In the course of estate planning, the term “living will” might pop up in a search or a conversation with your attorney. A living will is a critical component of your overall estate plan, allowing you to articulate your wishes about life-prolonging medical care. A living will also goes by several other names, including advanced directive, physician’s directive, or health care directive.
It is essential to have a living will in place if you have specific desires with regard to life-support or other life-prolonging treatments. With this legal document, your health care providers, family, and other loved ones will be clear about what you want to happen in the event that you become incapacitated. This helps to reduce arguments between family members about what actions should be taken and is the only way to ensure that your wishes are carried out.
Your living will can be drafted during the same meeting in which you discuss your last will and testament, trust needs or other estate planning documents. You should articulate what treatments you want applied to you (as well as those you do not want applied to you) if you were to become incapacitated or afflicted with a terminal illness. Until you have reached this point, you will be able to speak for yourself about the treatments you do or do not want to receive. Some of the treatments that might be listed in your living will include cardiopulmonary resuscitation, diagnostic tests, dialysis, blood transfusions, surgery, and use of a respirator.
In addition to drafting this document with your estate planning specialist, you should communicate that you have such a document to relevant family members. Your attorney can help you determine exactly what you would like included in your living will and walk you through how to properly prepare and sign it. One of the greatest benefits of having a living will is the peace of mind in knowing that your wishes will be carried out, limiting family disagreements about next steps.
If you have been charged with a crime, it is critical to recognize the potential impact on you now and in the future. Crimes can lead to jail time, fines, driver’s license suspension, home incarceration, and can even influence your job search in the future. Hiring the right criminal defense attorney to represent you can make a big difference. Be prepared to ask questions of your potential criminal defense lawyer.
What’s Your Background In Handling These Issues?
Has the attorney handled cases like yours before? If so, what was the success rate? What factors are important in these cases? Asking these questions can give you a sense of whether your attorney is comfortable with your case, well-versed in the laws and regulations surrounding it, and confident in his or her ability to manage your case effectively. The attorney should be able to speak relatively easily about the subject matter and have some recommendations in your first meeting.
Will You Be Personally Managing My Case?
It can be a big surprise if you meet with an attorney you like, only to find out later that he or she is not actually working on your case. Some attorneys might outsource your case to other lawyers or use paralegals and other staff to manage it. If your crime is serious or you want one-on-one attention, ask this question to weed out those who won’t work on it personally.
What defenses and problems do you see for my case?
A good attorney is able to see both sides of the story. This will ultimately help you in your own case approach and preparation. Make sure your lawyer is able to see potential challenges and walk you through how you might overcome them. An experienced criminal attorney will be able to understand strategic approaches as well as the relevant law for your specific issue.
When a woman learns that she is pregnant, a million thoughts go through her mind. Picking a name, planning for childcare, decorating the nursery … the list goes on and on. One important issue that may not be at the forefront of either parent’s mind is how to prepare for the baby’s future if the parents are not there to care for their child. It is difficult to think of death at a time when so much focus is directed toward a new life. However, it is in the child’s best interest if a plan is in place to provide for his or her well-being in the event that the parents are unable to do so. That is why making the decision to draft a Will is such an important one when a baby is due.
Choosing a guardian
One of the most important aspects of a will for a couple with a child is deciding who will act as the child’s guardian in the event that both parents die at the same time, for example, if they are both involved in a fatal car accident. This can be a difficult decision to make.
When Adam Yauch, co-founder of the Beastie Boys, died of cancer in May 2012, his will contained a distinctive formula to determine who would be guardian of his daughter. It seems to have grown out of a compromise, as it appears that neither he nor his wife could agree on exactly who would be best suited for the job. The will states that if Yauch died in a year ending in an even number, his parents would serve as guardians while his wife’s parents would be back-ups. If his death occurred in an odd-numbered year, his wife’s parents would take over as guardians while his parents would serve in the back-up capacity.
