Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Estate Planning Help

Estate Planning Help

If you need immediate help with an estate planning issue involving a will, trust or estate, or would like to contact an estate planning attorney, you’ve come to right place. Because state laws vary considerably and communicating this essential information without vagueness while still complying with local rules can be complicated most people will benefit from the assistance of an attorney in preparing and executing the final documents. However, the better your understanding of the requirements, the easier and more effective your time with an attorney will be. Please select from of the following topics to learn more about getting legal help with an estate planning issue.

Estate Planning Forms and Tools

Examining the standard forms for a basic will, health care power of attorney, living will directive to physicians, designation of surrogate, and other important estate planning forms and checklists can help you better understand the purpose and structure of these legal devices. These tools are meant to be the beginning, rather than the end of a process of structuring the documents that help communicate your wishes to health care providers and courts in situations when you are unavailable to speak due to death or disability.

Materials in this section include an estate planning case intake questionnaire that can help an attorney determine which estate planning tools you need, an estate planning checklist to help ensure that you have considered all aspects of estate planning that are commonly needed, a checklist of action items for an estate executor organizing the actions required for an individual in this role, and sample documents including a basic will, a living will, a health care power of attorney form, and more.

In addition to basic forms and checklist there are articles that provide state-specific forms for advance directives and living wills and an article discussing the advantages of various estate planning tools.

Using an Estate Planning Attorney

Organization and preparation are always helpful if you are planning to meet with an attorney. Since time for a consultation may be limited, or the attorney may charge an hourly rate, the time spent preparing yourself and your paperwork can often translate into a cheaper and more thorough analysis of your needs. To help you prepare there are materials provided here that can help ensure that you present the information an attorney needs to help you plan your estate.

One such tool is an intake questionnaire designed to help organize the information most relevant to estate planning. This form will help you present your attorney with information about the property and family connections that most frequently affect which documents are necessary and how they should be structured. The form also asks questions designed to help you and your attorney determine which kinds of estate planning tools are most appropriate for your needs.

An experienced estate planning attorney will work closely with you to develop a set of estate planning documents that address your concerns in a way that is right for you. They will ensure that your wishes are communicated clearly and with the maximum weight of the law, while also anticipating and avoiding negative tax implications by consulting with expert accounting and tax advisers in some instances. Finally, they prepare and execute all of the necessary documents such as wills, living trusts, testamentary trusts, and powers of attorney.

Free Consultation with a Utah Estate Lawyer

If you are here, you probably have an estate issue you need help with, call Ascent Law for your free estate law consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Monday, 18 June 2018

Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Divorce Case

Here are the top 10 mistakes you absolutely must avoid when you are in a divorce case.

Becoming a Financial Victim

The biggest mistake divorcing spouses can make is being in the dark about finances. If your spouse has always handled all of the financial decisions in your household and you don’t have any information about you and your spouse’s income and assets, your spouse will have an unfair advantage over you when it comes time to settle the financial issues in your divorce.

Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Divorce Case

If you suspect your spouse is planning a divorce, get as much information as you can now. Make copies of important financial records such as account statements (eg., savings, brokerage, and retirement) and all other data that relates to your marital lifestyle (eg., checking accounts, charge card statements, tax returns).

If you believe your spouse may liquidate (sell or transfer to cash) assets or retitle marital assets without your consent, notify the holder of the asset or property in writing and get a restraining order from the court. Watch out for any cash held in joint checking and brokerage accounts, and the cash value of life insurance policies. If your spouse uses or moves assets without your knowledge, you may have to hire legal and forensic accounting experts to help you locate and value the assets.

Not Considering Mediation

If you and your spouse can work together to reach a fair settlement on most or all of the issues in your divorce (eg., child custody, child support, alimony, and property division), choosing mediation to resolve your divorce case may save thousands of dollars in legal fees and emotional aggravation. The mediation process involves a neutral third-party mediator (an experienced family law attorney trained in mediation) that meets with the divorcing couple and helps them reach an agreement on the issues in their divorce. Mediation is completely voluntary; the mediator will not act as a judge, or insist on any particular outcome or agreement.

