estate planning after divorce

Updating Your Will and Estate Plan After a Divorce

After a divorce, your will and estate plan are probably not the first things on your to-do list. Making the appropriate changes to the plan can be an essential action that provides the peace of mind in knowing your future wishes will be carried out to the letter.

 

How a Divorce Impacts Your Estate Plan

Married people typically tend to leave their property, assets, and other valuables to their spouse and children from the marriage. But after a divorce, many individuals no longer want that pre-established plan to remain unchanged. Some may wish to merely reduce their ex-partner’s inheritance. Others choose to unname their exes as beneficiaries and direct more assets to the children. 

If you do not alter your plan, your ex could receive some of your assets in a way that you did not originally intend. Even if laws dictate that a divorce voids gifts to an ex-spouse made in a will signed before the marriage dissolution, other estate planning devices may still apply. For instance, you might have named your ex as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy or a trust. The only way your ex is by changing the beneficiary designation.

 

Updating and Changing Your Estate Plan

Once you’ve decided that changes to your estate plan due to divorce are in order, seek out the legal advice of an experienced attorney. An estate planning lawyer can review your plan and point out which parts need to be modified. Generally, putting these changes in effect means signing a new will and other documents. If you have any retirement accounts, powers of attorney, or other structures in place, those documents may need changes as well.

As you consider enacting the new estate plan, you will need to think about how to redistribute money that might have gone to your spouse if the marriage hadn’t ended in divorce. Perhaps you would instead give funds to a charity or save more of them for your children’s’ college tuition. Through estate planning devices such as life insurance, 529 plans, and trusts, your estate planning attorney can help you accomplish your new goals.

It’s helpful to keep in mind that many changes occur in the course of your life. You should update your estate plan after any significant life changes that impact where your hard-earned assets will go once you’ve passed on. For example, you might remarry, relocate to a different state or country, have additional children, inherit money, or lose a family member. All of these are good reasons to review your plan for potential updates and changes.

 

Get Help Updating Your Estate Plan After a Divorce

Dealing with a divorce can be an emotional and overwhelming time. While there is much to consider and decide, taking action regarding your estate plan before and during your divorce can give you and your heirs financial protection while eliminating unexpected complications.

An estate planning attorney can point out what options are right for you, helping to secure everything you’ve worked for and accomplished in your life. To begin your estate planning today, contact an estate planning attorney at Yee Law Group to set up your free estate plan evaluation. 

Common Bankruptcy Questions

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Most people only have a vague idea of how bankruptcy works. When people think of someone filing for bankruptcy they imagine rich people being dragged from their houses while all of their gaudy possessions are thrown into boxes. The truth is far less dramatic but can seem more convoluted. If you are looking to file for bankruptcy, or in general have no way to pay off your debts, these are probably some of the questions you are asking.

What Is Bankruptcy?

In the simplest sense, bankruptcy is a system that allows individuals and businesses to go to court in order to get their debts canceled. Depending on the type of bankruptcy being filed for, the amount of debt and the amount of personal wealth the person has all play a role in determining how the debt gets discharged.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Debt relief is a very personal thing and can become necessary through no fault of the person filing. Even so, since anyone filing for bankruptcy is going through a court system, having a lawyer to help navigate the technicalities and legal jargon can be a huge help. While it is not required like in criminal or civil courts, having a lawyer is highly recommended.

What Are the Different Types of Bankruptcy?

A business or individual can file under two different chapters: Chapter 7 and chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the more straightforward of the two: the court reviews all property and income of the person filing. Once the value of their property, along with whether any property is exempt, is determined, the court appoints a trustee to oversee the selling of the debtor’s property. All of this money goes to paying back the creditors and any debt left is discharged. This is the type of bankruptcy that most people imagine when they think about filing for bankruptcy.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy, on the other hand, is a bit less straightforward. The debtor agrees to a court-mandated repayment plan in exchange for getting to keep all of their property. Income, the amount of debt and other factors analyzed by the court determine how much the debtor must repay, and how that repayment is structured. Generally, payment plans are between three and five years long. At the end of the repayment plan, if all payments were made on time, then any remaining debt is discharged.

Set up a consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer, like the attorneys at Kamper & Estrada, PLLC as soon as possible.