Ideally, both parents should agree on this difficult decision. It requires a lot of thought: the guardian will be the person who makes medical decisions regarding your child and ensures that his or her education is carried out in accordance with your wishes. You should also consider whether your child will need to relocate if you choose a guardian who does not live nearby. Think about whether the person or couple you choose already has kids: will one more child be too much for them to handle? Or if the couple does not have children, do you wish to entrust your child to what will be first-time parents, who have never raised a child before? It is always worthwhile to think of a back-up, in case your first choice is unavailable or unable to care for your child.
In addition, you will have to deal with financial planning when making a will. Raising a child is very expensive. Collegedata.com reports that the average cost for a year at a moderate in-state college in the 2012-2013 school year is more than $22,000. For a private school, the average cost is more than $43,000. Given that costs go up yearly, this could potentially be a huge outlay. Planning for it before your child is born could save you heartache down the line.
If you are expecting your first child or have young children but have not yet written your Will, it would be wise to speak to an attorney soon. Drafting a will to provide for the well-being of your offspring is one way to show them how much you really love them.
You might be under the impression that a Last Will & Testament is not necessary unless you have a fairly sizeable estate. However, regardless of your assets and circumstances, a Will is the critical foundation for ensuring that your wishes are carried out after you pass away.
A Will articulates guidelines for what will happen to your assets. Without taking the proper steps to craft a Will, the state will determine who gets what property from your estate, without any reference or consideration of your wishes. These laws of intestate succession differ from state to state. A Will is critical to prevent your family and friends from fighting over your asset after you die. Even if you do not have significant financial assets, if you have minor children, a Will is critical for establishing guardianship of those minor children. Without a Will, the probate court will decide which of your friends or relatives raises your child until they become an adult.
You can always amend your Will as needed. In fact, it is recommend that you work with your estate planning attorney to periodically review and if necessary, edit your Will (especially if your marital status changes or you have new children). You should always name a backup, who will take care of your children in the even that your original choice of guardian cannot or will not perform those duties. Keeping this information up to date ensures that if something happens to you, your estate will be carried out in a manner of your choosing.
Putting your Will together is simply prudent planning. You have worked hard to achieve the assets you own, and it is your right to specify what you want to happen to them if you pass away. Putting a Will in place gives you peace of mind in knowing your wishes will be carried out.
Phone calls from collection companies can be extremely unwelcome, especially if you are trying to get on top of your debt without being harassed. Unfortunately, many employees at collection agencies take the opportunity to threaten and harass you as often as possible in hopes you will just send them some money out of frustration. This is how they achieve their quotas. There are numerous laws and regulations in place to protect you from certain types of illegal collection agency behavior, including the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). These laws govern what hours of the day or night they can call, what the collection agent can say to you on the phone, whether they can leave a message or not, whether they can call you at work, and other regulations. Knowing your rights will give you the upper hand and make you aware of when it may be time to file complaints against these individuals or seek advice from an attorney.
The Importance Of Written Notice
Debt collection companies are responsible for providing you an outline of the debt within five days of contacting you. The name of the creditor should be included on this notice and it should give you options for action if you don’t believe you owe the money. If you do dispute the debt, make sure you document this in writing as well. Make note of every time you are contacted by the debt collection agency, including the name of the person to whom you speak.
Keep copies of all correspondence with the collection agency, as some agency employees will allege it was “never received”. Documentation can be a powerful tool in your arsenal when you have followed procedure but the agency has not.
Know Your Rights
Debt collectors are forbidden from a variety of behaviors, but many bank on you not filing complaints or hiring lawyer, so they do it anyway. These include misrepresenting the amount of the debt, harassing you with repeated phone calls, calling you before 8 A.M. or after 9 P.M. without your permission, talking to others in your house about the debt, calling you at work without your permission, or claiming to be an attorney or law enforcement official.
If a debt collector contacts you, keep the conversation short. Document all of the phone calls, the times, and what it said during the call. If a debt collector crosses the line, make note of that and consider filing complains to the necessary authorities.
If you are launching a new business, you might assume that you can manage the legal aspects yourself. Unfortunately, making a mistake at the outset of setting up your business can prove extremely detrimental down the road. It is critical to hire legal expertise to assist you from the beginning.
