Picking up the Pieces

Saving Your Home Through Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Posted by on 2:59 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Saving Your Home Through Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

If your home is in or near foreclosure and your debts have become insurmountable, chapter 13 bankruptcy may be the answer. Although this type of bankruptcy can help you to save your home from foreclosure, and allow you to make structured payments to cover those that have been missed, you will still need to make your regular mortgage payments after a chapter 13 filing is approved. However, you must be honest with yourself in your ability to pay future mortgage payments in a timely manner, even if your other debt has been restructured and reduced. If not, chapter 7 bankruptcy, which eliminates all debt but requires surrendering assets, including your home, should be considered.   Preparing to file for chapter 13 bankruptcy Before filing for chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will need to gather the following information: List of creditors  ​You must list the names of all creditors, along with their contact information and addresses. You must also include how much you owe to each creditor, and your regular monthly payment.  Debts must also be separated between secured and unsecured loans. Secured loans are backed by property, such as your home or car. Proof of income This includes documentation from employers for the previous two months, as well as tax returns for the last three years. If married, you must provide spousal income, even if you file for bankruptcy individually. Your repayment plan in chapter 13 bankruptcy is based on household income and ability to repay. List of assets Assets will include bank and other financial accounts, as well as property, that could be used to repay outstanding debts. You must also file the appropriate forms, which can be downloaded from the website of the Bankruptcy Court or purchased in some office supply stores. You must also attend an accredited consumer counseling program and send proof of completion with your application for chapter 13 protection. Which debts cannot be included in a chapter 13 filing? Any debt that is owed to or secured by the federal government cannot be included, such as taxes, federally insured student loans, or the filing fees for the bankruptcy proceedings. What happens after you file for chapter 13 bankruptcy? You will be summoned to appear at a meeting of creditors to discuss your obligations, and the bankruptcy court will appoint a trustee to handle the proceedings. A three to five year repayment plan will then be implemented, based on your debt and ability to repay. All private debt collection activities must cease, including collection calls and wage garnishments, after the petition is filed and creditors notified. A second summons to appear will include the trustee and any creditors that wish to attend. This will be the last time the petitioner will be required to appear. The trustee assigned to the case will handle all payments to creditors until your obligations are fulfilled. What property can you keep after filing? You can keep property that is secured, such as your home and vehicle, with separate payment arrangements with the individual creditors. Mortgage payments must be paid in full, but reduced payments that are limited to the amount owed without interest may be arranged for older vehicles. Filing for bankruptcy protection may be intimidating and complicated for many individuals. A bankruptcy attorney can guide and represent you...

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4 Facts You Need To Know If Your Child Is Injured On Someone’s Property

Posted by on 4:57 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 4 Facts You Need To Know If Your Child Is Injured On Someone’s Property

Personal injury cases involving children are handled differently because children aren’t expected to think the same way adults do. If your child was injured on someone’s property, you may not know what to expect. Check out these four important facts you must know. Age Plays a Big Role in Determining Negligence If adults get injured on someone’s property, they may be partially responsible because they have a responsibility to avoid bodily harm to the best of their ability. For example, an adult should know that climbing onto a wobbly fence could result in injury. Children, however, don’t always understand the consequences of their actions, and the younger the child, the less likely they’ll understand. That’s why negligence is determined by how children of the same age are expected to behave. A five-year-old will be found less negligent than a 15-year-old because 15-year-olds should know better than a five-year-old. Children Aren’t Held Responsible for Trespassing Property owners have a responsibility to keep guests safe from hazards, but they don’t have a responsibility to keep adult trespassers safe. However, they do have a responsibility to keep young children who trespass safe by securing or eliminating attractive nuisances. An attractive nuisance is just something that can be dangerous and may lure a child. This ties into the fact that children don’t understand consequences the same way as adults, so they don’t understand that trespassing onto someone’s property and jumping into their pool is a bad idea. Your Child Can’t File a Lawsuit Anyone under the age of 18 can’t file a claim, but you can probably file a claim for your child and your child may not even have to testify. In some states, you’ll need to get a pre-approval by a judge before filing the claim to ensure the child was actually hurt while on someone’s property. In that case, your child may have to tell his or her story to a judge. Your Child May Be Able to Get Lost Income Although your child doesn’t have a job, you can still sue for lost future income. Serious injuries, such as those that cause a lifelong disability, disfigurement or pain and suffering, may affect your child for the rest of their life. They may not be able to work at all, or they may not be able to do certain jobs. As a result, you may be able to win reimbursement to help pay for their daily expenses in the future. If your child was injured on someone’s property, you have the right to seek reimbursement. Even if they were trespassing, they still may not be found negligent. For more information about personal injury claims involving children, contact a lawyer, like those at Boucher Law Firm, in your area...

