The repair man came to fix the washing machine on Friday. He hooked his computer up to it and it told him that the pressure switch was faulty. He didn’t have a pressure switch on the van. So he went to pick one up.

On Saturday, the washing machine would not start. I called the repair man. This time his computer told him it need a new flow meter. He didn’t have one on the truck. He had to order it and it will be here Tuesday.

Eddie Murphy says he wishes there was a wife store where he could take his wife back and say, “My wife is broke.” I’m sure there are also wives out there who would like to bring their husbands back to the husband store. (My wife may be one of them.)

I guess I’m the closest thing to a new spouse store you can get. People come to me with marriages that don’t work. I wish I could fix them with a replacement part from the van. But it usually it takes a divorce.

“It’s either me or the dog,” a woman in Istanbul told her husband.  The husband had brought the dog and a parrot to their apartment.

“We have a baby at home,” she declared. We can’t take care of these animals too.”

The man refused to get rid of the animals.  The wife then moved into her parents’ apartment and filed for divorce.  She is seeking 100,000 Turkish Liras (about $22,000) and support for herself and the child.

Lawmakers are slowly making divorce easier in Maryland, but you still have to file a complaint with the court and go to a hearing to get a divorce.  Meanwhile, England and Wales have introduced digital divorces.  Couples can apply for divorce online with a few clicks, upload supporting documents and pay court fees.

During the test phase, over 90% of the people u sing the system said they were satisfied with it. “It was marvelous, pain-free and less stressful than the paper form which I tried several years ago to complete but got fed up of it being rejected,” said Elaine Everett,

China is also experimenting with a trial program on WeChat, it’s most popular instant messaging service.  It now has a divorce button that allows people to make an appointment with the divorce registration office via the Internet.

The downside is that it makes divorce only a click of the Easy Button.  “Couples might pull out of marriages much more easily and quickly than they otherwise would, states Dr. Sam Carr at the University of Bath. “This could be good – but it could also be bad in the sense that if we simply have to click our fingers to end our marriages, then how can we learn about, appreciate, understand, and grow from the trials and tribulations that all marriages inevitably have to face from time to time?”

One of my first tasks as a chemical engineer at the Procter & Gamble Company was to design a tank to hold a chemical called Toluene.  I had to calculate the parameters, like pressure, volume, and flammable temperature.  I was lucky to stumble upon an unused tank on the property that would work and save the company some money.

If someone asked me at a cocktail party what I did for a living, and I said I was a chemical engineer, they would inevitably ask, “What’s a chemical engineer?”

I explained it like this.  When a chemist makes an aspirin tablet in his laboratory, he mixes some chemicals in a beaker, heats it over a Bunsen burner, and dries it in a centrifuge.   If a company wants to manufacture 10.000 aspirin, they hire a chemical engineer to scale up the beaker to a tank, the Bunsen burner to an industrial heater, the centrifuge to a bigger centrifuge.  He will also spec some conveyor belts to move the chemicals through the equipment.

This all changed when I became a divorce lawyer. Now if I’m at a party and mention that I’m a divorce lawyer, I soon have 20 people around me saying, “Let me tell you about my divorce.”

I never been able to reconcile my engineering degree with my law practice, although I feel there is a connection.  But yesterday, on the news, some pundant referred to lawyers as legal engineers.  Yes, that’s it.  When someone comes to me with a divorce, I calculate the parameters, and design a solution that works. I am a legal engineer.

Eighty-five percent of workers worldwide, in an anonymous Gallup poll , said they hated their jobs.

I was talking to opposing counsel last week who told me that after 30 plus years of practicing divorce law, she was going to try something else.  She said that the parties were more unreasonable, lawyers were meaner and courts were harsher than when she started and she had reached the end of her patience.  She asked me if I was burned out too.

I told her that I wasn’t.  I see my work as much more than the tasks required in any particular case.  My purpose in life, the reason I am here on earth, is to help people untangle the difficulties they have gotten themselves into, solve problems and sort everything out into good order.

This works for other jobs as well.  My wife supervises the front office of a plastic surgery center.  I told her that her purpose in life was to help people look their best, add beauty to the world and make people happier.  Try reframing your job in the comments below.

Guest Post by Sarah Jones

When the relationship starts to break down, all the abuse at home – verbal and physical, tension, and negative emotions are felt by the whole household, including your dogs! Divorce is a stressful and painful process. All the changes at home resulting in the absence of one parent can be unsettling and negatively affects your dogs.

Abandonment

Remember that time both of you were giddy to get a dog as a “practice baby”? You both decided to take the responsibility of raising the dog to be part of the family. When the relationship ends up in divorce, some irresponsible pet parents abandon the dog because no one wants to take custody of it.

