The Blog of Hoover Penrod PLC, Attorneys at Law

Serving Harrisonburg, Staunton, Winchester and Nearby Areas of Virginia

Posted Date: Thu, 06/07/2018
Harrisonburg will and estate planning attorney

As the appointed Commissioner of Accounts for the Circuit Court of Rockingham County, Virginia, I am charged with helping steer fiduciaries through the probate process. Following qualification by a fiduciary in the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, copies of all relevant documents are sent to me. My office opens a file and produces what we call an “Introductory Letter” to each fiduciary.

In this Introductory Letter we attempt to describe, as best we can, the process that the fiduciary is going to undertake in his or her journey toward compliance with the language of the will, if there is one, and the probate and/or other laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia to which he or she may be subject. This letter will be framed depending upon the fiduciary’s position, be it executor or administrator of a will, trustee of a testamentary trust, or guardian or conservator for an infant or an incapacitated person.

In this office, we review and approve inventories, audit and approve accountings - including copies of bank and brokerage accounts - offer advice to fiduciaries and beneficiaries and hold hearings on various matters. In future blogs, we will discuss various aspects of what the Commissioner of Accounts does in more depth.

John N. Crist

Commissioner of Accounts

Harrisonburg/Rockingham County, Virginia

Posted Date: Thu, 05/03/2018
Harrisonburg Accident Lawyers

Most people manage to make it through life without ever being involved in a lawsuit. If you’ve found yourself in the unfortunate situation of having to file a lawsuit or having a suit filed against you, you probably don’t know exactly what to expect. Unfortunately, lawsuits are glorified in the media and misleadingly portrayed as exciting and gratifying events. In reality, most lawsuits are much less thrilling and much more stressful than the media lets on. As a result, very few people truly appreciate what they are getting themselves into. While you may recognize that litigation can be expensive and risky, here are a few things that you may not have considered:

Litigation can be extremely stressful. In general, fear of the unknown and lack of control are some of the primary reasons why people “stress out” in life. When first considering litigation, you may feel strongly that you are “in the right” and may be so angry that you are not able to fully appreciate the risk and stress involved with your suit. If you’re like most people, you fail to appreciate the fact that you can’t control the outcome of the litigation and you won’t know the outcome until after the case has been put in the judge or jury’s hands to decide. It’s easy to forget that judges and juries are humans, and even when the best lawyers present all of the right information, the judge or jury doesn’t always “get it right”. If you are considering litigation you should be prepared to handle the stress caused by being unable to control the outcome of your case.

Litigation is can be extremely time-consuming. Some people have the false impression that they can turn their case over to their lawyer, check in on the case from time to time and otherwise go about their normal lives. This is rarely the case in any significant litigation. As a litigant, you will need to be heavily involved the litigation process, meaning you may be required to gather masses of documents, review the important information in your case, attend depositions, and regularly consult with your attorney regarding important decisions, all under strict deadlines. Being involved with significant litigation is akin to taking on an additional part-time (or even full-time) job, a commitment that should not be underestimated.

Litigation can be extremely invasive.  Depending on the nature of your case, you may be required to divulge very sensitive information about yourself, such as your financial condition, your medical history, and your personal life. Being in litigation can be like having the other side rummage through your dresser drawers while you stand and watch. Even if you have nothing to hide, this process is not fun and many people are shocked to find out that one of the hidden costs of litigation is giving up some privacy.  

Therefore, before “charging” into Court, you would be wise to consider exactly what you are getting yourself into. You should carefully weigh ALL the costs and benefits of filing a lawsuit (including the effect on your personal life and mental health), and should seriously consider the alternatives, such as settlement and mediation. If you ultimately decide to push forward with litigation, we think we’re pretty good at guiding our clients through the process, but an important part of that process is giving our clients an HONEST appraisal of what to expect BEFORE they dive in.

To schedule a free consultation and learn more, please call our Harrisonburg office at 540-406-4060 today.

Posted Date: Wed, 04/11/2018

Adopting your spouse’s child is a wonderful experience but sometimes the legal and emotional issues can feel a bit overwhelming. The purpose of this article is to ease that anxiety and provide you with some basic information about the step-parent adoption process in Virginia.

There are typically two scenarios which lead to a step-parent adoption. The first situation would occur when the child’s biological parent is deceased and the surviving parent subsequently marries. In this type of scenario, the step-parent, along with the biological parent, files the following documents in the Circuit Court where the child resides:

  • A Petition for Adoption
  • A Final Order of Adoption
  • Form VS-21 (Report of Adoption)
  • Form VS-6 Application for Certification of a Vital Record with identification and payment attached

In most instances, the final order of adoption will be entered in one month of the filing and without a hearing.  If the Court processes the VS-6 form, then you should expect to receive a new birth certificate for the child, naming the step-parent as a parent, within six to eight months.

