Family Businesses and Probate

One of the biggest problems that arises in probate law is when it comes to businesses. The biggest example of this is family businesses. Even with a will, the passing of a family business to loved ones, especially when there are multiple people receiving the business, is a big deal and can be a messy situation. If not handled properly, it can ruin a family.

Online Business

Having an online business allows you to not have to worry about some of the messy details that come with property–and depending on the business, you may not even have to worry about inventory. If you run an affiliate website or a site that doesn’t have actual inventory, but drop ships directly from the manufacturer, you won’t have to deal with splitting up anything but a website. Whether you want to run a site that reviews anti slip dog socks or you have an online headshop in the US, having an online business is an easy way to set up a business if you are worried about how your business will dissolve or be passed on in regards to probate law.

Services Business

Whether you run a Business to Business (B2B) or a Business to Customer (B2C) business model, one of the easiest ways to both get your business off the ground (for a small budget) and to dissolve the business when you pass is to have a business that is based on services–opposed to selling goods.

A business where you provide services doesn’t requires as much overhead, it doesn’t require as much inventory, and when it comes down to it, you can easily dissolve a business.

If you have Cuts R Us, a lawn care company, and your two sons inherit it, you can split the customer list down the middle, and have them both get new business names. It isn’t ideal–to lose a business name that you spent decades fostering–but if they can’t work together to keep the business afloat, then it is a solution that works for everyone.

Sell the Business Before You Die

Obviously we don’t know when we will die–wouldn’t that be awesome if we did. But there are many times that we get up in years and we do know when we are well past our prime. If you get into your 70s–or into your 80s–and you still run your own business, and no one in your family wants to take it over after you, maybe it is time you sell. Dividing cash assets between family members is significantly easier than dividing a business.

Make it Easy On Your Loved Ones

You don’t have to do any of these that we mentioned above. Chances are, if you run your own business and you are successful, you are either 1) stubborn and hardheaded and don’t care what we say, or 2) already have your affairs in order. Either way, this article wasn’t intended to scare, but to say…make it easy on your loved ones. That is all.

Honeywell Humidifier Lawsuit

It was in 2014 that Derek Scott filed a complaint against Honeywell, claiming that he purchased and installed one of the Honeywell humidifiers at home and then the product has gone defective after only a few months of use.

Under Honeywell’s “Repair or Replace” policy, Scott was given outright replacement as detailed in the product’s limited warranty. Unfortunately, the replacement humidifier also failed after only about a year or so.

Honeywell consequently informed Scott that he would have to pay for the installed of a new humidifier. Scott contested though that he would never have bought the humidifier if he had known that it would not live up to its marketing claims.

In the motion to dismiss filed by Honeywell, it states that Scott has failed to substantiate that the “Repair or Replace” solution was deemed  unacceptable and considered therefore to be a breach of its implied and limited warranties.

Further, Honeywell also stressed out that the policy does not guarantee future performance of their humidifiers in which Scott also rebutted that Honeywell has in fact breached its limited warranty because the humidifier is covered and became defective within the five-year warranty period.

Honeywell is said to be guilty of false advertising or marketing claims. The brand is supposedly marketing its range of humidifiers as one that provides “whole home humidification” and that which also boasts “high performance and efficiency of steam humidification with easier maintenance than traditional humidifiers.”

In line with this, a class action lawsuit was filed in Massachusetts which alleged that the said humidifiers are entirely defective, unreliable, and very hard to maintain overall. Additionally, the humidifiers are said to become clogged with mineral deposits and was observed to be scaling even though it has just been recently bought or has been used for a short span of time. The lawsuit also alleged that the plaintiffs as well as other customers have incurred property damages as well as financial loss due to money spent on replacement or repairs of the faulty Honeywell Humidifiers. Further, the lawsuit stressed that the damage may have been due to the blockages and overheating; which have then triggered the overspill of scalding hot water. This also caused the parts of the humidifier to disintegrate and crack.

More so, the lawsuit details that the sediment buildup could have clogged the exterior drains and led to flooding. This is in contrast to the claims of Honeywell Humidifiers because it is specifically designed in such way that the steam is blown outright into the HVAC duct system which could potentially precipitate fungus and mold growth and thus, reduce quality of air. This said defect may also cause the corrosion of the duct itself.

