DUI

Questions to ask your lawyer after a DUI arrest

A conviction for driving under the influence can have a lasting impact on your life and requires immediate attention. If you have been recently charged with a DUI or DWAI, it is important to quickly learn about these charges and follow through with the appropriate actions. Similarly, it is important to find an attorney who is familiar with DUI (driving under the influence) & DWAI (driving while ability impaired) defense. Here are a few questions we recommend asking your attorney before choosing them to represent you in a court of law.

  1. Do you have a background in DUI/DWAI defense?

It is important to find an attorney who not only specializes in criminal defense, but one who has a background of DUI/DWAI defenses as well. As you interview your lawyer, become familiar with their education, case records, and experience. While time is of the essence in DUI cases, it is still important to choose the lawyer you want to represent you carefully.

  1. What is your track record in winning cases?

Out of courtesy, many clients believe it is rude to ask a lawyer about their track record in winning cases. However, it is important to understand your lawyer’s background. Asking your lawyer this question may shed new light on their experience with plea bargains and acquittals, information you would not otherwise know without asking.

  1. How strong is my case? What are the best and worst outcomes possible?

Understanding the realistic outcomes of your case is incredibly important to understanding the direction your lawyer will want to go with the case and what he or she believes is a viable outcome. When consulting with your lawyer for the first time, the majority of the meeting should be dedicated to discussing the nuances of your particular situation.

  1. Are you familiar with the court in which I will be tried?

Finding a lawyer who is familiar with the local court systems and judges is invaluable. Jurisdictions often have multiple judges and varying policies, so it is important to find a lawyer who understands the policies and judge’s preferences in the court where you will be tried.

  1. How much will it cost?

Be sure to ask specific questions regarding the lawyer’s pricing system. When you walk away from your initial meeting, you should understand if they charge by the hour or with a flat rate, as well as any additional fees that may arise and extra costs associated to the case. If you’re unable to afford the cost upfront, ask about payment plan options.

Choosing a lawyer to represent you in court does not need to be a stressful decision. Take the time to understand your case and the services your lawyer can offer before making your final decision. Once you have decided on a DUI attorney, you will be able to proceed with your hearings knowing that you are being represented well by an expert.

 

Colorado Springs DUI Attorney

If you have recently been convicted with a DUI/DWAI, DUI Attorney Bob Odle knows the Colorado drunk driving laws that apply to alcohol-related offenses and fights for his clients’ rights. Contact the law office of Odle Law, LLC, to discuss your Colorado DUI or DWAI case. Call now at (719) 559-4099.

How to Write a Will

How to write a willCreating an estate plan will protect your assets after your passing, as well as protect your heirs’ financial security and well-being. The journey to completing your estate plan is filled with many different steps and processes, including the creation of a will. Once you understand the difference between a will and an estate, it is important to begin the process of creating a will.

First, decide if you will hire a lawyer or use online software. Due to the differences in state laws and the requirements needed to make your will a legally binding document, hiring a lawyer who specializes in estate planning will ensure the document is prepared correctly.

The next step in writing a will is to name your beneficiaries. If you hire an attorney, the forms they provide will have space for you to fill in the beneficiaries. However, if your family structure is complicated it is a good idea to gather your thoughts and decide your beneficiaries in advance. In uncomplicated situations, children or remaining family members are typically chosen as the beneficiaries.

After naming your beneficiaries, you will need to designate someone to carry out the wishes stated in your will, called the “executor”. While the person you choose is up to your discretion, it is recommended to choose an intelligent and reasonable family member or friend. Similarly, if you choose one of your children and there are foreseeable issues between your children, it is often advised to pick a neutral party instead. If you choose your lawyer as your executor, there is typically a small fee associated with the task. Be sure to discuss these fees upfront.

If you have children under the age of 18, your next step will be to appoint a guardian for your kids. While you are not required by law to seek the appointed guardian’s permission before naming them in your will, we recommend asking your preferred guardian first. The reason for this is simple, if the time comes for them to assume guardianship, they can always decline, and then the court will appoint a guardian.

Next, designate your possessions to the intended recipients. It is important to be specific, as well as clearly name anyone who will not be receiving any of your possessions. Situations may arise where you are giving one family member more than another member, and it is important to differentiate why this is happening. Adding a letter to your will with any additional comments or requests may clear confusion or help your loved ones understand the thought you put into your will.

Lastly, you must have witnesses to sign the will. State laws vary on the requirements for witnesses so we recommend calling an experience estate planning lawyer in your area to understand what qualifies as a witness on your will. Keep several copies of your wills, preferably in safe places like a fireproof safe or a safety deposit box at your bank.

