Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Avoid Disagreements Between Your General and Health Care Power of Attorney Agents

A general power of attorney and a health care power of attorney are two very important estate planning documents. Both allow other people to make decisions for you in the event you are incapacitated. Because the individuals chosen will have to coordinate your care, it is important to pick two people who will get along.

A general power of attorney allows a person you appoint -- your agent  -- to act in your place for financial purposes when and if you ever become incapacitated. A health care power of attorney is a document that gives an agent the authority to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to communicate such decisions.

While the health care agent is the one who makes the health care decisions, the person who holds the general power of attorney is the one who needs to pay for the health care. If the two agents disagree, it can spell trouble. For example, suppose your health care agent decides that you need 24-hour care at home, but your general power of attorney agent thinks a nursing home is the best option and refuses to pay for the at-home care. Any disagreements would have to be settled by a court, which will take time and drain your resources in the process.

The easiest way to avoid conflicts is to choose the same person to do both jobs. But this may not always be feasible -- for example, perhaps the person you would choose as health care agent is not good with finances. If you pick different people for both roles, then you should think about picking two people who can get along and work together. You should also talk to both agents about your wishes for medical care so that they both understand what you want.

If you have questions about whom to name for these roles, or you haven't yet executed these all-important documents, contact my office for help.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Vethan Law Firm Wins in Federal Court

Attorneys of The Vethan Law Firm won a $2.8 million jury verdict, Wednesday, November 17, 2010, representing the plaintiff in Civil Action No. 4:09-cv-02644; David Homoki dba Global Check Services v. Conversion Services, Inc.; in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas; Houston Division. Attorneys Charles Vethan and Elyse Farrow were ably assisted at trial by newly-licensed attorney, Collin Wynne and paralegal Eneyda Sauceda, with research and briefing assistance from Lee Keller King. The trial was presided over by the Hon. David Hittner, United States District Judge and tried to an eight-person jury.

The federal jury awarded Plaintiff, David Homoki d/b/a Global Check Services $2.1 million against Defendant, Conversion Services, Inc. of Houston, and $700,000 against Defendant, Electronic Payment Systems of Englewood, Colorado. The verdict was based on Global Check’s claims that Conversion Services breached its contract with Global Check, and violated its fiduciary duty to Global Check as its agent/broker. Additionally, the jury found that Electronic Payment Systems conspired with Conversion Systems to violate Conversion Services’ fiduciary duty to Global Check. Attorneys fees are still to be determined by the Court. The jury found against Conversion Services on its counterclaim against Global Check for payment of unpaid residuals.

Mr. Homoki, a resident of California, had contracted with Conversion Services to market Global Check’s services to merchants. Global Check is in the business of processing and guaranteeing payment of customer checks, including checks post dated up to 90 days. Conversion Services was also responsible for servicing the merchant accounts, after they were signed up with Global Check.

The relationship ended in 2009 after Global Check became aware that Conversion Services was misrepresenting its products and not servicing its clients. Global Check subsequently learned that Conversion Services was, unbeknownst to Global Check, selling a similar product from Electronic Payment Systems and switching Global Check’s merchants to Electronic Payment Systems, after receiving a finder’s fee from Global Check to sign up the merchant.