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LEGAL INSIDER • APRIL 2006
   
  Welcome to the Legal Insider, LegalMatch's newsletter. We compiled a collection of the most pertinent information for LegalMatch consumers. Each newsletter is packed with valuable resources and helpful hints designed to keep you aware of every step of the legal process. And, it's fun to read.  
 

The Tax Man Cometh
Why Hire a Lawyer?

Why Didn't I Think of That?
Nothing is Free

Know Your Legal Terms
Help a Friend
 
   
  The tax man cometh...
  1040 FormThe last day to file your taxes this year without risk of penalty is April 17, 2006. If you need more than the few extra days, here's what the IRS says to do:

Extensions for Individuals
If you are not able to file your federal individual income tax return by the due date, you may be able to get an automatic 6-month extension of time to file.

To do so, you must file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Income Tax Return (51K) Adobe PDF, by the due date for filing your calendar year return (April 17, 2006) or fiscal year return. This form is also available en español. Special rules may apply if you are: You can also go to Filing Information in Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax (HTML page), for more information regarding the rules for automatic extensions and filing federal individual income tax returns.

Please be aware that an extension of time to file your return does not grant you any extension of time to pay your tax liability. In other words, the hard part of your taxes, paying them, is still April 17.
 
 
  Top 15 occasions to hire a lawyer and be thankful that you did.
  Think you need a lawyer? Not sure? Well, you're not alone. A recent survey found that 71% of all households in the U.S. had one or more of the following situations occur—within the past 12 months. These situations are generally agreed upon as "occasions to at least consider hiring legal representation." Percentage of households reporting the occurrence are presented.

  1. Bought/sold real estate—real estate transactions can be tricky but certainly all do not require a lawyer. The more complicated the transaction, the more you might want a qualified attorney to at least look over any paper work that you are required (or asked) to sign. With so many Do It Yourself or Sell it Yourself books out there, it's tempting to go it alone but, beware, if something goes haywire, an attorney in your corner can add genuine peace of mind to a troubling time. 16%
  2. Refinanced a mortgage—Just like with real estate transactions, most refinancing can be done without legal representation. But, remember, refinancing requires you to sign a long-term, incredibly binding contract and many of the world's most successful people remind us to: never sign a contract without a lawyer reading it first. 14%
  3. Created or revised a will, estate plan, or trust—When it comes to estate planning, a lawyer is absolutely essential. The processes involved can be so complicated and "touchy," having the assistance of a lawyer will always help ease the burden. Many lawyers will simply read-over documents and make suggestions as to ways to improve them (for their hourly rate), or they will prepare them in their entirety. It never hurts to ask for help and to make a plan based on your unique needs and requirements. 13%
  4. Felt they were given inadequate medical care—You're recovering from an operation and something doesn't seem right. What do you do? There was a surgeon, and anesthesiologist, multiple nurses, and other health care providers you didn't even meet. Who can help you? Who can answer your questions honestly? With an attorney asking these questions, you can bet you'll get much quicker responses. 12%
  5. Got a moving traffic violation—Moving violations can have deep ramifications. Your insurance rates can go up. You might be required to spend multiple days in court. If you feel as if you have been wronged—and you're not just trying to get out of paying—a lawyer can offer you some good advice on dealing with the legal system. 12%
  6. Had trouble with creditors—There is nothing more frustrating than finding out there is a blemish on your credit report that wasn't your fault. Credit companies say that you can write them a letter explaining the situation but they rarely reverse demerits on your credit report. A qualified lawyer getting involved will help your situation out greatly. Remember, it is illegal to misrepresent yourself to any agency (despite what some ads claim). If you have an honest complaint, try to solve it yourself and if unsuccessful, get a lawyer to help. 12%
  7. Had a dispute with a landlord, tenant, condo board, or neighbor—These situations usually involve interpreting an existing contract, whether written or oral. In every state there are strict rules that govern residences and if these rules are not followed, swift justice can and will be served. Getting good legal advice is essential in these matters. Use a lawyer, it's worth it. 11%
  8. Had to administer an estate or deal with inheritance—When nothing goes wrong (or no one contests the will) inheritance can be a simple process. But, many times, things do go wrong. Forgotten cousins, a new spouse, property that was owned prior to a marriage, promises between two people, a dying person's wishes—when someone passes, the most important thing is that their will (whether written or not) is done. Estates can be a very complicated process and protecting your interest is essential throughout. A well qualified attorney with years of experience is your best bet to a smooth transition. 9%
  9. Had trouble getting medical insurance—There are many rules around this and every state differs. An attorney can help cut through red tape. 8%
  10. Felt they were a victim of consumer fraud—Fraud of any kind is a serious offense. If you have been intentionally wronged or mislead, you need help in protecting and enforcing your rights, the type of help that only an attorney can provide. 8%
  11. Considered filing for bankruptcy—The ramifications of bankruptcy are long lasting and therefore, it should not be entered into lightly. You have options. Talk to an attorney and have them explain your choices—all of them—before making a decision that will effect at least the next ten years of your life. 7%
  12. Had difficulty collecting public benefits (e.g. Social Security, veterans benefits, disability)—Just get on the phone with any of these agencies and you'll immediately know why you need a lawyer's help to deal with the government. Many lawyers specialize in this area and many have people who worked for these agencies and know the ins-and-outs. 6%
  13. Had a problem with basic utilities—Basic utilities companies are governed by commissions, and they have to follow rules. Every state is different so ask a qualified attorney to help you deal with these large companies. 6%
  14. Got involved in child custody or child support dispute—Custody of a child and paying support is so very important (and so often abused) that having an attorney represent you in these matters is absolutely crucial. The welfare of a child is at stake. There can be no room for errors, period. 5%
  15. Other matters (including discrimination, personal injury, divorce, felony conviction, IRS problems)—When these situations arise, you need a lawyer to look out for your interests. The system is not infallible; mistakes are made all the time. Companies (or people) may try to take advantage of a situation (or you). Don't let them. Get representation. 26%
If you or someone you know has experienced one or more of these situations, and you want to explore using legal services, use LegalMatch to reach out to attorneys who are specially trained in the fields you need and who are in your neighborhood. It's fast, free, and confidential.

