new podcast preview

New Podcast Clip From Our Second Episode


Earlier today, Greg Hamblin was kind enough to host two of our partners, Jordan Flake and Jared Richards on his new podcastOn The Docket.

We had a great time! We can't wait to hear the whole episode..

new podcast


In the clip above, Mr. Richards and Mr. Flake were asked by Greg to explain how person could leave thousands upon thousands of dollars for a pet. Here is a great example from Britain1)They use common law too! Where do you think we got it from?

Amoungst the new podcast fun, Mr. Richards and Mr. Flake explain what is necessary for person to bequeath a gift to a pet.

new podcast episode

New Podcast Transcript:

Greg Hamblin:   Could you do that kind of thing with an estate?

Jared Richards:  I don't know anything about estate planning. It is your money, and you can literally do whatever you want.

Greg Hamblin:   It's a Disney movie waiting to happen.

Jared Richards:  I worked for a poodle named Shotzel once.

Greg Hamblin:   Yes. Did you really?

Jordan Flake:      Yes. I did.

Jared Richards:  Yes, the Hoolihan.

Jared Richards:  The Hoolihan Estate, yes.

Jordan Flake:      The Hoolihan Estate. We all worked for Shotzel. I hope Shotzel is doing okay.

Jared Richards:  Shotzel died 2 weeks after his master.

Jordan Flake:      Oh darn, oh okay. The anxiety of meeting up with Shotzel's demands is no longer resting on your shoulders. Seriously.

Jared Richards:  All of the most premium of dog bones.

Jordan Flake:      With Prince it's just interesting maybe he probably didn't expect to die as young as he did and maybe he just thought this stuff will take care of itself. You just contrast the $300 million of estate assets versus the relatively small amount of money that would have gone to an attorney. I mean it would have been expensive, no doubt, to do the estate planning. It's really crazy.

Jared Richards:  Yeah, if I'm going to spend part, leave it all to the poodle.

Greg Hamblin:   Leave it all to the poodle?

Jordan Flake:      Leave it all to the poodle and the poodle's descendants and just call it good, and have them in a big mansion and create a reality TV show about their lives. It's not that hard. If we have any listeners who have pets who they would like to exalt and publicize, and then you can definite put what we call pet trust provisions in the estate planning.

Greg Hamblin:   Oh my God.

Jared Richards:  Or, if there are any NBC or CBS executives listening, we have an idea.

Jared Richards:  Right, we have an idea.

Jordan Flake: It just struck some serious goals there.

Jared Richards:  Absolutely.

Jordan Flake:      What the provisions generally say-

Greg Hamblin:   Pet lawyer on TLC.

Jordan Flake:      Pet lawyer.

Jared Richards:  If your pet needs a trust.

Jordan Flake:      No, I already am a pet lawyer. I had a client come in, a very nice woman. She was a pharmacist and she has a life insurance policy for a quarter million dollars and she left 100% of the life insurance policy to her 12 cats that she currently has; or, and we made it flexible because the number fluctuates apparently, to whatever companion animals are currently living with her at the time she passes away.

She was very grateful to have that piece of mind. The reality is, it's her money. If she wants to use it to benefit her pets then that's well within-

Greg Hamblin:   What are the cats going to do with the money?

Jared Richards:  I'm sure a little catnip , all this…

Greg Hamblin:   It's just going to ruin them. They're just going to get on drugs. They're not going to go to college.

Jared Richards:  Everybody needs a response.

Jordan Flake:      Therein is the genius of the TV show. Look at all the nice clothes they're buying. Look what they do with their, I'm just an heir lifestyle. “I'm just an heir” to this great fortune, you know? Some will make the videos and bad choices. We talked about that.

Greg Hamblin:   We talked about it. We have these sensitive moments that really connect with the family viewers. Forget Paris Hilton.

Jared Richards:  If you do want to do that though you do have to be careful and set it up properly. Just throwing it into your will saying I want to leave everything to my cat.

Greg Hamblin:   It doesn't work.

Greg Hamblin:   No. It has to be in a trust and you have to address that problem.

Greg Hamblin:   I'm assuming that's because you actually have a human being who takes care of the pets?

Jared Richards:  Yes.

Jordan Flake:      That's right, that's right.

Jordan Flake:      You have a trustee in that situation and you tell the trustee, listen this is how the money is to be used. You'll want to compensate the trustee and our trusts that we use generally have provisions for compensating the trustee, because at some point the trustee is going to say, "You know what? I think I'd rather spend this money on myself."

Greg Hamblin:   Right.

Jordan Flake:      This is a good candidate-

Greg Hamblin:   He won't be satisfied with the irrevocable living love of the cat.

Jared Richards:  Oddly enough, it's very, very few people will sue on behalf of the cats.

Jordan Flake:      That's exactly why I was going to say either a co-trustee or a trust protector, or maybe designating an agent to benefit the cats while the trustee is somebody who manages the money. Those things can give you an idea because usually well, you know who comes along and makes sure the provisions of the trust are being enforced, as Jared hinted at, would be the beneficiaries. As much as the cats are then enjoying their wealth, they're not going to be in a state of mind to bring a lawsuit against the trustee if they're fulfilling their obligations.

Jared Richards:  Or if they're fulfilling other things like if Miss Cruela DeVille were the trustee.

Jordan Flake:      Right, exactly.

Greg Hamblin:   Coming in 2017 on TLC. Oh my goodness…


Stay tuned..

In case you missed Episode 1..


1 They use common law too! Where do you think we got it from?

It Is Necessary to Disclose All of Your Assets in Bankruptcy

The Need to Disclose All of Your Assets in Bankruptcy


Hi, Matt McArthur, bankruptcy attorney at Clear Counsel Law Group.

Today, I want to talk to you a little bit about disclosing or informing the court about all of your assets and what could potentially happen if you don't tell the court about everything that you own. We know that the bankruptcy process involves a detailed accounting of everything that you own and how much that property is worth.

When you submit that information to the court, you're doing so under the penalty of perjury. It's as though you are sworn in under oath in the court, raising your right hand and swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

It's exactly that same level of gravity when you're submitting this information in your documents to the court.