Honeywell Humidifiers comes with a 5-year limited warranty which says that the product will be considered free from any defects given normal usage and services. This also includes repairs or replacement of humidifier in consideration of certain circumstances as stated in the warranty. This is however not limited to just a specific type of filter or water supply. The lawsuits also contests that Honeywell is aware that their products would actually fail to comply with standard quality and therefore nosedive within the said warranty period but has no intention of complying with the services promised as stated in the product’s warranty.

Evidently, despite the increasing customer complaints, Honeywell was not able to provide easy and fast claims process for its customers which defeats the purpose of having a warranty in the first place.

Philip A. Brimmer, U.S. District Judge of the District of Colorado, tossed out allegations regarding Honeywell’s breach of its limited warranty in its course of action of just replacing a defective Honeywell TrueSTEAM humidifier with another which also happens to have the same defects.

Judge Brimmer has set the records straight in stating that Honeywell’s limited warranty implies that the company will not be obligated to pay for any removal or reinstallations costs. More so, the limited warranty is not at all breached unless the humidifier is found to be defective and the company failed to repair or replace the product.

However, Judge Brimmer also took Scott’s side and said that his negligent misrepresentation claim is valid because Scott based him complaint on Honeywell’s marketing claims regarding the humidifiers’ quality and its limited warranty before deciding to make a purchase.

The judge also allowed the claim for violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act to proceed because Honeywell has no intention to honor its supposed warranty and also hampers customers from making any warranty claims due to its very difficult and burdensome process.

To make sure you get a safe humidifier, check out humidifier reviews online.

What Should You Do to Make Sure Your Home Buying Process Goes Smoothly

Owning a home is one of the facets of the great American dream. This is not however as easy as just pinpointing a dream house and claiming it as your own. It’s a complicated financial rigmarole and one should be able to map out the entire home buying process to ensure that it goes smoothly as planned. Whether it’s your first time to invest in a home or a repeat buyer, the emotional and financial rollercoaster ride still gives everyone the jitters and the stress. So, how do you get through the home buying process and get it moving smoothly? Luckily, we have the steps covered for you:

  1. Get a licensed realtor. Amidst the chaos of financing, pricing, legalities, marketing, and inspections, you will certainly need an expert to get you to right to your goals and keeping your sanity. Real estate agents know the market value of homes which make them a reliable asset to house hunting. Make sure that you choose a buyer’s realtor who works for the benefit of the buyer and not the seller. Get in touch with a licensed realtor who can give you professional advice in terms from the groundwork of finding a home, negotiating prices, financing, going through the legalities, and finally getting your prized dream home. It pays to seek expert guidance than be frustrated or shortchanged in the end.
  2. Save up for a downpayment. In buying any home, it is required to make an upfront payment in cash. Most lenders would require at least 20% downpayment and the rest can be covered by home financing. Some couples would even ask this as a wedding gift from family members and relatives or set a separate bank account to save for this purpose.
  3. Get funding. While location is very important, so is pricing. Make sure that you can afford your chosen home and that you will not overstretch your financial gut in the process. Know your mortgage options and get prequalified or preapproved. This is an important stage to know how much you can afford before actually shopping for homes.
  4. Visit available homes within your price range and make an offer. First off, you must determine what type of home you would want to acquire. Think of how it suits your growing family and lifestyle as well. Location is crucial to finding the right nest. You must make sure that it is convenient especially in terms of commuting as well as in being near schools, restaurants, grocery stores, and churches; to name a few. Do have a checklist when shopping for homes to determine what matches your preferences. Work with your realtor to negotiate a fair price. Make an offer and then once you have reached an agreement, everything should be put in contracts.
  5. Get a home inspector. This is a contingency so you can check on any structural damages that may need repairs. Here’s some great advice from a local Nashville home inspector, “Getting your home inspected by a professional is the surest way to make sure you don’t buy a home with significant problems like a cracked foundation, termite infestation, or dangerous electrical wiring.” You can renegotiate offers based on the home inspection report.
  6. Coordinate with funding and paperwork. Your lender will assist you with the right loan that matches your financial and credit capacity while also coordinating with paperworks necessary for buying a home.
  7. Seal the deal. You close the sale by signing loan documents and all the paperworks too. It takes just a few days for processing and once the seller gets your payment, you are ready to move in to your new home.

