Saturday, 24 February 2018

Probate Court

It’s a teenager up at the bench, sitting behind it, next to the judge, and it’s not something a lawyer in Utah sees every day in a Salt Lake City Courtroom. But as the Deseret News reports, it’s a program to get high school students from the area interested and involved in the legal system from a young age.  Some asked why we’re in probate court, and my response was because I am a probate lawyer. Teenagers are given the opportunity to shadow judges in their everyday duties as they work through the dockets, provided their behavior matches up to courtroom expectations.

Probate Court

Called the Judge for a Day program, it’s not new, but it does often take the average lawyer in Utah off guard when they see a teen sitting up next to the judge. One pair, Judge Randall Skanchy and East High School junior Sam Bennett saw about 175 appearances “and conducted two sessions of drug court” during the day they worked side-by-side. If that isn’t an accurate introduction into courtroom practice on a daily basis, it would be difficult to find something that teens could experience that comes closer.

The Judge for a Day program originated a decade ago, and provides stark relief to the dramatized perspective thrown up on TV through shows like Law and OrderThe Practice, or event Judge Judy or programming on Court TV. For kids interested in pursuing a career in the legal field, whether becoming a clerk, judge, or lawyer in Utah, this program helps them gain a more realistic perspective of the action.

And it’s gotten enthusiastic response from the Salt Lake City legal community. Judge Skanchy hosts a student every year, for example, and he thinks the program serves more than just those aspiring to become a lawyer in Utah—Judge Skanchy hopes “that understanding the courts will help Utahns feel more comfortable should they find themselves interacting with the judicial system” in any capacity. Being party to a lawsuit or involved in some way in a criminal case, as a witness or the accused alike, the experience of being involved in the courts is “probably the most important thing they have going on in their lives at that time…The outcome is important to them in a thousand different ways. It’s important for them to feel like they’re safe in court and they have the opportunity to be heard.”

And even while some attorneys might feel that not everyone has the privilege of appearing in a courtroom with such a generous and fair-minded adjudicator, others would insist that it is judges with outlooks like Skanchy’s that make the program worthwhile. Throughout the state, 23 students will be participating in the program spending time with Utah judges until the end of May. While high school student Sam Bennett has reported that he’s not sure whether he wants to pursue a career in law, he says his experience has certainly benefitted his understanding of the system.

Words of wisdom from the teen: “There are good things it can bring to people’s lives and positive effects it has on society. It’s not just a punishment. It’s a way to help people live the lives they should be living.”

Free Consultation with a Probate Lawyer

When you need to plan an estate, administer an estate, or go through probate, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Living Trust Lawyers

Living Trust Lawyers

Creating a will is just the first step to securing a less painful transition for your survivors in the eventuality of your death, but the problem is, no one wants to dwell on their own impending demise. As humans, we spend a lot of energy avoiding confrontation with the reality that our lives will end, and as privileged individuals living in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, we’re not forced to all that often.

We see this all the time because we are Living Trust Lawyers. When one of our own parents or family members pass, and we’re left to grapple with the frustrations of failed paperwork as well as the natural processes of grief, we begin to understand the importance of a will. But it doesn’t have to be that way, any Salt Lake City estate planning attorney will tell you. This guy even wrote a book about how to avoid being caught off guard when a relative leaves you behind holding all the (often incomplete) burial and estate arrangements.

End of life planning help from Salt Lake City estate planning attorney is best gift to children and relatives

The New York Times reporting on Eric A. Dewey’s experiences trying to finalize his father’s last wishes also details several other accounts of individuals who would have benefitted from the services of a Salt Lake City estate planning attorney. One was a woman whose membership in the Neptune Society (which cremates and scatters ashes at sea) was never finalized, so her descendants were stuck in the hospital with her body and no back-up plans. Another is the story of a man’s veteran father whose request to be buried in Arlington Cemetery was barely able to be fulfilled when he found the requisite paperwork being used as a bookmark in an obscure tome on a shelf in the garage.