Why You Must Disclose

If you intentionally omit or intentionally leave out, or hide a certain type of asset because you're worried about the court taking it from you and the court discovers that you have intentionally lied to them, this is a federal offense, it is committing perjury. Which can carry criminal penalties and it's something that you definitely want to avoid.

There is no sense in playing any games with taking any kind of risk with getting in trouble criminally. Moreover, if you come in and speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney and disclose all of your assets to your attorney, they'll be able to help you plan for the protection of these assets. They'll let you know exactly what exemptions exist.

Disclose Because There are Exemptions!

I was speaking with a friend just recently about one of the exemptions in Nevada that not many people think of and it's of a gun. If you have a gun, one gun, we can protect up to unlimited value. It can be a very expensive gun and it's protected.

There's all kinds of oddball exemptions that you may not really think of. There's also what we call a wild card exemption, something that we can apply to any personal property.

Please come in.

If you're worried about keeping your assets, if you're worried about whether or not to tell the court about something that you own in bankruptcy, please come and speak with me. Matt McArthur, I'm an experienced bankruptcy attorney.

I have a lot of experience looking through people's assets, determining how much we'd be able to protect, and what we wouldn't be able to protect.

Getting that information is free.

Losing that property could be a very painful process if you don't properly prepare for filing your bankruptcy by meeting with someone like me.

Please come in and see me.

We'll talk about filing your bankruptcy and protecting your stuff so that the court doesn't take it and give it to your creditors.

Hope to hear from you soon.


Las vegas water laws

"Nudging" Our Neighbors to Obey the Water Laws

On the effectiveness of our current water laws; on the shortcomings of deterrence; How a Sunstein-type "nudge" would work in application; why fans of behavioral economics need a firm understanding of FDR's National Recovery Administration; why private enterprise might be the answer.


A neighbor1)as in, near our Henderson office on south Stephanie has put me in a devil of a predicament. There is a nearby business flouting the water laws, for now I won't name, that I have seen first-hand watering their grass both during daytime morning and afternoon hours.

This would irritate me regardless, but in the context of Governor Sandoval standing on a dry lake bed last year (that was three feet deep a few years previous) declaring the seriousness of the drought, it should frustrate everyone. (Stay tuned, I have some fun planned today).

But what am I to do? Advocate that the city pass water laws?

..We already have water laws. As you will see below, each locality in the Valley has promulgated2)fancy law word for wrote a sufficient regulation: It's illegal to water your lawn, residential or commercial, from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. everyday. No Exceptions. Please Stop Watering Your Grass During the Day. 

Thank you neighbor.

Ok then, as the common logic goes, if there still is a compliance issue, then the deterrence is not sufficient.

..Below is the fine schedule used by the Las Vegas Water District3)the utility for city of Las Vegas and unincorporated Clark County

Meter Size (in inches) 1st Violation 2nd Violation 3rd Violation 4th Violation 5th Violation
1 or less $80 $160 $320 $640 $1,280
Over 1 but less than 3 $160 $320 $640 $1,280 $2,560
3 or greater $320 $640 $1,280 $2,560 $5,120

As you can see, those amounts are not anything to scoff at. And yet? More Water Waste.

I know; it's frustrating.

Can We Do Better?

Perhaps! It's not going to be easy in the slightest (There's a reason the laws are the way they are!).

I have a few questions before we begin:

  1. Why do you pay your taxes?
  2. Why do you shop at Whole Foods?
  3. What's the correct response to an increase in violent crime?

Keep those answers top of mind as we continue..

As with any good discussion of punishments, we must start with deterrence.

America Loves Deterrence!

And it's across the political spectrum! And there's a good reason makes us feel good.

Hypothetical: There's been an increase in home robberies in the Las Vegas Valley. The most common refrain in response? "Increase the sentence!"

Now as to if this is the correct response? I have no idea4)I do actually, it's not. But I'm here to tease out the logic to see if this makes sense for public policy.

Deterrence is effective, at least to some degree, right? In reference to the tax question above, how did you answer? Likely some variation of "because I'll go to jail," right? And I'm sure I don't even need to ask if you turned them in on time.(Stick a pin in this, we'll be back in a moment).

Stipulated5)as in, we now all agree to the following: Deterrence is an effective means to get folks already inclined to pay taxes to do so. (Warning: we are nearing the edge of effectiveness for deterrence. Watch your step.) But this conversation isn't about you; I know you already follow the water laws, dear reader.

But what about those folks who didn't pay their taxes this year? That same deterrence that got you to pay by 15 April does not seem to be uniformly effective.

..If my preceding sentence is your only takeaway from today, okay by me!

The Drawbacks of Deterrence

Now the bad news: If some deterrence isn't effective, it is likely that more won't be either. Stay with me here, if we double the water fines above, what will be the effect on compliance? Very likely not twice as much compliance.

I would contend that double the fines would likely have no effect on compliance, which logically leads to a discussion of the effectiveness of deterrence.

In terms of public policy, this matters less with regards to water laws, but much more significantly to our criminal justice system, for example.

Back to the hypo, it is difficult then to morally justify increased punishment as a means of public policy if we are aware that deterrence is ineffective.

Why are we punishing people the way we are if deterrence isn't effective? What is it that we expect/desire of convicted criminals? Is it just plain vengeance then? What does that say about all of us?


Would a "Nudge" Be Sufficient?

Familiar with the term "libertarian paternalist"? Right, of course you're not because the term's ridiculous6)it's a prima facie oxymoron, no? Also, if the academic types want more people to listen, try using words real people use. You don't need to be, but I want to use Cass Sunstein's7)He is one of the country's leading behavioral economists/advisor to President Obama concept for our discussion.