Your home is a refuge – a haven. Take as much time as you need when shopping for your dream home. While buying a house may be a nerve-wracking experience, it’s the same adrenaline rush that keeps you on your toes for spotting your dream home. Like many things, this does not come easy. It takes an elaborate amount of planning, surveying, and budgeting to finally get your dream haven in complete fruition.

False Advertising Lawsuits

In a world of half-truths, how will you identify real advertising from deceptive advertising? Promoting your products on diverse media platforms is all about impacting brand awareness and recognition. This is supposed to be the role of advertising in mass media.

With the mushrooming of myriad of businesses online and offline, a lot of customers are lured into superfluous advertising claims that are deceptive or misleading in nature which may create a negative impact on consumers.

Misleading advertising refers to promotional or marketing efforts that deceive people who are exposed to it. This pertains to published material that gives consumers inaccurate information and understanding of the items they want to purchase. This can affect consumer choices specifically on deciding what to buy. It is considered a legal offense whenever a business advertise good or services in a way that attempts to mislead or deceive consumers which may cause damage, loss, or injury to the general public. Here are some examples of false advertising:

  • Prices are misrepresented. For instance, the products are regularly priced but advertised as sale prices.
  • Specifications or features of goods and services are made inaccurate such as a product labeled weighing 1.5kg could just be 1kg in actual weight.
  • Attributes of the advertiser are misleading such as the United States based company declared could actually be based somewhere in Asia.
  • Condition of the products and services are advertised in the effort to lure and deceive people like “free shipping” on items which may actually involve paying for delivery.
  • If they leave out some important factors in the effort to deceive clients and encourage them to buy more such as advertising claims that go bombastic like “80% off everything” when the discount only applies to certain items.
  • Claims that create false impression on clients like “lose weight in 3 days” that can automatically grab the attention of people who want to trim off excess fat and get that perfect silhouette figure.

Certain state and federal laws aim to protect the consumers from false advertising. Deceptive claims are considered illegal by law. No businesses are supposed to freely make misleading, erroneous, deceptive, or false claims about their products and services regarding its price, purpose, and quality.

Consumers may suffer financial losses or damage due to false advertising. The gravity of loss and damages may not be that significant but this is a cost that no consumer should endure.

Types of False Advertising Tactics:

  • Deceptive Form Contracts – Refers to ambiguous or erroneous entries in the contracts that can be easily overlooked by clients.
  • Bait & Switch – This particular tactic involves attracting a consumer into buying a product at a much lower cost; but when the buyer is already at the store, the business tries to push a different kind of product for a different price than what was initially advertised.
  • Failure to Disclose – This pertains to a business concealing or leaving out important information like when a sale offer has already expired or certain products are out of stock.
  • High-Pressure Sales – This is the most aggressive type of false advertising in which the business tries to do hard sell which urges consumers to purchase products that they don’t want or intend to buy in the first place.
  • Artificially Inflating Prices – This tactic gives buyers false impression that a super deal or promotion is certain products or services are available when in fact it is not.

Quite a huge number of false advertising class action lawsuits have been litigated even against the biggest brands in the world in the attempt to recover remuneration for losses or damages incurred.

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Red Bull who have been accused of false advertising with its slogan “Red Bull gives you wings”. This class action lawsuit was filed by several Red Bull drinkers who testified that they have been consuming the product since 2002 but have not seen any significant improvement in their athletic performance. The plaintiff accused Red Bull of false advertising claims when saying that Red Bull gives consumers wings when in fact it doesn’t – literally or figuratively. Red Bull’s defense was that the term “wings” is similar to giving drinkers a boost or some sort of physical enhancement or lift whenever they consume Red Bull.

Red Bull settles this complaint by providing $10 in check form or $15 voucher for Red Bull products for every customer. This could amount to a whopping total of $13 million in loss and damages.

Federal Trade Commission have filed charges against Lumos Labs or the Lumosity brain training program which claims to delay or stave off the effects of Alzheimer disease, dementia, and the like. The program is composed of 40 games at which the company claims that playing these games for at least 10 to 15 minutes per day (3 to 4 times a week) can boost overall performance and help users achieve full potential in all aspects of life. Lumos Labs settled this complaint by agreeing to pay $2 million in damages and that they inform clients about the case and give options to cancel subscription on the training program.

This proves you can’t make claims like you’ve got the best foosball table in the world if you haven’t really got it.

