A Credit Counselor Versus a Bankruptcy Attorney

Revocable Trusts: What To Know About This Trusty Estate Planning Tool

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The last will and testament document has always held a prime spot in any estate planning package, and is usually the only tool most people even consider when making financial plans for after their death. The will, however, has its limitations, and if you are not considering the use of revocable trust as a vital part of your estate plan, you may be missing out. Read on to learn the basic facts and benefits of using this valuable estate planning aid. What should go into a trust? Anything you would address in a will can also be addressed using a revocable trust. Bank account funds, homes, cars, boats, jewelry, art and more can reside in a trust instrument. Just like a will, part of the trust will designate specific beneficiaries to inherit specific pieces of property contained in the trust. Unlike a will, however, the property addressed in a trust is never subject to probate, so the beneficiaries can receive their inheritances in a far more timely fashion than would be possible with a will that must be probated. It’s interesting to note that if the same asset is addressed in both a will and a trust, but the asset has differing beneficiaries, the beneficiary named in the trust gets precedence over the one named in the will. Who oversees the trust? Again, just as in a will, a trusted person is put in charge of distributing and overseeing the trust once the trust’s owner passes away. The duties of this person, referred to as a trustee, serves to fill a similar role as that of a personal representative (or executor). As long as the trust’s owner is alive, the trust can be modified as often as needed (which explains the “revocable” part of the term). Furthermore, the trustee is given other financial duties to accomplish, such as paying the bills of the estate. The privacy issue. Another benefit of a revocable trust is that it is entirely private. Once a traditional will is filed with the probate court, it becomes a public document for all to see, including the beneficiaries. With a trust, no one but the owner and the trustee necessarily know the full contents of it. This means that individual beneficiaries have no way of knowing what the other beneficiaries are inheriting unless they choose to divulge that information. This feature could help reduce the potential for animosity and jealousy that often occurs with a will. Be sure to speak to an estate planning attorney for more information about revocable trusts. Contact a firm like Lynn Jackson Shultz & Lebrun PC to learn...

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Three Reasons Why Trust Estates Are A Good Idea For Your Offspring

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When you have a lot of money, assets, property, and wealth to distribute among your children, you want to make sure they use it wisely. The best way to do that is to establish trust estates for each of your children. It does not matter at the moment if they are still too little to know what money is. The trusts are meant for their future anyway. Here are a few more reasons why setting up trusts is a good idea for your offspring. Keeping the Wealth in the Family and for the Kids Establishing the trusts now prevents your wealth from being distributed in ways you do not want it to be. It also prevents anyone from accessing the trusts via securing guardianship over your children should you pass away suddenly. Your wills and estate lawyers can make sure that your will and the trusts are airtight, so that no one can access the money in the trusts except for the children themselves. You can also make sure that the children cannot access the money until they reach a certain age. Noticing Negative Patterns of Behavior and Protecting the Money The frontal cortex in humans is not fully developed until your mid-20s. As such, your ability to reason, maintain self-control, and refrain from blowing millions of dollars in days is not entirely there before you reach that age. If you also notice negative patterns of behavior in one or more of your children, you will want to refrain from giving them lots of money when they are teenagers or very young adults. It could lead to a downward spiral. Protect the kids from themselves and protect the wealth you want to bestow on them by creating trusts that forbid their access until age “x”, and then you can feel more at ease with leaving them something. Learning Good Work Ethics and Charity First Finally, another good reason for establishing trust estates and setting the age restrictions on these trusts is so that your children learn good work ethics first. Learning and understanding that hard work makes a difference, and knowing how hard people struggle to make their money is essential to the proper management of wealth, once you have it. It also encourages your children to become acquainted with helping those in need, and helping those who have less than they do. Then, when they receive their trust funds, they can better appreciate what you have left...