Mediation also provides divorcing couples a lot of flexibility, in terms of making their own decisions about what works best for their family, compared with the traditional adversarial legal process, which involves a court trial where a judge makes all the decisions.

Mediation, however, is not appropriate for all couples. For example, if one spouse is hiding assets or income, and refuses to come clean, you may have to head to court where a judge can order your spouse to comply. Or, if one spouse is unwilling to compromise, mediation probably won’t work.

Hiring a Combative Lawyer to Punish Your Spouse

This is a very bad idea for two reasons. First, except in extremely egregious cases, most courts won’t punish your spouse financially for being a bad person.

Second, hiring an attorney to punish your spouse will cost you because your attorney will need to increase the number of hours spent on your case. Increased attorney hours means higher divorce costs, and higher divorce costs means there will be fewer assets and cash left for you and your family. Try to take the emotion out of your divorce, and treat your case as a business arrangement. The best revenge is to live well after the divorce is over.

Failing to Recognize Your Common Enemy – the I.R.S.

Work together with a divorce financial planner or tax accountant to minimize the total taxes you and your spouse will pay during separation and after divorce; you can share the money you save. Don’t forget that both spouses are liable for taxes due as a result of audits on joint returns, so it’s usually in your best interest to work together and minimize possible liabilities. If you’re facing complicated tax issues in your divorce, it’s best to consult with an experienced family law attorney and an accountant.

Not Producing an Accurate Budget

Divorcing spouses usually underestimate living expenses when they produce their initial budget for temporary alimony (also referred to as “maintenance”), and later find that they aren’t able to cover all of their bills. Use a financial professional to help you produce an accurate and complete budget.

Disregarding the Impact of Taxes in a Divorce Settlement

It’s important to remember that after the divorce is final, you may get taxed on the marital assets you received through your settlement. Say your spouse handles all the investments and offers to split them 50/50. Sounds good, right? The only way to know if you’re getting a fair deal is to determine the value of the investments on an after-tax basis, then decide if you like the deal. Again, you should speak with a tax professional about the impact of any proposed property division before you agree to it.

Failure to Evaluate Settlement Proposals

If you’re trying to decide whether your spouse’s proposed divorce settlement is fair and workable, you should try to figure out how the settlement will impact your finances in the years ahead. There are many factors to consider, including assets, incomes, living expenses, inflation, alimony, child support, taxes, retirement plans, investments, medical expenses and health insurance costs, and child-related expenses such as education.

There are specialized divorce computer models that produce comprehensive and realistic analyses of your post-divorce lifestyle. You should speak with a local divorce attorney or financial planner that specializes in divorce for help analyzing any proposed financial settlement.

Being Emotionally Attached to Assets in Divorce Negotiations

The marital residence, the pension you earned, a painting purchased during your marriage – these assets often bring an emotionally charged debate to divorce negotiations, which can impair good decision-making. Often, divorcing spouses that are attached to the family home don’t realize that they can’t really afford. Yet, they fight tooth and nail to keep it, sometimes at the expense of retirement planning.

However, the real estate market crash has made it abundantly clear that homes have a very low return on investment and, in some cases, have a negative return; many houses today are still underwater, and couples have had to walk away from their homes and the hard-earned money they invested.

In addition, a home is a major cash expense (eg., mortgage payments, property taxes, repairs, and utilities). Let go of any emotional attachments you may have. During your divorce and settlement negotiations, your main focus should always be on how to maximize your finances by making sure you’ll have enough cash for living expenses after your divorce and in retirement.

Over-using Your Divorce Lawyer

Divorce attorneys generally charge $200- $300 per hour, and partners in well-known New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco family law firms typically charge $450 per hour. These attorneys can provide advice on divorce-related issues, but they are not therapists or certified financial planners. If you need to talk through the emotional aspects of your divorce, or need career counseling or financial analysis, save money on additional attorney’s fees and be sure to talk to the right professionals, such as a licensed therapist, vocational expert, or a financial planner.

