Law Territory: Blog Law Territory: Blog Copyright by Law Territory en Law Territory Sat, 15 Jun 2019 21:35:39 -0400 How to Appear and Behave in a Criminal Justice Courtroom When you are charged with a crime, you will need to appear in court. In most cases, you will need to appear even if you are represented by a criminal defense lawyer.  While the outcome of your case should be based on the facts and the law, how you conduct yourself in court can certainly affect your case.   Creating a good first impression for any circumstances is essential (even in a courtroom).

You have this opportunity to either make a positive or negative impression on the judge, who will be making many important decisions, including whether to suppress key evidence from your case and what your sentence will be if you are convicted. It may be difficult to imagine that how you act in court could mean the difference between probation and a jail sentence, but this is often the case. The following are some tips for how to appear and behave in a criminal justice courtroom.

Arrive Early

It is extraordinarily important to be on time to your court hearing - so important that you should always leave early to account for any unexpected situations. You will not know the order of the court docket in advance, and you do not want the judge to call your name and have you not be there. In fact, if you are not there when it is your turn, the judge could even issue a bench warrant for your arrest for failure to appear.

Dress Professionally

Courts each have their own rules about what you may not wear in the courtroom - commonly tank tops, shorts, hats, and revealing clothing. You should always go a step further, however, and dress as professionally as possible. Your clothing and grooming will be the very first impression on the judge, and there is no second chance for a first impression. Taking the time to dress professionally can indicate you are taking your court matter seriously.

Act Respectfully

Courtrooms have policies and expectations for decorum from everyone involved, including prosecutors, defense attorneys, spectators, and defendants. The following are only some examples of common rules to know in order to act respectfully as possible in criminal court:

  • Always stand when court opens, recesses, or closes
  • Stand when you are addressing the judge or the judge is addressing you
  • Always refer to the judge as “Your Honor,” and not by “Judge Smith” unless they specifically request it
  • Refer to the prosecutor, witnesses, or other people involved by their last names
  • Never interrupt or argue with the judge - you will get your turn to speak
  • Do not disrupt the courtroom with gestures or audible comments

In general, do not do anything that could be viewed as being rude or combative, as this will give the judge the wrong impression and they will surely remember such demeanor when it comes time to make decisions regarding your case.

Be Prepared

When you go to court, you should understand why you are there, the nature of the charges against you, and other details of your case. If you have a defense attorney, they will usually do the talking for you, though they should also prepare you for what to expect during the hearing, when to arrive, how to dress, and how to act. This is only one of many benefits of having the right defense representation for your criminal case.

Your criminal lawyer representing you will also give you tips on how to properly present yourself in court.  If you have any questions regarding criminal please visit for more information.

Uncategorized Editor Wed, 15 May 2019 19:36:51 -0400
Protect Your Peace of Mind With Advance Health Care Directives and Living Wills

Do you want to ensure that your wishes and beliefs are upheld in your medical care? Advance health care directives instruct others about your wishes concerning medical treatment, should you become unable to communicate them yourself.

Documenting your plans can give you greater peace of mind and make decisions easier for your loved ones in potentially stressful situations. Here are some steps that will help you create these important documents.

Learn the Importance of Advance Health Care Directives:

  1. Have your wishes and beliefs honored. It's natural to feel uncomfortable thinking about physical incapacity and death, but it's comforting to know that you can exercise some control. You'll feel more secure if you take every possible step to ensure that the medical care you receive is consistent with your personal values and beliefs.

  2. Relieve your loved ones of unnecessary burdens. It's difficult for your loved ones to know what you want unless you talk with them in advance. You may be able to help them stay calm and united.

  3. Help professional caregivers help you. Doctors and nurses have demanding jobs. Make it easier for them to provide you with the best care even if that means referring you to a provider who better serves your needs.

Master the Basic Terminology:

  1. Consider creating a durable power of attorney. This advance directive lets you appoint another person who becomes your agent for making medical decisions for you when you are incapacitated. It's sometimes also called a medical power of attorney. This power extends to all medical decisions unless you specify additional conditions.

  2. Understand the limits of living wills. Living wills express your desires regarding life-sustaining or life-prolonging medical treatment. Practically speaking, their effectiveness is very limited, compared to a durable power of attorney.

  3. Decide on Do Not Resuscitate Orders. One more directive is worth mentioning: Do Not Resuscitate Orders. These provide instructions to medical personnel if you wish to decline life-prolonging measures under certain circumstances.

Create and Use Advance Health Care Directives:

  1. Select a health care agent. Your health care agent can be your spouse or another close family member or friend. An agent may also be called a surrogate or attorney-in-fact. In any case, select someone you trust with such a serious responsibility.

  2. Get the correct forms. Getting forms is easy. Facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid payments are required to provide you with written information. You can also obtain forms at local hospitals, community agencies, medical societies, geriatric care managers, and from many individual attorneys and physicians.

  3. Follow state laws. Every state recognizes advance directives, but requirements vary by state. You may want to seek legal advice to ensure you comply with requirements such as notarization and witness signatures.

  4. Distribute copies to key individuals. Your advance directive is more likely to be enforced if you give copies to all the key individuals involved. These include your family, your primary care physician, and hospital personnel. Of course, you need to discuss the final document with your agent and give them a copy. You may also want to deposit copies with your attorney and keep one in your safe deposit box.

  5. Talk with your doctor and family. Your doctor can help you understand medical implications and terminology to clarify your directive. Most of all, talk with your family about these sensitive issues.

  6. Keep your directive updated. It's a good idea to review your directive regularly to ensure it's compatible with your current life circumstances. Experts recommend that everyone 18 or over prepare a directive, so a lot can change over the years.

Advance health care directives can be simple to draft, but involve many complex issues. Get the guidance you need from medical and legal experts so you and your family will be prepared even in difficult circumstances.

Uncategorized Editor Sat, 24 Nov 2018 01:22:52 -0500
Essential Steps for Setting Up a Trust Fund

Have you considered setting up a trust fund but were intimidated by the process? A trust fund doesn’t have to be complicated and your attorney or bank can guide you through the process.

Follow these steps:

1. Determine why you want or need a trust fund. Depending on your needs, the trust fund process can change.

  • You don’t need a high income with a large number of assets to benefit from a trust.
  • Trusts can be an important part of your financial plans and useful tools for planning your inheritance.
  • Consult an attorney or financial expert for how a trust could benefit you the most in your situation.

2. Consider who will be your trustee. A trustee is the person who manages the trust. It’s a management role that can serve multiple purposes over time.

  • You can have one or more trustees, but they’ll have to work together.
  • You can select family, friends, lawyers, banks, trust companies, and others to fill this important role.

3. Consider who will be the beneficiary. The beneficiary is the person who will receive the trust.

4. Select the type of trust that you need. Trusts are available in multiple forms:

  • A revocable trust allows you to change the terms.
  • An irrevocable trust can’t be changed after it’s created. This means that the terms and beneficiaries are set.
  • Living trusts are able to go into effect while you’re still alive.

5. Create the trust. You’ll have to consult a lawyer or other expert to create a trust.

  • After it’s created, you’ll have to fund the trust. You can fund it by transferring titles from assets or properties. You can also fund it by transferring ownership. You can designate different accounts that will be used to fund the trust. They can be transferred right away or after you pass away.

6. Consider notifying the people involved. It’s up to you to decide who should be notified about the creation of the trust.

7. Understand the limitations. Trusts can be useful tools for determining who will receive property and other assets. However, they have limits and can’t solve all issues. Be aware of the trust limitations.

  • Trusts aren’t the same as living wills, so you can’t specify your medical wishes in them.
  • Trusts can’t protect you from creditors, so your debts will still need to be paid. They can’t stop you from being sued by creditors.

8. Update the trust. Have you gone through a recent divorce and later remarried?

  • Life situations can change, so trusts may need to be updated periodically. Has your family situation changed significantly? Has your financial situation changed?
  • Have you adopted a child? Has a beneficiary listed in the trust passed away?
  • Frequent updates can make things easier for your beneficiaries in the future. They can reduce challenges down the road and make the trust easier to manage.

Trust funds can be an important way to save and provide for the future. If you follow the basic steps, then you’ll be on your way to have a working trust fund.

