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Why do I need a Will?

Estate planning is something most people fail to prepare for during their lifetime as it is often viewed as a daunting or even morbid task. The failure to complete this task can have unexpected consequences and impact your loved ones on a very personal level.  At the bare minimum, it is recommended that an individual execute a will. A will is a legal document which provides instructions as to how you would like your estate distributed upon your passing. It is a tool that allows you to determine who will inherit your property and specifically what property that person will inherit from you. If you pass away without a will, your property is distributed under your respective state’s intestacy laws. Those are the laws in place which determine how your estate will pass if you have not taken the time to prepare an estate plan on your own during your lifetime and may not distribute assets in the same manner you would have if you had executed an estate plan.

Failure to execute an estate plan during your lifetime can lead to additional complications and unnecessary expenses related to the administration of your estate. Family and friends may dispute or argue over who they believe should be appointed as executor of your estate and regarding the administration of your assets (who gets what), which results in the accrual of expenses and fees. Executing a will helps to minimize these costs and fees and reduce the length of the probate as the will protects your estate from a greater amount of legal challenges.

Another big area where issues arise relates to minor children. If you pass away without an estate plan, the court will have to appoint a guardian and/or conservator for your child and the person the court appoints may not be the same individual you would have selected had you created an estate plan. This too can result in months, if not years, of litigation and expenses if parties are arguing over who the court should appoint as guardian. This leaves your children in limbo rather than having guardianship of them go directly to an individual of your choosing.

To avoid the unintended consequences of failing to execute an estate plan and to learn more about estate planning options please contact our office at (602) 377-9369 to speak with an experienced attorney.

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HOME FORECLOSURES AND LIEN STRIPPING IN BANKRUPTCY

The filing of a bankruptcy can help avoid a home foreclosure and bring individuals current with their mortgage lenders. The automatic stay prevents creditors from taking collection action, including proceeding with a pending foreclosure or initiating one. A creditor can proceed with the foreclosure only after they obtain an Order from the Court granting relief from the automatic stay. In some instances the filing of the bankruptcy will not only act as a “Band-Aid” for your mortgage issues but can help resolve those issues. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be used as a tool to allow debtors to cure their mortgage arrears and bring delinquent mortgages current as long as certain criteria are met. The delinquent payments will be cured via payments made under the Chapter 13 plan and paid back over the life of the Chapter 13 plan. During this time you will also resume paying your monthly mortgage payment to ensure no additional arrears are incurred. At the end of the plan, any arrearages that existed prior to the filing of the Chapter 13 will be cured.

If you happen to have a second mortgage on your principal residence, you may also be eligible to eliminate this lien entirely. A “lien strip” occurs when there is more than one mortgage on a property and the second or even third mortgages are reclassified as unsecured debt.  First a home appraisal is needed to determine the fair market value of your home. You home must lack equity to cover the second mortgage after the first mortgage balance is taken into account. If you are eligible for a lien strip and successfully complete your Chapter 13 plan, then the remaining balance, if any, is discharged as an unsecured debt. The goal of most bankruptcies is to have your debts discharged, or forgiven.  Lien stripping is a complex process and should be discussed in depth with an experienced attorney. Please contact Hindo Law Group, PLLC at (602) 377-9369 to set up a free consultation to learn more about bankruptcy and the impacts on your home.

Disclaimer: The information in this web site is not intended to constitute legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship. The information, documents or forms provided herein is intended for general information purposes only and must not be regarded as legal advice. Laws change periodically; therefore the information in this site may not be accurate. It is imperative that you seek legal counsel in order to ascertain your rights and obligations under the applicable law and based upon your specific circumstances.

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ESTATE PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS AND YOUR CHILDREN

ESTATE PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS AND YOUR CHILDREN

MINOR CHILDREN

One of the most important considerations for individuals drafting estate plans is their family. Specifically, their children. It is an even greater consideration when children are still minors. Most parents want to know who is going to care and provide for their minor children should something happen. Creating a Will allows for you, as a parent, to appoint a guardian who will carry out those tasks and leaves the decision in your hands as opposed to the courts after you have passed.  You should also consider appointing a conservator for your minor children to ensure any assets they are inheriting are properly managed and used for their benefit. While this can be achieved by creating a Will it may be necessary to take your estate planning one step further, depending on the size of your estate and how you would like your assets distributed, and create a Trust. When creating your Trust you will appoint a Trustee who will follow specific guidelines set forth by you in the trust to manage the assets of the trust for the beneficiaries.

ADULT CHILDREN

It is also important to consider estate planning not just for your minor children but for adult children as well. Many people try to accomplish the passing of their assets with do-it-yourself estate planning. In doing so many incorrectly believe that attaching their children’s names to their assets is a less costly and complicated way of distributing assets. Such do-it-yourself estate planning tactics can have serious consequences. When you place your child or anyone else on your deeds, accounts, and other assets you are giving them partial legal ownership in your property which in turn exposes your property to any liability resulting from that child’s actions. For example, if your child is listed a co-owner on your bank account and is being pursued by a creditor for monies they are owed your bank account is now at risk of being levied by the creditor. An alternative would be the use of a Will or a Trust, which would allow you to pass these items to your children upon your death without exposing your assets to their potential creditors.