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5 Typical Steps To Take In The Process Of Divorce

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If you and your spouse are thinking about separating, then you will want to know of the common steps to take in the divorce process. This can help make the process of divorce move a bit more smoothly for you and possibly end up working out in your favor. Here are the five typical steps to take: Legal Separation: Legal separation orders are only available in certain states, so check with your attorney to be sure this is possible for your situation. A legal separation will protect you, your spouse, and your children (if you have any) while the process of divorce is taking place. The court will place specific legal responsibilities on each spouse that they must follow during this time.  File a Petition: Filing a petition for divorce is also sometimes called filing a letter of complaint. You will want the help of your attorney to do this since they can help you fill out the petition properly, as well as write out the proper reason for your divorce. For example, instead of writing that you strongly dislike your spouse, you could write that you are incompatible.  Temporary Divorce Orders: Once you file a petition, you and your spouse will be given court orders that you must follow temporarily until you and your spouse complete mediation or go to court for your divorce trial. If these court orders aren’t followed, it can look bad on your end, thus resulting in a less than favorable outcome once the final court orders are agreed upon in court. Court orders can include things such as child custody matters and child support.  Mediation or Court: Mediation is often recommended, since this allows you to reach an agreed arrangement with your ex-spouse that often allows you more reasonable arrangements that work out more in your favor. However, if you find that you and your spouse cannot easily communicate with one another in this way, then the best thing to do would be to go to court. Before you go to court, be sure to talk with your lawyer about proper court etiquette so that you make a good impression on the judge. The judge will be determining what the final arrangement of your divorce should be.  Motion to Appeal: If you are unhappy with the final decision by the judge, you can have your attorney help you file a motion to appeal. Without the help of an attorney, there is a strong chance that your motion would get denied, since it will be given to the same judge who made the original decision on your divorce orders.  Knowing some of these steps that involve the process of divorce can help to make the process more clear and thus allow you to make better decisions during this difficult and stressful time in your life. For more information, contact a family law attorney at LaCroix & Hand...

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3 Costly Mistakes That Could Jeopardize Your Car Accident Claim

Posted by on 12:15 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Costly Mistakes That Could Jeopardize Your Car Accident Claim

Being involved in a car accident can be devastating. Not only do you have to worry about repairing the damage to your vehicle, but you also have to worry about dealing with your injuries and getting back to normal. After an accident, your emotions are high and you often wonder what to do to best handle the situation. However, you want to make sure you don’t end up making a mistake that could jeopardize your case. So make sure that you do not forget these things: Not gathering information pertaining to the accident and witnesses. When injured in an accident, you want to gather as much information as you possibly can. Write down the names, addresses and phone numbers of witnesses. Document everything you can think of relating to the accident itself. Date, time of day, what happened, what you were driving and so on are all important pieces of information for your attorney to have. Not going to the doctor to get checked out after the accident. Oftentimes, people end up waiting to get checked out because they think they are fine. After an accident, your cortisol levels are at an all-time high because of the amount of stress your body is under. When your levels are elevated, you don’t always feel that you are injured. In a couple of days, your injuries come to light and you are stuck trying to figure out what to do. The best thing you can do is to head to the doctor or hospital and get a full check-up after the accident. This will document anything that is going on with your body and help the provider to get an accurate picture of what type of treatment you need. Not taking your time to negotiate a fair settlement. Oftentimes, individuals who are injured in an auto accident will settle their claims right away without taking the time to think about whether or not they are getting a fair deal. Just because you might need help to pay your bills, that doesn’t mean you should short yourself on what you are entitled to receive. Once you accept a settlement, you cannot go back to the insurance company and request additional money on your claim. You are much better off sitting back and waiting for everything to be worked out before you agree on an amount. Allowing your attorney to work with the insurance company will make sure everything goes through without a hitch and you get the compensation you deserve. For more information, visit an attorney or their website, such as http://www.strohllaw.com/, for more questions about your...

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Undead But Not Deadbeat: A Zombie’s Guide To Obtaining Unemployment Benefits (With Tips For The Not-Undead-Yet, Too!)

Posted by on 4:19 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Undead But Not Deadbeat: A Zombie’s Guide To Obtaining Unemployment Benefits (With Tips For The Not-Undead-Yet, Too!)

