Legal Articles

HUD makes reverse mortgages less attractive

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has made changes to the federal reverse mortgage program. Citing the need to put the program on better financial footing, HUD has raised reverse mortgage fees for some borrowers and lowered the amount homeowners can borrow. The changes took effect on October 2, 2017. They affect borrowers who take out new loans, but not existing loans.

A reverse mortgage allows a homeowner who is at least 62 years old to use the equity in his or her home to obtain a loan that does not have to be repaid until the homeowner moves, sells, or dies. In a reverse mortgage, the homeowner receives a sum of money from the lender, usually a bank, based largely on the value of the house, the age of the borrower, and current interest rates. Seniors sometimes use the loans to pay for long-term care. [Read more…]

Should you enroll in two popular Medigap plans while you can?

If you will soon turn 65 and be applying for Medicare, you should carefully consider which “Medigap” policy to enroll in because two of the most popular plans will be ending soon.

Between copayments, deductibles, and coverage exclusions, Medicare does not cover all medical expenses. Medigap (or “supplemental”) plans offered by private insurers are designed to supplement and fill in the “gaps” in Medicare coverage. There are 10 Medigap plans currently being sold, identified by letters. Each plan package offers a different combination of benefits. [Read more…]

What happens when a nursing home closes?

The expansion of alternatives to nursing homes, such as assisted living and community care, has been financially challenging for the nursing home industry, and every year a small percentage of facilities close their doors. The state or federal government may also shutter a facility for safety issues.

Moving into a nursing home can be a stressful experience by itself. If that nursing home closes, residents can experience symptoms that include depression, agitation, and withdrawn behavior, according to The Consumer Voice, a long-term care consumer advocacy group. While there may not be much that can be done to prevent a closure, residents do have some rights. [Read more…]

How to reverse Medicare surcharges when your income changes

Are you a high-income Medicare beneficiary who is paying a surcharge on your premiums but who has experienced a drop in income or is anticipating one? If your circumstances change, you can reverse those surcharges.

Higher-income Medicare beneficiaries (individuals who earn more than $85,000) pay higher Part B and prescription drug benefit premiums than do Medicare beneficiaries with lower incomes. The extra amount the beneficiary owes increases in stages as the beneficiary’s income increases. The Social Security Administration uses income reported two years ago to determine a beneficiary’s premiums. So the income reported on a beneficiary’s 2016 tax return is used to determine whether the beneficiary must pay a higher monthly premium in 2018. [Read more…]

Three reasons why giving your house to your kids isn’t the best way to protect it from Medicaid

Are you afraid of losing your home if you have to enter a nursing home and apply for Medicaid? While this fear is well-founded, transferring the home to your children is usually not the best way to protect it.

Although a home generally does not have to be sold in order to qualify for Medicaid coverage of nursing home care, the state could file a claim against the house after you die. If you get help from Medicaid to pay for the nursing home, the state must attempt to recoup from your estate whatever benefits it paid for your care. This is called “estate recovery.” If you want to protect your home from this recovery, you may be tempted to give it to your children. Here are three reasons not to: [Read more…]

Useful Online Productivity and Security Tools

Here are several popular free or inexpensive online tools that can help manage and protect your online activities. They range from password management tools to security protection services.

Password Managers

A decade-old study by Microsoft estimates that the average person memorizes about six passwords and reuses them over and over. Today most people use dozens if not hundreds of online sites that require passwords. You put your security at risk if you are still using a few of the same old passwords. [Read more…]

Elements of a Good Business Partnership

Like a bundle of sticks, good business partners support each other and are less likely to crack under strain together than on their own. In fact, companies with multiple owners have a stronger chance of surviving their first five years than sole proprietorships, according to U.S. Small Business Administration data.

Yet sole proprietorships are more common than partnerships, making up more than 70 percent of all businesses. That’s because while good partnerships are strong, they can be hard to make. Here are some elements that good business partnerships require: [Read more…]

Is It Worth It to Amend Your Return?

Whether it makes sense to amend your return depends on which of these situations you’re in:

If you owe the IRS

If you discover an omission on your tax return that results in you owing additional tax, you need to correct it with an amendment and provide the tax due.

