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Articles Tagged with Kentucky

By Aaron Smith, Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Just a few short weeks ago, attorneys Buzz English and J.A. Sowell from our firm took a case to trial because our client felt it was the best option, and we concurred.

In that case, we were defending a truck driver and the company he worked for against a lawsuit filed by a pedestrian he struck at night while driving. Our observation from that case is that sometimes it is best to go to trial — and we had that lesson reinforced for us and our clients again this week in Simpson Circuit Court.

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By Buzz English, Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Buzz English

Buzz English

In the modern-day legal system, it is becoming increasingly rare to take a case to a jury trial. But sometimes it is the best course, especially if you believe you are in the right.

In September, I was in Wayne County Circuit Court in Monticello, Kentucky, trying a case filed by a pedestrian who had been struck by my client, Beja Environmental’s driver, John Magazzeni. Attorney J.A. Sowell, also with ELPO, joined me in representing Magazzeni and Beja at trial.

The Plaintiff

Plaintiff, a 68-year-old woman, walked across a bypass road, just past a lighted intersection and Magazzeni collided with her.  Obviously, the accident caused serious injuries, and Plaintiff was life-flighted to the University of Kentucky’s hospital, where she remained for months.  Prior to trial, she claimed Magazzeni ran a red light and hit her.  At trial, now 72 and assisted by a walker, she claimed she was standing on the median when Magazzeni hit her.

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By Nathan Vinson, Partner

English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

If you aren’t paying Kentucky sales tax on items you buy online, you will be soon – and you have the great state of South Dakota to thank for it.

By Sarah Jarboe, Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley LLP

lead paintLast month, news outlets reported that HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines’ company would pay a $40,000 fine for violating the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (“RRP Rule”) on work sites. The fines are a result of an Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) review of the HGTV show, Fixer Upper, which showed workers on their renovation sites violating EPA regulations.

Magnolia Homes, the Gaines’ company, took immediate steps to rectify problems when first contacted by the EPA in 2015, the EPA said in a statement. Beyond the $40,000 fine, Magnolia Homes will spend $160,000 to abate lead paint in homes in Waco, Texas, where the couple and Magnolia Homes are based.

This large expenditure could have been avoided with good legal advice and sound work practices.

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Editor’s note: This is the second of two blog posts exploring probate: what it is, how it works and what Kentucky law has to say about this process. You can read the first in the series here.

By Leah Morrison, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Leah Morrison

Leah Morrison, attorney

Probate is one of those things that people universally dismiss as an unduly burdensome process. In fact, many clients tell me they need a will or estate plan so that they can avoid probate.

Outside of the small estate scenario that we explored in the first blog post, Kentucky law provides additional mechanisms for avoiding probate. Not everyone has a Will. Perhaps most often people do not want to write one because they don’t want to think about dying, or they plan to write one and simply put it off. Some purposefully choose intestacy. Even without any planning not all assets owned by the decedent are subject to the probate process. Probate assets include everything the decedent owned in his or her individual name.

These can include:

  • bank accounts;
  • brokerage accounts;
  • real estate held in the decedent’s individual name or in a tenancy in common;
  • vehicles;
  • furniture;
  • jewelry; and
  • an interest in a partnership, corporation, or limited liability company.

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By Leah Morrison, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Leah Morrison

Leah Morrison, attorney

One of the most frequent reasons clients tell me they want to create a will, trust, or other estate documents is to avoid probate. People have come to see probate as an unduly burdensome process that can cost a lot of money and time, but in Kentucky, it’s not as bad as you might fear.

Before we delve into it, let’s take a moment to review what probate is. Probate is the legal process by which the financial affairs of a deceased person are concluded. It is a court supervised process in which assets are accumulated and distributed in accordance with the decedent’s will or pursuant to the statutory plan of descent, and debts are gathered for payment. Although, in Kentucky, the supervision provided by the court is often times very minimal.

While Kentucky’s probate laws are sufficient to ensure the deceased person’s assets are properly managed and distributed to the appropriate person, the requirements of the probate process are minimal enough that most people navigate it smoothly without incident.

The one thing, though, to know is that probate does make your will public. Your will becomes a public document that is recorded in the court system, and is available to anyone who wishes to view it.

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By Heather Coleman Brooks
Attorney, English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Heather Coleman Brooks

Heather Coleman Brooks

Death and taxes. Both inevitable, both made easier when a plan is in place. You deal with your taxes annually, but how often do you consider whether you have made the proper plans for your estate?

If you do not have substantial assets, you may be wondering if it is really necessary for you to have a will. To decide if it is right for you, consider what happens if you fail to make a plan.

In Kentucky, if you die without a will, your assets will pass according to the laws of intestacy. The courts will divide your assets among your heirs according to the priorities directed by Kentucky statutes. Sometimes, this has unintended consequences.

 

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By Leah Morrison, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

trustsWhen it comes to planning to avoid or minimize Federal Estate tax, there are four (almost) magic words that frequently appear in trust documents: health, education, support and maintenance, known in the trust and estate law industry as HEMS. Outside of the tax advantages of including HEMS in a trust document, these words also impact the administration of the trust. When a trust includes HEMS language, beneficiaries from the trust may receive funds from the trust for those type of expenses, and those only.

A trustee is placed in charge of the trust. That trustee usually has broad latitude in determining how many distributions are made from the trust and in what amounts – but HEMS language is included to limit what those distributions may be used for. Trustees must ensure that the distributions fall under those categories. Trustees are often a lay person, and in many cases, a family member. This can make things particularly sticky and confusing, especially if there are disagreements among family members.

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accountant-calculator-pencil-300x200

By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Improvements to tax law and reducing taxes are a very popular item on most politicians’ platforms. You won’t find anyone who openly says people should pay more. At least, not anyone currently serving in office.

They’re right, by the way – our tax code is far too cumbersome and it changes constantly. (And no, I’m not running for office.)

President Trump has indicated he wants to reform the tax code and change the way people pay taxes. Lawmakers are reportedly discussing how to do that while paying for expensive new initiatives. How can you do it all?

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

will

Prince performing in concert in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by Bob Young.

It’s been more than a year since music legend Prince died unexpectedly at his home in Minnesota. He was actively touring and working at the time of his death on April 21, 2016, at the young age of 57.

You’re forgiven if you assumed his estate was long settled, since he died more than a year ago. But it’s not done yet – and may not be for quite a while – due to the fact that he died without a will.

It’s astounding to think that someone who is as famous, prosperous and with as many assets as Prince would die without this basic legal document. But as it turns out, he’s no different than anyone else – he probably didn’t want to think about death.

Whether you die a famous millionaire or with few assets, if you don’t have a Will you can leave a large mess. Heirs you would have never wanted to have your property could get it. Your estate will spend more probating your assets as well, and those who you wished to receive items from your estate may never see them.

Prince was a very charitable man, yet none of his millions he had nor future royalties will benefit those he likely would have preferred to benefit. Plus, the estate will shell out much more than anyone would want to pay in estate taxes.

Your children and family will be far happier if you take care of this before you die – and there’s no doubt it will bring you piece of mind, too.

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