winston salem business lawyer

Why You Need a Go-to Law Office for your Winston Salem Business

You may think that your Winston Salem business doesn’t need to hire a lawyer unless you get into some legal trouble. However, you will save time and money by having a go-to law office from the get-go as you grow your business.

As much as you hope to never need them after you establish your business, it’s important to have a trusting relationship with a local, Winston Salem law firm in the unfortunate circumstance that you may need them.

Owning and running a business is a complex feat which includes a lot of legalese. Rather than always spending hours upon hours trying to translate all this on your own when it comes up, trust in a law firm you’ve built a relationship with to handle it for you with little input on your part.

Still not convinced you should sign on for a relationship with a Winston Salem lawyer? Just imagine all of the scenarios that could be streamlined when setting up your business if you had a lawyer at your side:

  • Picking a name for your business or reserving a domain name for a website
  • Applying for licenses, permits, and an employee identification number
  • Setting up contracts with employees and clients
  • Completing IRS forms
  • Choosing a legal structure under which to operate your business

If you choose to wait until a lawsuit arises to hire a lawyer, you will certainly end up shelling out more money than if you had hired a lawyer from the start.

In addition, it is important to develop a relationship with a law firm. By choosing a Winston-Salem firm that will walk with you every step of the way, from start-up to success, you can be sure that your legal back is being watched and no detail will fall through the cracks.

To learn more about how we can be your go-to law office, contact Surratt & Thompson, PLLC. From startups to corporations, we are prepared to offer the most comprehensive business and corporate legal services to help your business thrive.

Domestic Violence Legal Winston Salem

Need Help? Here’s What You Need to Know About Domestic Violence

Domestic violence affects people in every state, race, social class, and profession. The North Carolina statutes define domestic violence as the commission of one or more of the followings acts against another person whom you have had a personal relationship with:

1. Attempting to cause bodily injury to a party, or

2. Placing the aggrieved party, or a member of the aggrieved party’s family, in fear of imminent harm or harassment.

If you are in danger, call the police immediately. If you are in an abusive relationship, there are many ways to get help. The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (nccadv.org) has many great resources to help you get away from your abuser and keep you safe including a hotline — 1-800- 799-SAFE (7233).

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), approximately 10 million men and women are physically or mentally abused by their partner in a single year. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been abused by their partner.

Domestic violence can affect an individual’s health and economic status. NCADV has found that between 21% and 60% of domestic violence victims lose their jobs for reasons stemming from domestic violence. This has resulted in a loss of up to 8 million days of paid work annually, which is roughly equal to $8.3 billion in lost wages and revenue.


One of the best legal options is to get a Domestic Violence Protective Order.

What is a Domestic Violence Protective Order?

A Domestic Violence Protective Order in North Carolina is often referred to as a 50B order. If the Court finds that an individual has been the victim of domestic violence or is in danger, the court can sign a 50B requiring the defendant to stop harassing, abusing, following, or contacting the victim. A 50B can also protect the victim’s pets from further abuse by the defendant. If the victim and the defendant live together, the court may instruct the defendant to vacate the residence, and the court can also make temporary child custody decisions.

Domestic Violence Paperwork Winston Salem NC

How Do I Get a Protective Order?

In order to file for a 50B in Forsyth County, go to the 7th floor of the Forsyth County Hall of Justice to Safe on Seven. The staff of Safe on Seven will assist you in filling out the petition for a 50B. Be prepared to describe the abuse in detail. On this petition, you can also ask for temporary custody of any children and temporary possession of a shared residence. If you believe you are in continued danger, you may ask the court for an ex parte Order to be signed before a full hearing. This ex parte order may be granted immediately and will last until a full hearing can be had. Your petition and any ex parte order will be served upon the defendant by the Sheriff’s Department along with notice for a court date for a hearing.

At this hearing you will tell the judge about the abusive situation. Make sure that you bring any relevant pictures, documents, or witnesses of the abuse. Even if the defendant does not attend the hearing, the court can still grant the 50B. However, if you fail to appear at this hearing, the petition will likely be dismissed. If the court grants the 50B, it will last for one year.


What Happen if the Defendant Violates the Protective Order?

If the defendant violates the 50B in any way, he can be charged with a crime, possibly resulting in jail time. Please note that you as the victim cannot give the defendant permission to violate the 50B – it is an order from the court. Any contact with your consent during a period that the 50B is in effect is still a violation and could result in criminal charges.