BLENDED FAMILIES

Another consideration is whether or not you have a blended family. Traditional families are becoming less of the norm and families now consist of children who may be the biological child of one spouse but not of the other. A major concern exists that these children, who are not the children of both spouses, will be left nothing if one spouse predeceases the other. The result of failing to have a Will or Trust in place is that any inheritance the children receive will be done in accordance with your respective states intestacy laws, which may not be in line with your wishes. To avoid such harsh consequences it is necessary to have a Will or Trust outlining specifically who inherits what and to make sure that no beneficiary is left out.

To learn more about estate planning and the effects it can have on your loved ones please contact Hindo Law Group, PLLC at (602) 377-9369 to set up a free consultation. We can guide you through the estate planning process and answer any questions you have about revocable living trusts, living wills, last wills, powers of attorney and the probate process.

 

Disclaimer: The information in this web site is not intended to constitute legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship. The information, documents or forms provided herein is intended for general information purposes only and must not be regarded as legal advice. Laws change periodically; therefore the information in this site may not be accurate. It is imperative that you seek legal counsel in order to ascertain your rights and obligations under the applicable law and based upon your specific circumstances.

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ESTATE PLANNING FOR NEWLYWEDS

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ESTATE PLANNING FOR NEWLYWEDS

Getting married is one of the most blissful times for a couple. Once the wedding festivities have completed most couples move on to the honeymoon stage of their marriage and forget that there is more to marriage than “one sheet of paper.” In fact, there are several pieces of paper that newly married couples should start reviewing and completing, if they have not done so already, to make sure their new family is fully prepared should something happen.

Estate Planning

The most important of the documents to execute is a will or a trust.  A Will or a Trust is a legal document that specifies how property will be distributed after your death. Each estate plan is tailored to each person’s specific needs.  It is imperative to set up an estate plan, regardless of how much or how little assets you might own. Oftentimes, will packages incorporate advanced healthcare directives, financial and medical powers of attorney, which name the individual each spouse wants to have make their decisions should they be incapacitated for any reason.

Children

Furthermore, many married couples may already have children upon entering the marriage or begin having children shortly thereafter. It is essential to appoint a guardian or conservator in your will to ensure your minor children are cared for by individuals of your choosing should something happen to one or both of you. It is important to consider how your children will be financially provided for and who you would like to oversee their day-to-day care.

Your Home

Many newlyweds purchase their first home together prior to getting married. It is important to review the deeds to your home to ensure they are titled to both of you, which may have major tax advantages and help avoid probate should something happen to either spouse.

Beneficiaries

If one or both of you has been employed for some time there is a likelihood that 401(k) plans, IRA’s, life insurance policies, etc. exist, which have beneficiaries listed. Who do you want listed as the beneficiary, your spouse or someone else? These are important decisions and they should not be made lightly.

To learn more about estate planning please contact our office at 602- 377-9369 to set up a free consultation with an experienced attorney.

 

 

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Do it yourself estate planning, is it really the best way to draft your will?

A will is one of the most important documents you will create in your lifetime. Oftentimes people try to find advantages in drafting their own wills. The most common reason people draft their own will is to save a few dollars. What they don’t realize is that saving a few dollars now might result in the expenditure of thousands of dollars later on in life because the “Do It Yourself Will” contained serious flaws in its wording. These flaws may not be obvious to the average person and can have more serious consequences than one might expect.

Wording is especially important when evaluating the different factors involved in preparing a will. You must consider family members, tax implications, and real property amongst several other things. Oftentimes, a “Do It Yourself Will” or store bought wills overlook these factors and leave family members with a costly mess to clean up after you are gone. For example, a “Do it Yourself” will may not even consider tax consequences and a large portion of your estate might end up going towards taxes where proper estate planning tactics could be utilized to reduce the amount of taxes owed on inherited property.

Additionally, “Do It Yourself Wills” are cookie-cutter type wills and do not account for your specific needs, wants or assets. Estates are not identical and therefore it is impossible that an identical, store bought will, can cover each person’s individual wants and needs.
To properly plan your estate you should contact a lawyer who can guide you through the steps of estate planning. Give the Law Offices of Jillian Hindo a call today at 602-377-9369 to set up a free consultation to discuss all of your estate planning needs.

We offer legal services in Arizona and Michigan

www.hindolaw.com

 

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Bankruptcy: Is it the right option for you?

Bankruptcy: Is it the right option for you?

