southern Utah Christmas

Celebrating Christmas in Southern Utah

Looking for some family-friendly activities this holiday season? We’ve compiled a list of some southern Utah events and activities that are sure to make your holiday experience a little more merry and bright.

St. George, Utah Temple

southern Utah
The temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a beautiful white monument against the red mountain backdrop of St. George. And during the Christmas season, it becomes even more beautiful as the grounds are decorated with lights. There is even a Nativity scene complete with music and narration that all kids (and adults) are sure to love.

Town Square in St. George

Lights, a carousel, and Santa! Town Square on Main Street in St. George is a sure hit for families. Be sure to stop by the Children’s Museum next door and take a stroll down Main Street to visit the shops.

Kayenta Center for the Arts

Set in the beautiful landscape of Kayenta (past Ivins), the Center for the Arts presents The Enchanted World of Dolls and A Diamond Holiday. Guests can look forward to fire pits, beautiful lighted trees, and holiday music in this desert winter wonderland as they watch the talented performers. Click here to view the events schedule and purchase tickets.

Ice Skating at Ruby’s Inn

If you thought you couldn’t ice skate in the southern Utah desert, think again! Ruby’s Inn at Bryce Canyon offers this classic winter activity for people of all ages. Click here for more information.

Christmas in the Canyon

Tuacahn offers more than just amazing shows! At Christmas in the Canyon, guests can ride a train around the grounds and view the stunning lights, ice skate on a synthetic rink, and visit Santa. Tuacahn also puts on a live Nativity, which is sure to become a family tradition. In this 20-minute telling of the birth of Christ, volunteers act out the story, complete with live animals, narration, and wonderful music. Click here for ticket information.

All of us at Gallian Welker & Beckstrom wish you a warm and happy Christmas season.

southern Utah

will

Why You Need a Will and Why You Want to Avoid Probate

Most people know that they need a will, but many don’t know exactly what a will is and how it works, or what happens if you die without one. Read on to find out about wills, why they are important, and whether you should have an attorney write one for you.

What is a will?

A will is a legal document utilized by people primarily to express and carry out their wishes about how they want their property and assets distributed upon death, and how any minor children, dependents, and pets are to be cared for in the event of their death. You may list someone as executor (also called a personal representative) of the will, which means that, upon your death, the executor has the legal responsibility to carry out the directions of your will and take care of your financial obligations, such as paying off debts and taxes, paying for funeral and burial expenses, etc. They also usually distribute property among beneficiaries listed in the will. If an executor is not listed in the will, the probate court will have to appoint one, and the probate laws specify and prioritize those who may be appointed as executor. Anyone over the age of eighteen can be listed as executor, and the executor can also be a beneficiary in your will. Most people choose a spouse, partner, or child to be their executor. If there is no executor listed in the will, a probate court will appoint one.

Talking about and setting up a will may not be the funnest thing to do, but it is very important if you don’t want strangers deciding what to do with your assets or dependents after you die. In the absence of a specified executor or a living family member willing and able to serve as executor, any of your creditors has the right to serve as executor as a matter of last resort.  Thus, naming someone you trust as executor, and someone else as an alternate executor, is imperative.

probate

What is probate?

“Probate” refers to the legal process of proving that a will is valid, and then administering its terms. When there is a written will, a probate court validates the will and then authorizes the executor to distribute the assets among the beneficiaries as listed in the will, as well as pay off debts and taxes, and provide for dependents as the will directs.

When there is no written will, the court gets to decide how your estate will be divided. They will appoint an executor, who will then follow the judge’s instructions on how to distribute your assets. This may result in a distribution of your belongings entirely differently than what you would approve of or be happy with if alive. If you die without a will, it doesn’t matter what your wishes were; a stranger will essentially be in charge of deciding what goes where.

A common misconception is that creating a will avoids the probate court. On the contrary, the probate court’s primary purpose is to administer wills. A will must go through probate except where the value of your assets is very small. Most people elect to create a living trust in conjunction with their will in order to bypass the probate court.

Why should probate be avoided?

Sometimes, probate is simple. Most of the time, however, there are three common complaints about the process:

  1. Time. Probate can be a long, drawn-out process, meaning your assets will be tied up for your beneficiaries. This is especially true of large estates or if there is a contested will.
  2. Cost. In most states, probate comes with executor fees, attorney fees, and appraiser’s fees, among other expenses. And if probate takes a long time, you can expect those costs to go up even more.
  3. Family feuds. No, we’re not talking about the entertaining game show. Probate has been known to cause rifts among family members. If a will is not clear on how to divide your assets or provide for dependents, or when there is a third party making decisions about your estate, and they didn’t know you or what your wishes were in the event of your death, it can result in legal fights and much bitterness between beneficiaries, who all may end up unhappy with the outcomes.

A will alone is good, but adding a living trust to your will is even better for the majority of families. A separate blog post will go into more detail about living trusts, as well as other types of trusts.

Do I need an attorney to write a will?