Uncategorized Editor Sun, 07 Oct 2018 01:08:17 -0400
5 Ways to Use Technology to Protect Your Finances During Divorce If you’re going through a divorce, it’s important to stay aware of any actions that occur on your financial accounts. Technology can be a useful part of your plan to keep your money safe.

Use these strategies to take advantage of technology to protect your accounts:  

1. Change your personal account passwords. If your ex knows your passwords, it’s essential that you change them immediately.

2. Monitor accounts with online tools. Does your bank or other financial service offer apps and online tools to help you monitor accounts? These tools can send you automatic alerts about deposits, withdrawals, and other actions.

  • If your ex makes a transaction that goes against the divorce agreement, these tools will give you a record and help you keep track of it. You can use this information to inform your lawyer and the judge.
  • These tools can also help you manage your own personal finances during this challenging time as well. Use them to keep a close watch on direct deposits, automatic withdrawals, and your balance.

3. Monitor social media activity. In divorce cases, lawyers and judges are now using social media activity from both partners to make decisions about alimony, child support, and other financial matters.

  • Be careful about what you post on social media, particularly posts that have anything to do with money, your job, your lifestyle, or your children. Once you post something, it can always be copied and saved, so deleting it may not be enough to protect you.

4. Figure out how to handle joint accounts. Joint accounts become an issue during a divorce. It’s important for you and your partner to agree on how you’ll handle the joint accounts and how to use them during the divorce. For example, you may want to keep them open temporarily to pay for household expenses.

  • If you keep the accounts open, then you both may need online access to them.
  • Use the technology that your bank offers to monitor these joint accounts closely.

5. Be aware of tracking software and tools. Couples who are going through difficult divorces sometimes resort to using tracking software and tools. These tools can enable your partner to see and monitor your activities. This includes financial activities that occur online or on your phone.

  • These technology tools can show up on your devices and affect your finances.
  • In some areas, it isn’t legal to use this type of software or programs without the other person’s consent. If you’re considering these options during a divorce, it’s smart to consult a lawyer and check the local laws first.
  • If you become a victim of this type of software during a divorce, notify your lawyer and the judge. This can have a big impact on your divorce case. It can also affect custody battles that may be occurring at the same time. Keep track of all the software and programs you find on your devices.

Divorce can be a difficult time for both parties, and your personal finances can suffer. It’s important to be proactive about protecting your finances as you separate and divorce. Following these tips will help you feel more secure about your finances.

Uncategorized Editor Tue, 18 Sep 2018 03:57:55 -0400
Beware of These Top 6 Estate Planning Mistakes

Most people view estate planning in the same way they view a root canal: Put it off until the pain is too great to ignore any longer. Also, those with little income or net worth believe that estate planning doesn’t apply to their situation. But estate planning is much more than just the allocation of cash, real estate, and other assets. There are other things to consider, too.

There are many errors that occur again and again in estate planning. Avoiding these mistakes is half the battle.

Steer clear of these mistakes for a successful estate plan:

1. Procrastination. Estate planning is a little like completing a tax return. No one really wants to do it. But it’s so important to push your reticence aside and get it done!

2. Not paying attention to the conflicts that exist within your beneficiaries and estate plan. For example, if your will declares that your husband receive your retirement account, but your ex-husband’s name is still listed as the beneficiary, this could prove to be a big challenge.

3. Not using the unified credit to your advantage. This only applies to those with a significant net worth, but this mistake is made regularly. In most cases, assets pass to the surviving spouse. Up to $5,250,000 can be excluded from taxation.

  • If this isn’t handled properly, though, the surviving spouse will only have their exclusion available when passing assets on to their heirs.
  • There are ways to potentially shelter this money from taxation in the future. One solution is a credit shelter trust.

4. Not having adequate life insurance. Life insurance can be a great estate-planning tool for the affluent, but life insurance is vital to those with low income as well.

  • Consider how your family will survive financially if you or your spouse were to die unexpectedly.
  • If you have significant wealth, you might consider using life insurance in conjunction with an irrevocable trust for tax purposes. An attorney that specializes in estate planning can make recommendations based on your unique situation and explain the details.

5. Creating a plan that lacks flexibility. Creating a plan with a little wiggle room will allow your heirs to take advantage of any new laws as well as use the assets in the most advantageous fashion.

6. Not gifting assets. Up to $14,000 can be gifted to each beneficiary per year without incurring a gift tax. This can be a great way of reducing the taxes imposed on your estate at the time of your death. You also have the chance to see how well your beneficiaries can manage your assets.

  • Additionally, you have the advantage of being able to witness someone enjoying your assets. You can’t do that after you’re gone!

Estate planning isn’t the most enjoyable activity, but it is likely to be one of the most important things you do for your family.

Everyone should have a basic estate plan that spells out their wishes. This is important even if there are no children or assets. An attorney can be invaluable unless your estate is very simple. And even then, the $100+ it will cost to have an attorney take a look at your documents will be money well spent.

Uncategorized Editor Mon, 06 Aug 2018 03:52:07 -0400
5 Warning Signs to Recognize Senior Abuse

No one thinks about ABUSE until it rears its ugly head... and usually after it has been going on for a while. And no one wants to think it can happen to their parents. After all, they are in a reputable nursing facility where it is well maintained and has a very friendly staff. It does. And the more you know the "warning signs" the faster you will be able to stop it from happening to your loved ones. Allow me to share a story with you of one such incident that will hopefully make you more aware of what to look out for and how to avoid it.

Emma's story is not unlike that of many seniors who fall prey to abuse from care givers and facilities. I wanted to share her story, and that of her children, to give you a better understanding of how something like this can happen... innocently and without others being aware. Her story, as with many others, started out very subtle. Emma had the onset of Alzheimer's... a slow moving yet very tragic and disabling disease. I want to share some details about her condition since it is something I see quite often with older couples and their families. Hopefully this will help increase your awareness of how easily abuse can happen to a loved one.

Susan and Bill are in their mid-60s. The other day they expressed some very serious concerns about Bill's mother. A couple of years ago they told me they suspected Bill's 87-year old mother, Emma, was starting to suffer from Alzheimer's disease. We had a long discussion about Alzheimer's and how it is an irreversible, progressive mental deterioration that can occur in middle or old age. Fortunately, Bill's mother did not start showing signs of Alzheimer's until her mid to late 80s.

Susan had been doing some research on the Internet and learned it is the most common form of dementia. Those of us who have had to watch a friend or family member suffer through Alzheimer's know it targets and destroys memory and thinking skills. The causes and symptoms vary from one person to the next, as does the progression of the disease. Being educated about the disease and the various care options is the key to helping a loved one with Alzheimer's disease.

When Emma first started to exhibit the onset of Alzheimer's, she exhibited mild symptoms which included increasing forgetfulness and mild confusion. From all their research, Susan and Bill knew that in the late stages a person with Alzheimer's is unable to carry out even the simplest tasks.

They decided to take Bill's Mom to a geriatric specialist for an examination. Following her exam, Dr. Hawkins explained that Alzheimer's disease is complicated and getting to a diagnosis is a long process. He told Bill it was wise for him to bring Emma in for an exam because it is important to understand that there will be many steps and visits with doctors to determine whether or not Emma had Alzheimer's.

As Emma's disease progressed, her symptoms worsened. The medication was unable to significantly slow down the damage that Alzheimer's disease was causing to Emma's brain cells. Initially the medicine did stabilize Emma's condition, but only for a short time.

The doctors also treated Emma's behavioral symptoms with medication, along with some other methods to address her symptoms. Dr. Hawkins told Susan and Bill that they needed to watch for triggers. By knowing these triggers, they could employ a variety of coping strategies. Some of these included avoiding confrontation and making sure Emma got adequate rest. They needed to monitor her comfort and maintain a calm environment. Susan asked about herbal remedies, dietary supplements, and "medical" foods as possible treatments to enhance Emma's memory. Dr. Hawkins said there was no conclusive evidence that these things work.

But, as the disease progressed, Emma's memory loss increased, especially her recent memories. Emma, like many with Alzheimer's disease, experienced severe changes in behavior. She started to do things out of character. She became aggressive, agitated, and irritable. She became depressed and had wild mood swings. She also had difficulty sleeping, another common symptom. Emma's ability to think and reason became so impaired that even performing familiar tasks became impossible. The deterioration of her brain caused her to change in ways that were difficult and trying for Susan and Bill to watch and to deal with.