Understanding Wrongful Death Lawsuits

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Wrongful death can occur because of a number of different reasons, though it is usually the result of an accident caused by someone’s negligence. You can make a wrongful death claim if you are the survivor of the person who has died. The claim is made against the person who caused the accident. Before you begin this long process, you should have a full understanding of what a wrongful death claim entails and if it is worth your time and effort. Here’s the basics for a wrongful death claim and lawsuit.

What Counts as a Wrongful Death?

The majority of wrongful death cases involve accidents, but there are examples of intentional harm (such as abuse in nursing homes) that can be claimed. Car accidents, workplace accidents, workplace illnesses, medical malpractice, accidental poisoning, overdoses, property liability accidents, and pedestrian and bicycle accidents are the most common situations. In each of these cases, one party can be held liable because their negligence contributed to the accident and therefore the death.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim and Lawsuit?

People who can sue are the survivors of the deceased. Usually this is parents, children, spouses, life partners, and certain other family members. The survivors often have a dependency on the person who has passed away, be it financial support or companionship. Adult children may be unable to sue over the death of a parent because they are no longer dependent on them. A judge may determine if survivors have a right to sue.

Who Can Be Sued?

Any person or party who acted negligently and caused the death can be sued. This could be a driver who caused a car accident, a manufacturer who released faulty equipment, a property owner who failed to fix tripping hazards, or a construction company who constructed a faulty design. In some cases, fault may overlap to several parties, and you may sue each of them depending on their involvement.

What Damages Can Be Claimed?

Damages can be split into economic, non-economic and punitive categories. Economic damages can be medical bills, funeral costs, lost wages, and lost inheritance. Non-economic refers to damages that have no monetary value, such as pain and suffering and loss of love, care, protection, or companionship. What you can claim often depends on your relationship with the deceased.

To determine where you stand in a wrongful death claim process, consider contacting a wrongful death lawyer, like from Wiseman Bray, PLLC. Every situation is different, and there may be state laws you don’t know about that affect your case. Never hesitate to seek help, especially if there is a chance you could receive compensation.

Fault vs No-Fault Divorce

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Both Fault and No-Fault divorce relate to the reason for calling for divorce, so why is there a need to specify? Well, as a child support lawyer, like from Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC, will tell you, the reason for the divorce is different and the distribution of property in the divorce is different and affected by Fault or No-Fault divorce. A fault divorce requires the spouse that is seeking the divorce to prove the other party is at fault and that requires a divorce. In a no-fault divorce, no blame is assigned to either party. 

Grounds for a Fault divorce

Cruelty- this is defined as “willfully causing pain or suffering to your spouse.”

This is a relative term, where each case must be determined on its own fact. In order for a judge to uphold cruelty, the cruelty needs to be a willful, persistent infliction of unnecessary suffering, which can be either mental or physical.

Adultery- this is defined as “voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with one that is not the husband or wife of the offender.”

Can be proven with hard proof or circumstantial evidence such as receipts or bank statements showing purchases of gifts, jewelry, loans, or trips for a lover. It is also important to note that acts of adultery after you file for divorce and are no longer cohabitating can still be used to support a fault-based judgement.

Felony criminal conviction

If your spouse is convicted of a felony, then that is grounds for divorce. If during your marriage your spouse was convicted of a felony, imprisoned for at least one year, or has not been pardoned, then you have grounds for a fault divorce. 

Abandonment

If the other spouse has voluntarily left the complaining spouse. They must also have left with the intention of abandonment and remained away for at least one year.

  • Other uncommon grounds 
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Impotence or infertility
  • Cultural or religious differences

Grounds for a No-Fault divorce

No fault divorces do not require a reason for the divorce or any blame to be placed on either party. However, they still have to show why exactly a court should grant the divorce. Common grounds for a no-fault divorce include:

Insupportability

This is the common ground for divorce. This claim only means that the divorce is no longer endurable, insufferable, and intolerable. To qualify for this you have to show that the marriage has become unsupportable due to the conflict and that the conflict destroys the marriage. You should also have no reasonable expectation that the parties are getting back together. 

Living apart

The court may grant divorce without fault if they have been living apart for at least three years without cohabitation.

Defenses

There are no defenses available for a no-fault divorce. If one party is objecting to the divorce, that objection itself is seen as an irreconcilable difference that would justify the divorce. There are several defenses to a fault divorce. 

Condonation- this is someone’s approval of another’s activities. If one spouse does not object to the husband’s actions, such as adultery, then the husband could argue that the spouse condoned the behavior. 

