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I Spent All Day at the Courthouse

I spent all day at the courthouse sitting around in jury duty and trying to kill time. I down there bright and early when they told me to be there and a couple of times it looked like they were going to get me to do something. This Sacramento criminal attorney talked to a bunch of the people and kept the ones that they wanted, but they did not get to me on that and I realized that they were going to make me wait until the next case came up. Of course I was sitting there wondering how long they could make you stay there. It was obvious that a lot of people had excuses that they used to get out of it and I could have made something up. however I did not really know what was going on.

Lawyers Who Know Unemployment Compensation Law

Unemployment compensation law pertains to the existence of an adequate insurance coverage that will serve to assist a person while he or she is in the process of looking for new employment. Subsistence is the primary reason why financial aid is beneficial to the unemployed worker as he or she still has obligations even without proper employment. The article will be tackling the different aspects that make a person qualified to receive compensation and what factors will automatically disqualify his or her application.

The eligibility of people who are applying for financial grants at the time of unemployment depends highly on the existence of a compensation law made to address such concerns. When a person wants to avail of unemployment compensation, eligibility will be determined by the employment history he or she presents, stating the minimum amount of income that the ruling requires. It is an important factor for the financial support to be granted when the applicants were working regular jobs preceding the unemployment claim application.

The unemployment compensation law will require that an applicant have some documents showing that he or she has been employed for a minimum of one year before losing a job. One other concern before a financial grant is given to an unemployed worker pertains to his or her attitude towards working once again, where he or she would be able and willing to do so. It is possible that a person is denied such support and these factors will be discussed in a while.

It is a good decision to go for the option of applying for an unemployment claim at the local agencies. The implementation of the compensation law includes a provision stating that people applying for aid need to comply with the legal document requirements asked from them. Compensation settlements take time to process and so it is important to send out an application right away.

What can qualify a person for significant compensation as stated under the compensation law for unemployment? The self employed as well as the independent or freelance workers are exempted from the benefits under the compensation law. Having a serious medical condition that will force the person not to work will immediately cause a disapproval of the application.

The extent of the benefits one can gain from the compensation law is reserved for regular workers excluding the self employed or the independent workers for that matter. What qualifies as a proper reason to leave a place of employment for the regular worker? It is justifiable and a good reason if he or she may have had a run with illegal activity in the workplace, poor security measures, and even harassment.

A spouse finding employment out of the state is a good reason that will still qualify a person to seek unemployment benefits. A person may have to leave his or her job if the military requires him or her to serve, in the same way that it is a valid excuse to take care of ill family members. There may be some alterations to the compensation law for some areas and so being familiar with the local provisions is a must for everybody.

There are ways by which people can be denied a series of benefits as provided by the compensation law for unemployment. A record of bad behavior, tardiness, absences, and insubordination will immediately eliminate a worker in this case. The unemployment compensation ruling does not extend to abusers of alcohol, drugs, and other substances especially at work.

Check payments from compensation law benefits can amount to twenty six weeks in payments. Some other elements of the compensation agreement are that the person should be willing to work and is actively looking for work while settlements are being given to him or her. Unemployment benefits only serve to provide assistance in getting people back to work.

How to Keep your Car in Bankruptcy *


For most of us, a car is a necessity. Very few people can survive in an urban setting without a car in the 21st century. At the same time, most people own a car through obtaining a car loan. If you fall behind in your car loan repayments, the lender has a right to repossess the car. When you file for bankruptcy, that is what is likely to happen. The lender would demand the car back and sell it at an auction. If the proceeds of the auction is insufficient to cover the outstanding loan, the lender will initiate a lawsuit against you to recover the balance.

So is there a way to keep your car when you file for bankruptcy? Here are some things you can do.

When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can “redeem” the car by paying the lender the value of the car and discharging the rest of the car loan in bankruptcy. On the other hand, if you file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your car can also be “redeemed” if the car loan is more than 910 days old or if the loan was not used only for purchasing the loan (i.e. a rollover loan from a trade-in).

Furthermore, if you do not have enough money to pay the value of the car to the lender, you may take up a loan to do so even while in bankruptcy. This is good news if you have an upside down car loan (a situation in which the market value of the car is less than the outstanding car loan). You can file for bankruptcy and keep your car.

Another thing you can do to keep your car in bankruptcy is reaffirm your car loan with the lender. This means you confirm with the lender that despite filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will continue paying the car loan installments. And the lender agrees not to repossess your car as long as you maintain the car loan repayments during bankruptcy.

The only problem with reaffirming your car loan is that if you fall behind on your payments after your bankruptcy is discharged, the lender can still repossess the car and sue you for the balance of loan. in view of this, you should always discuss your reaffirmation agreement with a bankruptcy attorney before entering into one with your lender.