The progressive nature of the disease brought Emma to the point that Bill and Susan could not care for her any longer in their home. So, about six months ago, they admitted her to a nursing home specializing in caring for Alzheimer's patients. It had a good reputation and everyone seemed very friendly and helpful.

Shortly after admitting Emma to the facility, Susan and Bill created their Estate Strategy. Bill told us he was concerned about whether he had a genetic predisposition to the disease. His comment led us to a discussion of the contributing factors, including genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. There are a variety of factors that put Bill at risk for Alzheimer's disease. Age and genetics are risk factors. Fortunately, Bill had not then experienced any signs of the disease. But as Bill aged, his mother's history of Alzheimer's put him at a greater risk of the onset of the disease.

Being aware of the importance of lifestyle and heart health, Bill pledged to avoid stress and fatty foods. Women, like Bill's mom, are more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's than men. Some causes and risk factors for Alzheimer's disease are impossible to change or control. However, lifestyle and heart health are things Bill promised to control. Happily, Bill said he was sticking to his healthy diet and exercise routine.

You might wonder what all this had to do with Emma? The key is to not only recognize it early in your loved ones but when you do, to get yourself checked out to catch any signs early. As with any disease, the earlier it can be discovered, the better chance you have of beating it or knowing how to deal with it.

But there was another issue that was weighing on their mind... and it involved the nursing facility Emma was living in. Bill and Susan were feeling that something was going on with Emma besides her Alzheimer's. They were seeing some signs that led them to suspect Emma was being abused and neglected in the nursing home facility. They knew Emma well and there were enough signs that showed them something just wasn't right at the facility.

If this was true and she was being abused or neglected, they wanted us to explain their legal remedies since they had signed a year-long contract with the home. I started with a definition of what nursing home abuse would be considered. It is generally defined as any action, or failure to act, that causes unreasonable suffering, misery, or harm to the patient. It can include such things as the assault of a patient or it can also include withholding necessary food, medical attention, or physical care from the patient.

It was wonderful that Bill and Susan had stayed involved in Emma's life while she was in the nursing home. This is absolutely the best way to recognize or prevent abuse from happening or continuing to happen.

Since they were suspicious something was happening, I took the opportunity to explain what I consider to be the five main categories of abuse and how to recognize their warning signs. Since this was so helpful for Bill and Susan, I wanted to share these 5 things with everyone. The more we are all aware of these signs, even if it isn't for one of our loved ones, the more we can prevent abuse from happening. Here's the list of the 5 categories of abuse...

1. NEGLECT - Neglect can be intentional or unintentional on the part of the nursing home facility. Neglect, in its simplest of terms, happens when a patient's needs are not being met. This would include such things as not providing appropriate food, water, medical, and personal care for the patient. This can be an intentional choice on the part of the staff or it can be unintentional due to the lack of adequate staffing in a nursing home facility.

Regardless of how it occurs, it is important to know the warning signs of neglect. A neglected patient may be dehydrated or malnourished. Bed sores and other skin conditions can also be signs of neglect. A decline in personal hygiene can be a sign of personal care being neglected. Weight loss is also a sign consistent with neglect. I asked Bill and Susan to keep an eye out for any of these signs and to see if they currently recognize any of them. If any of these are present, Emma may be the victim of neglect.

2. PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE - Psychological abuse in nursing homes is one type that can be very hard to identify because it can be subtle and hard to notice. An early warning sign is when the person feels extreme sadness, fear, and/or anxiety. This type of abuse occurs when there is excessive yelling, humiliation, criticizing, or shaming the patient. It might also involve threatening and intimidating the elderly patient. Often time's psychological abuse is accompanied by other forms of abuse.

Because of Emma's Alzheimer's disease, determining psychological abuse is extremely difficult. Elderly people who experience psychological abuse will often become timid and withdrawn. Depression is a sign of psychological abuse, but it's also experienced by Alzheimer's patients. Some victims of psychological abuse will become more angry, agitated, and aggressive... like Alzheimer's patients. Changes in behavior are common in patients who experience this type of abuse. Due to depression, there may be sudden weight loss and loss of appetite. These patients may even refuse to eat or take medications. Bill and Susan are aware of these warning signs and pledged to be on guard for changes in Emma's behavior.

3. PHYSICAL ABUSE - Physical abuse in nursing homes is abuse that involves physical harm to the elderly resident. It involves intentionally inflicting physical harm, such as hitting, kicking, or pinching. Physical abuse can also come from the overuse of restraints, bed injuries, or from physical neglect.

While physical abuse seems to be easier to identify, that is not always the case. Some signs of physical abuse are hidden by clothing or false stories of falls or stumbles. Bruises and abrasions, as well as falls, fractures, or head injuries, can be signs of physical abuse. Injuries requiring emergency treatment or resulting in broken bones should be red flags to the family. Often times the staff who is in charge of an abused resident will refuse to leave when the family is present. This may be a warning sign that something negative is going on with the resident. We advised Bill and Susan to be present and observant when visiting Emma to help ensure her proper treatment and care. It would also be a good idea to get her isolated from her care givers if even for a short period of time so she could be more open to sharing her feelings and insights into her care.

4. SEXUAL ABUSE - Sexual abuse is another form of abuse that takes place in nursing homes. This type of abuse involves any unwanted sexual attention or sexual exploitation. This can happen with any patient and is especially hard to detect in patients who are cognitively impaired or have memory loss, like Emma.

While sexual abuse can be hard to identify, there are some warning signs. Pelvic injury or bruising in the genital and inner thigh area can be warning signs of elder sexual abuse. Newly contracted STDs is a major red flag. Sexual abuse may cause the elderly person to have unexplained difficulty standing or walking. There may also be changes in behavior or mood, including unusual sexual behavior.

5. FINANCIAL ABUSE - This type of abuse takes place when the caregiver takes advantage of access to the elderly person's financial matters and steals or compromises the victim's finances. This can be stealing from the person, or their accounts, applying for credit, or incorrectly billing for services paid by Medicare or Medicaid.

Although Emma had limited access to money, we told Bill and Susan to watch for these top 3 warning signs of financial abuse: 1) A caregiver demanding money or taking money or possessions as gifts from her; 2) Unknown charges to credit cards or sudden mismanagement of personal finances; 3) Forcing Emma to sign financial documents or forging her name on documents.

If any of these types of abuse are suspected, it is important to ask questions of the facility and to investigate. Despite the year-long contract, Bill can remove Emma from the facility because abuse and neglect would be a breach of the contract.

Unfortunately, many of elder abuse crimes go unreported. Now Bill and Susan feel much more empowered now that they know what to watch for and what to do to take the appropriate legal action to protect Emma and others who are victims of abuse. The more you know and the more we all share our insights and stories, the higher likelihood we can eliminate the abuse of our senior loved ones in a nursing facility. Let's all work together and look for the warning signs for our loved ones and others.

After more than 40 years helping families and businesses overcome obstacles, work together and chart courses to achieve lasting multi-generational legacies, attorney Tom Walker founded Generations Law Group to establish and maintain long-term relationships with each of our clients instead of ones built on one or two transactions. To that end, we work every day to deliver our legal services efficiently in a supportive, empathetic environment. We create, implement and continually improve an array of systems and services to meet the needs of our clients and assist them in reaping the enormous potential of multigenerational wealth.

If you ever have a question about an Estate Strategy or Estate Planning simply go to our website and ASK A QUESTION. There is never a fee for this and we can hopefully steer you in the right direction and give you some insights into your situation.

Uncategorized Editor Mon, 16 Jul 2018 03:48:51 -0400
What to Know Before You Plan Your Estate

What is Estate Planning?

In short, estate planning is the transfer of your estate and wealth in the most cost-effective and efficient way. The Living Trust becomes an integral tool in doing this since no other planning device offers the same level of flexibility, control and management while you're alive and when you depart.

In 2015 $2.6 Billion Dollars was lost in Probate Courts nationwide. This because people failed to understand what they needed to do in order to avoid having them family members trapped in the system. It only takes about 4 Core™ documents to keep family safe and out of the courts.

Good Estate Planning must be

1). Cost effective &

2). Efficient.

