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How to Ensure Your Estate Plan Is Executed Properly

You've completed a will or living trust because planning your estate is important to you, but have you done everything necessary to make sure your documents are legal? Some people start preparing the documents but can't quite finish. Your estate plan won't do what you want it to do if you don't take all the steps necessary to make sure it will go into effect when you need it to. Don't leave your heirs hanging! Making the Tough Decisions One of hardest parts about creating a will or living trust is deciding how you're going to distribute your assets. This can be a very emotional decision for some people. Once you've worked through this, completing your estate plan can become much easier. Completing Your Will You've decided who's in and who's out. You've divvied up your belongings, but you're not done yet! To make sure your will is valid, it's a good idea to complete a self-proving affidavit if your state allows it. This is signed in front of a notary and is attached to the will, basically swearing that you meet your state's requirements to complete a will. Signing Your Life Away Your will is not valid until it is signed in front of two witnesses. You'll sign the will while the witnesses watch and then ask the witnesses to sign as well. This is a crucial step, because a will that is signed without witnesses is generally not valid. Storage Matters It's important that the completed will is kept in a safe place because it does you no good to have a will that no one can find after your death. Your home safe can be a good place. Your attorney also can keep the will. Make sure your beneficiaries and family know that you have a will and where to locate it. Completing a Living Trust Your living trust allows you to use your assets during your life and control their distribution after your death when your successor trustee takes over. After you complete and sign your trust document, there is more work to be done. Your trust is not functional until you actually transfer your assets into it, which is called funding the trust. This means you will need to change legal ownership of every asset you want to place into the trust, including bank accounts, real estate, investments, and more. These assets will now be owned by “(Your Name), Trustee of the (Your Name) Living Trust." An additional document you may need is a Certificate of Trust. This is basically a summary of the trust that you can use to show that the trust exists and how title to trust assets is to be held. Transferring Assets to Your Trust Managing Your Trust It's important to stay on top of your trust. As you buy things, be sure to do so in the name of the trust and to update the property schedule. It is also a good idea to create a simple will (called a pour-over will) that will take anything you've forgotten and transfer it to your trust when you die. Carefully completing and reviewing your estate plan will keep things organized and give you greater peace of mind.

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Gella Klausner lawyer 2019-12-17 21:18:36
What Is an Irrevocable Contract?

If you've heard about irrevocable contracts, you've stumbled onto an area of law with confusing terminology and concepts. Sorting these out requires learning about contracts, options, and waivers. To begin, you need to know some basics of how a contract is formed. Forming a Contract As with anything involved with the law, contracts can be complicated matters. But the process can be simplified by breaking it down into three basic steps: 1.Offer. The first step in creating a contract is for Party A, the offerer, to make an offer to Party B, the offeree. The offer must be clear about the details of the proposal, such as what each party must do, the amount of money to be paid, and any necessary time frames. At this point, there is no contract. Party A is free to cancel, or revoke, the offer with no penalty. Party B is free to simply ignore the offer or reject it, also without penalty. 2.Acceptance. This step takes place when Party B communicates to Party A that they are accepting the offer. Exactly how this is communicated depends upon what is required by the offer, although it is usually done either verbally or in writing. In some cases, however, the offer may indicate that it can be accepted by Party B taking some other type of action. 3.Consideration. This is a confusing, and somewhat imprecise, legal concept. It basically means that both parties must commit something of value to the agreement. This can consist of giving money, such as a deposit, or of making a promise to pay money or to perform a certain act. In most situations, the promises and obligations of the two parties are sufficient consideration. This is why you frequently see contracts that include the statement “for the sum of one dollar and other valuable consideration. The central purpose of a contract is to create a binding agreement that can be enforced in court if there is a breach of contract. Once a contract is formed—by an offer, acceptance, and consideration—it is essentially irrevocable. The term irrevocable does not mean that a party cannot refuse to perform its obligations under the agreement, but rather that it can be held financially liable in a court of law for such refusal. The only exception would be if the terms of the contract specifically state that one or both parties can revoke it in certain situations. When someone talks about an irrevocable contract, they are often actually referring to an irrevocable offer—or, more precisely, a contract to make an offer irrevocable.