If you wish to file for bankruptcy or discuss matters about bankruptcy, call us at (813) 200-4133 for a free consultation.

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5 Ways to Avoid Filing for Bankruptcy

The B Word. We know what it is but don’t like to say it, and we hope we never have to go through it. The mere thought of bankruptcy sends shivers down our spines and makes our bank accounts quiver in fear. It has its reputation as the ultimate nadir of personal finance.Bankruptcy, according to finance guru Dave Ramsey, is often considered one of the top five life-altering negative events a person can experience, with divorce, severe illness, disability and the loss of a loved one. Ramsey says that bankruptcy “leaves deep wounds both to the psyche and the credit report.”

Bankruptcies in the United States were abundant last year, with more than 1.4 million chapter 7, 11, 12 and 13 filings through the end of 2011, according to data from the United States Courts. The reasons individuals or businesses file for bankruptcy varies from person to person, but one thing’s certain–going bankrupt means that one must declare complete legal insolvency. When you’re in over your head and can’t pay back your debts, it may seem like there’s no other alternative.

But like anything in money and life, myths abound. Going bankrupt doesn’t always mean that a person was irresponsible with their money and seeks a bailout. And if you’re in financial trouble, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy doesn’t have to be your first, or your last choice. There are a few preventive measures and last-ditch moves you can take to avoid bankruptcy and get back in the black … hopefully, for good.

1. Settle/negotiate your debts. Commonly, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation–a wiping clean or erasing of your debt. It can be dangerous for individuals because it can mean relinquishing your assets or property. If you’re on the brink of filing for Chapter 7, it is possible to hold onto your money and still pay back your creditors by settling your debts instead.

Debt consolidation is an arrangement with lenders to repay your debts without losing any of your assets. In this case, the person thinking of bankruptcy consolidates their debts into a single loan with one monthly payment, and at a lower interest rate.

Debt settlement is similar–like debt consolidation, it means that a person must negotiate some kind of deal with creditors. If it’s likely they’ll get their money back, most lenders will work with you to devise a reduced payment plan schedule. This may include waiving your current payments if you agree to make larger payments down the road to make up for the delay. Reducing you debt in this way is often looked at in terms of the snowball approach, paying smaller bills first and working your way up, or the avalanche method, paying down larger debt and decreasing payments as you go.

The chance to pay down your debt keeps you in control of your finances and away from having to file for bankruptcy.

2. Sell your property. In a Chapter 7 case–total bankruptcy–your property is put up for review by a trustee, who makes the decision on what to sell or liquidate so your claim can be settled. You can avoid this altogether by being proactive and selling some of your belongings before bankruptcy becomes an option.

If you’re in debt, consider what you can afford to part with. Do you have a second car, a collection of antiques, or other valuables? Many people consult with an appraiser so they can determine the value of their property. This doesn’t mean you need to clear out your home, but taking to CraigsList, eBay, or a public auction may earn you some much-needed funds.

Even if this approach only raises a minimal amount of cash needed to pay off some debt, it’s much better than being forced to surrender your property in a bankruptcy filing.

3. Borrow money from family or friends. It takes a lot of pride-swallowing to ask a parent, sibling or trusted friend for financial help. Many personal relationships have been tainted over money, but if you’re this close to going bankrupt, don’t be ashamed to make the approach–just make sure that it will be worth your time and their money. Make a budget and see how much money you’ll need to raise to avoid bankruptcy; figure out what you’ve been able to afford, and you’ll know how much more to ask for.

Asking your family for money when you’re in danger of going bankrupt involves the utmost trust. Ask yourself: Are they 100 percent on board to help you? Will their financial generosity really help to solve your problems, or will it be a “Band-aid” approach to delaying your pending bankruptcy? Most of all, have you considered how you’ll pay back not only your creditors, but your family, in time?

4. Restructure your mortgage. If you’re paying off your home, another method is to restructure or refinance your mortgage. By arranging a new mortgage payment plan, you may be able to save some money to put toward paying down your debt. It’s worth it if you can avoid bankruptcy or getting your home foreclosed.

There are two basic ways changing up your mortgage can aid you in averting a bankruptcy filing. First is to negotiate an agreement with your housing lender to reconfigure your mortgage under a new payment plan. See if you can devise a new or temporary payment schedule under the same terms of your original mortgage. A second approach is to refinance your mortgage altogether, which may include applying for a lower, adjustable interest rate stretched out over a longer period of time. The money you save on the front end can be useful in paying off your remaining debt and staving off the threat of bankruptcy.