Nationally 55% of Americans are not planning the inevitable and allowing their families to struggle in the Probate Court system as they lose money and time.

The 2 Biggest questions Americans are asking are:

1. Do I need a will or do I need a Trust?

2. Do I have enough to plan?

The Probate or court system is where our loved ones end up going to settle our estates if we haven't planned. Whether we have a Will or don't have a Will our estate must be probated in the court. If our gross estate (before deductions) is more than $150,000 of assets or more than $50,000 in real estate in some states and other states it is much lower like $20,000 and above then the estate must go through Probate. Probate comes from the Latin word "probare" or "probatus"to try, probe, test or to prove something and in this instance someone is trying to prove the validity of your Will or jockeying to get in position as the administrator of your estate so they can distribute your property. The average cost on this is $26,000 and up on a small gross estate of $500,000 and if you own more by virtue of your home the cost can easily swell over $50,0000. When You die intestate without a Will anyone who claims to be a creditor can file in Probate Court to become the administrator over your estate (even over family) and the court could appoint them up if they validate their debt until their debt is fully satisfied which puts a stranglehold on the assets that are supposed to be distributed to loved ones or a charity.

There really are 2 Probates.

Probate #1

The first encounter with Probate occurs while your alive and we refer to it as the "Living Probate." This is when life throws you a curve ball like a stroke (800,000 people suffer one annually and 35% are 45 and under), heart attack, dementia or Alzheimer's. You now have to enter the court for a procedure called conservatorship so people can sign off for you in legal capacity. The court procedure has an average cost of $20,000 with many exceeding that due to the need for the court to visually see the person (they will wheel you out to court in this condition), make sure the person seeking appointment is trustworthy (many are not and leads to elder abuse). There is a simple document that is a part of a simple estate plan that avoids this scenario completely and is easy to put in place while you select the person to act as your Agent today while you're healthy and clear.

Probate #2

The second encounter with Probate is when you pass away either with a Will or without a Will; does not matter both end up in Probate court. This can be expensive, time consuming and open to the public with marketers using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to access court documents so they can market services. The court will not allow full distribution of the estate for at least a year in many states so that creditors can have an opportunity to file in court. You have to sound the dinner bell in a publication which reads: "come and get it." Then a credit could file in the Probate Court to become the Administrator of the estate (if no Will) or possible petition to become the Executor (where there is a Will) so that they can use leverage to satisfy their debt. Imagine this third party coming in to court and petitioning the court to become the controller over the estate of your deceased loved one; happens every day.

You can eliminate both of these hassles for your loved ones by having a Living Trust and a Durable Power of Attorney to cover any situation that might take place. It is also highly recommended that you put together an Advanced Health Care Directive (referred to as a Living Will in some states) which describes what you want if faced with a vegetative state or comma and doctors have not given much hope of recovery back to a meaningful way of life. If we don't let others know what we want they will fumble to figure it out while we are incapacitated and we may linger unnecessarily as family members fight in court and medical bills climb draining the life out of your estate that belongs to our family; after all our lifetime work in accumulating it.

In conclusion, there are two plans you can choose:

A. The government's Plan (Probate generates 2.6 Billion per year), or

B. Your plan which gets more of your wealth to your loved ones or charity of your choice.

Uncategorized Editor Wed, 06 Jun 2018 03:47:17 -0400
What You Need to Know About Family Leave

Whether you are sick, injured, or pregnant it is important to know the basics of family leave. The two most important statutes are the Oregon Family Leave Act ("OFLA") and the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). The OFLA is specific to Oregon and is similar to the FMLA, which is the federal version. The following are answers to commonly asked questions:

Am I eligible to take leave?

To be eligible under the FMLA you must have worked 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours for the company you are requesting leave from.

To be eligible under the OFLA you must have worked at least 180 days for an average of 25 hours a week for the company you are requesting leave from.

How much leave can I use?

12 weeks of leave.

What can I use leave for?

-My own "serious health condition";

-My family member's "serious health condition"; and,


In addition to the leave covered above, the OFLA also covers:

-Sick child leave; and,

-Bereavement leave.

What is a "serious health condition"?

A "serious health condition" is an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider.

Do I need to provide my employer with a note from the doctor?

Yes, your employer can request that you provide a note from your doctor.

Do I have to take the full time off or can I use chunks of leave?

Under both the FMLA and the OFLA you can use leave in chunks unless it is parental leave then the time off needs to be consecutive.

Does my employer have to give me my job back?

Under both statutes your employer must allow you to return to the same, or an equivalent, position.

How soon do I have to tell my employer before I want to use leave?

Generally, you must give your employer 30 days' notice if the leave is foreseeable. If the leave is a surprise then you must let your employer know as soon as possible.

© 9/28/2018 Hunt & Associates, P.C. All rights reserved.

Phillip Jones is an Associate Attorney with the law firm Hunt & Associates, PC in Portland, Oregon. He is licensed in Oregon and maintains a general practice including civil litigation, employment law, business law, real estate law, family law, misdemeanor criminal defense and personal injury. For additional information, please check out the company's website:

Uncategorized Editor Sat, 19 May 2018 03:46:26 -0400
Situations When You Need to Take Help of An Employment Lawyer

The employment lawyer will help you to resolve any workplace disputes. The lawyer has a specialization in solving any of your legal rights. They will also handle the case related to human rights issues. If you want your lawyer to help in your cause, then they will ask for certain information (evidence) that can support your case. They hope you will be a bit realistic about the outcomes. Helping them in a right way saves you money and time both. It improves the chances of winning the case. If you know how you can prepare, then it will ease your path.

Collect all Facts

Before you meet with your employment lawyer, you need to get all the facts straight. Where and when did the events happen and what happened after that? You need to separate the facts from opinion. Keep all the details related to incident well organized. One simple way is to list down what happened in a chronological order.

Get the Evidence

The lawyers love to see the evidence. The relevant documents, texts, recordings, emails, are welcome. The eyewitness accounts hold much weight. Your lawyer may review all the evidence that you provide to them. They will make you know what is acceptable or what to exclude. Make sure you get all the material legally though. Suppose not, it can cause you many legal problems or undermine your case seriously.

Be Prepared to Answer any Query

Go above your opinions, evidence, and facts before the meeting. It is not very different from the job interview. So, preparation makes a huge difference. Like the job interview, you are asked several questions. You need to get ready to quote specifics. Let your lawyer know what is significant.

Do not Chit Chat Much

Being charged by an hour counts fast. And suppose you are getting free and low charge legal advice, then time is limited. Thus, avoid long explanations and unrelated information. Ask your employment lawyer about the first visit charges. It might be free or in nominal price. That is the best time you will know each other well, without going wild.

Be Ready With Synopsis

You need to give your employment lawyer the complete overview about that situation. They would like to know the essence of the matter fast. Compress your facts in short story do no stretch it. Two minutes or lesser can do. Begin with according to you what the main problem is. After that, state, key events that took place. And end with the upcoming steps that you both plan to take.

Admit If You are To Blame

It is likely your employer is at fault. Most probably, you have said and done something, which had contributed to this problem. Never hold it back from your lawyer. Their duty is to advocate for you.

It is possible you need to gird for your battle. Or your employment lawyer can ask for the retainer. It is very important that you keep these things in your mind. If you have any question that you want an answer immediately, then visit Always remember your effort and expense must be worth your outcomes.

Uncategorized Editor Fri, 06 Apr 2018 03:45:46 -0400
10 Signs to Detect If Your Employer Is an Abuser Before He Beats You

Abuse is not an old headline at all among overseas Filipino workers. Serious cases of employer's abuse from the tale of Flor Contemplacion, to the executed Jakatia Pawa, to the most recent, Joanna Demafelis, the lady kept in a freezer, had marked ailing scars in our history and which had cast fear among aspiring OFWs.

The government has already imposed measures to protect OFWs abroad, even deployment ban to countries with ill regulations on expat workers. Abuse is everywhere, it can happen to anyone and anywhere, even to non- domestic jobs.

There will never be a perfect employer. Even those with flawless values can turn into their darkest and become abusive of their power as your superior. Foreign employers may tend to look down to their employees, especially to those countries who still values slavery in their culture or to those who look down at foreigners as merely second-class citizens.

