that often slows law firm employees down and therefore make them more efficient and better able to take on important work. Service automation will help increase productivity and will help law firms be able to take on more and more work, without any extra strain on their employees. This means that you should expect a rise in the number of cases that law firms take on, as well as how much they do in advisory capacities.

Virtual and augmented reality are fast becoming commonplace in a lot of other sectors, but it is one piece of technology that law firms don’t seem to have adopted just yet. This could all be set to change, however, with the law sector finally coming on board with this technology. It is expected that virtual and augmented reality will be used to help with client recruitment and engagement. It is also expected that law firms can use these types of technology to help with staff recruitment and training. It means that training sessions can be delivered via AR or VR and won’t take the employee away from the office for as long as if they were going away to train. This will help lower costs and make sure that people are being trained fully and effectively.

SEO is changing all the time, and 2018 will see further changes yet in this piece of technology. Artificial intelligence or AI means that they can answer users search queries from just the first few words. This is known as predictive search and already exists but in 2018 it is expected that this technology will become more advanced and better able to guess what the user wanted to search for. This means that law firms may be cut out of the competition before the user has even had a chance to search for them.

4 Easy Steps to Value an Estate

When someone passes away, if they left a Will they will have nominated an executor (if they didn’t leave a Will the next of kin will be able to deal with the estate). It is the executor’s job to sort out the assets and liabilities of the deceased. In a nutshell, this means getting in the assets and paying/discharging the liabilities.

But before you can do this you will need to value the estate. This means valuing any money, property, and possessions belonging to the person who has passed away. This valuation will be used to determine if inheritance tax needs to be paid or not. In this article, we will be outlining the four steps you need to take to value an estate.

Step One

Get the details.

To work out the value of the estate, you will need details of all assets e.g. bank accounts, savings accounts, property, etc. You will need details of all debts e.g. utility bills, loan repayments, mortgages, etc. and all significant gifts they gave away in the last seven years before they died. This means you will have to write to the asset holders and ask them for the value of the asset at the date of death. You are trying to ascertain the value of the estate at the date the deceased person passed away. This is an important point as some assets will increase in value, e.g., a bank account gaining interest.

Money in a joint bank account or owned jointly will automatically pass to the other owner or owners, half of the money will need to be added into the calculation for the estate.

Tip: To value non-monetary assets (cars, antiques, etc.) it is recommended that you use a professional valuer if the asset is worth more than £500.00. If the deceased left a lot of belongings such as furniture, jewellery, etc. you can hire a professional valuer who will value everything at once and provide you with a succinct report.

Tip: You will need to get three valuations of any houses from three different estate agents and then use the average to give you a figure for the property.

Step Two

Total up the assets and the debts. Add all of the assets together to reach the total asset figure and total up all of the debts to reach the total debt figure.

To find the value of the estate, you will need to subtract the debts from the assets. Take the total debt figure away from the total asset figure to be left with the final value of the estate.

Assets – Debts = Estate value.

If the estate value is over £325,000.00 then usually you will need to pay inheritance tax. For more information on when and how to pay inheritance tax.

Step Three

Regardless of whether or not you need to pay inheritance tax if you need a grant of representation you should fill out the right inheritance tax form. This needs to be completed to obtain the Grant.

Step Four

Send in the forms when you apply for the grant of representation. You should send your application to your local Probate Registry.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are four simple steps to follow to value an estate. However, just because the steps are simple does not mean the process will be easy.

5 Easy Steps To Obtain a Grant of Probate

When disposing of an estate, you will sometimes need to obtain a document called a Grant of Probate, or, depending on the situation Letters of Administration. If needed, this document is an official statement to asset and debt holders, informing them that you are the executor in charge of distributing the assets and paying off the debts. It allows them to communicate with you, safe in the knowledge that they are resolving the estate with the designated representative.

You will need to apply for, and obtain a Grant if the value of the deceased’s estate exceeds £5,000.00 or if there is property, such as a house, to dispose of. Banks, building societies and other asset holders can, at their discretion, ask to see a Grant regardless of the value of the asset they hold.

That being said, you are unlikely to need a grant if the estate is passing to a surviving spouse, or if the assets are held in joint names and are passing to the joint owner.

Once you have established whether or not you need to obtain a Grant, you will need to follow the below steps to successfully obtain the Grant.

Step One

Your first step will be to work out the value of the estate. In the simplest terms, you will do this by adding together the estate’s assets and subtracting the estate’s debts.

The asset holders will inform you of the value of each of the assets at the time of death. You need to enter these figures into the Inheritance Tax form, and this will calculate the value of the estate.