Don’t delay if this is your situation. If the IRS discovers the omission before you do, they may add interest and penalties to your bill. [Read more…]

Become Debt-Free

The average household carries $137,063 in debt, while the median household income is less than $60,000, according to data from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Labor Department. While it’s easy to get into debt, it can be hard to get out. Here are five tips personal finance experts recommend to lower your debt burden: [Read more…]

How Long Will It Last?

Planning to replace common items

Part of financial planning is having a good sense of how much it will cost to replace your possessions when they break down or wear out. But many of the big-ticket consumer products may cost more to replace and wear out sooner than you think.

An essential part of financial planning is to budget replacing some of these items each year. To help you do this, here are some common big-ticket items, how long they tend to last, and how much it may cost to replace them. [Read more…]

Five Tax Breaks for New Parents

New parents have their work cut out for them. Not only are they dealing with lost sleep, they also face the extra cost of raising a child. At least there are a lot of potential tax breaks available to them. Check out this list and share it with any new parents you know. [Read more…]

This month:

July 4: Independence Day

July 31: Quarterly federal excise tax returns (Form 720) due

July 31: Employer quarterly federal tax returns (Form 941) due

July 31: Calendar-year employee retirement and benefit plan returns (5500 series) due [Read more…]

Buying long term care insurance for your parents

Are your parents adequately prepared for retirement? If not, are you planning to help them out?

In many families, one or more adult children will step up to help Mom and Dad when they can no longer safely take care of themselves. That could mean time away from your family and job or pitching in financially to cover a variety of expenses. [Read more…]

When your parents die with debt

At any age, the death of a parent is a difficult experience. But these days more adult children are dealing with an added stressor: the realization that Mom or Dad died with debt.

In the past decade, there’s been a steep increase in debt among senior households. According to a report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, half (49.8 percent) of families age 75 and older have debt, averaging $36,757.

Most senior debt is tied to housing expenses, but auto loans, medical bills, credit cards and student loans also factor in. If you think your parent may die with debt, here are some things to remember: [Read more…]

New tax law prompts IRA conversions

Lower income tax rates make this an attractive time to convert your traditional IRA into a Roth IRA. By converting, you’ll pay taxes on those funds now instead of at some future (likely higher) rate.

The main hurdle will be paying taxes owed. If you convert $50,000 from a traditional IRA to a Roth, your taxable income will increase by $50,000. If you’re in the 24% tax bracket, that amounts to $12,000 in taxes owed. That might feel like a hit now, but it could be a financially sound decision, particularly if you expect to be in a higher tax bracket later in life. [Read more…]

Protect work with lasting value: Estate planning for copyrights

Artists and their families have unique needs when it comes to estate planning. Be aware of the following strategies to protect the value of an artist’s work during and after his or her lifetime:

Copyright eligibility. The first step is understanding what constitutes a copyrightable work. Protection is available to original works that are either written or otherwise recorded, including literary, musical, artistic and certain other intellectual works. These categories are to be interpreted broadly and can include maps, architectural plans, buildings and mobile apps. [Read more…]

Make an estate plan for your digital assets

Today, 77 percent of Americans go online every day, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey, and most of us maintain at least some kind of digital data in the cloud. We save emails, post to social media, and store photos in online albums.

All of this digital information has created a new issue for you, your heirs, and the technology firms that hold your assets. The key concern is maintaining your privacy and security and determining who can legally access this information upon your death.

A statute called the Revised Uniform Access to Digital Assets Act provides a legal path for fiduciaries (such as your executor or attorney-in-fact) to manage your digital assets if you die or become incapacitated. But under the law, which has been adopted (often in slightly modified versions) by most states, a fiduciary can access your digital assets if, and only if, you’ve given proper consent. [Read more…]

Tips when evaluating cyber-insurance policies

Cyber-insurance policies cover business liability for a data breach in which customer information (such as social security or credit data) is exposed or stolen by a hacker. Such policies may also cover data breaches due to employee error or malfeasance.

Depending on the policy, this insurance can cover a range of expenses associated with data breaches, including notification costs, credit monitoring, costs to defend legal claims, fines and penalties, and other applicable losses. [Read more…]

When you should mediate a legal dispute

If your business is involved in a legal dispute, you may voluntarily agree or be required to participate in mediation.  Mediation is an alternative way of setting disputes that involves negotiation with support from a neutral third-party.

