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What Can I Do About My Debt?

Personal Injury Lawyer

There are a lot of steps you can take to manage and even eliminate your debt before filing for bankruptcy. 

Get Organized

Whether it’s a little bit of debt or a lot, it can be easy to just turn a blind eye rather than face real financial consequences. Do not do this! The best way to manage your debt is to be knowledgeable about it, so get organized. Know how much you owe and to whom. Make a spreadsheet and for each debt list the following:

  1. The creditor
  2. The total amount of debt
  3. The monthly payment
  4. The due date

If you are feeling overwhelmed by this task, just take a look at your credit report. It will do the majority of this work for you. Update your list every few months as the total amount of your debt fluctuates. 

Next, make a budget and pay your bills on time each month. Decide which debts to pay off first and make more than the minimum payment if possible. You can only pay as much on your debt as you can afford. If, after getting organized, you find it hard to pay all or some of your bills each month, consider debt relief.

Debt Relief

It goes by many names: debt relief, debt settlement, debt reduction, debt negotiation, debt resolution, etc. But debt relief applies only to unsecured debt, which is a debt that is not secured by collateral, like credit cards and certain types of loans.

Settlements are negotiated with the creditors in an attempt to lower the amount of debt due. Once an agreement is met, the terms of the debt relief are put into a contract. Often, the creditor will forgive a large part of the debt in return for a one lump-sum payment in exchange for the debt to be considered cancelled and the matter closed.

Bankruptcy

If you find yourself owing more money to creditors than you have, or can foreseeably earn, it may be time to consider bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 is the most commonly filed bankruptcy amongst individuals. The assets you own will be liquidated and used to pay off your debts. After that, the bankruptcy is usually dismissed. Chapter 7 is often referred to as a “fresh start.”

If you don’t qualify for a Chapter 7, you may be eligible for a Chapter 13, also known as the “wage earner” bankruptcy, because you must have a reliable source of income to file for it. Your finances are reorganized into a plan that allows you to pay back creditors over three to five years while maintaining control and ownership of your assets. 

Hire a Lawyer

Hiring a lawyer to assist you is one of the most important steps in successfully settling a debt, filing for bankruptcy, and avoiding legal consequences. If you are interested in learning more about debt relief, contact an experienced lawyer, like a Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer from Kamper & Estrada, PLLC, for a free initial consultation.

Why Both Parties Should Seek Legal Representation in a Divorce

Divorce is difficult. While it may seem easy to sign a few documents and have a judge stamp his or her approval, there are timelines and requirements to consider. Also, all marital assets, including property, finances, children, and investments, must be determined and assigned. Therefore, while it is often tempting to settle a divorce without the expense of lawyers, you almost always need representation, especially if there are any discrepancies in property or custody. There are at least five reasons both parties should hire a lawyer.

  1. Deadlines, Jargon, and Negotiations

The court system is bureaucratic and dependent on deadlines and paperwork. It is challenging to keep track of everything during a divorce, which is why an attorney comes in handy. They also understand all the legal jargon that is likely to be thrown your way over the next month or so. Finally, a lawyer is well-suited for negotiations and legal disputes.

  1. Professional Relationships

Since a lawyer spends their days working with other divorce attorneys and within the court system, they develop several professional relationships. The relationships they establish can help to move divorce proceedings along, especially when they are familiar with the way the opposition builds a claim.

  1. Unbiased Opinions

Your attorney has no skin in the game. They want to get you the best deal they can without compromising your rights. Since they are an unbiased third-party, they often have a clearer understanding of your divorce than you. They will be able to tell you what of your expectations are realistic or not.

  1. Professional Demeanor

When people attempt to settle their divorce without attorneys, it can get messy. It is hard for a former couple to eliminate blame or accusation from the process, which causes unrest and frustration. A lawyer can present your side of an argument while maintaining professionalism, which helps move the proceedings along.

  1. Protection of Your Rights

If your former partner hires an attorney and you do not, then you risk losing some of your rights in the process. A lawyer only represents one half of the divorce, which means that your former partner’s attorney is only looking out for their client’s best interest. Do not risk your rights; hire an attorney.

