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3 Benefits of Having a Prenuptial Agreement

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3 Benefits of Having a Prenuptial Agreement

Many people believe that you can drain the happy anticipation right out of your wedding plans by suggesting a prenuptial agreement with your intended spouse. However, by having one in place, you enjoy a level of protection that some spouses do not have as a result of your prenup. If you have not yet married and are afraid to raise the topic, consider another advantage: a properly drafted prenuptial agreement can also be a great tool for estate planning.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement (“prenup” for short) is a written contract created by two people before they are married. A prenup typically lists all property owned by each individual (as well as any debts) and specifies what the property rights of each individual will be after the marriage. There are several benefits to having one in place, and we have outlined three below.

  1. Transparency of Ownership

It doesn’t have to mean that getting married or entering a de facto relationship will automatically share everything you own. An idea of what is shared between you and what remains solely your property is vital for you. A prenuptial agreement will clarify your property ownership, which can help set the rules and structure for your marriage, which will help avoid fighting over money! Talking about this can help you prepare your life together with your partner.  Every good marriage has transparency and honesty and this is a step towards that.

  1. Better Communication

While you may not perceive a prenuptial agreement as the best way to talk about things, talking about property and assets can actually benefit your relationship. Speaking and setting rules will force you to discuss topics that might otherwise be neglected.

In doing so, when you enter your marriage, you and your partner will benefit from having a clearer idea of each other’s mindset and beliefs. Therefore, writing a prenuptial agreement can be a strong start that helps open your relationship and ensures that you are on the same page as your partner. This can reinforce your relationship and increase the chances of a successful marriage.

  1. Future Benefits

Having this financial document at your disposal can save you and your partner a lot of stress in the future. A prenuptial agreement can ensure you leave friendly and stay civil in the case of separation because it can help avoid disputes over assets and property.  In our firm’s experience, the quickest and most amicable divorces are the result of a prenuptial agreement. It will ensure that you are protected individually and can secure important family heirlooms or assets.

Final Note

Many spouses keep separate bank accounts, thinking “this is mine and that is my spouse’s”. It’s common, and often allows one spouse to buy that expensive item that they might otherwise not want to purchase with the other spouse’s income.   The problem is that people do not realize that everything acquired during the marriage gets split up in the event of a divorce, even the money in “my” or “your” bank accounts.  If you want to keep any of your money separate from each other, for whatever reason, then you must have a prenup — otherwise, you are not actually effectuating what you set out to accomplish by separating some of your income or assets.

Our firm drafts prenuptial agreements regularly, and we make it a priority to keep everything light and amicable.  Just because attorneys are getting involved, it can be mutually beneficial to both spouses with the right team working for you.

Contact a Lawyer

If you are looking for an experienced lawyer to help you with your prenuptial agreement, call Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht, LLP at (516) 352-2100 for a confidential consultation.

How to Create an Oil Spill Expenses List

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How to Create an Oil Spill Expenses List

If your property has been damaged as a result of an oil spill, getting your life back to normal can be a very lengthy and costly process. While the entirety of your personal expenses should be covered by the responsible party, you will often have to shoulder a portion of the upfront costs of the damages. For all the money which you spend as the result of an oil spill, we recommend creating your own Oil Spill Expenses List.

Documenting your expenses leads to get them reimbursed much more quickly. Here is our list of expenses which you should include on your Oil Spill Expenses List:

  • Any money spent on clean-up, including major removal and small spots that require different attention
  • Any other money spent on remediation
  • Any money spent on supplies that were needed for dealing with the spill, such as protective clothing or equipment
  • Any money spent on hotel and travel expenses if you could not stay in your home
  • Any money spent on food if you could not cook at home during the spill
  • Any loss of profits if you were unable to work for some time following the spill
  • Any clothes that needs to be replaced after absorbing the smell of the oil
  • Any furniture that needs to be replaced after absorbing the smell of the oil
  • Any money spent on nature or landscaping if the land surrounding your home was damaged by the spill
  • Any value that your home property lost as a result of the spill
  • Any money spent on transportation if your vehicle was damaged as a result of the spill
  • Any money spent on any and all personal property that needs to be replaced after being damaged by the spill
  • Any money spent on attorney’s fees in your attempt to seek damages
  • And much more – if you can think of it, and you have spent money on it because of the oil spill, add it to the list

For all of these expenses, you should be creating a list with specific costs of each and everything involved. You should also be documenting the expenses. This can include holding on to receipts and taking photographs of damaged property that needs to be replaced. You can also hold on to rental agreements or hotel fees for your substitute property and any invoices you can create or receive. The more you document your expenses, the quicker and easier it is to get them reimbursed.

If your property in New York has been damaged by an oil spill, the discharger of the oil is responsible for all damages incurred. We know that the process of holding them responsible is not always easy, but it is their legal obligation under the Navigation Act. If you are dealing with an oil spill on your property, contact Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht, LLP today! We have the knowledge and experience that breeds success, and we fight for you!

5 Signs Your Dispute May End Up in Court

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5 Signs Your Dispute May End Up in Court

It can be professional and financially rewarding to run a business, but it also involves some risk. Millions of lawsuits are filed annually in US courts, with a significant percentage involving business disputes. In particular, contract disagreements are a frequent source of corporate litigation, accounting for approximately 60% of the annual civil cases filed.

Not all business disputes end up in court, but it’s time to call your attorney if you encounter any of these scenarios below.

1. They cut off all communication with you

Even if the other person makes unreasonable demands, there is a chance of talking things out and reaching an agreement as long as they respond to your calls and emails. When they stop answering but you know they didn’t give up, you can be reasonably sure they’re talking to a lawyer instead.

