Steps to Quickly Improve Your Credit Score

For people who have struggled with debt and/or bankruptcy, their credit score plays an important role in helping them obtain a new car, mortgage, or even a new job. While one of the best steps that people with credit card problems can take is to obtain the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney, it is also good advice to understand the various available ways to improve your credit rating. Ask for a Credit Line Increase Rather Than a New Card Requesting an increase in your credit limit is a better idea than obtaining a new credit card because each time a person fills out an application for a new credit card, a company will check his or her credit. The mere presence of an error on a person’s credit report will not automatically weaken that person’s credit rating. Some of the major factors that can be associated with a person’s credit rating and impact his or her credit score include payment history, amount of debt, age of accounts, account mix, and history of credit applications. Create a Plan to Improve Your Credit Score If the information reflected in your credit report is accurate and you want to take plans to improve     Read More

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Commonly Asked Estate Planning Questions

The estate planning process is particularly complicated. As a result, there are many complications that people face while planning for how their estate will be handled after their death. This article will review some of the most common estate planning questions that clients ask about the process. Who Needs an Estate Plan? Many people feel that they do not need an estate plan because they believe that they are not necessary. In reality, there are many types of people who benefit from estate plans including people who want their estate distributed in accordance with their plans after death, people who have assets that are susceptible to high estate taxes, and people whose heirs might need financial assistance after the person’s death. Can You Give Away $10,000 Each Year Without Any Adverse Effects? In accordance with Federal gift tax laws, you are able to gift a specific amount without having to report it or pay Federal gift tax on the amount. The exact amount that is exempt changes each year. While these gifts are not taxable for Federal gift tax purposes, the gifts are fully reportable in some other unique circumstances. Do You Still Need a Will if You Give Everything     Read More

Bankruptcy and Co-Signed Loans

Co-signed loans arise when a lending institution does not feel that a person should have sole financial responsibility and requires a more creditworthy person to sign the loan agreement. If you can no longer afford your co-signed loan or are going through the bankruptcy process and are confused about how the process affects your loan, you likely feel confused and uncertain about how to proceed. One of the best steps that you can take in this situation is to obtain the assistance of a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney. What to Expect if You Default on a Co-Signed Loan The role of a co-signer is to make sure that your loans are repaid. Parents co-sign loans for their children because young adults often have not yet built sufficient credit. In other situations, an adult will co-sign other adult’s loans, which can create complications if a default occurs. In these situations, the financial institution will often attempt to force the co-signer to take over payments. The Effect of Bankruptcy Filing for bankruptcy results in an automatic stay, which is a type of court order directing creditors to stop attempting to collect debts from a person. As a result, declaring bankruptcy offers a form     Read More

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Common Trust Mistakes

Many people use living or revocable trusts as part of their estate plans. Trusts are powerful estate planning tools that can help people achieve a variety of goals including avoiding probate and protecting beneficiaries. A large number of trusts are signed and then placed in a deposit box not to be looked at again for many years, which can create unintended obstacles. To make sure that your trust is used in the best manner possible, it is best to remain informed about the most common mistakes involving trusts. Not Properly Titling Assets in the Name of a Trust Because some assets may still be in your name after your death, it is critical to make sure that all assets are properly placed in you trust. In many cases, with the exception of qualified retirement funds, all assets should be transferred into your trust during your life. Assets that are properly placed in your trust will be distributed in accordance with the terms that you used to create your trust. Failing to Properly Update Your Trust It is critical that a person reviews his or her trust at least once a year to make sure that it still satisfies all needs.     Read More

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Eliminating Mortgage Liens Through Bankruptcy

Some people are able to eliminate mortgage liens on their house during bankruptcy in a process referred to as “lien stripping.” It is important for people to know that lien stripping for most liens is only available through Chapter 13 and not Chapter 7 bankruptcy. To strip a lien, it is also required that the amount is not a first portion mortgage and that the value of the house is less than the payoff of the first mortgage. The Different Liens and Which Bankruptcy Chapters Apply There are three different types of liens that a person might want to strip, which include the following: Judicial liens arise from judgments in law suits. Statutory liens encompassed tax liens and property tax liens. Voluntary liens encompass deeds of trust, home equity lines of credit, and mortgages. The only liens that can be stripped through Chapter 7 bankruptcy are judicial liens. If a person files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and wants to keep a house or other asset, he or she will be required to repay all loans secured by the house even if a loan is underwater. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, every kind of lien can be reduced to the value of     Read More

