Mental Health Awareness Month

We can’t let May end without acknowledging the importance of Mental Health Awareness!

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month! We join and support the efforts to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and the prevalence of mental illness.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that 1 in 5 Americans is affected by a mental health condition in their lifetime, at varying degrees. NAMI acknowledges that nearly every American is impacted of affected by mental illness through a friend or family member, and we are all responsible for supporting our loved ones, fighting stigma, and raising awareness.

More than 46 million people in this country suffer from some type of mental health disorder, yet there is still exists considerable widespread misconceptions and negative perceptions about mental illness. This contributes to significant stigma, which creates an environment of shame, fear, and isolation. Stigma may prevent people from seeking help and ultimately impede people from healing. People need to be supported to seek treatment and to develop a healthy support networks, free from judgment and negative perceptions of others.

NAMI reminds us that stigma can be cured. Compassion, empathy, and understanding are essential for combatting stigma and creating a cultural shift. We all must be a part of this change!

If you are struggling emotionally, please do not hesitate to seek support. If someone you care about is suffering, please encourage them or assist them in seeking support:

NAMI Seattle provides educational courses and support to those living with mental illness as well as their family and friends, and operates a mental health referral and information Helpline to connect callers to the support and resources they need. Please contact (206) 783-9264 or (800) 782-9264 for the NAMI Helpline.

If you or someone you know is in CRISIS, please do not waste any time! CALL FOR HELP IMMEDIATELY. If the crisis is life threatening, please contact 9-1-1. If the crisis is not life-threatening or if you are seeking help outside of regular NAMI office hours, please contact one of the following crisis hotlines:

Suicide Hotlines:     800-273-TALK • 800-273-8255  / 800-SUICIDE • 800-784-2433

Crisis Clinic 24-Hour Crisis Line:    866-427-4747

National Runaway Switchboard:   800-RUNAWAY • 800-786-2929

National Child Abuse Hotline:    800-422-4453

National Sexual Assault Hotline:   800-656-HOPE • 800-656-4673

National Domestic Violence Hotline:  800-799-7233

Crime Prevention Tips for the Holiday Season

During the holiday season, there tends to be an upswing in crime rates for certain types of crimes. Some of the top crimes committed over the holidays include shoplifting, robbery, identity theft, DUI, and assault.

By remaining aware of holiday season risks you can better protect yourself and decrease your chances of becoming a victim. Please review these crime prevention tips to assist you in having a safe and joyful holiday season.

When Shopping:

  • Stay alert and aware of your surroundings
  • Park in a well-lit area, near other cars. Hide any shopping bags in a locked trunk.
  • When you return to your vehicle, check for forced entry and scan to be sure no one is hiding inside.
  • Have your keys out and ready when approaching your vehicle. Avoid fumbling in your purse outside your vehicle.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or excess credit cards beyond what you need. If you do go to an ATM, make sure it is in a well-lit, safe location, and check your surroundings before withdrawing cash.
  • Carry your purse close to your person. Do not leave your purse, wallet, or cell phone in plain view and don’t carry your wallet or cell phone in your back pocket.
  • Do not resist or chase someone who is trying to rob you; they may have a weapon. Call 911 for assistance.
  • If you are shopping with children, have a safety plan and discuss when them ahead of time what to do if you get separated.

When Driving:

  • Drive defensively and with heightened vigilance. Remember that traffic is heavier during the holidays and there may be an increased number of drivers who have been drinking.
  • Lock your car doors and close the windows while driving.
  • Avoid shortcuts or detours that take you through unsafe or unfamiliar areas.
  • Don’t exit your car if you see a suspicious or shady situation.
  • Keep a safe following distance, allowing for ample time to react to the traffic around you.

When Celebrating:

  • Plan to drive sober or designate someone else to. If you are the designated driver, don’t drink.
  • Save the number or a taxi or rideshare company in your phone so you always have a backup plan.
  • Consider using smartphone apps like Lyft or Uber
  • If you have been drinking, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, use a rideshare company, or use public transportation to get home safely. If you know others who are about to driver under the influence, help them make other arrangements to get home safely

When at Home:

  • Be cautious when accepting packages and with people soliciting charitable donations. Ask for identification and confirm legitimacy before giving.
  • If you are leaving town, ask a trustworthy neighbor to watch your home and bring in the mail, deterring others from knowing you are not home.
  • Put your lights on an automatic timer.
  • Be extra vigilant when locking your doors and windows. Consider installation of secondary locks (deadbolts, etc.)
  • Don’t leave any valuables or gifts in view from outside the home.

