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JO Knows Insurance Litigation

At Jones Obenchain, we’ve been representing local, regional, and national insurers and their insureds for over 100 years. The work we do for them runs the gamut from defending personal-injury claims, to litigating employment-discrimination claims, to prosecuting and defending coverage actions and errors-and-omissions lawsuits.

All of this litigation gets us into court…a lot. In 2011 Jones Obenchain tried more civil jury trials in Indiana than all but two other firms.*

And though litigation is an adversarial process, our peers consistently rank us among the best at what we do. So do our clients, if the feedback they’ve given us on legal sites such as AVVO and Martindale-Hubbell are any indication.

But as essential as courtroom skills are to a litigation prac­tice, they’re worthless if our clients and the courts don’t want to read what we have to say. Let’s face it: there’s a lot of writing in a litigation practice and most legal writing is a chore to get through. People read it because they must, not be­cause it’s a page-turner.

So our litigators emphasize writing in plain English and using cutting-edge tech­nology in the documents we prepare to make them a pleasure to read. What does that mean, exactly? It’s not unusual to see photographs, hyperlinks, and video embedded in our briefs and motions. These add visual interest to the text and corroborate the arguments without sending readers to riffle through mounds of exhibits.

Not only are plainly written, visually appealing documents easier for clients to read and understand, they help persuade mediators and judges about the merits of our clients’ position. That means we’re often able to bring cases to a successful resolution before we ever step foot in a courtroom.

 

*Source: 2011 Indiana Jury Verdict Reporter.

Meet JO’s Summer Clerk

Jones Obenchain is happy to welcome summer law clerk Trenton Redmond. Trenton hails from South Carolina and just completed his second year at the University of Notre Dame Law School. Welcome aboard Trenton!

Renting your property for the Summer Season? – Some Things You Should Know

In the summer months folks often rent out their home or summer cottage. If you plan to join them, you should know the tax implications that arise from residential and vacation home rentals. The IRS has compiled some helpful information to help taxpayers plan ahead for the income they receive from the rental and how it should be reported. Visit https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/plan-ahead-for-vacation-home-rentals to learn more about it.

Meet Our JO Team

Meet Amanda Zaluckyj, the newest associate attorney at JO. Amanda hails from Michigan and is licensed to practice law in both Indiana and Michigan. She is a Grand Valley State University alumna and a Michigan State University College of Law graduate.

Amanda thinks it is important for people have to a trusted adviser who can offer the sound legal advice and zealous advocacy that everyone deserves. She brings that approach to all of her clients today. Her goal is to make sure her clients understand the process, understand their options, and have all the information necessary to make big decisions.

When she’s not working for her clients, Amanda enjoys spending time with her family and dog, and getting lost in the latest historical fantasy novel. Welcome to Jones Obenchain, Amanda!

Celebrate Independence Day!

As we gather to celebrate America and the freedoms we enjoy, your friends at Jones Obenchain wish you a spectacular 4th filled with backyard barbeques, the love of family and friends and fireworks that light up the sky! Happy Independence Day!

Completing I-9s Correctly

Form I-9 is a key part of the hiring process for new employees.  But the form is deceptively simple. And if you fail to take the I-9 process seriously, the results can be seriously disruptive to your business, unleashing exponentially larger problems including substantial fines.

Jones Obenchain would like to eliminate the guesswork associated with completing the I-9 and instruct you on the proper way to correct I-9s that were improperly completed.

 

 

JO Knows Trusts

A trust is a written agreement between the person who creates it (the “grantor”) and the person who carries out instructions (the “trustee”). Property transferred to, and owned by, a trust must be managed and ultimately distributed according to the trust’s terms. Many variations are possible.

A common use of trusts is to control property and pay expenses for children after their 18th birthday. Without a trust, most property going to minor children is held by their guardian until they turn 18, and then given to them. Many parents believe this is too young, and would prefer to wait until the children are 25 or 30, especially if significant funds are involved. The trustee could be instructed to use trust funds to pay for education, uninsured medical expenses, normal living costs, etc., and then disburse whatever is left at the desired age.

While a properly drafted trust is in effect, the trust’s assets generally cannot be reached by a child’s creditors, at least not until the funds are payable to the child. So trusts have an asset-protection function as well. Life insurance remains an often-used means of funding trusts for spouses and children.

Trusts are also often used as a way to manage assets during old age, for the grantor or their spouse as long as they live, and then to children or other beneficiaries.

Trusts may be revocable (amended or terminated later) or irrevocable. Great care should be taken before making any trust irrevocable because these trusts cannot be changed. Once an asset is placed in an irrevocable trust it must stay there until the trust’s terms permit distribution.

The grantor may also be the trustee, and this is a popular choice. It allows a person to maintain control over the trust—including selling and replacing assets—while assuring them that the remaining assets will be held and then paid out according to the trust’s terms after they die. A successor trustee must be named to take over when the grantor resigns or dies. These so-called grantor trusts do not provide asset protection.

The same person holding powers of attorney or named personal representative is often also named as trustee. But there are many circumstances where this does not work. Several local banks still operate trust departments and will serve this function if their criteria are met.

Contact Jones Obenchain if you have a question about trusts and whether they’ll work for you and your family.

JO In Action

Recently, Jones Obenchain Attorney, Alex Bowling, attended a career fair at the St. Joseph Public Library sponsored by the Career Analysis Organization of America. Alex had the chance to speak with several students about their career interests and offered information about the legal profession as a career choice. Of the experience Alex said: “I thought the career fair was an excellent opportunity for students who need some advice and direction about their career path. There are so many career options that it’s hard to know which direction to take sometimes! I was happy to donate my time to help students in our community.”

Jones Obenchain Partner Wins Summary Judgement in Wrongful-Death Case

JO partner, Tom Vetne, obtained summary judgment in a wrongful-death case that made national headlines. Vetne defended a local grocery chain in a suit arising out of a January 2014 active-shooting incident in Elkhart. A customer’s estate sued the store, blaming it for failing to protect her from the gunman. But the trial court dismissed the lawsuit, holding that the firm’s client did not have a duty to protect its customer.

 Mr. Vetne has been with Jones Obenchain for 17 years and has practiced in the area of insurance litigation for 23 years. Vetne is listed in The Best Lawyers in America for his work in the areas of Insurance Law and Litigation-Insurance.

 

Celebrate Flag Day !

In the United States Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the United States flag, June 14, 1777. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day; in August 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress. Display the Red, White, & Blue with pride today!