It’s no wonder that these situations seem heartbreaking and overwhelming.  When dealing with your own loss, the last thing you want to worry about is a loved one’s last wishes remaining unfulfilled because of red tape and probate paperwork.  But a Salt Lake City estate planning attorney can help. Dewey’s chronicle of his own experience is recorded in “The Big Book of Everything,” which, despite its lofty title, seems to be eagerly received as evidenced by its 1,000 times-per-month downloads from the Internet, where it is available for free.

Dewey’s book certainly won’t take the place of counsel from a Salt Lake City estate planning attorney, but it does provide some helpful tips and insights in preparing for eventualities. Like how we need to keep track of “school and employment history and previous addresses” while we’re still around, even while it may be “tedious and not very pleasant,” something Dewey will readily concede.

The New York Times is in agreement with Dewey, and provides recommendations of books that can be a beginner’s resource in estate planning, as well a concise summary of a few points about whether to consider a will, a trust, powers of attorney, or various types of advance directives. Still, the NY Times acknowledges, everyone’s circumstances are different, and “if you have any doubt, it’s best to research it further or consult a lawyer.”

Free Consultation with Living Trust Lawyers

When you are ready to plan your estate and need to speak with Living Trust Lawyers, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Friday, 23 February 2018

Small Business Lawyers

Small Business Lawyers

Salt Lake City seems to be one of few shining beacons that exist as an example of a success city following the aptly titled “great recession” of 2008. Many may remember that the real estate market suffered greatly during and shortly after the recession. Now, a business lawyer in Utah knows that real estate project owners can count on high demand as buildings and commercial lots are becoming packed with new and improved businesses. The average Utah lawyer is being retained by small and large businesses alike to develop the legal foundation for their hopeful real estate plans. This focus on new development follows a focus on the environment, according to many law firms in Salt Lake City Utah. A welcome move since Salt Lake City has high levels of pollution compared to other areas. In 2010, it was declared nationally that Northern Utah’s air was, by a very large gap, worse than any other air anywhere in the U.S. Following this painful discovery, Utahns have since decided that in order to have a healthier environment precautions must be taken for the future.

Salt Lake City Law Firms

Once it was activists and youth who declared their desire that new building and real estate endeavors adhere to certain standards, to benefit and preserve nature. Now, businessmen and real estate developers are, themselves, finding ways to be environmentally conscious for the benefit of consumers, wildlife and the environment, because they believe in it and not because they are legally bound. This is a dramatic shift in the attitude towards real estate development, which many health conscious citizens and Utah lawyers are supporting. Many agree that this stems from many factors, including the scientific evidence that has amassed and supported the effects of environmental health on personal health. A larger reason for this shift may be even simpler; the same college-bound, megaphone-yielding, environmental activists of the past ten years are finding themselves as powerful post grads in big businesses. Health conscious shifts are being created by the health conscious minds of many current CEOs and the changes are making an impact; a trend that’s even being seen in law firms in Salt Lake City Utah, as well. Studies now show that simple steps towards economic and environmental harmony create a much larger impact than previously thought and a Utah lawyer must be constantly aware of the environmental laws that now, and will soon, surround real estate development. A real estate lawyer Utah can depend on will have his or her skills put to the test as these legal alterations emerge in the next few years.

Apart from these environmental benefits of health conscious real estate development, tourism will take a jump, declares many attorneys in law firms in Salt Lake City Utah. More patrons and visitors will flock into the fair city that houses breathtaking landscape, especially if the air won’t take your breath away, says any Utah lawyer. That’s also something that Salt Lake City officials are happily taking under consideration and preparing for as efficiently as possible. For the month of July regulated free passes are being given for individuals who utilize the public transportation through the Salt Lake City area. With public transportation now reaching further than ever before, community will take on a much broader interpretation. A real estate lawyer Utah can depend on for accurate counsel would say this trend will only continue.