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4 Things Insurance Companies Don’t Want You To Know About Workers Compensation

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If you have been injured while on the job, you should definitely file a workers compensation claim. The reason for this is that you will receive compensation for your injuries and the time you have had to miss from work because of recovery and time spent in the hospital. However, you will not receive fair compensation if you fall for the small tricks and tactics played by insurance companies. Here are four things the insurance companies don’t want you to know: Insurance Companies Often Overlook Tips and Overtime: When the insurance company offers you a settlement amount, they typically only include your normal paycheck. However, if you would have otherwise worked overtime, they will overlook this. And if you work in a business where you regularly receive tips, they will attempt to leave this out, as well. Unfortunately, many victims fall for this tactic because they don’t realize that their compensation settlement should be factoring these things in.  Insurance Companies Want You to See Their Doctor: When you are injured on the job, the insurance company working for your place of business will attempt to get you to see their doctor, which often works for those workers who do not currently have a regular doctor that they visit. The problem with this is that it is a conflict of interest. The doctor will often be biased because they work closely with your place of business and may overlook some of the severities of your injuries.  Insurance Companies Watch You for Mistakes: The insurance company is going to be paying close attention to your actions. For example, if you miss doctor appointments, they are going to take note of this and use it against you in the future to downplay the severity of your injuries. They will even look at your social media platforms to disprove the severity of your injuries, as well. Be careful not to post any pictures of you appearing to be participating in any vigorous activities.  Insurance Companies Withhold Benefit Information From You: The workers compensation insurance that your employer purchases for their business will sometimes include benefits that you may not be aware of, which is just what the insurance company wants because they are trying to save money. For example, one of the most common benefits that employees are not aware of is the benefit of compensation to a friend or family member taking time out of their day to care for you after you have suffered an injury that has limited your ability to perform daily tasks.  When you know these four things that insurance companies attempt to hide from you, you can be sure that you are less likely to fall for their tactics to save money. You will be in even better hands if you hire a workers compensation attorney who can help you avoid these issues, as...

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Why You May Fail A Mistake Of Fact Defense When Charged With Selling Alcohol To A Minor

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A mistake of fact defense is one based on the premise that the defendant relied on an incorrect assumption of fact when performing the illegal act. For example, if you are charged with selling alcohol to a minor, you may be able to defend yourself by proving that the minor presented themselves as an adult above the legal drinking age. However, this defense isn’t foolproof. For example, you will not succeed with this mistake of fact defense if: Your State Classifies the Offense as Strict Liability A strict liability offense is one in which the prosecution doesn’t have to prove that you intended to do something illegal; they just have to prove that you did it. This means you can still be found guilty of a strict liability offense even if it was a mistake on your part. In some places, giving alcohol to a minor is a strict liability offense. This means the prosecution doesn’t have to prove that you did not know the person you gave alcohol to was a minor. You will still be charged with the offense even if the person had a fake ID that looked like the real thing. You Did Not Ask To See an ID In most jurisdictions, you are required to ask an ID from every person who comes to buy alcohol and looks underage. You aren’t supposed to assume that the person just looks young; you are supposed to verify it. For example, Indiana requires alcohol sellers to check identification for anybody under the age of 40 who wants to buy alcohol to drink outside the premises. It’s not easy to mistake a 16-year-old for a 41-year-old; therefore, you won’t have a valid defense if you sell alcohol to a 16-year-old by claiming that they appeared old enough. The ID Was Obviously Fake In some cases, it’s not just enough to ask for an ID; you are also required not to sell alcohol to anybody with an obviously fake ID. An obviously fake ID is one that any reasonable person would immediate pick out as fake. For example, if a teenager comes with a driver’s license that has a picture of a person of the opposite gender, then the ID cannot be theirs. In such a case, you cannot sell alcohol to the minor and later claim that you did so because the person showed you an ID. You Did Not Verify the ID Lastly, you may not be able to defend yourself if you did not verify the ID that the minor showed to you. This is because, in some states, you don’t just accept an ID (with regard to alcohol sales) because it looks genuine. You are supposed to verify it by using a scanner before making the sale. Therefore, don’t just assume that you can use the mistake of fact defense when accused of selling alcohol to a minor. Consult a criminal defense attorney like Robert A Murray to confirm that the circumstances of your alleged act allow you to use that defense. The attorney may also furnish you with other forms of defenses depending on your...