2. The other party refuses to compromise

The logical first step is to try to settle it out of court when a business dispute arises. For example, a customer is angry because you delivered your order late. You point out that your own supplier had a factory fire setting back production, but the customer doesn’t seem to care about it and even rejects a substantial discount on your offer. Instead, he is asking you to compensate him for the business loss caused by the order’s late arrival. If the customer refuses to compromise, it’s a sign they’re going to sue to get what they want.

3. You are reported to an external regulator

If you are reported to an entity that governs your profession, the other party will question your professional competence as well as your ability to resolve the dispute problem. Litigation is the next logical step in resolving the situation.

4. They tell you they hired an attorney

“You’re going to hear from my lawyer” is a frequent threat, but it’s not always announcing a lawsuit. It could just be an intimidation tactic. Nevertheless, such a warning should always be taken seriously. If they say they have actually retained counsel, contact your own lawyer.

5. You are served with a complaint and summons

You are no longer headed for litigation once you receive the paperwork – you are already there. While there’s always a chance to settle the matter out of court, if you haven’t already, you want to retain counsel now.

The best way to avoid an expensive and stressful lawsuit is to seek advice from an experienced attorney. Call Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht, LLP at (516) 352-2100 for a confidential consultation.

8 Tips for Starting Your Business On the Right Foot

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8 Tips for Starting Your Business On the Right Foot

At Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht, LLP, one of the commercial litigation services we offer is advising new businesses. The market is tough, especially in New York, and the business decisions that define you most may be the ones you make before you even open your doors. Here are our 8 tips for starting your new business off on the right foot:

  1. Research Your Competitors

You can’t innovate without knowing what is already being offered by your competitors. Similarly, you won’t know what services or products you absolutely have to offer until you see what is most popular on the market.

  1. Choose the Right Structure For You

Choosing the legal structure of your new business is a very important decision, not least of all because it is difficult to change after the fact. Make sure you fully understand all the options and have the help of a good attorney to cover all the requirements for your chosen structure.

  1. Create a Business Plan

What separates good ideas from successful businesses is starting with a concrete Business Plan. Create an outline with realistic, if not overly cautious, figures of how much money you are planning to spend and earn getting your business from an idea to a functioning place. Plan for the unexpected.

  1. Secure More Money Than You Think You Need

Here’s a secret: starting a business often takes a lot more money than it should. When securing funds for your business, know that the bare minimum isn’t even going to come close to cutting it. Set your initial goal well above what you calculate it should be.

  1. Make Time For Life, Too

Maintaining a proper work/life balance is the secret to happiness. It is difficult even at the best of times, and sometimes it feels impossible when you are starting up a business. Remember to take time for your life. You don’t want to lose your business and then realize you have nothing else left.

  1. Look For Solutions

As your business gets started, you are going to run into a lot of issues. Become the sort of person who is perennially looking for solutions, rather than being frustrated by the issues. This mindset will pay off dividends in the long run.

  1. Tell the People What You’re Doing

What is the point of having the best business around if no one knows about it? If you are willing to spend money to get your business where it needs to be, then you should be willing to spend money on effective marketing to make sure that people know about it. People have to know what you’re doing to care about what you’re doing!

  1. Get Good Legal Help

Your business formation sets the tone for everything that comes after. If you want to start on the right foot, make sure you have a good attorney helping you choose your structure, close on a location, draft your contracts, and much more. For help with your new business, contact Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht, LLP today! We have the knowledge and experience that breeds success.

A Brief Guide to Your Custody Options in New York

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A Brief Guide to Your Custody Options in New York

One of the more complicated and contested parts of the divorce process is often child custody. When this comes up during divorce proceedings, the court follows the overarching principle of doing what is in “the best interest of the child.” The following is an overview of the laws on child custody in New York to help you better understand how the process works.

New York Child Custody Arrangements

New York Law uses a few terms to describe these arrangements. These terms are important for parents to understand:

  1. Legal custody – the right of a parent to make decisions on the general welfare of a child, such as education, medical care, and religion
  2. Sole legal custody – the exclusive right to make decisions on the general welfare of the child
  3. Joint legal custody – a situation in which both parents contribute to the decision making process for the general welfare of the child, provided that the parents have demonstrated their ability to cooperate.
  4. Residential custody – a parent’s right to receive basic child support to support the primary residence of the child.
  5. Access time – another term used to describe a child’s time with the parent instead of visitation or custody

How Custody Decisions Are Made

While both parents have legitimate interests in a child custody battle, they come after the interests of the child, which include:

  • The child’s wishes (the amount of weight that the court will give to the wishes of the child will depend on the age and maturity of the child)
  • Every parent’s parenting ability
  • A parent’s history as the primary caretaker for the child
  • Any history of domestic abuse
  • Any substance abuse history
  • Which parent is more likely to foster and facilitate a relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent
  • Each parent’s physical and mental health
  • A parent’s availability to care for the child (i.e. work schedule)

If parents can agree on a custody arrangement, the court will not need to make a decision for them. On the other hand, if the parents cannot come to an agreement, a custody order will be issued only after a trial or hearing.  One important thing to keep in mind is that once there is an agreement, it cannot be undone without new unexpected circumstances or incidents – meaning that you should consult with an attorney before agreeing to anything inside or outside of the courthouse.

Contact a Lawyer

If you are looking for an experienced lawyer to help you with your custody case, call Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht, LLP at (516) 352-2100 for a confidential consultation.