Damage to an abusive employer doesn't just include physical harm, this also includes psychological, emotional, and social damages. For workers abroad and aspiring OFWs, there is a way to detect if you are deployed to an employer who has a great chance to intimidate you.

Here are 10 common indicators of an abusive employer you should be cautious about before he beats you in whatever way he knows:

1. Obvious illegal abuse such as unwanted physical contact, inappropriate comments, and other treatment you know is prohibited by the law. 
2. He happens to yell at you, may it be in front of others or behind closed doors, to degrade you and to undermine your confidence. He always makes you feel bad, worthless, and incapable of what you're doing. 
3. He collects your passport and visa and keeps it to somewhere out of your knowledge or access. 
4. When he is too demanding with your work outputs. This is usually normal but if you think that you have done your best but still seen as not enough, he may just be being abusive. 
5. When he speaks ill of people who are not present or even backstab you when you are not around. 
6. When he limits you to talk with relatives or friends while even during break time. He may even collect your personal phone and he may limit you from going out. He may even forbid you from talking to anyone, that includes your co-workers, or he may tell everyone to stop socializing with you. 
7. When he always checks on what you're doing and monitors you every minute. He controls your time even your minute breaks. 
8. He wants you to work on your rest day and often asks you to work overtime. 
9. Invades your privacy. He may listen to your private conversations or even tamper on your personal matters. 
10. Workplace stress is a reliable indicator too of how abuse affects your wellness.

If the abuse is still manageable, a finding published at the Journal of Applied Psychology had shown that acts of kindness towards them could lessen the chance of him becoming hard or rude to you. Showing them doses of compassion and empathy may diminish the risk of them hurting you.

However, if your employer went beyond the limits, one should be forward and precautious to whatever things may happen.

OFWs are advised to document incidences of abuse. Have every encounter recorded on your phone or if to no avail, in a notebook, with details on when and where it happens. You can back this up with a list of witnesses' names if there's any.

Have it reported to the nearest office of the embassy or any government-related affiliates. Have your family know your current situation and notify it to your respective recruitment agency. Keep important contact details on hand in case of emergency.

If the abuse could already be qualified as a criminal offense such as sexual harassment or discrimination, you can already seek legal help from the government to assist you in filing corresponding charges.

Quitting the job may be the hardest resort, considering the journey you've had to reach that opportunity overseas. However, abuse is something that you should never tolerate. You should never risk your health and safety to a job that just pays you well.

Rensol Recruitment and Consulting, Inc. ( ) is the fastest growing recruitment agency in The Philippines. A career consultant that aims to go above and beyond the level of expectations of both the aspirations of the candidates and the dream team standards of employers through providing exceptional opportunities and unparalleled quality-driven recruitment services.

Uncategorized Editor Sun, 25 Mar 2018 03:44:37 -0400
Why Heirs Should Use Advance Inheritance Funds

Inheritance cash advances provides financial support to heirs entitled to assets found locked until the probate process is over. Assets can consist of real estate, financial holdings, businesses, automobiles, and personal belongings such as jewelry, household items, antiques, art work or vehicles. There are many reasons why an heir would consider loan against inheritance a good solution. Find out the top reasons to select this payment option and skip waiting for probate.

These funds can be used in any way the heir desires. There are many cases when the deceased person leaves behind expensive medical bills. And when the deceased was the only income source, things get pretty complicated for the remaining dependents. Furthermore, many persons do not pre-arrange their funeral or have life insurance policies to cover funeral expenses. For example, if you are around 40-50 years old, you do not really think that you could die tomorrow and leave your loved one in debts. Probably you're not even considering writing a will. Because of that, it is not uncommon for heirs to sell assets in order to cover burial expenses or pay off debts associated with the estate.

Most of the heir confront with debts, medical expenses, funeral expenses and attorney fees. By obtaining inheritance advances, heirs can obtain cash within a matter of weeks instead of waiting for completion of the probate process. 
Skipping the probate process is another big reason why heirs are eager to get loan against inheritance. The probate is an extremely complicated and lengthy process, especially if there are many beneficiaries involved. It can take from a couple of months to even several years. And clearly, not so many people are thrilled when hearing that they have to wait some years until getting something that's rightfully theirs.

It becomes obvious that selling the inheritance rights to a company can provide the much-needed money. The company can wait until it reaps the financial advantages of the inheritance.

In order to qualify for this type of loan, an heir must provide proof of inheritance. Also, the company may be required to bring the following: Petition for Probate, and Inventory and Appraisement Statement. If real estate is being used as collateral, the funding source typically requires a copy of the sales contract or listing agreement. Furthermore, you may be asked to show a current credit report. The company will check if you have any outstanding tax or creditor liens, pending bankruptcy or legal matters that would compromise your loan advance request.

If you are looking to borrow against inheritance, you should check our company and schedule a meeting. Visit our website!

Uncategorized Editor Tue, 06 Feb 2018 03:43:22 -0500
Will Lawyers and Their Role in Our Lives The term 'will lawyer' is self explanatory. The job of a will lawyer is to help you write your will, so that all your wishes are word by word followed, even when you are gone.

The same is done by an estate lawyer who helps you in distributing your estate. They help with fair division of all your assets and take all the efforts, so that the legal heirs have no problem, after your death.

Basically, finding the will and estate lawyers in a city is not a big problem, but to choose the best among them is always a difficult task.

The below given points will help you make your correct choice. It is the work of the professionals to offer the best possible solution to your problems.

The reputation of the lawyer matters a lot. Before handing over the work to someone new or less known or known negatively, it is very important to hand over such an important task of distribution of your hard earned property to a lawyer who has a good reputation in the society. After all, earning so much property over the years is not a child's play.

Secondly, the experience of the lawyer should be considered. Someone who has been doing the procedure for many years will know all the in and outs of the legal work and will be able to deal with all the situations and happenings of the procedural formalities.

The next requirement is so very obvious, that the lawyer should be specialists in the will and estate handling. You cannot give this work to a criminal lawyer.

The will and estate lawyers also play a role where there is a sudden and unexpected death of your close relative, may be a parent. In such a situation, you will have to seek their help in the fair and legal distribution of the property and assets of your dear one.

To handle such a situation, where probably you would want to grieve and not get pulled back by a legal ramification, the will lawyers must possess some qualities.

  • They should always be around for the smooth handling of the entire process.
  • The lawyers should be very careful, as a small mistake might land you in a serious loss of your share in the property. Legally, what is right and how should that be carried out, all this should be clear to the lawyers.
  • They should be able lawyers as well as good counsellors. To deal with the sensitive situation in a patient and dignified manner.
  • If there is a conflict between the parties, the lawyer should be able to make them sit together for a constructive decision to be taken.
  • They should wrap up the legal dispute within a record time, to reduce the cost of fees and other legal formalities.
Uncategorized Editor Sat, 06 Jan 2018 03:42:19 -0500
3 Common Mistakes of Child Custody Cases

Not every marriage ends up well. Some marriages break up in the course of time. In such situation, if they are childless then the divorce is mutual. If they are having a kid they can go for a mutual parenting plan, which means to bring up the children together on a mutual agreement. If they are not agreeable on any of the terms and conditions with each other than they have to opt for the custody of the child or children.

The first and foremost step is to make an appeal to the Court of law. This puts the Court to decide which of the parent would take the responsibility of the child. Taking such a decision is quite difficult. Here in the court each of the parents will put on allegations on each other about how the other person is unfit to keep the father. The judge will also have to take into account the evidence. It is unfortunate that in this process the parents sometimes end up committing mistakes. Some of the common mistakes we have enumerated.

Getting Arrested

A litigant can show that the opposite is not a fit parent for the child if he or she has got arrested when the case is still pending. Even if the person is not charged or convicted, it gives the other parent ample reasons to showcase it in front of the court against the parent. This ensures the judge has a negative opinion about the parent and the custody is denied to him/her.

Disobey Temporary Custody Orders

Often the court issues a temporary custody of the child while the trial is still on. Such orders also govern the timeshare each of the parents can have. What can turn the case in a negative way is that if the parent is disobeying and disregarding the orders. This includes moving out without the permission of the Court or him/her failing to return the child on a specific time of a day, etc.