Other ways people find themselves considering a step-parent adoption may include:

  1. A biological parent abandons the child for a period of more than six months
  2. The court has previously terminated the rights of the noncustodial parent
  3. The birth parent consents to the adoption
  4. The noncustodial parent has been convicted of certain crimes

The first step is to terminate the parental rights of the noncustodial parent. This termination of rights may be done either by consent of the parent, under oath and in writing, or after a hearing before the court on why termination is in the child’s best interest.

Note that terminating parental rights is not easily done. If consent is given, then an investigation by a child placement agency may, in the court’s discretion, be waived. However, if consent is not given, then the investigation will occur. Once this occurs, the procedure is the same as outlined above.

The best course of action is to consult with an attorney prior to taking any of the steps outlined above to determine the most efficient strategy for completing the adoption process. If you live in Winchester, Staunton, or surrounding areas of Virginia, please call 540-406-4060 to schedule a free consultation at the Harrisonburg office of Hoover Penrod PLC today.

Tags: Adoption, Step-Parent Adoption
Posted Date: Wed, 03/14/2018

If you or your spouse is contemplating separation or divorce, you are likely to have many questions: 

  • Who will move out of the home? 
  • What will happen with our children? 
  • Who will pay our bills? 
  • What will we do about our property
  • Will I have to pay, or will I be entitled to receive, child support or spousal support (alimony)?  If so how much will the support payments be? 
  • What other issues are there that I’m not thinking of? 
  • Which of these issues do I need to resolve first? 

And how can I resolve these issues with my estranged spouse?

Harrisonburg Divorce Lawyers

Every marriage, and therefore every divorce, is different. These issues and how they may be resolved are unique to each case, and the different options can be complicated and even overwhelming. The emotional aspects of separation and divorce can make it even more difficult to navigate these complicated issues.

The first step, if you or your spouse is contemplating separation or divorce, is to speak with an experienced domestic relations attorney to help you identify the important issues in your case and come up with a strategy to resolve those issues. If possible, it is best to meet with an attorney to discuss your options before you separate and, if not, you should meet with an attorney as soon as you can so that you can ensure that you are moving forward in the best way possible from the beginning. 

The goal in your divorce case is not to have a “battle” or even to take your case to trial. The Harrisonburg domestic relations attorneys at Hoover Penrod PLC are experienced in helping you identify what issues need to be resolved in your case and in helping you solve those problems as efficiently and productively as possible. They can advise you as to your options and strategies not only in Court, but also in how to use other methods such as negotiation, mediation, and collaborative law to resolve disputes.

If you or your spouse is considering a separation or divorce and you want to speak with an experienced domestic relations attorney, call Hoover Penrod PLC at 540-406-4060 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. We serve Staunton, Winchester, and all surrounding areas from our Harrisonburg, Virginia location.

Tags: Divorce
Posted Date: Fri, 02/02/2018

Divorce is difficult, even for the most amicable couples. This is because, in reality, there is not one divorce, but three divorces which occur at the same time, and are intertwined affecting each other:

  • The legal divorce
  • The financial divorce
  • The emotional divorce

The Collaborative Law process is an alternative choice to litigation or mediation which addresses the “three divorces”. 

Why Collaborative Law?

Amicable Divorce | Harrisonburg, VACollaborative Law grew out of the recognition that some litigation, like nuclear war, is unwinnable. Parties and their attorneys often find themselves saying the same thing: even when we win, we lose. The costs, when measured in lost relationships, lost productivity and attorney’s fees, far too often outweigh the gains. Despite this recognition, we still get trapped by our adversarial reflexes and in our adversarial methods. Angry clients instinctively turn to the Courts with demands for justice. Justice rarely occurs in the Courtroom in a way that both parties are happy with. 

The Collaborative process allows each party to negotiate using interest-based negotiation/mediation principals while having their attorneys at their side every step of the way to achieve a fair and acceptable agreement. People in Collaborative Law cases do not use unfair advantages or “jockeying” for position to force an unsustainable settlement. So often, children become the unintended victims in divorce proceedings. In collaborative divorce cases, the parties pledge at the beginning of the process to insulate their children from the proceedings and to act in such a way as to minimize the impact of divorce on them. One of the best features of Collaborative Law is not that it avoids litigation, but that it avoids hasty and soon-regretted last-minute settlements driven by the schedule and demands of litigation. The parties often enter into temporary agreements on particular issues and “test drive” the terms. 