Dellino Law Group wishes you a safe and happy holiday season!

Crime Prevention Tips for the Holiday Season

During the holiday season, there tends to be an upswing in crime rates for certain types of crimes. Our prior blog posting describes some of the top crimes committed over the holidays, including shoplifting, robbery, identity theft, DUI, and assault.

By remaining aware of holiday season risks you can better protect yourself and decrease your chances of becoming a victim. Please review these crime prevention tips to assist you in having a safe and joyful holiday season.

When Shopping:

  • Stay alert and aware of your surroundings
  • Park in a well-lit area, near other cars. Hide any shopping bags in a locked trunk.
  • When you return to your vehicle, check for forced entry and scan to be sure no one is hiding inside.
  • Have your keys out and ready when approaching your vehicle. Avoid fumbling in your purse outside your vehicle.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or excess credit cards beyond what you need. If you do go to an ATM, make sure it is in a well-lit, safe location, and check your surroundings before withdrawing cash.
  • Carry your purse close to your person. Do not leave your purse, wallet, or cell phone in plain view and don’t carry your wallet or cell phone in your back pocket.
  • Do not resist or chase someone who is trying to rob you; they may have a weapon. Call 911 for assistance.
  • If you are shopping with children, have a safety plan and discuss when them ahead of time what to do if you get separated.

When Driving:

  • Drive defensively and with heightened vigilance. Remember that traffic is heavier during the holidays and there may be an increased number of drivers who have been drinking.
  • Lock your car doors and close the windows while driving.
  • Avoid shortcuts or detours that take you through unsafe or unfamiliar areas.
  • Don’t exit your car if you see a suspicious or shady situation.
  • Keep a safe following distance, allowing for ample time to react to the traffic around you.

When Celebrating:

  • Plan to drive sober or designate someone else to. If you are the designated driver, don’t drink.
  • Save the number or a taxi or rideshare company in your phone so you always have a backup plan.
  • Consider using smartphone apps like Lyft or Uber
  • If you have been drinking, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, use a rideshare company, or use public transportation to get home safely. If you know others who are about to driver under the influence, help them make other arrangements to get home safely

When at Home:

  • Be cautious when accepting packages and with people soliciting charitable donations. Ask for identification and confirm legitimacy before giving.
  • If you are leaving town, ask a trustworthy neighbor to watch your home and bring in the mail, deterring others from knowing you are not home.
  • Put your lights on an automatic timer.
  • Be extra vigilant when locking your doors and windows. Consider installation of secondary locks (deadbolts, etc.)
  • Don’t leave any valuables or gifts in view from outside the home.

Dellino Law Group wishes you a safe and happy holiday season!

Be aware that your cell phone number can serve as a gateway to your personal life

According to a recent Seatttle Times article, the next time someone asks you for your cell phone number, you may want to think twice before giving it.

We caution you to keep your information secure. Whether you are going through a divorce, in the midst of another life transition, or just interested in protecting your privacy, it is important to understand what is at risk when you release your cell phone number.

The article describes that our cell phone numbers are increasingly used as a link to private information maintained by company databases. The article cites social networks, money lenders, and other types of businesses as utilizing our cell phone numbers to hold and maintain extensive personal data. This information can be used to monitor our spending habits, web browsing, television viewing, and more.

We are used to sharing our numbers freely with people we barely know, yet we are accustomed to protecting our Social Security numbers. However, as the article indicates, companies are not required to keep cell phone numbers private the way they are with SSNs. In exposing our cell numbers so readily, we are unleashing the key to our personal lives.

People rarely change cell phone numbers anymore, given that they can maintain their number even when transferring carriers. Landlines are becoming a thing of the past. Given how reliant we are becoming on our cell phone numbers, we should be more aware of their value and of the way they can serve as a gateway to so much information.

The Seattle Times article provides more information about how and why giving out our cell phone numbers poses a risk and leaves us vulnerable to fraud and identity theft.  The power of mobile technology should not be taken lightly.