5. Make real sacrifices. Sometimes the most surefire way to save money is to simply cut back. If you’re teetering close to the edge of a Chapter 7, reassess your budget and get rid of unnecessary expenses. Are you in over your head on your credit cards? Can you do without eating out or going to the movies? Canceling that gym membership or cable bill, albeit temporarily, can free up a lot of money.

Distinguishing your wants and needs–say, those frequent shopping trips to the mall vs. paying your electricity–is all part of learning how to save money and reduce your debt. Start living within your means and spending less than you earn, and the savings will add up.

If you find that going it alone doesn’t work, one alternative is to consult with a credit counselor or personal finance consultant to get your finances back on track. In this case, your No. 1 priority is rearranging your budget so bankruptcy isn’t even an option.

Trying out some of these suggestions could go a long way in helping you avoid bankruptcy.You may find that following one, all or a combination thereof makes all the difference that you need. It will be difficult; there’s no quick fix or easy solution to digging out of debt. But like starting a new diet or fitness plan, it requires discipline and a completely new lifestyle approach to the way you handle your finances, and make your money work for you, not your creditors, in the long run.

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Do I Honestly Require an Attorney at Law?

There are numerous occasions in our life when we have to hire an attorney. Prior to even looking at the questions you would possibly put to any legal| professional and before contracting for their services there is one question it is advisable to ask yourself first-“Do I require legal representation?”

It is possible that whatever situation you are dealing with might be taken care of without the necessity for an attorney and the sensible use of communication and good judgment will then handle most disputes when your first thought would be to reach for the phone book and look for a lawyer.

As an example, a problem with your neighbor over a boundary fence, unnecessary noise or the numerous problems which do occur every so often with neighbors may be more positively resolved by speaking with your neighbor directly or through a 3rd party such as a mediator.

Other situations that you might take up yourself include the small claims court in your state that is set up to allow ordinary people to settle their disputes without the burden of hefty legal fees. Court staffs are usually very supportive in answering most questions that you may have and can furnish you with the correct forms to fill out and the correct procedure to follow.

A necessary feature to also consider prior to hiring a lawyer is this: the lay litigant, who is the ordinary person with no legal representation, in my experience, almost always gets a good deal from the court and the reason for this is the ideals upon which our legal system was built.

When you consider laws and justice, a symbol you will always picture are the scales of justice. They represent a balancing of the rights of everyone in any legal dispute on which the judge will rule. Judges are quite conscious of a need to ensure that when faced with a decision that they are keeping those scales well balanced. Whenever a judge is faced with a lay litigant on the one hand and an experienced attorney on the other side of the disagreement the judge will constantly make certain that the scales are well balanced by being very helpful and considerate towards the lay litigant to ensure that his rights aren’t trodden underfoot by a smooth, experienced attorney.

For this reason you could consider representing yourself in less serious disputes and where the cost of hiring an attorney is unreasonable or where you might simply not have the money. Nonetheless you should think long and hard prior to acting as your own attorney because it could prove very costly in the end.

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The Easiest Way To Choose a Tax Attorney

How to Work out Your Tax Problems

If you have gotten into some trouble with the IRS then it may be time to recruit the assistance of a professional. You can begin by attempting to get the advice of an accountant or other tax expert to see how grave the situation is. If they are not able to work with you than we advise you move on to choosing a tax lawyer.

What Exactly Does a Tax Lawyer Do?

Tax lawyers can be used for a few specific things where you could need extra help dealing with a tax problem. As mentioned before, it is possible to use a Certified Public Accountant to assist, however the top solution is to hire a professional that has practice with the lawful aspects of tax negotiations and litigation expertise. Many times a tax attorney can help drop your payments or offer a better prepared settlement that is useful for both parties concerned. A domestic lawyer could be one more choice if they have knowledge with tax issues, but your best bet is to work with an attorney that specializes in tax law.

Where to Find a Tax Attorney?

Tax attorneys can be located by using your yellow pages, receiving a referral from friends and family, or by looking through the Web. A brief search with your favorite search engine will bring up a catalog of options for tax lawyers in your area. A web directory that provides tax attorneys by state is a wonderful place to discover someone. Setup an appointment with a few possible candidates and observe what their rates are and if they can assist with your problem.

A Word Of Warning

When choosing a tax lawyer you probably get what you pay for as far as charges go. Don’t go for the least expensive one you can locate as you may be sorry when it doesn’t work out. Try and obtain references and select an authority in the area that is knowledgeable about tax law and can proposal a brief solution to help you fix the problem.

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5 Things to Consider Before Hiring a Family Lawyer in New York



A Family lawyer is the need of the hour when issues arise out of matters related to marriage and family, adoption of children and rearing of children or there can be a dispute among marital partners that cannot be amicably resolved. You are going to need a Good Family Lawyer if you develop some intricacies in your marital relationships or even in your live-in relationships.