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Laundromat Laureate: 5 Ways To Be Positively Productive While Waiting For Your Clothes To Dry

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Laundromats are unquestionably a life-saver for millions of Americans; in fact, people spend almost five billion dollars every year getting their clothes clean. Beyond getting your favorite outfits ready for prime time, though, a laundromat can be an excellent place to accomplish other things simultaneously, leaving you with soft, fluffy clothes and the feeling that you’ve really made great use of your time. 1. Read The Labels That formerly favorite shirt of yours may actually need to be washed by hand or taken to a dry cleaner, but if you never read the label on it, how would you know? While it’s best to learn the special care instructions before you buy an article of clothing (mainly because you’d likely never buy it if you knew all the work involved in caring for it), doing so at the laundromat will help to avoid shrinkage and spoilage of your otherwise favorite clothes. 2. Reach For Your Dreams People find many excuses for not following their dreams, but if you think about it, life is really too short for any of them. Rather than being hypnotized by the spin cycle, start researching a way to bring your dreams to fruition. For example, if you want to start a business or patent an invention, learn exactly how it’s done. Then next time the towels are on tumble dry, create a five-step plan, consisting of the moves you can make to get your idea off the ground. Within a few months, you should have all the knowledge you need (and be completely out of excuses) to take your dreams to the next level – reality! 3. Write A Letter (By Hand) Hand-written letters are a lost art, but not entirely obsolete. If you put pen to paper, you could make someone’s day, give them a lasting memento or be more direct and honest than you could ever be in a brief text. Especially if there’s someone special in your life who’s older and remembers the days before computers, a written letter is striking and soulful by comparison. 4. Plan Your Budget Ugh! The budget…Most people don’t have one and even fewer actually follow set spending limits, but it could save you a considerable amount of money in the long-run, perhaps even helping you find your way out of debt. Formulate a smart spending formula and every week while you’re doing laundry, tackle the obstacles standing between you and financial freedom. You could write out a money-saving grocery list and check out sales at all the local stores on your cell or laptop, rather than simply daydreaming as you await for tumble-dry to finish! 5. Purge Your Cell Phone An overload of unused apps on your phone hogs resources and if you’re like a lot of people, you also have a ton of old pics that will never see print and other files that are otherwise unproductive and wasteful. Spend a few minutes clearing out the cobwebs and your phone should perform better, as well as have more room for more beneficial programs, such as those that help you manage time, money, the space in your freezer and more. Or how about an app that will help you plan that business you’ve been dreaming of? Either way, you and your phone will be more...

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3 Tips For Handling Your Child’s Arrest

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When your child is arrested, you have to act quickly to protect his or her rights. One way you can protect your child’s rights is to make sure he or she does not inadvertently say or do something that could be used against him or her in court. If your child has been arrested, here are some considerations that both of you need to make.  Understand Your Child’s Rights Unfortunately, not every parent who is facing a legal situation involving their children understands that their child has rights. Some people mistakenly believe that, because they are children, they do not have the same rights as adults. In actuality, children have many of the same rights as adults.   One of the most important rights your child retains is the right to legal representation. If you do not have a criminal attorney for your child, retain one as soon as possible.   Advise Your Child Not to Talk to Police or Prosecutors Ideally, police should not attempt to interrogate your child until he or she has legal representation. However, this does not always happen. Your child can face the same consequences that an adult does if he or she answers an incriminating question that is posed by the police. The prosecutor could use what is said against your child in court and that could lead to a conviction.  As soon as you are notified that your child is in custody, tell your child not to answer any questions. Your child’s attorney will discuss the case with your child and determine what questions, if any, he or she should answer.   Request a Notice of Charges You and your child must be informed of why he or she is being detained by police. If the police have not provided this information, this is a violation of your child’s rights. You can ask the police to provide you with a notice of charges.   The notice should detail exactly what charges your child is facing. Once you have this information, your attorney can start to work on your child’s case. Depending on the severity of the case, the attorney might be able to secure your child’s release on bail.   Receiving notification that your child has been arrested can be scary. Fortunately, with the help of an experienced criminal law attorney, you can protect your child’s rights and work to defend him or her against the charges he or she is...