Writing a will is one of the most important steps you can take in protecting your assets and completing your estate plan. While there are many options available to complete your will at home, seeking the help of a professional is also recommended. After you have created your legally binding will, you will want to evaluate it every 4 to 5 years and make updates as needed. If you are ready to begin this process and are looking for an experience estate planning professional to provide assistance creating your will, contact Odle Law today and set up at time for your free consultation meeting.

 

 

The Difference Between a Will and a Trust

One of the many challenges your loved ones will face after you’ve passed is the question of who will inherit your property and how outstanding debts, taxes or other issues will be addressed. To avoid confusion and potential family conflict, many people choose to create a will or trust to dictate what happens in the event of their death. You may find, however, that it’s difficult to determine which avenue is appropriate for your estate.

Take a look at how each is defined:

A will is a document that goes into effect after death, and dictates the executor of your estate, who will distribute assets and settle debts as you wish. A will also dictates who will receive your property, who will become guardian(s) of your children, and how you’d like to address any outstanding debts or taxes. A will is easily drafted, but requires witnesses during signing to ensure its validity.

Most people should have a will in place to dictate basic actions after their passing, regardless of assets or estate size. It can be created at any time, but becomes especially important after events like marriage, the purchase of a home, or the start of a business. It is recommended to update your will at least every 5 years.

A trust goes into effect immediately after creation and is valid for your lifetime and after death. It entrusts management of assets to a designated successor trustee who will manage them after death and/or in the case that you are incapacitated. A trust is beneficial in that your loved ones can avoid the trouble, cost, and sometimes public scrutiny of putting a significant estate through probate. Due to the significant control granted, documents must be signed in the presence of a notary public.

A trust is something you may or may not choose to have in place. It can be created at any time, but you may consider it especially if you are diagnosed with a terminal condition or anticipate being incapacitated by progressive illness or a possible injury.

Consider the following:

  • Setting up a trust can be costly and requires active management. While a trust can be set up for any size estate, you may want to carefully consider whether a living trust is in your best interest, as it is most beneficial to those with a sizeable amount of wealth to control.
  • With a trust, all assets you wish to be managed by the trustee must be transferred into the trust; if you die or become incapacitated before all assets are transferred; only those assets that were already in the trust will pass to the trustee.
  • If your assets are small, your estate may qualify for an expedited probate process. If you don’t have much wealth but are worried about your loved ones dealing with the court, consult your state’s probate laws to see if you would qualify.

If you are considering setting up a will or a trust in the Colorado Springs area, we would love to assist you in this process. The attorneys at Odle Law LLC have years of experience preparing these documents and would love help you! Contact us today to set up a time for your free consultation.

7 Stages of Litigation

The Seven Stages of Civil Litigation

Civil litigation may go through as many as seven different stages before reaching its conclusion. While not every lawsuit includes all of these stages, you will typically experience at least four stages before the conclusion of your case. Below, you can learn more about all seven of these potential stages.

Stage One: Investigation

All civil litigation goes through this initial investigation phase. Your attorney will typically be responsible for the investigation, and they may work with a private investigator as well. During this stage of the case, your lawyer will look for supporting evidence that can help win your case. This can include things such as evidence from an accident scene, medical records, and interviewing witnesses informally.

Stage Two: Pleadings

The initial lawsuit paperwork is called pleadings. Every person involved in a civil lawsuit files a pleading that details their side of the case. The complaint is typically the most important of the pleadings. The complaint comes from the plaintiff, and it will review all damages suffered and all essential facts in the case.

Stage Three: Discovery

The discovery stage of civil litigation involves fact gathering. Both sides involved in the case are able to formally exchange information about the upcoming trial during discovery. This information includes a list of evidence and witnesses that will be presented during the trial. The discovery phase of a case helps prevent surprises during the trial and allows both sides to prepare equally.

Stage Four: Pre-Trial

During the pretrial stage, the attorneys for both sides will enter into conferences and negotiations. In a large number of cases, particularly in situations like accident cases, you can reach a settlement during this stage. The plaintiff’s attorney will make an initial monetary demand during this stage, and the defendant’s attorney has a limited amount of time to answer. The negotiations may go back and forth for some time, but most cases can be resolved during pre-trial.

Stage Five: Trial

Stage four is the trial, if the case could not be resolved during pre-trial. The trial is a formal process that allows both sides the opportunity to present their case. During a civil trial, both sides can present evidence and witnesses. Attorneys for both sides can cross-examine witnesses during the trial.

Stage Six: Settlement

During stage six, the settlement is made. The settlement will be announced by a judge after careful consideration of everything revealed during the trial phase. This settlement is considered a final outcome, however if you don’t agree with the outcome or feel it was unfair you may appeal.