Typically, mediation involves key decision makers from each party as well as their legal counsel. The mediator begins by leading the parties through a confidential review of the situation at hand. Then, depending on the nature of the conflict, the mediator may place each party in separate rooms and act as a go-between to facilitate a jointly-agreeable resolution. [Read more…]

How to shield your website or app from copycats

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That’s all well and good if someone copies your new outfit. But imitation is a whole other issue when it comes to online innovation.

Let’s say you’ve just come up with a new online business idea and you’re convinced it has the potential to be the next big market disrupter, like Uber or Airbnb. Can you patent the website, app or software? The unhappy answer is that it depends. [Read more…]

Safeguard trade secrets

Your company’s proprietary information is your secret sauce. It’s what makes your company distinct and competitive in the market. Yet too few businesses put real time and attention into protecting this valuable information.

If information is stolen and you choose to pursue legal measures, you have an obligation to show that you took reasonable steps to protect your proprietary data. But this kind of litigation can be a slow process that may never really compensate you for your loss.  So don’t wait for your confidential information to walk out the door. Take action now by making a small but continued investment in protecting your business’s trade secrets. [Read more…]

Protect your business idea before you patent

The patent process is lengthy, complicated and expensive. So how can an inventor or small business owner move forward with an innovation? Eventually you’re going to have to share your idea with someone who will help develop it, manufacture it, or otherwise bring it to market. Here are three legal tools you can use, with assistance from an attorney: [Read more…]

FTC targets gaming influencers in first official enforcement action

The FTC is continuing its scrutiny of social media influencers who fail to disclose paid endorsements and other compensatory arrangements. In September of this year, the FTC took its first law enforcement action, settling charges with YouTube broadcasters Trevor Martin and Thomas Cassell, known on their channels as “TmarTn” and “Syndicate.”

Martin and Cassell were charged with using their platforms to deceptively endorse CSGO Lotto by failing to disclose they were joint owners of the online betting service, and with allegedly paying other influencers to promote the site without requiring disclosures. [Read more…]

Congress kills arbitration rule

Financial institutions can continue to block customers from banding together in class-action lawsuits, thanks to Congress’ decision to kill a pending arbitration regulation.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) “arbitration rule,” which would have barred companies from including forced-arbitration clauses in financial contracts such as credit card agreements and car loans, was slated to take effect in March 2018. The House passed a resolution repealing the regulation in July of 2017, followed by the Senate in late October.  [Read more…]

6 tax benefits of owning a home

If you own or are considering owning a home, you can take advantage of many tax benefits. Here are six of the most commonly used homeowner’s tax breaks:

Mortgage interest deduction. You can deduct the interest you pay on your monthly mortgage bill when you itemize deductions on your tax return. This can be a huge benefit, especially in the early years of a mortgage. That’s because typically about 80 percent of your mortgage bill in your first year of home ownership on a 30-year mortgage goes toward interest. Principal payments don’t exceed interest until year 18 of your mortgage. [Read more…]

The new small business family medical leave credit

There’s a new business tax credit that partially reimburses employers for providing paid family and medical leave for select employees. But small businesses should be informed before they try to use this new Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) tax break.

Basics of the new credit

Employers who provide at least two weeks of paid family and medical leave to employees who earn $72,000 a year or less can claim the FMLA credit to offset some of the cost of that paid leave. Some details:

  • The credit ranges between 12.5 percent to 25 percent of the cost of the leave, depending on whether it pays 50 percent salary to a full salary.
  • At least 50 percent of salary must be paid during the leave for employers to claim the credit.
  • Employees must have worked for at least a year.
  • Up to 12 weeks of leave are eligible for the credit.
  • The $72,000 salary cap in 2018 will rise with inflation every year.

[Read more…]

It’s tax-planning time

Now is the ideal time to schedule a tax-planning session. Your tax return outcome is still fresh, and it’s early enough in the year to make corrective action to take advantage of the numerous new tax law changes taking place in 2018. Here’s a brief overview of some of the new tax issues that you need to plan for now.

#1 Income

Tax rates for both individuals and small businesses have changed substantially. Income tax deductions have also changed drastically, including a near doubling of the standard deduction and the elimination of most personal exemptions and miscellaneous itemized deductions.

  • You need to review your income tax withholding schedule and see where you fall in the new income tax bracket structure. Small adjustments here could save you hundreds.

[Read more…]

Tax filing reminders

June 15 – The second installment of 2018 individual estimated tax is due.