5 Things To Do If You Sense a Business Dispute

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5 Things To Do If You Sense a Business Dispute

Business owners will do anything in their power to help avoid lawsuits against their business. There is a good reason for that – lawsuits can be long, expensive, damage your reputation, and take your focus away from improving your business and taking care of your clients and customers. There is plenty that can be done to help prevent lawsuits from clients or other companies, but what about inside your own business?

Although they are sometimes a surprise, sometimes you can sense that something is wrong with another employee. If you think a business dispute is headed your way, here are 5 things you can do right now to help prepare for it:

Carefully Consider Communication

If the relationship between you and another member of your business has soured, you should be very careful in how you communicate with them. If they are building a legal case against you in their head, it is important not to give them anything that might upset them or be used against you as evidence. Accordingly, you can take your time to reply to them, and try to keep the majority of communication in writing, if possible.

Try To Calm Things Down

It is much better to prevent a business dispute than to prepare for one. If there is a way you can calmly and safely de-escalate the conflict, you should take that opportunity. Remember that the other person is a human just like you, and they want to be heard and feel respected. They also probably don’t want to hire lawyers and spend time in court, so take the opportunity to lower the temperature where you can.

Get Everything in Writing

This is good business practice in general, but especially when legal issues may be on the table. Try to keep your communication in writing, where it can be verified. Collect any documentation relating to the issue at the heart of the dispute that you can find. Don’t delete or alter any communication.

Don’t Lead the Charge

The best piece of advice we can give is not to lead with aggression. If someone is coming at you in your business, don’t move to retaliate or punish them with passive aggressive behavior. Simply try to resolve the issue, and if that is impossible, ask for help.

Ask For Help

If you sense a business dispute is headed your way, it is always good to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. At Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht, LLP, we are experienced in resolving tense New York business disputes. If you need help, contact Sunshine, Isaacson & Hecht, LLP today! We fight for you!

If You Are Getting a Divorce, Change Your Will

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If You Are Getting a Divorce, Change Your Will

When our firm handles a divorce, we reference the client’s Last Will and Testament in the Divorce Settlement Agreement.

During divorce, many people worry about how their property will be distributed between them and their spouse at the end of the divorce. However, few consider how their property will be distributed in the event of their death before the divorce is finalized. There are two questions that everyone going through a divorce should be considering, but rarely do:

  • “What happens if I die before my divorce is final?”
  • “How can I make sure that my share of the property goes to the people that I want it to go to, rather than my future ex-spouse?”

We often tell clients that to best protect themselves, they should be meeting with Steven Adler, Esq., and planning for the remote possibility of death during or shortly after the divorce process is complete. Most people do not realize that if they die during the divorce process without properly planning for it, their future ex-spouse may simply get everything.

Failure to change your will either before or after divorce could cause serious complications.

If you don’t have a Will and you pass away during the divorce process, your future ex-spouse, still technically your spouse during the process, may inherit everything.  Additionally, if you have a Will where you named your spouse as the beneficiary, and the divorce is not finalized, then your future ex-spouse will certainly inherit everything under the Will.  Even if you disinherited your spouse after the divorce, if you failed to change the executor or executrix, there will be serious complications that will make it difficult for your children or other heirs to get the property distribution that you intended. Most people do not realize this, and fail to even consider it.

What is the spouse’s “elective share?”

Even if you do try to disinherit your future ex-spouse, he or she may still be entitled to part of your estate pursuant to New York Estate Powers and Trust Law, Section 5-1, which provides a “right of election.” The elective share is the greater of:

  • certain cash or cash equivalents up to $25,000.00;
  • one automobile up to $25,000.00 in value; and
  • the greater of one-third of the net estate and $50,000.00.

When a will is probated, the only assets under the jurisdiction of the New York Surrogate’s Court are those assets owned solely by the decedent. However, the right of election applies to jointly owned assets, probate assets, and to other assets deemed testamentary substitutes. The statutes can be complicated and difficult to understand, which is why our firm works closely with Steven Adler, Esq., and our clients to minimize the amount of property that a future ex-spouse is entitled to in the event of a death during divorce.

If you are going through a divorce and fighting over assets, it would be a shame for your future ex-spouse to get everything.

In most cases, the spouse’s elective share is considerably less than the value of your entire probate estate. Accordingly, it is worthwhile to immediately change your will, even if it is temporary, because you will be decreasing the amount of assets that your estranged spouse will receive in the event you do not live through the divorce proceedings.

We are sensitive to the fact that our clients are splitting their property and income with their spouse during the divorce and after, making it very difficult for anyone to live the same lifestyle in divorce that they did in marriage. As a result of the foregoing and our close relationship with Steven Adler, Esq., his firm offers an exclusive program to our divorcing clients at a reduced price. Steven’s firm provides a streamlined will for divorcing spouses at approximately half the cost of a regular will, and then updates the Will and creates a full estate distribution plan post-divorce. This process helps people going through divorce protect their assets during the divorce, and helps them create a post-divorce plan to minimize liabilities and problems, while ultimately making sure that an ex-spouse doesn’t benefit accidentally or unintentionally.

How much would your divorcing spouse stand to inherit if you pass away? 
Co-authored by: Jason Isaacson & Steve Adler

5 Ways Your Business Can Encourage Innovation

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5 Ways Your Business Can Encourage Innovation

At this point, it’s clear that true success in business doesn’t come from working your employees to the bone and making them as efficient as possible. It comes instead from employee innovation – finding new avenues of success that haven’t been tapped before, and boldly breaking into them. Anyone can give you more of what you have, but who can give you something new that you didn’t know you needed?