Divorce proceedings are complicated and can be tiring. Hiring an attorney is often in both party’s best interest, ensuring that each of you gets a deal you can live with. Contact an attorney, like a family attorney from Scroggins Law Group, to discuss your case.

Red, White, and Bigotry–The Truth Behind the Fourth of July

Wrongful Death Lawyer

The American Declaration of Independence signaled the beginning of a new era. Revered as one of the most important documents in the history of the United States, the Declaration of Independence freed American colonists from British rule and paved the way for an official expression of self-governance. With isolated incidents of rebellion, the American Revolutionary War began and continued into the early 1780’s, even after the signing of the Declaration itself. Surprisingly, even after the initial battles of the Revolutionary War, few colonists truly desired complete independence from Great Britain, and those who did were considered extremely radical by public opinion. In the midst of the Revolutionary War, the Declaration of Independence was drafted by Thomas Jefferson and, contrary to popular belief, was signed into effect on August 2, 1776. Likely the most quoted portion of the document, the Preamble is as follows: 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness.”

As a result of these monumental days in national history, Americans across the country now celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks, barbecue, and reunions. However, in a country now, and historically, plagued with civil unrest and discord, one question remains unaddressed: what exactly are Americans celebrating? 

Arguably, the Declaration of Independence represents the true interests of America to a tee. With exclusive and calculated language, the document intentionally only protects citizens who resemble the Founders’ ideal image–white, cis-gendered, and male. This blatant exclusion of a vast majority of the American population is debilitating, especially considering that the country has sustained, if not expanded upon, such bigotry throughout the last three centuries. Likely the most notable exclusion, the Declaration of Independence failed to condemn slavery at a time of colossal abuse and injustice against America’s Black communities. Only six years after the initial declaration that “all men are created equal,” Jefferson outlined his personal reasons for continuing slavery in the “free” world:

“The first difference which strikes us is that of colour…They have less hair on the face and body. They secrete less by the kidneys, and more by the glands, which gives them a strong and disagreeable odour…in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous…”

Although not incredibly shocking coming from a man who enslaved over 600 people throughout the course of his life, Jefferson’s words represent popular opinions in the 18th century, despite their obvious lack of scientific or moral support. The sheer commonality of such statements indicate that Black men and women were not viewed as “men” under the Declaration of Independence and, therefore, were never intended to be protected under the verbiage of its patriotic, yet unrealistic, promises. In a renowned 1982 speech, Frederick Douglass addressed the obvious lack of parallels among nationwide Fourth of July celebrations. The speech explored the constitutional and moral arguments against the continued existence of slavery within the newly formed Republic. Most notably, Douglass contended that any positive statements about American liberty, citizenship, or freedom were an insult to the enslaved population of the region considering their intentional deprivation of such values by the American populous. An abolitionist, Douglass continued to stress the view that slaves and free Americans were inherently equal and deserved the same liberties that the Founding Fathers demanded from Great Britain. 

In addition to the exclusion of enslaved Americans, the Declaration of Independence failed to acknowledge women as well. Less than four months before ratification, Abigail Adams urged her husband, future President John Adams, to “Remember the Ladies” when discussing the legal premises behind the new Republic. John Adams’s response was tone-deaf and unsympathetic as he continued to dismiss his wife’s objections and began his infamous response with “we have only the name of masters, and rather give up this, which would completely subject us to the despotism of the petticoat…”

The Founding Fathers also failed to acknowledge or account for the great injustices pushed upon Native Americans, especially during the initial colonization of the region. Constitutional experts hypothesize that in the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson intentionally replaced “property,” the true underlying meaning of the text, with “happiness” as a way to ensure that specific marginalized groups could not assert their rights in any court of law. Commonly referred to as “Indian Savages” by the admired Founding Fathers, Native Americans were, and continue to be, debased and stripped of their natural rights. 