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The New Estate Tax Law

The new estate tax law in the country doubles the exemptions that are available to a person after death, increasing  the amount to $11 million per person. Additionally, married couples are able to leave a combined $22.4 million worth of property without an estate tax being placed on it. This exemption is also be expected to increase by several hundred thousand dollars each year based on inflation. If estate tax law remains unchanged, however, the exemption will be cut in half beginning in 2026. Reasons to Stick With Your Current Estate Plan If your combined estate presently exceeds $11.2 million or if you expect this amount to be exceeded in the next few years, it is often a wise idea to stick with your current estate plan. You might also have other reasons to keep your current plan including children from former relationships. The best way to determine the advantages and disadvantages of revising your estate plan is to speak with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who will be able to anticipate exactly how your current plan will be impacted. Estate Planning Issues Related to Trusts There are also new estate planning laws in the country that allow a surviving     Read More

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Estate Planning for Copyrights

Implementing an estate plan for people with interest in artistic works requires estate planning attorneys to consider various strategies to protect the value of an artist’s creations during life and after death. This advice holds no true no matter if a person is an artist of literary works, paintings, music, architecture, or other creations. Understanding copyright law and how to implement it into a person’s estate plan is just one of these many important considerations. The Importance of Proper Registration Since 1978, copyright has come into existence for works that are original and made in any medium of expression. Enforcing a copyright, however, is dependent on registration with the United States Copyright Office. People who are interested in transferring interest in a copyright can do so in one of several ways. Failure to properly register your trademark will likely result in ownership of the mark being lost even before your passing. Keeping All Important Paperwork Centralized After registering a copyright, an estate planning attorney can work with the mark’s creator to make sure that all documents about the work are located in one central place. With sufficient registration, copyright owners can also make sure that they collect statutory damages and     Read More

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VeraSun Energy: A Lesson in Bankruptcy Law

In 2008, the large ethanol producer, VeraSun Energy, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This petition for bankruptcy received significant focus by lawmakers in Washington who are in the process of introducing a bankruptcy bill that prohibits companies from filing bankruptcy in states of their incorporation. While VeraSun Energy had filed for bankruptcy in Delaware, none of the company’s plants nor the company’s headquarters were located in the state. The bill in question is the Bankruptcy Venue Reform Act of 2018. It is important for companies that are considering filing for bankruptcy to understand the elements of the Bankruptcy Reform Act, which has made some significant changes about where entities are allow to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Details of the Bankruptcy Venue Reform Act of 2018 The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2018 contains three sections. The first section notes some elements about bankruptcy law which include the following: Bankruptcy law offers a number of locations where a company can file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The large number of venue options has resulted in more companies filing for bankruptcy outside of their home state. The process of selecting the best possible location to file for bankruptcy is also referred to as     Read More

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Estate Planning for Small Business Owners

Estate planning methods offer significant benefits for all business owners. By establishing a strong estate plan, a person can safeguard not just a business, but employees and potential heirs, as well. This article will review some of the most important elements about how estate planning applies to people who own businesses. Create a Will Wills that are properly written help provide strong directions about how assets associated with a business should be managed or distributed when the business owner dies. Revocable Trusts Revocable trusts are much more complicated wills and allow an entity to hold assets for the business owner while they are alive. A business owner need not die for a trust to become effective. Instead, a designated party can also assume management of a trust if the business owner or trust creator becomes incapacitated. A revocable trust facilitates the transfer of assets, which helps to avoid extended legal proceedings as well as expenses that are commonly associated with legal cases. Power of Attorney Documents Powers of attorney allow a designated representative to make medical decisions on a business owner’s behalf in case he or she becomes unable to make decisions. Financial powers of attorney are important and let     Read More

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US Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Influential Bankruptcy Case

The Supreme Court of the United States recently agreed to determine the intent of Congress when the section of bankruptcy code was created that determines the discharge of debts associated with dishonest or fraudulent conduct. This case serves as a reminder of the many complicated areas in bankruptcy law. Given these complexities, many people are who are involved with bankruptcy cases have found that it is critical to the outcome of a case to obtain the assistance of a seasoned attorney. The Background of the Case The party that originated the class initiated the case against the owners of a business that the party had recently purchased. The party agreed to pay legal counsel on an hourly basis with fees due each month. As the case proceeded, however, the man became delinquent on his payments. These two parties met numerous times to discuss the matter of payment with the legal counsel even reducing the client’s payment despite continued legal representation. In June of 2006, the law firm alleges that the party received a tax refund payment and used this money to make an investment in his business instead of paying outstanding legal fees. When the payment was not made, the     Read More