Financial distress is a difficult issue to cope with; however, there are ways to alleviate the stress it can cause. One option that may help to relieve financial stress is filing a bankruptcy. Deciding whether or not to file bankruptcy is a difficult task. There are several things to consider prior to filing a bankruptcy. Ask yourself the following questions. Are you currently unable to pay your bills? Are you behind on your mortgage? Are you behind on your vehicle payments? Have you been sued by your creditors? Are your wages being garnished or have your bank accounts been levied? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you may want to consider bankruptcy as an option.

Depending on your financial state you may be able to drastically reduce the amount of debt you pay to your creditors or even completely eliminate the amount you are required to pay back. This is decided by determining whether you meet the specifications for a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a straight liquidation in which a typical debtor pays little or nothing to their creditors. A Chapter 13 is a reorganization of debt where you are responsible for paying at least a percentage of your debts back to your creditors. It is important to evaluate all factors to determine which chapter of bankruptcy, if any, is best suited for your situation.

Please contact our office to set up a free consultation to speak with an experienced attorney to determine whether or not bankruptcy is right for you.
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Estate Planning: Is it right for you?

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You don’t have to be wealthy to be concerned about your estate and financial future. Ask yourself the following questions. Do you have minor children? Do you own a home? Do you know who you would want in control of your decision making should you become incapacitated for any reason?

For most adults the answer to at least one of these questions is yes. To protect these interests it is recommended to prepare an estate plan that contains at least the bare minimum of a will and durable powers of attorney. They inform those you love in the event of your incapacitation or death and will ensure your wishes are fulfilled.

Durable powers of attorney are written documents whereby you authorize someone to act on your behalf. For example, if you were to become physically or mentally incapacitated you could appoint a family member (the agent) to make medical decisions on your behalf. The agent could be advised by you in advance as to how you would like each medical situation to be dealt with should it occur.

Another type of durable power of attorney is for finance and asset management. If incapacity should occur, your agent can maintain your financial affairs until you are again able to do so, without the court having to appoint a guardian. That way your financial needs continue to be provided for.

To learn more about your estate planning options please contact our office to speak with an experienced attorney.

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Bankruptcy & Your Tax Refunds

 

Tax Refund

When filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy it is important to consider what will happen to your tax refund. The bankruptcy estate is entitled to a prorated portion of your next tax refund and all of your previous tax refund if it was not received prior to filing bankruptcy. The court utilizes a simple formula to determine what portion, if any, of your tax refund must be turned over to the bankruptcy estate.  First, your case will be assigned a Trustee who will oversee your case. The Trustee then has to decide if he or she is interested in the tax refund as an asset of the bankruptcy estate.  In doing so, the Trustee will first determine what the refund consists of. The Trustee will utilize the courts formula and look at what percentage of the year has passed at the point your case was filed with the court and that percentage is the amount of your tax refund which must be turned over to the bankruptcy estate.

There are strategies which can be utilized to ensure you keep your tax refund.  The most important strategy is timing. As long as you play your cards right there is a good chance of keeping your tax refunds. It is important to look at what time of the year you are filing your bankruptcy case and how filing during that time period will impact your tax refunds. You also want to make sure you are not over withholding. Oftentimes, individuals over withhold taxes intentionally so they can receive a large tax refund. When preparing for a bankruptcy it is important to not over withhold as there is a possibility of losing that large tax refund.  You should have your attorney guide you through the process, applying your unique circumstances to the applicable laws. To learn more about bankruptcy and the possible tax consequences please contact our office to speak with an experienced attorney.

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Bankruptcy Exemptions

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Bankruptcy Exemptions- How They Work

One of the most common questions related to filing a bankruptcy is “can I keep my property?”
The answer is “it depends.” Most states provide exemptions allowing a debtor to keep certain
property, no matter how much debt they owe to creditors, and will not require the debtor to
turn the property over to the bankruptcy estate so long as the debtor is eligible to use the state’s
exemptions.
In Arizona a debtor may use the state’s exemptions only if they have lived in Arizona for at least
2 years prior to the filing of their case. If they have not, the debtor must then look to the state in
which they did reside for the greater part of the preceding two or more years for guidance as that
state’s exemptions or the federal exemptions may apply.
Individuals are not required to surrender their houses or cars in bankruptcy as long as they do
not exceed the equity limits in the exemptions. Exemptions apply to equity in real and personal
property, including but not limited to homes, cars, wedding rings, clothing and household
furnishings. For example, if you own a vehicle and it is worth $12,000 and you owe $9,000 on
the vehicle, you would have $3,000 of equity in the vehicle. In Arizona, the exemption provides
for up to $6,000 equity in a vehicle. The vehicle in this example has only $3,000 in equity
and the debtor would not be required to turn their vehicle over to the bankruptcy estate as it is
“protected.”
Additionally, if a debtor has a secured debt on a home or vehicle and it is below the equity limits
in the exemptions, the debtor may keep those items as long as they continue making payments on
these debts.

If you are considering bankruptcy please contact our firm to set up a free consultation with an
experienced bankruptcy to determine which alternative is best for you.