Although the Fourth of July does celebrate American ideals, which ones the day truly idolizes is commonly misrepresented due to the dominance of the white patriarchy. Instead of freedom, liberty, and happiness, the Fourth of July undoubtedly embodies the oppression, exclusion, and degradation of minority groups throughout the United States. Moving forward, it is imperative that America consider what limitations it wants to place on the influence of the questionable founders of this nation. In a year of climactic shifts and cultural paradigms, the United States must move forward to disregard and learn from America’s oppressive past as a means to create a vibrant and inclusive future. Nonetheless, before such change can occur, acknowledgement must come first; the country as a whole must acknowledge and make amends for its biased and abusive culture. By only protecting white men, the Declaration of Independence fails, even today, to celebrate the contributions of Black men and women, women in general, LGBTQ+ members, immigrants, minorities, the impoverished, and so many other vital classes of American citizens. Ultimately, while it is undisputed that the country would look different if this revolutionary document had been written by America’s minorities, the Declaration of Independence does not have to continue to shape the path of the United States of America–it can change. 

Let freedom finally ring when all people are truly created equal. 

If you have questions about business law, contact a business law attorney like the ones at Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC

Items to Include in Your Estate Plan

When you are younger, you may not think much about what will happen when you pass away. You’re busy with your daily responsibilities and taking care of your family. However, you don’t know when or how your life will end, and you don’t want to leave your loved ones in a bad position. To set your affairs in order and ensure a smooth transfer of your assets, you need to establish an estate plan. It’s helpful to know what your plan should look like.

Designate Your Beneficiaries

What will happen to your financial assets when you die? Many people ponder this question. Luckily, the answer can be quite simple, and it’s up to you. In your estate plan, make sure you name beneficiaries. This will determine which family members will have the legal right to your bank accounts, retirement accounts and other finances. You’ll also want to do this for any life insurance policies. You can name multiple people, including primary and secondary recipients. Most people name a spouse or children, but the choice is yours.

Power of Attorney

There may be a time when you become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions on your own. A Power of Attorney document legally gives authority for someone else to act on your behalf. You should designate a trusted loved one or associate to make financial decisions or choices regarding your health and well-being.

Will

You’ll likely have far more than bank accounts to pass onto other people. Consider all of your property and possessions. If you fail to develop a will and designate the rightful recipients of these items, they’ll pass through a lengthy probate process. Family members may be left to argue about who should get what you leave behind. In your will, you can decide which loved ones will receive your home, automobiles, collections, artwork and other valuable items.

Guardianship

Your estate plan should consider who will take care of your children if you pass away while they are still dependents. If your spouse has already died, you can name another family member to assume this duty. You may also want to include guardianship in the event that your spouse follows you in death while your children are still minors.

If you haven’t worked on an estate plan, begin today. It’s never too early to start. Contact an estate planning lawyer, like one at Yee Law Group, PC., so you can give yourself and your family some peace of mind.

Workers’ Compensation Forms You Should and Should Not Sign

Being injured on the job can bring with it a host of issues you’d probably rather not deal with. Aside from taking care of yourself and your injuries, you are probably thinking about the financial setback your workplace injury has become. The good news is you might qualify for workers’ compensation.

Be sure you report the injury to your employer as soon as possible so he or she can make the report to the state’s workers’ compensation board. It’s important you are compensated what you deserve for your injuries. As you work through the process, you’ll be asked to sign some documents. The following are some forms you should and should not sign.

An Authorization for Medical Records

You should sign an authorization for medical records. The insurance company needs to see that your injuries began on the day you were injured. They’ll need to confirm the medical care you have undergone. Having these records is evidence to back up your claim, making processing the workers’ comp claim more smooth.

An Employee Verification Form

To receive benefits, it’s necessary to sign an employee verification form. This form will prove you were employed at the location you claimed, that you were employed at the time of your injury and what wages you are missing out on. In most cases, you only have 30 days to get this form signed or you could lose your benefits. If you have another source of income, you still need to complete this document.