Beware of Settlement Offers That Look Too Good

Both spouses and children must make compromises in their life styles post-divorce. A settlement that does not give one spouse enough money to live on is likely to go into default in the future. Be fair, but verify the numbers. Get payments up front whenever possible, even if you get less in total. Try to secure all payments with assets and insurance. It may be worth speaking to a family law attorney who can review a settlement offer and make sure your rights are fully protected.

Disregarding the Long Term Impact of Inflation

The effects of inflation on the cost of a child’s college education, or on retirement, 15 years in the future can be dramatic. The “Rule of 72” is a simple way to judge the impact of inflation. For example, if the inflation rate is 3%, the “Rule of 72” means that prices will double in 24 years (72/3=24). College costs at 5% inflation will double in 14.4 years (72/5=14.4). Be sure to work inflation into your settlement negotiations so you can cover the true costs of future financial expenses.

Failing to Consider Your Spouse’s Eligibility for Social Security Benefits

If a couple is married for 10 years or longer, a non-working or lower-earning spouse is entitled to derivative social security benefits on the higher earning spouse’s (“worker spouse”) record. These derivative benefits do not impact or lower the worker spouse’s social security payments, which is why it’s so ironic that the average length of marriage for people who get divorced is about nine and a half years. Waiting just another six months may guarantee increased retirement options with no reduction in payments.

Forgetting to Update Estate Documents

After divorce, many people forget to change the beneficiaries on their life insurance policies, IRAs, and will(s), so the estates they wanted to leave to their children, new partner, or favorite charity may go instead to their ex-spouse. If you’re going through a divorce, talk to a family law attorney to find out what changes you can make to your estate plan during and/or post-divorce.

Failure to Adequately Insure the Divorce Settlement

Your ex-spouse’s premature death or disability can be devastating and may result in a loss of alimony, child support, college tuition, or property settlement payments. Life and disability insurance policies can guarantee that these payments will continue despite an unexpected loss or injury.

Failure to Develop a Post-Divorce Financial Plan

One indisputable fact of divorce is that two households cost more to operate than one. Many divorcing spouses fail to realize that their divorce settlement must last a significant amount of time: perhaps even the rest of their lives. Financial planning can help people transition from a married to single lifestyle by prioritizing financial goals, developing realistic expectations, and producing sound plans for the assignment and division of financial resources.

Free Consultation with a Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Divorce with Debts

Everyone seems to understand that divorce involves the division of marital property and assets.

However, over the years, I have found that many people fail to fully appreciate that divorce involves the division of debt, as well.

Divorce with Debts

Ironically, debt is typically cited as one of the top reasons couples split up. But, getting divorced doesn’t make those troublesome debt problems “magically” disappear. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. Just as debt can often play a major role in the failure of a marriage, it can also play a major role in adding stress and contention to divorce proceedings.

What can you do minimize nasty debt headaches during your divorce? My best advice is to be prepared. Educate yourself about debt, in a broad sense. Then, gather all the relevant data about your specific case.  You’ll want to collect credit card bills, information from your mortgage/home equity/auto loan accounts, etc. and learn all you can about what you and your spouse owe.

In addition, here are a few tips to help you better understand how to handle dividing debt in your divorce:

  1. Where you live impacts how debt will be divided.Divorce laws differ from state to state, and how your debt will be divided depends largely on where you live and whether you live in a Community Property State or an Equitable Distribution State.

There are nine Community Property States: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. Couples living in Alaska can “opt in” for community property, and Puerto Rico is a community property jurisdiction.

The remaining 41 states are known as Equitable Distribution States (or Common Law States). Utah is one of these. In Utah, the court will try to either split the debt in half or perhaps do some creative offsets; but most of the time, if the debt was for and in behalf of the “marital estate”; then, the debt will be divided by both parties.

(An earlier post discusses the differences between Community Property States and Equitable Distribution States in more detail.)

In general terms, if you live in an Equitable Distribution State, debt that’s incurred during a marriage is the joint responsibility of both parties, provided both parties are co-signers on the account (mortgage, credit card, etc.). In other words, if your husband opened a credit card account in his name only, then only he is responsible for that debt.