Okay, so the mighty plague that everyone feared has come and gone, leaving behind an unimaginable mess, including massive numbers of people left unemployed and unemployable by the disaster. Now is the time to start putting the pieces back together (unless they keep falling off your body, in which case it’s better to just leave them behind). One problem you will definitely want to take care of is getting unemployment benefits. After all, a zombie can’t survive on brains alone. Now, considering the scope of the devastation caused by the plague, your best bet is to file for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA),  a program overseen by the Department of Labor (which was used to dealing with undead politicians long before the plague was even discovered). Barring that, you might want to try your hand–what’s left of it, anyway–at filing for regular unemployment benefits as well. As with anything else in the after-dead world, there are some ways to push the odds in your favor, so put your eye back in its socket and read on for some hints and tips at getting everything you can out of being undead (P.S. These tips go for the as-yet-still-living among us as well): QUICK CHANGE Time is definitely of the essence here, as there are literally hundreds of millions of others just like yourself trying to cash in on being a zombie. If you want to get an edge on the competition, you should begin the filing process as soon as you’ve been bitten. That way, you’ve got a nice head start before you get fired for turning and losing your mind (literally). It would also help to fill out the paperwork before the virus reaches your brain and makes you forget your ABCs, let alone your last 10 years of employment history. Tip for the Living: Don’t wait until you’ve spent six months looking for a job to apply for unemployment. Apply as soon as possible (as soon as you find out you’re going to be unemployed is best). The sooner you do it, the sooner you can start receiving benefits. DRESS FOR SUCK-CESS When filing for unemployment, be sure to meet with a staff member in person. Giving them an opportunity to put a face–even a partial one–to a name will show them that you are willing to take the initiative that will help you succeed in the new workforce. On your way to the meeting, it might be worth raiding the closet of an abandoned house or two to find a nice suit that fits you well and covers up some of the wounds that now mar your body. Not only will it make you look better, but it will also put the unemployment person more at ease. Tip for the Living: Everyone knows you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but you can never kill human instinct entirely. Therefore, it’s best if you go to the unemployment office dressed as if you’re going for a job interview. If you’re dressed like a slob, you’ll be treated like one. If you dress professionally, however, you’re more likely to be treated with respect. FIRED, BUT NOT BURNED Even if you were fired from your job, you can still apply for unemployment benefits. Whether or not you receive them, however, will depend on why you...

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3 Things That Can Get Your Disability Claim Denied

Posted by on 12:29 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Things That Can Get Your Disability Claim Denied

If you’re like most people, you planned on being able to work full-time until it was time to retire. However, sometimes things happen to mess up plans that people make. For those who have medical conditions or injuries that hinder them from working like they need to, getting disability benefits can be the financial glue that holds their lives together. You have likely heard that a majority of people get denied for benefits when they first apply. Knowing what can cause a claim to be denied ahead of time can help you prepare for your own application. Here are three things that can get your disability claim denied. 1. You don’t include enough proper medical documentation for your condition. When you apply for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) needs you to include enough medical evidence to back up your claim. You can’t just send in a letter from your doctor or one x-ray – you have to send in as much information as you can get from all of the doctors who have treated you for the condition.  The SSA also wants the records you send to be more recent. If you have a history of back problems that have now gotten worse, you can include the older medical records to show how long you have had issues, but you will also need to send in documentation from recent visits to the doctor – including any diagnostic imaging or lab tests, if applicable. Not sending in enough proper documentation prohibits the SSA from determining the validity of your claim. Therefore, they will likely deny you disability benefits without having that information made available to them. 2. You are still working full-time, therefore your income is too high. Unfortunately, when you apply for disability benefits, you are subject to the same income limits as those who already have their benefits. That doesn’t mean that you can’t work at all when you apply for benefits, or after they have been awarded to you, but you can’t make over a certain amount. The amount is called the substantial gainful activity (SGA), and that amount as of 2015 is $1,090 per month for non-blind persons. 3. Drugs or alcohol is deemed a contributing factor to your condition. One thing that so many people get wrong is how the SSA views a history of drug or alcohol abuse when determining a person’s eligibility for disability benefits While it won’t get you an automatic denial, it also won’t get you automatically approved either. The fact is, if your condition would be greatly improved or go away completely if you stopped using drugs or alcohol, your disability claim will likely be denied. In order for your drug and alcohol use to not affect your disability claim determination, you would still have to meet the standards for disability without them. For further assistance, contact a local disability attorney, such as Bruce K...