No matter what your company makes – marketing, technology, or even pizza – innovation is the best way forward. Here are 5 ways that you can create a company culture that encourages innovation and leads to success:

Reward Experimentation

Whether or not it results in anything worthwhile, reward and encourage experimentation you see within your employees. It means that they feel comfortable trying new things and sharing their ideas at work. Creating a culture where anyone feels encouraged to bring their ideas to the table leads to a richer environment and a better business.

Work Together as a Team

Find some time to collaborate between departments and individuals, whether it’s on work-related things or not. Hearing a wide variety of perspectives deepens everyone’s knowledge base. It doesn’t have to be on a massive work project – you could all play a game or watch a movie together!

Encourage Time Off

Working employees constantly without breaks tends to lead to burnout and sloppy work. Encourage your employees to actually use their time off! Odds are that they will come back feeling refreshed and with a new renewed perspective on work.

Be Honest

Leadership that hides a company’s wins and losses fails to educate its employees. Be honest with your team about what the company is doing great and where they are struggling. It earns respect and helps boost morale by keeping everyone in the loop and working towards the same goal.

Branch Out

Don’t ever feel like there is only one thing that your company can do. If you make video games, you can also sell t-shirts. If you’re a law office, you can also bake cookies and sell them. If you’re a marketing start-up, you can also make a successful YouTube channel. Boxing yourself in only makes things harder on yourself.

Get the Help You Need

If you find ways to encourage innovation, you can move your company forward in ways you haven’t even imagined. To get the help you need establishing your business, contact Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht, LLP today! We have the knowledge and experience that breeds success.

5 Benefits of Choosing Mediation for Your Divorce

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5 Benefits of Choosing Mediation for Your Divorce

Mediation, as opposed to traditional litigation, offers a more gentle, productive attitude to navigating divorce’s difficult legal waters and generally ends up being less stressful, less expensive, and easier for the whole family to move on. The method includes an independent, impartial third-party that meets with the divorcing couple to work out all the divorce information. Mediation seeks a friendly middle ground that serves all parties.

Choosing mediation instead of a litigated divorce has some important advantages. The five most convincing reasons for choosing mediation are:

1. Mediation is usually less expensive

Because there are no court fees involved, mediation proceedings are simplified and can be far less costly than divorce. The typical cost of mediation is in the $5,000-10,000 range, whereas litigating a divorce will typically cost that much money per person, just to get started.

Mediation costs depend on the complexity of dividing assets, schedules for child visitation, and other concerns. However, the cost should be much less expensive even in complex cases. You may be surprised at how little it costs to employ a mediator, or how expensive it can get to litigate a case to conclusion if mediation is not chosen.

2. Mediation is private and confidential

Divorce proceedings in a government courtroom provide access to intimate information for anyone who may want to find them. No one wants their laundry out in public. For individuals who value their privacy, a traditional divorce may not be the best choice. When you go to court, there are dozens of other married people there as well, listening to the details of your case.

One of mediation’s most desirable advantages is that it is entirely private and confidential. Participants may not have to appear in court at all. The mediator handles all the documentation and ensures the privacy of each person.  We can even meet with you at night so that you don’t have to miss a day of work.

3. Mediation is usually quicker and more flexible

Some mediators like to have the clients come back to mediate a dozen times. Our goal is to get the job done as quickly, amicably, and cost-effective for you as possible. Quite often, we are able to resolve issues the very first time that we meet with you. On the other hand, a lengthy, complex divorce can drag on for months or even years. Mediation is intended to be fast, effective, and flexible.

The lines of communication are kept open due to the relaxed, negotiable process and enables distinctive solutions to be brainstormed to fix any issues. This flexibility enables a swift and cooperative strategy rather than a combative commitment in which everyone feels exhausted and unhappy.

4. Mediation is less stressful

Mediation is far less stressful than going to court. The concept behind mediation is to foster mutually beneficial friendly collaboration. The task of the mediator is not only to help both sides agree on divorce terms, but also to relieve tension, remove emotion from the process, and help both parties act in a friendly manner.

5. Mediation is child-centered and peaceful

The child-friendly strategy to mediation is another important advantage. Custody battles may be harmful to kids – particularly when the Court wants to know which parent the child or children prefer to live with. These issues are all negotiated quietly in our office, while your children are at school and unaware of the process. Children are less affected and they never have to appear in court.

Contact a Lawyer

If you are interested in pursuing mediation for your divorce, call Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht, LLP at (516) 352-2100 for a confidential consultation.

The Best Interests of the Family Pet

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The Best Interests of the Family Pet

New Year is going to the dogs. That’s what some media websites want you to believe, at least, but here is the real question: In New York, who is the dog going to? New guidance signed by the Governor in late 2021 changed the way that family pets are treated in New York divorces. This is sure to shake things up in the courtroom.

Previously, animals were considered property in divorce legislation. When it came to dividing up the property between the divorcing spouses, pets were just another item on the list next to lamps, sofas, and vehicles. If one spouse owned the pet prior to the marriage, they automatically got it in the divorce. If it was bought during the marriage, who it ended up with depended on who bought it – just like most other property.

Of course, anyone who has had a beloved pet can see the flaws in this line of thinking. For many families, pets are almost as precious as children. In some families, pets are considered children. Following the lead of states like Alaska and California, New York amended their legislation concerning family pets. Now, when determining who gets custody of the “companion animal,” the Judge must consider “the best interest of the pet.”  The legal standard is not going to be the same as it is for children – but it is far closer to a custody analysis than it was in the past when pets were treated no different than other property like a couch or a lamp.