You must do this even if the Estate is below the Inheritance Tax Threshold.

Step Two

Complete an Inheritance Tax form either IHT205 or IHT400.

To know which form you need to fill out you need to understand the differences between the forms. Form IHT205 is the form that you need to fill out if there is no inheritance tax to be paid, either because the estate is too low in value or because the estate is an exempted estate.

The IHT400 is the form that is filled out when there is inheritance tax to be paid. However, there will be some situations where there is no inheritance tax to be paid, and the IHT400 will still be the form you need to fill out so you need to be careful and assess the estate in detail. if you are unsure then start filling in IHT205 and it will guide you to form IHT400 if it is needed.

If you think that there is no inheritance tax due on the estate then you should start filling out IHT205, you may soon find however that you will need to change to form IHT400.

Step Three

Complete a probatePA1 application form.

To complete this form, you will need to know the basic details of the person who has died, e.g.: their first name & surname, date of birth, date of death, and marital status. You will also need to know some more specific information e.g.: did the deceased own any assets under another name, was the deceased adopted.

You will have to fill in questions about the Will if one exists. As well as any information on any foreign held assets e.g.: did the deceased own a holiday home abroad.

Section five of this form discusses the relatives of the deceased. Section six is a section where you provide your details.

Section seven is where you provide details of any inheritance tax owed by the estate. You can get these figures from the inheritance tax forms completed at Step Two.

Section eight applies to those who are applying on behalf of someone who has been nominated as an executor but has lost capacity. You will need to provide details of the person you are applying on behalf of.

Section nine is a helpful checklist that allows you to make sure that you have completed all of the forms and enclosed all of the necessary documents. Following this checklist means that your application is far more likely to be accepted.

Step Four

Swear an oath. You can obtain an oath from the probate registry or draft one yourself, although if you choose this, then you need to be careful as an oath will only be valid in certain formats.

Swearing the oath will not take long, you will need to swear it in front of a solicitor or a local probate office, and this will cost approximately £5.00.

Step Five

Send your application to the probate registry.

You should include:

  • The probate application form PA1,
  • The Inheritance Tax form, an official copy of the death certificate,
  • The Oath,
  • The original will and three copies – and any codicils,
  • The application fee of £215 – a cheque made payable to HM Courts and Tribunals Service (there’s no fee if the estate is under £5,000.00).

What To Do After Buying A Lemon Car

For many, buying a car is a major investment. Unfortunately, not everything planned goes well. There are many hidden lemons, waiting for the unaware buyer. And by “lemon” we refer to cars which have serious malfunctions. If you suspect that you have bought a lemon, you should immediately take action. Find out more about what to do after realizing that the vehicle has serious problems.

Every state has laws to protect consumers from products that have serious defects. Lemon laws protect consumers from automobiles that are plagued with serious defects. If an item cannot be satisfactorily repaired within a certain time-frame or after a specified number of repair attempts. In California, if within the first 18 months, or 18,000 miles, a car will be considered a lemon if one of the following three conditions is met:

• There were at least 2 unsuccessful repair attempts and the defect causes the vehicle to be unsafe to drive
• The manufacturer or dealer has attempted to fix the same defect four or more times without success
• The vehicle has been out of service for over 30 days because of warranty repairs

The defect must be severe, functionality-related and it must impair the use of vehicle or it must pose significant safety issue to any of the drivers or passengers. For example, anything related to brakes or the ability to take corners. An aesthetic problem, like damaged paints, will not cause safety or functionality problems and will not determine the car to be labeled as lemon.

If you are stuck with such vehicle, then under consumer laws, you may be entitled to a manufacturer replacement or refund of the money you spent buying and fixing the vehicle.

• Manufacturer’s buyback: In this option, the manufacturer of your car replaces your lemon vehicle with a similar vehicle from its own stock.

• Refund: For this option, you need to return the lemon car to receive compensation. In this scenario, you may receive compensation for the number of monthly payments you’ve made, your down payment, any fees and taxes paid, as well as any money spent on repairs and rentals you purchased while your lemon was being serviced.

The Importance of Picking the Right Employment Lawyer for Your Case

If you have any service disputes, discrimination issues, harassment cases, debt related issues or any job termination problems, the most possible solution to resolve all this mess is to hire an employment lawyer. An Employment lawyer is a legal professional who takes care of all your trade & discrimination related matters, helping you assure the protection of your rights. These rights include rights as a person, employee and your rights to privacy. As we all know, getting a job is comparatively easy than keeping it! This makes keeping a job, an even more challenging and daunting task. In case you are facing any problems at your job, hiring an ideal employment attorney can help you get the results in your favor.

