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Declaring Bankruptcy and Cosigning Loans

Cosigned loans serve an essential role in letting people who would otherwise be unable to obtain a loan to do so. If a person defaults on a cosigned loan, however, the cosigner can end up becoming liable for the entire amount of the loan. If you are experiencing financial difficulties and have a cosigned loan, speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can help you determine your best course of action. The Effect of Defaulting on a Cosigned Loan Parents frequently cosign for children who have not yet established a line of credit. In some situations, however, adults sign for the loans of other adults, which can result in many complications. Often, if a person cannot make the required payments, the financial institution will pursue the cosigner for payments. To stop collection efforts from credit agencies, individuals in these situations often decide to file for bankruptcy, which results in an automatic stay that prevents a court from collecting on a debt. Even though filing for bankruptcy prevents creditors from pursuing the person who has taken out the loan, these protections do not apply to a cosigner.  As a result, credit collectors in these situations frequently pursue the loan’s cosigner. Chapter     Read More

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Three Estate Planning Tips to Consider Before Traveling

Heading on a vacation of any length often requires significant planning. Frequently, individuals arrange things like who will water the plants, who will retrieve the mail, and who will feed the pets. While many people might not think about it, it is a wise idea for individuals who embark on a trip to also conduct estate planning before leaving home. In the case that an unexpected tragedy happens, these plans help to make sure that a person’s affairs are in order. This article will review some of the important estate planning tips that individuals must remember to follow before taking a vacation. Review Existing Plans If you have an existing estate plan, you should make sure to revise it before taking a vacation. Some of the events that require an estate plan to be updated include death, divorce, and marriage. These events can result in a person’s estate plan nominating an individual who will no longer be able to take on the responsibility, which is why it is a wise idea to make sure that an estate plan applies effectively to a person’s current situation. While many of these updates include removing beneficiaries who have died or become incapacitated, there     Read More

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Financing the Bankruptcy Process with Your Tax Refund and Other Preparatory Steps

One of the largest obstacles that people face in filing for bankruptcy is deciding how to pay for the process. Many people argue that it is a Catch 22: If they were able to come up with several hundred or even a thousand dollars, they would not need to file for bankruptcy in the first place. In the last few years, numerous articles have been published about people paying for the bankruptcy process through the use of their tax refunds. The lesson to be gleaned from these articles is that there are numerous ways to pay for the bankruptcy process even if you cannot immediately think of one. Obtaining sufficient financial resources for the bankruptcy process is just one of the many complications for which a person who is interested in filing for bankruptcy must prepare. This article will review some of the important steps that should be performed in preparation of filing for bankruptcy. Stop Borrowing Money After you decide to file for bankruptcy, it is important to immediately stop borrowing money or using any credit cards. If you continue to do so, there is a risk that this might be construed as fraud and will result in additional     Read More

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Utilizing Burial Directions and Organ Donation in Your Estate Plan

One of the most important parts of successful estate planning is making sure that all possible issues are considered. While many people expect their estate planning to cover subjects like the distribution of their assets, it is also important to consider issues like burial, cremation, and organ donation. By fully addressing these issues in an estate plan, you can remove the chance that your loved ones will make a mistake by attempting to interpret your wishes. As a result, this article will consider two of the topics that are often left out of discussions about estate planning - funeral directions and organ donation. If you have any questions about either of these steps, discuss matters with an estate planning attorney. Be Sure to Document Your Funeral Plans The best way to inform loved ones about what you would like to have happen at your funeral is to write down a list of specific instructions in a document that is kept separate from other estate planning tools like trusts and wills. Some of the common concerns addressed by these plans include whether a person wants to be cremated, be buried, and have a funeral or memorial service, and where the person     Read More

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Are Inherited IRAs Protected From Creditors?

Most people who file for bankruptcy automatically think of their Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and 401(k) accounts as the most common type of assets that are exempt from being lost in bankruptcy and kept safe from creditors. As a result, many people believe that they will be allowed to exit the bankruptcy process with their retirement accounts untouched, which will greatly facilitate making a fresh start. The answer, however, is much more complicated if an IRA is inherited. If a person inherits the IRA from a spouse, however, the IRA will not qualify as exempt from bankruptcy and as a result will subject to collection efforts from creditors. In 2014, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case of Clark v. Rameker that an inherited IRA someone other than a spouse is not classified as a bankruptcy exemption. In drawing the distinctions between inherited IRAs and participant owned IRAs, the court noted three differences - the beneficiary of an inherited IRA cannot make additional contributions to the account but a participant IRA, an inherited IRA beneficiary must take required minimum distributions from the account but an IRA owner can defer distribution until the age of 70 and ½, and     Read More