Free Consultation with Small Business Lawyers

If you are here, you probably have a business law issue you need help with, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Divorce and Refinancing

When you hire a divorce attorney, the love is gone, and divorce proceedings have started, your future begins right now – in the present economy.  Financing a new home or refinancing an existing one is a major concern.   But don’t be afraid.  You can do it.  And you can find someone to help you.  There’s no reason to go it alone.  I’ve represented hundreds of clients to know that bluer skies always rise above the mountains.

Divorce and Refinancing

Mortgage lenders require detailed financial statements, proof of steady incomes, and sizeable down payments.   In a refinancing, chances are the lender appraisal won’t value your home as much as you think its worth.  And lenders will only lend against a percentage of your home’s appraised value.  Take time to prepare for your home financing or refinancing during your divorce to pass lender scrutiny and convince your spouse or a judge to accept your proposal as part of your overall plan to divide the marital assets.

Arizona law provides that community, joint, or commonly held property must be divided equitably, though not necessarily in kind.  This language requires a substantially equal split.  Above all, it mandates fairness.  A property division may be unfair, for example, if your spouse walks away with all of the cash and you can’t finance or refinance a home.

Ten easy steps will help you plan your home loan

Step One. Identify your marital liquid assets, like cash in bank accounts and tax refunds.

Step Two. Identify and give a value estimate of your marital cash-convertible assets, like home equity, mutual funds, term-life insurance policies, and, possibly, major corporate stock and real estate investments.

Step Three. Identify and give a value estimate of your marital assets that you cannot or do not want to cash out. These may include cars (valued through Kelley Blue Book website at http://www.kbb.com), personal property, (furniture, furnishings, jewelry, paintings, tools), retirement funds, (pensions, 401ks, IRAs, and deferred compensation); self-employment businesses, time shares, closely-held corporate stock, and limited liability company and partnership interests.

Step Four. Identify your marital debts, like credit card balances, tax liabilities, and home mortgage balances and obtain your credit score and report from one or all of the credit reporting agencies.  Remember that the mortgage goes away if your home sells.  If you keep the marital home, expect to refinance to remove your spouse from the mortgage and pay his or her share of the equity.

Step Five. List the marital assets and debts between you and your spouse.  Allocate one-half of each of the liquid assets, the cash-convertible assets, and the debts. Allocate the marital assets that you cannot or do not want to cash out in an equal or substantially equal split. You can split retirement funds in any amount without taxes or penalties if you withdraw no money. Make sure you give yourself at least one-half of the liquid assets. If your spouse has greater earning power, you might take more cash.

Step Six. List your current income or income capacity and any separate property, income, and debts. This includes real estate, disability benefits, and student loans. Spousal and child support should be factored as well. Lender financial statements demand support information.

Step Seven. Calculate mortgage amortization schedules on the Internet to see what monthly payment you can afford.  Be sure to factor in taxes and insurance.

Step Eight. Contact lenders to see if you pre-qualify for a loan. There are numerous available lenders with Internet access.

Step Nine. Search for where you want and can afford to live. Your plan more likely will succeed if you can identify the home you want to buy. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website at http://www.hud.gov is a helpful resource for home buyers.  Ask around for realtor referrals.  I’ve yet to run across one who isn’t willing to help.

Step Ten. Consult with a divorce attorney for advice on your proposed property allocation.  Asset waste or other issues, like tax rates and regulations, may suggest an adjustment.  Your lawyer can give you projected child support and spousal maintenance amounts.  He or she can refer you to a home or business appraiser, forensic accountant, tax practitioner, or certified divorce planner to address property division, business, income, and tax issues. You cannot finance or refinance a home, for example, if no one agrees you should receive your share of the cash.  Your lawyer can advocate your point.

These ten simple steps will help you finance a home, reduce your anxiety over the process, and show your spouse or a judge how your financing plan is a fair part of the overall division of property. You’ll see those bluer skies if you look above the mountains.