Being honest, most people will never seek to look for an employment lawyer. As a matter of fact, most of them have not even heard of it! The ones, who’ve heard about it, make plenty of mistakes before contacting an attorney, which in turn results in a financial disaster for them. Hence, picking the right and ideal public prosecutor is also crucial! The process of picking a good public prosecutor is very imperative, as it involves a lot of research, questioning & consultation before hiring.

Services provided by an Employment lawyer:

Unfair Dismissal – the suffering and disturbance caused by illegal termination can affect every facet of your life. These lawyers provide protection to the employees terminated from their workplaces due to one or some other reason. They will work closely with you to ensure that you’re fairly compensated at your former job if that is the best solution as per your situation. Your career is often part of your character, and being terminated unduly can lead to despair, annoyance, and an inability to find a new job. If you’ve been fired, you may still have trouble obtaining a new location because of the shame of being terminated, downsized, or set loose.

Workplace Discrimination – If you sense that you have been discriminated against in the workplace, it’s indispensable that you directly reach the employer lawyers, as they are the experts in all aspects of employer discrimination, whether it is based on age, gender, race, handicap, or any other inappropriate standards of work. They’ll take your case and work diligently to prove discrimination, and turn the tables in your favor at last.

Sexual Harassment – molestation is, basically, unsought behavior, remarks or overtone of a sexual nature. It involves an individual harassing a member of the alternative gender or of an identical sexual class. It may involve proposals of marriage, inappropriate love letters, offensive or nuisance phone calls or mails, sexually explicit conversations, foul speech or dirty jokes, etc.

How To Win An Overtime Lawsuit

Cases for unpaid overtime arise under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), the federal law that generally provides for the payment of time-and-a-half overtime pay.

To win an unpaid overtime case, you must prove three (3) basic elements by a preponderance of the evidence:

(1) that you were employed by the defendant during the time involved;

(2) that your work was engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce or the defendant’s business or businesses under unified operation or common control employed at least two persons and was engaged in commerce or the production of goods for commerce and had an annual gross sales of at least $500,000; and

(3) that the defendant failed to pay you overtime required by law.

Engaged In Commerce

The term “commerce” has a very broad meaning and includes any trade, commerce, transportation, transmission, or communication between any state and any place outside the state.

Examples of employees who are “engaged in commerce” under the Fair Labor Standards Act include anyone who uses a telephone, fax machine, the U.S. mail, or computer e-mail system to communicate with persons in another state. Also, it also includes employees who use electronic devices which authorize credit card purchases. As you can see the definition is very broad and determined on a case by case basis.

Calculating Overtime Rate

The Fair Labor Standards Act generally requires an employer to pay its employees at a rate of at least one and one-half their regular rate for time worked in one work week over forty hours. This is commonly known as time-and-a-half pay for overtime work.

An employee’s “regular rate” during a particular week is the basis for calculating any overtime pay due for that week. The regular rate for a week is determined by dividing the first 40 hours worked into the total wages paid for those 40 hours. The overtime rate, then, would be one and one-half of that rate and would be owed for each hour in excess of 40 hours worked during the work week.

Exemptions Under FLSA

Most employers justify not paying overtime by claiming an “exemption.” Probably the most common exemptions are the executive and administrative exemptions, but there are many more.

To receive the benefit of an executive exemption, the defendant must prove that your primary duty was managing the business or department of the business. For example, an executive director would likely be exempt under the FLSA, if they directed the work of at least two or more employees and had the authority to hire or fire other employees, or their suggestions and recommendations as to the hiring, firing, advancement, promotion, or any other change of status of other employees were given a particular weight.

To receive the benefit of an administrative exemption, the defendant must prove that your primary duty was the performance of work directly related to the management or general business operation of your employer and you exercised discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance. An office manager may qualify for the administrative exemption.

When determining whether or not you’re an exempt employee it’s important to remember that what matters is the work you actually performed, not your written job description. In other words, if your job description states that you’re a manager, yet your primary duty is that of a front desk clerk, you’re likely non-exempt and owed overtime. As you may imagine, these type of cases are very fact dependent and vary on a case by case basis.

Damages

The measure of damages or money under the FLSA is the difference between what you should have been paid under the Act and the amount that you were actually paid. This is called back pay. Damages are not allowed as a punishment and cannot be imposed or increased to penalize your employer.

How to Cope With Wrongful Termination

What is Wrongful Termination?

Wrongful termination is when an employee has been fired or laid off from his job without a lawful basis. This type of termination affects the employee in a number of ways. An employee who has been wrongly terminated can file a case against his employers to seek justice and compensations.