In essence, the Nudgers think the government should encourage (nudge) folks into socially optimal behavior. A little more background on libertarian paternalism from the NY Times Magazine profile of Mr. Sunstein:

Libertarian paternalists would have school cafeterias put the fruit before the fried chicken, because students are more likely to grab the first food they see. They support a change in Illinois law that asks drivers renewing their licenses to choose whether they want to be organ donors. The simple act of having to choose meant that more people signed up. Ideas like these, taking human idiosyncrasies into account, might revive an old technocratic hope: that society could be understood so perfectly that it might be improved.8)Source


Yikes..My gut instinct says even some15)not all! of Bernie's most ardent followers would be taken aback by that.

Talk about a nudge too far..

See, the thing about the law is, it really is only as effective so much as you can enforce it. To this point, the Wikipedia elucidates the effect of the many NRA regulations passed in the 1930s:

Journalist Raymond Clapper reported that between 4,000 and 5,000 business practices were prohibited by NRA orders that carried the force of law, which were contained in some 3,000 administrative orders running to over 10 million pages, and supplemented by what Clapper said were "innumerable opinions and directions from national, regional and code boards interpreting and enforcing provisions of the act." There were also "the rules of the code authorities, themselves, each having the force of law and affecting the lives and conduct of millions of persons." Clapper concluded: "It requires no imagination to appreciate the difficulty the business man has in keeping informed of these codes, supplemental codes, code amendments, executive orders, administrative orders, office orders, interpretations, rules, regulations and obiter dicta."


Even worse, the Roosevelt Administration found out they did not have the power to enforce these new rules.

From John T. Flynn:

The NRA was discovering it could not enforce its rules. Black markets grew up. Only the most violent police methods could procure enforcement. In Sidney Hillman’s garment industry the code authority employed enforcement police. They roamed through the garment district like storm troopers. They could enter a man’s factory, send him out, line up his employees, subject them to minute interrogation, take over his books on the instant. Night work was forbidden. Flying squadrons of these private coat-and-suit police went through the district at night, battering down doors with axes looking for men who were committing the crime of sewing together a pair of pants at night. But without these harsh methods many code authorities said there could be no compliance because the public was not back of it.16)The Roosevelt Myth via wikipedia


It is imperative for any governing structure, public or private, that they not have rules that are unenforced for the reasons discussed under the deterrence heading above. Deterrence doesn't work without enforcement! And given how exceedingly difficult enforcement is, this method of public policy should be avoided when possible.

Don't just nod at me; think about this in the context of the water laws. For our current regulatory framework to be effective, the Southern Nevada Water Authority would need to enlist an unknown number of enforcers17)hundreds? thousands? to roam the Valley each and every day looking for violators of the waters laws.

I mean if we are talking about real deterrence, these enforcers would apply a "one strike/you're out" policy where they would just turn off the water of a consumer not abiding by the water laws18)I can see my conservative friends salivating..that is far too draconian. What if the business I am discussing is an apartment complex? Clearly the residents shouldn't have their water turned off; they don't control when the grass is watered/if their property management company abides by the water laws. It's not a terrible idea in's just that we don't live in theory. People need water.. Once we conclude, however, that the "one strike" method is overly harsh, we have to also concede the effectiveness of our friend, deterrence.


What Would a "Nudge" of the Water Laws Comprise of?

We are now wading into uncharted territory, so bear with me. Given that I navigated us this far, I have to take a crack at this.19)Hopefully we don't have any Starbucks[Just go read Moby Dick already] aboard

  1. It's fair to say most sprinkler systems are automated20)Correct?. Why not mandate that sprinkler systems must be programmed so that they cannot turn on until after 7 p.m.?21)I don't know this for sure, but I have seen sprinkler systems that can be set for months. This could be done just for Summer
  2. Less extreme: Require sprinkler systems to configure a second switch to be pulled in order for the sprinklers to operate during daytime hours. This seems closer to Sunstein's "default everyone as organ donors."
  3. Require a solar sensor on sprinkler systems. If the sprinkler system senses the sun, it doesn't turn on. Simple enough.

I'd say that's not a terrible attempt at the problem, given that my only background I have with water is consumption22)Don't know about you, but I always preferred a good self evaluation. Please don't see those three items as some sort of comprehensive attempt to solve the issue23)it's more like a demonstration.

Although I see those proposals as fairly benign, it is very likely many of you do not.  The idea of anyone from the government controlling your water (or any other) supply makes you crazy; I've lived in Nevada long enough to understand the sentiment24)It's a principled stand based on liberty..I swear I'm listening.

In that NY Times Magazine article on Sunstein, it is emphasized a couple of times that Glenn Beck25)Republican, cheetos is very creeped out by the work of Cass Sunstein (Unfortunately, the piece does not tell us why). Not sure if Beck has some background with Sunstein (the complaint seemed strangely personal), but I think I understand what Beck26)Things I never thought I'd be doing on the Clear Counsel blog: defending Glenn Beck was getting at, and I believe that it's related to the liberty-minded sentiments we often hear in Nevada.

Sunstein seems like a nice enough guy (Don't know him either) with benevolent intentions, but if he takes this concept even one step beyond school lunches, people are going to be upset. Unfortunately27)the appropriate adverb is debatable, we as a society have not stipulated what we consider to be moral behavior and there's a lot of disagreement out there.

And you know what? That's ok! We can have disagreements, and we can use our democracy to make collective choices.

It is just that we, collectively, just aren't ready to determine what behavior should be nudged by the government. I think it is fair to say, given the choice, that most Americans28)given that many of our moral issues are still being debated would prefer the government stay impartial.

And those of us who want better compliance with the water laws need to respect this. An issue that is so morally clear cut for me (We only have one earth, last I checked), is not for my fellow Nevadans.

And because I respect and value the opinions of my neighbors, applying these techniques without a clear Supermajority just isn't the right thing to do.29)A lot of my liberal friends disagree with me on this. It's not just about being right though. If I care about the water laws as much as I say I do, I should be attempting to persuade those with whom I disagree30)reasonably, respectfully.


So Where Does That Leave Us?

You know what they say..A nudge is only as good as its nudger? It's something close to that31)No it isn't. Just making up cliches again..

Point being, the quality of output (that is, the nudge) is completely a product of its creator. And in order to institute "nudging" as public policy, we would need thousands upon thousands of people with the sufficient intellect and morality to specifically craft policy for each locality.