Survey results from:
Public Perception of Lawyer Consumer Research Findings, April 2002. Leo J. Shapiro & Associates
 
 

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  Why didn't I think of that? Simple patents for a simple world.
  Margarita manMan at the bar: Hey, Smitty, I think I'm having a heart attack.
Bartender: You want your margarita blended or on the rocks?

According to official U.S. Patent No. 6,457,474, issued October 1, 2002 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, there is a new method of alleviating chest pain, especially from angina pectoris, as an alternative to nitroglycerin. This newly patented remedy is drinking lime juice!

According to the official patent abstract:
A method of alleviating chest pain that stems from the heart, which method comprises: (a) noticing a pain in the chest; and shortly thereafter (b) taking an effective amount of lime juice into the body to alleviate the chest pain."

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
This invention provides an alternative to taking nitroglycerin to combat chest pain such as angina pectoris. In accordance with this invention, a person takes in lime juice after noticing the onset of the chest pain. As the term is used in this document, "lime juice" means lime juice or limeade or any combination that includes the juice of a lime whether in concentrated or diluted form.

The inventor surprisingly discovered that by taking lime juice shortly after noticing that he was experiencing an anginal attack that his chest pain immediately subsided.

But, before you go out and start planting your new lime orchard, there was a Director Ordered Reexamination of this patent. He recommends adding Tequila, too.
 
 

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  Nothing in this world is free, but for you, we'll make an exception!
  Did you know that LegalMatch has an extensive online resource for people who are looking for help with legal issues? We call it our LegalCenter! And, it's available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/index.html

In the LegalCenter, you can learn more about various practice areas of law, as well as receive hundreds of general tips for doing business with lawyers.

At your disposal are our:

Law Library
If you need quick, up-to-date information on a specific legal area, visit our easy-to-navigate Law Library. It has information on over 220 legal categories, each filled with general guidance expressed in clear terms so you are able to better understand the law. If you are unsure which practice area is right for you, use our search function to scan our entire law library database.

Legal Tips
Should you have questions about hiring a lawyer or if you need some tips on what to say when you do meet an attorney, we have outlined some important pointers on everything from hiring a lawyer to negotiating the best deal... being prepared in the legal process means getting the results you need. It's all found in the Legal Tips section.

LegalMatch Forums
One of the newest and best ways to freely discuss matters via the Internet is forums. If you have a specific legal question that you'd like to introduce to a forum, we offer you our LegalMatch Forum, which is designed for consumers to ask questions and exchange ideas on everything from personal injury to bankruptcy law.

LegalMatch Legal Blogs
Want some free advice from well-respected attorneys? With our Legal Blogs, you can read what the experts in the legal industry have to say on a wide variety of legal issues. LegalMatch's legal blogs allow you access to what the insiders think on hot current legal issues.
 
 

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  Legal terms you should know... it's all about the family.
  Adoption—When an adult becomes legally recognized as the parent of someone who is not his or her biological child, it is called an adoption. Adoption formally establishes a parent-child relationship for ALL purposes, including child support obligations, inheritance rights, and custody. From state to state, the legal rules regarding adoption vary significantly.

Selecting the right legal counsel for your situation requires critical evaluations regarding a lawyer's expertise.

Child Support—Child support is the amount of money a parent is required by law to pay to the spouse who retains primary custody of the child. Child support is intended for the benefit of the child, and usually pays for:

  • Food, shelter, and clothing
  • Health and medical care
  • Educational expenditures
Divorce or Annulment—Both divorce and annulment are court procedures that dissolve a marriage. However, unlike a divorce, an annulment treats the marriage as though it never happened. The vast majority of dissolutions of marriage are done through divorce.

Domestic Violence—Domestic violence is behavior used by one person in a relationship to control the other person. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated or dating. Emotional and physical abuse is often associated with domestic violence. Domestic violence can take many shapes and forms and can happen all the time or only once in a while.

Enforcement of Decrees—In the legal system, a decree is a Court order. The enforcement of decrees requires a separate legal proceeding whereby the court or judge is asked to affirm a prior court order that has not happened. A court can only enforce decrees or orders that are final.

Family Law—Family law encompasses a broad range of legal topics involving marriage and children. Common family law subjects include divorce or annulment, child custody and visitation rights, child support payments, and spousal support/alimony. Family law specifically deals with children for adoptions, guardianships, and state child protection, and domestic violence and restraining orders for adults.

Read more on each of these terms, and about many other subjects in the LegalMatch Law Library.
 
 

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  Help a friend... tell them about LegalMatch.
  We here at LegalMatch are in the business of helping people who think they might need legal representation by answering their questions and giving them choices. If you know someone who might need our help, just forward this newsletter to them.

When someone needs a lawyer (or even think they might need a lawyer), chances are, they are in a pretty stressful time in their life. LegalMatch's services have helped tens of thousands of people in many ways, from helping them answer their legal questions to helping them find the right lawyer, with little effort and no expense.
 
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