Before you set out to make a choice among the hundreds of Family Lawyers Available in New York, you can consider the following points


  • The foremost quality of a Good Lawyer is going to be his or her oration. Your choice of a good attorney is to be made considering if the lawyer is good at speaking efficiently and putting words before the judge in an orderly manner.
  • The attorney should be good at analyzing things. There is bound to be a huge amount of information at his disposal, but he must be competent to make use of it.
  • Your attorney should have some creative potential. Practicing law requires one to create new and novel solutions to new problems that arise with the changing times.
  • A Good Lawyer Always has a competence in forming interpersonal relations with his clients and his colleagues. The bond of trust between them can go a long way in deciding the final result of the case in court.
  • A Good Lawyer must be skilled enough to handle all the pressures of the court cases. The legal profession requires one to be on one’s toes round- the- clock without any signs of fatigue or exhaustion. Court cases often require a lot of heavy work and devotion to one’s work.


  • Practicing law requires a comprehensive knowledge of the law cases in the past. A competent lawyer always has a number of strategies prepared by a thorough research into the past. So, make sure your choice of attorney has competent skills at research.

New York lawyers are sure to help you sort out matters related to divorce and separation. There are likely to be all kinds of disputes among family members regarding the distribution of ancestral property or there might be a dispute over inheritance of a property between siblings. A good family lawyer is the best solution here.

All such matters should be dealt with at all levels of their intricacies with the best minds in the business. A competent and able lawyer is well aware of all the intricacies involved in these cases. If you have to file a case for adopting a child, a lawyer is to know all the intricacies associated with it.

A family law attorney is going to be your best friend in case you need some advice on settling family disputes. He will not jump into the dispute himself, but gives you good advice on how to handle matters. He can represent your case the in the best manner possible.


Ask the Attorney: Debt Management or Bankruptcy? *

Q: I am up to my neck in credit card debt and don’t know where to turn. I keep hearing all of these commercials for debt management programs that make bankruptcy sound like the worst thing ever. What’s the deal?

The short answer is: it depends.

What makes sense for one person may not make sense for another based on your financial situation. If the stars are lined up properly, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is sometimes the perfect solution to your financial woes.

If you fit the profile for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the main drawback is the negative impact on your credit score; but let’s be honest here. If you are this close to filing bankruptcy, your credit is probably not that great to begin with. Sometimes the only way to rebuild a house is to tear it down and start over, which is what a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will allow you to do.

It is important to remember that a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will liquidate, or wipe out, most of your unsecured debts (like credit cards and medical bills), where a debt management program simply reduces interest rates and allows you to repay over time. But there are strict rules involved in debt management that usually prohibit you from using your cards again for any reason. Here are some factors to consider:

Do you own or rent your home? One of the big stumbling blocks for people wishing to file bankruptcy is that they have too much equity in their homes. To figure out how much equity you have, simply take the current value of your home and subtract how much you owe on your mortgages; be sure to include home equity loans in that figure. A single person can still file with about $20,000 in equity, and a married couple can file with about $40,000 in equity. With falling home values, many people who have been unable to file bankruptcy in the past may be able to do so now.

The question that usually accompanies the discussion of home equity is whether or not you can keep your home, and the answer is usually “yes.” As long as you are willing to keep making your mortgage payments (which will be much easier if you wipe out a ton of credit card debt), you can keep your home. Cars typically fall under the same category; you can keep them if you continue to make payments.

There is a simple test I give people who are contemplating bankruptcy. Since a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can stay on your credit report for up to seven years, take an honest look at your debt and ask yourself if you will have it paid on your own within seven years. If the answer is “no”, and it almost always is, then you need to seriously examine whether a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is right for you.

This article is intended as a discussion of legal topics that are often confusing to many laypeople; it is not, and should not be relied on, as legal advice. The views expressed in this article are those of the individual contributor and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the PA Focus.

Attorney Jesse White is licensed to practice solely in Pennsylvania and any information discussed relates solely to Pennsylvania law. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should only be made after careful consideration. If you feel you need to hire an attorney, contact The Law Office of Jesse White at 724-743-4444 for free written information about areas of practice and experience.

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Illinois Garnishments and Bankruptcy *

In Illinois, a wage garnishment allows a creditor to take a portion of your income to repay your debt. A Bankruptcy can stop the garnishment and may allow you to eliminate the debt.

In Illinois, a judgment creditor can obtain a court order to put in place a wage deduction from your earnings. This is commonly referred to as garnishment. This wage deduction takes a percentage of your wages, before you ever see them, and transfers them to your creditor.

