US Legal, Inc. – May 2008 Newsletter

How to Legally Prepare for Natural Disasters

Natural disasters have caused havoc in more than ten states in recent weeks. Tornadoes swept across Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Georgia, Colorado, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and North Carolina causing damage and loss of life. Twisters were also reported in Texas and out West in California and in Wyoming. California has also seen wildfires. Earthquakes have shaken Nevada. As if these events aren’t enough, the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season officially starts on June 1 and forecasters say we will likely experience a well-above average season.

No one can predict when an emergency or disaster situation will occur, but if caught unprepared, a person faces a much greater burden and expense in resolving his or her legal affairs. It is with this in mind, that USLegal is reminding its customers about its LegalLife Resource Center. It is offered as a public service and contains free and vital information to assist individuals in understanding and organizing the legal aspects of their lives. Visit the LegalLife Resource Center today at

USLegal also offers the following five recommendations to assist you in being better legally prepared natural disasters and other life emergencies:

1) Review your home, auto and life insurance policies and understand your coverage and policy limits. Specifically go over sections pertaining to physical damage caused by fire, hail, wind, tornadoes, flooding, rain, storms, hurricanes and earthquakes. Standard homeowner policies typically cover damage from wind, but not flooding or storm surge. Sometimes flood insurance can be purchased separately. Most standard homeowner insurance also does not cover damage caused by earthquakes. Check with your insurance carrier to determine if a separate earthquake insurance policy can be purchased. Comprehensive auto insurance will likely cover physical damage to vehicles caused by storms and earthquakes. Make sure to review benefit amounts in life insurance policies and update beneficiaries if needed.

2) Create a life document file which is a collection of important legal papers. A life documents file can include identification records such as birth certificate and social security card, contracts, deeds, insurance policies, medical records, photos, and a financial assets inventory. Maintaining records together in one place is beneficial in the event you need to grab them and go in the event you need to evacuate your area quickly. See the following link to learn how to create a Life Documents File:

3) Draft Will, Living Will, and Power of Attorney forms. Tragically, inclement weather events and earthquakes can cause injuries and take lives. Preparing essential legal forms ahead of time can help ensure that your wishes are carried out and lessen the burden on family members. You can prepare legal forms on your own by downloading state-specific documents from or consult an attorney in your local area to have documents prepared for you.

4) Store your important papers in a secure place such as a home safe or bank safe deposit box. Since these are vital records with lots of personal information, maintaining them in a secure location is necessary to prevent the misuse of your information.

5) Tell someone you trust about the location of your important documents. It can be an attorney, relative or close friend. Situations may arise where you are unable to communicate and a least one person should know the location of your important papers. You might also keep a back up copy of important records with an attorney if you have one or with a family member who resides in another geographic location.

More May Legal Headlines

Bush Signs Genetic Anti-Discrimination Bill into Law

President Bush signed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act into law this month. The Act prevents employers from using genetic test results that indicate disease risks or predisposition in making hiring, firing, and promotion decisions and insurance companies from using such information in determining coverage eligibility and premium amounts. In its findings, Congress determined that a “national and uniform basic standard” is needed as most state laws regarding genetic discrimination by healthcare insurance companies and employers are inconsistent and federal law does not offer adequate protection against this type of discrimination.

See the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act at:

Polar Bears Now on ‘Threatened Species’ List

The US government has added polar bears to its list of animals to be protected under the Endangered Species Act. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne made the announcement on May 14 after recommendations from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. A report by the US Geological Survey said loss of sea ice as a result of global warming could lead to a destruction of the animal’s habitat and 2/3rds of the species within the next 50 years.


For more legal news, visit the USLegal Reporter at

Featured Products of the Month

Life Documents Planning Package

The Life Documents Planning Package is an important tool to help you to quickly and efficiently organize your legal affairs. It contains essential legal forms, information on how to organize documents and other planning worksheets. The forms in this package are State-Specific. This package contains the following documents:

(1) Last Will (2) General Durable Power of Attorney for Property and Finances Effective Immediately (3) Advanced Health Care Directive – Living Will and Health Care Proxy – Statutory Form (4) Estate Planning Questionnaire and Worksheets and (5) Personal Planning Information and Document Inventory Worksheets.

Planning Packages start at $59.95. Download yours now at:

Real Estate Home Sales Package

One of our most popular packages, the Real Estate Home Sales package provides the necessary documents you need to sell your home on your own.

This Real Estate Home Sales Package includes the following forms for your state: (1) Offer to Purchase (2) Real Estate Sales Contract (3) Reside

ntial Disclosure Statement (4) Lead-Based Paint Disclosure and (5) EPA Lead-Based Paint info Pamphlet. Definitions, form explanations, and general information about the real estate transaction are also included. Buying or selling a home is the most important transaction most people will ever encounter. This package makes the process much easier to understand.

Homes Sales packages are available for immediate download starting at $39.95. See

In Brief

U.S. Legal Forms Drafting Service

Need a legal form, but can’t find it on our site? Submit a drafting request and our attorneys will review the request and let you know if the form can be provided. A refundable deposit of $25.00 is required upon submission of your order.

Submit your drafting request here:

Law and Legal Definitions

Endangered Species Act Law and Legal Definition

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a federal law that was passed in 1973 and can be found at 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq. It aims to prevent the extinction of those invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants listed as threatened or endangered. It is administered

by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which includes the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWA). NOAA handles marine species, and the FWS has responsibility over freshwater fish and all other species. Both agencies jointly manage covered species that are found in both habitats.

A species must be listed if it is threatened or endangered due to any of the following five factors:

1. Present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;

2. Over-utilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;

3. Disease or predation;

4. Inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or

5. Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.

After being listed as threatened or endangered, a recovery plan must be created that aims to protect the species from extinction. One method of protection is the creation of a “critical habitat zone”, in order to protect against habitat loss that contributes to extinction of a species. In 1978, Congress amended the ESA to require designation of critical habitat zones for all threatened and endangered species except those which might be harmed by the publication of such maps.

The Act requires federal agencies or their non-federal permit applicants to determine whether their proposed action may impact a listed species. FWS or NOAA will provide a list of threatened, endangered, proposed, and candidate species and designated critical habitats that may be present in the project area. If no species or critical habitats are present, then no action is needed. If a listed species is present, then the federal action agency must determine whether the project may affect a listed species. If so, consultation is required. However, if the federal action agency determines that a project may adversely affect a listed species or designated critical habitat, formal consultation is required.

For more legal definitions, please visit our free online legal dictionary at

Customer Feedback would like to hear from you. If you have any thoughts, comments, or suggestions about our products or topics you’d like for us to feature in upcoming newsletters, please email them to Carrie Criado, Director of Public Relations, at