Canine Depression and Separation Anxiety

Long-term absence of one or both pet parents can lead to separation anxiety and canine depression. Because of this, your dog may exhibit unusual behaviors such as loss of appetite due to anxiety, lethargy, anxiety, and even aggression.

Physical and Mental Well-being

Even if both of you decide to share custody of your dog, the changes in the house and the habits your dog is used to still have an effect on the physical and mental well being of your dog.

Consistency

Divorce disrupts the life of both your kids and dogs. Huge adjustments in the routine or schedule should be made. It would take some time for your beloved pet to get used to the new schedule of feeding, playing, and walking. Your dog’s schedule changes weekly because of transferring homes to be with the other parent.

The Stress of Moving Homes

Divorce will either drive one of you to move to a new home or both of you to move to a different state. The strange environment may confuse your dog and cause anxiety.

How to Help Your Dog Cope with Divorce

Your relationship may be hopeless, but you can still improve your dog’s condition and help it cope with divorce. If you notice a loss of appetite, try to change your dog’s diet by feeding them healthy, nutritious dog food. Coordinate schedules with your ex and retrain your dog if you must to establish consistency.  This guide explains how to fix ten common dog behavior problems.

According to experts, separation anxiety can actually be avoided. If you and your partner trained your dog to get used to being alone without panicking or showing aggression while you are gone, chances are, your dog will be fine with your absence. Do not worry. Things will eventually get better. If it doesn’t get better; you can always seek the help of your veterinary doctor or a behaviorist.

If you need help to cope with your divorce, your dog needs help, too. You can both get through this rough patch in your life together, and be stronger. Your love for your spouse may have changed, but hopefully, your love for the rest of the family, including your dogs, never stops.

There is a lesson to be learned from the Soprovich divorce. Jason Soprovich, a real estate agent in Canada, married Monica Thiessen 17 years ago.  Jason was very successful and they lived a luxurious lifestyle during those 17 years.

They were members of expensive country clubs, and their children have always gone to private school. The family took annual trips to Hawaii, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Jason’s real estate firm made more than $13 million over the last seven years and earned almost $3 million in 2016.

Then the parties separated and filed for divorce.  You guessed it.  In 2017, Jason made $1 million.

Jason argued “that the real estate market slowed down from 2016 to 2017 and is likely to slow further down in 2018.”  The decline was a result of government regulation, taxes and higher interest rates he told the court.

The judge said “I accept that the respondent has reason to be pessimistic about the real estate market and hence his income,” But, she explained, “It is reasonable to assume that much of the impact of the changes to the real estate market referred to by the respondent has been reflected in the market by now.”

She ordered Jason to pay $12,318 a month in interim child support and $22,960 in spousal support while the couple tries to work out a settlement.

The Maryland legislature added Mutual Consent as grounds for divorce for couples without minor children in 2015 to allow divorce without a waiting period if the parties had a written agreement.  Section 7-103 of the Family Law Article of the Maryland Code.

Now the legislature has added couples with minor children to the statute so long as (a) a Maryland Child Support Guidelines Worksheet is attached to the Agreement if the Agreement provides for child support, and (b) the court finds the sections of the Agreement with respect to the children are in the best interests of those children.

The law, if not vetoed by the Governor, will take effect October 1, 2018.

Five kids between them other than the five they have together.  20 grandchildren and 30 + great grandchildren – probably about half are “his” or “hers” and not “ours”.

Husband-to-be has a business he founded over fifty years ago.  He’s 83 and she’s 79.  Young-again love is a wonderful thing. And this couple needs a prenuptial agreement! Now! The wedding is Saturday!

If you need advice concerning a prenuptial agreement, maybe less dramatically and hopefully less urgently, we offer that.

by Michael F. Callahan

The benefits of a highly detailed, comprehensive power of attorney are numerous. Unfortunately, many powers of attorney are more general in nature and can actually cause more problems than they solve, especially for our senior population. This post  highlights the benefits of a comprehensive, detailed power of attorney, including some of the provisions that should be included. A good starting point is to emphasize that the proper use of a power of attorney as an estate planning and elder law document depends on the reliability and honesty of the appointed agent.

Much has been written about financial exploitation of individuals, particularly seniors and other vulnerable people, by people who take advantage of them through undue influence, hidden transactions, identity theft and the like. Guardianships and conservatorships provide  the benefits of court supervision of care of vulnerable people in such contexts. Even though exploitation risks exist, there are great benefits to one individual (the principal) privately empowering another person (the agent) to act on the principal’s behalf to perform certain financial functions.

A comprehensive power of attorney may include a grant of power for the agent to represent and advocate for the principal in regard to health care decisions. Such health care powers are more commonly addressed in a separate “health care power of attorney,” which may be a distinct document or combined with other health topics in an “advance health care directive.”