I don't know how many Cass Sunstein's32)If you are looking for the conservative alternative, think Judge Posner of the 7th Circuit. How much fun would it be to live in a city where he was doing the nudging?? there are out there, but likely not enough for each of the nation's municipalities.

Whereas I would be open to some "nudging" legislation if it was to implemented by someone that much smarter (and hopefully moral) than me, I am completely against the concept if we are going to settle for a run-of-the-mill politician's half-arsed33)#Brexit!! effort.

Like many other concepts/proposals in public policy, this concept needs to be implement completely correctly, or it should not be done at all.


Perhaps More Government Isn't the Answer

Are you familiar with what Google's Trusted Store campaign? Perhaps our answer is here.

If you are unfamiliar, Google will allow certain vendors to display a badge that declare that a retailer is a "Trusted" by Google if the vendor is willing to meet certain requirements from Google. The standards are so rigorous that Google is willing to insure a purchase from a Google Trusted Store up to $1,0000. For an example, see Overstock.34)Overstock doesn't pay me anything, just the first example I could find. Scroll to the bottom of the page

I think we sufficiently fleshed out why government nudging likely isn't our short-term answer above, but we neglected our friends in the private sector!

What's to stop two or three people with a passion for observance of the water laws from forming an organization to promote that idea? Now, I'm no expert on corporations, (if you need help in this arena, I recommend my boss Mr. Barlow.)35)If you search our legal blog, he has discussed this topic extensively. Here is a good example but it might be worth your time to read about 501(c) Organizations.36)501(c) refers to the tax code

These said two or three people could design their own version of the Blue Eagle, drum up public support37)easier now than ever with social media, raise money38)or self-fund. Again, many more options when you use private enterprize, and offer a large poster (in today's age, a badge to be displayed on the company's website/social media pages) to be displayed for all potential customers if these companies follow prescribed rules.

And the best part of these rules? They can be whatever you want them to be. These are private individuals doing business with private companies—no government/extra water laws needed!

Draft your own contacts with your own terms which, of course, can include provisions for if a company violates the terms.

The possibilities are endless. For a great example of the potential of benevolent citizen organization creating change, see this Politico discussion about Cincinnati.

We aren't the only one's nudging. Just today, The Washington Post published a proposal on how to get more people to vote39)Pretty good idea if you ask me.

Thanks for reading.

Below is the relevant water laws from the City of Henderson (Just in case you don't believe me). Ordinance 24.34.020 (the second one) is very clear when folks are permitted to water their lawns.

14.14.020 - Water waste.
A. Water waste unlawful.
1. It shall be deemed unlawful for owner, occupant, or manager of real property served by the city to permit the excess use, loss or escape of water through breaks, leaks or malfunction in the water user's plumbing or distribution facilities for any period of time after such escape of water should have been reasonably discovered and corrected as determined by the director.

2. It shall be deemed unlawful for owner, occupant, or manager of real property served by the city to waste water after a notice has been issued. Water waste includes, but is not limited to the following:
a. Allowing water to flow or spray off private property onto a sidewalk, pavement, gutter, street, alley, right-of-way or drain.
b. Failure to repair a malfunction of an irrigation system or supply line within 48 hours of notification by the city. Such malfunctions may include, but are not limited to: pooling due to broken sprinkler head, geyser or jet of water caused by broken drip irrigation line, etc.
c. Failure to repair a water leak.
B. Responsibility for waste. Any waste of water as set forth in this chapter, together with proof that such waste originated at any residence or place of business, shall constitute a rebuttable presumption that the current owner, account holder, or manager of such property or residence or place of business was responsible for such waste.
(Ord. 2798, § 5, 1-20-2009)


24.34.020 - Limitation on irrigation.

(Ord. 2934 § 4, 2003: Ord. 1271 § 1 (part), 1991)

14.14.030 - Landscape watering restrictions.

A. Landscape watering schedules shall apply to all areas, both residential and commercial, including, but not limited to: single family residential properties, multi-family residential properties, commercial properties, common areas, medians, and private parks. Community use recreational turf shall be subject to the provisions outlined in section 14.14.040(E).

B. Beginning May 1 until September 30 of each calendar year, it is deemed unlawful to use water to spray irrigate turf, gardens, trees, shrubbery, or other vegetation between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.


14.14.040 - Golf courses.





1 as in, near our Henderson office on south Stephanie
2 fancy law word for wrote
3 the utility for city of Las Vegas and unincorporated Clark County
4 I do actually, it's not
5 as in, we now all agree to the following
6 it's a prima facie oxymoron, no? Also, if the academic types want more people to listen, try using words real people use.
7 He is one of the country's leading behavioral economists/advisor to President Obama
8 Source
9 please don't overcomplicate this
10 Like shouting "War Eagle," but for fans of labor
11 As John Oliver astutely pointed out, the more famous NRA isn't even that big..Apparently planet fitness has more members? Also, apparently that matters..
12 There's good reason today to think this is incorrect. Any discussion of the Great Depression is incomplete unless debt crisis of the 1920s included
13 game theory term for "race to the bottom"
14 Imagine living in an era where you had to go to the movies to watch the news
15 not all!
16 The Roosevelt Myth via wikipedia
17 hundreds? thousands?
18 I can see my conservative friends salivating..that is far too draconian. What if the business I am discussing is an apartment complex? Clearly the residents shouldn't have their water turned off; they don't control when the grass is watered/if their property management company abides by the water laws. It's not a terrible idea in's just that we don't live in theory. People need water.
19 Hopefully we don't have any Starbucks[Just go read Moby Dick already] aboard
20 Correct?
21 I don't know this for sure, but I have seen sprinkler systems that can be set for months. This could be done just for Summer
22 Don't know about you, but I always preferred a good self evaluation
23 it's more like a demonstration
24 It's a principled stand based on liberty..I swear I'm listening
25 Republican, cheetos
26 Things I never thought I'd be doing on the Clear Counsel blog: defending Glenn Beck
27 the appropriate adverb is debatable
28 given that many of our moral issues are still being debated
29 A lot of my liberal friends disagree with me on this. It's not just about being right though.
30 reasonably, respectfully
31 No it isn't. Just making up cliches again.
32 If you are looking for the conservative alternative, think Judge Posner of the 7th Circuit. How much fun would it be to live in a city where he was doing the nudging??
33 #Brexit!!
34 Overstock doesn't pay me anything, just the first example I could find. Scroll to the bottom of the page
35 If you search our legal blog, he has discussed this topic extensively. Here is a good example
36 501(c) refers to the tax code
37 easier now than ever with social media
38 or self-fund. Again, many more options when you use private enterprize
39 Pretty good idea if you ask me

Podcast Preview!


