2053 Woodbridge Avenue - Edison, NJ 08817

Friday, July 20, 2007

NJ Laws Newsletter E248 June 21, 2007

In This Issue

1. Preparing the Living Will is only the First Step

2. US Supreme Court Rules passengers in cars have search rights

3. Charity Running Races (Pine Beach - USTAF - Championship June 24)


1. Preparing the Living Will is Only the First Step (By Christopher D. Reedy, Esquire of Begley & Bookbinder)

At the end of 2004 and the beginning of 2005, you could hardly open a newspaper, or watch the nightly news and not be confronted with the case of Terri Schiavo. In 1990, after collapsing in her home, Terri suffered brain damage and became dependant on a feeding tube. The legal battle to determine the fate of Terri lasted over seven years and involved both state and federal courts, as well as state and federal legislation. At issue amongst all of the legal battles was whether or not to continue the use of the feeding tube. Her husband stated that she had told him that she did not wish to be kept on life support with no hope of recovery. Terri's parents did not agree with this and this led to a trial where a judge was responsible for determining what Terri would have wanted to do. After 15 years of being institutionalized and being diagnosed with a persistent vegetative state, the battle to determine the fate of Terry was finally settled when her feeding tube was removed and she passed away on March 31, 2005. The Schiavo case brought national attention to the necessity of having a living will. Had Terri had a living will, her wishes would have been known and could have been followed without court intervention.

Because of the attention brought by the Schiavo case, more people are preparing living wills, so that there end of life decisions can be followed. However, too often people return from their attorney's office, with their newly created living will and stick it in a safe or a safety deposit box, without talking to anyone in their family about their decisions. It is definitely important to have a living will prepared for you that expresses your wishes, but the preparing of the living will should only be the starting point. After you have prepared your living will, you should sit down with your family and discuss what the document says and explain exactly what your wishes are. That way, your family will know what decisions you have made and can ensure that they are followed. The importance of discussing your decisions with your family can not be understated. You could very easily be presented with a situation where the hospital has misinterpreted one of the clauses of the living will, and is not following through with what your wishes are. If your family knows what your wishes are, they will be able to ensure that they are followed.

Discussing your decision with your family may also prevent fights later on. Without discussing your decision, you could have two different family members who believe they know what your intentions really are. This could lead to fights or resentment if your health care representative has to make a decision that one of the family members disagrees with. It is important to talk to all members of your family and not just your health care representative. By discussing your decision ahead of time, you can make sure that the entire family is on the same page and hopefully prevent disagreements in the future.

Discussing your decision will also help to prevent guilt on the part of your health care representative. Oftentimes, when a health care representative has to make a decision, they feel uncomfortable making the decision, or later feel guilty about the decision they made. By discussing this before hand, you can ensure that they understand that all you are asking them to do is carry out your wishes. You are not asking them to make a decision, just to ensure that the decision that you have already made gets carried out. Discussing it beforehand can make the health care representative's job easier at a very stressful time.

Our office would recommend to all of our clients who took their living will home and put them in a desk drawer without discussing the contents of it with their family, to schedule a family meeting and go over the document. Not only may it prevent fights down the road between family members, but it will also make sure that your decision is carried out and you will not have to end up in a lengthy legal battle like Terri Schiavo's family.

Begley & Bookbinder, P.C. is an Elder & Disability Law Firm with offices in Moorestown, Stone Harbor and Lawrenceville, New Jersey and Oxford Valley, Pennsylvania and can be contacted at 800-533-7227. The firm services southern and central New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. Tom Begley Jr. is one of the speakers with Kenneth Vercammen at the NJ State Bar Association's Annual Nuts & Bolts of Elder Law and co-author with Kenneth Vercammen, martin Spigner and Kathleen Sheridan of the 400 plus page book on Elder Law.

2. US Supreme Court Rules passengers in cars have search rights

Brendlin v. California No. 06-8120 Decided June 18, 2007

Police officers stopped a car to check its registration without reason to believe it was being operated unlawfully. One of the officers recognized petitioner Brendlin, a passenger in the car. The police verified that Brendlin was a parole violator and officers arrested Brendlin and searched him, the driver and the car finding methamphetamine paraphernalia. Brendlin was charged with possessing and manufacturing meth and moved to suppress the evidence obtained from the search of his person and the car, arguing that the officers lacked probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop the car which made the seizure of his person unconstitutional. The unanimous opinion recognized that passengers in vehicles stopped by the police are covered by the fourth amendment and may challenge the legality of the stop if arrested.

Held: when the police make a traffic stop, a passenger in the car, like the driver, is seized for fourth amendment purposes and so may challenge the stop's constitutionality.


3. Charity Running Races

June 24 - Pine Beach 5k & One Mile Riverside Run - 9am - 1 mile - 8:15am - Pine Beach, NJ (732 505 9554), http://www.pinebeach5k.com/

The 2007 event is the ninth annual race on this fast, scenic, USATF certified 3.1 mile course along the Toms River and through the quiet streets of Pine Beach.

All roads will be closed to traffic. There will be two water stops, and clocks at miles 1 and 2. Strollers and baby joggers are welcome.

After the race, there will be an awards ceremony on the Vista Park field. Cash awards ($150, $125, $100) will be given to the top three male and female runners, with a $100 bonus award for setting a new course record. A $75 award for the top male and female master runner. Additional age group awards will be given out along with other special awards. Check the awards page for a breakdown of all awards and categories.

Again this year will be the Team Challenge. Awards will be given to the first team in each category: male, female, and mixed. Teams will consist of three runners. Each team member must complete and sign a race application.

This race is now a USATF New Jersey Championship event for USATF Members. USATF Members will receive 700 points as well as a reduced pre-registration fee.

The Outback Steakhouse, Bricktown, will provide a post race BBQ for all race participants.

June 30- Frog Hollow 5k- Free food, use swim club for entire day

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