So what does that mean? It isn’t the same as “the best interest of the child,” since there are no Pet Forensics or appointed Attorney For the Pet. Instead, the Judge considers where the animal will be better cared for, and where it will have access to more resources. It is taking a more humane approach to a very sensitive issue.

Let’s say a beloved family dog, Rover, is caught in the middle of a bitter divorce battle. On one side, the spouse is moving into a house with a big backyard, and will have the financial resources to give Rover a better life. On the other side, the spouse is moving into a small apartment, but they are free during the day to walk Rover and give him the attention he needs. What’s more, that same spouse is the one who primarily took care of Rover during the marriage – buying his food, taking him on walks, taking him to the vet. Since they have illustrated better care for the pet, most Judges would rule in their favor rather than the bigger backyard.

Divorced spouses splitting custody of a pet is not unheard of, it happens regularly. The new legislature is also hoping to curb the ugly backdoor bargaining that often involved a family pet, since before this legislation, the Courts did not have jurisdiction to determine “custody” of a pet – even though litigants tried to incorporate such terms into their agreements.  Examining the best interests of the pet helps look for the right decision for everyone involved, and also legitimizes what people have been trying to do for years.

Are you in the middle of a battle for your furry best friend? Now you may have more of a fighting chance. For help with all your family law needs in New York, contact Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht, LLP today! We have the knowledge and experience that breeds success.

Know Your Rights If You Are the Victim of an Oil Spill

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Know Your Rights If You Are the Victim of an Oil Spill

Has oil been spilled on your property, damaging your home or business? This can be an extremely stressful position to find yourself in. The first step in recovering from this event is familiarizing yourself with your rights so that you can protect them. 

New York’s Navigation Law provides that the discharger of the oil is strictly liable for the damages caused by the spill. The oil company will be required to compensate you for the following:

  • Cleanup of the spilled oil
  • Alternative housing (You may have to leave your home for a time if the spill makes it uninhabitable, whether this is because of the odor or direct damage.)
  • Damages to your home and your personal property
  • Indirect damages such as attorney’s fees
  • Loss of value of your home or business due to the spill

It is important to know about your rights so that you can be sure you get all of the compensation that you deserve. 

But what if the oil spill impacts the value of my property?

Any time a substantial oil spill occurs, it must be reported to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the spill becomes a matter of public record. Unfortunately, people tend to be wary of buying a home that has been the site of an oil spill, even if it was only a small one. Having a spill on the record can decrease the value of your property, often by quite a large amount. 

For this reason, you may seek Diminution of Value compensation from the oil company in addition to the compensation listed above.  You don’t even need to be in the process of selling your house – if the value of your property decreased as a result of the oil spill, then you are entitled to be compensated.

Who can help me protect my rights after an oil spill?

The attorneys at Sunshine, Isaacson & Hecht, LLP, have great experience helping landowners and business owners navigate the legal challenges of an oil spill. We advocate for our clients zealously, while also equipping them with the knowledge and guidance they need. We understand that every oil spill case is different. We are eager to learn about your situation and to find out how we can help you. Our firm offers free case evaluations for new clients. Give us a call at (516) 352-2100 to learn more!

5 Business Resolutions For 2022

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5 Business Resolutions For 2022

The New Year is a great time for rest and reflection on everything that has changed in the last twelve months and where you hope to be in another twelve. For business owners, this reflection should apply to your company as well as your personal life. If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that you never know what to expect. Here are our 5 Business Resolutions for 2022:

Be Ready For Change

It’s more clear than ever before that flexibility is one of the most important qualities for a business to succeed. Companies who were ready to work virtually were set up for success in 2020. Companies that didn’t depend on supply chains were set up for success in 2021. It is impossible to know what is on the horizon in 2022, but being flexible and preparing for change is the best way to be ready when it comes.

Focus On Innovation

As we’ve written about, encouraging innovation is the best way to break into new spaces with your business. Real progress doesn’t come from working everyone to the bone, but from creating a space where employees feel comfortable trying new things. It doesn’t have to mean that you open up a bakery on the side of your marketing company. It can lead to small changes that will make all the difference in the long run.

Put Effort into Marketing

What’s the point in putting so much hard work and effort into your business if you aren’t going to put that same effort into marketing it? How will potential customers and clients know about the great work you’re doing if you aren’t going to advertise it? One of the top reasons that most businesses can’t make it in the long run is that they do not put enough effort into marketing. Invest in it and it will pay off.

Improve Processes

It’s time to let go of what is holding you back. Are there steps in your systems and processes that employees get caught on every time? Are you working harder than you need to? Improving your internal processes will help you succeed in ways you didn’t even realize you could before.

Get the Help You Need

At Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht, LLP, we know that every business has a different set of needs and goals. We can help you achieve yours in 2022 through strong corporate legal knowledge and assistance. For help fulfilling your company dreams this year, contact Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht, LLP today! We have the knowledge and experience that breeds success.

New York Divorce: Contested vs. Uncontested

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New York Divorce: Contested vs. Uncontested

Until 2010, it was not possible to file for a no-fault divorce in the state of New York. In fact, they were the last state in the country to begin granting no-fault divorces. Couples had to prove that they had grounds for divorce such as adultery, abandonment, cruel treatment, or prolonged separation. Sometimes this led to very long, complicated divorce cases that became very expensive for those involved.

Today, however, you only have to prove that the marriage has been irretrievably broken, not that it was anyone’s fault. That does not mean, unfortunately, that every divorce is amicable and argument-free. There are two different types of divorce in New York: contested and uncontested. 