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Worker’s Comp While Working

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If you have a work-related injury and are eligible to receive worker;s comp, you may be able to work and receive benefits at the same time. However, your injury must abide by certain guidelines and be deemed a partial permanent disability, so read on to learn more. Three Categories of Disability Worker’s compensation insurance is available for workers who fall into the following categories. 1. Temporary: This is the most common type of compensation available and lasts from the time of your injury until you have been cleared by a doctor to return to your normal work tasks and schedule. Normally, you are eligible to receive a portion of your salary while you recuperate and will have your medical expenses taken care of. 2. Permanent: This determination may take place quickly for those with catastrophic injuries or later on for those with injuries that never heal enough for the worker to return to their job. In some states, this determination follows a medical exam and a ruling of Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). A ruling of MMI doesn’t mean that you no longer require medical treatment but that your medical condition is not expected to improve much, if at all, and that you will likely never be able to do the same type of work as you did before. 3. Partial: This ruling means that you have reached MMI but that you may still be able to do some types of work, even if on a reduced schedule. Partial Permanent Disability Normally, this ruling comes with a percentage number of disability, such as a 20% disability. The amount of disability reflects the amount of compensation you can expect to receive. For example, a 20% disability would make you eligible for 20% of your former job’s salary. What to Expect In most states, vocational rehabilitation is offered to help you train for a different type of work, if necessary. In some cases, you may be able to do your previous job but with a part-time instead of full-time schedule. Compensation may be paid either weekly or as a lump-sum payment. You will, of course, still be paid for any time you actually work as well, but worker’s comp can be expected to help fill the gap between your pre-injury salary and your present earnings. The worker’s comp process can be extremely confusing, and for those with a partial disability it can be even more so. Make sure that you have a legal expert on your side for this stressful time period; contact a worker’s comp attorney, such as one at Gilbert, Blaszcyk & Milburn LLP, as soon as possible after your...

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Choosing The Right Trial Attorney

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If you’ve been accused of a serious crime and you’re going to be on trial, then your top priority should be to secure an experienced trial attorney. Settling for a court-appointed attorney simply isn’t a good idea, for several reasons. One main reason is that you will not be able to choose which lawyer will represent you. It’s important to have the opportunity to build a rapport with your attorney in advance, and that just isn’t possible with a court-appointed attorney. There are many other reasons why hiring your own lawyer is important, and here are tips for finding the right one: Get your funding in order  Hiring a high caliber trial attorney will not be cheap, and a large upfront retainer fee is often required. If money is tight for you then you may need to do whatever necessary to obtain the funds. Even if you have to liquidate certain assets or obtain a loan from a friend or family member, you need to be willing to do so. Carefully interview prospective choices When searching for the perfect trial attorney, you want to be sure to meet in person instead of going by reputation alone. Construct a list of questions you’d like to ask prior to meeting with prospective choices. Even if a trial attorney that you’re considering retaining has the best reputation in the area, it is important that the attorney believe you are innocent. Your attorney will fight harder to win the case if he or she feels passionate about doing so. Here are some other essential qualities you should look for in an attorney: Experience – You want to ensure that the attorney you choose has several years of experience, with a high success rate. A lawyer who is a recent graduate might be good, but you want great when it comes to your freedom. Honesty & integrity – Attorneys in general are stereotyped as being dishonest and having questionable ethics, but not all attorneys have bad reputations. You want to choose one whose reputation is positive in every manner. Confidence – You want a lawyer that exudes a high level of confidence, because an attorney without adequate confidence might lack in other important areas, such as decision-making and more. This could be be detrimental to your trial. Despite all your efforts, there is unfortunately no guarantee that you will have the ability to prove your innocence and avoid a conviction, regardless of the attorney that you choose. However, as long as you remain positive and hopeful, you make sure that your attorney is the absolute best in the business, you can significantly increase your chances of proving your innocence and having all charges...

