legal mistakes

This Halloween don’t fall victim to these legal traps

Over sharing and over posting on Social Media: We all like to share our lives with our family and friends on social media and you may think your information is private, but did you know that a judge could compel you to provide social media posts, that you thought were private?  IN Broward County recently a mother lost time sharing with her asthmatic son, because of a post she made regarding her stance on the mask mandate.  If you are in the middle of litigation or your think litigation is likely to ensue, you may only want to stick to reposts and sharing funny memes. Don’t check in at locations, Don’t assume your activity is private, don’t overshare information about your legal proceeding.    
Burring your head in the sand: Its human nature to want to ignore an issue that may cause you stress, but ignoring a problem or worse, ignoring legal papers you’ve been served with, is only going to create a bigger mess.  In Florida, you have 20 days to respond to a lawsuit or a default can be entered against you.  You may be able to set aside a default, but only if you have grounds to do so, and not wanting to face the problem head on, is not legal grounds.  Dealing with a legal issue as its arising may actually help you to mitigate potential loss or damages.  Your attorney may be able to help settle an issue pre-suit without the need to ever file or be part of a lawsuit.  Tackling the problems with legal guidance from the get-go will be to your benefit.
Not being forthcoming with your Attorney:   To go along with burying your head in the sand, is not being forthcoming with your counsel or not taking an active role in your case.The information you share with your attorney (and no one else)  is most likely protected by attorney-client privilege. There is a crime-fraud exception to the privilege which states that a client’s communication to their attorney isn’t privileged if made with the intention of committing or covering up a crime or fraud. But for the most part, with few exceptions, most of the communication you make to your attorney are protected and the attorney can not be compelled to give that information to someone else.  Although you may not think something is relevant, or you may be embarrassed to share certain information, the first time your attorney hears something shouldn’t be from the other side on the witness stand.
Using a contract or legal document you found online:  It’s not that all contracts you find online are useless, but just blindly copying and pasting a contract without tailoring it to your specific needs may actually hurt you on the back end, if litigation should ensue due to a breach of contract. Ask yourself: Does the contract protect you? Do you know what it means?  Does it address the common mistakes or pitfalls of your business?  Does it protect you in the event of a lawsuit? Does it involve the sale of property and have the required information and terms in it?  It may not actually cost as much as you think to have your contracted drafted or reviewed by an attorney. Most vendors are going to have you sign their contracts that were drafted by an attorney, maybe you should have one review it too before you legally obligate yourself to something. For instance, we had a client sign a contract for hurricane impact windows, seemed pretty run of the mill, but when the vendor used windows that weren’t the impact standard our client thought they would be, well the contract controlled and the client was out of luck. A  properly drafted contract can save you thousands later on and is a smart investment.
Not having an Estate plan or assuming you don’t need one: If you don’t have an estate plan, you are actually part of the Majority.  Most people assume an estate plan is only for the wealthy or for older adults.  But young children just reaching the age of 18 without a spouse, may want to give their parents the right to make medical decisions for them in the event they are unable to with a health care surrogate document. What if you have minor children, who is set to be their guardian. Do you want your newly 18 year old to inherit your estate no matter what size?  A trust is a way to govern your assets for an extended period of time, if you have minor children who have a ways to go until they can responsibly inherit.
Failing to disclose:  a good rule of thumb, when in doubt disclose.  In a variety of situations, disclosing information will actually help you.  Many times, people try to play hide the ball, but it can get you into legal trouble.  For instance, hiding or concealing defects in a home on your home Sale if later discovered will cost you a lot in damages. In a divorce proceeding, purposely failing to disclose assets or trying to hide assets can result in having a divorce set aside or some major civil penalties, you risk being held in contempt of court and face fines or worse. Its important to review all applicable court rules and disclosure requirements and to consult with an attorney if your are struggling with that issue.

If you are facing any of the above scary legal situation contact us.