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What You Should Know About Playground Accidents

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If your child was injured while playing in a playground, it can be hard knowing who to sue for their injuries. The following information gives you more insight into playground injuries and what you can do about them. Injuries Your Child Might Experience Before you start learning about potential lawsuits related to accidents, you should be aware of the common accidents that occur at playgrounds. Many accidents occur simply from playing, such as climbing, running, swinging, and sliding. Others are related to the playground equipment not being sturdy enough or many other considerations. Some injuries that might happen at a playground include: Fractured or broken bones Bruises and burns Lacerations Internal injuries Dislocations Head injuries What May Cause the Injuries Aside from simply having an accident due to the child’s excitement, there are some other causes of playground accidents that could be the fault of someone else. Here are the two main causes of playground accidents that may be grounds for a liability lawsuit: Inadequate maintenance of equipment – Depending on where the playground is located, it is either the school or the city department that is required to maintain and repair playground equipment. Poor design of the playground or lack of maintenance are common causes of accidents. This could be anything from a screw coming loose on a jungle gym, to wood equipment rotting and deteriorating. Nails or screws may also be poking out of equipment, which can cause a laceration injury. Lack of proper supervision – The other common cause of accidents on playgrounds is lack of supervision. If it was a public playground and someone else was supposed to be watching your child, you might be able to sue them for damages. However, the school is responsible if your child was injured due to lack of supervision at the school playground. Knowing Who to Sue A big question in regards to playground accidents is deciding who to sue if your child is injured. The first thing you need to do is find out the cause of the accident. If it is from lack of supervision or due to the playground itself, then you should have a case. When figuring out who to hold liable, you need to first determine who is responsible for the playground. This could be a school, the city or county, or the federal government if it is a national park. You should also find out who designed the playground, as that is also someone that might be held responsible. Contact a local attorney, like Michael B. McCord, if you have...

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2 Reasons To Hire A Personal Injury Attorney For A Slip And Fall Case

Posted by on 12:01 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 2 Reasons To Hire A Personal Injury Attorney For A Slip And Fall Case

A slip and fall case is one of the most common types of personal injury cases. These types of cases usually occur when someone falls and injures themselves on someone’s property due to negligence on the property owner’s part. One of the first things that you should do if you are involved in a slip and fall accident is contact an attorney, because he or she can maximize your chances of winning your case and getting you the money that you deserve. Maximize Your Chances Of Winning One of the most important parts of a personal injury attorney’s job is going to be to research the scene of the accident as much as possible in order to get as much evidence as he or she can. This will allow the attorney to increase the chances that you will win your lawsuit and get compensation for the accident. Your attorney will visit the scene of the accident and look for any signs that the property owner performed any repairs in the area where the accident occurred. It is extremely common for a property owner to try and hide all signs of negligence by fixing broken stairs, potholes, or railings in order to be able to claim that you were at fault for the accident because you were not paying attention. In addition, your attorney will also interview individuals who may shop at the property where the accident occurred or who simply live in the area. This will be done so that the attorney can determine if the property owner has a history of neglect, such as not clearing snow and ice from the entrance to the property or walkways, poor lighting, or not cleaning up spills in a timely manner. By showing that the property owner has a history of negligence, your attorney can greatly increase your chances of getting the money that you are owed. Getting The Money That You Deserve Finally, your attorney is also going to focus on getting you the money that you deserve. In most cases, the attorney is going to make sure that the amount that you sue for, or the amount of a settlement that you should accept, is going to be at least enough to cover all of your medical bills.  Having your medical bills covered is very important, mostly because they can quickly add up and leave you broke or bankrupt. In addition, the attorney will fight to make sure that any long-term medical treatment is paid for if you receive an especially severe injury, which is quite possible if you take a nasty fall. Speak to a personal injury attorney like those at the Tiefenthaler Law Office today if you have fallen and injured yourself due to a property owner’s negligence. The attorney will be able to strengthen your case and make it easier to win the lawsuit or receive a favorable settlement offer, while also helping you get the money that you deserve so that you can pay for your medical...

