Keystone Law - April 2020

Trust Matters APRIL 2020

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The Joys of Probate A Very Serious Look at This Unique Experience

In honor of April 1, my firm and I just wanted to take a moment to celebrate one of the most underrated experiences in the modern world: probate. Why so many people come to us in order to avoid sending their loved ones through this protracted legal process is a mystery to us. So, we wanted to do our part to highlight the many, many joys that can be found within the confines of probate court. First and foremost, when your estate goes through probate, your family will have the rare experience of getting to know a great deal of attorneys. These colleagues of mine won’t hesitate to ask your relatives about the deepest, most personal details of their lives. Even after three years of law school, I never developed such a relationship with my fellow lawyers — and believe me, it stings. But for the low, low cost of not writing an estate plan, you can give your closest relatives the chance to be interrogated by these legal professionals. It’s like they get to play a supporting role in a made-for-TV courtroom drama! Did we mention that probate gives families an up-close look at the court accounting system? They’ll marvel at the government’s ability to quantify and redistribute your most personal assets. This is especially great if you have an aspiring bureaucrat in the family. Think of probate as a field trip for them to learn just how complex, unintuitive, and unsympathetic this system can be! Still not sold on this sincere endorsement of probate? Well, what if we told you that a judge may order your family members to make certain medical decisions or tell them where they can or can’t live? We’re sure that having those important decisions taken off their plate by a stranger they’ve never met will definitely be a relief for them.

there’s still hope. Much like growing a beard, the key to having a probate-worthy estate plan is to do nothing and hope for the best. Don’t maintain your plan by updating it after major life events or adding detailed language to clarify your wishes. Just let it slowly become an unkempt mess that others will have to untangle. Of course, if for some reason probate doesn’t sound like a good fit for you and your loved ones, you can always call an experienced estate planner like myself. But why would you want that?

But let’s not minimize the role your own family members can play in making probate a gripping, dramatic experience. For those who fight for sport with relatives at Thanksgiving dinner, probate is going to feel like the Super Bowl. Where else will they get a chance to dredge up the oldest, ugliest moment of your family’s history and use it as a cudgel against those mourning your loss? Truly, there’s no better way to decide who gets your silverware. If you want the peace of mind that comes with knowing your family will descend into a prolonged, emotional process in the wake of your passing, we’ve got good advice for you. Just don’t make a plan! Yes, it really is that simple. We don’t even have a 1-800 number you need to call. And if you feel the need to absolutely ensure this fate for your family, consider writing“go to probate”on a sticky note and submitting it as your last will and testimony. “But Francisco,” you may ask, “what if I already have an estate plan?”Great question. In the event that you took efforts to cheat your family out of the one-of-a-kind drama that is probate,

April Fools,

-Francisco

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SOMETHING IN THE WATER WHY ROB BILOTT TOOK ON DUPONT

property provided water for all the cattle and wildlife in the area. Since the sale, the stream had become frothy and discolored, and the animals that drank from it were sick, malformed, or dead, including 153 of Tennant’s 200 cows. When Bilott stumbled upon a letter from DuPont to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the real horror story began to emerge — one that went far beyond the boundaries of Tennant’s farm and into the drinking water of every American. The letter mentioned a mysterious chemical called PFOA, and Bilott requested documentation from DuPont to find out more about it. However, the company refused, so Bilott requested a court order. Soon, dozens of disorganized boxes filled with thousands of 50-year-old files arrived at Bilott’s firm.

Rob Bilott never should have agreed to represent Wilbur Tennant’s case.

The cattle farmer had presented evidence of the strange malady plaguing his cattle to lawyers, politicians, and veterinarians in Parkersburg, West Virginia, but no one took Tennant’s case seriously.

in the mess of documents, but soon, his time as an environmental lawyer helped him see the bigger picture. It became clear that DuPont had orchestrated a massive cover-up regarding their use of PFOA. PFOA is used in the manufacturing of Teflon, and the company had knowingly exposed workers and the Parkersburg water supply to it. Bilott filed a class-action suit as a medical monitoring claim on behalf of the people of Parkersburg, and, as of 2011, a probable link between PFOA and six health conditions, including two types of cancer, has been found.

But when Bilott saw the evidence for himself, it was clear that something was wrong.

The videos and photographs Tennant had collected showed cattle with patchy fur, growths and lesions, white slime coming from their mouths, and staggering gaits. Tennant told Bilott that the abnormal behavior and physical deformities had started after his brother Jim sold his property to DuPont, a chemical company with a big presence in Parkersburg. Jim’s property bordered on Wilbur’s, and a stream running from Jim’s

He was worried he wouldn’t be able to find anything incriminating or even conclusive Because of the medical monitoring claim, plaintiffs can file personal injury lawsuits against DuPont. So far, 3,535 people have. If it weren’t for Bilott and Tennant, the public might have never known the dangers of PFOA. DOYOUR PART TO KEEP AMERICA BEAUTIFUL And Maintain Green Living Spaces for Everyone

jogging and picking up litter, which takes care of your health and keeps your community clean. Anybody can do it: Just throw on your running shoes, grab a bag, head out the door, and pick up any stray bits of trash you see on your morning jog or evening walk.

to better the place you live in. Here are three ways to show your appreciation for a green America this month.

Have you ever walked through a park and seen a plastic bottle or wrapper lying on the ground? If so, did you pick it up and properly dispose of it? You might not have realized it, but in that moment, you took a small step toward keeping your community — and, by extension, America — beautiful! April is Keep America Beautiful Month, and folks who celebrate aim to help each community in every state stay clean and green. Created by the nonprofit organization Keep America Beautiful, this holiday offers a perfect opportunity to roll up your sleeves and work

TAKE ACTION ONLINE.