Uncontested Divorce Explained

Your divorce is considered uncontested if you and your soon-to-be ex are able to iron out the details on your own with regards to child custody, visitation, support, and division of assets. You do not need the court to settle any disagreements between you. You must be able to come to an agreement about everything from who pays which debts to whether or not either party needs to pay spousal support to the other.

Once you have reached that agreement, you or your spouse can contact an attorney who can draft an agreement and all of the other necessary paperwork that the court requires to process an uncontested divorce.  Some people believe that they can process an uncontested divorce without an attorney – but this is a recipe for much frustration and/or a problem in the future. Not only can the paperwork process can be time consuming and frustrating for someone that is unfamiliar with it, but more importantly, if your agreement with your spouse is not properly memorialized in writing, and a dispute later arises regarding the distribution of an asset, the sale of your home, or visitation/custody of the children, then the court may not be able to effectively enforce or even modify your original agreement if it was not properly documented.

Contested Divorce Explained

If you and your spouse can not reach a decision about things like your children, you property, you assets, and your debts, your divorce is contested. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re fighting and hate each other and your divorce isn’t amicable, just that you need the court’s help to reach a fair resolution. You will need to attend court conferences, and if you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement there, the case will eventually make its way to trial.  The vast majority of contested divorces are still resolved with an agreement, much like an uncontested divorce. Very few cases actually go to trial where a Judge has to declare a winner.

Who can represent your best interests during a divorce?

If you’re getting divorced in New York, whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, it is essential to hire an experienced divorce attorney. Your attorney can help you protect your best interests. If your case is litigated, they can represent you and advocate for you zealously. The attorneys at Sunshine, Isaacson, & Hecht, LLP are eager to guide you through the process of New York divorce. To get started, call us at (516) 352-2100.

5 Business Resolutions For 2022

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5 Business Resolutions For 2022

The New Year is a great time for rest and reflection on everything that has changed in the last twelve months and where you hope to be in another twelve. For business owners, this reflection should apply to your company as well as your personal life. If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that you never know what to expect. Here are our 5 Business Resolutions for 2022:

Be Ready For Change

It’s more clear than ever before that flexibility is one of the most important qualities for a business to succeed. Companies who were ready to work virtually were set up for success in 2020. Companies that didn’t depend on supply chains were set up for success in 2021. It is impossible to know what is on the horizon in 2022, but being flexible and preparing for change is the best way to be ready when it comes.

Focus On Innovation

As we’ve written about, encouraging innovation is the best way to break into new spaces with your business. Real progress doesn’t come from working everyone to the bone, but from creating a space where employees feel comfortable trying new things. It doesn’t have to mean that you open up a bakery on the side of your marketing company. It can lead to small changes that will make all the difference in the long run.

Put Effort into Marketing

What’s the point in putting so much hard work and effort into your business if you aren’t going to put that same effort into marketing it? How will potential customers and clients know about the great work you’re doing if you aren’t going to advertise it? One of the top reasons that most businesses can’t make it in the long run is that they do not put enough effort into marketing. Invest in it and it will pay off.

Improve Processes

It’s time to let go of what is holding you back. Are there steps in your systems and processes that employees get caught on every time? Are you working harder than you need to? Improving your internal processes will help you succeed in ways you didn’t even realize you could before.

Get the Help You Need

At Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht, LLP, we know that every business has a different set of needs and goals. We can help you achieve yours in 2022 through strong corporate legal knowledge and assistance. For help fulfilling your company dreams this year, contact Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht, LLP today! We have the knowledge and experience that breeds success.

6 Steps to Take to Preserve Your Property Damage Claim

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6 Steps to Take to Preserve Your Property Damage Claim

After a car accident, it’s crucial to take certain steps to ensure that you get what you deserve for your damaged vehicle. Whether you’re dealing with minor property damage or a totaled vehicle, following these steps can help you avoid costly mistakes that weaken your case.

1. Call the Police

The other party involved in the accident may want to bypass insurance and avoid reporting the accident, particularly if they are at fault or aren’t allowed to be driving. No matter how well-intentioned the other party seems, this type of arrangement often turns into a serious headache. Insist on reporting the accident to the police and exchanging insurance information.

2. Contact Your Insurance Company

Regardless of whether or not you’re at fault, you must report the crash to your insurance company. Give them a clear, concise description of what happened and the extent of your property damage. You may also need to submit a police report to them.

3. Take Pictures

Evidence is crucial in any property damage case. Your insurance adjuster may use these photos to assess the damage to your vehicle. With detailed photos highlighting the extent of the damage to your vehicle, you may be able to create a stronger case for a larger settlement, particularly if you have “before” photos of your vehicle.

4. Get a Damage Valuation

Your insurance company should be ready to present you with a damage valuation fairly quickly after your accident. Even if you also have a bodily injury claim, your insurance shouldn’t make you wait too long to get your vehicle repaired. If you disagree with the adjuster’s damage valuation, don’t fret—you can get independent replacement quotes or repair estimates.

5. Schedule Repairs

You are free to choose where you get your vehicle repaired. However, if there are any issues with your damage valuation, you may want to hold off on repairs until you speak with an attorney. If the total cost of your repairs ends up being higher than your damage valuation, you could be left footing the bill.

6. Reach Out to An Attorney

Consulting an attorney is highly recommended after a car accident. Many insurance companies delay the payment of property damage claims or offer settlements far lower than what consumers actually deserve. They know that many consumers lack the energy to fight them over a low damage valuation or do not know their rights, and they count on most consumers simply taking the first settlement offer they get. Working with an attorney is one way to speed up the process and get everything you’re entitled to after a crash.

