Archive for October 2014

WHY YOUR ADULT CHILDREN NEED A POWER OF ATTORNEY AND A HEALTHCARE PROXY

October 19, 2014

Now that your child has reached the age of 18, and may be starting college, there is something very important that you as parents should do, and that is to ask your son/daughter to sign a Power of Attorney and a Healthcare Proxy.

Why?

Because in most states parents do NOT have the authority to make health care decisions, or manage money on behalf of their kids once they turn 18. It does not matter that you are paying their tuition, or that they are covered on your health insurance or that you claim them as dependents on your tax returns. You still have no authority to make health or financial decisions for them. This means, if your child is in an accident and becomes incapacitated, even temporarily, you might need court approval to act on his or her behalf or even to find out basic information as to his or her medical condition.

There was a case in Texas where parents were unable to secure even basic information about the medical condition of their college-aged sons following a car accident that left both boys unconscious and in the hospital. After a few days, both sons regained consciousness and gave their doctors permission to speak with their parents. In another case – a couple’s college-aged daughter remained in a coma for weeks- parents had to start a court proceeding to become their daughter’s temporary legal guardian. Such court proceedings typically cost thousands of dollars, take time, and are not as uncommon as you might think.

Our firm offers our clients and friends of the firm what we refer to as a FREE COLLEGE STUDENT PACKAGE.   We offer any college age young adult the benefit of having  our firm prepare the following two documents for them:

     Health Care Proxy  – The Health Care Proxy will allow your child to name another person (typicallyhis or herparents) to make medical decisions for them if they are unable to make or communicate such decisions on their own. This document will also allow thedesignated agent to access your child’s medical information.

     Power of Attorney – The Power of Attorney allows your child to name you (or another person) to take over financial matters if need be, such as handling bank accounts, signing tax returns, and making other non-medical decisions.
If you are interested in taking advantage of our offer, please contact our office.
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ARE RED LIGHT TICKETS OR SCHOOL ZONE SPEEDING TICKETS EATING AWAY AT YOUR PROFITS?

October 16, 2014

I am sure by now either you or your employees have received those annoying red light tickets or the school zone speeding tickets. Nassau County has collected over 1.4 million dollars since school started, and projects to receive as much as $25 million a year from those annoying and costly speed camera tickets. In 2013, Suffolk County generated more than $19 million from red light camera tickets, and has estimated bringing in $30 million this year with the installation of more cameras.red light cam
We all know by now how they work. Once a vehicle passes through an intersection when the traffic light is red, or speed through a school zone, an $80 ticket is then sent by mail to the registered owner of the vehicle. It doesn’t matter who was driving the vehicle, the ticket is assessed against the owner. If it’s one of your kids who gets the ticket, like most parents you will probably make your child pay the fine. Unfortunately, the same logic cannot be applied to your employees who get those tickets.

HERE’S THE PROBLEM:

New York State Labor Law says that an employer cannot make unauthorized deductions from an employee’s wages, nor demand separate payments to cover a company expense. It also makes it unlawful for an employer to demand that an employee reimburse an employer for company expenses caused by an employee’s mistake. Since a ticket issued on a company owned vehicle is considered a company expense, employees cannot be required to pay the fine associated with the ticket. If the employee offers to voluntarily pay the fine, employers must properly document this voluntary action, otherwise there could be repercussions from the Labor Department.

BUT THERE IS A SOLUTION:

Just because there is no monetary liability on the part of the employee for the ticket does not mean that employees can disobey traffic laws while driving a company owned vehicle with no repercussions. While an employee cannot be forced to pay for one of these tickets, an employer can take disciplinary action against an employee, including firing the employee or suspending them. An employee’s future raises or bonuses can also be impacted by getting these tickets. These disciplinary actions would most likely be worse for the employee than having to pay the fine associated with the ticket, and cause them to be more careful when they are driving a company vehicle.

Employers should also consider including in their employee handbooks express policies so that their employees are aware of the consequences of receiving red light traffic tickets and school zone tickets while driving company vehicles. With knowledge of the potential consequences, your employees might be more compliant with traffic laws when driving a company owned vehicle.

If you do not have an employee manual to include such policy, it is time to get one. If you do have one, it may be a good time to update it. We would be happy to assist you in drafting a policy on this issue for your employee manual. Contact us if we can be of assistance.