What parties can realistically hope to do by using Collaborative Law is reduce the antagonistic feelings that result from a hard-fought battle, and increase a genuine sense of resolution. They can hope for significant savings in cost of litigation. They can expect much more willing compliance with the terms of the collaboratively reached agreement than the terms of an imposed Court Order. They can expect, privacy, integrity, and respect from one another and from their attorneys, so that the parties have a continuing, if not improved relationship with the other party. 

The Process

The Collaborative Law process involves four-way meetings with the lawyers and the clients. Collaborative settlement conferences follow pre-agreed plans. No one is rushed through the process. On the other hand, firm dates are set for settlement conferences. When needed, there is typically a short-term agreement at the beginning about issues such as temporary support and attorney’s fees. 

In Collaborative Law each spouse has an attorney who is also an experienced negotiator and provides legal advice and explanations to the client on the spot. Collaborative lawyers and their clients approach each other and their disputes with a written commitment not to sue or even threaten to sue. Each party makes a formal commitment to finding a way to resolve the dispute in a manner that is also acceptable to the other, even if the process of doing so is extremely difficult. 

The focus is on obtaining a fairly negotiated result while reducing conflict between the parties. On average, the cases are settled and a written agreement is in place within two to three months. In cases where Collaborative Law has been used, even if reluctantly and hard fought, there have been more rapid settlements at a fraction of the normal cost associated with litigation. 

For more information about how our family law attorneys can help ease the process of divorce, please call Hoover Penrod PLC at 540-406-4060 to schedule a consultation at our Harrisonburg office. We serve the Virginia communities of Winchester, Staunton, and all nearby areas.

More information regarding collaborative law is available at www.collaborativepractice.com and locally at www.collaborativepracticesv.com.

Tags: Collaborative Law, Divorce
Posted Date: Fri, 01/19/2018

A business owner or manager concerned that his or her company may not survive a period of diminished revenue often needs a professional analysis on the pros and cons of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  This kind of bankruptcy can provide a procedure through which a business can either restructure its debt so it can survive, or at least better control the outcome from the liquidation of its assets. Our bankruptcy attorneys are able to ask the right questions to help with these decisions for companies across central and western Virginia including Lexington, Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg and Winchester and the surrounding areas.

Chapter 11 cannot by itself turn a dying business into a thriving business.  But if the underlying business problem has a viable solution, Chapter 11 can provide the room for energetic owners and managers to implement the changes needed.  The process is designed for publicly-owned companies and is therefore much more complicated than is usually necessary for a smaller company.  Our Harrisonburg bankruptcy attorneys work hard to focus on the essentials.  Clients are much more successful if they don’t wait until creditors have begun lawsuits or have seized collateral.

Harrisonburg Bankruptcy Lawyer

Because Chapter 11 requires a tremendous amount of legal work in the first few days and weeks of a case, we use a team approach with two or three lawyers participating in the beginning stage.  This allows us to divide the work to keep the case moving, working off a common base of key facts and data. 

An interested company should let us know at the outset if it is only seeking basic information about the Chapter 11 process or, on the other hand, if it is ready for a thorough evaluation of its specific situation, so it can understand if this course of action offers likely benefits that will justify the considerable costs in external professional fees and internal energy and time expenditures.

To schedule your consultation at Hoover Penrod, PLC, please call 540-406-4060 today. Located in Harrisonburg, our bankruptcy attorneys serve all surrounding areas of Virginia including Staunton and Winchester.

Tags: Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Posted Date: Tue, 11/28/2017

Harrisonburg bankruptcy attorneys - Hoover PenrodThe thought of filing bankruptcy can seem daunting, embarrassing, and even confusing. You may believe that you are the only one in a difficult financial situation. Under any form of financial burden or stress, it is easy to feel alone and isolated from those around you.

But the truth is, you are not alone. Many people are facing or have faced a financial struggle during their lifetime. There is no single type of person who contemplates filing bankruptcy. Financial burdens affect all age groups, all income levels, all ethnicities, and all educational levels.There is no typical person who files bankruptcy.

Likewise, the reasons for filing bankruptcy differ from person to person. Perhaps you have recently lost your job or have a struggling business. You may be worried about a looming foreclosure, repossession, or wage garnishment. Domestic issues such as divorce, a recent separation, or death in your family may also be causing you to face financial hardship.You may have significant medical or credit card bills. And, like many people, you may be facing a combination of these situations.

