North Carolina Law Blog

Staying focused while driving means eliminating distractions

When people sit behind the driver's seat and prepare to operate their vehicle in North Carolina, they undertake the responsibility of being attentive, responsible and respectful so that they can protect themselves, their passengers and other motorists on the road. Unfortunately, there are plenty of distractions to withdraw from a person's ability to be vigilant. If not managed appropriately, these distractions can be incredibly dangerous and life-altering. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anything considered to be a distraction for people while they are driving can usually be lumped into one of three categories. These include the following:

  • Cognitive: This includes when people are experiencing emotional turmoil and due to mental instability or strong emotion, are unable to place adequate focus on driving. 
  • Visual: This includes anything that takes people's eyes off of the road including texting, manipulating a GPS device, reaching for an item on the floor or tending to children in the backseat. 
  • Manual: This includes any type of distraction that requires people to take their hands off of the steering wheel including eating, blowing their nose, changing a CD or using a cellphone.  

Parents with special needs children may need to create a trust

Most parents try to do the right thing for their children when creating an estate plan. Providing for the security and well-being of loved ones is a primary motivator for people creating their own wills. When a member of your family has special needs, however, standard estate planning strategies that rely mostly on a last will may not be adequate for your family's unique needs.

For example, a standard inheritance given to a family member with a condition that impacts their cognitive acuity could wind up wasted on frivolous spending instead of providing years of security. Even if you trust your special needs family member to handle the money or assets you leave them responsibly, receiving those assets in a lump-sum inheritance could keep them from receiving any state benefits in the future, such as Medicaid.

Business formation types that limit personal liability

For many residents of North Carolina, launching a business is the first step in fulfilling a lifelong dream, but if you choose the wrong business structure when doing so, you can wind up facing unnecessary financial and personal hardship. At Daughtry, Woodard, Lawrence & Starling, we understand that the type of business structure you choose to establish will have long-lasting ramifications, and we have helped many people looking to establish their own businesses pursue solutions that meet their needs.

According to QuickBooks, virtually all small business owners will face at least some level of liability, but they can limit that degree of liability by choosing certain types of business structures over others. Otherwise, you run the risk of potentially losing your personal assets in the event that someone files a successful lawsuit against your business, so figuring out how to protect yourself should be a priority for any prospective small business owner.

How much does a North Carolina DWI affect auto insurance rates?

Seeing those blue lights flip on in your rear-view mirror can be an anxiety-inducing experience, but if the North Carolina law enforcement officer who stops you ultimately charges you with drunk driving, things may soon get a whole lot worse. A conviction for driving while intoxicated typically brings with it hefty consequences, and while some of those repercussions are criminal in nature, others will take a direct hit on your wallet.

For example, according to, you can all but count on your automotive insurance rates spiking substantially once you regain your driving privileges following a drunk driving conviction. Just how much more might you have to come up with to cover yourself on the road?

Is there a silver lining to divorce?

Those couples who are in the throes of acrimonious divorces may not see the light at the end of the tunnel as a welcoming beacon for the new lives they will be free to lead after the process has run its course.

It's certainly understandable to be upset at the idea of your marriage ending. Even if you were the one to file the petition to divorce, it's likely that you have some mixed feelings regarding splitting up with your spouse. If you are struggling to find the silver lining in your divorce, below are some perspectives that could help you re-establish your equilibrium following divorce.

Helping your adoptive child feel at home in your family

Recently, you have received word that the child you have been fostering is going to become part of your family through the adoption process in North Carolina. This much-anticipated transition is something that your whole family has been looking forward to and you are eager to understand how to make this process both effective and genuine. At Daughtry, Woodard, Lawrence & Starling, we are committed to helping families with the things that matter most to them. 

As soon as you discover that you have been cleared to legally adopt your foster child, immediately begin discussing the potential of this opportunity with your family. If you have other children in your home, discuss their feelings toward having a new sibling and establish family goals for what can be done to help your home transition from a temporary place to stay, to a permanent residence where your adopted child can live with happiness, contentment and stability.

How is an estate plan beneficial for young people?

When you hear your parents discussing their estate plan, you may not immediately think about beginning to coordinate your own plan for the future. In fact, you are not alone because many people in North Carolina associate an estate plan with people who are retiring or who make a considerable amount of money. 

Your age is certainly not a factor that should hold you back from beginning to think about your future and what your final wishes would be. In fact, the younger you begin coordinating those types of decisions, the more confident you may feel as the years go on. Regularly revisiting your plan will allow you to make changes depending on what is happening in your life, but the bulk of the planning will have been taken care of long before you have begun to feel the stress of needing to have a plan in place. 

Distracted drivers could put you at unnecessary risk

Driving in a responsible manner is one of the tacit agreements involved in the use of public roadways. The community funds the construction and maintenance of roads, and community members agree to collectively abide by the rules set to keep the roadways as safe as possible.

The steps you take to stay safe likely include avoiding intoxicating substances before driving and making sure that distraction, such as the use of a mobile phone, doesn't keep you from arriving at your destination safely. Sadly, even though you take necessary steps to abide by relevant traffic laws, not everyone on the road will do the same.

Plan to revisit your last will or estate plan every few years

Putting off estate planning is a common practice. Not many people want to think about when they die. When you do finally work up the mental tenacity to address your legacy, you might assume that the process is done once you commit your intentions to writing. However, the truth is that your estate plan or last will shouldn't just be something you take care of once and then forget.

You want to have the terms you include be as up-to-date as possible. That helps reduce the likelihood of anyone challenging your wishes during the administration of your estate. Taking the time to review your estate plan every few years can also give you peace of mind, as you will be certain that you have addressed everything that currently matters to yourself and your family.

When divorce affects other aspects of your life

For some people, divorce can be a challenging process, bringing courtroom stress, financial concerns about alimony or property division and fears regarding custody and how the divorce may affect kids. However, it is very important to remember that divorce can affect other aspects of life as well, both on a professional and personal level. For example, someone may experience problems at work due to their divorce or they may lose interest in activities and hobbies that they have enjoyed for many years.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways in which people can reduce the potentially negative impact of the divorce process. Sometimes, divorce can lead to numerous positive changes in one’s life, giving them a fresh start, more free time, the ability to pursue new opportunities and even financial freedom. By carefully going over the different options that may be on the table, you could have a less complicated divorce and an easier time moving forward in your life.

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