First of all, let us examine how a wrongful termination impacts an employee?

The employee suffers a financial loss

His source of income is severed. Usually, such terminations occur suddenly so the employee is hardly left with any time to make any backup plans.

Mental Trauma

Being terminated affects the self-esteem of the employee as he is at a loss about the actual reason for the termination. He could suffer mental agony and depression as a consequence of termination.

Impact on Career

A termination has a negative impact on the career of the employee because it is not viewed favorably by future employers. The individual could find it difficult to find a job and he may also have to compromise on the nature and salary of his new job.

All these factors have an overall effect on the life of the individual and his family.

Although under certain circumstances the employers have a right to terminate
employees, a termination is deemed wrongful under specific conditions such as:

• If the firing violates the state and federal discrimination laws.
• If firing is due to sexual discrimination.
• Termination that is against the terms of employment contract.
• Termination that does not conform to labor laws, etc.
• Firing that takes place as a consequence of retaliation by the employer against the employee who might file a complaint or claim against the employer.

If you are a victim of wrongful termination for these or any other reason, you are eligible for compensation from your employer. Your employer is liable to pay you for damages based on your lost wages and any other expenses. It is a good idea to consult a wrongful termination lawyer who specializes in such cases.

How can a lawyer help?

• These lawyers will represent you.
• They will find out the terms and conditions of your employment contract.
• Investigate the reasons and persons responsible for the termination.
• Review the promises made by your employers.
• Try to negotiate the best severance package.

In Conclusion

Working life is not devoid of its share of challenges and problems. One of the most unfortunate events in one’s career can be a wrongful termination. However, the best way to cope with such a situation is to face it with composure. You can hire a reputed lawyer who can represent you and get justice.

A Real Estate Attorney Can Turn Your Entrepreneurial Ideas Into Action

Zoning is the fascinating study of how cities and towns evolve as well as maintain historical centers, architectural details, noise ordinances, traffic patterns, and many other intricate details of major and minute importance. Zoning is an essential aspect of your town to know if you plan on constructing or opening a business. These rules and regulations will inform you about what kind of business you may operate, how you can go about your construction, and the means by which you must obtain permission.

Changing Code Enforcement

Did you know that code enforcement and zoning laws change all the time? Did you know that with the help of a real estate attorney you can actually petition to change them? It could be something simple like petitioning the neighbors of your proposed site. If they are interested in the business that you have proposed to construct, such as a coffee shop that sells freshly baked muffins and great coffee in the morning, chances are high that your neighbors will sign the petition.

Possible Limitations

Some locations, however, may have more than just neighbors to contend with. Historic district limitations may dictate what can and can’t be done in a particular area. Some areas are limited by parking contingencies or noise restrictions – but they are venture specific, and a real estate attorney can help you determine if this is something that has good potential for a zoning change and what the key parameters might be. Buildings that look empty, abandoned, or underutilized may have title or tax issues that need to be cleared before anyone can move forward with any future plans. To you and your neighbors, it may appear as a confusing waste of space, but a real estate attorney can use their professional resources to research the property and advise if changing the zoning or challenging the title or taxes of an empty space is worth the time and effort.

Starting with the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney can get your business plan and timeline on track. Bureaucracy does not have the reputation of being the most expeditious process. While the actual approval may be quite simple, review boards often meet infrequently to make determinations and policy changes, and some determinations even require multiple meetings, permits, and reviews. It is wise to go into any venture with your eyes wide open about every possibility, limitation, and potential hold-up.

Title Deeds: Amendment of Transfers and Mortgaging Property Law

The amendment of Transfers and Mortgaging Property Law will resolve the issues emerged from the failure to provide Title Deeds to purchasers who have paid for the property they bought and fulfilled all the necessary obligations, due to developer’s debts. Precisely, the new legislation authorises, under certain conditions, the Land Registry to exempt, eliminate, transfer and annulate mortgages and/or other encumbrances. Furthermore, the provisions of the Law N. 139(1)/2015, also known as ‘hidden mortgage’ law, includes all sales held before the end of 2014.

The Transfer and Mortgage Property Law, N. 139(1)/ 2015, came into force on the 4th of September 2015. The provisions of this particular regulation are meant to protect ‘trapped buyers’ by releasing their purchased Property from developers’ financial obligations. In case you are one of those buyers who has not obtained a Title Deeds due to developer’s fault or financial problems. As a result, it is encouraged to submit an Application to the Lands Registry. Note that the specific regulation applies on contracts (purchase agreements) that have been submitted to the Lands Registry until the 31st of December 2014.