Bankruptcy may be able to help address your current financial situation and provide you with the fresh start that you need. There are different types of bankruptcy that can be utilized to best address your individual situation. It is important to meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can properly analyze your specific situation and guide you as to your different options.

No matter the complexity of your financial situation, the bankruptcy attorneys at Hoover Penrod are happy to meet with you. Our lawyers have been helping individuals in the Shenandoah Valley since 1935, and we have the experience necessary to guide you through this difficult time in your life so that you can achieve the fresh start you deserve.

Please contact Hoover Penrod PLC using the form on this page or call 540-406-4060 today to schedule your free consultation[1] to review your options. We serve clients in Harrisonburg, Staunton, Winchester and throughout the surrounding areas of Virginia.

 

[1]This does not apply to business cases.

Posted Date: Mon, 09/11/2017

business agreement - Harrisonburg business law attorneyIf you are entering into a business venture with multiple people – regardless of whether it is a general partnership, a limited liability company (LLC), a corporation, or another type of entity -- it's important that you have a written, organizational agreement in place that clearly outlines the rights and obligations of each person involved. The agreement should address potential issues and disagreements that may arise down the road and help set the expectations of those involved. A well-crafted agreement will help to ensure that everyone’s expectations are met, minimize the risk of disputes and set your new business on a successful path.

Ideally, you should create your organizational agreement at the time you establish your new business. This will help to ensure that all of the parties involved share a common vision and set of expectations for the business as you embark on your new venture. Organizational agreements are like preventative maintenance on your car. The cost of preventing a dispute by preparing a thoughtful organizational agreement is often minuscule compared to the cost of resolving a dispute that arises where no agreement exists, or where the existing agreement is poorly drafted.

When it comes to organizational agreements, one size does not fit all and it's important to work with an experienced business law attorney who can guide you through the process, make sure important items are addressed and that the agreement meets the specific needs of each of the parties involved.

Some of the important issues that should be covered in your organizational agreement include:

  • Each owner’s individual investment amounts - This may not always be a monetary investment. It may also include the value of labor, the value of providing the building or other real estate used by the business, as well as the value of any equipment required to run the business.
     
  • Division of labor –Will owners take on management duties for the new business, and if so which owners? Determining the role each owner will play in the business is crucial to setting your venture up for success, and it will help reduce the risk of future disputes.
     
  • Profit sharing - Every owner will expect to eventually make a profit once the business has become successful. Your organizational agreement should outline how profits will be distributed among the owners, and whether a percentage of these profits will be reinvested into the business. Your agreement should also spell out whether managing owners receive a salary.
     
  • Financial management - Your agreement should address how financial decisions are to be made and whether special rules should apply to certain financial decisions such as real estate transactions.
     
  • Rules for managing decisions-The terms by which decisions are made is a crucial item to be covered in your organizational agreement, and it can significantly impact the success of your business should a dispute arise.If all of the owners understand and accept the rules for how decisions are made, the likelihood of a costly dispute over business decisions is significantly reduced.
     
  • How to deal with changes to the business ownership - At some point in the future, one of the owners may decide to move on and want to leave the business. Your business may also grow and evolve over time, requiring the addition of new parties. Your organizational agreement should outline how these situations will be handled. This may include the buy-out process for an owner who leaves as well as any potential buy-in required of a new owner.

The business law attorneys at Hoover Penrod have decades of experience crafting organizational agreements for businesses in the Harrisonburg area and throughout the Shenandoah Valley. Our lawyers will help you and your co-owners spot the important issues, suggest ways to deal with those issues, and ensure your final agreement protects each owner’s rights while setting your new business up for long term success.

Please contact Hoover Penrod using the form on this page or call 540-406-4060 today to schedule a consultation with one of our business law attorneys. We serve clients in Harrisonburg, Staunton, Winchester and the surrounding areas of Virginia.

Posted Date: Mon, 07/31/2017

Harrisonburg business law attorneysStarting a small business can be a challenging endeavor. There are many issues you’ll need to deal with during this process in order to get your business up and running. While factors such as hiring the right employees, developing your product or setting up the right business model may occupy most of your attention, it’s important to stay on top of the legal hurdles that can often bring down a small business.

It’s always a good idea to work with an experienced business law attorney when setting up your business in order to ensure that these important issues are addressed properly up front. Regardless of whether you seek legal help, it’s important to carefully address the following 4 legal issues to prevent costly lawsuits and other problems down the road that can potentially sink your business.

  1. Choosing the proper legal structure for your business

    Selecting the right legal structure for your business is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a business owner. The legal structure you choose can impact the amount of money you’re required to pay in taxes, the extent of your personal liability in the event of a lawsuit, and many other important matters.

