Utah Signs Lowest Drunk Driving Limit in the United States

Americans know Utah for its beautiful mountains and its famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and now it’s famous for having the toughest drunk driving laws in the United States. On March 24, 2017, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed legislation that lowers Utah’s drunk driving legal limit to .05. The state is the first in the country to move the legal limit down to .05 from the .08 limit that exists currently in the rest of the country. The new law doesn’t take effect immediately but instead begins on December 31, 2018.

Tourist and hospitality groups oppose the measure, worried that tourists may take their dollars elsewhere because of the change. Tourism and commerce groups say that they expect a decline in revenue as the new measures may prompt people to avoid alcohol completely. Herbert says that the law isn’t about drinking but rather road safety. Herbert says that the law is simply good public policy. He believes the law is going to save lives.

Legislators expect more fine tuning before the law goes into effect. Among the topics for discussion are what the penalties should be when a person has a blood alcohol level of at least a .05 but lower than a .08. Some say reduced penalties are appropriate in a case like that. Commerce groups want to see the state completely delay implementation of the law until other states follow suit. Both sides say now that the law is official they’re interested to work together to tweak the law’s finer points.

The National Transportation Safety Board has advocated for lowering legal limits for several years. They say that the evidence shows that a person’s ability to drive becomes impaired by alcohol long before they reach .08. They say that by the time a person’s blood alcohol content reaches a .08, their risk of a fatal crash has already doubled.

In the rest of the United States, the legal limit remains .08. However, commercial drivers in most states face a lower drunk driving limit. For these drivers, stiffer penalties for drunk driving and a lower legal limit are already the norm.

Governor Herbert dismisses those who call the measure religiously motivated. He points to Rome as another location that uses a legal limit lower than .08. Herbert says that Rome doesn’t have a large Mormon population, and their legal limit is similar to Utah’s new legal limit.

Sources: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/mar/24/utah-governor-signs-bill-lowering-blood-alcohol-li/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/utah-adopts-stricter-drunk-driving-law-us_us_58d4220de4b02d33b749d400

What is the Purpose of an Estate Planning Attorney?

When you think of an estate planning attorney, your mind likely jumps to the drafting of a will. While it is true that estate planning attorneys draft wills, their responsibilities are much broader in scope. Aside from advising clients about how to plan the distribution of their assets, estate planning attorneys also offer advice to a decedent’s personal representatives and estate beneficiaries.  He’ll provide unique insight on how to properly resolve the decedent’s affairs. These matters are typically referred to as the probate process.

Wills and Trusts

When crafting a will for a client, an estate planning attorney will offer valuable advice regarding the tax ramifications of the client’s desired arrangements. Once the client considers the estate planning attorney’s advice, he will modify the disposition of his properties and assets in a more economically efficient manner. If a will is not written with the proper language, there is the possibility that the decedent’s assets will not be distributed as he instructed.

Each jurisdiction has unique rules about the disposition of property. These rules carry significant tax consequences for the client and his benefactors. The attorney must write wills with carefully crafted language that minimizes the amount of tax dollars  paid to the government, while maximizing the money that is to be distributed to the benefactors.

Along with writing wills, estate planning attorneys will also establish trusts on behalf of the client. Some trusts are straightforward while others are more complex. Many clients will benefit from a testamentary trust. This style of trust contains stipulations designed to release money to benefactors at a certain point in time for specifically identified purposes. For example, an estate planning attorney can establish a testamentary trust for a client who desires that her grandchild receives money that is to be used toward college expenses.  The release of this money is conditional on his successful completion of high school and his enrollment in college.

Managing the Probate Process

The probate process requires an estate planning attorney’s knowledge of complex inheritance and tax laws. Estate planning attorneys re-title assets to beneficiaries, coordinate the collection of life insurance, resolve income tax issues, identify and securing the decedent’s assets, determine the value of any properties owned by the decedent and calculate and pay the decedent’s remaining bills. He’ll also calculate and pay both gift and real estate taxes and offer advice regarding the sale of estate property.

Formalities

Aside from the rather complex issues listed above, estate planning attorneys also handle much more simple matters. He’ll be charged with filing documents required by the probate court and requesting court permission for various actions.  He’ll also manage client retirement accounts as well as the estate checking account.

Conflict Resolution

Oftentimes, disputes arise between beneficiaries and personal representatives of the decedent. The estate planning attorney is responsible to act as a mediator between the parties and settle the conflict to the satisfaction of both parties. These are delicate matters that require both the client and his beneficiaries to place a high level of trust in the estate planning attorney.