Wage Garnishment

This wage deduction, or garnishment, can only be done where there is a valid judgment debt. In Illinois, the creditor then files an action in court to deduct the lesser of either 15 percent of your gross wages for a week or the amount by which disposable weekly earnings exceed 45 times the federal minimum hourly wage. Federal law also prohibits garnishment exceeding 25 percent of disposable income.

This limit was put in place to ensure that no one would have their entire earnings taken by a creditor, leaving them destitute and unable to afford their necessary life expenses, like food and rent.

Non-Wage Garnishment

Non-wage garnishment, as the name implies, is used against other financial assets, such as a checking or savings account at a bank.

Child support payments and student loan debt can be used to create a garnishment without a court order, so you may not receive the same type of legal notice you would for a typical garnishment.


Retirement benefits and social security are generally exempt from garnishment.

How To Stop Garnishment

A bankruptcy, in most cases either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13, can be used to stop a garnishment. Filing a bankruptcy stops all collection activities of creditors, by the creation of the automatic stay, which is put in place as soon as you file your bankruptcy petition.

In a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, it may be possible to discharge the entire debt that gave rise to the garnishment, thereby eliminating any possibility of the garnishment being restarted after the bankruptcy is over.

In a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, you may, if you have sufficient disposable income, pay some percentage of the underlying debt in your Chapter 13 plan. The plan is like a five-year budget that permits the repayment of some of your debt, and at its completion you receive a discharge.

Determining which chapter of the bankruptcy code will work best for your situation is a complex question and a bankruptcy attorney can review your finances and eligibility, and can help you decide.

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Up To Million Americans Can’t Even Afford Bankruptcy *

Bankruptcy is the last lifeline for consumers facing insurmountable debts, but it still comes at a price. Between 200,000 and one million American consumers are estimated to be unable to afford the cost of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, according to new research released by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The research also reported the average cost for filing Chapter 7 as more than $1,500, including attorney’s fees. The court costs associated with filing a petition account for about $300 of that total.

The cost of bankruptcy rose sharply following passage of the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, which introduced sweeping reforms to the bankruptcy process. These changes include mandatory credit counseling and financial education courses, additional legal documents, increased filing fees and an updated “means test” to determine bankruptcy eligibility. The burden of paying for all of these added requirements, including the increased attorney hours needed to prepare the filing, falls to the debtor.

The legislation was designed to discourage abuse of the bankruptcy system by adding more obstacles to it. It appears to be working, albeit slowly, in reducing the bankruptcy rate; 1.3% of consumers filed for bankruptcy last year, compared with 1.4% in 2004.

But it also puts the greatest squeeze on the most cash-strapped consumers. Eligible debtors with higher incomes and greater assets are more likely to be able to afford the $1,500 price tag than those with lower incomes and fewer assets.

“In virtually any type of program, there are going to be those who fall between the cracks,” said Robert J. Rock, a bankruptcy attorney with Tully Rinckey. “I would suspect that this group was made larger by the most recent bankruptcy amendments.”

“The two counseling courses that need to be taken before and after a Chapter 7 filing do add some expense, and the filing fee has risen even faster than the associated legal fees. And that filing fee is the key to the courthouse.”

Going it Alone
Hiring an attorney, which is the most expensive part of the bankruptcy process, is not technically a necessity. But filing for bankruptcy is more complex than ever, and the consequences of even innocent mistakes can be severe.

Still, more consumers are making bankruptcy more affordable by representing themselves. Last year, 8% of Chapter 7 filings were completed without the help of an attorney, up from 6% in 2007.

The worst-case scenario in any bankruptcy filing is for the petition to be dismissed by a judge, which is likely if the petition contains errors or omissions. A dismissal brings no financial relief, but it can damage a debtor’s credit just as much as a successful bankruptcy.

“Perhaps you didn’t take the financial management course, or maybe you haven’t provided all the required documents,” Rock said. “These mistakes can certainly result in a dismissal. It can be a very complicated procedure for people who are coming into it for the very first time.”

Under the revised bankruptcy law, dismissals can also haunt debtors by affecting the automatic stay provision. An automatic stay is an injunction that prohibits unsecured creditors from suing or seizing property from the bankruptcy petitioner, and it kicks in as soon as the petition is filed. But if you’ve had a dismissal in the past year, the automatic stay will expire after one month unless you can get a judge to extend it.

When You Can’t Afford to File
Debtors who just don’t have the cash on hand to file a petition have several options. For those who can prove they can’t afford the costs, seeking a pro bono lawyer is a worthwhile approach.

“If a person is truly indigent and needs relief, there is the ability to get pro bono assistance,” Rock said. “There are agencies in virtually every area that exist to help connect legal services with those who can’t afford it.”

The American Bankruptcy Institute, a bankruptcy research and education organization, maintains an interactive map that can be used to locate pro bono bankruptcy resources throughout the U.S.