In Community Property States, both spouses are responsible, even if only one incurred the debt.

Of course, once you and your husband have separated, the rules change. Any debt incurred after you separate is the sole responsibility of the person who made the charges. The wrinkle here is that “the moment of separation” varies from state to state. In some states, you need to legally declare a separation. In others, a legal separation is not required; you’re separated once you start living apart.

  1. It’s often best to eliminate shared debt.Our firmusually advises women to eliminate shared debt before the divorce is final. Naturally, that may mean you need to use marital assets to jointly pay off what you owe –but, usually that’s a worthwhile step, if it means you can begin your single life with a fresh start. Alternatively, some couples decide to divide and transfer their debts, so that each person is individually responsible only for his or her portion.

Either way, the goal is to separate your finances (and any remaining debt) from your husband’s finances (and any of his remaining debt).  As a result, you’ll remove your liability for what he owes.

If possible, you’ll also want to close joint credit cards and eliminate your husband as an authorized used on any credit cards in your name. Remember: Credit card companies and other third party agents are not bound by divorce agreements.  It may sound harsh, but if your names are both on a credit card account, the credit card company can hold you responsible if your ex rings up a balance and then decides not to pay.

One word of caution here:  New federal regulations are making it harder than ever for women with little or no income to establish credit on their own. You’ll need to proceed with caution as you set out to establish credit in your own name . . . Which brings up my third point . . .

  1. Protect your credit.Once you have: a) established control of your own debt and b) separated your liability from your husband’s debt, it’s time to turn the page and begin a new chapter. You’ll need to establish credit in your own name –and then, once that credit is established, you’ll need to work hard to protect it. Start slowly and proceed with caution, keeping a careful watch on credit card balances, debit and ATM cards, etc.

A good first step should be to create a budget that will allow you to maintain your lifestyle, pay off any remaining debt and increase your savings. A divorce financial planner can help you determine how to manage your assets and which adjustments are necessary for continued financial stability.

Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will fhelp you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Saturday, 16 June 2018

West Jordan Lawyer

West Jordan Lawyer

Driverless cars, the pinnacle of automotive innovation and the potential future of safe driving, have recently proven to be anything but: according to a study from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute in Ann Arbor, auto accident rates are twice as high for driverless cars as they are for your average error-prone human driver.

With rates like that, any self-driving car owner can expect to pay a number of visits to her lawyer, if the car doesn’t crash itself along the way.

SHOULD DRIVERLESS CARS OBEY ALL TRAFFIC LAWS WITHOUT EXCEPTION?

What’s causing this auto accident discrepancy? After all, anyone would think human drivers in the kind of rush-hour traffic that backs up miles outside West Jordan, Utah would have a harder time navigating the highway than a cool, calculating robot.

The catch? Self-driving cars are programmed to obey all traffic laws, regardless of the situation. So whether it’s merging onto high-speed traffic on the highway or rolling into a four-way intersection in Farmington, a self-driving car makes no concessions.

Human drivers, meanwhile, bend the rules of traffic law with abandon. Most drivers are guilty of rolling through the occasional stop sign, speeding through that yellow light or driving “with the flow of traffic” on the highway—even if traffic’s running 15 over the speed limit.

Lawyer in Utah

As West Jordan Utah attorneys, we practice in several areas of law including divorce, real estate, bankruptcy, business law, child custody, child support, adoption law and other areas.

In the interest of preventing an auto accident and a subsequent trip to the local personal injury lawyer, should self-driving cars bend to the will of human error?

It’s a sticky situation, to be sure. If Google programs its cars to disobey traffic laws, the next question is: how much? If self-driving cars start deliberately breaking the law, the search engine giant will be sure to face an onslaught of government and lawyer inquiries.

In the meantime, Google is working to program its cars to be more “aggressive” while still adhering to all traffic laws. Driving is a complex social practice, whether you’re driving on the interstate or around the shops of downtown West Jordan.

For driverless cars, the game is still very much a human one, law breaking and all.