Stage Seven: Appeal

Your attorney can file an appeal on your behalf if you wish to dispute the outcome of the case. It may take some time for an appeal to begin. However, appeals may move more quickly than the original case once they begin. Your attorney has the benefit of having all the evidence and necessary information close at hand since it was recently needed for the original case, and this may speed your appeal along.

If you or your loved ones are involved in an altercation, call Odle Law to help plead your case.

To read about a hypothetical civil litigation case, check out our blog: What to Do when Holidays Go Haywire.

HB 15-1043

Governor Expected to Sign Proposed DUI Bill – HB 15-1043

Under a proposed law that has now passed both houses of the Colorado General Assembly, repeated instances of drunken driving will become a felony punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine as high as $500,000.

In mid-April, the Colorado House of Representatives gave a unanimous nod to HB 15-1043, which classifies a fourth conviction for driving under the influence as a Class 4 felony. In May, the state Senate also passed the bill, sending it to the desk of Gov. John Hickenlooper. He is expected to sign the bill, having indicated in early 2015 that passage of the controversial law would be a significant goal for the year.

Earlier versions of the bill made a third DUI a felony in the presence of certain aggravating factors or if the third DUI occurred within seven years. However, the bill has undergone numerous revisions to attempt to assuage opponents.

Previous DUI law in Colorado

Colorado has been one of five states in which drunken drivers are charged only with misdemeanors, even if they have numerous convictions. In previous years, Republican lawmakers attempted to pass a law imposing stiffer penalties on repeat DUI offenders, but their efforts failed due to concerns about increased costs to both prisons and the courts.

In January, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced HB 15-1043.

Impact of the new law

If HB 15-1043 becomes law, it’s expected to generate an influx of inmates to the state prison system: Some 1,500 to 2,000 individuals annually are expected to spend between two and six years in prison. Such an increase in the prison population would significantly raise costs to taxpayers, opponents argue. Recent legislative reports estimate a cost of nearly $28 million over the next five years to the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Will the law deter drunken driving?

Opponents have also argued the new law may not deter drunken driving because it doesn’t provide treatment for alcohol addiction. Without proper treatment, opponents say, individuals suffering from alcoholism likely will continue driving despite the potential for tougher punishment.

Understanding HB 15-1043 is key

If you’re convicted of DUI under the new law, your life could be severely impacted — and you could spend significant time incarcerated. To fully understand the impact the new law may have on you or if you have been charged with DUI in Colorado, contact the experienced attorneys at Odle Law, LLC.

power of attorney vs advance directive

The Difference Between ‘Power of Attorney’ and ‘Advanced Directive’

There are several types of documentation giving individuals varying degrees of authority regarding the legal and medical issues of other people. These documents can sometimes be confusing and difficult to differentiate. It is important, however, to understand what type of authority is given in each instance. The following information describes the differences between a power of attorney and advance directives, specifically a living will.

Power of Attorney vs Advance Directives

A living will, also known as Advance Directive, details a person’s preferences regarding certain types of life-sustaining treatments. Life-sustaining treatments can include feeding tubes, mechanical respiration, and cardiac resuscitation. A power of attorney gives someone the power to speak for another individual should that individual become incapacitated. A power of attorney basically gives a person the right to make binding decisions on behalf of another individual. It’s possible to have a power of attorney for medical issues while a different person could be power of attorney for making financial decisions. According to Nolo.com , a medical power of attorney is sometimes referred to as a health care proxy or surrogate.

Cases Involving Power of Attorney and Advance Directive

There are several ways in which power of attorney and living wills can affect individuals in everyday situations. Nextavenue.org explains a variety of cases and situations that involve power of attorney. For example, if a person doesn’t want the financial responsibility for the estate of a spouse if he or she passes away, power of attorney can be given to another person. Estate planning and various business decisions can seem overwhelming. In this case it makes sense for certain responsibilities to be delegated to the agent, or attorney-in-fact.

ElderLawAnswers cites a case in 2004 in which a living will trumped the decisions of the power of attorney. In 1998 Hanford Pinette executed a living will stating that if there were no probability of recovery from a terminal condition he wanted to die naturally. He also added a health care proxy, giving his wife power of attorney. Years later, when Mr. Pinette was hooked up to life support, his wife insisted that care be continued. The case went to court to determine whether a living will or power of attorney should prevail. A circuit court judge in Florida eventually ruled that the living will would be honored despite the wife’s objections. Because of various and often unforeseen circumstances that can occur, as well as the fact that laws differ from state to state, it’s imperative to consult an attorney when writing any type of living will or power of attorney.

