What is a Legal Retainer and How Does It Work?

Most attorneys (and many other professional service providers), when contracting at an hourly rate, will require an up-front payment known as a retainer. The retainer is placed in the attorney’s trust account and then used to pay for legal fees earned by the attorney and expenses related to the client’s matter. A retainer is the client’s way of guaranteeing to the lawyer that the client is financially able to employ the lawyer’s services and is committed to funding the matter.

The retainer still belongs to the client until it is earned by the attorney or used for legitimate expenses, and must be returned if unused. For instance, if a client pays a $3,000 retainer, and the attorney only accrues $2,000 of billing and expenses on the matter, $1,000 is returned to the client.

Generally, a retainer is not meant to cover the entire cost of a matter. Rather, it is a prepayment for a certain number of hours of the attorney’s services and expenses associated with beginning a matter. The retainer is an important way that the attorney and client establish a trusting relationship. By funding a retainer, the client is indicating that they can trust that the attorney will hold their funds for them until earned, and the attorney is indicating that they trust the client to continue the financial terms of the arrangement after the retainer is depleted.

For further information regarding retainers or other financial terms of representation, contact Fenza Legal Services with any questions that you have.

Is a Marriage Planning Agreement Right For You?

wedding-rings-152336What is a Marriage Planning Agreement?

A Marriage Planning Agreement is a negotiated contract between you and your spouse, either before or during your marriage, which memorializes the expectations of the couple in a legally enforceable document.  It is similar to a business partnership agreement, except instead of the terms of a business, the parties are agreeing on their expectations for one another in the marital relationship. A Marriage Planning Agreement covers topics such as:

  • Who owns property that was held before the marriage? Who owns property that is acquired during the marriage?
  • Will one spouse be financially supporting the other? What is each party expected to contribute to the household?
  • Do the parties have children together? Are they expected to? Will there be a primary caretaker?
  • What happens in the event of divorce? Should either spouse pay alimony? For how long? Who owns the house?

Like a business partnership agreement, a Marriage Planning Agreement is an indispensable tool for ensuring that both spouses have the same expectations for the marital relationship. Nobody would begin a business partnership without negotiating a partnership agreement. It is equally prudent not to begin a marital relationship that will hopefully last the rest of your lives without clear communication about what each person expects from the relationship.

A Marriage Planning Agreement can give you maximum flexibility to address issues your way, without interference from the government or anyone else who wants to tell you how your marriage should be.

Why Get a Marriage Planning Agreement?

1. You Already Have One

contractWhen you get a marriage license, you are subject to hundreds of laws and regulations which govern every issue addressed in a Marriage Planning Agreement. The difference is that when you negotiate an agreement, you are writing it yourself instead of the government writing it for you.

 2. It Encourages Communication

speech-bubble-1423322Before getting married, not many couples discuss their expectations with the level of detail necessary for a relationship expected to last several decades. A Marriage Planning Agreement can encourages couples to communicate in detail about all facets of the future of the relationship.

 3. It Prevents Future Litigation

Legal Claims Software by A1 Tracker for litigation claims management.

Divorce can be an ugly and expensive process. While couples rarely expect to divorce, it is a risk for even the best marriages. A Marriage Planning Agreement takes much of the stress and expense out of divorce by negotiating many of the terms beforehand.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact Fenza Legal Services to discuss your options today!

What To Do If You Are in a Car Accident

Car accidents can happen to anyone, even the best drivers. If you are ever involved in a car accident, it’s hard to know what to do. Here are some tips. These tips are given from a legal perspective, but they are not intended as legal advice, nor are they intended as medical advice. Always follow the instructions of your physician to care for your health.

On the Scene

When you’re involved in a car accident, the first step is to evaluate your injuries. If any part of your body is in pain or hurts to move, particularly your neck or back, do not move it. The safest thing to do is nothing. Sit where you are and wait for help to arrive. Any movement could exacerbate any injury that you have. If you feel that you have an injury, the best thing to do is simply remain where you are. Help will arrive shortly. The only exception is if it is unsafe to stay in your vehicle. If there are open flames or smoke near your gas tank, exiting the vehicle may be the safest option.

If you are uninjured and your vehicle is in a safe condition, check on all passengers and drivers. Other people may be in need of medical attention. If so, call 911 and make sure that anyone in need receives medical attention.

Next, decide whether you can safely move your car off of the road. If it is safe to do so, your vehicle should be moved to the shoulder or another place out of the flow of traffic. However, do not leave the scene. In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, you can face serious criminal penalties for committing a hit-and-run.

Next, call the police. Police should be called even for minor accidents, and a police report should be filed. While waiting for the police, exchange information with the occupants of all other involved vehicles. You should get the name, address, telephone number, driver’s license number, and insurance company of all drivers, passengers, and witnesses. You should also write down the license plate number of all involved vehicles. Take photos of the scene, all vehicles, and any visible injuries. Always ask permission before photographing anyone else.

When talking to other involved individuals, be cordial and polite, but do not offer any apologies or admit to any wrongdoing. Anything you say may be used against you in a subsequent lawsuit or criminal investigation, and even innocent statements may be taken the wrong way. The safest thing to do is to avoid commenting on fault or mistakes. When speaking to witnesses, ask them to describe what they saw and write down what they say.

When talking to the police, honestly describe what happened, but avoid admitting to wrongdoing. Even if you feel that you may be at fault, it is often not clear at the time of the accident, and any statements you make may be cast in a false light later. Write down the name and badge number of any police on the scene. The police will often offer to arrange for transportation to the hospital. If you have any pain at all, go. Many injuries, particularly to the neck and back, can be hard to detect and may not cause any immediate pain. The safest thing to do is to be evaluated as soon as possible following a car accident. This may also help with any subsequent legal claim by providing early diagnostic data for your injury. You don’t want to be in the position of having to explain that you were in pain after the accident but declined medical treatment.

After the Accident

As soon as possible after your accident, inform your auto insurance company that you were in an accident, but avoid making statements regarding the specific circumstances. Then contact a qualified attorney. Your attorney can help you prepare a statement to your insurance company, protect your legal rights, and find medical treatment if necessary. Your attorney can also help you get an evaluation of any property damage that you suffered.

Your attorney can also help negotiate with your insurance company. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, auto insurers, in most circumstances, are required to pay for your medical expenses regardless of fault. They may also be required to cover property damage. In addition, you may also be owed compensation for pain and suffering or other out-of-pocket expenses, though the rules regarding coverage may be complicated and confusing. A qualified attorney can help you navigate the rules, negotiate with your insurer, arrange for a beneficial settlement, or, if necessary, file suit on your behalf to enforce your rights.

A car accident is almost always unpleasant, but with the right legal help, the aftermath can be as painless as possible. Contact a qualified attorney today if you are experiencing injuries related to a motor vehicle accident.