If you can’t find free legal aid, you may be able to gather the necessary funds by stopping payments on your unsecured debts.

“If you are paying on a credit card or some other unsecured debt that is dischargeable in bankruptcy, and you’re paying just enough to keep the wolves at bay, you’re probably getting deeper and deeper in the hole,” Rock said.

A successful bankruptcy will wipe out unsecured debts anyway, so it’s a sound strategy if you can save enough money for attorney fees by skipping a few payments. Just remember that you’re not protected against legal action or repossession until you actually file your petition, so it’s important to raise the necessary funds quickly if you take this approach. It may be helpful to limit your spending to the bare necessities or to ask family or friends for financial aid to reach this goal as soon as possible.

As for court fees, you or your attorney can request that they be waived or that you be allowed to pay them in installments. A judge will typically rule on this request based on your income and ability to pay the fees.

Attorneys may also offer other solutions to manage or minimize costs. Some may accept payment plans or offer discounted rates in need-based cases. When contacting law offices, it’s important to ask about these possibilities and any pro bono services offered.

“Most competent bankruptcy attorneys will go out of their way to increase access to those debtors who truly need to file bankruptcy to get their financial house in order,” Rock said.

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Power Of Attorneys

A Power of Attorney is a legal agreement in which the principal (“non-incapacitated” person) gives authority to the agent or attorney-in-fact to act in place of the principal. The agent will have the power to open bank accounts in your name, bring suits in your name, and can sign legal documents for you among other things. As soon as the power of attorney agreement is signed it is “executed”, or legally binding. A power of attorney form is no longer legal upon death of the principal or upon revocation of the agreement.

Creating A Power Of Attorney Agreement can be very inexpensive if done yourself. A power of attorney agreement must be in writing, and the principal executing the power of attorney must have the legal capacity. Most states do require the agreement be notarized or witnessed.

Revocation of a Power of Attorney must be done by the principal, he/she must not be incapacitated and he/she must put the revocation in writing. Then a copy of the written notice of the revocation should be sent to whomever it interests.

The great thing about a power of attorney form is that its really simple, straightforward and an easy way to convey power to an agent. Executing a power of attorney form could cost you as little as ten dollars while giving someone guardianship requires you to pay court fees. You can also use a power of attorney agreement to protect the rights of the principal.

One disadvantage a power of attorney form may be to you, is that it becomes effective immediately after it is executed.

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Texas Medical Power of Attorney

It is recommended by the Texas Medical Association that you have a medical power of attorney. Chances are in your lifetime you may be seriously injured, ill, or otherwise unable to make your own medical decisions regarding the kind of medical care, and treatment you desire. If this should happen, a medical power of attorney can appoint someone who knows your values and whom you trust to make those medical decisions for you if your unable to.

In Texas you can appoint more than one agent, although you’re not required to do so. The alternative agent(s) may make the same medical decisions as the designated agent if that agent is unable or unwilling to act on the patient’s behalf.

In Texas the principal/patient may appoint anyone to their agent except their health care provider, an employee of the health care provider unless their a relative of the principal, the principal’s residential care provider, or an employee of the principal’s residential care provider unless that person is a relative of the principal.

In Texas a person does not need a lawyer to execute a Medical Power of Attorney, although its not necessary, a lawyer or paralegal could sit down with you and help prepare the forms.

Under a Medical Power of Attorney, an agent is granted wide latitude when consenting to medical treatment on the principal’s behalf, but an agent cannot commit the principal to a mental institution, or convulsive treatment, or Psychosurgery, or an abortion, or consent to neglect of comfort care.

In Texas, notifying either an agent or the principal’s health care provider orally or in writing, of the principal’s intent to revoke the medical power of attorney, may revoke a Medical Power of Attorney. The revocation will occur regardless of the principal’s capacity to make medical care decisions. Also, if the principal executes a later Medical Power of Attorney the prior one becomes revoked (void) and the new Medical Power of Attorney will be the only one legally effective. Another way a Medical Power of Attorney can get revoked is if the principal designates his or her spouse to be the agent, if the principal and agent divorce then the Medical Power of Attorney becomes void (is revoked).

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What is a Medical Power of Attorney?

A medical power of attorney is made to give you the power to appoint some one to carry out your medical wishes in the event you can’t communicate those decisions yourself, or lack the mental capacity to do so. In short, a medical power of attorney is a plan made in anticipation of a medical emergency. The person you appoint to carry out your wishes will have the legally authority to do so If you appoint them as your ‘agent’ in your legal medical power of attorney form. Obviously whoever you appoint as your ‘agent’ should be some one you trust to actually enforce your wishes in the event of a serious accident.