NEW BILL PASSES REMOVING ALL PROTECTIONS AGAINST CONTAMINATED WATER

In order to survive, it’s widely assumed that food, shelter, clothing and water are needed. Regardless of whether you’re currently taking up residence in West Jordan, Utah or another location in our beautiful home state, more than likely, the basic necessities of life aren’t hard to come by. That being said, even with fresh running water being made readily available to most Americans, water contamination still occurs.

For example, in the United States, coal is often burned to produce enough electricity to keep cities up and running. However, when such a practice takes place, ash is produced as waste. Said ash, unfortunately, can potentially makes its way as a toxic substance into precious municipal water sources, causing incidents of wrongful death to come about. In such a situation, a lawyer might very well be needed.

Recently, as a way of addressing such terrible happenings, the Federal Government inefficiently took action and passed a bill that eliminates many of the actual laws that regulate the containment and monitoring of coal ash. Furthermore, the approved bill also gives states the responsibility of overseeing the processes of coal ash maintenance and disposal. Even worse, the bill mentions nothing of how close coal ash containment locations can be to public water sources.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Friday, 15 June 2018

Can Bankruptcy Help Creditors?

Yes. In some situations, not in all situations.

Can Bankruptcy Help Creditors

The appointment of a receiver over a borrower’s assets is a powerful tool for the secured creditor when included as a default provision in a well-crafted loan document. Pursuant to Utah law, a receiver “protects and preserves the property” serving as the creditor’s collateral. The law effectively gives the receiver control over the debtor’s property and allows the secured creditor, which sought the appointment, to obtain information regarding the day-to-day usage of its collateral and ensures that payment of net cash flow from the property will be paid to the lender.

Often the borrower will seek to regain control of its business by filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition. The Bankruptcy Code sets forth certain duties and rights for the receiver as a custodian of the debtor’s property once the bankruptcy petition is filed. The Code also creates a procedure for the bankruptcy court to determine whether the receiver should turn over the property to the debtor or continue in “possession, custody or control of the property.”

WHEN A DEBTOR TURNS TO BANKRUPTCY, A SECURED CREDITOR CAN USE THE BANKRUPTCY CODE AND MAY GET RELIEF

The Bankruptcy Code makes it clear that once a receiver learns of the bankruptcy case, the receiver is obligated to stop administering the debtor’s property, except to the extent necessary to preserve that property.1Thus, once the bankruptcy petition is filed, the receiver generally has an affirmative duty to return control of the business to the defaulting debtor.

Despite this general requirement mandating the receiver turn over the property to the debtor, the secured creditor may file a motion to allow the receiver to maintain control over the property serving as its collateral. This motion is typically styled as a Motion for Excusal of Turnover by the Receiver.

After reviewing the Motion for Excusal of Turnover by the Receiver and, perhaps, taking evidence, the bankruptcy court will decide whether the interests of the creditors will be better served by leaving the receiver in possession and control of the debtor’s property. In addition, in the rare case in which the debtor is solvent, the bankruptcy court will consider whether the interests of the owners would be better served by permitting the receiver to remain in place.

Therefore, if the creditor is successful in getting a receiver appointed, but the borrower files bankruptcy and tries to regain control of the business and the collateral, the Bankruptcy Code provides a legal basis for the creditor to take prompt action in order to maintain the receiver’s control of the collateral. With this in mind, the Motion for Excusal of Turnover by the Receiver should be filed as quickly as possible after the bankruptcy petition is filed setting forth the reasons the creditors will be better served by the receiver’s continued possession and control of the debtor’s property serving as the collateral.

Our firm has been successful, recently, on several occasions in obtaining these orders protecting the rights and property of lenders in bankruptcy cases. These actions helped provide the lenders with a more positive outcome to the entire bankruptcy case.

