Making Legal Issues Easier

Practice Areas

Our Approach

At the Law Office of Tina M. James, what makes us different makes us better. We are dedicated to making legal issues easier and giving advice that matters. We will work with you every step of the way to make sure that you understand the choices you are making and feel empowered to make them.

Estate Planning

Protecting your family starts with planning. We take the time to ask lots of questions and review your entire estate to help prepare a plan that reflects your goals. Most estate plans include a Will, a Durable Power of Attorney, an Advanced Directive for Health Care/Living Will. In some estate plans a Trust may be needed. 

We are committed to helping our clients develop a comprehensive estate plan to meet their needs and the needs of their family. 

Estate Administration

Losing a loved one is very difficult. We are committed to treating our clients with compassion and respect.  We guide them step-by-step through the probate and trust administration process. If your loved one has a Will, the original will needs to be filed with the Surrogate Court in the county where the person lived at the time of his or her death. If there is no Will, the next of kin will need to open an administration with the Surrogate Court in the county where the person lived at the time of his or her death. 

The estate administration process involves gathering assets, paying debts, filing tax returns, preparing accountings, making distributions to the heirs or beneficiaries. This can sometimes feel overwhelming and the personal representative may need guidance on what debts to pay.  We are here to help during this difficult time. 

Guardianship and Decision Making

We are committed to ensuring that individuals are legally empowered to exercise decisions whenever they are capable. When a person is unable to govern or manage their own affairs, a guardianship may be necessary. 

Often times family members may need to apply for guardianship when an individual no longer has the capacity to make decisions for him or herself. This is sometimes due to a stroke, brain injury, mental illness, or other medical conditions. 

Other times, parents or siblings may need to apply for a guardianship when their disabled child, who cannot make his or her own decisions, turns 18 years old. The guardianship process can feel overwhelming. We are here to advise you and your family on best option, and guide you through that process. 

Small Business Services

Have you dreamed of starting your own business? Have you been working as a sole proprietor and now you’re ready to take it to the next level? Starting a business involves more than obtaining a Federal Tax Identification number. We help you select the right type of business organization based on your needs, search available business names, and preparing your business formation documents, such as articles of incorporation, your by-laws, your organizational minutes, and prepare your company records binders.  

In addition to helping you form your business, we can also review contracts and draft them for you. This includes customer agreements, liability waivers, service agreements, employment agreements, and other agreements. We help with the legal details, so you can focus on running the business. 

Elder Law

 As people grow older, their estate planning needs change. Elder law involves planning for increasing health care needs that arises with aging. Additionally, it involves anticipating physical or mental decline as you age. Elder law planning often includes the use of advance directives, health-care proxies, and durable powers of attorney, in addition to long-term care planning. We are committed to helping our elder law clients develop a comprehensive estate plan that ensures the maximum possible control over how their future needs will be addressed.

Special Education

 Advocating for your child’s education can feel like an uphill battle. Our firm is well-versed in state and federal special education law and stand ready to empower parents to obtain a free and appropriate public education for their child. We can help parents navigate the process for screening and evaluations, eligibility for services, obtaining an appropriate individualized education program (IEP), and appropriate placements. We can also assist with dispute resolution, such as mediation and due process petitions. If you are a parent and need assistance with obtaining special education supports and services for your child, please contact us to help.

Special Needs Planning

Special needs require a special lawyer. For a family with a disabled child, estate planning will require special planning to ensure that the disabled  child’s needs are met without jeopardizing government benefits. 

If a child inherits money from mom, dad, a grandparent, or other family member, the  disabled child could be disqualified from receiving government benefits. They would also be disqualified if the disabled child receive money under a life insurance policy, retirement plan, or other account. A comprehensive estate plan, which includes a Special Needs Trust, will ensure any assets left to a disable adult child are properly direct to a Supplemental Trust. 

In other circumstances, a disabled adult may directly receive an inheritance or may receive a settlement award. A self-settled special needs trust can be drafted, which allows the person to maintain the government benefits, while still benefiting from the inheritance or settlement. In many circumstances, court approval may be needed. 

There are strict rules and regulations imposed on the special needs trusts, so it is important to have a knowledgeable attorney who can help you navigate these rules and regulations.