Do You Have a Proper Estate Plan in Place?

last will and testamentMany people think, “I don’t need a will, I have nothing to leave to anyone!”

The truth is, everyone needs to have an estate plan in place so that surviving family members are clear about your intentions. There are multiple parts to an estate plan, and it’s not as complicated as it might sound.  First of all, the word ‘estate’ simply means ‘all of your assets’.

Now, in order to be fully prepared, you will want to address the following components of an estate plan: a will, the assignment of someone as your power of attorney, a living will (or a medical power of attorney.) Depending on your situation, you may want to consider a trust as well.

1. The will tells precisely how you want anything and everything you own to be distributed after your demise. If you pass away before you get a chance to make a will, your children and other family members will have no idea who gets what, which can spark long-lasting family arguments.

2. Power of Attorney means that you are choosing someone to handle your financial affairs if and when you become incapable of doing so yourself, while you are still living but have experienced a medical crisis that has left you unable to make wise decisions. This person will be able to sign your name on financial documents and is required to act only in your best interests at all times. If you pass away without having assigned a person as your Power of Attorney, the court system will have to assign you a guardian, which can cost your family members even more money.

  • Springing Power of Attorney only goes into effect under certain circumstances that you set out in your
    Estate Plan.
  • Durable Power of Attorney becomes effective as soon as you are deemed incapacitated by a medical professional.

3. A Living Will is also known as an Advance Medical Directive, and it is exactly what it sounds like. This is the document wherein you will make your wishes known regarding your medical care and living-saving interventions that you wish to have taken if you become incapacitated and unable to communicate these wishes yourself.

4. A trust can be beneficial for you and your family if you have a net worth of $100,000 or more, a large amount of assets in real estate, a business, or a pricey collection. You may also want to set up a trust if you want to make certain conditions for your heirs as to when they will receive their inheritance, usually in multiple parts or upon meeting certain conditions. If you have a spouse and other heirs that you need and want to support, like children from a first marriage, a trust will ensure that the remainder of your estate will go to those children after your spouse passes away. A trust can also be effective if you have a relative who is disabled. To leave all of your money to him may disqualify him for government assistance, but setting up a trust avoids that.

It is always recommended that you have a talk with your children or other heirs before you pass away so your intentions for your estate plan are very clear. Also, there are easy ways to give monetary gifts to your heirs tax-free. To learn more about all of the details involved in the estate planning process, find a qualified attorney and make an appointment today.  Having a plan in place will give you the peace of mind that you might not have even realized you were missing.

Image credit: Ken Mayer

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The Financial Planner and the CPA: How We Can Help You

As a financial planners, we know that you are always looking at the big picture in order to increase your client’s income by helping them with wise investment strategies in the stock market and money market accounts. You’re also looking to the future by assisting them with retirement planning that will make their later years comfortable. Most good financial planners also have a good handle on their client’s budget and savings plans, and many are also keeping track of things like life insurance policies and estate planning.

As a financial planner,  you are always on the lookout for ways to adjust your strategies so that they will best benefit your client. Not to mention that you have to be prepared as your client’s financial requirements change over the years, and you may be faced with challenges that seem insurmountable at times.

Rather than throwing your hands up when dealing with a client with a difficult financial history, consider working with an attorney who is experienced in credit repair and/or loan modification. Attorneys specializing in these areas can work closely with you to improve your client’s financial profile, giving them a better chance at a good retirement savings in the future. Credit repair attorneys (also called bankruptcy attorneys) know exactly how to cut a few interest points off of a mortgage loan, bring down credit card balances to reasonable levels (sometimes even erasing the debt altogether), and improve credit scores.

How can Veitengruber Law help CPAs?

As a profession that sometimes gets lumped in with financial planners, a CPA’s goals are still to improve a client’s income.  As a CPA, however, we realize that your primary focus is to ensure that your client’s tax needs are taken care of.  Your clients are usually dealing with complicated tax forms that include schedules and the potential for massive deductions.  Essentially, your goal is to increase your client’s income by keeping their tax payout as low as possible.