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Three Practical Questions To Ask Your Attorney About Communication

Posted by on 3:52 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Three Practical Questions To Ask Your Attorney About Communication

Effective communication is important when you’re working with a personal injury attorney – but what’s the best way to do that when you’re busy and your attorney is busy? Here are three practical issues with communication that you should address with your attorney as soon as you agree that he or she will be representing you. 1.) How often should you expect to hear from your attorney about your case?  Personal injury claims can take a long time to develop and settle. There will likely be periods of time where there is relatively little happening compared to some “high activity” times if you are nearing a settlement or trial. Ask your attorney how often you can expect to hear an update. Will your attorney give you a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly update just to touch base, even if nothing is going on? Or, should you only expect communication if there is some active movement on the case?  2.) What method or methods of communication will your attorney regularly use? Everybody has their preferred method of communication, so don’t be afraid to tell your attorney how you would prefer to be contacted. At the very start of your relationship with your attorney, agree on the best method of communication, especially if your attorney needs to reach you quickly. If you rarely open your email, don’t tell your attorney that it’s okay to reach you that way – you may be setting up expectations which will frustrate your attorney. Similarly, if you move a lot or aren’t the best at opening your regular mail, don’t let your attorney rely on that as a means of communication with you. It’s also critically important that you update your attorney immediately if you move, change phone numbers, or get a new email address. You don’t want to miss out on an important filing date or court appearance because your attorney can’t find you. Also, find out how your attorney prefers to be contacted. Should you email, send a letter, or leave a message with the receptionist? If your attorney uses a voice-mail service, how much information should you leave? Your attorney may want you to leave a brief explanation for your call, or he or she may prefer that you leave nothing more than your name and phone number so that he or she can call you back.  3.) How long will it typically take your attorney to respond to your communication? Nothing can be more frustrating to a personal injury claimant than an attorney who isn’t returning phone calls or answering emails.  Your attorney should be able to give you a firm understanding of how long it will take you to hear back from him or her when you call or email. Some attorneys may answer their calls and emails every day. It may be perfectly normal for others to take 2 or 3 days to respond to clients, depending on their workloads. By knowing what to expect, you can avoid a tremendous amount of anxiety wondering why your attorney isn’t returning your calls or if you’re being a pest by leaving more than one message for your attorney within a couple days. Clarifying the expectations surrounding communication at the very start of your attorney-client representation can help establish a more productive and...

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What To Do When The Bankruptcy Trustee Sues Your Loved Ones Over Preferential Transfers

Posted by on 9:51 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What To Do When The Bankruptcy Trustee Sues Your Loved Ones Over Preferential Transfers

It’s not uncommon for people who borrowed money from friends and family members to repay those loans prior to filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy. Typically the debtors’ goal in doing so is to protect the interests of their loved ones and avoid having them get caught up in the proceedings. However, paying back the money can actually make things worse because the bankruptcy trustee may sue your loved ones to recover the payments you made. Here’s more information about this situation, and what your friends and family members can do to resolve the situation. The Problem of Preferential Transfers Also known as a preference payment, a preferential transfer is any money or asset you give to a creditor in the 90 days prior to filing for bankruptcy. That time span is increased to 1 year prior to filing the petition if the recipient of the money is classified as an insider (e.g. friend, family member, or business associate). The bankruptcy trustee is charged with making sure all creditors are treated fairly during the proceedings. The problem with a preferential transfer is it causes one creditor to receive more money than the court would have given him or her in the chapter 7 bankruptcy. This is unfair to the other creditors, and the trustee may file a lawsuit against the recipient to recover that money and redistribute it according to the bankruptcy rules. Resolving a Preferential Transfer Lawsuit A preferential transfer lawsuit is between the trustee and the recipient of the payments. As the petitioner, you are not required to get involved in the recovery process at all. However, if the creditor is a loved one, you may feel a moral obligation to help resolve the situation. One thing you can do is pay the amount requested to the trustee. You must pay the debt with money you earned after filing for bankruptcy since this money is typically exempt from being included the bankruptcy estate. If you can’t afford to repay the money, you can help your loved one respond to the lawsuit. There are a couple of defenses the person can use to prevent the trustee from taking the money: The transfer was less than $600 total. Trustees can only go after payments over this amount. You were not insolvent at the time you made the payments, meaning your assets were greater than your debts when you gave the money to the person. The person granted you more credit after you made the payment. For instance, you repaid a $1,000 loan and the person lent you $1,200 at a later date. This is called Contemporaneous Exchange for New Value, and this statute may protect your loved one from having to repay the money. The person can also work out a settlement with the trustee. Many times a bankruptcy trustee will settle for less than the requested amount to avoid the time and expense of litigating a trial. If a bankruptcy trustee has filed suit against your loved one for a preferential transfer, contact a personal bankruptcy attorney like Lanier & Pagel LLP for advice on and assistance with the...

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