Free Consultation with Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you have a bankruptcy question, or need to file a bankruptcy case, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. Attorneys in our office have many years of experience in bankruptcy law. We can help you now. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Fraudulent Conveyance Explained

We spend a lot of time thinking about and writing about fraudulent conveyances here.  That’s because a fraudulent conveyance can totally defeat an asset protection plan, no matter how good your asset protection attorney may be.  Laws regarding fraudulent conveyances make certain types of transfers wrongful.  One type of transfer that is prohibited is a transfer made within a certain period of time before a claim is made or while a claim is pending.  What is a claim?  Claims take many forms.  Claims can be lawsuits, demand letters, or even accidents where an injured person has yet to contact the person at fault.

Fraudulent Conveyance Explained

Let’s look at an example.  Consider an oral surgeon or dentist (“doctor”) who is not properly insured and accidentally causes injury to a patient during a surgical procedure.  If the patient sues the doctor, then the doctor’s personal assets are at risk.  The doctor’s personal assets include cash, stocks, bonds, investment properties, and in some cases even items like cars, boats and airplanes.

What we’ve established so far is that a doctor with assets has caused an injury.  Assume that no lawsuit has been filed.  Even though there is not a lawsuit pending, there is a “claim” against the doctor.  The doctor knows that she or he could end up owing money to the patient, and that is enough.  What can the doctor do to protected assets?

The answer is complex.  While the doctor can continue to move money and assets around, if the doctor moves assets to a place where they cannot be reached by the injured patient, then a court can “set aside” those transfers of assets.  The bottom line is that a court can require transferred assets to be given to the injured patient, even if the doctor is no longer legally and technically the owner of the assets.

In other words, once a claim exists, it is too late to protect most assets.  While one can continue moving assets while a claim is pending, it is almost impossible for an asset protection attorney to develop a plan that would make assets immune, at that point.  The moral of the story is that people with assets who are engaged in professional practices (e.g. doctors, dentists, lawyers, real estate developers, etc.) need to engage an asset protection attorney before claims arise.  That is the only way that a plan providing true asset protection can be developed and tailored to meet the needs of specific individuals.

It is true that some assets, in some states, are exempt assets and automatically protected.  But if you are a person with assets that go beyond exempt assets, then you should consider proactively pursuing an asset protection strategy.

What is Funding?

  • Primary and Second Homes (non-rentals)

The first asset you need to consider is your primary residence.  If you live in a state with fantastic homestead protection like Utah, then you don’t need to do anything.  Your home is protected.  Otherwise, you need to provide some protection for your home.  The typical way to do that is to transfer or “deed” your primary residence into your asset protection trust.  The same is true of any second homes that you own but don’t use to generate rental income.

  • Rental Properties

Rental properties are slightly riskier than non-rental properties.  As a result, there needs to be some additional insulation around them in order to protect your other assets.  That additional insulation comes in the form of a limited liability company (a “LLC”).  The funding works as follows:

  1. The LLC is created, and it is owned in the exact same proportions as the rental property to be transferred.
  2. The rental property is deeded into the LLC.
  3. The LLC is transferred into your asset protection limited partnership.

It’s very important that you follow the exact sequence described above, because in some instances it can save you money by avoiding transfer taxes and/or a reassessment for tax purposes (check with your local taxing authority and clerk of court to make sure).

  • Safe Assets

Cash, stocks, bonds, precious metals, and jewelry are all considered “safe assets.”  That’s because they can’t generate liabilities for you.  Think about it like this: Someone can get injured on your rental property.  That’s just not true of your safe assets.  Because of this unique feature, your safe assets can be owned directly by your limited partnership, without the need to insulate those assets with an LLC.

  • Vehicles

Vehicles are very risky assets.  As a result, they should be left outside your plan completely.  Own vehicles in your personal name, and trust that your other assets are safely protected.

Free Consultation with a Lawyer in Utah

If you have a bankruptcy question, or need help with Asset Protection, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. Attorneys in our office have filed thousands of cases. We can help you now. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Stages in Divorce Mediation

Most mediations go through a series of five stages—not necessarily in this order, and some of them may be repeated at various points during a divorce mediation. Your own mediation may be different, but here are the basics of each stage.