Earlier today, Greg Hamblin was kind enough to host two of our partners, Jordan Flake and Jared Richards on his podcast.

Greg was very generous in allowing me to film the podcast session1)and we appreciate it very much.



In the clip above, Mr. Richards was asked by Greg to explain how an East Cleveland man could be awarded a 22 million dollar verdict from a jury.

Specifically, Mr. Richards explains the difference between compensatory and punitive damages and how they are related.


Podcast Transcript:

As far as the punitive element, you have an issue because generally punitive elements need to be somewhat in line with the compensatory element. For those people that are listening that don't know, compensatory damages is just to reimburse the person for what was taken from them.

Punitive damages has nothing to do with compensating, reimbursing, awarding the victim. It has everything to do with punishing the person who has abused the victim. It has to be large enough to sting.

Listen, most cops out there are good cops.podcast


They follow the rules.

They do the right thing.

I can't think of any justification for locking somebody in a closet for four days. I don't care what they did, that's not due process, certainly not at a traffic stop.

Again, I don't care what you did, that's not due process, that's not allowed.

That kind of police abuse needs to be addressed and this is the proper way to address it. Whether it's $12 million or some other number, I don't know, but unless you have a high compensatory, then the punitive has to be somewhat in line, generally like a multiple of three in most cases.

It's the maximum you can award.

If you don't have the $10 million component, or at least like a $4 million component, for the compensatory, you can't get to the $12 million punitive. It doesn't make that analysis fair or rational, but it does allow the punitive to stand.


Stay tuned..


1 and we appreciate it very much

An Update Regarding Short Sales and Bankruptcy



What Are Short Sales?


Hello, Matt McArthur, bankruptcy attorney here at Clear Counsel Law Group. A couple of years ago, we used to see a lot of short sales occurring here in the state of Nevada.

It was a very popular way of avoiding a foreclosure and getting out from under a mortgage that was attached to a house you were living in that you could no longer afford.

What a short sale essentially is shorting the bank, the money that they're owed. It doesn't refer to the time frame involved in getting these sales to go through.

They are ironically called short sales, but they tend to take much longer than a traditional sale of a home.

These short sales, they require bank approval. The bank is voluntarily agreeing to accept less than the full amount that they're owed on your mortgage.

Doing that in a bankruptcy adds another level of complication to the short sale process.


Are Short Sales Possible With a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

One of the questions that we've received recently is can I do a short sale if I'm in the middle of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy? The answer is yes, you can. It is possible. We do see this quite a bit, especially we saw it quite a bit a couple of years ago when people were rapidly trying to get out of these houses that were underwater.

The things that we need to make sure that we have in place in order to be able to carry out a short sale in the bankruptcy process are:

  1. Bank approval just like you would need outside of the bankruptcy court process.
  2. You also need to get the court to approve the short sale terms.

Usually the court is going look at things like did the bank provide approval?

Did the bank waive any deficiency that would associated with the sale? When we're talking about a deficiency, that's the difference between what is owed on the house and what the house actually sold for.


short sales


Since the house is selling for less than what's usually owed, there's usually a significant amount of money there that the bank would normally be entitled to under normal contract terms.

In most cases in a short sale, the banks will agree to waive this deficiency saying that they aren't going to pursue it. They're not going to try and collect and harass you get paid on this. That's one of the things that the court will look at.

These things are typically routinely granted by the court if those things are in place.

If you are underwater in a house, if you're thinking about a short sale, if you're thinking about a bankruptcy, if you're looking at a possible foreclosure, please come and see me. My name is Matt McArthur.

I used to work for the banks.

I have a lot of experience helping individuals in distressed properties at this point. I would love to be able to help you with my unique background, having worked on both sides of this issue.

Please come and see me, Matt McArthur, your bankruptcy attorney.

Hope to hear from you soon.

What to Do If You Need to Stop a Trustee




Good afternoon. My name is Jonathan Barlow. I'm a probate and trust attorney here at Clear Counsel Law Group. Over the course of my practice, I have done not only the regular administrations of trusts and probates, but I've dealt with countless disputes and litigated matters and trust and estate litigation.

One of the questions that often comes up is a concern about a trustee: if the trustee is acting inappropriately or if there is concern that the trustee is mishandling the money, spending the money, hiding the money, doing something like that.


You Need a Lawyer That Thinks About Legal Strategy, Not Just Lawsuits

My clients often ask me, "What can we do? What can we do to stop a trustee to prevent the trustee from continuing these bad actions? It appears to me that they're at risk of losing the money of the trust, so I'm not going to receive what I'm entitled to receive? What do I do? Do I got into court? Can we try to resolve this?"

This is really important that you have an attorney who has handled these and has a feel for that. There's no sheet of paper that we can go through, a questionnaire, and say, "Is this happening? Is that happening? Yes? No?" At the end of it, it tells us, "Go into court immediately," or "You could probably try to resolve this informally."

I can tell you this, from my experience, where there's smoke, there's usually fire. What I mean by that is if have an inclination or indication that the trustee is doing something inappropriate, you think that there's transactions that shouldn't be occurring, money going out that shouldn't be going out, you're probably right.

There's usually something going on behind the scenes with that trustee that you should be concerned about. You need to know, "Do we go into court immediately?" That's usually the best option.

Like I said, where there's smoke, there's fire.