A Supplemental Agreement

Most supplemental agreements state you are recovered and able to get back to work. In some of the verbiage, it may also state your benefits have been closed, which is why you shouldn’t sign this form until you have reviewed it with your lawyer. If you truly have recovered to your fullest, your lawyer may recommend you sign it, but you should get his or her confirmation first.

A Final Receipt

Again, this document also states you are fully recovered and the case is closed, which is why you should be careful about signing it. If you’re feeling pressure to do so, give your attorney a call to discuss what is in the receipt and whether you should sign it.

Getting a Lawyer’s Help

There will be a lot to handle when you’re taking care of a workplace injury, but you shouldn’t sign anything you’re uncertain about.  Contact an on the job injury attorneys at Rispoli & Borneo P.C. for more information on how to get started.

Voting by Mail– A New Era of Democracy 

The importance of voting has been ingrained in American ideology since the formation of the country’s legal system. With the next presidential election around the corner, many people fear that their voices will cease to be heard amongst governmental restrictions imposed by the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic. As many states still promote policies that place strict guidelines for large gatherings, face coverings, and testing requirements, the future of in-person voting remains uncertain, especially in areas with increased infection rates. 

The History of Voting By Mail

“Voting by mail” refers to a wide range of national and state-level policies intended to provide more flexibility to voters unable to cast a direct ballot at a polling booth. The practice in America dates back to the Civil War Era when states established more lenient statutes to allow combat soldiers to cast their votes from afar. At the turn of the 19th century, states began expanding absentee voting laws, allowing mail-in ballots for chronically ill voters across the nation. Currently all states allow at least a small percentage of their population to vote by mail if needed; however, modern technology has not evolved this area of voting procedure quite as dramatically as expected. Typically, absentee ballots are mailed through traditional postage-stamped avenues, but some states have developed provisions for submission through email or fax. Although all states permit some level of mail voting, many states neglect important societal subsets of needy voters. Unlike other judicially mandated issues, mail voting policies vary widely state to state; different states have contrasting approaches to the practice, with varying minimum requirements for excuses, notarizations, and deadlines. 

Voting By Mail in the Future

As fears relating to the pandemic grow, citizen anxiety follows. Forty-six states recently established temporary provisions to mail voting statutes amidst resulting COVID-19 restrictions. Seventeen states require a valid excuse, while twelve states have loosened their rules entirely by allowing absentee ballots to any voter who requests them before the deadline. With overall bipartisan support, such provisions have soared through legislatures across the country. Regardless, pushback to the expansions exist, as some traditional lawmakers fear the consequences of remote voting. Texas, one of the four states engaging in high-profile court battles to avoid mail voting expansion policies, leaders expressed that a general fear of the spread of COVID-19 does not amount to an actual sickness and therefore should not be granted remote voting privileges by law. Additionally, other politicians raised economic concerns regarding the likely tremendous cost of implementing remote voting methods for a majority of the country with less than six months before the presidential election. Mostly, representatives across the country have expressed fears that mail voting could result in a sharp increase in election tampering and voting fraud, especially considering the lack of true identity verification available when submitting votes through mail. In Tennessee, a judge will rule in mid-June on whether to expand excuse-free absentee voting to all Tennessee voters who submit timely requests. 

Aside from COVID-19’s obvious impact on the relevance of mail voting, the practice has been on the rise in the United States throughout the last decade. In the 2018 midterm elections, twice as many voters utilized mail voting methods than in 1996. Nearly one in four votes cast during those 2018 elections were sent through mail. Mail voting poses a variety of benefits to citizens across the nation, especially voters with debilitating disabilities, chronic illnesses, or transportation restrictions. Ultimately, the expansion of mail voting has the potential to grant unlimited access to thousands of Americans; such expansions would likely succeed in upholding the most fundamental of American liberties, while also pushing the nation further into a prosperous, and convenient, future.  

If you or someone you know has more questions about this, contact a lawyer coach, like a lawyer coach in Texas, for more information. 

Thanks to Brandy Austin Law Firm for their insight into voting by mail in the United States. 