Free Consultation with Divorce Attoreny

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Stop Repossessions with Bankruptcy

Vehicle repossessions are unfortunately quite common as many people are still struggling to gain a foothold in the unsure economy. Falling behind on vehicle payments can occur for a variety of reasons, with medical hardship and job loss as two of the biggest contributing factors. You should contact your friendly neighborhood bankruptcy lawyer who will help you.

Stop Repossessions with Bankruptcy

How Your Vehicle Can Survive the “Repo Man”

Contrary to popular belief, repossessions can happen even if you’re a single day late on a car payment. While the amount of time varies depending on the lender, falling behind on car payments is risky because banks and finance companies are often trying to squeeze as much out of consumers as possible. Bill collectors are usually paid a commission based on a percentage of what they collect, so they have a very strong incentive to either obtain payment or repossess the vehicle. But that’s just the beginning of the collections process; just because they got their vehicle back doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Repossessions usually involve all kinds of extra fees tacked on along the way in addition to the remaining balance of the vehicle after it’s auction (which is virtually always less than market value). You might expect the collections efforts to get even more intense.

Debt collectors are notorious for bending the rules and being unethical, with upwards of 130,000 complaints filed against them with the Federal Trade Commission in the last year. The truth of the matter is that bill collectors have one goal: to collect. They rarely (if ever) inform consumers of their rights under federal law and the options available to them. Scare tactics are often used instead because the consumer’s best interest is not really that important to a bill collector. If no payment is made a lawsuit can be filed and a wage garnishment can be applied to the debtor.

That’s why it’s important to speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney as soon as you know there’s an issue. Filing for bankruptcy will stop repossessions and other collection activities immediately. In fact, in most cases you can maintain possession of your vehicle through the bankruptcy process! Of course, in some cases it isn’t worth keeping a car if it’s unneeded. In those cases, a voluntary surrender in bankruptcy means you give the vehicle back to the lender, but the debt can be wiped out completely (including any fees they’d love to tack on).

If you’re behind on your payments, contact the bankruptcy team at the Lincoln Law to learn about your options and come up with a plan of action in the event you can’t catch up on your payments. Facing repossession and other collection tactics can be frightening, but with the power of the bankruptcy code on your side, it doesn’t need to be. By choosing an experienced bankruptcy law firm, you can protect your valued property and stop debt collectors in their tracks.

Do I Need A Lawyer To File Bankruptcy?

If your financial struggle is causing you to consider filing for bankruptcy, you might be wondering if you must hire a lawyer to represent you.

The Risks with a Lawyer

While technically there is no requirement to hire a lawyer, it is important to recognize that the rules governing bankruptcy, called the Bankruptcy Code, are extremely complicated. A bankruptcy petition listing your assets, debts and other pertinent information is at least 35 pages long (and often longer). Errors in the petition could result in a dismissed (or unsuccessful) case or even loss of property you thought you would otherwise keep. It’s also important that all the information is prepared properly and accurately, because information perceived as misleading could land you in jail for fraud or perjury.

Qualifications of Bankruptcy Attorneys

Attorneys go to school for several years to obtain a juris doctorate degree. With their J.D. behind them, they take on the challenge of their state’s bar exam – if they pass, they are licensed to practice law in that particular state. However, since bankruptcy laws are written by the U.S. Congress, lawyers also need to familiarize themselves with the federal bankruptcy code specifically, which isn’t generally a focus on the bar exam. But even once all of these obstacles have been overcome, it’s important to remember that not all lawyers are the same – experience and focus in bankruptcy matters tremendously.

Our Recommendation for Bankruptcy

Although it’s not technically required, it’s most definitely prudent to hire a bankruptcy attorney who is extremely knowledgeable and experienced to assist you along the way. A relatively small expense earns you years of legal experience and the understanding of the bankruptcy code. Do some investigation about the attorneys you are considering working with. Are there complaints about them on government or review websites? You can also check county court records to see if the lawyer has ever been arrested or charged with a crime. One of the best resources for finding a trusted lawyer is simply ask your friends and family members if they know someone who can help you. But ultimately you’ll want to meet whoever you are considering working with to ensure they are knowledge, trustworthy and considerate of your goals.