Remedies for false advertising lawsuit include the following:

  • Injunctions on ordering the business to stop engaging in false advertising practices.
  • Injunctions on ordering the business to cancel running the advertisements with false claims.
  • Injunctions which cover ordering businesses to provide disclosure statements in their advertisements.
  • Monetary remunerations or damages.

Although creativity and freedom of expression has paved way to the biggest and most brilliant slogans in advertising history, it still pays to be genuine and honest with advertising claims. Consumers are the lifeline of businesses. They pay for promised results – nothing less.

Guardians and Probate Law

Appointment as legal guardian is a high position of trust, given by parental authority, spousal authority, by the court, or in some cases the minor (provided the minor is 14 and older). It is not easily used as a get-rich-quick scheme by the guardian, neither is does it give the guardian free rein to bully and order his or her ward around.

This negative view, or the responsibilities involved with being a guardian, may cause recommended guardians to turn down the post because of uncertainty. Guardians have their own duties, their own families in some cases, and may not be willing to take on added responsibility. In addition, they may not be willing to risk being sued for negligence if anything happens to harm the minor or the minor’s property currently in their hands.

The Rights and Immunities of Guardians (of Minors)

Article II, Section 209 of the Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act of 1998 lays out the rights and immunities of the guardians of minors. First, a guardian is not required to spend personal resources on behalf of his or her ward. However, if the guardian does so, he or she is “entitled to reasonable compensation.”

Second, the guardian cannot be held accountable to a third party for what the ward does. He or she is a guardian, not a parent, and his or her legal responsibility is to watch over the well-being of the minor. Third, since the guardian is legally able to sign consent forms for medical and other services, he or she cannot be held accountable for the actions of the doctors, personnel, staff, and so forth who are in charge of the minor at certain times.

With all of those provisions in place, it may feel like the role of a guardian is quite easy. However, even with all of those provisions in place, a guardian may still be brought to court for misuse of the minor’s funds, and for negligence directly causing harm to the minor or the minor’s property currently in trust with the guardian. Misuse of the minor’s funds is an obvious offense. Here, we shall focus on negligence.

What is Negligence in the Legal Sense?

Negligence is under the Tort Laws of the United States. A “tort” is a civil wrong done by one person to another that causes them unfair suffering or harm. There are two general kinds: harm through negligence, which can basically be called carelessness, and intentional harm.

Negligent harm occurs when the ward, in this case the minor, is injured in a situation that was avoidable, but allowed to occur by the guardian. The more knowledge the guardian has, or could have had, about the situation, the more likely he or she can be convicted for negligence of his or her ward.

There are 4 elements that must be present for a guardian to be convicted of negligence. First, he must have a relationship with the ward that puts him in a guardian’s position. Second, the guardian fails to fulfil his duties as such. Third, the victim suffers harm as a direct consequence of the guardian’s failure. Fourth, it should be clear to the courts that it was the failure of the guardian that caused the injury.

Examples of Negligence

Say, for example, that the minor (below 14) wishes to go on a boating trip with other family members, and asks the guardian for permission. The guardian studies the laws and statistics on minors in boating, makes sure the minor is bringing the correct life jacket and gear for boating, researches the boating company, talks to the pilot of the boat, and goes on the trip himself. If the boat tips over, and child and guardian end up in the water,

On the other hand, say the guardian is also placed in charge of the residential property of the ward. The finances he or she is in charge of also covers the upkeep and security of the property. Given that 4 or more houses are burglarized every minute, the guardian should especially maintain the property’s security. However, if he neglects to have a lock replaced or a CCTV repaired, and the house gets burglarized, he may be held liable for negligence. There are other ways to protect with things such as dogs and wireless dog fences.

The Responsibility of the Probate Courts

The probate courts, in charge of approving and appointing guardians when needed, have a heavy responsibility towards minors under guardianship. As much as possible, they should choose guardians who will not become liable for negligent harm to their wards.

The Protection of Minors

An important responsibility of the probate courts is the guardianship of minor (under the age of majority) beneficiaries and inheritors of estates under a decedent’s (legal term for deceased) will. The minors cannot administer the estates until they reach the age of majority, so the responsibility falls to the guardian. In the cases when the decedent dies intestate (without a will), the court can appoint a guardian they find fit to take care of the minor (or minors).

Under What Law Are Minors Protected?