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John Uebler lawyer 2019-12-16 19:20:57
How to Get a Divorce with No Money

Divorce can be expensive. Even if you plan on representing yourself, the court divorce fees alone can cost several hundred dollars. You may be wondering how to get a divorce with no money. Fortunately, it is possible to get a divorce without any court fees if you are in a difficult financial situation. Divorce Fee Waiver for Indigents If you are wondering how to file for divorce with no money, you will be relieved to know your state has an indigent divorce or fee waiver procedure that will allow you to file for divorce and ask the court to waive all of the court fees associated with the process. This procedure is specifically designed to help people with limited finances end their marriages. Obtaining Divorce Forms The first step in getting the fees waived when you are getting divorced is to get the forms. First, check online to find your local divorce or family court. Their website will likely have forms you can download or print. You will need to get the forms to file for divorce as well as the forms to ask for a fee waiver. Check to see if there is an instruction booklet as well which will guide you through the process. You can also go to the courthouse and get the forms from the clerk there. If you have questions, they may be able to help you complete the forms. Make sure you meet your state residency requirements; you cannot file in your state unless you meet them. Fill in all the information requested, including information about children of the marriage, assets, debts, date of marriage, and the reason for the divorce. You will also need to indicate if you are asking for child support, alimony or division of marital assets. Providing Financial Proof In order to have the fees in your divorce waived, you will need to prove to the court that you are indigent, or poor. You will need to include proof of your income (which includes income from all sources, such as Social Security, child support, disability and payroll), assets (things like bank accounts or cars), and your debts (credit card, loans and utility bills). Tax returns may also be requested. The forms will tell you exactly what documents the court needs. The good news is, you will need to gather this information anyhow, since everyone filing for divorce must provide financial disclosure to the court, so this is not really an extra step. File for Fee Waiver Once you have completed all the paperwork, you need to file the papers. The documents will need to be notarized. You can get forms notarized at your bank if you have one, or you can ask the clerk to notarize the forms for you when you file them. Next Steps After you file, your paperwork will be reviewed by a court employee or by the judge. A hearing may be necessary so the judge can ask you some questions. Your fee waiver may be approved or the court might decide to defer your fee, which means you can pay it later. This is common if your ex has assets and will be paying out some to you as part of the divorce judgment or settlement. Once the waiver is approved, your case will move forward. The simplest way to proceed is to file a settlement or appear in court and tell the judge together what your settlement is. Another option is to move ahead with the divorce as an uncontested procedure, where your ex does not even need to appear. The procedure will be relatively quick and you will get your divorce without paying any fees. Legal Aid Divorce Help If you are not able to handle a do-it-yourself divorce where you file all the papers yourself, it is likely that there is a legal aid society in your area or a volunteer lawyers program through your local bar association. Call your city or state bar association to ask for contact information or do an internet search to find them. These organizations provide no-cost (and also low-cost) legal assistance. If you are indigent, they may represent you at no cost and will file all fee waiver papers on your behalf. Fortunately, you don’t have to have any money to get a divorce, but you do have to follow the procedure set up your state to have the court fees waived. This can be a huge relief when you need to get out of a marriage but don’t have any funds. For those interested in learning more about legally ending a marriage, LegalZoom offers an uncontested online divorce.

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Yates Hirschi lawyer 2019-12-16 19:00:52
Child Tax Credit: A Guide for Federal Deductions

Raising children is expensive, but at least the kids save you money on taxes. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides numerous tax benefits for taxpayers with children, including dependency exemptions, child care credits and tax deductions for some child-related expenses. Every child that you claim as a dependent on your tax return automatically reduces your taxable income by $3,800 as of 2012. This means if you are taxed at 15 percent, each kid saves you $570 in taxes ($3,800 x 0.15). If you have children under the age of 17, you can claim a $1,000 child tax credit for each child. Since a credit is a dollar for dollar reduction of your income tax liability, this can be a huge tax savings. For example, if you have two kids under age 17, you can reduce your tax liability by a full $2,000 ($1,000 x two kids). Another tax credit you might qualify for is the Child Care Credit. This credit may be claimed if you pay somebody else to watch your child or children while you work. For example, if you pay a daycare $20 each day to watch your two kids, you can claim up to $2,100 in tax credits (assuming you paid that much in total daycare fees). Just remember to keep a written record of the child care fees, such as receipts and checks for payment. If you adopt a child under 18, you can claim an additional credit worth up to $12,650 as of 2012. You can deduct all qualified adoption expenses, including state-imposed fees, attorney costs and fees, home evaluation fees and filing fees. If your child goes to school and you still claim the child as a dependent, you can take advantage of several education-related tax benefits. First, you may qualify for the American Opportunity or Lifetime Learning Tax Credits (though you can only claim one of those credits, but not both, for each tax year). If you help a child obtain or repay student loans, then you can deduct up to $2,500 in student loan interest. You can deduct the student loan interest even if you don’t itemize your deductions (meaning you claim the standard deduction).