The best chance you have to stop a trustee, to prevent that trustee from running away with the rest of the money, or losing the rest of the money is to get a court involved as soon as possible so that a court can put a freeze to those accounts, put a freeze to the trustee's actions, potentially remove the trustee out of the picture altogether so that somebody else can handle this.

Of course, going into court is expensive. It can be very time consuming. You throw yourself into, essentially, a lawsuit situation, which can take a couple years to resolve. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Those are considerations you need to think about in determining whether to go into the court route.


When an Informal Approach Might Be More Appropriate to Stop a Trustee

Sometimes my clients will ask me, "Do you think we can informally resolve this? Do you think we can get them to settle this matter?"

Certainly, there are times where that's the best approach, where you get a feel that based on the family relationship, we have a sense that the trustee is willing to cooperate, that the trustee would be likely to come in and sit down with us, or their attorney would come in and sit down with you, share information, share account documents, tell us what's going on, and see if we can't resolve the dispute.

They may have every indication of wanting to do that, too, and not running away. Certainly, we want to have a feel for that and know is that the best way to do that? Should we approach them informally through a letter, through a phone call, and say, 'Can we try to resolve these questions that we have?'"

However, you just don't want to wait too long.

stop a trustee


An Example That Proves the Rule

I have a colleague who tells this horror story. Early in their career, early in their practice, they were doing this. They were pursuing a trustee who they had every indication was not acting appropriately. There appeared to be money missing.

The trustee had, in fact, said, "I'm not going to give you what the trust says you're supposed to get." They tried to work this out with the trustee's attorney. They asked the trustee's attorney to give them account documents.

In fact, the trustee's attorney did give them account documents, account statements from the bank account, that appeared to show that all the money was still there in the bank account.

Months later, almost a year later, they finally found out that those account statements were completely fraudulent. The trustee had gone into those account statements and made photocopies, actually cut out sections of transactions, large sections, pages of transactions, and put the document back together, changed the numbers.

It was fantastic and amazing what this trustee did to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars of transactions and make it appear that money was there when it wasn't. She committed a blatant fraud on them. They didn't know about it until far too late.

By the time that they realized the fraud, got a court judgment against the trustee for over $1,000,000, the trustee was literally gone, nowhere to be found.

My good friends out there, my good colleagues, would be interested to know if you know where Beverly is and you know Beverly owes over $1,000,000, let me know and we'll put her in touch with my friends over here. They'll be glad to hear about it.


An Experienced Probate Lawyer Can Help You Stop a Trustee

We want to avoid those situations. We want to act promptly, whether prompt means get into court as quick as possible or whether prompt is let’s get them into our office to talk about it because we think that has the best chance of success.

We need to do that. It's not worth waiting.

If you have sense that there's something going wrong, you're probably right and your probably entitled and need to get the information to answer your questions. I personally have a lot of experience doing that here at Clear Counsel. It's one of our specialties is proceeding with these disputed matters and getting resolution for you.

Give me a call. We do a free consultation to review the facts, to try to get a feel for what we think.

Do we got to go into court immediate?

Can we resolve this informally?

Give me a call for that free consultation. I'll be glad to talk to you about this, answer your questions, and get you the resolution you need.


What If You Miss a Payment on Your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plan?


Missing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Payment


Hi, Matt McArthur, bankruptcy attorney, from Clear Counsel here again to talk with you about our latest bankruptcy inquiry that we've received, and today's question is whether or not missing a chapter 13 plan payment is detrimental to your case and what should you do if you can't make a payment?


I Am Your Lawyer; I Don't Represent Anyone's Interest Other Than Yours

First off, let me start out by saying that when you come and retain Clear Counsel Law. When you come and retain me as your bankruptcy attorney, I work for you. I am on your side, and it's extremely important that you tell me about all of the information related to your financial situation, both before you file your chapter 13 case and during your chapter 13 case.

This is going to be a long process of several years, we're going to be working closely together, so it's important that you keep me in the loop so that I can best help you.


Is a Missed Payment the End of the World?

Now, to the question, what happens when you miss a payment. Now, generally speaking, the court's going to require that you make all of those monthly payments in order to be able to confirm a plan and eventually obtain a discharge, and if you don't make those payments, it could potentially be grounds for dismissing your case.

It is a very serious situation, but it may not be fatal, and the sooner you can get your attorney in the loop and get me involved in addressing the issue, the better I'll be able to help you save the plan.

There's a couple different things that might be in play. If you've had a reduction in income, we may be entitled to lower your monthly plan payments, and we might be able to make it a more affordable prospect for you to make those payments going forward.

Another thing that we might be able to do is to roll in the missed payments into the future payments, so we take the missed amount, we spread it out over the remaining months that you still have payments, and that's going to bump up the monthly payments a little bit but it is a way in which you can catch up over time the amount that's been missed.


Don't Hide a Missed Payment From Your Lawyer

The long story short, though, is that the longer you wait to get your attorney involved in this process, the harder it's going to be to fix and to propose something that's going to be affordable to you. If you're serious about saving a chapter 13 plan, please contact your attorney as soon as possible.

If you're my client, please come in and help me help you. The more information that I have, the better I'll be able to represent you. I work for you again, I'm not working for the court, I'm not on the other side, I am on your side.


payment, chapter 13 bankruptcy


Please come in and talk with me if you're thinking about filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy and keep in mind that if you were to miss a payment throughout the process, it's not fatal, it's something we can address, you've just got to keep me in the loop.

I look forward to hearing from you soon about filing your chapter 13 case.

My name's Matt McArthur and I'll talk to you soon.


Can a Witness be Compelled to Appear in Probate Court?




How to Require a Witness to Appear in Probate Court


Hello, my name is Jonathan Barlow. I'm a probate and trust attorney in the Las Vegas, Nevada area. In particular over the course of my career I have handled many trust and estate disputes so disputed matters, litigation matters within the probate and trust context.

It often comes up that we become aware as we're trying to resolve this dispute, as we're trying to get the court to have a trial on it and determine what should happen, we often become aware that there is a person somewhere who has information, a witness, who has information that would be helpful for us in our disputed case.

