Areas of Legal Practice
Divorce & Custody
Divorce is never an easy or simple time in your life. Hopefully, you never have to go through one. If you must, however, DeFord Law has the resources and the knowledge to help you through this trying time.
In a divorce proceeding, you may deal with several issues, including: property and debt division; retirement plan division and qualified orders; tax refunds and liabilities; bankruptcy issues that coincide with divorce; custody and visitation of minor children; child support; health insurance and expenses for children; child care, if both parents work or attend school; educational and religious upbringing of the children; alimony (also called spousal maintenance in Idaho); domestic violence and protection orders to prevent it; and many other issues.
You may have custody and child support issues, either from a prior divorce or without a marriage. These matters can be as emotionally taxing as divorce.
You need an attorney who will help you understand the legal process, listen to you and give you sound legal advice. We at DeFord Law will provide that for you. When you know what outcome is likely, you can make more informed decisions about your divorce or custody case, which will in turn allow you to maintain better control over the cost.
- Child Support
- Pre-nuptial Agreements
It doesn’t matter whether your overwhelming debt is caused by job loss, excessive medical overspending, or by circumstances out of your control, like a job loss or unforeseen medical expenses, or by both. Bankruptcy should be your last option when dealing with your distressed finances. But, when your income is not enough to meet your living expenses, let alone the debt obligations thrust upon you, bankruptcy is probably your only option.
At DeFord Law, we know the law and can give you advice whether bankruptcy is a viable option and, if so, what type of bankruptcy is right for you.
Under Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code, your non-exempt assets are auctioned off and the proceeds are used to pay a portion of your debts. For many of you, all of your assets are exempt, and the creditors will take nothing. After a few months, you are awarded a bankruptcy discharge. This is a court order that frees you from any further responsibility on your debts. You are then given a fresh start in your life, together with your exempt assets, or those necessary things that are not available to creditors.
Under Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code, you generally retain your assets, even those that are not exempt. You must, however, pay a portion of your monthly income to a bankruptcy trustee for 36 to 60 months. These payments are used to pay a portion of your debts, or in rare situations, all of your debts without interest. Upon your completing your payment plan, you are awarded a bankruptcy discharge, just as you are under Chapter 7.
Every person has a different situation, and at DeFord Law, we give you personal attention and legal advice that makes the most sense for you. For some, bankruptcy is not an option, and we are not afraid to tell you. But, when bankruptcy is necessary, we work hard to get you relief from the unreasonable collection efforts of your creditors and the crushing debt burdens you carry.
Guardianship & Conservatorship
When dealing with the stress of assisting family members who cannot take care of themselves you need an attorney who has experience. Ms. Adams DeFord has many years of experience assisting family members who desire to help a loved one through the process of obtaining a court appointment as guardian and/or conservator. Ms. Adams DeFord has represented family to seek assistance, she regularly serves as a court appointed guardian ad litem, and she has advocated against the entry of a guardianship for individuals whose rights were unfairly being taken away. Ms. Adams DeFord has presented seminars and informational classes to attorneys, members of the community and advocacy groups about the guardianship and conservatorship process.
A summary of the guardianship/conservatorship area of law is outlined below:
- Guardianship: A guardianship is a procedure whereby a person or entity is appointed by the Court to make legal decisions for another person’s health, safety and welfare. The person or entity petitioning to be appointed is referred to as the “petitioner”. The person for whom the decision making ability is sought is the “ward” or “protected person.” In order to have a guardian appointed the ward must be found “incapacitated” by the Court. Incapacity has many different definitions, however, an incapacitated person is generally a disabled person or an elderly person who cannot handle finances, gets lost easily, is forgetful and confused or may have been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, or has become unreasonably paranoid.
- Conservatorship: A conservatorship is a procedure whereby a person or entity is appointed by the Court to make financial decisions for another person. The person or entity petitioning to be appointed is referred to as the “petitioner”. The person for whom the decision making ability is sought is the “ward”. In order to have a conservator appointed the ward must be found “incapacitated” by the Court.
Often, a guardianship action and conservatorship action are brought together in the same legal action.
Estate planning involves many different legal means for ensuring that your assets are transferred upon your death the way you intend. Some of the means to ensure your assets transfer as you wish include:
- Last Will and Testament: An enforceable document wherein you determine how your assets will be distributed upon your death. You also determine who will act as your personal representative (the person who will carry out the terms of your will). A Last Will and Testament, done correctly, can eliminate the hardship placed upon surviving family members in determining how to distribute assets. If an individual passes away without a Last Will and Testament, the default provisions of the Idaho Code determine who will receive assets upon an individual’s death. Often, the default provisions provide for the disposition of assets in a manner that is different than a decedent would desire.