What Happens If I Change My Mind?

If you have obtained a 50B and decide that you no longer want it to be in effect, you can file a motion to have it lifted. At the hearing for this motion, you must show the court that

1. You want the 50B lifted

2. You do not anticipate violence from the defendant

3. You want to resume contact, or

4. The circumstances have changed.

Contact the attorneys at Surratt & Thompson, PLLC to help you obtain a 50B so you don’t have to go through this process alone.

Remember: if you are a victim of domestic violence, there is help.

Contributing Author: Greg Rouse is a J.D. Candidate at Elon University School of Law. Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, Mr. Rouse received his B.S. in Business from the University of South Carolina at Upstate.

estate planning

Starting the Conversation: Estate Planning Documents Every Person Needs

We know estate planning is hard to talk about. Nobody likes to think about what will happen as they age and eventually pass on. But these conversations are necessary.

You need to start estate planning with your attorney to ensure your personal assets are taken care of. Plus, estate planning documents can guarantee your care and well being if you are ever incapacitated for any reason.

Attorneys use four primary documents when a client seeks estate planning services:

  • Last Will and Testament
  • Financial Power of Attorney
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney
  • Living Will

We’ll walk you through the main features of each of these documents to help you start thinking about your estate.

estate planning

Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament is a document that sets out how you want your property to be distributed after you pass away.

If your children are still minors, your will sets out provisions for their care. This includes naming a guardian and providing financial support for your children. Your will also appoints someone to be the executor. This person is responsible for carrying out the provisions within the will.

If you pass on without a will, you are considered to have died ‘intestate’. This is a formal way of saying your estate will be distributed according to the guidelines in the North Carolina statutes. If you want to guarantee your property is distributed as you wish, it’s time to start your will.

Financial Power of Attorney

A financial power of attorney allows you to select a person to act on your behalf if you are unable to make financial decisions while incapacitated from illness or injury.

You select a trusted family member or friend to be your agent or “attorney-in-fact”. This person makes important financial decisions on your behalf. They’ll have access to your bank accounts, the authority to buy and sell your property, and any other financial decisions.

It’s crucial to appoint someone you completely trust to be your agent. The agent is legally bound to act in your best interest. They must properly document all financial actions taken on your behalf.

estate planning

Healthcare Power of Attorney

A healthcare power of attorney is similar to a financial power of attorney. You appoint an agent to handle medical decisions in the event of incapacitation.

Again, it is important to choose a family member or friend who you can trust to act in accordance with your wishes. Make sure your agent is clear on what medical decisions you would make.

A healthcare agent makes decisions such as what type of treatment to administer when you are unable to communicate with your doctor. While this power of attorney is not exclusively used in end-of-life situations, these decisions are included in their authority.

Living Will

A living will, unlike a healthcare Power of Attorney, is only used when the individual is terminally ill or in a similar permanent end-of-life condition. Living wills are commonly used in conjunction with healthcare power of attorney.

A living will details your wishes pertaining to end-of-life medical care. A living will can give general or specific directions to the agent concerning pain and suffering treatment. This will also give directions on invasive procedures and whether or not to continue life support.

It’s never too early to set up a meeting with an attorney and start your estate planning. You can rest easy knowing your wishes will be carried out in case of your passing or incapacitation.

Contributing Author: Contributing Author: Megan Dyer is a law student at Wake Forest University. She graduated from Appalachian State University in 2014 where she studied History and Political Science.

winston salem business

Mediation: Resolving Conflicts Without Litigating

Mediation is an alternative to litigation which can help people in conflict resolve legal issues with the help of a neutral third party.

Instead of bringing a conflict before a judge, parties can agree to mediate and create a legally binding agreement to solve their specific problem. Typical mediations involve at least one mediator and the parties themselves; family members or friends are usually not included, unless they are specifically involved in the conflict as well.


The mediation takes place privately.

Since mediations often result in emotional or personal discussions, and everyone in the room is often required to sign a confidentiality agreement. Trying mediation can be an excellent alternative to litigation which:

  • allows the parties to communicate about their dispute in a neutral environment,
  • spend less money and time in the courtroom,
  • and tailor their own legal agreement to keep the conflict from happening again.

Mediating benefits both parties by helping them to communicate about the problem, resolve the issue in a way they know will work in the long-term, and spend less money and time in court.

