4 Common Myths About Powers of Attorne

Powers of attorney are extremely useful documents in the event of mental incapacity. These documents are also useful in less dire situations, such as when the principal is out of the country or simply unable to sign an urgent document. Nonetheless, rumors concerning potential pitfalls with powers of attorney continue to swirl, including the ever-present concern that an agent can make off with the principal’s money. The following helps to dispel some of the more common myths associated with both healthcare powers of attorney and financial powers of attorney. As always, be sure to contact an experienced attorney with any questions you may have about the implications of executing a power of attorney in your own estate plan.


            Myth #4: I don’t need to appoint my spouse as my agent – we’re married!


Contrary to popular belief, the law does not create a natural power of attorney relationship between spouses. Of course, any assets titled jointly may be handled or transacted by either spouse as needed. However, if an asset is titled solely in the name of one spouse or the other, it will generally require authorization via a power of attorney in order for the other spouse to gain access to the asset or account.


            Myth #3: I should name all my children as my agent to avoid conflict


Actually, the opposite may be true. Oftentimes, the notion of selecting all the adult children as agent may seem like the fairest way to divvy up the responsibility. However, in the event the agents do not agree on a course of action, this could backfire and create even more friction. Options to avoid this including naming just one adult child as an agent – or specifying that agents may act concurrently but independent of one another.


            Myth #2: A living will requires me to select ‘DNR’ – and I don’t want that!


A living will allows the drafter the opportunity to elect certain options when facing an end-of-life situation. The document does not trigger until the point at which a doctor has determined that you are likely to succumb to the illness or injury in force. As well, a ‘do not resuscitate’ directive is not the only option available, and you may elect that you would like medical interventions to prolong your life indefinitely.


            Myth #1: If I execute a power of attorney, my agent could steal all my money!


This is not only a myth, it is also a crime. A power of attorney does not grant the agent unfettered power to make financial and legal decisions on behalf of the principal. By contrast, the agent is in a “fiduciary” relationship with the principal, meaning all decisions must be made either at the direction of the principal or in the principal’s best interests. Any financial decisions rendered in the agent’s best interests could result in civil liability, as well as possible criminal culpability.


Contact an experienced estate planning attorney today!


If you are considering executing a power of attorney, please let us know today!

10 Reasons to Protect Your Business With a Childcare Protection Package – Part 2

Earlier this month, we explored several reasons why a Childcare Protection Package is a vital and integral component to your business. If you are like most childcare providers, you worked very hard to get your business up and running – and continue to maintain a steadfast dedication to your line of work. Caring for the child of others is often grueling, tiresome work. But as those of us with experience know, it is also one of the most rewarding professions out there.


In today’s post, we follow up with several additional reasons why a Childcare Protection Package can help your business avoid costly and devastating liability, as well as uncomfortable conflict with parents over matters that could easily be worked out ahead of time.


So, without further ado,


#4:       Custody/Visitation/PFA Acknowledgement Forms & Policy: As your children grow and evolve, so too do their families. When working with children whose parents have divorced, are in the process of divorcing, or were never married, it is vital to understand the precise child custody and visitation arrangement between the parents, as well as any orders in place that may restrict a certain individual’s access to the child (e.g., an estranged family member or former significant other). Our package includes a form for each parent to fill out detailing the nature of their relationship with the co-parent. As well, if any custody or visitation orders are in place, the parents must provide this information to the provider for safekeeping in the file. Lastly, if court orders change or if any sort of restrictions are issued, one or both parents (depending upon the situation), must submit the updated information within 3 business days of the order. This protects you are the provider from any sort of conflict with family members in the event an issue arises, as you can clearly rely upon the contents of your Acknowledgement Forms to combat any contentions.


#3:       Third-Party Pick-Up Policies: As a provider, you come to know your primary pick-up/drop-off parent extremely well over the weeks, months, and years you are caring for their child. And, of course, there will be evenings when mom or dad cannot make to your center on time to pick up their child, and a grandparent or family friend as agreed to pick up the slack. This may be convenient for the parent, but how are you – as the provider – to know whether this person is a safe and responsible individual to be transporting such precious cargo? In our opinion, any person who is likely to be picking up a child at some point should be made aware of your business policies, advised of your rules and regulations, and required to sign an acknowledgement form stating as such. What’s more, third-parties should expect to show proper identification at the door, and will be immediately turned away and asked to leave if the provider suspects any evidence of intoxication. In sum, your Childcare Protection Package will contain a shortened set of documents for third-parties to fill out and sign, thereby further insulating your business from claims by family members and friends of your clients.


