10 Things You Should Know About Writing a Will

The laws governing wills vary from state to state. If you aren’t familiar with them, consider consulting a knowledgeable lawyer or estate planner in your area. Before you do, brush up on these 10 things you should know about writing a will.

What is a will?
A will is simply a legal document in which you, the testator, declare who will manage your estate after you die. Your estate can consist of big, expensive things such as a vacation home but also small items that might hold sentimental value such as photographs. The person named in the will to manage your estate is called the executor because he or she executes your stated wishes.

A will can also serve to declare who you wish to become the guardian for any minor children or dependents, and who you want to receive specific items that you own — Aunt Sally gets the silver, Cousin Billy the bone china, and so on. Someone designated to receive any of your property is called a “beneficiary.”

Some types of property, including certain insurance policies and retirement accounts, generally aren’t covered by wills. You should’ve listed beneficiaries when you took out the policies or opened the accounts. Check if you can’t remember, and make sure you keep beneficiaries up to date, since what you have on file when you die should dictate who receives those assets.

What happens if I die without a will?

If you die without a valid will, you’ll become what’s called intestate. That usually means your estate will be settled based on the laws of your state that outline who inherits what. Probate is the legal process of transferring the property of a deceased person to the rightful heirs.

Since no executor was named, a judge appoints an administrator to

Read the rest

Deadline extended to fill gaps in National Insurance record

Britain’s government has extended the deadline by nearly three months to fill historic gaps in National Insurance records and help increase the amount its people receive in state pension.

The new deadline to top up the state pension is July end instead of April 5 and the extension followed public demand, the government said.

Anyone with gaps in their National Insurance record from April 2006 now has more time to fill the gaps.

According to actuarial business LCP, investing in state pension top-ups can generate a better rate of return than almost any other way of using savings.

Someone with 10 missing years could pay out a little more than £8,000 to fix the gaps but see a boost of £55,000 in state pension over a typical 20-year retirement, it said.

LCP partner and former pensions minister Steve Webb said paying voluntary National Insurance contributions can be “great value for money” for many people.

It can help them boost their state pension in a “cost-effective way”, he said earlier this year.

Victoria Atkins, the financial secretary to the treasury, said the government recognised the importance of state pensions for retired individuals, “which is why we are giving people more time to fill any gaps in their National Insurance record to help bolster their entitlement.”

Read the rest

How AI could write our laws

Second, we should strengthen disclosure requirements on lobbyists, whether they’re entirely human or AI-assisted. State laws regarding lobbying disclosure are a hodgepodge. North Dakota, for example, only requires lobbying reports to be filed annually, so that by the time a disclosure is made, the policy is likely already decided. A lobbying disclosure scorecard created by Open Secrets, a group researching the influence of money in US politics, tracks nine states that do not even require lobbyists to report their compensation.

Ideally, it would be great for the public to see all communication between lobbyists and legislators, whether it takes the form of a proposed amendment or not. Absent that, let’s give the public the benefit of reviewing what lobbyists are lobbying for—and why. Lobbying is traditionally an activity that happens behind closed doors. Right now, many states reinforce that: they actually exempt testimony delivered publicly to a legislature from being reported as lobbying. 

In those jurisdictions, if you reveal your position to the public, you’re no longer lobbying. Let’s do the inverse: require lobbyists to reveal their positions on issues. Some jurisdictions already require a statement of position (a ‘yea’ or ‘nay’) from registered lobbyists. And in most (but not all) states, you could make a public records request regarding meetings held with a state legislator and hope to get something substantive back. But we can expect more—lobbyists could be required to proactively publish, within a few days, a brief summary of what they demanded of policymakers during meetings and why they believe it’s in the general interest.

We can’t rely on corporations to be forthcoming and wholly honest about the reasons behind their lobbying positions. But having them on the record about their intentions would at least provide a baseline for accountability.

Finally, consider the role AI

Read the rest

Brandfort court dismisses 20-year-old murder accused’s plea to be allowed to write exams – SABC News

20-year-old Simphiwe Mondli, who is accused of murdering his teacher, will miss his first matric examination. The Brandfort Magistrate’s Court denied his request to be released to write exams.

Mondli made his first appearance and through his legal aid appointed lawyer asked to be allowed an opportunity to write his exams. The state opposed the request saying other learners will experience further trauma if they sit for the exams together with him.

Mondli allegedly stabbed 35-year-old Matefo Mphosela on Thursday at her residence in Soutpan.

The 20-year-old murder accused now awaits his day to answer questions about why he allegedly stabbed someone who is said to have adopted him. This has brought the department’s learner support programmes under the spotlight.

Last Thursday, physical science teacher Matefo Mphosela took her last breath when her learner stabbed her. The two reportedly lived together. For now, the circumstances leading to the stabbing remain a mystery.