The Role of an Attorney in Creating These Documents

In regard to important legal matters such as preparing a living will or power of attorney, it’s highly recommended that a competent attorney be involved in the process. Because laws vary from state to state and specific issues related to your particular situation are going to be unique, an experienced attorney is needed to avoid difficulties and confusion down the road.

It should also be noted that some states don’t honor living wills without a health care proxy. Other states may not honor living wills that have been written outside of their state, particularly if certain laws are different in each of the states. This is another reason why you would need a lawyer when writing and putting a living will or power of attorney into place.

If you are ready to create a living will or assign a power of attorney, the attorneys at Odle Law LLC have years of experience preparing these documents and would love to help you!

What happens to the Debt of an Estate

What Happens to the Debt of an Estate? – Ask Odle

Once you have made an estate plan (with probate) you may wonder what happens to your debt after your passing. You may have assigned all of your material possessions to your children and loved ones, but what about all of your credit card bills?

Only Cosigners are Responsible

The main thing people don’t understand is that the beneficiaries of the estate are not personally responsible for the debt of the estate unless they cosigned the credit card or loan. So, if you are the only one on the credit card or loan, nobody is responsible for that debt except you. In order to collect the debt, creditors have to file a claim in the estate. Creditors can still collect the amount from the estate fund, but none of the beneficiaries are personally liable.

What if dad left me $10,000, but it came via life insurance (not through the estate)? Legally, if the estate is bankrupt, the creditor is out of luck. Now it becomes your choice–should you pay off dad’s debt with the life insurance money you received?  As a lawyer, I will tell you that there are no legal actions the creditor can take to force you to pay your dads debts. Morally, you must answer for yourself. Most people choose to pay it out of moral obligation, however, 9/10 times, the creditors will write off that debt.

Pay Off Your Debt While You Can

While you can’t plan for an untimely passing, you can plan to pay off your debt ASAP. I’m personally a fan of Dave Ramsey’s philosophy – a debt free life is the best life. If you can, pay off your credit cards and loans as soon as you are able. If you don’t have any debt when you pass, it will free your loved ones from having to worry about your debt. Though they aren’t required to pay it off, they may feel that it is the moral thing to do. You can protect them from that choice by getting rid of it before it’s a problem.

Make Your Estate Plan Clear

Another way to protect your loved ones is to make sure your estate plan allocates your assets appropriately. Hire an experienced estate planning attorney to help you protect your assets and give your loved ones financial security, and peace of mind.

Estate Planning Colorado Springs Odle Law

Ask Odle: Who Needs to Know About My Estate Plan?

It is essential to make sure anyone who would be affected by your estate plan is on the same page, especially those who will have the responsibility of decision-making on your behalf. You need to ensure they are fully aware of your wishes so there are no surprises. Even though discussing your estate plan might bring anxiety, it is one of the most important and beneficial conversations you can have with your loved ones.

Anyone Involved in Your Estate Needs to Know Your Wishes

The goal in estate planning is to make sure that your wishes are carried out and not those of someone else. For example, if you are terminally ill, lapse into a coma, and have never informed anyone of your wishes, who will decide what to do? How will that person decide what to do? And what if there are several people with differing opinions of what should be done? Should you be kept alive using artificial means? If so, for how long? Your treating physician took an oath to preserve life for as long as possible. But, if death is inevitable, is that what you want? To prolong the death cycle artificially? If so, for how long? It is for this precise reason that your wishes should be clear, written down, known by those who will need to make the decisions in the case of emergency.

The Best Time to Talk to the Family is Now

It doesn’t matter if it is a holiday, a birthday, or a family vacation. The important thing is to have the conversation as soon as possible. Of course, having one large family meeting may be best; however, that may not be practical. And if waiting until the entire family is together means the talk never happens, then waiting is a waste of time.

My advice is to send a copy of your estate planning documents to each member of your family now. Once he or she receives it, call and discuss the details, explaining what each document does and the reason behind the language. Give specifics on the options you chose. For example, would you allow your family to donate all or part of your body for scientific research if appropriate? Do you prefer to be treated in your own home under hospice care or would you prefer to be in a hospital? If you are terminally ill, do you want to be kept alive artificially? If so, for how long? Everyone involved or affected by these types of decisions needs to know these details. If you prefer cremation to traditional burial, your spouse, children and next of kin need to be aware.

Have an Attorney Present

As an attorney, I encourage people to include their family and other loved ones in the planning process. If they are not able to be there for the actual signing of the documents, then they should attend a meeting facilitated by an attorney for an open discussion of your decisions. Many times my initial consultation takes place in the presence of the husband, the wife, and at least some of the children. Our goal is to give you peace of mind for your estate and help your family achieve a deeper understanding of your wishes.

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