Another duty you may perform as a CPA is researching ways to save a small business or large corporation money or perhaps creating financial plans for them to make them look more appealing to investors.  As you are bound by a code of ethics, you are required to give sound advice at all times.  In order to ensure that you are consistently providing your clients with the most ethical and beneficial financial advice, you, too, should consider working closely with an attorney experienced in credit repair.

As attorneys, we are also bound by a code of ethics. Whether you are a financial planner or a CPA, by working together with Veitengruber Law, we can create the best financial profile for your client – whether it is an individual or a corporation. We can assist you with negotiating any existing debts owed by your client, filing for bankruptcy in order to start fresh, and modifying home or business loans.

*Photo provided by x_jamesmorris

Veitengruber Law and the Mortgage Broker: How We Can Help You

Last week in our “Veitengruber Law and the Professional” series, we discussed the ways in which bankruptcy attorneys and divorce lawyers can team up to help clients more effectively.  This week, we take a look at the mortgage broker or banker who is faced with a difficult scenario: a potentially qualified borrower…..with credit issues. Many times, you are forced to deal with rejections of potential borrowers by your underwriting department, based solely on some past credit issues that may be showing up on the borrower’s credit report at the time of application.  This can be very frustrating if the borrower meets all other qualifications easily, has the money ready for closing, and seems like a shoe-in for a loan.

Mortgage brokers sometimes get a bad reputation, but we know that most of you really do want to help the qualified borrowers that you come into contact with. You come face to face with their struggle to get a loan or to hold on to their house after a divorce, and you know that they qualify in every way for a loan other than a marred credit rating. This may have been caused by mistakes in the past, a difficult divorce, a previous job loss that was out of their hands, starting their own business, or something else that has now receded into the past and is no longer relevant.

By all appearances, this client presents a great opportunity for you to earn a great commission and also help a qualified applicant who is in need of a loan. When you pull their credit report and find that their credit history is “less than ideal”, this will no doubt put a damper on your initial enthusiasm.  But have no fear – Veitengruber Law can help you in this type of situation! We specialize in credit repair and can take that client’s credit history, get it back on track, and send him/her back to you with a better credit report, a higher credit score and a better chance at that loan.  It should only take us several months to get your potential borrower up to snuff because we have the means and the experience to legitimately and lawfully raise your client’s credit score by 100 points or more in a relatively short period of time.  We can easily get them into the range of what is considered acceptable by your underwriting team.

Having us on call when you are faced with clients who need some credit help before being approved for a loan will benefit you in several ways.  First, you will have the peace of mind of having Veitengruber Law to turn to when you need quick results for an otherwise totally viable loan applicant. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have a solution to offer to your potential borrowers who are quite upset at the notion of being rejected for a loan. Helping people in their time of need is an incredible feeling, and having a partnership with us will make helping them that much easier.  Not to mention, you will not lose the potential commission due to a numbers game, which means that everybody wins.

Image Credit: Philip Taylor

Veitengruber Law and the Divorce Attorney: How We Can Help You

Today’s post marks the first in a series entitled ‘Veitengruber Law and the Professional: How We Can Help You.’  In this series we will focus on one professional group each week who could definitely benefit from teaming up with us, and we’ll explain why it would be beneficial to work with us.  This week, we focus on all of the divorce lawyers out there.

While bankruptcy and divorce are two separate legal processes that are sort of at odds with eachother, the reality is that they both happen at the same time more often than not. Many couples who are heading down the path toward divorce are spending more money than they have because most are trying to support two households if one party has moved out.  Quite a few people end up putting their attorney’s fees on a credit card, and, depending on the complexity level of the divorce and how long it drags out…credit cards can get maxed out.  Conversely, it’s possible that money problems during the marriage were what led to the divorce in the first place.  Disagreements over money are one of the number one reasons why couples just can’t make things work in their relationships.