Ready to get started? Email us today: ChildCarePackage@StephanieReidLaw.com

Ready to get started? Email us today: ChildCarePackage@StephanieReidLaw.com

#2:       Liability Waivers: If you transport children or take children to recreational areas (e.g., parks or pools) to play, a liability waiver is a must. The average broken bone can result in thousands of dollars’ worth of medical bills and, depending upon your insurance deductible, could be coming directly out of your pocket. The laws in Delaware and Maryland vary on this issue, and our office can help you determine what sort of liability you can avoid with a parental waiver – and what sort you cannot.


Along these lines, liability waivers are also helpful in avoiding costly lawsuits for parents and adults injured on your property. The possibilities are endless, particularly if you have steep steps, a driveway that tends to ice over or is unpaved, or any other potential hazards on your property. Of course, the best advice is to keep your property save and hazard-free, however a premises liability waiver can come in very handy in the event a parent in six-inch stilettos tumbles down your front stoop following a major ice storm. Yes, it has happened.


#1:       The Contract & Parent Handbook: Your provider contract is the backbone of your business. It sets the rules, expectations, and obligations between you as the childcare provider and your client base. A comprehensive, all-inclusive contract is an absolute must – and it should be accompanied by a thorough parent handbook as well. While the contract sets forth the legal promises between you and your parents, the parent handbook provides elaborate and detailed information to (hopefully) address any and all scenarios that could arise in your daycare. Of course, with our Childcare Protection Package, your contract, handbook, and all other forms will be consistent and legal – thereby protecting you and your business from the unexpected.


Contact us today to get started!


If you are ready to protect your business, and would like to work with a knowledgeable attorney with an extensive background in childcare law and policy, please contact ChildcarePackage[at]StephanieReidLaw.com for information.

10 Reasons to Protect Your Business With a Childcare Protection Package – Part 1

Later this month, Stephanie Reid Law plans to kick off a new business component: Protection packages for home daycare providers and small business childcare centers. We ♥ our childcare providers and want to see their businesses protected from difficult situations unique to this industry. For many in this industry, their business grew out of a sincere devotion to helping families nurture and enrich their children while both parents pursued a fulfilling career. I know I couldn’t do what I do without my hero childcare provider!


Over the next several weeks, hundreds of providers across Delaware and Maryland will receive a handy postcard detailing the protection packages we offer, as well as an invitation to check out our site and get to know Stephanie Reid Law and what it has to offer. If you are a potential client considering investing in some business protection, consider the following reasons why this package could help protect your hard-earned business from unnecessary liability, claims, and conflict:


#10: Sick Policies: As a daycare provider, you are undoubtedly intimately familiar with sick children. You also know that certain contagious conditions can spread like wildfire to not only your other children, but to your own family as well. In the event a child comes down with a serious strain of flu virus or a similarly life-threatening illness, you will need an ironclad sick policy to protect all other families from serious harm from unnecessary exposure. And, in the event a child becomes ill, your thoroughly-documented sick policy could help protect you from claims and conflict.


#9: Medicine Administration Policy: Medication and medical treatments are a necessary component to the daily operation of a childcare center. However, inaccurate dosages, missed treatments or unexpected reactions to medication can cause major nightmares for the provider – as well as invite claims of injury from parents. With a thorough childcare protection package, you can make certain dosages are clearly communicated by the parent, the time and amount of the medication is logged, and the parent has certified there are no known allergies or interactions of which you should be aware.


Worried about unnecessary risk? Contact us today to get started!

Worried about unnecessary risk? Contact us today to get started!

#8: Confidentiality: In today’s world of over-sharing, confidentiality may seem like a misnomer. However, in the childcare realm, confidentiality remains one of the top priorities for parents and families – particularly with regard to a child’s behavior, medical situation, or familial structure. As a provider, the last thing you want is for sensitive information about a child or parent to become public knowledge. As such, our package includes confidentiality agreements to be signed by both the provider and each new family – thereby protecting the integrity of both the center and its clients.


#7: Licensing Requirements: It goes without saying that, as a childcare provider, you are keenly aware of the requirements to open and maintain your business. However, as regulations grow and evolve, a handy and comprehensive summary of your state’s requirements may prove helpful to you in the event a situation arises that may be new to you. Your package will contain a comprehensive check list of licensing and maintenance requirements for either Delaware or Maryland, depending upon your location.


