Archives for November 2011

Guidance for Charitable Giving

Press Release by Michael Delaney, NH Attorney General

The holiday season is a time when New Hampshire citizens receive dozens of solicitations in the mail, over the telephone, and through social media for contributions to charitable and charitable-sounding organizations.  While the vast majority of these organizations are legitimate, the Attorney General’s Office receives numerous reports of charitable solicitation scams seeking donations to nonprofit-sounding entities which either do not exist or are not legitimate.

In order to better protect the generous donors in New Hampshire from false or fraudulent solicitations, New Hampshire Attorney General Michael A. Delaney offers the following guidance to help insure your donation is used for a legitimate charitable purpose.

Be an informed donor:

The Charitable Trusts Unit of the Attorney General’s Office posts a list of all charities registered with the Attorney General as well as a list of all registered professional fundraisers on its website: http://www.doj.nh.gov/site-map/charities.htm.  All professional fundraisers soliciting donations on behalf of nonprofit organizations are required to obtain a permit from the Attorney General before the solicitation campaign is commenced and a listing of all approved campaigns are on the website. 

Follow these 10 Tips for Making Smart Donations:

1. Ask the solicitor for some identification before giving out any personal information.  By law, paid solicitors must identify the charity for which they solicit and their status as a paid solicitor. Do not be afraid to ask and if they refuse, do not hesitate to hang up and contact your local law enforcement agency.

2. Ask for printed or electronic materials from the charity.  Any legitimate charity can provide printed materials for you to study in order to better understand the charity and the charity’s purpose. Ask for materials that clearly state: (1) the name, address and telephone number of the charity; (2) a description of how and where charitable funds will be used; and (3) the name, address and telephone number of the paid solicitor.

3. Ask how much of your contribution actually goes to the charity. Professional fundraisers retain a portion of your donation as payment for the service provided to the charity.  According to New Hampshire law, solicitors and the charities for which they solicit are required to file an accounting of the fundraising campaign, which must include a copy of the terms of the fundraising agreement. This filing should indicate how much of the proceeds actually go to the charity and should be available for the solicitor to disclose to all potential donors.

4. Beware of high-pressure sales tactics and abusive behavior by solicitors.  No legitimate charitable fundraiser will refuse to take the time to explain the purpose of fundraising and the objectives of the charity in a courteous manner.  If you encounter abusive solicitation you should end the communication and contact your local law enforcement agency.

5. Keep records of all donations, including receipts and cancelled checks.  This information is especially important for tax deduction purposes and in case you have a complaint in the future.

6. Beware of solicitors “soliciting” for organizations that may have deceptively similar names to legitimate charities.  Many for-profit organizations style their names after charitable organizations.  Do not be deceived by these copy-cat businesses whose titles may differ by such minor terms as “association,” “federation,” “national,” “American,” “incorporated,” and “foundation.”  Do not hesitate to ask for more information and contact your local law enforcement agency if you are unsure of the legitimacy of any campaigns.

7. NEVER pay by cash and NEVER give out your credit card number over the phone.  When making a donation, simply make a check out to the charity itself, not to the paid solicitor, and use the charity’s full name. That way you have a record of the contribution and the money goes directly to the charity.

8. Call the charities that are the beneficiaries of the charitable fundraising campaign and ask if they are aware of the solicitation.  If the charities are unaware of the solicitation campaign on their behalf do not donate any money and contact the Charitable Trusts Unit or your local law enforcement agency immediately.

9. Don’t be deceived by solicitation gimmicks.  Use caution when purchasing products or tickets, or when receiving free merchandise in exchange for a donation. These methods may be legitimate but they add costs to the fundraising campaigns which are ultimately deducted from your donation. Also use caution when dealing with sweepstakes which may request donations worth more than the prize awarded, or which do not provide a prize at all.

10. Take time to verify all information before making a donation.  All charities and paid solicitors are required to register with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office prior to solicitation.  If you have any questions or problems, write to OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, CHARITABLE TRUSTS UNIT, 33 CAPITOL STREET, CONCORD, NH 03301-6397.

If in doubt, check it out:

While it is generally preferable to donate to charities that you are familiar with, please do not hesitate to call the Attorney General’s Charitable Trust Unit before giving to any charity, especially one you are unfamiliar with.  The Unit’s telephone number is (603) 271-3591.  Most information filed by nonprofit organizations with the Charitable Trusts Unit, including annual reports and fundraising contracts, is open to the public under the State’s Right to Know Law and is available upon request. 

The holidays are a wonderful time for supporting charitable organizations and causes and this information is designed to assist New Hampshire citizens in selecting the best recipients of their charitable giving by providing donors with the information needed to make informed giving decisions.

If you believe you may have been the victim of a scam, contact the Lawyer Referral Service now at 603-229-0002 for a referral to an attorney who handles fraud related legal matters or request a referral online at https://www.newhampshirelawyerreferral.com/contact-us.

New Hampshire Advance Directives

Making decisions about medical care is not always easy – especially now that machines can keep patients alive even when there is no hope for recovery. It’s your right to participate and plan for your care.  But at some point, you may become unable to make your own health care decisions. That’s why it’s important to think and talk about your feelings and beliefs with your loved ones – long before critical medical decisions must be made.