The laws vary per state in the probate courts, so this section will only look at the Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act of 1998. It is one of the Uniform Laws, recommended for approval by all states, and is considered part of the Uniform Probate Code when a state probate court is using the Code for administration of an estate.

The law provides for the guardianship of minors, or unemancipated children under the age of 18. The guardian can only be appointed by the parent or by the court. The responsibility of the court is heavy, since the guardian also holds the funds provided for care of the minor. A wrong choice could be disastrous for all involved.

Rights of the Minor

A minor over 14 years of age is allowed to petition the court for appointment of a guardian even after a parent has appointed one. The parental appointee is prioritized, but the court may take the minor’s requested guardian instead.


If the minor is over 14 years of age, he or she can also file an objection to the guardian placed over him or her. If the guardian is appointed by the minor’s parent, the probate court may allow the appointment may stand despite the objection. If the court is willing to accommodate the objection, a temporary guardian may be appointed.

Duties of the Guardian

The guardian must know how the minor is doing generally, as least enough to know when there is a change in his or her needs or health. The guardian is also in charge of handling the financial support provided for the minor’s education, health, shelter, and other basic needs. Any extra finances left over per month should be returned to the estate. The guardian should also make regular reports on the minor’s condition, and keep the court informed if the minor changes residence for any reason whatsoever.

At the same time, the powers of the guardian stand in place of what the parents’ would have been. The guardian is authorized to sign consent for certain forms of medical treatment and other forms of rehabilitation and care, sign consent for marriage (if the guardianship extends past age of majority), and in some cases, sign consent for adoption. The probate must take these duties and powers into account when considering who to give a child’s guardianship to.

Probate Courts and the Protection of Minors

On paper, the responsibilities of the probate courts look straightforward. Even the appointment of executors and administrators for a decedent’s estate can be messy but simplified, because most of the people involved are over the age of majority. In the case of children, however, the state is responsible not for property but for persons. This is probably the most difficult responsibility that faces probate courts.

What Is Probate Court?

The issue of wills and inheritances is dramatic enough to be put into a movie. Of course, for any plot to be complete, the decedent (legal term for the deceased) must have died intestate (without a will), or left a secret will behind a brick in the chimney of the ancestral home somewhere. The actual legal process is quite messier, is hardly finished in one-and-a-half hours, and has more aftershocks than an earthquake.


The History of Probate Courts

In the 14th century United Kingdom, a probate clause would be added by the scribes to a transcribed copy of a will after it was validated in court. It simply said that the will was found valid on a certain day, with So-and-So named executor and administrator of the will.  

What Is A Probate Court?

A probate court deals with all the “retitling” or transfer of property from the decedent to the heirs named in his will, if he has made a will. However, if the decedent died intestate, the probate court deals with the distribution of property according to the state laws.

Inspector. Graphics is my artwork.  Thanks.  At the Probate Court for a Last Will & Testament.

It finds the will an Executor (usually named in the will) or an Administrator (appointed by the court when in intestate conditions) to distribute the property in place of the decedent. This involves asking either executor or  administrator if they are willing to lead the distribution of property, and finding or appointing another if they refuse.

The probate court also deals with the aftershocks of a validated will. Questions of validity of a will, protests against the administration of the estate, appeals, and so forth are all processed by the probate courts. The courts also have to deal with the issue of appointing yet another executor or administrator if beneficiaries of the will are not happy with the administration.

Is There A Federal Probate Code?

There is such thing as a Uniform Probate Code of the United States, written in 1969 and revised (latest) in 2008. However, it was not adopted by all the states, and cannot be used as the standard for those examining the law. Rather, specific state laws should be considered when understanding the probate in one’s home town.

What Do State Codes Provide For?

At the very least, State Probate Codes make provisions for decedents who die intestate, and for the process of finding an executor or administrator for the decedent’s estate. Other parts of the code provide for the protection of minors whose parents die intestate, or for their guardianship until they reach the age of majority. And then of course, the state probate codes need to rule on questions of joint accounts, joint property holdings, and other such questions–especially if the joint holder is not the spouse.


Probate Courts

Probate courts are very much like Disaster Risk Reduction and Management departments. They do everything they can to lessen the effect of the earthquake (the validated will) by dealing with as many issues as they can before the validation. They are then in charge of dealing with the aftershocks. A necessary part of the justice system, they often have a difficult and sometimes thankless job.