Whomever you choose as your ‘agent’, realize that individual will be in charge of making your medical decisions when you’re incapacitated. An agent officially has the legal authority to make your medical decisions if you appointed them as your agent in your medical power of attorney if your physician certifies in writing that you’re incompetent.

Legally, a medical power of attorney is not effective unless the principal (person who the will is made for) signs a disclosure statement that they understand and have completely read. Usually your state’s medical power of attorney will require there to be a witness sign along with you to verify you did read and understand it. A qualified witness is some one who is competent, an adult, and is not related to the principal. Also the witness cannot be a partner of business or a witness related to your physician.

You can revoke your medical power of attorney at any time by notifying the agent and principal’s health care provider of his or her intent to revoke the document. This is usually done officially with a ‘revocation of power of attorney form’. Also, if you appointed your spouse and you two get divorced her legal authority as your ‘agent’ is automatically revoked.
‘What is a Medical Power of Attorney?’ has been brought to you by Legal Forms Bank .Biz, where you can get your state’s up-to-date legal forms online. You can download your medical power of attorney by visiting their website. They also have many other forms like living will forms.

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What is a Durable Power of Attorney Form?

A durable power of attorney form is made to help you plan for unfortunate events such as a serious injury or illness. With a durable power of attorney form you can appoint someone to legally act on your behalf, which is called a “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”. On the form you can limit your agent to act on your behalf for a limited or very specific task or event. You could appoint a family member, advisor, or a trustworthy friend or institution like a bank.

The difference between a durable power of attorney and a regular power of attorney is that a durable power of attorney will still be legally valid even if you become incompetent or unable to make your own decisions. With a regular power of attorney it will become legally invalid if you become unable to make your own decisions. All fifty states now permit the use of a durable power of attorney, and it can not be revoked simply because the ‘principal’ becomes incapacitated or mentally incompetent. Upon death though, your durable power of attorney will be immediately revoked.

Mainly, a durable power of attorney is used for convenience purposes. Suppose you have your home listed for sale, and you could not be in town to complete the legal transcation. You can use a durable power of attorney to a appoint a ‘attorney-in-fact’ to manage these kind of transactions, and you could have your ‘agent’ complete the transcation legally for you. Your agent can sign the documents, and negotiate the sale for you.

Also, you can revoke a durable power of attorney anytime, as long as your competent. To revoke it simply sent your agent a written notice notifying him or her that the document has been revoked. Once your agent has notice of your revocation, the agent can no longer legally act on your behalf. Doing so would be illegal, although any actions taken prior to the date of the revocation is still legal.

Another thing you could do is make your durable power of attorney effective only upon your incapacitation. This document is often referred as the “springing” durable power of attorney. This is because it “springs to life” on a specific occurence in the future; your incapacity. Its important to include a detailed definition of “disability” to make it perfectly clear when your agent can act on your behalf.

Don’t procrastinate, executing a durable power of attorney can help you manage your life and protect your family in case you become seriously injured or incapacitated.

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Laws, State by State

The Family Law Statutes that Affect You Where You Live

Every state has the right to establish its own set of laws and regulations. As you can imagine, these laws can vary significantly so it helps to know the specific statutes in your state. Below is a list of state “Family Law Index” articles – each of which is a guide to the family laws and statutes of that state.

Also See: Marriage Laws in All 50 States | Divorce Laws in All 50 States

Don’t Be Liable For Debt When Serving As Power Of Attorney *

Question: Dear To Her Credit,

I’ve been reading your elder abuse and credit card stories. This happened in our family. My brother and I caught it in time for our mother to have enough money left to live in assisted living for her final years.

Her baby son (age 50) charged over $12,000 on three of her credit cards. The money is still due. My other brother and I have power of attorney for our mother and the accounts are closed. We are also preparing a small claims suit against our younger brother to document his debt.

I have been able to access these accounts online except one, but I am concerned about giving my name, address and so on to the credit card companies. We recognize the estate must pay the bills after our mom dies, but I am afraid of damaging my credit and being held liable for the debts. Without getting a lawyer at this point, would giving the companies my information and power of attorney make me responsible personally? — Patrice

Answer: Dear Patrice,

No, signing for your mom’s bills in the capacity of power of attorney absolutely does not make you liable for her debts. You do need to be careful, however.

For most adult children, no one is ever going to check up on your expenditures while you’re taking care of your own mother. You do the best you can and are careful not to spend money on credit that you know cannot be repaid, and all’s well.

In your case, unfortunately, Baby Brother may come around and cause all kinds of trouble. He’s been accused of spending $12,000 of your mother’s money — now the most natural response would be to point the finger at you and your other brother and accuse you of doing the same thing. It’s a sad situation when it comes to this.

Here’s how to protect yourself.