 This guide provides you with information about creating an “advance directive” – a legal document that states your preferences about medical care. Please read it carefully and discuss it with your family, doctor, nurse practitioner, patient representative, chaplain or other caregiver.

To download the complete guide go to:  http://www.healthynh.com/fhc/initiatives/performance/eol/2010%20ACPG.pdf

Reprinted by permission from the Foundation for Healthy Communities copyright © 2010. All rights reserved.

While you may not need an attorney to create basic advance directives, you may want an attorney to assist you with more complicated forms of estate planning such as wills and trusts.   Contact the Lawyer Referral Service at 603-229-0002 or complete the online referral request form at https://www.newhampshirelawyerreferral.com/contact-us for a referral to a competent attorney who handles estate planning matters in your area.

 

Administering an Estate in New Hampshire

As an executor or administrator of an estate, it is your responsibility, under the Probate Court’s supervision, to ensure that the debts and assets of the estate are managed and distributed in accordance with New Hampshire law and the decedent’s wishes if expressed in a will.

An executor is a person named by a decedent in a will to administer an estate (called a testate estate). An administrator is a person eligible under New Hampshire law, and who is approved by the Probate Court, to administer an estate when the decedent leaves no will (called an intestate estate) or when the executor(s) named in the will cannot serve. Whether you are an executor or an administrator (also referred to as a fiduciary), you must exercise the highest duty of good faith and candor in carrying out the administration of the decedent’s estate.

Your responsibility as executor or administrator is to perform certain tasks to see that the estate is properly probated. The assets of the decedent’s estate must be collected and its debts paid, if sufficient funds exist in the estate. The assets must be managed while awaiting approval to distribute them and estate funds must be kept separate from any other funds by opening an account in the name of the estate and depositing all estate funds and paying all estate bills from that account. The value of the estate’s assets must be determined by an appraiser named by you and appointed by the Probate Court. This valuation is extremely important because it establishes the tax basis for federal and state death taxes and for heirs or legatees who inherit the property. You must inform all persons with any legal interest in the estate, including creditors and potential heirs, of any matters that might affect their interests.

 While you do not need to be an attorney to serve as an executor or administrator, you should always consult an attorney when issues arise which you are not comfortable handling. If consulted for a proper purpose, attorneys’ fees are payable out of the estate. The Probate Court Register’s office, (similar to a Court Clerk’s office), may be of some assistance in giving general advice and providing necessary forms, but it is not allowed to give legal advice.

To download a complete copy of “Administering an Estate”, prepared by the Public Information committee of the NH Bar Association and the Probate Court Administrative Office, go to http://www.nhbar.org/uploads/pdf/admin_an_estate.pdf.

If you do not feel comfortable administering an estate on your own, the NH Lawyer Referral Service can refer you to an experienced attorney who handles estate administration.   Call the Lawyer Referral Service at 603-229-0002 or request an online referral at https://www.newhampshirelawyerreferral.com/contact-us.

FDA Urged to Update Chantrix Warning Label

“Scientists say the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should take warnings about the stop-smoking drug Chantix up a notch, citing data showing that the drug increases suicidal behavior and depression far more than other drugs and methods designed to help smokers quit,” as reported by ABC News correspondant, Carrie Gann.

“Chantix, also called varenicline, has been hotly debated since 2007, when experts first raised questions about the long-term safety of the drug and its connection to cardiovascular problems and vision lapses. Since then, studies have reported that patients taking Chantix are at increased risk of depression and suicidal thoughts. Anecdotally, patients report wild dreams, inexplicable violent behavior and other psychological disturbances while on the drug.”  To continue reading, go to http://abcnews.go.com/Health/chantix-dangers-government-attention-study/story?id=14868835#.TrmZwXLup9N.

Drugs and pharmaceuticals are often at the center of product liability cases.  Drug manufacturers have a duty to test the medicines before releasing them to the market and a duty to warn users about known side effects. 

If you believe you may have been harmed by a drug that you were legally prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner, The NH Lawyer Referral Service can refer you to competent  attorneys who have experience with pharmaceutical liability cases.   Call LRS now at 603-229-0002 or request an online referral at https://www.newhampshirelawyerreferral.com/contact-us.

What is Sexual Harassment?

With all the controversy in the news these days surrounding the sexual harassment claims against a presidential candidate, LRS decided to research  just what IS sexual harassment? 

The NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence defines it as “any unwelcome sexual advance or conduct on the job that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. Any conduct of a sexual nature that makes an employee uncomfortable has the potential to be sexual harassment.  Given this broad definition, it is not surprising that sexual harassment comes in many forms.” 

For more information visit the Coalition’s website at http://www.nhcadsv.org/sexual_harassment.cfm 

If you believe you are a victim of sexual harassment in your workplace, or if you have been accused of sexual harassment, the Lawyer Referral Service can help by referring you to a New Hampshire attorney who has experience handling either side of this emotional legal issue.  Call (603) 229-0002 or request a referral online at https://www.newhampshirelawyerreferral.com/contact-us

Do You Know Your Rights?

Should you refuse a request from a police officer to search your car?  How should you refuse a search request?  When do you have to show ID?  Is a police officer allowed to lie to you? 

For answers to these and other questions  in the form of short video reenactments and basic FAQs, visit http://flexyourrights.org/, a non-profit whose mission it is to educate the public on how the basic Bill of Rights protections apply during encounters with law enforcement.