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Establishing Trusts When a Family has Debt

More than many other estate planning tools, trusts are capable of protecting a family’s assets for future generation. However, if either the person creating the trust or the beneficiary has debt, the trust will likely not be able to protect the assets from creditors. This means that if someone in the family files for bankruptcy, there is a risk that the trust could be seized for the repayment of debts. The Difference Between Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts The role of debt in the creation of a trust emphasizes the distinction between irrevocable and revocable trusts. A person who creates a revocable trust is in control of the trust until his or her death, which means that assets in this type of trust are considered property during the creator’s lifetime and will pass to beneficiaries after the creator’s death. Irrevocable trusts are not in control of the trust’s creator, but sometimes a “spendthrift”  provision can be added to the trust to protect it from creditor seizure if a beneficiary of the trust later files for bankruptcy. The Advantages of a Trust There are some distinct advantages to both irrevocable and revocable trusts. Irrevocable trusts offer the benefit of reducing estate tax,     Read More

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How to Find the Best Nursing Home for a Loved One

One of the many obstacles to helping a family member perform estate planning is that it is often difficult to accept that a loved needs extra care to survive. It is also a challenge to find a good nursing home for a loved one, particularly when statistics suggest that abuse and neglect are occurring at an increased rate all over the country. There are fortunately several signs that a nursing home is a safe and good fit for a loved one. It is important to weigh each potential nursing home against these criteria to make sure that a loved one ends up getting the best care possible. While the following are five signs of nursing home neglect, if you are interested in learning more, AARP has a list of 10. Sign # 1: Examine the Staff Culture It is important to examine how staff members at nursing homes interact with one another. If staff members are combative or passive with one another, this is likely how they will interact with the nursing home’s residents. The best nursing homes have staff that interact with one another in a pleasant manner. Sign # 2: What Activities do Residents Engage in? Empty corridors     Read More

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Common Questions About Creditor Harassment and Reporting After Bankruptcy

If you have to obtain a bankruptcy discharge after declaring either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are likely anxious to begin the process but are uncertain about how to proceed. While there are numerous areas in which questions arise, one of the most common types of questions that people who have to obtain bankruptcy discharge ask are about creditor harassment and credit reports. This article will provide some of the most commonly asked questions regarding these subjects. As always, while navigating the bankruptcy process, it can help significantly to rely on the assistance of a seasoned attorney who has helped others navigate the process. Question # 1: What if a Creditor Tries to Collect on a Discharged Debt? If a creditor contacts you after your debt has been discharged through bankruptcy, the best way to respond is to notify the creditor that the debt has been discharged. If the creditor contacts to you despite knowing the discharge has occurred, this is viewed as a serious violation of the Bankruptcy Code and likely violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. As a result, a creditor can end up paying significant fines. Question # 2: What if You Forgot to     Read More

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Firearms and Estate Plans

Estate plans are designed to ensure a smooth transition of a person’s assets to his or her beneficiaries while also reducing the associated taxes. Many estate planners are concerned with the transfer of real property, but overlook some tangible assets like firearms. If firearms are not properly accounted for, there is a significant risk that some undesired effects might occur. As a result, it is critical that people who want to make sure that a firearm is properly received by a beneficiary obtain the assistance of a skilled estate planning attorney. Laws Regarding the Transfer of Firearms Federal laws specifically address the issue of firearms. These laws prohibit any individual from receiving or possessing a firearm that is not registered to him or her in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. Laws also prohibit the transportation, delivery, or receipt of any firearms in interstate commerce which have not been properly registered. Violations of these laws can result in people facing up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Many people who have firearms with which they have a personal connection, however, might not remember to take these laws into consideration when creating an estate     Read More

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The Nature of Pet Trusts

Most people who have pets understand that a significant bond is created between the animal and its owner. Many people, however, fail to consider what to do if something happens to their animal after they die. Statistics suggest that over 500,000 animals each year are abandoned due to the death of the animal’s owner. With adequate planning, however, these pets can be protected. Some of the advantages of including a pet in an estate plan are that it helps to make sure there is someone to take care of the animal after the owner’s death. Also estate plans help to provide clear instructions about the animal’s care. There are fortunately several available methods for a person to make sure that their pet is care for after their death. Outright Gifts Some people decide to leave their pet as well as a gift of money or property for the care of their pet directly to a family member or friend. This gift is often made on the condition that the caregiver receives the assets on the condition that they be used to care for their pet. This option is often best for people who are certain that their chosen caregiver is     Read More

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