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Salisbury Criminal Law Blog

What you should understand about attorney-client privilege

There's been a lot of discussion of attorney-client privilege in the media lately. Even though it's a concept that's been around in some form for centuries, many people misunderstand it. People often assume that it means that any time you're speaking with an attorney about anything, the attorney is bound to secrecy. That's far too broad of an interpretation.

It's essential for clients to be able to be completely honest with their attorneys regarding the matter for which they've engaged them, even if it involves admitting to wrongdoing or something embarrassing. Attorney-client privilege essentially means that any information that a client provides his or her attorney about a legal matter, whether verbally or in writing, cannot be used by the attorney in court without the client's permission.

Smart estate planning can help prevent family conflicts

Taking the step to create a sound estate plan is wise. Too many people put it off and end up dying without even a simple will. This can create unnecessary expense and conflicts for their family.

However, in addition to getting estate planning documents in place, it's essential to discuss your estate plans with your family. That's particularly important if you have children and others who expect an inheritance.

Understanding Maryland's gun laws

As a Maryland gun owner, you know that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees your right to keep and bear arms. However, while gun ownership is a core American right, it is not an unlimited right. Each state has the authority to place restrictions and requirements on its citizens in terms of what kind of guns they may own and under what circumstances.

In Maryland, for instance, your right to buy, own and carry a rifle or shotgun is basically unrestricted. For handguns, however, you must have a permit to purchase, a license to own and a permit to carry. Also, you must register your handgun(s). Should you fail to adhere to and abide by these Maryland laws, you could face serious charges that carry stiff penalties if convicted.

Drug experts respond to Trump's call for executing dealers

President Trump raised some eyebrows last month in a speech where he discussed how to tackle the nation's opioid epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids have killed more than 500,000 people since 2000. Part of Trump's proposed plan, which he laid out before a supportive crowd, involves making high-volume drug traffickers subject to the death penalty. He referred to "big pushers, the ones who are really killing people."

Public health experts, however, say that this won't help, and is a step backward to the failed 1980s "war on drugs." One doctor who specializes in opioid policy research noted, "The reality is, most people who are selling drugs are suffering from opioid addiction, and they sell drugs to support their own habit."

The advantages of a revocable trust

Many estate planning attorneys recommend that in addition to having a will, their clients set up a revocable trust. Revocable trusts allow your assets to be more distributed expediently according to your wishes after you die. A revocable trust also makes it easier for your executor to pay any bills or outstanding debts.

Many people choose to have a revocable trust so that their family and executor don't have to go through probate. Aside from saving time and money, avoiding probate can keep the terms of the estate confidential.

When can you challenge a person's will?

Overall, your odds of successfully challenging a family member's or loved one's will are low. Judges are inclined to respect the wishes of the decedent (known in legal terms as the testator) if the will was properly prepared according to state law.

However, courts have been known to void all or part of a will based on a challenge. The most common successful challenges involve a decedent's testamentary capacity (the ability to understand the consequences of the will's provisions) and claims that the decedent was unduly influenced by one or more people in writing or changing a will.

Parents: Understand your child’s drinking risks in college

It is nearly the end of the school year, and you may be feeling relieved that your child has almost completed his or her first year in college, as well as proud. You remember what it was like when you were in college, and you know that things have not changed very much. You understand that alcohol is a big part of life for college students in Maryland and elsewhere.

It may come as no surprise that the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has cited alcohol abuse as one of the most prevalent hazards confronting college students. Nearly two out of three students enrolled in universities reportedly participate in binge-drinking activities while at school. Every year, approximately 1,825 students die in accidents pertaining to alcohol, particularly drunk driving crashes. A DUI charge is not the only alcohol-related penalty your child could face for drinking in school, however. Other consequences may include the following:

  • Charges for assault or property damage
  • Underage drinking charges
  • Suspension from athletics or academic activities, or expulsion from school
  • Difficulty completing education or finding a job with a criminal record

How a DUI can impact your career

Many people think that getting a DUI is just a minor infraction -- until they get one. Then they realize just how serious and costly the penalties can be and the impact that a DUI conviction can have on their lives.

If you're applying to colleges, you may be required to answer questions about whether you've ever been convicted of a crime. The same is true for financial aid applications. A DUI can prevent you from getting into or being able to afford the college of your choice -- an important stepping stone to your future.

Why business owners need a carefully crafted estate plan

Estate planning is important for just about everyone. However, if you own a business that you want to thrive long after you're gone, a carefully crafted estate plan is essential. A business owner can use his or her estate plan to designate who will own and manage the business and who will benefit from its continued success.

An estate plan, if done properly, can also help minimize taxes. Here in Maryland, those who inherit part of an estate may have to pay state as well as federal estate and inheritance taxes. Estate planning can help your heirs and beneficiaries keep more of the assets you've worked so hard for rather than pay a significant chunk to the government.

There are alternatives to disinheriting a child

Some people choose to leave their children out of their estate plan because they believe they've given them more than enough advantages and financial help to become thriving, self-sufficient adults. Billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates, for example, are leaving relatively small portions of their wealth to their children and the majority to nonprofit organizations.

However, some people feel that their children will not be responsible with the money, given their history with money or their current behavior or problems. They may be concerned that their kids will quickly blow the money they've worked so hard for on frivolous items and be left with nothing.

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