Items of Interest
Q. Does your firm prefer to communicate by email?
A. Communication by email between attorney and client presents certain issues that do not arise in more traditional communications.The most important issue involves the attorney-client privilege. Communications subject to the privilege are intended to be confidential. Yet if you use a workplace computer or email address or if you share your passwords with others for your other email accounts, there may not be an expectation of confidentiality or privacy. Therefore, the communications may not be protected by the attorney client privilege. In addition, other issues include the transmittal of email containing time sensitive information may be subject to delays by the internet service provider, computer difficulties, spam filters, the schedule of the persons to whom the communication is sent, and other variables.
The more traditional means of communication - telephone, fax, or letter - provide confidentiality and confirmation that the communication has been received. Email, although a quick means of communication, may not provide these protections.
The firm does utilize email to communicate with other attorneys where these issues do not arise.
Q. What documents do I need for proper estate planning?
A. At a minimum, every individual should consider having an Advanced Medical Directive, a Power of Attorney, and a Last Will and Testament. The first two documents take care of needs expected to arise during your life and the last, upon your death. The Advanced Medical Directive is a variation of the Living Will and designates an individual to make health care decisions for you under designated circumstances. The Power of Attorney, which terminates upon your death, designates an individual to act on your behalf and can be as limited as you would like. Finally, the Last Will and Testament, effective upon your death, appoints an individual as Personal Representative to carry out your wishes as to the disposition of your estate.
One other document which you might want to consider is a Burial Power of Attorney. Virginia law permits an individual to designate another person who accepts the responsibility to have full and complete authority to make all of the arrangements for the burial or disposition of the individual's remains.The costs incurred are expenses of the estate, to be reimbursed by the personal representative.
Each of these documents bestows certain powers upon an individual that you name to carry out your wishes, whether it be an attorney-in-fact or a personal representative. Therefore, you should take into account the abilities, the commitment, and the trustworthiness of the person to perform the designated duties in selecting him. In addition, you should consider naming another individual as an "alternate" in the event that your first choice is unable or refuses to serve for whatever reason.
Q. What types of contracts are there?
A. Contracts come in many types including, but not limited to, leases, property settlement agreements (sometimes known as separation agreements), sales contracts, construction contracts, employment contracts, and severance agreements. Generally, both parties give something of value for a contract to exist and therefore a promise by one person only may not rise to the level of a contract.
If you have any questions about the legal impact of a document, you should seek a review of the document by an attorney before you sign it.
Q. How are attorneys fees determined?
A. Attorneys with Adams and Jones, P.L.C., charge for their legal services in a variety of ways. Depending on services to be provided, legal services may be charged on an hourly rate, a flat fee, a contingent fee, or a hybrid of the hourly rate and contingent fee. Fees generally take into account the experience of the attorney, the type of case, and the difficulty of the matter.The attorneys determine how the fee is to be charged and will generally advise you at the time of the initial interview in the event that they accept the case. The attorney will memorialize the terms of the representation through a fee letter which the client is asked to review, sign, and return.
Costs are separate from attorneys fees and may include, but are not limited to, filing fees, service fees, copies, court reporter and expert witness fees, postage, long distance calls, transcripts, legal research, and printing costs for briefs. Even in contingency cases where attorneys' fees depend on the result, the client is always responsible for costs.
Q. Are covenants not to compete enforceable in Virginia?
A. Each covenant stands or falls on the specific language used in the contract. The Virginia Supreme Court has recognized both the validity and the enforceability of such covenants in certain situations. In addition, many contracts contain not only covenants not to compete but also non solicitation agreements restricting or prohibiting contact with customers or other designated persons for a set duration in the event that a court determines the covenant not to be valid and/or enforceable. Therefore, the agreement should be drafted and/or reviewed by an attorney familiar with such covenants.