Having covered the explanation of what a power of attorney is, let us look at the top benefits of having a comprehensive power of attorney.

1. Provides the ability to choose who will make decisions for you (rather than a court).

If someone has signed a power of attorney and later becomes incapacitated and unable to make decisions, the agent named can step into the shoes of the incapacitated person and make important financial decisions. Without a power of attorney, a guardianship or conservatorship may need to be established, and can be very expensive.

2. Avoids the necessity of a guardianship or conservatorship.

Someone who does not have a comprehensive power of attorney at the time they become incapacitated would have no alternative than to have someone else petition the court to appoint a guardian or conservator. The court will choose who is appointed to manage the financial and/or health affairs of the incapacitated person, and the court will continue to monitor the situation as long as the incapacitated person is alive. While not only a costly process, another detriment is the fact that the incapacitated person has no input on who will be appointed to serve.

3. Provides family members a good opportunity to discuss wishes and desires.

There is much thought and consideration that goes into the creation of a comprehensive power of attorney. One of the most important decisions is who will serve as the agent. When a parent or loved one makes the decision to sign a power of attorney, it is a good opportunity for the parent to discuss wishes and expectations with the family and, in particular, the person named as agent in the power of attorney.

4. The more comprehensive the power of attorney, the better.

As people age, their needs change and their power of attorney should reflect that. Seniors have concerns about long-term care, applying for government benefits to pay for care, as well as choosing the proper care providers. Without allowing, the agent to perform these tasks and more, precious time and money may be wasted.

5. Prevents questions about principal’s intent.

Many of us have read about court battles over a person’s intent once that person has become incapacitated. A well-drafted power of attorney, along with other health care directives, can eliminate the need for family members to argue or disagree over a loved one’s wishes. Once written down, this document is excellent evidence of their intent and is difficult to dispute.

6. Prevents delays in asset protection planning.

A comprehensive power of attorney should include all of the powers required to do effective asset protection planning. If the power of attorney does not include a specific power, it can greatly dampen the agent’s ability to complete the planning and could result in thousands of dollars lost. While some powers of attorney seem long, it is necessary to include all of the powers necessary to carry out proper planning.

7. Protects the agent from claims of financial abuse.

Comprehensive powers of attorney often allow the agent to make substantial gifts to self or others in order to carry out asset protection planning objectives. Without the power of attorney authorizing this, the agent (often a family member) could be at risk for financial abuse allegations.

8. Allows agents to talk to other agencies.

An agent under a power of attorney is often in the position of trying to reconcile bank charges, make arrangements for health care, engage professionals for services to be provided to the principal, and much more. Without a comprehensive power of attorney giving authority to the agent, many companies will refuse to disclose any information or provide services to the incapacitated person. This can result in a great deal of frustration on the part of the family, as well as lost time and money.

9. Allows an agent to perform planning and transactions to make the principal eligible for public benefits.

One could argue that transferring assets from the principal to others in order to make the principal eligible for public benefits–Medicaid and/or non-service-connected Veterans Administration benefits–is not in the best interests of the principal, but rather in the best interests of the transferees. In fact, one reason that a comprehensive durable power of attorney is essential in elder law is that a Judge may not be willing to authorize a conservator to protect assets for others while enhancing the ward/protected person’s eligibility for public benefits. However, that may have been the wish of the incapacitated person and one that would remain unfulfilled if a power of attorney were not in place.

10. Provides immediate access to critical assets.

A well-crafted power of attorney includes provisions that allow the agent to access critical assets, such as the principal’s digital assets or safety deposit box, to continue to pay bills, access funds, etc. in a timely manner. Absent these provisions, court approval will be required before anyone can access these assets. Digital assets are also important because older powers of attorney did not address digital assets, yet more and more individuals have digital accounts.

11. Provides peace of mind for everyone involved.

Taking the time to sign a power of attorney lessens the burden on family members who would otherwise have to go to court to get authority for performing basic tasks, like writing a check or arranging for home health services. Knowing this has been taken care of in advance is of great comfort to families and loved ones.

Conclusion

This discussion of the Reasons Why Everyone Needs a Comprehensive Power of Attorney could be expanded by many more. Which benefits are most important depends on the situation of the principal and their loved ones. This is why a comprehensive power of attorney is so essential: Nobody can predict exactly which powers will be needed in the future. The planning goal is to have a power of attorney in place that empowers a succession of trustworthy agents to do whatever needs to be done in the future.  Call (301) 907-4580 (extention 104) to speak to Michael Callahan if you need to speak to an attorney about a power of attorney, will, trust or estate plan now.