Video – 20-year-old Grade 12 learner arrested for allegedly killing a 35-year-old teacher in the Free State:

Free State Education MEC Tate Makgoe says the law should take its course. “So what exactly happened there I think it’s a matter of what the police are investigating. Don’t worry about what people are saying on the ground. You know when something like this happens especially when it’s a woman involved people always make assumptions but I think we are saying don’t make assumptions even if those useless assumptions were right. There is nobody who’s got a right to kill another person,” Makgoe adds.

Makgoe would however not be drawn into whether the deceased and her learner were having a romantic affair as they were reportedly staying together.

“It was not a legal adoption, it was just this thing of saying you identify weak learners coming from a

Read the rest

Car/Animal Collisions Are Down From Previous Year

In an era when the nation’s roads seem to be getting more dangerous – with traffic deaths reaching a 16-year high in 2021 – here’s a glimmer of more positive news. State Farm says the number of car collisions with animals are down this reporting period, according to its accident claims.  

State Farm says an estimated 1.9 million car/animal collisions occurred on U.S. roads between July 2021 and June 2022. That’s a 5.5 percent drop than the previous 12-month period in State Farm’s annual analysis – a period in which it reported an increase in car/animal collisions during the pandemic.

While these collisions can happen year-round, the fall months are particularly dangerous, with the most dangerous months for animal collisions are November, October and December, in this order.

Looking at the state with the most animal collisions claims,  that would be Pennsylvania with an estimated total industry animal collisions count of 156,176 claims. That’s put the likelihood that 1 out of 57 for licensed drivers will hit an animal while behind the wheel.  The animals most commonly hit by motorists in PA were deer (by far), “unidentified animals” and rodents, in this order.

Claims aside, the state where drivers have the highest likelihood of hitting an animal is West Virginia, with a probability of 1 in 35. There, the animals most likely to be hit by drivers are deer (by far), followed by “unidentified animals,” and by dogs, in this order.

State Farm says these two different state rankings differ because for the likelihood or probability of animal collisions state ranking, both the number of license drivers and the total number of animal collisions in each state affect the calculation, while for the industry claims ranking only the first variable (number of claims) matters.

State Farm says

Read the rest

Panel makes changes to proposed concealed carry law after concerns retired officers could be charged

A state Assembly panel has made some changes to a new bill that could restrict the concealed carry of guns in New Jersey.

The lawmakers first introduced the legislation last week. It would limit a gun owner’s ability to carry concealed weapons in certain places. But there were concerns that retired law enforcement officers could be arrested if they accidentally carried guns they are authorized to have into restricted areas.

“I don’t want to have any retiree put in a place where they’re going to be charged criminally if by chance they do carry,” says retired New Jersey State Police Lt. George Wren.

The changes also allow towns to make their own rules about places concealed guns are prohibited and require the state attorney general to make clear guidelines for the places like hospitals, airports and schools where handguns are prohibited.

Republicans have objected to the bill, saying the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bruen decision this summer gives Americans the right to concealed carry.

“They’ve made so many broad categories, it makes it almost impossible to do,” says Republican Assemblyman Robert Auth.

Democratic Assemblyman Joe Danielsen is a gun owner and hunter. He wrote the bill and says he’s happy with the changes.

But as to whether the bill will pass any constitutional challenges in court, he says, “That’s a very good question. My job is a legislator. I am not a circuit court judge, I’m not a justice on the Supreme Court, my job is to legislate.”

The full Assembly could vote on the bill as soon as this week. It would have to pass the state Senate before it gets to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk.

“There’s no higher priority for me as a legislator than to

Read the rest

Can insurance companies pay claims for Hurricane Ian victims?

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — One week after Hurricane Ian hit, tens of thousands of Floridians have property damage and are turning to their insurance companies hoping they’ll pay up.

The state’s insurer of last resort, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, says it’s projecting to face up to $2.6 billion in losses to Ian. It’s expecting to handle 200,000 claims or more.

But whether you have Citizens or a private company, will they actually be able to pay up? 8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi went to a so-called “insurance village” in Port Charlotte to find out.

The state site, located in the Port Charlotte Town Center on Tamiami Trail, is open daily from 8 am to 6 pm It was created to help storm victims file their insurance claims.

The goal is to help policyholders deal directly with their insurance company, close the claim and walk away with a check. But the question is – will homeowners be able to cash the checks or will they bounce?

Hurricane Ian was the worst-case scenario for Florida’s troubled property insurance market. Even before the storm, the industry was dealing with billions in losses, rampant litigation and fraud. Just this year, six insurers went bankrupt.

8 On Your Side asked Gov. Ron DeSantis and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis this week if storm victims will get their claims paid out.

“There’s multiple redundancies in the state of Florida,” Patronis said.