#6: Driveway Policy: The driveway can be the most dangerous place in your home, particularly if a large group of parents pick up and drop off at the same time. Disaster can strike at any moment, and you simply must make each parent aware of proper protocol when picking up or dropping off children. While it goes without saying that each child’s safety is your number one concern, proof that an injury-prevention policy was in place in the event of an accident can also protect you and your business from claims of negligence for lack of supervision.


#5: Abuse Reporting: Delaware and Maryland are two states extremely committed to the detection and prevention of physical, emotional, mental, and sexual abuse of children. As a childcare provider, you are a mandatory reporter in the event suspicions arise. In your childcare protection packet, we will include a list of “red flags” to consider, as well as the correct hotline numbers and contact agencies if you suspect abuse. We also recommend having your parents sign off that each is aware of the policies, and there will be zero tolerance for any sort of harmful acts toward your children. Period.


Check out Stephanie Reid Law for more!


Stay tuned for Part 2 of our post on why a childcare protection package is necessary and vital for your business. As well, if you are interested in this investment for your business or would like to get started on our questionnaire, send us an email at ChildCarePackage[at]StephanieReidLaw.com today!

I Don’t Care What Your Parents Did, Put Your Switch way

child-334307_1280As you have undoubtedly heard, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been indefinitely benched for his role in a possible child abuse situation. The team reportedly still must send him a paycheck – and his (albeit, dwindling) endorsement and royalties checks will still roll in – but the man cannot continue in his role as the NFL’s premier offensive points-producer until his child abuse case is finally resolved.


Some have balked at the punishment. Others – and this is beyond the scope of this post – have pointed to the so-called “cultural factors” at work behind the scenes, compelling a parent to engage the pain-inflicting “switch” device to correct a child’s unwanted behavior.


For those who do not know, the term “switch” — when used in the context of corporal punishment — can mean a number of different handheld instruments – but basically refers to a long, flexible piece of wood used to whip the child’s rear end, presumably until the child learns his or her lesson.


From what I understand, some parents implement the added humiliation of making the child cut and prepare his or her own switch prior to the beating.


Regardless, use of a switch – as opposed to an open-hand spank – often results in open wounds, severe bruising, or even damage to the child’s genitalia (as is alleged in the Peterson situation).


Now, according to various media debates and panels, using switches is still considered an appropriate form of corporal punishment in many American homes – so, why all the fuss over this single incident? Why isolate one father – who happens to be exceptionally well-known and admired by fans across the U.S. – to prove a point about what is, and is not, an appropriate form of discipline?


I may not have the answer to that question, but I am glad it is the case. You see, like any child advocacy issue, the greater the exposure of the problem, the more likely it is to diminish. Moreover, the more exposure garnered by the state or local officials handling the matter, the more likely other precincts in other jurisdictions will begin to reconsider the confines of parental discipline. Because, setting aside the overall debate over corporal punishment (which historically includes spanking and paddling), the use of a dirty, sharp-edged tree branch on the back-end of a preschooler can hardly be considered an effective vehicle through which a supposedly well-meaning parent can communicate the difference between right and wrong – allowing the child to self-correct and try again.


Actually, I would categorize this method under the heading of Lazy Parenting – using an instrument and force instead of correction and communication.


Think about it from the child’s point of view: At the very moment of discipline (i.e., switch connects with bottom), the actions or inactions of that child that gave rise to the punishment are the furthest thing from his mind. Instead, he’s thinking about survival:

How can I physically position myself to make this hurt less?

How many beatings am I going to have to endure?

How long is this going to take?

How long will this hurt afterwards?

Can I make it through this?


And so on….


What the child is not considering before, during, or after this type of punishment is:

What did I do wrong?

How can I adjust my behavior to please my parent?

How can I approach this situation better next time?

What is the right way to act so I don’t have to go through this inconvenient discipline next time.


So, when it comes to high-profile parents, should the bar be set higher? Absolutely. I have heard over and over this week about how Adrian Peterson, while being raised in East Houston, had to endure the effects of punishment by a switch – and was just using the methods with which he was accustomed.


Unfortunately, Peterson – like all parents – must make his own discipline decisions regardless of upbringing, background, or culture. None of us is entitled to a free pass on adult misconduct merely because we saw the same behavior from our parents growing up. Thankfully!