Two Ways the Court Divides Property During Divorce

Personal Injury Lawyer

Splitting up with a spouse is a lot more complicated than simply moving out and on with your lives. Since you are legally married and have interests that are intertwined, a legal process is required to sever these ties before you can fully be regarded as single.

The steps required to getting a divorce may differ depending on the state in which you live. However, some elements are common across the board. One such issue is how the couple will split property between them. In most states, there are two ways that a court goes about doing it. Learn more about what this means and how it may impact you.

Community Property Split

If you live in a state that does community property split, there is a good chance that a court will divide property and assets evenly. In this type of action, property that was obtained jointly before or during the marriage is divided equally. This does not only include cash and property, but also investments and debts. For instance, if you and your spouse purchased two vehicles in the last year, and those are held jointly, each one of you may have the opportunity to keep your car if you take on the debt yourself.

Equitable Property Split

In some states, the courts look at splitting assets differently. Equitable distribution is a method used by almost half of the jurisdictions in the country. This method allows the court to decide the fairest way to divvy things up. This benefits those couples who had one spouse either unemployed to raise children or underemployed for one reason or the other. The judge takes each person’s financial and emotional contribution to the marriage into account before deciding on who gets what. Debt is divided similarly.

Premarital Property

In either situation, property and assets held by one spouse before marriage remain with that spouse. For instance, if you owned a home before you got married and you never added your spouse’s name to the deed, you will get to keep that free and clear regardless of how your combined affairs get divided. In equitable distribution states, the amount of premarital property held by one spouse or the other may sway how the judge splits the joint items. The only things obtained during a marriage that may stay with the spouse who got it was an inheritance or gifts.

Splitting things up after the end of a marriage may bring out the worst in some. It is a good idea to contact a family lawyer, like a family lawyer in Frisco, TX, as soon as you know the marriage is ending for guidance and assistance along the way.

 


 

Thanks to Scroggins Law Group for their insight into how the court divides property during a divorce. 

The Coronavirus, Its Impact On The Legal System, and Technology’s Role

Personal Injury Lawyer

The entire world is in the middle of a global crisis. This is a crisis that will be talked about in the history books of future generations. The coronavirus epidemic is being compared to the Spanish flu, an epidemic that killed millions of people. This comparison alone is frightening. 

Our economy has been significantly affected and unemployment is rising at a steep rate. Our legal system is also being impacted by the pandemic. The judicial branch is vital to our country’s success, and it is vital that we continue to keep it running during this scary time. Reality has started to sink in and people are realizing that there is no timetable for how long this is all going to last. One question remains — what does this new reality look like for our legal system?

In 2020 we are equipped with new technology and platforms that allow us to do things that people couldn’t or wouldn’t have dreamed of even as far back as ten years ago. Technology allows us to be able to video chat with large groups of people in our sweatpants! There are many professions that have adapted with technology, but the legal profession is not one of them. As a result, there are many courts that have been resistant to doing any non-emergency hearings of any kind. The problem with this mentality is that no one knows when this pandemic is going to end. People are hopeful this will be over within months, but it could go on for much longer. This means that both civil and criminal cases across the country will be put on hold until society opens back up. There is another solution, though.  

One way that courts in Texas have been holding hearings is via the technology platform, Zoom.  There is no federal or statewide mandate that a court has to hold hearings during the pandemic. As a result, many courts have stuck to the mentality that only emergency matters will be heard. There are some progressive courts that have decided that they will hear Zoom hearings on non-essential matters. Each week that goes by and every time a state pushes back their shelter in place order, the more the courts will realize that this isn’t a situation that we can put a bandaid on and hope we can wait the pandemic out. Technology allows us to do so without too much deviation from the status quo. We have to evolve and adapt. If you or someone you know needs legal advice during the pandemic, don’t hesitate to contact a family lawyer, like a family lawyer in Arlington, TX, to see how one can help you virtually today. 

 


 

Thanks to Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC for their insight into the way the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the court system in the United States and some good solutions to keeping them open. 

Wills for Newlyweds

Depending on when you marry in life, you and your partner may already have a will. Even so,  it is a good idea to revisit estate planning as a couple after the wedding. 