 

Fast-food workers can’t publicly trash employer in name of organizing

Under the National Labor Relations Act, employers can’t interfere with their workers’ right to engage in “protected concerted activity” ­— in other words, their right to organize and as a group push for better pay and working conditions. Employers who fail to abide by this law risk fines and other punishment.

However, a recent decision from a federal appeals court draws a line between protected concerted activity and disloyalty that an employer isn’t required to tolerate. [Read more…]

Arbitration agreement enforceable even though worker signed two months after starting her new job

An employee could be forced to arbitrate a gender harassment claim against her employer even though she didn’t sign the arbitration agreement until two months after she started her job, a federal judge in North Carolina recently ruled.

Employer Ross Stores hired the employee in question, Amy Lesneski, to work as a second-shift supervisor at its distribution center in Rock Hill, North Carolina, in October 2014. Two months later, she signed a “dispute resolution agreement” in which she agreed that she wouldn’t be able to take her employer to court over any potential disputes that might arise. Instead, any claim would be decided by a private arbitrator. [Read more…]

Miscalculating worker’s FMLA leave costly to employer

Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, employers of a certain size must allow workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a year to deal with personal illness or care for sick family members. If the worker fails to come back when the leave is exhausted, he or she can be considered to have “voluntarily resigned” and the employer no longer has to keep the job open.

But a recent case from Virginia shows that employers must be very careful to calculate leave time accurately and make sure they’re acting in good faith when they decide an employee has voluntarily resigned. [Read more…]

Employees can take CVS to court over unpaid online training time

A class action lawsuit brought by pharmacy technicians in federal court against the CVS drugstore chain highlights the risks employers take by “nickel-and-diming” their workers.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed by technicians in Pennsylvania and New Jersey on behalf of themselves and other CVS pharmacy technicians, the company violated state and federal wage laws and breached their contracts by failing to pay them for time they spent taking a mandatory online training course. [Read more…]

Fitbits may be helpful tool in employment cases, but reliability issues abound

Wearable technology has exploded in popularity over the past few years as a way of monitoring fitness, athletic performance, health and alertness. Fitbits can track things like calories burned, your heart rate at different times, the steps you’ve taken over the course of a day or a week, your blood sugar levels and even your sleep patterns. [Read more…]

Arbitration agreement enforceable against spouse

If you’ve ever signed up for a credit card, a gym membership, cell phone service or any other number of services, you’ve probably signed an arbitration agreement without even realizing it. These are provisions buried deep within consumer contracts, loans and even employment agreements under which by signing the contract you’re agreeing not to take the company to court over any disagreement that may arise. Instead, you agree to have your case decided by an “arbitrator” — a supposedly neutral third party who’s chosen and paid by the company. This means you’re giving up important rights, such as the right to have a jury hear your case, the right to have the other side disclose evidence that could help you win and the right to appeal an unfair decision. [Read more…]

Valuation date is critical in property division

Sometimes a division of property in divorce is quite simple. The value of assets is very straightforward and splitting them is easy. But some assets can be much tougher to value and the issue can become quite contentious. This is particularly true when dealing with spouses’ interests in a business. That’s when the importance of the valuation date comes into play, as a recent Florida case indicates.

In that case, a couple with two children was divorcing. The husband had ownership interests in three companies that operated a number of restaurants across the state. At one point during the proceeding, a trial judge assessed the value of the couple’s marital estate as of the date the divorce petition was filed. But when the court issued its judgment, it used a later date to value the couples’ business interests. This difference mattered because the business earned significant profits between the two dates. [Read more…]

Wife’s claims from first divorce can’t be revived after failed reconciliation

When a couple takes the dramatic step of divorcing, they’re generally doing so for good reason. That’s why most couples who get divorced stay divorced. Still, some couples may decide that the divorce was a mistake and give marriage a second chance. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. But as a recent case from North Carolina indicates, the award that a spouse received or was likely to receive the first time around will not dictate the award the second time around.

The couple in the case, Beverly and Peter Farquhar, divorced in 2004 after 10 years of marriage. A year later they decided to remarry. At the time, they still had pending claims from their divorce and they voluntarily agreed to dismiss these claims. [Read more…]

Woman who got $2M in divorce still gets support

For anyone who thinks alimony and support is just for those spouses who otherwise might not be able to support themselves, a recent Virginia decision says otherwise.

