Friday, October 19, 2012

Boise Divorce Attorney 208-472-2383 Idaho Family Law Lawyers

Divorce and Community Property
As a Boise Divorce Attorney I have the honor of outlining and explaining community property law to many clients.  One very difficult thing for many people to understand is that community property law in Idaho doesn't necessarily mean equal division of property and debts. Rather, it requires an equitable division.

The scenario where this generally arises is in long term relationships.  Often, an individual, usually a woman (I don't say this in any way derogatorily.  I mean it statistically because women are generally the ones who give up their careers to stay at home and raise their children), will be offered a settlement agreement by her spouse indicating that the agreement contains an equal split of all the property and the debt and is therefore "fair".  Often these settlement agreements will contain a provision for child support and even an equal division of the retirement fund.

Thankfully, many women will call for a free consultation to discuss whether or not this equal division is fair.  I say thankfully not because it means more work for Boise Divorce Attorneys, but because, as I indicated above, equal does not mean equitable.  If a woman has given up her career or the option of having a career to raise a family, her contribution to the community should not be figured at zero.  All too often people think that if they are the ones who went out and supported the community, provided the home and the livelihood for the family, that they are the only ones who provided value to the community.  This simply is not true and Idaho community property law recognizes this.

Sadly, however,  in order to keep the peace, a spouse will misguidedly accept a settlement agreement that purports to be equal.  My advice as an experienced Boise Divorce Attorney is STOP! Don't accept such an agreement.  It will leave you struggling to pay your bills during the pendancy of your divorce, it may leave you with inadequate child support and you won't be compensated for the value that you have added to the community.  So what can you do?

Community Income During the Divorce
Most judges won't order child support or spousal support while a divorce is actively being pursued.  Instead what they will do is issue temporary orders.  In these orders, your divorce attorney will ask that the discretionary income of the community be divided equally.  How this works is this:  You and your spouse will be asked to make an accounting of your regularly occurring bills.  Your two incomes will be added up, the bills deducted and anything that remains is considered discretionary and will be split between the parties.  What this means for you is that if you make 1/4 of what your spouse does, you will not be left hanging until the divorce is finalized.  You will maintain an equal share of the community income. 

Child Support and Spousal Support
Your divorce attorney will compute the child support owing and may ask (in appropriate situations) for spousal support.  These two sources of monies will begin to be owing upon the finalization of the divorce.  Properly computed child support insures that the children are being provided for financially and spousal support financially acknowledges that a spouse who has stayed home with the children.

If you need to discuss divorce or any other family law issue with an Idaho lawyer, please call 208-472-2383 and see what we can do for you. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Boise Bankruptcy Attorney 208-472-2383 Idaho Bankruptcy Lawyers

Bankruptcy: What Not to Do

In my Boise Bankruptcy practice I get several calls per month from people looking to file Bankruptcy.  I always offer a free consultation to go over Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 issues with them.  Inevitably people want to know what they need to claim and what they don't have to claim in their bankruptcy.  The conversation between me and the prospective client generally goes like this:

Prospective Client: "I don't want to lose my house so I won't want to tell the Bankruptcy Court that I own a house or tell my mortgage company that I am filing for Bankruptcy"

Boise Bankruptcy Attorney:  "You are required to divulge all your real property and any debt owing on it."

Prospective Client:  "I don't want to lose my car so I don't think I will included this in my bankruptcy petition."

Boise Bankruptcy Attorney:  "Again, you must include all your debt and property in the bankrutpcy petition."

Prospective Client: "Why, it's my property?  I own it."

And so goes the conversation.  I always try to explain to these people that I am not trying to mean insisting that they include everything, but that I am trying to make certain their bankruptcy is not denied because the committed fraud upon the court.  That's right.  The bankruptcy court can deny your petition if you intentionally lie about your assets.  While it is your property you have a certain obligation to pay debt owing on outstanding debts.

The bankruptcy court needs to know what assets you have that might be available, after exemptions, to cover some of your secured debt.  Bankruptcy is not just a simple way to get out of debt.  You are allowed certain exemptions, which your Boise Bankruptcy Attorney can explain to you, to allow you some ability to retain what property you have.  However, you are not allowed to hide your debt and property or pick and chose which creditors you will include in your bankruptcy.

Other Things Not to do in Bankruptcy
You should never leave out of your bankruptcy petition any income that you receive.  This includes your kid's part time income or income paid in cash.  All income of the household must be included no matter how small.