What’s in a Will? 

Your last will and testament is a legal document that allows you to clearly communicate your wishes as to how your property is to be distributed after your death and as to which person is to manage the property until it’s final distribution. A complete last will and testament should clearly outline the following:

  • The Executor or Personal Representative: the people you appoint to carry out the provisions of your will upon your death.
  • The Beneficiaries: the people who will be inheriting your assets
  • Instructions for How and When to distribute the Assets
  • Guardians for Minor Children: the people you wish to legally care for your children if you become incapacitated or pass away 

But wait, there’s more!

In addition to a last will and testament, there are several other important documents to include with your estate plan to ensure that the people you have directed to carry out your wishes are legally able to do so. 

Financial Power of Attorney 

A financial power of attorney allows you to appoint a representative to manage your finances should you be unable to do so for yourself. A general practice is to provide this person with all the legal authority over your finances that you hold, so that they may truly act on your behalf. 

Healthcare Directives

Healthcare directives are a compilation of three specific documents intended to clearly communicate your healthcare and end of life desires. 

  1. Healthcare power of attorney: this document allows you to appoint a representative to make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do so for yourself.
  2. Living will: in this document, you can specifically outline any healthcare services you wish to receive, or perhaps, more importantly, those you DO NOT wish to receive.
  3. HIPPA Authorization: this document allows you to name an individual who can have access to your medical information so that your healthcare provider or insurance company has no reservations about sharing your protected medical information with them.

Beneficiary Designations

Perhaps the easiest way to plan for your estate is to name beneficiaries on all accounts where such a designation is possible. In general, this means that the assets held in that account will pass to the person(s) you name upon your death, most likely your new spouse. Common accounts that allow for beneficiary designation include:

  • Bank Accounts
  • Retirement Plans
  • Life Insurance Policies

Hire An Attorney

Do-it-yourself estate planning services might seem like an inexpensive and “good enough” option. However, it is highly recommended that you hire an attorney to help create legal documents. The do-it-yourself forms rarely account for the specific needs of couples. 

If you and your spouse are interested in creating an estate plan, contact Kamper Estrada, LLP today. An experienced estate planning attorney, like an estate planning attorney in Phoenix, AZ, may offer free one-hour consultations.

Car Accident Injury Lawyer

While getting into a car accident is not uncommon, in many circumstances the victim in a car accident may only have slight bruising or minor injuries. However, some people may suffer from more serious injuries in their back that can cause them to need extended hospital stays or have a permanent disability. When you have gotten a back injury from being a victim in a car accident, you should not have to settle for paying your medical bills on your own. In fact, car accident attorneys strongly believe you are owed compensation. To see how they can help you get compensation for your back injury after you have been in a car accident, please give a law office a call. 

What are the common types of back injuries you can get?

A few days after the accident you may begin to realize that your backache and soreness are not going away. You may be wondering what kind of injury you sustained. Below are some of the most common types of back injuries you can sustain in a car accident.

  • Upper Back Injuries. Your upper back, also known as your thoracic spine, can become easily damaged in a car accident. When this happens, you may experience temporary or permanent nerve damage. 
  • Herniated Disc. A herniated disc is also a common back injury and it happens when a disc is displaced in your spine. Your discs are there to provide a cushion to the vertebra in your spine and when a disc is herniated, you may feel extreme pain and pressure on your nerves. When this occurs, you may also feel tingling or numbness in your lower body.
  • Spinal Cord Injury. This is one of the most severe types of back injuries you can suffer from after an accident. When a car accident has bruised or severed your spinal cord, not only can you suffer from permanent nerve damage, but you may also find that you are partially or fully paralyzed in your limbs. You may experience loss of your reflexes and an inability to move. 

The kinds of injuries you can suffer from after a car accident can be catastrophic and can force you to have extremely high medical bills. For more information on how a car accident attorney in Des Moines, IA can help you, please contact a law office now. 

Thanks to Johnston Matineau, LLP for their insight into personal injury claims and car accident injuries.