How to be kind to yourself and others

This isn’t about us, our law firm, or even legal issues. This is about YOU.

Many people are feeling anxious, nervous, angry, and sad following this divisive and polarizing presidential election. Emotions are running high and it is a difficult time.

Please be kind to others and be kind to yourself. If you are not quite sure where to start, here are 10 simple tips.

1. Learn to be kind to yourself: Be self aware. Understand your limitations and your potential. Embrace your own value. Practice self care.

2. Prioritize kindness: Make a concerted effort to make kindness a habit and a priority. Make a choice each day to be compassionate. Ensure you do at least one kind thing for another person and one kind thing for yourself each day.

3. Be kind to everyone: Avoid conditional or selective kindness and be kind to everyone, without exception. Be kind to those closest to you and to complete strangers. Be kind to those similar to you and to those with more differences.

4. Listen to others: Don’t just pretend you are listening. Listen from a sincere place. Sometimes listening is the kindest thing you can do for another person.

5. Be kind for your health: Positive thinking patterns correspond with happiness and improved mental health. Improved emotional health and boosted self-esteem are some of the many rewards of kindness.

6. Forgive yourself: Part of kindness is forgiveness, and this starts with forgiving ourselves. Learn from your mistakes and avoid being hard on yourself or expecting perfection.

7. Show affection: Show people you love them. Hug. Kiss. Hold hands. Pay a compliment to your coworker or neighbor. It just might make their day.

8. Express gratitude: Research in positive psychology shows that those who practice gratitude have lower self-reported levels of depression and stress, and are more satisfied with their social relationships. Express gratitude, both inwardly and outwardly.

9. Spread random acts of kindness: Hold the door open. Help an elderly or disabled person cross the street. Buy someone a coffee. There are many small things we can do every day to spread kindness.

10. Donate your time or money: There are so many organizations whose sole mission are to spread compassion and help others. Make a financial contribution or donate your time to an organization whose mission you believe in. Spread kindness on a larger scale.

 

GET OUT AND VOTE TODAY!

Today, November 8th, is Election Day! We encourage all eligible voters to get out and vote today if you haven’t already!

Voting is the cornerstone of a democracy and your vote matters. Regardless of your party affiliation or your candidate preference, we urge you to participate in the process.

At local, state, and national levels – there are very important contests at stake!

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) is intended to increase awareness and advocacy across the nation. The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence describes some of the key themes of DVAM including mourning those who have died because of domestic violence, celebrating those who have survived, and joining together to end violence.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) is another organization passionate about putting an end to the violence. NNEDV states that domestic violence thrives when we are silent, but if we take a stand and work together, we can end it. Please see the organization’s website about ways to raise awareness and get involved.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month seems like an appropriate time to discuss domestic violence from a legal perspective. Washington state law ardently prosecutes crimes of domestic violence, and conviction can involve very serious and long-lasting consequences. This is not to be taken lightly.

Domestic Violence Crimes:

Domestic violence is defined by Washington state law as any crime committed by one family or household member against another (RCW 26.50.010), which involves physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault. It is often assumed that domestic violence only applies to couples in an intimate relationship. While this is the most common, it is not the only type of relationship included in the definition. Roommates, siblings, and other domestic relationships as defined in RCW 10.99.020 are also included.

Some of the crimes connected with domestic violence include, but are not limited to:

  • Assault
  • Reckless endangerment
  • Coercion
  • Drive-by shooting
  • Burglary
  • Criminal trespassing
  • Malicious mischief
  • Kidnapping
  • Unlawful imprisonment
  • Violation of protection order
  • Rape
  • Manslaughter or murder
  • Stalking
  • Interfering with the reporting of domestic violence

Furthermore, if you commit a crime of domestic violence and then in any way prevent or attempt to prevent the victim from reporting the crime, you may face an additional charge:  “interfering with the reporting of domestic violence”. Please see our prior blog post for further information about the interfering with domestic violence reporting statute.

Penalties:

Depending upon the classification, circumstances, and severity of the crime, domestic violence convictions may be classified as misdemeanor or felony and penalties may vary significantly. In any case, it is important to understand that domestic violence related cases are taken very seriously in Washington State and consequences can be life altering. Some of the repercussions of a domestic violence arrest or conviction may include jail time, large fines, protection orders, court ordered counseling, and loss of gun rights. This is in addition the long term impacts of a having a criminal record, which may impact employment opportunities, immigration, and even your relationships.