Not necessarily, and an attorney is not required to make a will valid. If you have simple assets, you can make a basic will naming beneficiaries for your home, investments, and treasured items. You can also name a guardian for any minor children. But if you fail to follow the legal procedures for valid wills in your State of residence, or fail to be consistent and clear in the language used, or forget to mention something important in your will, the probate court will have to make those decisions for you. Almost all wills are quite inexpensive for a lawyer to draft, often costing less than $200. The expense can be worth it to make sure the will is done right. And, for larger estates, an attorney can be very useful in providing estate-planning strategies and helping to navigate some of the more complex areas.

A will also does not need to be notarized in many states. However, in order to make things go as smoothly as possible in probate when proving the validity of a will, it’s best to have two witnesses sign the will, and then have your signature and the witnesses’ signatures dated and notarized. The witnesses should not be beneficiaries in the will.

Our St. George, Utah estate planning attorneys are highly skilled in the areas of wills, trusts, and probate. We would love to sit down with you and talk about your needs.

will

veterans claims

New Resource for Veterans

We are excited to announce the opening of our new resource for veterans! GWB just launched a new program called Southwest Veterans Advocates. Travis Barrick, one of our Vegas attorneys, focuses on veterans claims and is passionate about helping veterans receive the help they deserve. Read on to find out a little more about why Travis is so passionate about his work and what the SVA is all about!

What motivated you to get started with your work with veterans?

“I am not a veteran, but my best friend died from cancer from Agent Orange in 2006. Before he died, he asked me to promise to help veterans, and I did; and I meant it.

“So, in 2007-08, I started meeting with veterans who came my way and learning how to help them get their benefits. I also joined NOVA and have never stopped learning the process and improving my ability to help.

“Other people have helped me along the way, and the joy of success gives me the motivation to keep going.”

What is your favorite thing about working with veterans?

“The best part of working with veterans is witnessing the impact on their lives when their claims are granted. They like the money, but they LOVE having their issues acknowledged by the “Machine.” The Justice of it all is worth much more to them than anything else.”

What is the SVA about and what will it accomplish?

“The need for what SVA does seems endless. We already have many, many clients, so SVA is all about increasing our capacity to give the highest level of assistance, at all levels of the claims process.

“One of the reasons we are so successful is the amount of work we put into analyzing the claims file on the front end. I honestly believe we know a veteran’s file better than anybody, including the VA.

“Because we constantly need more help working on the claims files, we are always looking for people to train and join the SVA team.”

pumpkin muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Happy autumn! We’ve been counting down the days to sweater weather and we’ve got just the thing to welcome in the new season. What better way to start autumn off right than with pumpkin chocolate chip muffins? These goodies are a game changer and the perfect introduction to fall. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

prep time: 10 minutes

cook time: 20 minutes

total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 can (15 ounces solid-pack pumpkin puree)

1 1/2 cups canola oil

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Place paper liners in a regular sized muffin pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil until smooth. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Add flour mixture slowly to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths to almost the way full.
  3. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire wrack.

Makes 2 dozen muffins.

 

Original recipe can be found here.

attorney client

What Should I Expect When Hiring an Attorney?

What should I expect when I hire an attorney?

If you find yourself in need of legal counsel, you may have some questions pertaining to the process, whether your case involves litigation or a contract or other transaction. This article provides some information on what you should expect when hiring an attorney and tips to help you throughout the duration of your attorney/client relationship.

Communication:

Communication between a lawyer and client is essential to not only building a rapport but to building your case as well. By asking questions and gaining as much of your insight as possible, your lawyer will be able to gain a complete picture of your situation and know how to move forward with your best interest in mind.

Your lawyer needs a complete understanding of your case, so always quickly respond to your lawyer’s questions via email, phone call, or in person, and hold nothing back. Remember, your communications with your lawyer are confidential. Share everything, even things you believe are damaging to your case or are embarrassing to you. Withheld information is a leading source source of frustration and can jeopardize your case.

When you attempt to contact your attorney, bear in mind that your lawyer may be working on multiple cases and may not be able to respond to you at the drop of a hat, but they should respond to you in a reasonable amount of time and keep you up to date if there are any delay/changes in your case.

Ethics:

Ethical rules may vary from state to state and law firms may have their own set of rules by which to conduct their businesses, but there is a common ground that lawyers are expected to maintain regarding conduct of legal proceedings. Your lawyer is expected to work within the bounds of the law and to make sound legal decisions pertaining to your case, based on knowledge and research of the law, experience, and strategy, which should be discussed with you.

Your lawyer should maintain and respect the attorney/client privilege and never disclose or discuss the details of your case with those who are not working on your case. Your attorney must disclose any conflicts of interest and only represent you if your best interests can be fully pursued without compromise by any other relationship. This does not mean your attorney must always do everything you ask or direct. The ethical rules and the law will govern the breadth of your attorney’s actions.

attorney client

Preparation:

Whether or not this is your first time dealing with a legal matter, you may have questions pertaining to what you need to do to prepare yourself for events to come in your case. Your lawyer should act as a guide and keep you informed of protocols and customs that will be expected of you. Gather all documents and information related to your case before meeting with your attorney. If your case involves litigation, your attorney should review and meet with you to practice testimony and arguments for depositions, hearings, and trials. Your attorney has a right to expect you to cooperate in preparing for all aspects of the case; and you have the right to expect your attorney to be well-prepared for all stages and events of your case.