Whatever the case may be, if you are a divorce attorney who is handling a multitude of cases that sound like this, working together with a bankruptcy attorney can be a wise decision.  When the couple in question has a divorce attorney and a bankruptcy attorney working in tandem for them, they will likely end up paying less in attorneys’ fees. If the divorce becomes finalized and then they decide to file for bankruptcy, it must be done separately, thus demanding hiring two bankruptcy attorneys and paying twice the fees that they (obviously) didn’t have in the first place.

Veitengruber Law specializes in bankruptcy and debt resolution matters, and we’ve seen enough cases involving divorced or divorcing couples that we’ve devised a way to improve the process for many of these couples and their divorce attorneys. By working together, we can provide y(our) clients with the services they need at the appropriate time; killing two birds with one proverbial stone.

Because filing for bankruptcy and divorce at the same time can be complicated, we would like to help you when you need guidance for these particular clients.  Call upon us to evaluate each case on an individual basis, much like you will call on many other professionals throughout the course of the divorce, like appraisers, CPA’s and custody evaluators and mediators. We can also guide your client(s) through the process of amending their estate plan, or last will and testament, as needed.

Instead of attempting to juggle all of the financial complexities that present themselves during any divorce, let us deal with the complicated laws surrounding personal bankruptcy and estate planning while you focus on all of the obstacles that are bound to arise in family court. This makes both of our jobs easier, and it helps the clients. We call that a win/win/win.

 

Photo provided by The Tax Haven.

Applying for a Mortgage? Read the Fine Print!

With mortgage rates plummeting to an unbelievably low rate right now, many former renters are deciding to buy a home, and others are refinancing their original loans.  Dropping to such an impressively low rate will mean smaller monthly payments and the ability to draw some money out of the equity that many homes have accrued. The allure can be so intoxicating that many borrowers rush to sign before reading all of the nitty gritty details. And, if you remember, it wasn’t long ago that our economy nearly crumbled, so be careful of hidden traps that may ultimately cause you to lose your home.

To ensure that you’re really getting what you need out of your mortgage, it is of the utmost importance that you understand what you are signing.  Unfortunately, the only way to do that is to actually read all of the words.  Even then, some or most of the language can be extremely confusing. Many people should consider contacting an attorney or paralegal experienced in loan modifications to have a look over the documents and explain them to you, if needed.

Things you need to look for in your mortgage paperwork include:

  • Is your loan fixed (rate will remain constant for the entire duration of loan) or variable (interest rate and payments will vary and can skyrocket toward the end of the loan)?
  • Does it include mortgage insurance?  It can be extremely helpful if something happens to you and you are unable to pay, but read the details. How long will the coverage last, how much are they charging, and does it help you or the lender?
  • Are there any hidden fees?  Your attorney will know how to find the fees that are nonsense, like a ‘mortgage account fee’.
  • Are there any penalties for paying your loan off early?
  • How far are they stretching out your loan terms (if refinancing)?  While this can almost always lower your monthly payments, be sure that you are aware of the new length of your loan.
  • What fees are involved?  The loan officer who does all the work arranging your new loan has to get paid, right?  There are definitely fees written into your loan somewhere – they may be wrapped into the loan amount, which is great if you are ok with that. Just be sure that the fees are reasonable, and if you’d rather pay them up front, make sure that is something they will allow you to do.
  • Is there a balloon payment clause?  Will you have to pay a large payment at a certain point in order to pay the loan off in full?

It is definitely possible to get an honestly good deal today when it comes to new and refinanced mortgages. You just have to be knowledgeable about what to look for. Asking around among your network of professional friends is a good way to find a reputable mortgage lender, and be sure to have your loan documents reviewed by an attorney or paralegal before signing. As long as you know what you are signing up for, congratulations, homeowner!

*Photo provided by Mark Lennox