If you own a piece of property outright, you still must include it in the petition.  Some people are under the mistaken impression that if they don't have a debt obligation on a piece of property they are not required to list it.  That simply is not the case.  It is very easy for the bankruptcy trustee to do a search for title.  You will be serious straights if you don't include the property or you try to sell it right before you file bankruptcy.

A big no no in bankruptcy is transferring or selling property within 12 months of filing.  The bankruptcy court and the trustee will look at these very hard to see if you are trying to commit fraud on the court.  An example of this is when you owe a family member money.  If you pay them off and then turn around a file for bankruptcy the court will look at this as a fraudulent transaction.  Likewise, as mentioned above, if you own a car outright and you transfer title within 12 months of your bankruptcy the court will look at that as you trying to hide your ownership of the vehicle.

A word of advice from a Boise Bankruptcy Lawyer:  Don't go it alone.  There are so many ins and outs of bankruptcy law that if you don't know what you are doing you can end up getting yourself in trouble.  If you need to file for Bankruptcy and you want to speak to a Boise Bankruptcy Lawyer, give us a call, (208) 472-2383 and see what we can do for you.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Boise Probate Attorneys (208) 472-2383 Idaho Estate Planning Lawyers

Tips About Probate and What to do After the Death of a Loved One
As a Boise Probate Attorney I often counsel people about estate planning and probate.  One thing I always remind clients about is preparing for their death.  I don't do this to be morbid, I mean it in a practical way.  When I see people in probate, I am always amazed at the difficulty loved ones have finding the will or getting access to it.  People often aren't sure what to do next.  Today I am going to give you tips about what to do after a loved one dies.  The aim of this list is to help you remember all the things you should do as a family member or personal representative.  It is by no means exhaustive but it is a practical list of steps to take.

Notification tends to be the first step. While it may be an obvious statement you should first notify all family members and close friends.  Other people that need to be notified are the social security administration if the deceased person is receiving any benefits, as well as any other government office providing benefits.  This could be Medicaid, Medicare or the Veterans' Administration.  Additionally, you should notify the deceased employer, bank, landlord and creditors.  In general, any one that the decedent has fiduciary, business, religious or personal contact should be notified.

Death Certificate
Creditors will often require that you provide them with a death certificate.  These can be obtained by calling the Department of Vital Statistics and paying for certified copies to be sent to you.  The certified death certificates operate as proof to the creditors of the decadent's death.  You will also need the death certificate to have insurance funds released to you.  It is important to remember that while any life insurance is technically outside of probate and the estate, you, or the personal representative may need to the proceeds to pay creditors so it is wise to hold onto the money until the estate has been closed.

Also, remember that deaths are reported in local papers.  Anyone preying on this sort of thing has access to the knowledge that the home is now vacant.  You should remember to stop mail and newspaper delivery and ensure that the home is secure.  In addition, you should notify the utility companies of the death.  You may want to keep the electricity as well as the other utilities on but you will most likely need to change the name on the bill.  Depending upon the company, they may only require the bill to be changed to "The Estate of  John B. Decedent" or "C/O the Estate of John B. Decedent".

Location of the Will
You will need to locate the most recent copy of the will.  As a Boise Estate Planning Attorney I always remind my clients not to store their will in a locked safety deposit box.  Without the will it can be difficult to have the personal representative identified correctly and letters testamentary created in the name of the representative appointed by the decedent.  It is very difficult and often not possible to do anything for the estate without letters testamentary.  While some creditors or individuals will deal with a person who identifies themselves as the personal representative without the letters, the majority will not.  An example where this happens is the transfer of property.  It is important to remember that a power of attorney expires upon death.  If you held the power prior to death and dealt with the finances of the decedent, upon their death you will need to replace the power of attorney with the letters testamentary.  You will not be able to transfer property without them.

Boise Probate Attorney
While you may not be required to go through probate it is always important to contact a Boise Probate Attorney.  These trained professionals can explain to you what further steps you must take.  In the administration of an estate, the person who has been appointed personal representative has many duties and obligations.  A Probate Lawyer can help you get started on the right foot.  The last thing you want to do is to compromise the estate, transfer of property or waste funds intended for beneficiaries.

If you need to speak with a Boise Probate Attorney or an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney, please give us a call, (208) 472-2383 and see what we can do for you.