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Silvln Crowley lawyer 2019-12-11 12:38:29
Social Security Benefits for Children of Deceased Parents

Created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 as one of his "New Deal" programs, Social Security is one of the most important government programs in American history. This social insurance program was established to provide pensions to retired workers age 65 and older that might otherwise have no source of income. Qualification The Old Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance is the division of the Social Security Administration that provides benefits to children who survive their parents. According to the Social Security Administration's 2010 Fast Facts and Figures, more than 1.25 million children receive benefits as the result of their parent's death. To qualify, the child must be your biological or adopted child, or your dependent step child. The parent must have worked at least 10 years and paid some Social Security tax in their lifetime. The child must also be unmarried.The child must be under the age of 18 or up to age 19 if still in high school. Children with disabilities--physical, mental or developmental--can receive survivor benefits as long as the disability was diagnosed before his or her 22nd birthday. Application Families seeking to obtain the benefit on behalf of the child must provide a series of verification documents. The application requires the Social Security numbers of both the deceased parent and the child, as well as the child's birth certificate. The guardian must also present proof of the parent's death, usually in the form of a government-issued death certificate. Monthly Benefits Social Security direct deposits monthly payments into checking accounts or offers a government-issued debit card. The child's benefits are based on the parent's earnings and future benefit. A child is entitled to 75 percent of the parent's basic Social Security payment. The payments from the deceased family member's account can benefit multiple children and spouses, as long as the total family benefit does not exceed 150 to 180 percent of what the parent would have received if he were still alive. Lump Sum In addition to the monthly payment to the child, a lump sum may also be paid out. In the event that the child is orphaned and awarded to a guardian, the child may receive what is known as the Social Security death benefit, which is a payment of $255, as of August 2010. The payment is made as long as there is no surviving spouse and the child meets the survivor benefit eligibility requirements during the month of the parent's death.

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Patrick Kowalskl lawyer 2019-12-10 21:15:03
Dependent Tax Write Offs

Children are expensive, but come tax preparation time, those little angels can save you a pretty penny or two on your tax bill. In addition to claiming a standard exemption for your dependents, you can also save taxes by claiming tax deductions and credits because of your children. 1.Credits and Deductions Generally Children can provide tax benefits in the form of both deductions and credits.A tax deduction is a reduction in your taxable income, while a credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your tax liability. For example, if you have a $3,000 tax deduction and a $3,000 tax credit, based on a 20 percent tax rate, your $3,000 tax deduction will save you $600 ($3,000 x 20 percent), and your tax credit will save you a full $3,000. If you have $50,000 of income, you will subtract the deduction first, giving you $47,000 in taxable income. With a 20 percent tax rate, you owe $9,400 in taxes ($47,000 x 20 percent). Then, you subtract your $3,000 credit, which leaves you owing $6,400 in total taxes. 2.Child Tax Credit The Child Tax Credit is available to married spouses filing jointly if their combined income is less than $110,000. For single taxpayers, the credit is available for income less than $55,000. The Child Tax Credit is worth $1,000, but it is not refundable, meaning it cannot take you below zero (unlike the earned income tax credit, which is refundable, meaning you can receive a rebate even if you pay zero taxes). Generally, the Child Tax Credit is available for each child younger than 17 years old that lived with you for more than half of the year. 3.Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit If you are a working parent and you pay a daycare or nanny to watch your younger-than-13-kids while you work, you can claim a tax credit up to $3,000 (or $6,000 if you have more than one child). The amount you claim cannot exceed either $3,000 or $6,000 or the amount you actually spent on child care costs, whichever is less. So if you spent $600 during the year on child care, you can claim $600. But if you spent $3,200 on one child, you can only claim $3,000. If you are married, you and your spouse must have earned income during the year or you don't qualify for the credit. 4.Personal Exemptions If you are married filing jointly, you and your spouse each can claim a personal exemption, which is basically the equivalent of a deduction. As of 2009, the personal exemption equals $3,650 per person. Additionally, you can claim a similar exemption for each dependent that is either (a) 19 years old or younger or (b) 24 or younger and a full-time student. 5.Other Deductions and Credits If your child goes to college, you can claim either the Hope or Lifetime Learning Credit up to a certain amount of your child's tuition and expenses. Additionally, you might be able to deduct other costs exceeding the credits, including interest paid on student loans. If your child runs up massive medical bills, you can deduct a certain portion of those medical costs. The formula for deducting medical costs is complex, and the amount you can deduct depends on a percentage of your income, but you should keep this in mind if your child has surgery, visits the ER or has other medical needs.