Unlike an attorney who gives legal advice and advocates for her client, a mediator’s job is to facilitate a conversation between the parties that will help them to resolve their own dispute.

A good mediator can

  • diffuse the tension,
  • help the clients find the source of the problem,
  • and brainstorm ways to prevent future conflicts.

Litigation versus Mediation

Although litigating also ends in resolution through the Judge, one or both sides of the dispute are often dissatisfied with the final product, especially with the cost. Litigation requires much more time than mediation, therefore is more expensive than a mediation. Also, the personalized resolution through mediation can last longer in cases that involve an ongoing conflict.

Sometimes, parties need to communicate and set their own boundaries. If the parties can reach a truce, the mediator will write a Mediation Agreement, which is a legally binding document outlining what the parties agreed to do or refrain from doing. If one party breaks the agreement, the other can bring the Mediation Agreement to court and the claim will go to a judge.

winston salem business lawyer

When is Mediation the best option?

It should be noted that mediation is not appropriate for every case. Mediation is only appropriate for self-initiated cases– for example:

  • Divorces,
  • minor criminal cases that were not initiated by the police,
  • and many healthcare cases.

In some courts, mediation is mandatory for self-initiated claims, so it is important to consider that before filing a claim. Cases in criminal court involving domestic violence must go to a Judge and are not able to be mediated.

When speaking with your attorney, consider whether your case is appropriate for mediation, and if mediating could result in the best and most effective resolution for everyone involved.

Contributing Author:

Emily Cline is currently a student at Wake Forest Law, pursuing her J.D. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington with a BA in Psychology. She is a certified District Court Mediator and has conducted research on the psychology of jury biases.

Qualify for Medicaid

Qualifying Your Parent for Medicaid Assistance with Long-Term Care

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program designed to help people with low incomes and limited assets pay for health care. In most cases, for eligible patients, Medicaid will cover the cost of a nursing home but not an assisted living facility. The laws governing Medicaid eligibility vary from state to state, even from county to county, and change frequently. An attorney who works with elder law can advise on a particular location’s requirements, as can a state’s Medical Assistance Office or Area Agency on Aging.

Some general guidelines apply. To qualify for Medicaid assistance with long-term care, a patient must meet basic Medicaid requirement, they must:

  • be 65 or older
  • covered by U.S. citizenship or immigration laws
  • have a social security number
  • be a resident of the applicable state

They must also meet rather complex functional and financial requirements.

Functional Requirements

A medical specialist can determine the patient’s needs and capabilities, usually focusing on what are known as Activities for Daily Living, which include eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, walking/mobility, and continence. After the patient’s ability to perform these tasks is decided, the specialist will make a determination about the need for long-term care.

Qualify for Medicaid

Financial Requirements

Determining the specific financial requirements for Medicaid eligibility is complicated, to say the least. A patient must use up virtually all of their “countable assets” before they qualify. These assets include savings, retirement accounts, and most cash-value insurance balances. Certain “uncountable assets” can be retained. These include a home used as a primary residence, a car, burial arrangements, life insurance with a face value of less than $1500, and certain trusts.

Although some assets can be switched to the “uncountable” column before the need for Medicaid arises, this must be done well in advance—usually at least five years—so they don’t fall into what’s called a “look-back period.” An attorney specializing in estate planning or elder law can offer invaluable advice on handling assets in a wise manner, like our attorneys here at Surratt & Thompson in Winston Salem.

Assets held jointly with or belonging to a spouse further complicate matters. These are often included in the “countable assets” category, although most states have laws in place to prevent a spouse living independently from a Medicaid recipient from becoming indigent. A calculation to determine such a spouse’s Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA) is used to provide necessary support.

In many cases, an “estate recovery” program will expect that Medicaid be reimbursed for payments using proceeds from the sale of a house after the recipient had died (except if the spouse is still living there). Many times, estate recovery comes as a surprise to children dealing with the administration of a deceased parent’s estate. If you find yourself in this situation, you can learn more about your next steps in our post What Do I Do When Mom (or Dad) Dies? or by calling our offices for more legal guidance.

Qualify for Medicaid

The Best Advice?

Plan for nursing home care well before it’s needed, if at all possible. And to help you navigate the complexities of Medicaid eligibility, seek expert assistance.

The experience attorneys of Surratt & Thompson are available to help you and offer services in Forsyth and Davie County, as well as other counties in the area. Give our Winston Salem office a call today to discuss your legal needs.