Connivance- this is setting up a situation so that the other person commits a wrongdoing.

Provocation- this is when one party provokes the other party into committing a certain way. 

Collusion- this is when both parties agree to collude that there was a problem, when there really wasn’t in order to get a quicker divorce. 

These defenses are rarely used, because proving a defense would require witnesses and involve a lot of time and expense. Efforts will likely come to nothing, as there are high chances that the court would grant the divorce, eventually. 

What Factors Determine the Terms of Alimony?

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As you may have heard from loved one and friends who have gotten divorced, the entire process can be prolonged and quite painful. The couple divorcing may have to make plenty of decisions regarding their children, shared assets, finances and more. Perhaps a very tense and complicated topic to delegate is whether a spouse should receive alimony, including how much and for how long the financial support lasts. Understandably, the divorcing couple may not be able to agree upon this decision on their own. Sometimes, a judge has to make the ultimate say about whether a spouse must make payments to the other. 

Here in the article below, we have strived to answer the question: What factors determine the terms of alimony? Please read on for more information! 

What factors may a judge take into consideration when determining alimony?

While the laws surrounding alimony between divorcing couples can greatly differ depending on where you live, there are several factors that tend to be common when alimony orders are created. When your judge chooses whether a spouse shall receive alimony, these are the common factors that can contribute to the final decision:

  • How long the couple was married (months, years, decades)
  • The age of each spouse
  • The wellbeing of each spouse (physical and emotional health)
  • The spouse’s level of financial need and to what degree the supporting spouse can make these payments
  • The standard of living that was established during the marriage
  • The potential earning capacity for each spouse (including education level)
  • Which parent has more responsibility in caring for shared children
  • The income available to each spouse from investment of assets
  • The distribution of marital property between each spouse

In what circumstances may an alimony order be changed?

It is possible that later on after the alimony order has been decided by a judge, that one or both spouses goes through a major life change. Depending on that life event, a spouse may request a modification of alimony terms. However, if there is a statement within the final alimony order or divorce judgement that does not permit alimony to be changed, then the request is likely to be denied. Here are circumstances which may necessitate a modification of an alimony order: 

  • Either spouse has recently had a huge increase or decrease in their income
  • Either spouse has had a serious change in their health status (newly developed illness or disability)
  • The spouse receiving alimony payments has gotten remarried
  • The spouse making alimony payments has become retired
  • Either spouse has become recently deceased

What if I have questions or concerns about the alimony process? 

Couples who are confused about the alimony delegation process, may turn to a legal professional familiar with these types of situations for legal support. It is normal for couples to be heartbroken and angry during the divorce. Many soon-to-be divorced spouses may find having a divorce attorney, like from Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC, to work on their behalf, can help lessen the weight of such an emotionally turbulent proceeding. 

Top Causes of Wrongful Death

A wrongful death case can emerge out of any situation where someone dies at the hands of another’s negligence. This can be accidental, like a car accident, or intentional, like murder. However, there are many other causes in between these two extremes that you might not know about. Understanding former wrongful death cases may help you determine if you have a claim on your hands. Here’s the top causes of wrongful deaths in the United States.

Car Accidents

Fatal car accidents happen across the country every day. Oftentimes, these accidents are the result of one driver’s negligence (though, depending on the state you live in, negligence can be blamed on more than one of the drivers). Negligence is defined as an act of recklessness or carelessness that disregards the safety of others on the road. Examples include failing to pay attention, driving intoxicated or speeding.

Work Accidents and Illnesses

Accidents happen at work. When they do, employees can usually get injuries covered under workers compensation benefits. Unfortunately, if that person dies from their injuries, the only way forward for survivors may be through a wrongful death lawsuit. Careers with far higher risk rates, like construction, may result in death, but if you can prove that safety measures were disregarded by the company, you can make a claim. Unsafe exposure to asbestos can also fall into this category if a person dies from mesothelioma, as that can be linked to the exposure.

Manufacturer Defects

Sometimes accidents happen because a manufacturer released a faulty product. In heavy equipment and machinery, this can lead to fatal outcomes. If your loved one died because of this, you can bring the lawsuit against the manufacturer.

Medical Malpractice

Malpractice occurs when a medical professional fails to follow proper safety procedures or makes a mistake that costs a patient their life. Misdiagnosis that leads to death counts as medical malpractice, as does failing to diagnose the patient at all.

Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrians are at a greater risk of death during an accident because they are completely exposed. The most common form of a pedestrian accident is when a driver strikes them. The driver is usually responsible, but a construction company or the city can also be held liable for failing to implement proper visible features in a crosswalk.

If any of these cases sound familiar, talk to a wrongful death lawyer, like from Kamper & Estrada, PLLC, to see about filing a lawsuit. You have already suffered enough from the loss of a loved one. You should not have to suffer from medical costs, funeral expenses and other debts that are left behind.

Is My Wrongful Death Settlement Taxable?

When a loved one dies because another individual was negligent, it can be extra devastating. Being involved in a wrongful death case could be one way you can seek closure, at least financially. Is your settlement going to be taxed? In most cases, no. You are responsible to make up the difference in income, pay for property damage, pay your loved one’s medical bills, settle funeral and burial costs, and a variety of other actions after your loved one dies, and you shouldn’t have to pay a tax on that.

The IRS’s Take on Taxes and Wrongful Death

The IRS says any settlement you receive for an injury or physical illness is not taxable as long as it is true compensation. A wrongful death settlement would be considered one of these situations, but the damages have to be considered compensatory. In many wrongful death cases, punitive damages are also awarded, and those are not considered as compensation, but rather a way to further punish the guilty party.

How Each State Views Wrongful Death Settlement Taxes

The state in which you live is going to have a different view on wrongful death settlements and taxes. That view varies by state, so you should speak with a CPA or wrongful death attorney to find out how the state in which you live will handle the situation.

Paying a Settlement and Deducting It

If you are a business owner who has been ordered to pay a wrongful death settlement, there’s something you’ll need to consider. If taxes don’t come out of the wrongful death suit, you can’t deduct them as a business expense either.

How Your Federal Tax Return Could Be Impacted

Because your wrongful death settlement isn’t taxed, it won’t have an impact on your federal return. Keep in mind, there could have been other damages awarded during your lawsuit. This includes punitive damages, lost wages, emotional distress and other types of damages. These are often considered income and will be taxed. This means they’ll affect your federal tax return as you’ll report them as income.

Learning More

Any time you are dealing with large sums of money, it can benefit you to hire an attorney. Whether you’ve got the wrongful death settlement figured out or need more information, a wrongful death attorney is always just a phone call away. Call a wrongful death lawyer, like from Kamper & Estrada, PLLC, today to learn more about taxes, your settlement and the responsibilities you have in all of it.

New Parents? Here’s Why You Need a Will

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Why New Parents Should Have a Will

Why New Parents Should Have a WillIf you are new parents, there’s a good chance that your baby has overwhelmed you with pleasant things such as your love for them or any time they do something new for the first time or each little developmental milestone thereafter. If you are a new parent, you are probably just as overwhelmed with difficult things such as being overwhelmed by a lack of sleep,  lack of time for self-care, and not knowing yet what is causing your baby to be upset and how you can soothe them and make them feel better. There’s a very good chance that making a will is very far down on your list of things that need to be done as soon as possible, if it’s even there at all.

Reasons a Will is Important

There are many reasons why new parents should have a will but less than half of all Americans have one and surprisingly, the number drops even more for moms and dads even though it’s an important legal document that every parent should have. It’s not just financial costs that can be high if you do not have one but even more compelling, is to be able to nominate a guardian for your child or children in case you are no longer here to take care of them. Courts typically award custody of children to their surviving parent  but if you are a single parent, or in the event both you and the child’s other parent unexpectedly lose your lives, it’s important to consider in advance what will happen if your children are orphaned.

Naming a Guardian Even though it can be beyond daunting to think about the possibility of you not being here for your child, even more so, it can be agonizing to try to figure out who you would want to raise them if this had to be the case. For many people, choosing who they want to raise their child proves much more difficult than figuring out who they know they don’t want to do this, such as an ex and their new partner, in-laws, or a sibling they do not get along well with, etc. It should be noted that while it’s important to make your preference known by naming a guardian for your child or children, most states take it as a suggestion but it is not binding.

Property & Asset Distribution If you die without a will, intestate, state laws will determine how your property will be distributed. If a spouse dies without a will, many states automatically distribute part of the estate to the surviving spouse and other parts among the children of the deceased. While this means that your children will receive their part of your estate when they turn 18 or 21 (depending on the state) it does not make provisions for their care and upbringing. A spouse may need those assets to maintain your children and their lifestyles but they would need to petition the court to be allowed to use a child’s inherited money to support them. 