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Gella Klausner lawyer 2019-12-09 17:51:56
Can I Claim My Child on My Taxes If He or She Is Working?

If your child has a job, it won't affect your ability to claim him as a dependent, but there are other factors you need to consider. If your child works, she made need to file her own income tax return, and if she provides more than half of her own support, she no longer qualifies as a dependent. Even if your child had a job last year, you can still claim her as a dependent on your income taxes, provided the child is still considered a qualifying child based on IRS guidelines. However, depending on how much income your child earned, she may have to file her own tax return, too. Before you can claim a child as a dependent, she must meet either the qualifying child test or the qualifying relative test. To be a qualifying child, she must be either younger than 19 years old, or be a student younger than 24 years old at the end of the calendar year. Children who are permanently and totally disabled do not need to meet the age requirement. Additionally, your child cannot have provided more than half of her own support for the tax year. Further, your child must have lived in your home as her principal residence for more than half the year, with some exceptions, such as divorced or separated parents. If your child lives away from home because of school, you can still count your home as her principal residence. Children who earned an income of more than $6,350 in 2018 must file their own personal income tax returns and may have to pay taxes to the IRS. Earned income includes wages the child earned working for an employer, such as a summer job or part-time job. Even if your child earned less than $6,350, it might be wise to have her file a tax return because she may be eligible for a refund. A child who is blind has a higher minimum threshold of $7,900. Unearned income – such as dividends and interest earned from savings and investments – is treated differently by the IRS than earned income. If your child earned more than $1,050 of unearned income for the 2018 tax year ($2,600 if she's blind), she can file her own return, or you can claim the amount on your own taxes. Either way, this unearned income must be reported to the IRS. If your child is capable of filing her own tax return, it is her responsibility to do so. If she isn't old enough to prepare her own tax return, then it's the parent's responsibility to file it on the child's behalf. If you are signing your child's tax return, sign the child's name followed by the words “By (your signature), parent for minor child."

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Ulysses lawyer 2019-12-06 20:45:28
How to Get a Retrospective Home Appraisal

A real estate appraisal is usually required by a bank or lender to make sure that the value of a property is at least as much as the value of the loan. Appraisals are usually based on a sales comparison approach--comparing the subject property to similar properties nearby--or by a cost approach, wereby the appraiser determines how much it would cost to replace a structure if it were damaged or destroyed. When questions arise as to the value of the property at a specific date in the past, however, a retroactive or historical appraisal will need to be obtained. Determine the purpose of your retroactive appraisal. For instance, the IRS may require an appraisal to determine the value of a real estate asset as of the date of death or date of marriage dissolution of an owner. You may also need to obtain a retroactive appraisal to determine a decline in value if you sell a property at a loss in order to determine a loss for tax purposes. Contact a licensed real estate appraiser for your state (each state has its own qualifying and licensing requirements). See Resources below to locate an appraiser. Explain to the real estate appraiser the purpose of your retroactive appraisal, and provide access to the subject property if possible. Also provide whatever documentation you hold (deeds, inspection reports, photographs) as to the condition of the property on the date in question. The appraiser will examine the subject property, your documentation, and historic real estate and construction data for the date in question. Review the retrospective appraisal with the real estate appraiser. Make sure all comparable sales fall before historic date of the appraisal, since subsequent changes in market value of comps can ruin the accuracy of your retrospective appraisal.

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Felix Mitzner lawyer 2019-12-05 21:04:10
How to write a plea letter

Determine your type of plea. If you are a defendant and must write a plea letter to a judge, you must first determine how you will plead. There are several different ways to plead, depending on the crime, the evidence and other factors of the case. Address the letter. Most letters to judges should be addressed "Your Honor," which shows respect to the judge.Introduce yourself. Begin the plea letter with a short introduction of yourself.State your plea. Be very clear about how you are pleading. If you are pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, be sure to include those words.Describe any extenuating factors that might persuade the judge. If this is a first-time offence and you have no other charges on your record, indicate this within the letter. Do not try to downplay the severity of the crime that was committed. Instead, if you are pleading guilty, express remorse and regret. Plead with the judge. Judges often partially base their sentencing decision on this letter and its contents. Ask the judge to be lenient on your sentencing. Describe your reasons for this request. For example, if you have children, explain that you have always been a responsible parent and it would be in the children's best interest to have you present in their lives. Close the letter. Thank the judge for his or her time, and sign your name after closing with "Sincerely."