Are you struggling to keep up with medical bills or other expenses after an injury caused by a car crash? We’re here to help you get the compensation you’re entitled to. Contact the team at Sunshine, Isaacson & Hecht, LLP to discuss the details of your accident and figure out your next step.

4 Ways To Help Children Adjust To Living in Two Homes

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4 Ways To Help Children Adjust To Living in Two Homes

Divorce can be a difficult adjustment for everyone involved. For children, the hardest part may not even be having separate parents or having to go to court. The hardest part may be living in two different homes. It can be very difficult for a child to adjust to a new living environment, especially when one parent still lives in the same place they consider home.

As you move into a new chapter of your life, making sure that your children are comfortable with their living situation is one of the top priorities. Here are 4 ways to help children adjust to living across two households:

Keep the Essentials

If your children brushing their teeth is dependent on them remembering to bring their toothbrush back and forth between two homes, your dentist bill is about to go up. Make sure that you have essential supplies, including clothes, available at both houses. The children can bring things like their backpack and even pillow back and forth between the two, but the essentials should be at both.

Maintain a Consistent Schedule

You should work with your co-parent to make sure that all major lifestyle decisions for your children are consistent across both households. Things such as sleep schedules, diet, and entertainment habits should be the same no matter which house the children are at. Smaller things will help differentiate the experiences, but their general lives should be the same at both homes.

Ask Them What They Want

Children are much smarter than they are given credit for. Your children probably are keenly aware of the differences between the two homes they live in, and have their own thoughts about what they would like to see in both. Make sure to check in with them and listen to what they have to say. It’s their home too, after all

Don’t Try To Impress Them

You don’t need to have “the cool house.” You don’t need to let your children do things they can’t at their other home in order to get them to like you more. Just have a loving and open household where they feel comfortable. That’s what is most important.

Get the Help That You Need

At Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht, LLP, we know that family is the most important thing. As you move forward with your life, making sure that your children are comfortable and happy splitting their time across two different households is very important. For help with all of your divorce needs, contact Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht, LLP today! We have the knowledge and experience that breeds success.

Three Common Misconceptions About Prenup Agreements

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Three Common Misconceptions About Prenup Agreements

The general perception of prenuptial agreements is changing. More and more people are beginning to see prenups less as a taboo and more as the useful planning tool they truly are. A prenuptial agreement is a written contract between two people who intend to get married. It lists all the assets each party has ownership of when going into the marriage, and specifies what the rights to property of each party would be if the marriage were to end in divorce. Read on to discover some of the common misconceptions about prenups.

1. They are only for the rich.

You do not need to be fabulously wealthy to benefit from a prenup. In fact, most couples would benefit from creating one. It can help for future estate planning if either of you have children from prior marriages. It can also help you both better understand your financial rights and responsibilities as you embark on the journey of your marriage.

2. Signing a prenup means you expect the marriage to fail.

Being prepared for something is not the same as expecting it or assuming it as an eventuality. We’ve heard of couples who don’t want a prenup because they think it is a sign that they don’t have faith in their relationship. No way! Installing a security system in your house doesn’t mean you don’t trust your neighbors, or you expect to get robbed. It means you understand that we cannot predict the future and you want to have protections in place in case life doesn’t go as planned!

3. They are difficult and expensive to draft.

If you partner with an experienced family law attorney to create your prenuptial agreement, the process is actually quite easy. The costs associated with  hiring a lawyer to help you are not exorbitant, and having a prenup agreement in place can save you much, much more in court fees, if a divorce eventuates, than the cost of the creation of the document.

If you are considering a prenup, the attorneys at Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht are eager to help. Our team has extensive experience with these and other family law matters. Our proactive approach helps you prioritize goals, understand what you want to achieve, and get the results you’re after. Are you ready to get started? If so, contact our firm at (516) 352-2100.

Protecting Your Finances After a House Fire

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Protecting Your Finances After a House Fire

A house fire is a life-changing event. The recovery process is a long one that includes not only financial considerations but also emotional, psychological, and (in some cases) physical recovery.

In a perfect world, we’d never need to take care of clients dealing with a fire in their homes, but it’s a reality we face often. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), New York is among the most dangerous states for house fires.

The steps after a fire will be crucial to getting you the value you’re owed for items that are damaged or lost. However, one of the biggest steps often happens before a fire.

Document your property

While every family should have a plan in the event of a fire, another aspect of that planning should include documenting the property you own. This could include having a ledger of your valuables and even pictures of various rooms and items within them.

If your insurance covers individual pieces of the property after a fire, you may need to provide some proof of the items you are claiming. The best way to ensure you don’t lose out on the value of certain items, be sure to have either receipts or pictures to prove ownership. Your insurance may provide exact replacements, full monetary replacement, or partial monetary replacement.

Work with your insurance company

Your insurance company can’t be expected to keep tabs on all the homes they insure, and there’s no guarantee anyone other than you will be responsible for contacting them. Get in touch with them quickly after the fire so you can start the official documentation, inspection, and recovery process.

This will be important because, sadly, insurance companies are going to do whatever they can to cut costs and often avoid paying you what you deserve. You should review the agreement you have with the insurance company which could include coverage of emergency shelter, daily expenses like food, and initial costs of basic necessities like clothing and transportation. Each policy is different, so you’ll need to understand what’s covered and what is not.

Reach out to assistance programs

A volunteer with the American Red Cross may show up at the scene to speak with you. They will document the number of family members who need assistance and will often offer you financial assistance to get you and your loved ones back on your feet.

There are other organizations that will help those in need recover, as well. The local chapter of Catholic Charities may have a fund for victims of house fires and can connect you with other organizations, even if you are not a Catholic.