“We have taken action to stabilize, and we will do more if we need to,” Gov. DeSantis said. “I mean, I will call another special session.”

State Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Republican from St. Petersburg, spearheaded the push for the first special session to address property insurance in May. Now, he believes there should be another.

In Port Charlotte on Wednesday, Mon. Brandes

Read the rest

Insurance companies can’t drop customers in burn areas

FORESTHILL, Calif. — California temporarily banned insurance companies Thursday from dropping customers in areas affected by recent wildfires, a day after evacuation orders were lifted for residents near a 2-week-old blaze that’s become the largest in the state so far this year.

Several days of sporadic rain helped firefighters reach 60% containment on the Mosquito Fire in Sierra foothills about 110 miles northeast of San Francisco. At least 78 homes and other structures have been destroyed since flames broke out Sept. 6 and charred forestland across Placer and El Dorado counties.

Sheriff’s officials in both counties announced Wednesday that they were lifting the last of the evacuation orders that during the fire’s height kept some 11,000 people out of their homes.

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara invoked a law Thursday at protecting homeowners in the wildfire-plagued state who say they are being pushed out of the commercial insurance market.

Lara ordered insurance companies to preserve residential insurance for one year for Californians who live near one of several major wildfires that have burned across the state in recent weeks.

The Department of Insurance estimates the moratorium will affect policies covering about 236,000 people in portions of Placer, El Dorado and Riverside counties.

“Wildfires are devastating even if you did not lose your home, so it is absolutely critical to give people breathing room after a disaster. This is not the time to be having to search for insurance,” Lara said in a statement.

The law was implemented in 2019, when more than 15 major wildfires burned homes across the state.

Scientists say climate change has made the West warmer and drier over the last three decades and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive. In the last five years, California has experienced the

Read the rest

Candidates for top Arizona election job spar in debate

PHOENIX (AP) — A Republican Arizona lawmaker who embraces election conspiracies and has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement sparred with the Democrat who helped oversee the 2020 election in Maricopa County in a debate Thursday evening as they each seek the state’s top elections post.

The two vying to be the next secretary of state — Republican Rep. Mark Finchem and Democrat Adrian Fontes, the former Maricopa County recorder — had vastly differing views on the outcome of the 2020 election, the violent attack on Congress and how to run elections going forward.

Finchem said he would not have certified the 2020 results in two of Arizona’s 15 counties because he said they were “irredeemably compromised.” He pointed to Yuma County, where two women have pleaded guilty to illegally collecting a few ballots and await sentencing.

He said that was just one example of the problems that he believes merited not allowing that small county and those in the state‘s most populous, Maricopa, to be certified. No evidence has been uncovered to show that the problems were large enough to change the results that saw then-President Donald lose in Arizona.

“I’m not talking about overturning an election. I’m talking about declaring one county’s election as irredeemably compromised,” Finchem said. “Now if that alters the outcome of the election, that’s a different story.”

Fontes, who lost his 2020 reelection bid, said the courts are the place for those issues to be hashed out, as they often are.

“What we now have is an entire set of fiction that has somehow managed to make a lot of money for some people outside of the regular norms that we expect,” Fontes said. “This is a chaotic way of reading-dressing a political loss.”

Fontes said voters need stability and predictability in elected

Read the rest

Lowenstein Center guide details potential abortion-related legal risks in post-Roe world

Abortion is fully legal in New Jersey, both for those who live in the state and those coming from out of state to receive the procedure. Blind new guide released by the Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest, an offshoot of the prominent law firm Lowenstein Sandler, cautions that there may still be dangers involved for out-of-state residents who seek abortions in New Jersey and for those who assist them.

In three separate Frequently Asked Question guides for patients, employers, and “helpers” – those assisting others from out-of-state in getting abortions – the center notes that zealous legislation in states where abortion is restricted or banned could end up targeting abortions performed in New Jersey.

“It is normally safe for a person to travel to a state and engage in conduct that is legal in the state the person is visiting,” the FAQ for helpers says. “There is a risk, however, that the normal rules will not stop prosecutors in other states from trying to apply their existing criminal laws to prevent people from helping residents of ban states get legal abortions in other states. We do not yet know how courts in ban states will react to such law enforcement tactics.”

The US Supreme Court’s decision overturning the constitutional right to abortion left the issue up to individual states, and New Jersey, like most Democratic-controlled states, has maintained full abortion access within its borders.

Gov. Phil Murphy also recently signed legislation prohibiting the state from assisting out-of-state abortion investigations, protecting people from extradition in most cases, and ensuring private health information remains private, laws which could become an important safeguard if other states target abortions performed in New Jersey. (Further legislation creating a public abortion fundamong other things, has so far stalled.)

But as the Lowenstein Center noted,

Read the rest