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Yates Hirschi lawyer 2019-12-03 18:26:47
Timeline for a Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you think you might have a personal injury claim, you might be wondering what goes on in a typical case, and how long it takes. This article will walk you through the standard events and timeline of a personal injury claim and lawsuit. Get Medical Treatment The first thing that you should do after getting injured in an accident is to get medical treatment. If you are hurt, go to the hospital or see a doctor. Not only is this the right thing to do for your health, but, if you don’t see a doctor for some time after an accident, the insurance adjuster and the jury will assume that you weren’t all that hurt. Choose a Lawyer The next thing that you will have to do for anything more than a minor claim is to choose a lawyer. You should choose the lawyer soon after the injury. You can certainly settle a small personal injury claim yourself (although a lawyer is generally useful even for smaller claims), but you will absolutely need a lawyer for any personal injury claim where you suffered significant injury or other losses. Where do you draw the line between a small claim in which you don’t necessarily need a lawyer and a larger claim where you will need a lawyer? In general, if you are out of work for more than a couple of days, if you break a bone, or if your medical bills total more than a couple of thousand dollars, you should hire a lawyer. You should certainly talk to a number of lawyers, and you might want to meet several of them. After you choose a lawyer and sign a fee agreement, he/she will start working on your case. Lawyer Investigates Claim and Reviews Medical Records The first thing that the lawyer will do is thoroughly interview you about how the accident happened, your background, and your medical condition and medical treatment. The lawyer wants to know everything that you know about the accident and your injury and treatment. Lawyers don’t want to be surprised, so make sure to answer all questions as completely as you can. Then, the lawyer will get all of your medical records and bills relating to the injury and will probably also get your medical records for any treatment that you have ever had relating to the condition at issue in the case. This can take months. After all of the medical records come in, the lawyer will review them to see if, in their opinion, there is a possible case. Many times the lawyer can determine that there is no case and will deliver the bad news to the client very early on in the representation. Lawyer Considers Making Demand and Negotiating Many smaller personal injury claims are settled before a lawsuit is ever filed. If the lawyer thinks that the case can be settled, they will make a demand to the other attorney or the other side's insurance company. Otherwise, your lawyer will file the lawsuit. In general, if your claim involves a claim of permanent injury or impairment, a good lawyer will not settle it before filing suit. A good lawyer will also not make a demand until the plaintiff has reached a point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is when the plaintiff has ended his/her medical treatment and is as recovered as he/she is going to get. This is because, until the plaintiff has reached MMI, the lawyer does not know how much the case is worth. The lawyer should also not file a lawsuit until MMI. This is because, if the plaintiff is not at MMI by the time that the case goes to trial, the jury might undervalue the case. It could take months or years for the plaintiff to reach MMI, but a good lawyer will just wait, if the plaintiff can financially afford to wait. Obviously, if the plaintiff needs money, then the lawyer should put the case in suit as soon as possible. The Lawsuit is Filed The filing of the lawsuit starts the clock running on when the case might get to trial. Every state’s pretrial procedures are different, but generally it will take one to two years for a personal injury case to get to trial. Keep in mind that a lawsuit needs to be filed within strict time limits that every state has set by passing a law called a statute of limitations. The Discovery Process The discovery process is the procedure in which each party investigates what the adversary’s legal claims and defenses are. They send interrogatories (a fancy word for questions) and document requests to each other, and take depositions of all of the relevant witnesses in the case, generally beginning with the plaintiff and defendant. This process can last six months to a year, depending on the court’s deadlines and the complexity of the case. Mediation and Negotiation As the discovery period ends, the lawyers will generally start talking about settlement. Sometimes the lawyers can settle a case just by talking among themselves, but, in other cases, they will go to mediation. Mediation is a process in which both clients and both lawyers go in front of a mediator to try to settle the case. Trial Often mediation works, but, if it doesn’t work, the case is scheduled for trial. A personal injury trial can last a day, a week, or even longer. The length may be increased because, in many states, trials are held for only half a day instead of over a full day. That doubles the length of a trial, but also lets the lawyers and judges get other things done in the afternoon. One important thing to know about trials is that just because a lawsuit is scheduled for trial does not mean that the trial will actually occur on that date. Trials often get rescheduled because of the judge’s schedules. If your trial gets cancelled, you should not automatically assume that the lawyers are conspiring against you or that something unfavorable is happening. Trials are delayed all the time, and for the most innocuous of reasons.

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Terrance Gwiriri lawyer 2019-12-02 20:40:28

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