The above are just two key reasons why all parents, including new parents, should have a will. If you are interested in legal advice and/or help with writing or revising a will, contact a will lawyer Sacramento residents trust. Contact the highly rated team at Yee Law Group today.

How Can You Afford a Lawyer After a Motorcycle Accident?

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After a motorcycle accident, if you’ve been injured and are struggling to get back to work, you’re probably also facing some serious medical bills. You’re stressed and worried about day-to-day expenses. Hiring a lawyer can seem out of the picture but accepting a low settlement offer may not solve your problems either. Here’s what to know about talking to a personal injury lawyer.

Consultations with Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Won’t Cost You Anything 

Most criminal lawyers and family law attorneys work by the hour. You could pay $250 and up per hour to have someone work on your divorce. Personal injury lawyers use a contingency fee. This means that they take on the risk of winning your case with no up-front fees. You can talk to a personal injury lawyer about your case to decide what the best steps are for you without worrying about paying them.

How Will Your Attorney Get Paid?

If the lawyer takes your case, you agree to give him or her a percentage of the settlement. Normally, this amount is from 33 to 40% of the settlement. If the lawyer settles your claim, they take their fee and pay for expenses out of the sum, then you receive the rest. If they don’t get a settlement in your case, then you don’t owe them a fee.

Can You Handle Your Settlement on Your Own? 

Obviously, you don’t have to have a lawyer on your side to negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company. Here are five reasons to retain legal counsel:

  • Studies show that claimants with attorneys generally receive larger settlements than those who try to do it alone.
  • Your lawyer takes the stress off you to let you focus on healing.
  • Motorcycle accidents have many elements that determine your settlement. You may not know all the factors that could affect your claim.
  • Your attorney can help you protect your rights.
  • The insurance company may try to minimize your injuries and damages. You need someone to fight for your side.

You Have Nothing to Lose by Talking to a Lawyer 

Spending 30 minutes talking to a motorcycle accident lawyer can give you peace of mind moving forward. That’s a small price to pay against wondering if you should have had legal counsel on your side. If the lawyer doesn’t take your case, it isn’t personal — it just means that they aren’t willing to take the financial risk based on the value of the case. This too is information that can help you settle with the insurance company. Make an appointment to discuss your case with a lawyer, like a motorcycle accident lawyer from Wiseman Bray PLLC, today. 

When Preparing a Will, What Is a Guardian?

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If you’ve been thinking about the end of your life, chances are you’re making a will. While this can be done at any stage of life, it’s often important to do so when you are a young adult. Be sure you make changes to the will as your life changes. For example, if you get a new job and begin making a lot more money, you might want to distribute your funds differently. If you get married, you’ll probably want to include your spouse in the will. When you have children, you’ll typically include them as well.

Speaking of children, when they are minors, you’ll need to name a guardian for them in your will. What is a guardian? How do you choose someone? The following should give you some additional guidance.

The Definition of a Guardian

A guardian is someone the court appoints to care for your children. If you make a will, you get to decide who that individual is. There are different types of guardians, however, and you should be aware of that when you go to make your will.

First, there are physical guardians. These individuals are responsible to take care of the physical and emotional needs of your children. These are the individuals your children would live with, who would feed them and clothe them, take them to school and extracurricular activities, and provide love and care for them overall.

Next, there are estate guardians. These individuals are responsible to handle your estate as it applies to your children. Financial decisions will be made for the children by the estate guardian. This means if you want your children to attend a private school, the estate guardian would make the payment each year. If you have a trust set up for the child’s future college or marriage expenses, the estate guardian would handle that as well.

Finally, there are personal and estate guardians. These are individuals who make all the decision for the child, including medical, physical, financial and more. This gives authority to the guardian to do everything a parent would typically do.

How to Choose a Guardian

There should be a lot of thought put into who you should choose as guardians for your child. For a physical guardian, choose someone with similar values to your own. Choose someone who you trust to love and care for your child as their own. Ask someone who you know will raise the child the same way you would.

For a financial guardian, choose someone you trust with money, as well as someone you trust with your child. This person may become a big part of your child’s life, so you may want there to be a personal connection. It’s not essential the physical guardian and financial guardian get along well, but it does make the situation much easier.

Getting Started Today

When you’ve decided on guardians for your kids, it’s time to start your will. Contact an estate planning lawyer, like from Klenk Law, to get started today.