High profile parents – in any industry – are under a microscope, and their behavior (good or bad) reaches hundreds of thousands of people, leaving an impact. Unfortunately, many people only consider “child abuse” to be obvious, extreme, severe, life-threatening neglect or physical force, leaving noticeable marks, scarring and psychological damage. But to me, the parent-child relationship is inherently physically dominated by the parent who, by mere biology, is larger, stronger, and more agile than a child – particularly a four-year old. By that measure, any exploitation of that size difference in a way that breaks the skin, damages underlying blood vessels (i.e., bruising), or causes unforeseen internal damage (physical or mental) is abuse – regardless of what any statute or cultural traditions dictate. A child’s small stature should always serve as a reminder that discipline must always be scaled to fit the situation – and it is never acceptable to create an environment in which a child comes to expect brute force as a consequence for a mistake.


For more information on corporal punishment, including a state-by-state analysis, visit the Center for Effective Discipline.

4 Reasons Our Web-Based Delaware Law Firm Snubs the Competition

Computer mouse

Web-based legal services – online and on time.

The internet is chock-full of junk – this we know. Especially when it comes to the legal realm, it can be very difficult to get a straight, accurate answer to a simple question online without questioning the validity of the author or the accuracy of the content. On the other hand, however, making an appointment at a traditional lawyer’s office, taking time off of work, and paying hundreds of dollars for an answer to your question is not really working for you either.


We get it. And we’re here to help you separate the online junk from the gems.


We are your gem. And here is why:


#1 – Convenience


Our web-based law firm is convenient to use, and available to you 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Once you are a client, you can expect a response from your Delaware lawyer within a couple hours of sending your message – and whatever you need will be addressed quickly and accurately. Which brings us to our next point….


#2 – Accuracy


Most web-based legal sites are authored by former paralegals, law students, or lawyers in a hurry to make some cash. In many cases, these sites do not pay well, and are sort of a last resort for those in the legal community struggling to make extra money. The legal analysis may be correct, or it may not – the editors aren’t much better. If you are looking for an answer online, and want it from a licensed, educated Delaware attorney – let’s get started! Otherwise, there is really no telling who is on the other end of that article you’re reading.


#3 – Cost effectiveness


Let’s be realistic. Most families do not have tons of extra money lying around to finance an answer to a simple or mildly-complex legal question. Unfortunately, traditional firms have to pay the bills (payroll, utilities, rent, etc.) – and these expenses are wrapped up into the cost of counseling you. With a Delaware online law firm, the expenses are minimal (hosting fee, a little marketing here and there), resulting in a much less costly experience for the client. If you need an answer to a question, or would like assistance getting your paperwork in order for a routine family court matter – don’t spend thousands. Sign up with us and we’ll get it done for a fraction of the cost.


#4 – On your terms


We know that, most often, people need a lawyer during a negative point in their life. Maybe you are looking to modify your custody order because you don’t trust your co-parent. Maybe you have decided it is finally time to put a Delaware or Maryland estate plan together – but don’t really want to contemplate your own death. Whatever the situation, it can get emotional – and you likely don’t want to be pouring your heart out in a sterile, cold, lawyer’s office under harsh fluorescent lighting. When you’re ready to get started with what you need, we’re here. And you can access your account from the comfort of your home – on your terms.


Ready to get started?


At Stephanie Reid Law, we offer document preparation services, estate planning, and can provide answers to your legal questions for a low flat-rate fee. If you would like to get started, register with us today and let’s get started! You can contact Stephanie directly by emailing Stephanie [at] StephanieReidLaw.com!

Got Children? You Need a Testamentary Guardianship in Your Delaware Estate Plan


It’s uncomfortable. It’s emotional. But, it’s necessary.

(No, we’re not talking about divorce today).

A testamentary guardianship is a must have if you are the parent of a young child and are ready to get started on your Delaware estate plan. As we will discuss further below, this necessary component of your will directs what will happen with your children if the unthinkable happens and they are left without one or both parents. The stronger, and more specific, the testamentary guardianship – the better. Once you are ready to get started, contact Stephanie Reid Law right away for assistance with this responsible and realistic element to your Delaware estate plan.

Directing the upbringing of your children

The best starting point when deciding on the terms of your testamentary guardianship is making a choice about who should be appointed guardian(s) of your child upon your demise. If you are confident in the parenting skills of your co-parent, you may decide that you do not need to appoint a guardian to replace you. However, we always recommend including guardianship language in your Delaware estate plan to address the situation where both you and your child’s other parent pass away at the same time.