With a lawyer on your side, you will have the confidence and peace of mind that you are properly making your vision into a reality. Your lawyer can walk you through the critical steps of determining whether to organize as a Sub-Chapter S Corporation, or a Limited Liability Company (LLC), or some other form of entity.
An attorney can also help you identify rules and regulations with which your company will need to comply, including local ordinances and licenses. Having this information from the onset is very important in helping you conduct business in compliance with local, state and federal laws.
Business attorneys also understand the importance of effective leases, contracts, and other documents, which can be vital for your business needs at multiple stages of company growth.
As a business owner, having the experience and guidance of a qualified attorney is extremely helpful when it comes to your yearly filing requirements. Depending on your structure, you may be responsible for holding annual corporate meetings or corporate reports. With a talented business attorney on your side, you will know what is expected will have the assurance that your company is in compliance with these requirements.
From structuring your business to articulating contracts and beyond, an attorney for your small business can be one of your most valuable assets. With an attorney on your side, you can focus on running your company.
Do you feel like your debt is spiraling out of control? Have you been searching for tools to help you manage your financial situation? You may have discovered resources regarding both debt payment plans and bankruptcy. Each has its merits, and there are some circumstances in which bankruptcy might be your only solution.
Avoiding Bankruptcy With a Debt Repayment Plan
You may choose to avoid the route of bankruptcy. This avoids having a bankruptcy on your credit record. If you feel like you might be able to regain control of your situation in a few years by committing to a regular debt repayment plan, it is possible that you might be able to avoid bankruptcy.
The downside of this approach is that creditors do not have to accept your proposal, even if it comes through an experienced credit counseling agency. Your creditors can still sue you, garnish your wages, repossess your car, foreclose on your house, etc. If they do agree to a payment plan, be sure to get it in writing and stick to it.
Filing Bankruptcy – Know Your Options
Remember that bankruptcy laws are actually in place to protect you. That is why so many people use the word “relief” in connection with bankruptcy. If you are in over your head, Chapter 7 bankruptcy provides the fresh start and immediate relief that many people need to gain control of their situation.
There is another kind of bankruptcy which is actually a payment plan. Chapter 13, also known as debt reorganization, is similar to a payment plan you would work out with each creditor. The difference is that it is not optional. If you file a feasible plan, the creditors have no choice but to accept it. You will pay your creditors back over a three to five year period, but not always 100%. At the end, some debt can be wiped off. Unlike working with a credit counselor, while in a Chapter 13, you cannot be sue, have your wages garnished, your car or home sold, etc. You are protected by the bankruptcy laws during your repayment plan.
Federal bankruptcy law now requires that you complete some form of financial education class. This gives you the tools to implement a new approach, thereby reducing the chance of financial problems in the future. If you feel like you have been crippled by mounting debt, it is time to reach out to a bankruptcy attorney and learn about your options. If you’re ready to take the steering wheel for your financial situation, bankruptcy can you give the relief you need.
One of the most common questions that a person filing a Chapter 13 in Ohio asks is how long will this payment plan last? The answer is not as simple as you may think. You should discuss this with your bankruptcy attorney. The first determining factor for your payment plan is whether your income is above or below the median income line from the Means Test. If your income is above the median income line, you have to be in your plan for 60 months or 5 years unless you are paying back 100% to your unsecured creditors. If your income is below the median income line, you have to be in your plan for at least 36 months or 3 years but no more than the maximum 5 years unless you are paying back 100% to your unsecured creditors.
You are already asking yourself, what is the median income? The median income is an income figure that was established in the 2005 reforms to the Bankruptcy Code. The median income figures are updated at least annually and published by the United States Trustee’s Office. A skilled bankruptcy attorney, such as those here at Godbey & Associates, is very familiar with the income figures and can help guide you to determine whether your family income is above or below this median income figure.
Now that we have determined how long your plan may be, the next question is when do I start paying? A big misconception is that payments do not begin until your court date; however, according to the Bankruptcy Code, your first Chapter 13 payment is due thirty days from the date you file your bankruptcy petition and Chapter 13 plan. It is very important to get that first payment in to get your Chapter 13 plan funding, which sets you up for long-term success.