If that's your situation, you come to me and say, "We've got to get this testimony of Joe. Joe knows what happened in that situation. He could tell us what happened."

There are two things that I could do to help you get that testimony and make sure that the court hears that testimony.


How I Compel A Witness to Testify

The question is, can we make Joe come to court and testify as a witness? Is there a legal process that we can force Joe to come into court as a witness?

First, if Joe is in the state of Nevada and our case is happening here in Nevada, yes. I can give a subpoena to him, have a subpoena served on him. It's a legal document, a legal command to Joe that says, "Joe, you are commanded by the state of Nevada to appear at a certain place at a certain time to give testimony."

That's usually in a trial. We can have a subpoena served on him. He is legally required to come to court to give his testimony. Now Joe can choose to ignore that and not show up and that's a risk that could happen. However if he does that he's going to be in contempt of court, he could face jail time and a civil penalty, so usually people don't ignore those subpoenas.


What if the Witness Doesn't Live in Nevada?

Now the second situation that often comes up though, which is a little bit sticker is, what if Joe is in New York? How can we get him from New York into Nevada?

We've got to have this information from Joe. In this situation, a lot of law firms get bogged down and they get tripped up on this and they say, "Well, we can't do it. We can't bring Joe into Nevada."

That's true, but we can't stop there and we don't stop there.

It's true, there is no legal process to force Joe to come from New York to Nevada to give his testimony. However, there is a way to get his testimony, preserve it so that we can use it in trial, and to support your case.

What we do is we start again with that basic Nevada subpoena and the Nevada subpoena says, "Joe, you've got to give us testimony."

We take that Nevada subpoena, we go to New York. We'd go open a case in New York actually and have the New York courts take the Nevada subpoena and out of that, create a New York based subpoena where the state of New York says, "Joe," just the same thing as in Nevada, "Joe, you are commanded to appear at a certain place and a certain time within the state of New York to give testimony."




I as the attorney can either fly out there to be there in person which is most effective. It can be done over the phone if the parties agree.

I'll go out there to New York. Joe arrives, he's put under oath just as if he is in a court of law, sitting there at trial, he takes an oath to tell the truth.

We have a court reporter there who's taking down every word that's being said just as if we're sitting in a court. I get the opportunity to ask him questions. He's under oath to tell the truth and answer those questions. We get the opportunity to preserve his testimony through what's called a deposition. That's that deposition process.

Now we bring that deposition back to Nevada and we get to the point of having our trial. We call Joe and say, "Hey Joe. We'd really appreciate you coming out to Nevada to come to the trial and give your testimony." Joe says, "Not going to do it. Not coming out there. Not going to take the time nor the expense to do that."


The Value of a Witness Deposition

We're not up a creek. In that situation, we can go in and ask the court to allow us to have permission to use Joe's deposition, to use the video from that deposition or to simply have the transcript, the document read, the answers and questions read, into court at the trial. That's treated just as if Joe was sitting there in court at trial giving his testimony.

That's a way to preserve his testimony even though he's all the way out on the other side of the country and even though we can't legally command him to Nevada to give that testimony.

You're not out of luck if we've got to get this testimony from other people and we here at Clear Counsel know how to do that process and we've gone through that process of going to other states to get those subpoenaed issued in the other states to get that testimony.

We've flown to other states to take that testimony and use it in trials successfully to preserve their testimony.

If you're in that situation, where you're wondering about getting this evidence or testimony or we need this information from a witness, we here at Clear Counsel would be glad to talk to you about that.

We do a free consultation to review your case, to review the disputes that you're having and help you plan a way to resolve those disputes and preserve testimony from witnesses whether they're in Nevada or out of New York.

I encourage you to give me a call and let's have that free consultation today.


Your Inheritance & Chapter 13 Bankruptcy




Hi. Matt MacArthur, bankruptcy attorney at Clear Counsel Law Group.

Our office recently received an e-mail inquiry, asking the question about whether or not they would be able to keep an inheritance, that they were looking at receiving unexpectedly, while they were in the middle of a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.


The General Rule Regarding an Inheritance

The general rule in Chapter 13 Bankruptcies is that disposable income of the person that person that's filing for bankruptcy, needs to be made available to pay back the creditors. In other words, if you have enough money to pay back your creditors, you need to pay everything that you can.

If you're at the point, where you're paying them back in full, then that is sufficient. You don't have to pay more than what you owe, going in.

This individual's inheritance was quite substantial. The question that they were faced with was, are they going to lose the whole thing? Are they going to lose part of it? Or is there any way to stop the bankruptcy from taking any of it at all?

To first address this question, it's important to keep in mind that in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, an individual has the right to dismiss their case at any time.

One of the first things that I would advise this person, is that if the amount of the inheritance is too a level where it no longer makes sense to stay in your bankruptcy and continue on the Chapter 13 plan, than you should dismiss your case, stop the bankruptcy process.

You'll be able to keep the whole inheritance and then you can deal with your creditors, that haven't been paid yet, on your own, outside of the bankruptcy court process.


inheritance, chapter 13 bankruptcy


Whether they would be able to keep the inheritance as part of their bankruptcy if they continue on the path, depends on a number of factors. It depends whether creditors are on track to receive a full payment during the life of the bankruptcy plan. Or if they're not on track to receive a full payment, based upon what the normal, proposed monthly payment plan provide for.

Whether or not the inheritance is sufficient to pay off the remaining amount owed to the creditors or not.

There's a number of factors that need to be considered.


Given the Complications With Inheritance, I Offer a Free Consultation

This can be a very complicated, technical situation to parse through and if you're in a Chapter 13, if you're looking to receive an inheritance, please come and see the Clear Counsel Law Group.

We not only have very excellent bankruptcy attorneys on staff here, we have a top notch estate planning and probate department, that can help you weed through the issues of receiving an inheritance and how that inner-plays with the bankruptcy process at a level that you may not be able to receive in other law offices.

My name is Matt MacArthur. Please come and see me, if you're considering bankruptcy, if you're looking to receive an inheritance, if you're at all concerned about any of these issues, I'd love to sit down and meet with you. The consultations are free, so you have no excuse not to come in.