Choosing a guardian is never easy, and it can sometimes lead to a stressful, painful discussion with your co-parent. However, making a choice is necessary, and we suggest the following factors to consider when weighing your options:

  • Age and Availability: The guardian of your child should be someone who is able and available to fulfill the role of a full-time parent. Someone with strenuous work commitments, significant health issues or who is of an advanced age may be overly burdened by the task, and your child could suffer as a result.
  • Suitability: We all love wild Aunt Jo, and she may be your closest friend in the world. But will she make a good parental figure – particularly in the aftermath of a devastating loss? When deciding on your child’s guardian, aim to pick someone with a stable routine, a clean history and, above all else, the willingness to accept the responsibility.
  • Current Relationship: Does your child have a good relationship with the proposed guardian? Does your child get along with the guardian’s family and children? These are important considerations when deciding if your child will be a good fit in the family.
  • Child’s Wishes: If your child is old enough, and you feel comfortable approaching the topic, it may be wise to discuss your child’s wishes in the event the unthinkable occurs.
Arrange for your child's upbringing with a testamentary guardianship.

Arrange for your child’s upbringing with a testamentary guardianship.

What to include in your Delaware estate plan

In addition to choosing a proper guardian for your child, your Delaware estate plan should also include language articulating your wishes with regard to the upbringing of your child. One important directive is to establish a trust for the benefit of your child from the proceeds of his or her inheritance. Along with establishing a trust, you must also name a trustee to oversee and manage the inheritance corpus for the benefit of your child. This trustee can be the same person as the guardian, a different person, or an institutional trustee (i.e., a bank or financial institution).

From there, the possibilities are endless. If you have unrelenting faith in the abilities of your named guardian to raise your child, you may not need to include any additional information. However, if you have certain steadfast values and principles you would like upheld following your death, be sure to include these in your testamentary guardianship. For example, it is not uncommon for parents to place conditions on the receipt of any inheritance held in trust such as graduating from college.

Contact Stephanie Reid Law today about your Delaware estate plan

Testamentary trusts may be difficult to discuss, but the inter-family tension that can occur in the absence of a clear, delineated guardianship plan can cause unrelenting stress and turmoil for your child. If you are ready to discuss adding or creating a testamentary guardianship as part of your Delaware estate plan, contact us today!



Welcome to Stephanie Reid Law

Your Delaware and Maryland Law Firm!

As the official launch of Stephanie Reid Law draws near, I would just like to take a moment to identify the reason and purpose for this venture:

Family picture of attorney Stephanie Reid.

It took us an hour, and several hundred attempts, to capture this image. My son is actually trying to strangle me here.

That’s right – my family! I have two little boys, who are just balls of energy and fill my cup full every day.

In private practice, which was only able to keep me for about two years, I got a taste of what life would be like as a full-time, practicing lawyer-mom. While I am up to the challenge of the work-life-balance merry-go-round, I wanted it to be on my terms. Not my boss’s, and certainly not the traditional terms of legal employment as passed down over the last several hundred years – which when matched with a working mother usually results in the old round hole/square peg dilemma.

I wanted to do something different. Something out of the box. Something extraordinary….

So here we are! Stephanie Reid Law is one of the very first completely web-based law offices in Delaware, and one of several web-based practices emerging in Maryland. The concept is very simple: you need a simple legal service? Contact me, we’ll get it done.

 Why choose Stephanie Reid Law for your legal issues?

My goal is to eliminate the stress, confusion and hassle that plagues the traditional legal sphere. In this day and age, it is absolutely ridiculous to think you need to pay a $5,000 retainer to handle a routine family law matter.

Likewise, everyone should have an estate plan – even if it is just a Last Will and Testament. And I want to help everyone accomplish this task!

Here on this blog, you can expect a mixed bag of content. Sometimes, we will feature highlights and updates occurring in Delaware or Maryland. Other times, we will discuss certain specific legal services we offer and why you should only consider us for the routine legal work. And, in addition to the legal jargon, we’ll probably also venture off into context of working lawyer moms – and how we manage to keep it all together!

 Give Stephanie Reid Law a try — You won’t be disappointed!

I’m so pleased and honored you have stopped by my site, and I would love nothing more than to get to know you and discuss your legal issues. If you have questions about the process or would like to know if a certain service is available on our site, shoot me an email: Stephanie[at]StephanieReidLaw.com. This is an actual email address that comes directly to me – not a paralegal, assistant or receptionist. We don’t have those. It’s how we stay cheap!

I look forward to working with you in the future and hope to hear from you soon!

All the best,