Refusing Co-Parenting or Communicating

Another big mistake is refusing to co-parent with the other one parent. If one of the parents do not agree on the joint custody then the judge will look for a parent who has sole decision making quality. If a case like one of the parents refusing the co-parenting option of the court appears then it is more likely that the parent will be deemed to be the problem parent and the custody would be given to the other parent.

So, to get the child custody the parent should be cooperative and reasonable. He or she should be open to communicating with the other parent when the matter of the child is concerned.

To know more about child custody lawyer, please check our website.

Uncategorized Editor Sat, 16 Dec 2017 03:41:06 -0500
5 Things You Should Know About Child Support

When your marriage ends, and you had children, you should remember that the lives of the children have to go on. To give them the lives they deserve you need to pay child support to the custodial parent. If you are going through a divorce here are a few things you should know about child support:

You need a child support lawyer

To save money and avoid airing your dirty linens in public, it's highly recommended that you work with a reputable child support lawyer. You should have your lawyer, and your former spouse should also have his/her's. Both of you should have a discussion with your attorneys and agree on an amount that you are comfortable with.

It's only when you fail to agree that you should drag each other to court. Even in court, you should have a lawyer by your side. Here the professional will argue the case in your favor to ensure that the court doesn't make a ruling that you pay more than you can afford.

You have to pay the agreed amount

When you make a commitment to be paying a given amount as child support, you should note that you have to pay it. Failure to making the payments would result in court penalties. If you routinely fail to make the payments, the court may even decide to jail you. If the court deems that you have the money, but you are deliberately refusing to pay, it might choose to get the money directly from the bank or the company.

The monthly payments can fluctuate

When many people are ordered by the court to be making the payments, they have the notion that they need to make endless amounts at the end of every month for the rest of their lives. Far from this. The amount given by the court can fluctuate depending on your situation. If the custodial parent loses his/her job, the court can order that you make larger monthly payments. On the other hand, if you lose a job or your business fails, you should work with your family lawyer and present the issue to the judge. If there is proof that you are doing badly financially, the judge may rule that you make small contributions.

You need to work with your Ex

Most divorces are emotional, and many people don't want to see each other after the divorce. If you have a child together and you have made the decision to raise him/her, you need to put your emotions aside and work together. Regularly, you need to be communicating and know the condition of the children. You will also need to meet with the children and spend time with them.

You have to track your payments

Even if you are in good terms with your Ex and you are making the child support payments religiously, don't trust him/her. He/she can report that you don't make the payments which can be problematic on your part. To keep yourself covered, keep copies of the documents that you use for the payments. These can be receipts, bank slips, and any other documents that you might have used.

If looking for a reputable  child support lawyer consider giving us a visit. We focus on family law, and we will provide you with the best information and guidance on how to face your child support issues after divorce. 

Uncategorized Editor Mon, 06 Nov 2017 03:39:48 -0500
Denied Party Screening - 7 Things You Must Know About the Regulations

Don't go frantic. Don't invite laze. Just follow the rules!

Over the time, much has been spoken about the denied parties list and so on. Still, the awareness drive is still short in some areas. When businesses get dried out of information about the rules and regulations, there's no stopping for disaster. Besides, the catastrophic damages are sustainable in nature, especially when it comes to reputation.

As an exporter, you must be aware how the US Government prohibits dealing with unscrupulous or undesirable entities listed on the federal denied party listings. Though the OFAC holds the central repository of these lists administered by several government agencies, it's tough to accumulate overall information at the same time. Moreover, the denied party screening is not just limited to the BIS and OFAC lists.

In the following, you would learn about certain facts that you cannot afford to be impervious about. Read to know more.

1. Guidance from Governmental Departments. Being prompt is a necessity. Since technology is always on its edge, there's no way back to the slower methods. You can check into the Internet for browsing the BIS website and extract vital information. The US Department of Commerce and Treasury offer guidance on restricted party screening and related details.

2. Steps to deal with trade partners. You could be doing business with any one - individual or company. However, you just can't put on a spectacle of suspicion for everyone. It is rather easier to follow a standard procedure with a "Know Your Consumer" kind of evaluation. It prevents you from transacting with the denied entities.

3. Red flag indications. Are you aware that your partner could be doing illegal business? Indeed, several exporters have paid hefty penalties for not complying with the US export regulations for that. If there are red flag indicators about a party, stick to the procedures for a proposed transaction. If doubtful, refrain from dealing with them.

4. International list of denied parties. Not just the US Government, there are denied party lists from various countries. You can refresh your knowledge about the international treaties and agreements regarding the same. Put your first priority on updating the information.

5. Confidential communication with the BIS. The Bureau of Industry and Security allows you to communicate any information about a possible illegal transaction in a highly confidential manner. Contact the BIS's Office of Export Enforcement for the same.

6. Denied party screening software. Several software companies have developed screening software for companies to evaluate their trade partners. You can draw references from these and seek a solution yourself.

7. Cloud-based screening system. Small-sized exporters have been facing financial problems for installing a high-end software system for watch list screening of trade parties. This is the major reason why cloud-based solutions were innovated and provided to empower the exporters. It is reasonable and fast.

While surfing the Internet, you can also find real-life cases regarding flouting of the US export regulations and penalties.

Refer to: if you would like to know more about Denied Party screening, Restricted Party screening and Watch List Screening.

Uncategorized Editor Fri, 06 Oct 2017 03:38:41 -0400
Are You In FATCA Compliance? The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act was enacted by the Congress in 2010 as part of the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act to combat tax evasion by US persons holding investments in offshore accounts. The United States Treasury Department and the IRS continue to develop guidance concerning FATCA. The Act generally requires foreign financial institutions to report certain information about certain financial accounts held by U.S taxpayers or by foreign entities in which U.S taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest and pay the taxes they owe.

FATCA generally requires the reporting of foreign financial assets, including some common ones such as, financial accounts held at foreign financial institutions. Foreign stocks or securities not held in a financial account. Foreign partnership interests and mutual funds. Some less commonly reported are ones such as, investment assets held by foreign or domestic grantor trusts for which you are the grantor. Foreign issued life insurance or annuity contracts with a cash value. Foreign hedge funds and foreign private equity funds.

U.S law treats U.S persons and foreign persons differently for tax purposes. U.S national refers to an individual born in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S Virgin Islands. Individual who were born in American Samoa or were born in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands who have elected to be treated as U.S nationals. The Child Citizenship Act, applied to both adopted and biological children of U.S citizens which provide for the automatic acquisition of U.S citizenship after meeting certain conditions. An alien is any individual who is not a U.S citizen or U.S national, you are considered a nonresident alien unless you meet one of two tests. You are a resident alien of the United States for tax purposes if you meet either the green card test or the substantial presence test for the calendar year (January 1-December 31). You are a resident, for U.S federal tax purposes, if you are a Lawful Permanent Resident of the United States at any time during the calendar year. This is known as the "green card" test. To meet the United States resident for tax purpose test, you must be physically present in the United States (U.S) on at least:

1) 31 days during the current year and

2) 183 days during the 3 year period that includes the current year and the two years immediately before that.

Under FATCA, U.S taxpayers holding financial assets outside the United States must report those assets to the IRS. It's in addition to the long-standing requirement to report with tax return known as FinCEN Form 114 Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts known as FBAR. FATCA require foreign financial institutions to report directly to the IRS information about financial accounts held by U.S taxpayers or by foreign entities wherein U.S taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest. The reporting institutions not only include banks, but other financial institutions such as investment entities, brokers, and certain insurance companies. Some non-financial foreign entities also have to report of their U.S. owners. We can see that's the reason when one try's to set up a new account with a foreign financial institution, they ask information about citizenship.

FATCA requires U.S taxpayers who hold foreign financial assets with aggregate value of more than the reporting threshold (at least $50000) to report information about those assets on Form 8938 along with tax returns. Reporting thresholds vary based on whether you file a joint income tax return or live abroad. If you are single or file separately from your spouse, you must submit Form 8938 if you have more than $200,000 of foreign financial assets at the end of the year and you live abroad or more than $50,000, if you live in the United States. US Citizen whose tax home is in a foreign country and has been present in a foreign country or countries for at least 330 days out of a consecutive 12 month period is considered to live abroad. When you are filing married joint tax return and living abroad, one should file Form 8938 when the total value of foreign financial assets is more than $400,000 on the last day of the tax year or more than $600,000 at any time during the year. These thresholds apply even if only one spouse resides abroad. If you are not married then the total value of financial assets is more than $200,000 on the last day of the tax year or more than $300,000 any time during the year.