With the current COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world, it might be difficult to get outside and participate in a few community cleanup programs. But that doesn’t mean the public still can’t participate in Keep America Beautiful Month. April 22 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and to celebrate, Earth Day Network is providing digital events for everyone around the world to take part in. Follow Earth Day Network’s social media accounts and stay updated on efforts to keep the Earth green or participate in an event yourself! For more information, visit EarthDay.org.

IMPROVE RECYCLING THROUGH EDUCATION.

An important goal during Keep America Beautiful Month is to spread awareness about recycling. There are various ways to educate those around you about recycling and encourage them to do their part. At work, for example, you can volunteer to lead a recycling initiative by printing off guides and fostering discussions on why recycling is so essential. At home, you can make a commitment with your family to fulfill the three R’s of recycling: reduce, reuse, recycle. To discover more ways to participate in Keep America Beautiful month, visit their website at KAB.org today!

START PLOGGING.

If you’re passionate about staying active and cleaning up your neighborhood, then this is the perfect activity for you! Plogging combines

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TAKE A BREAK

Few things change faster than the internet, and how we connect with the internet is constantly evolving. When it comes to wireless capabilities, fourth-generation (4G) networks have been the norm for 10 years. But 4G couldn’t meet demands forever, and there’s already talk of a fifth-generation (5G) network taking center stage. So, what makes 5G different from 4G, and how will it affect consumers and their internet-enabled devices? SO, WHAT IS 5G? A New Horizon in Wireless Technology

WHAT ARE THE BASICS?

Simply put, 5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology that enables mobile devices like cellphones and stationary devices like desktop computers to send and receive data without being physically connected to a network via cables. As technology improves and more connection points are established around the globe, new network generations are “released” to represent significant advancements in speed and reach.

HOW POWERFUL WILL IT BE?

Consumers will notice the rise of 5G mostly with their smartphones. Apps and services that function using the internet will have fewer delays, faster loading times, more reliable internet access in remote locations, and more stable downloading and uploading capabilities. Experts predict that 5G will provide download speeds of up to 10,000 megabits per second, which is roughly 100 times faster than 4G. While it can take a 4G network upward of 15 seconds to download a simple 5-megabyte music file, a 5G network will be able to download an entire movie in less than two seconds.

EASY DEVILED EGGS

While the kids hunt for Easter eggs in the yard, whip up this easy deviled egg recipe for a hearty snack that’s sure to satisfy any craving.

Ingredients

WHAT’S NEXT?

1/2 tsp ground mustard

1/2 cup mayonnaise

Salt, paprika, garlic powder, and pepper, to taste

2 tbsp milk

These network updates are all about speed, but that doesn’t mean you should rush to switch your cellphone over to 5G. Many providers are still testing the service with select markets, and a full rollout of 5G isn’t expected until later this year. Check with your network provider about the options they currently offer and get ready to connect with the world like never before.

1 tsp dried parsley flakes

12 large eggs, hard-boiled

1/2 tsp dill weed

Fresh parsley, minced, and paprika for garnish

1/2 tsp fresh chives, minced

Directions

1. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, milk, parsley flakes, dill, chives, mustard, salt, paprika, garlic powder, and pepper. Mix well and set aside. 2. Cut eggs lengthwise and remove yolks carefully to preserve egg whites. 3. In a small bowl, mash yolks. 4. Mix mashed yolks with mayonnaise mixture. 5. Spoon or pipe the mixture back into the egg whites. 6. Garnish with fresh parsley and paprika. Refrigerate before serving.

Inspired by TasteOfHome.com

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1

Why Would You Avoid Probate?

The Lawyer Who Took on a Multibillion-Dollar Company Keep America Beautiful

2

Easy Deviled Eggs 5G Made Simple

3

4

The History of Libraries in America

THE OLDEST LIBRARIES IN AMERICA A STORY OF MANY FIRSTS

A FEW MORE FIRSTS

What’s the oldest library in America? It’s an easy question to ask, but it has an unexpectedly complicated answer. Before the Industrial Revolution generated greater interest in public services, a library’s function and purpose varied widely. Several libraries in the United States claim to be the country’s “first,” but for different reasons.

During the 1700s, a few more “first” libraries were established. In 1731, Ben Franklin and a few others started the first subscription library in the United States. Members of subscription libraries could pay to buy books or borrow them for free. In 1757, 60 men founded the Library Company of Burlington in New Jersey, and Thomas Rodman received a charter from King George II to operate the business in 1758. The library still operates under that charter today. The Library of Burlington was the first library to operate out of its own building after a prominent resident donated the land in 1789.

COLLEGES AND THE CLERGY

Hampshire, at a town meeting. It was the first tax-supported free public library in the United States and in the world. Not long after that, the Boston Public Library, known as the “palace for the people,” became the first municipal public library in the country. The Boston Public Library was also the first library to have a space specifically for children. Out of all the “first” libraries in the country, these are the most probable progenitors of most libraries today — even if they weren’t exactly “first.”

Some believe Harvard University hosted the first library in the United States. Harvard was the first university in the United States, founded in 1636, and clergyman John Harvard seeded the library with a 400-book collection. Soon after, however, Thomas Bray, another clergyman, began establishing the first free lending libraries throughout the colonies to encourage the spread of the Anglican Church. Not surprisingly, most of the libraries’ holdings were theological.

BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE

In 1833, just as the Industrial Revolution was picking up steam, the Peterborough Town Library was founded in Peterborough, New

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