In that case, a woman whose husband was the primary breadwinner during their 27-year marriage got half of their $4.5 million marital estate in the divorce. This means she was awarded more than $2 million for her share.

Considering the modest lifestyle that the comparatively wealthy couple had maintained, a lot of people would say her share of the estate would have generated plenty of income for her to live on. [Read more…]

Can a court make you maintain life insurance for your ex-spouse?

In many divorces, one spouse is ordered to make monthly payments for “alimony” or “maintenance” to the other spouse to help that spouse support him/herself. Usually, the spouse receiving the payments is entitled to keep receiving them unless he or she remarries or starts “cohabiting” or living with someone else as a partner.

But what if the spouse who’s paying the support passes away sooner than expected, leaving the other spouse without any means of support? [Read more…]

Audit rates decline for 6th year in a row

IRS audit rates declined last year for the sixth year in a row and are at their lowest level since 2002, the agency reported. That’s good news for people who don’t like to be audited (which is everybody)!

Low statistics for audit examinations obscure the reality that you may still have to deal with issues caught by the IRS’s automated computer systems. These could be math errors, typos or missing forms. While not as daunting as a full audit, you need to keep your records handy to address any problems. [Read more…]

How to handle a gap in health care coverage

Health care coverage gaps happen. Whether because of job loss or an extended sabbatical between gigs, you may find yourself without health care for a period. Here are some tax consequences you should know about, as well as tips to fix a coverage gap.

Coverage gap tax issues

You will have to pay a penalty in 2018 if you don’t have health care coverage for three consecutive months or more. Last year the annual penalty was equal to 2.5 percent of your household income, or $695 per adult (and $347.50 per child), whichever was higher. The 2018 amounts will be slightly higher to adjust for inflation. [Read more…]

Update on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was passed by Congress in a hurry late last year, and the IRS and tax preparers have been working to digest some of the more thorny issues created by the tax overhaul. Here are the latest answers to some of the most common questions:

1. Is home equity interest still deductible?

The short answer is: Not unless you’ve used the money to buy, build or substantially improve your home. [Read more…]

Home sellers relinquish control after a sale

If you sell your home, the new owners can paint the house pink, tear out the stone wall your grandfather built, and cut down the maple tree you carved your initials in. Once you sell your home, there’s pretty much nothing you can do to prevent the new owners from making changes.

Even if you try to stipulate certain provisions prior to a sale, such conditions aren’t usually enforceable in a court of law. That said, neighborhood associations can pass certain covenants and restrictions that limit changes such as house color, additions and landscaping. These conditions typically do hold up under legal scrutiny.

If you want to place a condition on the sale of your home or work around a neighborhood covenant on a house you own, consult a real estate attorney.

Zoning laws challenge tiny-home owners

Tiny-home building shows may be all the rage on TV, but these programs rarely explore one big hurdle that comes with tiny-home ownership: Where on earth should you put it?

In many areas, zoning regulations prohibit temporary accommodations such as RVs, mobile homes, and their new close cousins, tiny houses. Zoning laws may require minimum square footage for homes, may prohibit portable structures, or may limit what’s known as “accessory dwelling units,” such as small houses placed in the backyard of an existing home.

In other cases, tiny house owners may find themselves simply priced out of a home site due to zoning laws that require minimum lot sizes beyond their financial reach. [Read more…]

Landlords bound by lease agreements, too

While it’s common knowledge that a tenant must pay rent on time, keep utilities the running, and adhere to various other lease provisions (e.g. routine maintenance, limits on pets and guests), it’s also true that landlords must abide by lease agreements.

Some landlords may attempt to violate a lease agreement by asking tenants to leave prior to the contracted lease period, failing to make certain repairs, violating health and safety conditions, or otherwise making the property inhabitable.

If a landlord fails to live up to a lease agreement and provide a habitable space, tenants may find recourse by reporting violations to local housing authorities, the city building inspector, or a statewide tenant resource center. Try an online search for “tenant rights” in your state to locate possible resources.

Tenants should communicate with their landlord in writing and keep records of all violations and communication. Seek help from a lawyer before attempting any other steps, such as rent deductions, rent withholding or abandonment.

Tips for choosing your next mortgage lender

Home buyers today have a variety of options when it comes to finding a mortgage lender. They can choose a traditional face-to-face relationship with a lender at their local bank, opt for a mortgage broker who will shop the best deals for them, or go it online with a range of non-bank lenders, such as Quicken Loans, Rocket Mortgage, or Lenda.

