Throughout my time practicing Social Security disability law, I have heard from many clients feeling ashamed of the state in which they currently find themselves.  Many make statements like:

-“I have worked hard all of my life.  It’s just embarrassing not to be able to support my family like I used to.”

-“I have never asked for a hand out from anybody.  I just feel like I’ve let myself and my loved ones down.”

-“If I could work any job, I would do it just to hold my head up high.  This is my absolute last resort.”

-“I’ve worked this job my entire life.  It’s who I am, where I find my value as a person.  I just can’t do it anymore.”

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Mediation is a process to resolve disputes whereby a mediator works with the participants and their counsel to have them find common ground and settle their differences as an alternative to litigation.

What are the advantages of this process?

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Until June 1, 2020, because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the courts in North Carolina are only hearing emergency civil cases; those include requests for domestic violence protective orders (also known as 50-B’s).  If you are the victim of domestic violence, you may seek relief by filing a petition through the office of the Clerk of Court in your county.  However, many Clerk’s offices are working reduced schedules that would preclude you from filing directly with the Clerk, so your option would be to file with a magistrate.  Your petition will then be presented to a District Court Judge who will decide whether or not you should be granted an order of protection.  You would then have a 50-B hearing within 10 days.

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Our Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court has continued the COVID-19 court restrictions in place until June 1, 2020, limiting required court appearances to those involving criminal first appearances, bond hearings, domestic violence matters, and emergency custody matters.  All other matters that were pending in the criminal or civil courts prior to March 13, 2020 will be continued until a date after June 1, 2020. 

All matters before the Clerk of Court including guardianships and estate administration will continue, but contested hearings that occur in any of those matters will also be put off until after June 1, 2020.

If you or your love-ones have a matter that needs to be addressed through the courts or have any questions about a pending matter and desire legal counsel to assist you in navigating through this time of crises, we are here for you and for now remain open and operating to assist folks in Henderson, Transylvania, Polk and Buncombe Counties with their legal needs.

We also remind you that during this time it is very important to have your affairs in order, and we will be glad to assist you with your estate planning needs. 

We will offer video conferencing by Skype, Facetime or Zoom as an alternative to your coming into our office.

Please stay safe and healthy. 

Yesterday, I posted a blog suggesting that folks need to use this time of semi-mandated, Coronavirus driven quarantine to make sure that you and your loved ones have their planning needs in order.  I mentioned powers of attorney.  There are two types of such documents that are important – medical power of attorney and durable power of attorney. 

A medical power of attorney allows a designated person to make medical decisions for your or your loved ones.  Of course we hope and pray for all that such a document will not ever have to be put in place, but given the potential long term medical consequences of this Corona outbreak, folks need to think seriously about having such a document in place.  Many hospitals require that such a document be in place before someone is admitted. 

A durable power of attorney lets the designated person handle the financial affairs for you or your loved one.  That could be critical in the event of a long-term hospitalization or incapacitating illness.

Having these documents in place generally avoids the need for the appointment of a guardian by the Clerk of Court, which is an expensive and time-consuming process.  The appointment of a guardian may also be delayed in this time of mandated continuances by the court system.

If you or your loved ones want to discuss such documents, please contact us.  We will be happy to arrange a Skype or Facetime appointment if you are unable to come into our office.