Free Consultation with a Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you have a bankruptcy question, or need to file a bankruptcy case, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. Attorneys in our office have filed over a thousand cases. We can help you now. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Salt Lake City Contract Attorney

“Keep it secret. Keep it safe,” seems to have been the inspired motto of South Jordan City regarding a certain document that the public demanded access to. No, it wasn’t the One Ring to Rule Them All, it was a draft document for part of the finances of a mini golf and games business set to be developed in the city. And despite the best efforts in the courtroom, it looks like South Jordan City will be able to keep it secret and safe, after all, something which the Salt Lake City contract attorney for the “grass roots group trying to pry open the confidential ‘draft document’” says was not a great decision for the public, according to the Salt Lake Tribune article reporting on the story.

Salt Lake City Contract Attorney

legal process to access information backfired and will result in more secretive measures

Here’s how it happened—starting back in 2011 when “Mitt Romney told an Iowa State fairgoer that ‘Corporations are people, my friend,’” setting off alarm bells for concerned citizen advocates across the country. But then the Supreme Court upheld that notion just recently with its decision that Hobby Lobby enjoys constitutionally protected rights. And now South Jordan City is invoking that same idea, defending its right to confidentiality regarding the planning document for Mulligans Golf and Games resort, which residents are hoping to block development for. Salt Lake City contract attorney would be hard pressed to dispute the legal reality that the city can claim personhood, and thus protection under confidentiality rules.

Which is what the Records Committee in Salt Lake City hearing the case decided, eventually, despite the best arguments presented by the grass-roots group’s Salt Lake City contract attorney Jon Call. Call actually acknowledged that the argument that the city is a person is a valid one, legally: “we don’t dispute that,” he was heard to say in the courtroom. But was South Jordan City taking it a little too far when it “pressed the city’s legal status as a ‘person’ to argue” that the draft report “was confidential because it was created for ‘personal use” of an individual—namely, South Jordan City”? Probably. An “individual” is apparently defined as a human being, even when a “person” is not.

So South Jordan City couldn’t claim “personal use” of the document, even while being recognized as a “person.” This is where things can get hairy, Salt Lake City contract attorney Alger and other lawyers in Utah would remark. But hairy or not, the dispute was resolved in a 4-1 vote favoring South Jordan City’s right to keep the document private and confidential. Secret and safe.

That’s probably not the end of the story, however. Local legal organizer Verne Cotton finds the idea of corporations and cities as people as “atrocious” and a “legal fiction” that is “allowing corporations to hide behind the Constitution.” His advocacy group points to “last year’s nonbinding survey in Salt Lake City where 88 percent of voters agreed” that corporations are not people, and they want to see the law changed. Which would mean significant changes for Hobby Lobby, and Wall Street too, most likely.

Free Consultation with a Contract Lawyer

When you need a contract drafted, have a contract dispute, or need a contract reviewed, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Child Support for the Unwed

Having a child is one of the most wonderful experiences you could ever imagine, even if you are not married. But you can have some legal challenges when establishing child support if you ever decide to end your relationship. As a child custody lawyer, I’ve seen that the statistics clearly show that over 40% of births in the United States happen to unmarried couples. Although the percentage is lower in Utah, there are still 20% unwed couples that struggle with child custody and child support issues. Thankfully, you can handle important issues surrounding child custody and child support with the help of an experienced Salt Lake City child support attorney.

Child Support for the Unwed

ESTABLISHING PATERNITY

This is one of the most important aspects to consider before creating a visitation agreement. Without establishing paternity, you can’t claim inheritance rights, financial benefits, insurance benefits and Social Security benefits. A child support order requires the father to establish parentage. In other words, the father must have a legal relationship with the child otherwise the court can’t create visitation agreements, custody, and financial arrangements.