One should file Form 8938 if you file as single and total value of foreign financial assets is more than $50,000 on the last day of the tax year or more than $75,000 at any time during the tax year. In case filing tax return as married filing jointly, then the total value of foreign financial assets is more than $100,000 on the last day of the tax year or more than $150,000 at any time during the tax year. If you file as married filing separate then the total value of foreign financial assets is more than $50,000 on the last day of the tax year or more than $75,000 at any time during the tax year. While calculating the value of foreign financial assets, threshold, include one-half the value of any specified foreign financial asset jointly owned with your spouse. But for reporting purpose the entire value is to be reported on form 8938.

Foreign Financial Assets:

Foreign financial assets include foreign financial accounts and foreign non-account assets held for investment (as opposed to held for use in a trade or business), such as foreign stock and securities, foreign financial instruments, contracts with non-US persons and interests in foreign entities. These are to be reported.

Foreign currency is not a specified foreign financial asset. Foreign real estate is not a specified foreign financial asset if used as a personal residence or a rental property. If the real estate is held through a foreign entity, then the interest in the entity is to be reported if the total value of all specified foreign financial assets is greater than the reporting threshold that applied. Directly held tangible assets, such as art, antiques, jewelry, cars and other collectibles, are not specified foreign financial assets. Directly held precious metals, such as gold, are not specified foreign financial assets. However, gold certificates issued by a foreign person may be foreign financial asset and need to be reported based upon reporting threshold.


You don't have to report an asset if a financial account is maintained by a US payer. A US payer includes a US branch of a foreign financial institution, a foreign branch of a US financial institution, and certain foreign subsidiaries of US corporations. Therefore, financial accounts with such entities do not have to be reported. You don't have to report assets if the person having beneficial interest in a foreign trust or a foreign estate, don't know or have reason to know of the interest. If you receive a distribution from a foreign trust or foreign estate, you have the knowledge of your interest in the trust or estate. You don't have to report if you have interest in a social security, social insurance or other similar program of a foreign government, as these are not considered specified foreign financial assets. If specified foreign financial assets has been reported on other Forms then you don't have to report them a second time on Form 8938.

Normally a reasonable estimate of the highest fair market value of the asset during the tax year is reported and one needs to determine the value of specified foreign financial assets to know whether the value exceeds the threshold applicable based on the filing status etc. To determine fair market value of a specified foreign financial asset a reasonable estimate is sufficient based upon the publicly available information from reliable financial sources or other verifiable sources. For foreign assets the value is denominated in foreign currency. One has to use the US Department of Treasury's Bureau of Fiscal Service's foreign currency exchange rates to convert the denomination into US dollars. The exchange rate is based on the exchange rate on the last day of the tax year.

Effect of Non-Compliance:

Penalty for non-compliance is huge. If one has to file Form 8938 but does not file it, then IRS imposes $10,000 failure to file penalty, an additional penalty of up to $50,000 for continued failure to file after IRS notification, and a 40 percent penalty on an understatement of tax attributable to non-disclosed assets. If one fails to file or properly report an asset on Form 8938, statute of limitations is extended by three years following the time one provides the required information. If one omits from gross income more than $5000 attributable to specified foreign financial assets, the statue of limitations is extended to six years after you file your return. Exceptions apply if the failure is due to reasonable cause, then the statute of limitations is extended only with regard to the item or items related to such failure and not for the entire tax return. If the failure to disclose is due to reasonable cause and not due to willful neglect, no penalty will be imposed. Reasonable cause is determined on a case-by-case basis, based on facts and circumstances.

IRS has announced new streamlined compliance procedure, if you are a non-resident US taxpayer. Contact a tax professional to get your case visited to ensure compliance with FACTA.

Uncategorized Editor Wed, 06 Sep 2017 03:36:53 -0400
Walk Around About HTS Classification, ECCN Classification And ITAR Compliance

HTS or HS is also known as Harmonized System or Harmonized Tariff Schedule, which is developed by World Customs Organisation (WCO) which is again classified and defined a s International Goods.

However, there is a slight difference between HS and HTS codes. The HS codes are usually six digit codes which is an universal standard code and then the HTS codes come with seven to ten (7 to 10) digits. The codes are unique after the sixth digit and usually the codes after sixth digit is determined by respective countries of import. These codes are vital because they not only reveal the tariff/duty rate of the traded product, they also track the records of international trade statistics which is prevalent in 200 countries.

The HTS code was enacted by Congress and is effective since January 1, 1989 by replacing the Tariff schedules of the United States. The HTS Classification codes is a hierarchical structure to define all goods in trade for statistical, duty and quota purposes. This structure is completely based on the International Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, administered by the World Customs Organization in Brussels.

Now, moving forward we will fix our eyes on the concept of ECCN classification. Export Control Classification Number is abbreviated as ECCN which have five character alpha numeric designations used on the Commerce Control List (CCL) to decide on the dual use items for export control purposes. ECCN differentiates the items based on the nature of the product like the type of commodity, software and technology and its respective criterion.

Every product, technology and software is subject to licensed by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) included in the Commerce Control List which is found in the Supplement 1 to Part 774 of the Export Administration Regulations.

ECCN is completely different from a Schedule B number, which is used by the Bureau of Census to collect trade statistics. It is also very different from the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) Nomenclature usually used to determine import duties. ECCN's provide different levels of control based on the country of the end use, the end user themselves as well as the end user of the item.

Now moving a bit further we move to ITAR compliance which is known as International Traffic in Arms Regulations controlling the export and import of services and defence related articles on the United States Munitions List (USML). As per the U.S. Government all manufacturers, brokers and exporters of defense articles and services or related to technical data should be ITAR compliant. So, there is a steady demand for their supply chain to be ITAR compliant as well for the smooth process function.

The Government has severe charges for companies that does not comply with the compliances of the ITAR with civil charges shooting up as high as $500,000 per violation and criminal fines of $1,000,000 and 10 years of Imprisonment.

So, at the end of the day it is seen that a company doing business in a respective field has to know and handle all the compliances of the business regulations properly to run smoothly and avoid any penalties that would ruin it's hard work.

Refer to: to know and learn more about HTS classification, ECCN Classification, ITAR compliance.

Uncategorized Editor Sun, 06 Aug 2017 03:37:53 -0400
The Basics of Acquiring a US Visa

It's not uncommon to dream of visiting places you see in the movies. Let me guess, most of them are in the United States. To name a few, New York, LA, Miami, Washington and Chicago are some of the common tourist destinations in the US. You have the resources but you harbor this apprehension of being denied.

This should not stop you from making your travel plans a reality. If you have relatives in the US or you would like to travel solo, the key is to know what type of visa you must apply for, the necessary documents you must fill out, and more importantly, the purpose of your visit to the US.

First things first, know the difference between a US Visitor Visa (B-2) and a US Visa Sponsorship.

These two things are not the same.

The visitor visa often known as B-1/B-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa for people wishing to enter United States temporarily for pleasure, medical treatment, and business. In this case, you apply for your US Visa with the US Embassy or Consulate. Whereas, a U.S. visa sponsorship is applied for by the employer or close family member by filing an immigration petition with the U.S. government for getting a residency card (Green card) for their employee or close family member. This is also known as non-immigrant petitions such as work visa (e.g., H, L visa) as well as family visa (e.g., Fiancé or K visa).

What is the purpose of your visit? 
You will be asked this question by the US consul who you will meet when you get to the embassy. But before that, determine the purpose of your trip. If the purpose of your trip is to visit USA for a short duration for pleasure, tourism, and visit relatives, family, or friends, then visitor visa known as Tourist visa to USA or B-2 visa is the right visa for you.

However, keep in mind that you if apply for a visitor's visa, among other things, you must show to the US Consular officer that they have strong ties to the Philippines as you home country and they intend return after their temporary stay in the U.S. You must also show that you have enough money available to take care your expenses for your U.S. trip such as air tickets, visitors insurance, lodging/boarding, transportation expenses, tourism expenses and all other expenses.

