Monday, November 30, 2015

How Many Death Certificates Should You Order?

If a loved one recently passed and you are in charge of arrangements, you will need to decide how many death certificates to order. This is often taken care of by the funeral director as part of the funeral arrangements. 

Here is a general list to show how many certificates may be needed:
  1. One for each close family member. 
  2. One for each financial institution that the deceased had dealings with. (including banks, stocks, investment firms, credit unions). 
  3. One for each employer/benefits administrator/union  that provided a benefit.
  4. One for each state or federal agency that you will be dealing with. 
  5. One for the attorney who will be helping with the estate. 
  6. An additional one to four copies for yourself for later use. 

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Parent Seeking Relocation to Another State With Child

If you are a divorced or divorcing parent who is under the authority of a court and wish to relocate with your child, you may find that you are facing more than you bargained for.

Prior to accepting that new job in another state (or before considering a move outside your child's school district), you should:
  1. Read your divorce decree or other court orders about visitation and custody to see if there are restrictions about moving. Some decrees require the child to live in a certain county or school district. 
  2. Your court orders may require that you go to mediation before taking any action to relocate with your child.
  3. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your ex-spouse about your proposed move, you may decide to file a petition with the court to change the court orders. 
  4. The court will always look at the best interests of the child, rather than the desires or interests of the parents. 
  5. The court will generally assume that it is best for the child to have both parents involved regularly, rather than sporadically.
Although it is true that modern technology gives children and parents the ability to stay in touch more frequently, a judge may still deny a parent permission to move away with the child. Stability is very important to children, and the upheaval of leaving friends, neighborhood and school can be difficult, especially for a child who has already been through a divorce. 

However,  each situation is different. Some common reasons for a parent to seek a move with his/her child include a) inability to find employment in the current location b) necessity of relocation for current job posting or training c) service in the military d) helping to care for aging grandparents or other family responsibility e) health reasons.

A family law attorney can review your situation with you in a legal consultation and will explain what you can expect if you choose to file a petition to modify your decree in order to relocate.

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Financial Fraud in a Marriage

Financial fraud in a marriage can occur in various ways.  Usually, but not always, the violating spouse has more power and/or earning capacity than the other spouse.

Ways in which financial fraud can occur:

1. Fraudulent spouse spends money on extramarital relationships or on other family members without the innocent spouse's knowledge or consent.
2. Fraudulent spouse applies for credit in innocent spouse's name without consent, increasing debt or commits some other type of forgery to gain control over assets.
3. Fraudulent spouse gambles away or gives away money.
4. Fraudulent spouse has hidden money, accounts, assets, stock options, or bonuses that s/he does not tell innocent spouse about (even when information is sought during a divorce).
5. Property is transferred to others or is "co-owned" with other persons in order to avoid disclosure.

Very often the innocent spouse feels financially powerless in some fashion, although he or she may be educated, intelligent, and may have his or her own source of income.   The fraudulent spouse's goal is to keep his/her earnings and assets separate and secret, sometimes even risking violation of a court order.

In some cases, financial experts must be hired to thoroughly analyze the financial picture. In other cases (such as forgery) criminal charges may need to be filed.

The innocent spouse who is considering a divorce  and suspects financial fraud is encouraged to get as much information as possible (as long as it is physically safe to do so) prior to filing for divorce. Many smartphone cameras take quick and clear photos of documents.   It is important to disclose the suspicion of fraud to the divorce attorney at the initial consult so that all possible steps can be taken early on to protect the innocent spouse's rights.

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Avoid Lawsuits for your Company- Don't Promise More Than You Can Give!

It is good Risk Management Strategy to make sure that your promises and representations to your customers/clients/patients are truthful, honest and free of unreasonable promises.

Promising more than you can deliver is tempting. You may want to make that sale or cement that relationship. Don't do so at the risk of future litigation. Defending a lawsuit or administrative claim eats into your profits!

Business owners can also get into trouble because of a desire to help the customer. Service providers especially can be tempted to put their own assets and well-being at risk in order to help a client solve a problem. But remember, the issues that brought the customer to you existed long before you came onto the scene.  Don't let your desire to solve a problem that someone else created be your downfall.  Look at the situation with realistic eyes, and help your customer do the same.

Here are some strategies to keep you out of trouble (and out of court). Some of these tips are taken straight from the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, a law that protects consumers:

  1. Don't promise that your goods or services are of a standard or quality that they are not. 
  2. Don't guarantee results when you have no control over the situation. This is especially important in a service industry. 
  3. If you guarantee satisfaction with the final product, be ready to stand behind that guarantee. 
  4. Make sure that you can afford to stand behind any guarantees for refund that you make. 
  5. Make sure that your sales team and other employees and representatives are not making promises that they should not be making. 
  6. Be honest about the endorsements and affiliations that your product or company has. 
  7. Be honest about the origin of the goods you sell. 
  8. Don't disparage your competitor's goods or services in an attempt to gain an advantage. 
  9. Don't advertise something as being on special or on sale when it is not, when you don't intend to follow through with the promise, or when you don't have enough to satisfy a reasonable demand. 
  10. Don't make false or misleading statements about the durability of your product.
  11. Don't have 'hidden charges" in your transactions
  12. Don't advertise a "going out of business sale" unless you are really going.
Following these tips can help keep your business on track and can help you develop a reputation for honesty and trustworthiness. 
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Monday, November 2, 2015

Here come the Holidays... Review your Visitation Orders!!

WELL... I say it every year and I'm going to say it again! It is time to review your visitation orders and think about your holiday schedule!

A lot of conflict can be prevented by reviewing your plans in advance.   Make sure that your court orders really say what you think they say.

From mid-October through January 2nd, the calendar is chock full of celebrations, holidays, parties, religious observances, days off, family traditions, get-togethers and other events.

Planning ahead prevents misunderstandings, additional stress, hurt feelings, and disappointed children.

Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Check your court orders or mediated agreement 
  2. Calendar the times that you have visitation.
  3. Ask your children to sit down with you and tell you about any events that they have heard about. 
  4. Check your child's school calendar, your extended family schedule, and your church/temple/mosque events. 
  5. Communicate with your ex (if possible) to find out what else may be planned. 
  6. Put definite events and tentative events on a big calendar in different color print. 
  7. Don't request "last minute' changes from with your ex if at all possible. 
End of the year is usually not "stress-free", but you can help it be a little less stressful by planning ahead. 

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