Hope to hear from you soon.


Big Changes in the Nevada Estate Planning Law


Are You Familiar with Nevada's New Estate Planning Laws?




Hello, my name is Jonathan Barlow. I'm a probate and Nevada estate planning attorney here in the Las Vegas, Nevada area at Clear Counsel Law Group.

In the last legislative session, the Nevada legislature passed a significant change to the probate and wills laws in the State of Nevada, and something that has significant benefit for people in the State of Nevada, and what I'm here to talk to you about today.

What the legislature did was they added a provision in the statutes, in the laws that says that while you're alive, before you die, you can go into court and ask the court to look at your will or even your trust but, particularly here, your will and have the court look at that, take your testimony about it, talk to you about it while you're alive and well and have the court enter a court order that says that your will is valid.

If that happens while you're alive, you get a court order that says your will is valid, after you die, nobody can contest it. Nobody can come along after you die and cost a whole bunch of money, cost a whole bunch of attorney's fees to be incurred, a lot of litigation in a will contest after you die.

It's a fascinating new law that could have significant benefit for most people in the State of Nevada, particularly those who have some nontraditional estate planning. We'll talk about that in a second.


What is Declaratory Relief? Why Does it Apply to Nevada Estate Planning?

First, how does this happen? Let me tell you about the basic premise behind this. There's always been a right under Nevada law to get what is called declaratory relief. It's where you go into the court and ask the court to declare your rights or to declare the obligations of parties to an agreement or other situations. That's called declaratory relief.

Let me give you a short example. If there are two businesses who've entered into a contract for business purpose, and they come to some dispute or disagreement about what this provision means in the contract, and one person or one business is alleging that the other has breached that provision, one of the parties could go into court and ask the court to declare the rights of the parties related to that contract.

What that means is the court could interpret that contract, interpret that provision and tell the businesses, "This is what you're obligated to do. This is what your rights are under that contract." That declaratory relief has always been here in Nevada law. Now it just applies to Nevada Estate Planning as well.


Nevada estate planning


The Changes Made to Nevada Estate Planning Law Last Legislative Session

Last legislative session, the Nevada legislature took this declaratory relief right, and they married it with the probate and will laws of the State of Nevada to provide this before death declaratory relief regarding the validity of a will. It's a fascinating change to the law.

The reason this is really important is we've seen for as long as there has been wills, there have been will contests. Those have always happen after the person dies.

Mom creates a will. Say, she disinherits one of her sons. She's mad at one of her sons and leaves nothing to her son.

After mom dies, that son is always mad and, almost always, they start what's called a will contest, or they bring an action in court to say, "Hey, court. You need to look back in the past when mom did her will several years ago, and go back in the past, and determine that mom either didn't know what she was doing, she wasn't of sound mind. That somebody coerced her or there was undue influence. That there are some reason that will is invalid, and we're going to rid of that will."

That's a will contest. It cost tens of thousands of dollars of attorney's fees for the parties, let alone the difficulty it causes with families, obviously. That's traditionally been the will contest paradigm is it's all happening after death, after the person who created the will is gone.


What Declaratory Relief Means for Nevada Estate Planning

Well, with this new declaratory relief, we have this amazing ability to bring the person who wrote their will, who prepared their will, bring them in front of a judge and have that person sit there and tell a judge, "Judge, this is exactly what I'm doing. I know what I'm doing. I know why I'm doing it, and this is exactly why I want to disinherit my son."

The person who knows the most about whether the will is valid can do that while they're alive and not wait until after they're dead, and gone, and buried in the ground to have their children fight about it.

What's the process to do this? You have to file; it's essentially like a civil lawsuit. You're going to bring an action in the court to have the court and ask the court to take a look at your will, take your testimony and declare it to be valid while you're alive.

Important thing about this though you need to know is that your children and anybody else that you name in your will, say, you've named a charity, or a friend, or somebody else like that to receive a gift, your children and anybody named in the will are going to be entitled to receive notice. They get to know that you filed this action.

What that means is that child that you may have disinherited has every right in the world to come into this case while you're alive, and sit across the courtroom from you, and tell the judge why the judge should find you to be incapacitated, or of not sound mind, or some reason why your will should not be valid.

They have that right to come here and say while you're alive why it shouldn't be considered valid.


How the New Law Changes Nevada Estate Planning

The truth of the matter is I believe that there are going to be a strong disincentive to do that. How awkward will that be amongst other things to have a son come in, look across the courtroom, look across the table and tell you why you're crazy while you're sitting there, and the judge can look at you and talk to you, and explain why you're not crazy and determine that you're not crazy?

It changes the whole paradigm from this after death will contest where it's a free for all. There's so much angst, and dispute, and litigation after death when the person most important is already gone. It's going to change that paradigm and cut way down on those cost of litigation to do it before death.

I think those people who are disinherited are going to have much less incentive, or it's going to be much more difficult for them to come into court while you're still alive and try to prove you to be incapacitated or some reason why the motion shouldn't be valid.

If you have already done a will or a trust, or if you're considering doing a will or a trust where you do something that we call nontraditional, meaning that you're not just giving it in equal shares to your children or something like that, maybe you're disinheriting one of your children or you're giving one of your children a much larger share than the other kids, something that I promise you causes will contest after you die, if you're considering that, I strongly encourage you to get specific advice about this declaratory relief action.

Here at the Clear Counsel Law Group, we are trained to do that. We've gone over this. We have a firm understanding of Nevada Estate Planning.

We're prepared to provide this advice. Whereas I know that most other firms are not providing this advice out there, and it's something you need to know if you're going to be doing nontraditional estate planning.

Give us a call.

We'll walk you through, not only the process of creating that will with the nontraditional gifts in it, but also advising you about whether it makes sense or not to take this into court and get declaratory relief before you die that your will is valid.

I look forward to talking to you about this. It's a super fascinating change in Nevada estate planning law and we look forward on being on the forefront of this as we implement this in the State of Nevada.


Clear Counsel Law group

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