As you can see, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is a very complex subject where a simple question like the length of a payment plan reveals more questions that need answered. It is very important you find an attorney that specializes in bankruptcy law to help guide you through this complex process.
Whether you are the proprietor of a small business or CEO to a gigantic conglomerate, there are certain business activities that definitely call for the use of an attorney. One such activity is the formation of a business partnership. Creating a partnership can serve several advantages, such as allowing the business to take on larger projects that it would not otherwise be able to perform, expand marketing, or share in the cost of doing business.
Operating any type of business partnership will likely include the preparing and/or signing of contracts, leases and other written agreements. The execution of these agreements should not take place until an attorney has looked over them to ensure that there is nothing therein which can be detrimental to the business. Some of these agreements may be forms such as a Non-Disclosure Agreement, a Confidentiality Agreement, a Teaming Agreement, Master Services Agreement, or other legal agreements.
It is imperative to seek the legal counsel of an experienced business lawyer to ensure that the interests of your company are protected. A simple clause that is missed by the eyes of a nonprofessional can cause your company trouble in the future. It is also equally as important to get all agreements in writing. A written agreement provides proof of the agreement, prevents any misunderstanding between the parties, prevents any future changing of terms, and creates an environment whereas both parties remain focused on the goals of the business.
While your business knowledge may be extensive, you can always benefit from another set of eyes looking at your contracts. Remember, even attorneys hire other attorneys to take care of their legal issues. A good business attorney will ensure that all the terms of the contract are intact and your interests are protected.
No one enjoys going through bankruptcy. It is often the last resort, after months or even years of stressing about the bills, foreclosure, repossession, creditor harassment at home and work, and feelings of despair about your financial health. However, filing bankruptcy can definitely be a way to get a fresh start. To ensure that everything goes smoothly, here are a few questions you should ask when hiring a bankruptcy attorney.
Is Bankruptcy the Best Option for Me?
Everyone has a different situation. The first thing to do is have your new attorney assess the particulars in your case. You should also examine your assets and liabilities, as well as monthly income and expenses. If your income is less than your expenses, bankruptcy may be an option. Keep in mind that some debts cannot be eliminated in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, such as child support, student loan debt, and some tax bills. If you do not have enough debt, bankruptcy may not be the way to go. Have you exhausted all other means of satisfying your debt, such as trying to negotiate with the creditors?
What Kind of Bankruptcy do I Qualify For?
There are two main types of bankruptcy for individuals and small businesses – Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. There are very succinct differences between the two.
Chapter 7 is also known as a liquidation or straight bankruptcy. This bankruptcy will allow you to wipe off all debts of a certain nature, while still keeping your property such as your home, vehicle, furniture, clothing, retirement plan, and other assets, provided they are under the exemption limits. There are rules as to the amount of equity that is allowed for exemption. You must qualify for Chapter 7 by having an annual household income under a certain amount, which varies depending on the number of dependents and where you live. The bankruptcy period usually lasts only four to six months, at which time your case is over and your debts are discharged.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy lasts from three to five years. This is a debt repayment plan in which you pay a designated amount each month to your creditors. The court will add up all of your eligible debt and pay a percentage every month until your debts are satisfied. Your monthly payment amount depends on several factors, including your income and expense ratio, and the amount of equity you have in assets. Interest charges and late fees are stopped. Garnishments, foreclosures, repossessions, law suits and any other kind of collection efforts must stop. Even interest on unsecured debts must cease. At the end of the repayment period, any remaining unsecured debt is discharged. This type of bankruptcy also allows you to keep your personal assets.
How will the Bankruptcy affect my Future?
According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, your bankruptcy can be reported by credit agencies for up to ten years. If you are hoping to make a big purchase in the near future such as a car or a home, this may not be the time to file bankruptcy. However, if you are considering bankruptcy, your credit may already be damaged. Many creditors actually see you as a better risk after you have wiped off debt in bankruptcy. Some only require the bankruptcy to be discharged for a year before extending you credit. There are attorney fees and court costs associated with filing bankruptcy. The best thing to do is to make a list of questions and meet with a competent bankruptcy attorney before deciding whether to file.