    There are several different options to choose from, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, S corporations, and C corporations. The experienced business law attorneys at Hoover Penrod can explain the benefits and drawbacks of each option and help you determine the right structure for your business based on your unique needs.
     

  2. Navigating intellectual property and copyright laws

    It’s important to protect your intellectual property so that it’s not stolen by competitors. You can do this by patenting technology used in your product, trademarking your business name and logo, and copyrighting the use of certain phrases which may be crucial to your branding.

    Similarly, you must be aware of the patents and trademarks already existing for the technology you are using and marketing. If you infringe on a patent or trademark previously established by a competitor, you may face a lawsuit that can potentially ruin your business.

    The attorneys at Hoover Penrod can help you research existing patents and trademarks to ensure your business won’t face a patent lawsuit down the road. We can also help you navigate the process of patenting and trademarking your own intellectual property so that other companies can’t steal it from you.
     

  3. Employee law issues

    There are certain issues you’ll need to be aware of when hiring employees for your small business. These include:
     

    1. Correctly determining whether someone is considered an employee or an independent contractor – this distinction impacts whether you need to adhere to minimum wage and overtime laws for an employee, and it also affects whether you must withhold income, Social Security and Medicare taxes for this employee.
       
    2. Knowing whether an employee is covered under the overtime laws set forth by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or is considered exempt from these laws – failure to correctly follow these laws can potentially make you vulnerable to a costly wage and hours lawsuit down the road.
       
    3. Establishing clear and fair human resource policies at your company and hiring a human resources professional to ensure these policies are properly enforced – failure to address this issue can potentially make you vulnerable to harassment and discrimination lawsuits, as well as other employment litigation from disgruntled employees.
       
    4. Carefully documenting the reasons for firing a poorly performing employee in order to avoid a potential wrongful termination lawsuit.
       
    5. Having your employees sign nondisclosure and non-compete agreements, when appropriate, in order to safeguard business information that you want to keep secret and to prevent employees from taking your ideas and secrets to a competitor or from stealing clients after leaving your company.
       
  4. Adhering to business tax laws

    Your business will be subject to certain tax laws based on the legal structure you choose. These tax laws can be very complicated, and it’s important to work with an experienced business accountant or a business law attorney who can help ensure you file your taxes properly and keep all necessary records for documentation in the event of an audit. At Hoover Penrod, we can help you navigate these complex tax laws to ensure you are doing everything properly.

These are just a few of the legal hurdles you may face as a small business owner. There are many other issues that can arise and potentially impact the success of your business. The business law attorneys at Hoover Penrod can provide you with the guidance and legal assistance necessary to ensure you handle all of these issues properly as they arise.

Please contact Hoover Penrod using the form on this page or call 540-406-4060 today to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Harrisonburg, Staunton, Winchester and the surrounding areas of Virginia.

Posted Date: Fri, 07/07/2017

Harrisonburg divorce lawyerWhen a marriage comes to an end, the best possible scenario is an amicable divorce. When everyone can agree on the terms of separation, property and asset division, child custody, and other issues pertinent to divorce, it may seem unnecessary to hire legal counsel. However, divorce in Virginia is often much more complicated than initial appearances would indicate – and without experienced and tempered legal advice, you may find yourself in an unpreferable situation, even when that was no one's’ intention.

The Harrisonburg family law attorneys at Hoover Penrod, PLC understand the complexities of divorce. We also understand the importance of keeping things cooperative during the preparation and finalization of divorce proceedings. We offer calm and reasoned advice and representation for people looking to avoid contention during their divorce proceedings. We will work directly with you to ensure you remain protected without becoming aggressive, helping ensure relationships remain as free of dispute as possible.

Even the most civil and cooperative negotiation or mediation proceedings can quickly turn frustrating when available resources are not utilized. To help protect yourself and your former partner against unnecessary complications and unwanted legal pitfalls, it is always a good idea to work with a divorce attorney who understands the ins and outs of Virginia family law.

Our firm can represent you during negotiation or mediation to ensure your best interests are protected, and we can continue to represent you in the event that mediation fails. While it is preferable to avoid litigation – and we will make every attempt to do so – it is not always possible. During your initial consultation, we can discuss this and other aspects of amicable divorce in greater detail to make sure you are aware of all possible outcomes.

To schedule your consultation at Hoover Penrod, PLC, please call 540-406-4060 today. We serve families in their time of need in Harrisonburg, Winchester, Staunton, and surrounding areas of Virginia.

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