- Trust: A property interest held by one person (the Trustee) at the request of another (the Settlor or Grantor) for the benefit of a third party (the Beneficiary). (Details regarding different types of trusts are outlined below).
- Testamentary Trust: A trust created upon death through terms created in a Last Will and Testament. Trusts created through a Last Will and Testament can provide for disabled family members, children or family members who you desire to receive assets upon special conditions, or to protect assets from family members who have the tendency to spend unnecessarily.
- Living Trust: A trust created during your lifetime. All assets owned by the creator (Grantor) at the time of the trust’s creation are transferred into the trust. The owner of the assets becomes the trust. The Trustee, the administrator of the trust, has authority to use assets and/or transfer assets pursuant to the terms and specifications designated in the trust. The trust beneficiaries are the individuals who will benefit from the trust during the life of the Grantor and who will receive trust assets upon the death of the Grantor. A trust can contain terms and conditions regarding use and disposition of assets. A Living Trust does not need to go through the judicial probate process.
- Power of Attorney for Finances: A document created by an individual (referred to as the “principal”) wherein an agent is designated to act on the principal’s behalf. A power of attorney is not affected by the incapacity or disability of the principal. Without a power of attorney it is very difficult to assist family members with their finances or personal affairs. A power of attorney ceases to be effective upon the death of the principal. A power of attorney cannot be created if the principal no longer has the mental capacity to understand what they are signing.
- Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care: Idaho law provides a way for individuals to ensure that their wishes about their healthcare are carried out in the event they become incapacitated and are unable to speak for themselves. There are two kinds of Advance Directives. The first is called a Living Will, and the second is called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. In Idaho it is possible to complete one (1) form for both a Living Will and a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare. A Living Will sets forth your instructions for dealing with life-sustaining medical procedures in the event you are unable to decide for yourself. A Living Will directs your family and medical staff on whether to continue, withhold, or withdraw life-sustaining systems, such as tube feeding for hydration and nutrition, if you are incapable of expressing this yourself due to an incurable and terminal condition or persistent vegetative state. A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to appoint a person to make all decisions regarding your health care, including choices regarding health care providers and medical treatment, if you are not able to make them yourself for any reason.
Probate is the judicial process to distribute a deceased person’s assets to the person(s) entitled by law to receive them. Whether probate is necessary depends upon many factors, including the value of the estate’s assets and whether the deceased owned real property. The probate process involves court appointment of a personal representative (executor), identifying assets of the deceased, inventorying assets, paying debts, accounting for funds received and finally, distributing funds to the person(s) entitled. In most instances, a Will must go through the probate process.
Many individuals fear the probate process because they have heard of others’ bad experiences. Probate can be a relatively easy process with the assistance of DeFord Law. Ms. Adams DeFord has handled both contested and uncontested probate matters and is ready and willing to assist you with ensuring a loved one’s estate is administered properly.
Business & Contracts
We can review your business documents or assist you in drafting the following documents:
- Corporate Compliance
- Shareholder Agreements
- Shareholder Meetings and Minutes
- Winding Up and Dissolution
Limited Liability Companies
- Both Member-Managed and Manager-Managed
- Operating Agreements
- Winding Up and Dissolution
- Purchase and Sale Agreements
- Security Agreements
- Bills of Sale
- Promissory Notes
- General Contracts
- Independent Contractor Agreements
- Employment Contracts
- Confidentiality Agreements
- Nondisclosure Agreements
At DeFord Law, we defend clients against a broad range of criminal charges.
State of Idaho and local municipality misdemeanors and felonies
DeFord Law’s attorneys can draft real estate documents for you or your business, as well as assist you with issues relating to your real property if litigation is needed.
- Landlord and Tenant Issues
- Association Dues
- Eviction and Unlawful Detainer (mobile home and residential)
- Well Agreements
- Leases – Commercial and Residential
- Purchase and Sale Agreements
- Material Man’s Liens
- Road Maintenance Agreements
- Homeowner’s Association Issues
- Creation and Enforcement of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions
- Liens for delinquent Homeowner Association Dues
- Quiet Title Litigation (to clear title to real property)