There are two ways to establish paternity in Utah:

  • The father can sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity.
  • Take a paternity test if the paternity is in question.

THE MOTHER IS ALWAYS AWARDED CUSTODY

It doesn’t matter how great the father is, the unwed mother generally gains the primary custody of the child. It’s her legal and natural right after the child is born. This means her rights are far superior to the fathers and any other person in the family. However, as long as the father establishes legal paternity, he can claim his child custody or visitation rights in court. Sometimes these cases can be contentious and you may need the assistance of a Salt Lake City child support attorney.

Establishing paternity can be helpful in cases of child abandonment. If a child is not safe he or she can be immediately removed from the mother’s custody and the father can automatically gain custody. However, if the father is not listed on the birth certificate, he can’t claim these rights and the child will be sent to foster care. Also, some unwed mothers may place the children up for adoption without the father’s consent. If the father hasn’t established paternity yet, he may need to go through a complex legal process in order to claim his parental rights.

CLAIMING THE CHILD ON YOUR INCOME TAX

Only one parent can claim the child as a dependent on the tax return yet the person who claims the children can change each year. Some parents may work out a plan that will benefit more the children and the whole family. But the non-custodial parent or parent providing child support can’t claim child support on his or her taxes.

GRANDPARENTS CAN ALSO SEEK LEGAL GUARDIANSHIP

The percentage of children living with grandparents increases every year. Unfortunately, in most of these cases, grandparents don’t have legal guardianship. This can be a problematic situation leading to several legal complications, which can be solved with the help of an experienced Salt Lake City guardianship attorney.

WHY SHOULD YOU MAKE IT LEGAL?

Having a formal relationship with your grandchildren can be rewarding. If you don’t have legal custody or guardianship, the children can be taken away from you at any time. In some cases, parents are able to cut off contact between the children and grandparents. Having legal custody does not guarantee your grandchildren will stay with you forever but you will reap many legal services and benefits.

WHEN ARE THE CHILDREN LEFT IN THEIR GRANDPARENT’S CARE?

This generally happens when the parents have problems such as substance abuse. There are also parents having physical, emotional, and financial problems who may leave the children with grandparents. Courts grand custody base on the child’s best interests. It is possible for grandparents to be awarded sole custody as long as they can prove the parents are unfit for custody.

WHY SOME PARENTS CUT OFF GRANDPARENTS?

Some parents may wish to keep their children and stop all contact between grandparents and grandchildren. Some of the most common reasons for this to happen include:

  • Jealousy – Grandparents that spend a lot of time with the children have a good relationship with them.
  • Poor parenting skills – Some parents may not have the best parenting skills and they feel it is too hard to live up to their parents’ expectations.
  • Regret – Some parents are reminded of why they gave up their children every time they see the grandparents.

Although these are not solid reasons to cut off grandparents, some parents may feel uncomfortable with having the grandparents interfering in their children’s lives.

RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF GUARDIANS

Guardians can make decisions regarding their grandchildren’s education and healthcare. They are legally responsible for their care, including finances. If you are a grandparent seeking guardianship, it’s important you hire expert advice.

GUARDIANSHIP VS. CUSTODY

A guardianship is generally sought when one parent is disabled or can’t care for the child due to other life-altering conditions such as drug abuse. However, once the parent is ready to have the children back, the guardianship generally ends. The focus is always on the child. In other words, both grandparents and parents should think about which option best serves the children’s interests.

WHY SOME GRANDPARENTS QUIT?

It is easier to quit than to fight for your grandchildren’s well-being. If you believe your grandchildren are not being raised in a safe environment, you should contact local authorities immediately and a Salt Lake City guardianship attorney to help you gain custody of the children. Don’t let these legal matters slide before it is too late.

Free Consultation with Child Support Lawyer

If you have a question about child support or if you need to collect back child support, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506