Legal Representation:

*If you are ever in an emergency situation, please call 911 immediately. Safety first!

If you are seeking protection following a domestic violence situation, please contact us. Our criminal defense attorneys will help you to understand your rights and options, including determining whether to file a protection order.

Our attorneys at Dellino Law Group are dedicated to ensuring your rights are fully protected and will work to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Please contact us for a consultation.

5 Essential Components of a Quality Estate Plan

When people think about estate planning, they generally think about a will or a trust, detailing how they want their assets divided in the event of their death. This is certainly a vital component, but there is much more involved in a complete, quality estate plan.

Our recent blog posting described WHEN you might need to modify your estate plan, noting that your estate plan should be adapted to coincide with the transitions of your life. Our prior posting describes when and why you should look at making changes to your estate plan… but what all should be included in the estate plan to begin with??

Each individual’s estate plan is different and tailored to their unique situation. However, in creating any quality, comprehensive estate plan, the following components should be considered:

1) Will: This is a legally binding statement which states who will inherit your property upon your death. Your will should appoint a legal representative (executor) to carry out your wishes and should name a guardian to care for your young children if both parents become deceased. In terms of property, there are limitations to what type of property can be covered by a will. Assets that are outside of probate (property in trust, life insurance proceeds, etc.) are not covered. Our estate planning attorneys can help you sort through these limitations and understand your options.

2) Consider a Trust: A trust is a fiduciary arrangement which allows a third party (“trustee”, often a bank or institution) to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary. There are many different ways trusts can be arranged which detail when and how assets are passed to beneficiaries. Many people choose to hold their property in a trust to save time and expenses for their beneficiaries, minimizing estate taxes and allowing them to avoid going through probate court.

3) Power of Attorney (for finances): With a durable power of attorney, you may appoint someone you trust the authority to handle your property and finances should you become debilitated and unable to handle these matters on your own. This designated person is also referred to as your “attorney-in-fact”, though they don’t need to have any legal background. If you don’t have a durable power of attorney in place and there should become a need for someone to handle your financial affairs, the court has to go through the process of appointing someone. This takes time, may be expensive, and the court-appointed person may not be your preference, making it essential that you have this component as part of your estate plan.

4) Health Care Directives: A clear health care directive is essential to protect your wishes if you become debilitated and unable to make medical decisions for yourself. This includes a health care declaration (or “living will”), instructing health care providers about your medical wishes, such as preferences around life support. The health care directive also includes a power of attorney for health care, which involves appointing someone to make health care decisions if you become incapacitated and cannot make them for yourself. In Washington State, the Advance Directive combines your living will and durable power of attorney for health care into one document.

5) Final Arrangements: It is advised that you make your wishes known regarding what to do with your body when you pass away. You may detail your preference for burial or cremation, for example, and/or your wishes around organ and body donation.

Other components to consider when developing your estate plan may include:

  • Life insurance considerations
  • Covering funeral expenses
  • Protecting your business if you are a business owner
  • Beneficiary designations
  • Understanding probate
  • Management of your minor children’s inherited property
  • Guardianship considerations

Legal Representation:

Whether you are starting a family, nearing retirement, facing end of life decisions, or simply want to clarify your wishes and plan for the future, you need an experienced and compassionate estate planning professional to assist you in developing the plan that is best for your family.

Our estate planning attorneys are committed to understanding your unique situation and developing an estate plan that matches your needs and wishes appropriately. We provide all levels of estate planning services, from basic to more complex and everything in between. Please contact us today for a Free Consultation so that we may begin helping you plan for the future.

 

Contact Dellino Law Group

High caliber legal representation for DUI, Criminal Defense, Divorce, Family Law, Traffic Violations, Estate Planning, and Civil Litigation in Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, Federal Way, Kent, Redmond, Bremerton, Poulsbo, Lynnwood, Everett, Marysville, Bothell, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, Brier, Sammamish, Renton, Burien, Monroe, Issaquah, Lakewood, Puyallup, Port Orchard, and all of King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Kitsap County, and Thurston County.