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January 30, 2009

While most of us recognize the dangers of drinking and driving and the implications that a DWI conviction can have on our licenses, many people do not appreciate how substantial the financial penalties are.

There are numerous drinking and driving offenses in NYS, the most common of which are: (a) driving while ability impaired (“DWAI”); (b) driving while intoxicated (“DWI”); and (c) aggravated driving while intoxicated (“ADWI”). You can be charged with DWAI for having a blood alcohol content (“BAC”) of 0.05 – 0.07%. DWI can be charged when the BAC is 0.08 – 0.17% and ADWI can be charged when the BAC is 0.18% and above. You can also be charged with drinking and driving based on the police officer’s observations and your performance on field sobriety tests. Refusing the breath test carries separate and considerable penalties and fines.

January 23, 2009

You can find just about anything on the Internet, from a meatloaf recipe to a Yorkshire Terrier. The Internet can be a valuable tool or a source of entertainment, but it is a risky place to find a commercial lease form. “One Size Fits All” Lease forms may contain seemingly appropriate legalese like “subrogation” and “condition precedent,” but if you don’t know what those terms mean, you shouldn’t use them.

January 21, 2009

The current economic chaos and uncertain future has negatively impacted many industries and people. Some businesses are filing for bankruptcy and others are seeking relief through bailout plans. The average person has probably suffered significant investment losses especially relative to their 401k or other retirement plan. Even worse, some individuals may be faced with job instability and are probably starting to look for ways they can cut expenses to start saving for peace of mind or to bridge the gap in the losses that have been sustained over the past five months.

January 12, 2009

With the current bleak state of the economy, many taxpayers may find their ability to pay taxes has been negatively impacted by unemployment or corporate downsizing, loss on investments and reduced income. When in these circumstances, the reaction of many taxpayers is to ignore the problem and procrastinate in dealing with the IRS.

December 15, 2008

Far more often than not, grandparents play a special role in the lives of their grandchildren. In recent years, many grandparents have become increasingly involved in their grandchildren’s lives, from seeing them on a regular basis to caring for them on a full time basis, if a parent is unable or unwilling to care for the child. Sometimes, however, situations develop where grandparents are denied the right to see their grandchildren. Historically, grandparents lacked any legal right to visit and to communicate with their grandchildren when such contact was forbidden by the parents. However, lawmakers have increasingly recognized the need to preserve the beneficial relationship between children and their grandparents, and as such, at least forty-eight states have enacted various statutes allowing grandparents the right to petition for visitation under certain circumstances. For instance, New York State, which takes a paternalistic approach, recognizes that visits with grandparents can be a precious part of a child’s life, providing benefits that cannot be derived from any other relationship.

November 28, 2008

In these turbulent economic times, many of us are concerned about protecting our assets, whether it is the home, savings for a child’s education, or a dwindling retirement account.  We need no reminder that life holds few guarantees and to further protect ourselves we have insurance on our lives, our homes, our cars, and the list goes on.  But when was the last time that you reviewed your policy limits and confirmed that you have enough insurance?  Or the right type of insurance policy riders?

By Bruce Ikefugi on November 20, 2008

I attended a meeting this morning where it was announced that there had been a significant rise in title insurance claims in New York State.  These claims are made against title insurance policies issued to either the homeowner (if he/she purchased this optional policy at the time they bought their home) or the bank lending the money for their purchase or refinance (such a policy is always required by the bank).

By Kevin Mahoney on November 14, 2008

I recently had an opportunity to sit down with a potential client who had acknowledged with her spouse a need to achieve at least a legal separation and possibly a divorce.  Her main questions were focused on how that process would work as she had some ideas regarding traditional divorce litigation, mediation and collaborative law.  Her case was not unlike pretty much all others in that the answer to the question of which process is optimal is unfortunately best answered with the benefit of hindsight after the matter has been brought to a conclusion. There are a number of factors for the parties each to consider when choosing a “dispute resolution model”, including the potential costs involved, how trusting the parties are of one another, and ultimately how they would like their divorce to look when it is finished.  With respect to this last consideration, the resulting Judgment of Divorce will, in many ways, be the same document no matter what course the parties chose to achieve that result.  However, how the parties feel about one another and how they are able to interact in a post-divorce setting may be markedly different.

November 10, 2008

Though the Buffalo area has not been hit as hard by the mortgage crisis as other parts of the country, there are still many local people who are affected. Whether in a foreclosure situation or in negotiating with a lender to accept something less than the full mortgage debt that is owed (a “short sale”), a homeowner may end up having a portion of his or her mortgage debt forgiven by his or her lender. In the past, this may have solved one problem (the inability to satisfy the mortgage) but created another: income tax due on the forgiven debt.

By Bruce Ikefugi on October 31, 2008

A client recently shared with me an unsolicited offer he had received in the mail. The company offered to obtain (for a sizeable fee) a certified copy of the client’s deed of ownership to his property from the local county clerk. The offer stated that it was a good idea to have a copy of this valuable document, which is the single best indication that you own your own home. I agree with that statement, which is why all lawyersrecommend recording deeds in the county clerk’s office in the first place. The clerk records the deed by referencing it in an index of deed records (so it can be found by anyone, simply by looking up the seller/buyer’s name) and scanning the deed into the clerk’s computer files. The image of the deed is available for public inspection forever.

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