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Easy Come, Easy Go: How To Budget With Sporadic Child Support Payments

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If you have sole physical custody of the children or if you have gone through a divorce, there is a chance that your children’s other parent has been ordered to pay child support. For some, child support will always come at the expected day of the month. For others, child support can be more sporadic. If you fall into the second category and you do not receive regular child support payments like you are supposed to, it can make it difficult to budget. Here are some ways to make budgeting easier if you receive sporadic child support payments.  Make assumptions based on your own income If your former partner is being irresponsible with child support payments, it is best to throw this column out of the monthly budget entirely. Make a monthly budget based on your income alone. If you have children who have different parents and one parent does contribute child support as expected, you can count this as household income, when you are doing your budget. Be sure to keep the lines of communication open with your children’s parent and ask them to let you know in advance if they foresee any issues happening with payments.  Use the money for seasonal items If you receive child support payments only some of the time, use these payments to plan out seasonal items. This includes summer activities for the children, winter coats, presents for the holidays, and sports sign up fees. Using sporadic child support payments for these extras for your child will make their life more enjoyable and help you keep a stable monthly budget without having to deal with the once in a year extras. If you make enough money to care for your child’s needs and extras, ask them what they would prefer to do with the spare money so that you know they get something they will enjoy.  Put lump payments into savings accounts If you tend to get child support only after the other parent has gotten in legal trouble for not paying child support, you may get some lump sum payments. This windfall to your budget should be placed in a savings account for your child. Do not designate this specifically as a college fund or any other specific fund, as you and your child may need to dip into this money during tough times. The positive thing about getting a lump sum payment is that it can boost up the emergency fund for your household so that you are better equipped to deal with financial curve balls on your own in the...

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Keeping Your Small Soap Company’s Marketing Efforts Compliant With The Help Of An Experienced Attorney

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Starting your own online soap company can be a great way to supplement your income. While you might think that your small business is exempt from many of the rules and regulations that govern large soap and cosmetic companies, this might not be accurate. Working with a lawyer who specializes in interpreting Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations will allow you to craft advertising and promotional campaigns that won’t land your fledgling soap company in hot water. Here are two specific things an FDA attorney can help you with when it comes to legally spreading the word about your soaps in the future. 1. Labeling If you are hoping to take advantage of the demand for natural or organic products by producing your soaps using only natural and/or organic ingredients, then consulting with an attorney before you begin labeling your soap can be beneficial. Strict requirements for listing ingredients in cosmetic products (like soap) are enforced by the FDA. In order for your soap to be compliant, you will need to list each ingredient by its common or usual name, and cannot list it as “natural” or “organic” in the ingredient list. If you want to label your soap as organic, you might also be subject to regulations set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, since they are responsible for regulating organic products throughout the country. An attorney will be able to help you navigate the boundaries of accurate labeling to ensure your soap’s labels are compliant before you invest money into printing labels in mass. 2. Country Of Origin When you are hoping to influence American consumers to invest in your soap products, you might feel it will be beneficial to include a “made in the U.S.A” statement in your advertising and labeling. The FDA works closely with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to regulate these types of claims. Your attorney will be able to help you determine if your soaps are eligible for an unqualified country of origin claim (meaning all or virtually all of the ingredients and processing can be sourced within the United States), or if you must make a qualified claim letting consumers know the exact percentage of the ingredients and processing used to manufacture your soap that can be sourced within the United States. Working closely with your attorney to navigate these claims will help you stay out of trouble with both the FDA and FTC when it comes to marketing your products to consumers in the future. Keeping your small soap business compliant with FDA, USDA, and FTC regulations doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Invest in the help of an attorney who has experience navigating marketing regulations, and you will be able to avoid legal trouble in the...

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