In this point, I would like to outline that ‘trapped buyers’ should submit the necessary evidence in order to obtain a Title Deeds. Then, I will explain the necessary steps and procedures a ‘trapped buyer’ needs to follow so that his or her Application to be examined and afterwards obtain a Title Deeds.

Eligible Applications:

It should be underlined that those who are entitled to submit an Application to the Lands Registry are the ‘trapped buyer’, the seller (in our case the developer), the mortgage lender and the borrower based on the loan agreement with the buyer.

Following the provisions of the sections 44IH and 44KST, the Director will review the submitted Application according to the following conditions:

  1. The purchased amount has been fully paid.
  2. There is a registered Title Deeds for the purchased property.

In case a Title Deeds for the property has not been issued then the Director will ask buyer through a written notice to pay the balance of the purchase price in a special interim account, within 30 days from the date of the receipt of this notice.

Pending Applications:

I would like to point out that following the provisions of the law an application remains pending until the purchase price has not completely paid, and a separate Title Deeds has not been issued concerning the object of the contract prior the date of the Application.

Objections:

Within 45 days the following persons have the right to file an objection:

  • Buyer
  • Seller
  • Mortgagee
  • Any other person in whose benefit an encumbrance and/or prohibition have been registered

Obligation to produce evidence:

The Director may ask any interested person to provide evidence within a certain time frame at any stage of the process. The person who submits the application is obliged to provide evidence within the deadline mentioned in the relevant notice. The Director may impose a fine no more than €10.000 on a person other than the applicant, who does not provide evidence and to pay additional fees that should not exceed €100 for each day that the infringement continues.

Examination of the Application:

The Application is examined regardless if the Title Deeds has been issued or not. I would like to highlight that the ‘trapped buyers’ are obliged to pay the full amount of the purchased property or part of it, up to the date they file their Application.

If the necessary conditions are fulfilled, then the Director of Lands and Surveys Department inform all interested parties, in our case the buyer, the seller, the mortgagee and the lender, that 45 days after the notification the transfer of the property to the ‘trapped buyer’ will be held.

In this point, I would like to stress that the interested parties may file a new objection according to the following criteria:

  1. The obligations of the ‘trapped buyer’ to the seller have not been fulfilled.
  2. The contract between the ‘trapped buyer’ and the seller is not valid or has been terminated following a Court order.

Why Should You Attend the Best Eviction Service?

The process of removal of an existing tenant is the single most cumbersome and frustrating task. You might have to remove tenants for a number of reasons. Right about the situation where a tenant doesn’t comply with the rules and regulations of that where the tenant hasn’t been paying any rent for the past few months, endless numbers of reasons can make you undertake the removal procedure.Whatever the situation may be, the removal process is never a peaceful one. It has to be dealt with a lot of patience and care. It involves several people and can go wrong in many different ways.

Know the process

The first thing that you should do is get in touch with the best eviction service. A good service can guide you appropriately through the ups and downs of the process. The landlord-related expulsion happens to be an expensive proposition. As a landlord, you should know how to serve the notice to your tenant, and how to summarize the points of ouster. Only a qualified attorney can guide you through the process. Most of these cases can be handled peacefully. But in some unlikely situations, the tenant may want to take the case to court. Here again, you need a qualified lawyer, by your side. With his assistance, you will know how to handle the rules and regulations of the litigation procedure.

The various aspects of the process

Only the best eviction service can help you to understand and moderate your expenses. You start by giving your tenants an expulsion notice to vacate the property in said amount of time. If they abide by the rules and vacate, you are saved of a lot of expense. If they don’t abide by the rules and ask for a case, you will have to take measures accordingly. For a primary level course, you will have to pay for the processing of the case. You will also have to pay for the services offered by the local constable.

The ups and downs of the process

After the case is closed and the judge rules in your favor then the tenant will have to vacate the property within the stipulated period of time. The tenant may even apply for time for moving his own personal property. Some of the laws protect the interest of the tenant. For instance, you cannot immediately discard away the property of your tenant. You must give him at least a month’s time. After a month if the tenant doesn’t shift his belongings, he will be given some days extra, after which the belongings can be discarded or sold off. You have to be particular about complying with the rules and regulations.

Importance of a good attorney

Having a good lawyer by your side is like having an angel guiding your way. As a layperson, you are not expected to know the ouster-related legal stipulations. That is why selecting a good attorney is of utmost importance. He will explain every part of the expulsion in great detail. He will ensure that you don’t spend too much upon this deed. Once you find a qualified lawyer, you can save both your time and money.