April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
Arizona will soon pass a state law banning texting and driving, but that doesn’t mean it’s legal to do so until the law passes. Many local jurisdictions have enacted codes or ordinances to make it illegal not only to text while driving, but to use a phone at all while driving, unless it is being used in hands-free mode.
Article Written By: Cassandra Meynard
Lately there has been a lot of attention given to social networking sites and the role they play in divorce. Not only are the number of relationships broken up by information posted online growing, but those postings are finding their way into the court room. Many people may be surprised to know how often pictures and posts to online sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Reddit, and Snap Chat are submitted as evidence at a divorce trial or custody hearing. Even with all of the attention in the media, I still have to frequently remind my clients to be very careful about what they post online, because those comments or photos can be used against you.
Article Written By: Lisa Schriner Lewis
The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (“AMMA”) was voted into law in 2010 and went into effect in 2012. The purpose of AMMA is to protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, as well as their physicians and providers, from arrest and prosecution if such patients engage in the medical use of marijuana. AMMA does not broadly alter the legal status of marijuana in Arizona, however; AMMA protection only extends to those who adhere to AMMA specifications, which vary for patients, caregivers, and physicians.
After years and years of careful planning and hard work, you created and are operating a successful business. Just as you begin to reap the benefits of your labor, boom – a judgment is entered against your business. Unable to pay the judgment from the business account, creditors seek to seize your personal assets – and win. The next thing you know, you are financially destitute alongside your once thriving business. You falsely thought your personal resources were protected by setting up your business. How could this have happened?
Article Written By: Jill-Ann Weickhardt
Business and Commercial / Real Estate
In 2011, the Department of Labor put forth a regulation clarifying that tips are to be considered the property of the employee who earns them, and prohibiting employers from requiring tipped employees to share their tips with non-tipped employees. Courts remained split on the issue, however, with the Ninth Circuit upholding the Obama era regulation prohibiting tip sharing even if the tipped employee was paid minimum wage, and other circuits rejecting it, concluding tip sharing could be implemented by the employer if the tipped employee was paid the full minimum wage rather than the reduced tip credit wage.
Article Written By: Ariel Henderson
On February 26, in Zarda v. Altitude Express, the Second Circuit (sticking a needle in the eye of the Justice Department) joined the Seventh Circuit and the EEOC in concluding that sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination under Title VII. The Eleventh Circuit recently held the opposite, potentially setting this issue up for Supreme Court review (eight other Circuits have held that sexual orientation is not explicitly covered by Title VII). Notwithstanding the contrary Circuit decisions, and the fact that neither the Seventh Circuit nor the Eleventh Circuit decision ended up before the Supreme Court, this issue is being litigated more and more. So I would expect it to be taken up by the Supreme Court sooner rather than later.
New partnership audit rules impact your business by changing how the IRS audits partnership entities, increasing the burden and tax cost by shifting the tax impact from the individual partner to the partnership/LLC entity. LLC’s and partnerships may need to revisit and amend your operating agreement now due to this change in law.
While this discussion is not meant to provide all the details of the new audit procedures, some of the main changes to note are as follows:
Article Written By: J.D. Matchett-Robles
Divorces, like marriages, come in all different styles. While few divorces are without any conflict at all (although they do exist), most divorces are medium-level conflict. This conflict stems from not only the incompatibilities that led to the dissolution, but also grief over the end of the marriage, anger at the other spouse, and deep concerns over the health and well-being of children. All of this is quite normal. Waterfall, Economidis, Caldwell, Hanshaw & Villamana, P.C., has five divorce attorneys in Tucson, Arizona with significant experience in and knowledge about how all conflict levels affect divorce proceedings and the litigation and decision-making processes.
Article Written By: Megan C. Hill
Many of you may know that this year is a significant year of change to the exemption levels that apply for estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer taxes. This update is a summary only. Once you have read the following update, if you have any questions about how these matters relate to you, our estate planning attorneys will be happy to schedule an office conference with you to discuss what steps (if any) would be appropriate for you to take. In addition, this may be an excellent time for you to review your individual estate plan and make any changes that are necessary.
Article Written By: Jill D. Wiley
In May 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in Howell v. Howell, 137 S. Ct. 1400 (2017), reversing and remanding the judgment of the Arizona Supreme Court. In effect, the decision places important limitations on a trial court’s ability to ensure that a military retirement pay award to a former spouse is protected in the event that the military veteran accepts a disability benefit that diminishes his or her retirement pay and consequently that of the former spouse.
The case involved John Howell (Husband) and Sandra Howell (Wife), who divorced in 1991, while Husband was completing military service. The divorce decree treated Husband’s future military retirement pay (MRP) as community property and awarded Wife fifty percent of Husband’s MRP upon its commencement. Husband retired in 1992 and Wife began receiving fifty percent of the MRP. About thirteen years later, the V.A. deemed Husband to be twenty percent disabled because of service-related injuries. Husband elected to receive corresponding disability benefits and thus had to waive a portion of his MRP. This waiver reduced Wife’s award of the MRP.
Article Written By: Dan Huff
Being a parent to young children can be exhausting between ballet and soccer practice, bath time, homework, and bedtime. It is not a surprise that most parents of young children don’t give estate planning much thought. However, parents with young children can benefit greatly from having an estate plan and the assistance of an attorney that specializes in estate planning. It is extremely common for parents with minor children to make mistakes that can affect their estate and, most importantly, their children, if something tragic and unthinkable happens to them. As an estate planning attorney and mother of a kindergartner, I understand the stress that comes with thinking about an estate plan while managing work and life, but it is an important step for all parents.
Article Written By: Sandra
Trust and Estate Planning
Choosing the proper structure for your business, whether you are starting a new business or changing the type of entity for an existing business, is one of the most important business decisions you will make. The two primary considerations in selecting the type of entity are usually liability protection and tax treatment. Here is a summarization of several of the business structures that are available to you in Arizona. We recommend you consult with legal and tax professionals before making a final decision as to which entity is best for you.
Article Written By: Jill-Ann
Your workplace is one big, happy family, right? You work and play together; you joke around; it’s all in good fun. Well, it is until it isn’t; until an EEOC complaint lands on your desk.
Each new day seems to bring new revelations about the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace. This great unmasking only underscores how crucial it is for employers to have comprehensive policies and staff training on identifying and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace and on appropriately and thoroughly responding to employee complaints when they arise. Not only is having good policies and complaint procedures in place a good idea from an ethical and moral standpoint, but also having robust anti-harassment policies, and implementing those policies consistently, can shield an employer from legal liability for the misdeeds of a rogue employee. Employers should consider several components when creating and implementing sexual harassment policies and procedures:
Article Written By: Ariel