What if I don't have enough resources but my friends and relatives in the US are willing to shoulder my stay there? 
Then this is where sponsorship sets in.

Who can sponsor my trip? 
Any US-based person can sponsor visa for his/her parents, relatives, and friends. This means that he/she must either be a holder of an I-94 (US Green card) or a US Citizen. Your sponsor should provide an affidavit of support (form I-134). The form is a confirmation that the sponsor is ready to undertake the financial liability of the applicant during the visit.

What documents do I need to submit?

Must have Documents for US Visitor Visa interview: 
1. A valid passport that does not expire prior to 6 months beyond of your intended stay. 
2. Printout of your confirmation page from the form DS-160 
3. Fee receipt US Visa Fees 
4. One photograph 
5. Original/ Copy of Visa interview appointment letter

Supporting documents to show your Ties with your home country include:

You must demonstrate strong economic, social, and familial ties with your home country. You must also show that you will not become a burden on US by proving your financial stability to cover the expenses in US. These facts will ensure the interviewing officer that you will return to your home country after the authorized period of stay in USA. The required documents are: 
1. Evidence of sufficient funds for the visit to US (Bank statement and passbook, etc.) 
2. Evidence to show that you have strong ties to your home country. Documents related to the property you own and your employment are good evidence 
a. If you are employed get a verification letter of employment 
b. If you are self-employed get a financial and other documentary proof of the ownership 
c. If you are a government employee get a Certificate of Employment and an Authority to Travel Certification 
d. Tax ID, and recent tax-related documents 
e. Original property papers like house, shop or business ownership documents etc. which you own in the Philippines/home country. If no papers available, make a notarized affidavit for the same 
f. Documentary evidence of running any business or organization 
g. Evidence of family ties like unmarried children, old aged parents and other family responsibilities 
h. If person is an employee, other than proof of employment and proof of leave granted from the office, any such document that would show proof that you have reasons to come back

Documents and other proofs aside, the assistance of an immigration counsel/consultant who would facilitate your application and better your chances of getting approved is strongly suggested and highly encouraged.

For more information about this topic, you may contact Atty. Joyce Felisa B. Domingo-Dapat at (+63) 917 548 8045. Atty. Joyce is the founding partner of Domingo-Munsayac and Associates. Her practice areas include intellectual property law, family law, real estate transactions, corporate law, immigration, taxation and litigation. She also specializes in estate planning and handles judicial and extrajudicial settlement of estates.

Uncategorized Editor Sun, 06 Aug 2017 03:36:07 -0400
Picking the Best Immigration Lawyer

The laws of immigration involve some very complex aspects and they require great attention that is specialized so as to ensure that all matters are dealt with appropriately. The lawyers can assist you in areas that you may find yourself in a fix such as when you need a visa application or when you want a card for permanent residency. There are many problems that can come up and this may endanger your citizenship status or naturalization especially if you are an immigrant.

When dealing with immigration matters, you should always choose someone who is experienced to ensure that their know-how is able to benefit you in the best way possible. Such a firm should have access to many resources that make them stand out as the best. This is the only way in which they can be able to handle situations that may seem impossible.

How to pick the best?

Making a wise choice is the only way you will have your case handled well. Some of the things that can help include:

Not looking for a bargain

You should never make a blind choice. There are many people who are not as good at this profession as they should be. Many are mediocre. There are others who take up too many cases at a time and this makes it hard for them to concentrate on the cases at hand. Others lack experience in the most important parts of the law. Yet others are in it for the money and they want to make as much as possible in the shortest time possible.

A thorough research should help. Look into reputations and make your own evaluation based on that. You should not hold back from paying a great sum of money for someone who will definitely add more input to your case.

Get referrals from trusted sources

For this one, your family and network of acquaintances and friends can help you a lot. If you find someone who has dealt with this kind of thing before, they can lead you to the best firm to handle your case. The referrals can be a great choice because you will get to know about someone's first hand experience and have better chances of getting the best while at the same time avoiding a bad experience.


When you have found a good provider, you need to get a consultation. This is where you get recommendations as well as visa options. You need to ask for references too. When someone is good at what they do, it should not be hard for them to link you to former clients who will recommend the firm and services offered.

The fees

Usually, immigration lawyers charge on an hourly basis. There are some that have fixed prices too. It is better to select the firm that has fixed fees. If this is not possible, they should give you a time frame on how long the case may take so as to help you budget and determine whether you will be able to pay or not.

Canada Immigration Lawyer may be the answer to all issues that you may have. Canadian immigration lawyers will help you with different issues that you may be facing and get you the outcome that you desire.

Uncategorized Editor Sun, 09 Jul 2017 03:35:29 -0400
With Immigration, Compassion Must Prevail

On March 26, 1865, my great-grandfather, John Christian Baumann, his pregnant wife and four children arrived at the Ellis Island immigration center in New York Harbor from the Kingdom of Württemberg in Germany.

Less than a mile away, the Statue of Liberty greeted them after their two-week voyage on the North German Lloyd steam/sail ship, America.

Fast-forward 75 years to a Bauman family reunion in Catonsville, Maryland, a suburb of the then heavily German-American city of Baltimore. A gregarious little Bobby is being questioned by his German immigrant great-aunt, Annie Witkopf.

"Sprechen Sie Deutsch?" asks my smiling, elderly, white-haired Großtante.

After translation, I reply in youthful innocence: "The only German word I know is one my father says a lot - scheisse."

"Mein Gott im Himmel!" says great-aunt Annie,so shocked she drops her cane. "Never use that word!"

Now, a variation of this same multimillennial-old Proto-Germanic scatological word has gained international notoriety, uttered by a frustrated President Donald Trump meeting with lawmakers last week.

When discussing immigration from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries, Trump, himself the grandson of German immigrants from Kallstadt, demanded to know: "Why are we having all these people from s-hole countries come here?"

The Answer

Perhaps one good answer to the president's grandiloquent question can be found in the oft-repeated sonnet of Emma Lazarus inscribed on a bronze plaque attached to the Statue of Liberty in 1903:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!


Trump may not realize it, but he may be afflicted with an inherent belief in "othering."

Yiannis Gabriel, Ph.D., is a Greek-British sociologist affiliated with the U.K.'s University of Bath who has written extensively on the social concept of "othering," and its victims and perpetrators.

He defines "othering" as "the process of casting a group, an individual or an object into the role of the 'other' and establishing one's own identity through opposition to and, frequently, vilification of this Other."

Greeks describing non-Greeks as "barbarians" is a typical example of nationalistic othering. The New York Times recently reported that the Amish in upstate New York refer to all non-Amish people as "English," a mild form of othering.

Othering exceeds scapegoating and denigration because it denies for the Other characteristics enjoyed by your own group. Thus racial, religious or sexual minorities and other nationalities can be exploited, oppressed and even killed by denying their essential humanity.

Othering occurred in history when civilizations without previous contact confronted each other, as when colonizing Europeans viewed the Americas as populated by savages. It occurs between closely associated groups, as witnessed by the EU states' rejection of Middle Eastern refugees, the related radical Muslim jihad and the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya in Myanmar.

Neighborhood Improvement

It is much more explosive when the othering is between groups that know each other and have lived in close proximity. Repercussions can run from petty antagonism to civil war, expulsion, exclusion and genocide of the foreign, the deviant or the stranger. This sort of "othering logic" dehumanizes or devalues opposed people as primitive, uncivilized and inferior.

Because of the closeness physically, the group is portrayed as a major threat to one's own identity and pride, as happened to millions of Jews in Germany and Europe; as happened to Native Americans; and as now may happen to thousands of Haitians, Salvadorans and young Dreamers.

It should be possible to transcend "othering" with a genuine understanding of others using reason and compassion based on common humanity - but will that happen?

That depends on whether we still believe that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Robert E. "Bob" Bauman, legal counsel to Banyan Hill Publishing, serves on its board of directors and was the founding editor of The Sovereign Society Offshore A-Letter, more than a decade ago. He is the chairman of Freedom Alliance, your one-stop reference point for up-to-date, critical information about protecting your wealth and freeing yourself from unnecessary taxes and government oversight. To read more of what he has to say, click here.


Uncategorized Editor Wed, 21 Jun 2017 03:34:38 -0400