Be aware, however, that more than a quarter of first-time home buyers regret their choice. According to a mortgage satisfaction study by J.D. Power, 27 percent of first-time buyers and 21 percent of all home buyers wish they had chosen an alternate lender.

Customers reported dissatisfaction with communication, unmet promises, and feeling pressured to choose a particular lending product.  [Read more…]

Contingencies create a way out of real estate contracts

You’ve signed the contract and transferred the earnest money, but just how binding is your real estate contract? That depends on the nature of any contingencies built into the agreement. For buyers, such contingencies provide an exit strategy if the house doesn’t live up to initial impressions.

Here are some common contingencies that could allow a buyer out of a real estate contract: 

* Financing. The buyer may be unable to get financing from his or her lender, or unable to get financing within defined terms. [Read more…]

Your mortgage is my mortgage: How parents are financing a child’s home

With all-cash offers dominating the housing market in some highly competitive cities, first-time homebuyers are finding themselves shut out of negotiations, particularly for the more affordable and in-demand starter homes.

Saving enough for a down payment and closing costs has always been a challenge for young home buyers. But in tight real estate markets, the old standby of 20 percent down with a traditional mortgage loan isn’t enough to win a home.

These kids might once have looked to mom or dad for help with a down payment, but now they’re approaching their parents with a much bigger request: enough funds to make a full cash offer. [Read more…]

Proving the hardship exception to the Medicaid penalty period

If you transfer assets within five years of applying for Medicaid, you will likely be subject to a period of ineligibility. There is an exception, however, if enforcing the penalty period would cause the applicant an “undue hardship.” This exception is difficult to prove and rarely granted, but it may be available in certain circumstances.

Under federal Medicaid law, the state Medicaid agency must determine whether an applicant transferred any assets for less than fair market value within the past five years. If there are any transfers, the state imposes a penalty period, which is a period of time in which the applicant will be ineligible for Medicaid benefits. The length of the penalty period is calculated by dividing the amount transferred by what Medicaid determines to be the average private pay cost of a nursing home in the state.

A Medicaid applicant can fight the penalty period by arguing that enforcing it will cause an undue hardship. Federal law provides that an undue hardship exists if the penalty period would deprive the applicant of: (1) medical care necessary to maintain the applicant’s health or life; or (2) food, clothing, shelter, or necessities of life. The burden is on the applicant to prove that hardship exists. A nursing home can pursue a hardship waiver on behalf of a resident. [Read more…]

Family dispute illustrates need for long-term care plan

A recent New Jersey court case demonstrates how important it is for families to come up with a long-term care plan before an emergency strikes.

The case involved two brothers who got into a fight over whether to place their mother in a nursing home. R.G. was the primary caregiver for his parents, as well as their agent under powers of attorney. After R.G.’s mother fell ill, R.G. wanted to place her in a nursing home. R.G.’s brother objected, but R.G. went ahead and had his mother admitted to a nursing home without his brother’s consent. R.G.’s brother sent angry and threatening texts and emails to R.G. as well as emails expressing his desire to find a way to care for their parents in their home. Eventually the men got into a physical altercation in which R.G.’s brother shoved R.G.

R.G. went to court to get a restraining order against his brother under New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. A trial judge ruled that R.G. had been harassed and assaulted and issued the order. But a New Jersey appeals court reversed the trial court, ruling that R.G.’s brother’s actions did not amount to domestic violence. According to the court, there was insufficient evidence that R.G.’s brother purposely acted to harass R.G. [Read more…]

Use your will to dictate how to pay your debts

The main purpose of a will is to direct where your assets will go after you die, but it can also be used to instruct your heirs on how to pay your debts. While generally heirs cannot inherit debt, an estate’s debt can reduce what they receive. Spelling out how debt should be paid can help your heirs.

If someone dies with outstanding debt, the executor is responsible for making sure those debts are paid. This may require selling assets that you would have preferred to leave to specific heirs. There are two types of debts you might leave behind:

  • Secured debt is debt that is attached to a piece of property or an asset, such as a car loan or a mortgage.
  • Unsecured debt is any debt that isn’t backed by an underlying asset, such as credit card debt or medical bills.

[Read more…]