Secure your home

One of the saddest things we’ll see with home fires is the predators who lurk in the days that follow. People will see a house damaged or totaled in a fire and look to break in to steal whatever scraps are left (this can include items that survived the fire, valuable materials like copper piping, and more).

You should attempt to secure what’s left of your home by boarding or blocking off all possible entryways. You may also consider putting cameras in place on the property around the home to deter and track possible criminals.

Contact an attorney

The right attorney can protect you from insurance fraud and get all of what you are owed after a devestating event like a house fire. At Sunshine, Isaacson & Hecht, we have unrivaled expertise and dedication to our clients. Contact us and let us help you through life’s most challenging events.

Five Tips for Driving on Icy Roads

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Five Tips for Driving on Icy Roads

With cold weather comes increased danger on the roads. Ice can turn otherwise perfectly good streets into extremely dangerous places. At Sunshine, Isaacson & Hecht, we have seen so many people severely injured in car accidents that were caused by or made worse by icy conditions. We don’t want you to find yourself in this awful situation, so we’ve compiled this list of helpful tips. We hope that this will enlighten those who have recently moved here from warmer places, and provide a useful refresher for those who are seasoned in the art of driving safely on icy roads.

  1. Buckle up.

This one should be obvious. It’s the law, after all. We’ve heard older people claim they can’t get in the habit because they started riding in cars long before seat belts were commonplace. That’s no excuse! According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belt use in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 14,955 lives in 2017.

  1. Know how to correct when you’re sliding.

If you’re sliding, do not hit your brakes. Instead, turn into it. But don’t overcorrect. Practice makes perfect, but usually you can avoid sliding altogether by slowing down.

  1. Slow down!

Being a few minutes earlier is never worth risking your life. When roads are icy, you simply cannot go as fast as you would otherwise. If you’re worried about being late, don’t make up for it by speeding, just start leaving home earlier. 

  1. Know when conditions are too severe for driving. 

It’s important to be able to recognize when the roads are just to ice for you to safely drive. The threshold for this is different for different people. If you don’t have much experience with icy roads, following this tip may mean staying home more often than you’d like. Your safety is worth it!

  1. Don’t ride your brakes.

Brakes often lock in icy and snowy conditions, even if you have antilock brakes. You can make this less likely to happen by going easy with your brake usage as much as possible.

Injured? Contact Sunshine, Isaacson & Hecht.

Did another driver fail to follow these tips? If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence on the road, the Sunshine, Isaacson & Hecht team is here to help. We have extensive experience with personal injury cases like yours. If you have any questions or want to get started to win the compensation you deserve, give us a call at (516) 352- 2100.

Understanding Navigation Law When You’re Exposed to an Oil Spill

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Understanding Navigation Law When You’re Exposed to an Oil Spill

At Sunshine, Isaacson & Hecht, we want New Yorkers to understand you’re not on your own after an oil spill. Oil spills can expose you to innumerable expenses, both financially and physically. These products can be harmful and it’s important to act quickly to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Many families don’t know where to go after an oil spill is found on their property or in their homes. The thing is, the law and the company that exposed you to the spill aren’t going to do the work for you. Whether you’re a homeowner or a business owner you’re going to need to find the right law firm to represent you and apply the law as required.

New York Navigation Law provides specific protection and recovery for victims of oil spills in New York. Many older (and even some new) New York homes and businesses use oil for heat, and it’s important to understand what Navigation Law is and how it applies when you’re exposed.

Navigation Law history

Article 12 of the New York Navigation Law is referred to as the “Oil Spill Act.” This was enacted in 1977.

The act puts strict liability on any individual or organization responsible for a petroleum spill. The environmental impact is far-reaching, so every single cost associated with the cleanup, removal, and recovery from the spill falls upon the discharger of oil. This includes direct costs such as the digging up of impacted soil as well as indirect costs such as moving costs for families forced out of their homes.

Types of spills covered

Anytime a property owner is exposed to oil because of a spill, it will likely be covered in some fashion under New York Navigation Law. Two main scenarios that impact homeowners across the state are when an oil company overfills an oil tank, leading to oil tank failure resulting in a oil spill into the ground posing an immediate risk to vital waterways. The other scenario involves non-oil tank equipment failure caused by a technician leading to oil seeping into the soil on or near your property.

When an oil company overfills an oil tank while filling a tank, there is a direct risk to your property any properties nearby. This could include a spill at a business using oil and at homes where oil is used for heat. When this happens, the protection afforded by the Navigation Law will protect you and your family but the oil company will never advise upo of this important law..

When there is equipment failure, the immediate impact is often less obvious. Unfortunately, some families are exposed for a long period of time before ever realizing it. These cases quickly rise in costs as excavation and relocation come into play when the rupture leads to oil exposure directly beneath your home. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will get involved because of the far-reaching impact of such a spill and possible exposures to the local water supply. The financial impact in this situation can be significant, but the health impact could be even more severe as oil releases Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are proven to be carcinogenic. You should leave your home until the premises are fully remediated and plan to remove and replace any exposed personal items.

Call Sunshine, Isaacson & Hecht

If you, your family, your home, or your business has been exposed to oil, call us. Jeffrey Sunshine with Sunshine, Isaacson & Hecht has over 25 years of experience covering these cases and recovering significant costs for oil spill clients.

Understanding the law is one thing, but knowing how to apply it in court is a whole other challenge. We have the experience to make sure you can focus on recovering physically and mentally while we help you recover financially. Nobody should be exposed to the serious risks associated with oil spills. Our unrivaled expertise and dedication stand alone when it comes to this type of practice. Contact our offices and let us get to work for you.

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