First, make sure everyone knows you are strictly acting as your mother’s power of attorney in all your business dealings. Philadelphia attorney Kathleen DeLacy, with Reger Rizzo & Darnall, says, “What she needs to do is make sure whenever she discusses anything or signs anything, that she signs her name as ‘Attorney in Fact’ for her mother. Never just sign her name.”

As long as you identify yourself as your mom’s agent, your credit history should not be affected and you should not be liable for the debts. DeLacy can’t guarantee no one would ever try to make a case otherwise, but at least you have a leg to stand on.

Of course, you owe your mother a fiduciary duty to always act in her best interests. DeLacy says, “If she breaches that duty … she can be liable to her.” Even if your mom can’t tell you what she wants, acting in her obvious best interests should keep you safe.

It’s also important to keep your finances separate from your mom’s. With contention about money in the family, I wouldn’t charge so much as a candy bar for myself on your mom’s credit card. When you go up to the register at the drug store, you’ll have to ask them to ring up two separate sales. It’s a small inconvenience, but it protects you from allegations of taking advantage of your mother.

Money issues bring out a side of people you may have never seen before. Family members get greedy, or rationalize they have money problems or that they have something coming to them. Your mom is lucky that you stopped your brother from spending more on her credit cards and leaving her with nothing to live on. Let’s hope the rifts in the family can be mended and your mom can live peacefully for the rest of her life.

Alienation of Affection

Can I Sue if My Spouse Cheats?

The spouse who was cheated on – the “injured” spouse – can, in a few states states, still bring legal action against the cheating party for “alienation of affection.” Sometimes referred to as “Heart Balm Torts,” “Revenge,” or “Spousal Theft,” alienation of affection(s) is a legal action charging someone with the intentional and malicious interference with marriage relations. Typically this occurs when one spouse has been cheating on the other (committing adultery), and is caught. There is another similar legal claim related to extramarital sex called “Criminal Conversation“, which has slightly different elements.

What Must Be Proven?

An alienation of affection lawsuit must prove that:

  • Love existed between the married spouses.
  • Love between the married couple was destroyed (or “alienated”).
  • A third party’s malicious conduct contributed to or caused the loss of affection.

What States Allow This Type of Legal Action?

Most states in the United States have done away with this type of lawsuit, considering it to be archaic and revengeful. But as of 12/2009 a few states do still recognize alienation of affection: Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah.

Is Alienation of Affection Recognized in My State?

Alabama No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Alaska The issue of alienation of affection is not addressed by Alaska law (neither state law nor case law).
Arizona No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Arkansas No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
California No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Colorado No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Connecticut No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Delaware No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
District of Columbia No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Florida No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Georgia No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Hawaii Yes, alienation of affection lawsuits can still be brought.
Idaho No, alienation of affection lawsuits were abolished through judicial decision.
Illinois Yes, alienation of affection lawsuits can still be brought.
Indiana No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Iowa No, alienation of affection lawsuits were abolished through judicial decision.
Kansas No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Kentucky No, alienation of affection lawsuits were abolished through judicial decision.
Louisiana In 1927, in the case of Moulin v. Monteleone, 165 La. 169, 115 So. 447, actions for alienation of affection were abolished.
Maine No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Maryland No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Massachusetts No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Michigan No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Minnesota No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Mississippi Yes, alienation of affection lawsuits can still be brought.
Missouri No, on June 17, 2003, Missouri’s highest court abolished the state’s alienation of affection law.
Montana No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Nebraska No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Nevada No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
New Hampshire No. According to Title XLIII, Chapter 460:2, “No damages shall be allowed to either spouse in any action based on alienation of the affections of the other spouse.”
New Jersey No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
New Mexico Yes, alienation of affection lawsuits can still be brought.
New York No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
North Carolina Yes, alienation of affection lawsuits can still be brought, although as of October 2009, there are several new restrictions, including that if the extramarital affair started after a married couple is separated, the alienation of affection law cannot be used: see – HB 1110
North Dakota No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Ohio No, in 1985, alienation of affection suits were abolished by General Laws c. 207, Sect. 47B, inserted by St. 1985, c. 74 Sect. 1.
Oklahoma No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Oregon No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Pennsylvania No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Rhode Island No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
South Carolina No, alienation of affection lawsuits were abolished through judicial decision.
South Dakota Yes, alienation of affection lawsuits can still be brought.
Tennessee No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Texas No, in 1997, Family Code, Chapter 1.107 was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Utah Yes, alienation of affection lawsuits can still be brought
Vermont No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Virginia No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Washington No, alienation of affection lawsuits were abolished through judicial decision.
West Virginia No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Wisconsin No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.
Wyoming No, legislation was enacted to abolish the right to bring an alienation of affection lawsuit.