Introductory Stage

In this first stage, the mediator works with you and your spouse to lay a foundation for the rest of the mediation. You give the mediator background information about your situation, and the mediator explains how the mediation will be conducted. Depending on how well you and your spouse communicate and what the issues are in your case, the mediator suggests an approach that should optimize the chances of reaching an agreement. You’ll assess the issues on which you and your spouse agree or disagree, helping you to work together on an agenda for the rest of the mediation.

Stages in Divorce Mediation

Information-Gathering Stage

In order for the mediation to be successful, you, your spouse, and the mediator all need to be as fully informed as possible about the facts of your case. This is the information gathering stage. Sometimes it begins during the first session; sometimes it starts after that session. If information that you and the mediator need is unavailable or in dispute, the mediator will try to help you find ways to get it or to determine what is correct. For example, you might need the policy number and other details of a life insurance policy. If you can’t locate your copy of the policy, the mediator might suggest ways to get this information, such as contacting the broker who sold you the policy or writing to the insurance company.

During this stage, the mediator may first begin to discuss the general legal rules that might apply to your case. This can include the laws of your state dictating how a judge would divide your assets and debts, how child custody and child support would be decided, when and how alimony can be ordered, and laws dealing with related issues like taxes and life and health insurance. This general legal information will help you decide how to approach the issues in your case.

The mediator will also ask you and your spouse to bring in financial documents such as tax returns and bank and mortgage statements. As you progress, the mediator will summarize the information being assembled. If you agree that additional research is needed or a neutral expert is to be consulted, that will go on a “to do” list. This second stage of the mediation can span two or more sessions, especially if you need to do outside work to obtain additional information or appraisals. If you feel that you already know enough about your situation and have definite ideas on how to work out a settlement, you may find yourself impatient with this stage and anxious to move ahead with the negotiations. Even though you may want to rush on, the mediator’s job is to make sure that both you and your spouse have all the facts and information you need to negotiate an agreement that is legally binding and that you won’t regret having signed.

Framing Stage

In the framing stage, the mediator helps each spouse outline that person’s reasons for wanting certain outcomes in the settlement. These reasons consist of individual concerns, priorities, goals, and values. They are often referred to by mediators as “needs and interests.” Here, we use the broader term “interests.” Identifying interests helps to frame the core goal of the mediation: finding a resolution of the issues that successfully addresses each spouse’s most important interests. In most divorces, many issues need to be examined in light of each spouse’s interest. These include property and debt division, child custody, child support, and alimony.

Often, spouses’ interests will overlap. This is especially likely if the interests involve a concern for other people, such as children. When an overlap like this occurs, it increases the likelihood of finding settlement options that address their common concerns. Of course, it’s not always possible to negotiate an agreement that satisfies fully all of the interests of the disputing parties. Some interests may have to be compromised, especially in divorce, where limited resources must be divided between two households. But if the focus is on identifying and addressing each person’s most important needs and interests, the resulting compromises will be ones that both spouses can live with.

Some mediators prefer to conduct the framing stage in separate sessions, as they believe it better prepares each of you for the next stage: negotiating. Other mediators favor joint sessions because they believe that hearing your spouse work with the mediator to formulate interests lays a better foundation for the give and take of the negotiation stage. Either way can work, although separate sessions make the mediation cost a little more and take a little longer, because anything important that is said in the separate session will have to be repeated to the other spouse.

Negotiating Stage

Once the mediator has helped the spouses frame the issues and interests clearly, it is time to negotiate an acceptable settlement. This usually begins with an exploration of possible options. With the mediator’s help, the spouses discuss and evaluate the options, until eventually they narrow down the options to the ones that work best for both spouses. Getting to the final combination of options will involve compromises and concessions on both sides

Most mediators will emphasize the problem-solving aspect of negotiation at this stage. The problem to be solved is finding settlement options that address each spouse’s most important interests as fully as possible. With this focus, you’ll be able to negotiate by trading off acceptable options instead of getting locked into zero-sum bargaining, where one spouse’s gain is the other spouse’s loss.

Concluding Stage

In this stage, the tentative settlement agreement is put into writing and circulated to both spouses for review with their advisers. If the issues in your case are simple, the mediator may prepare a memorandum outlining your settlement and give you an opportunity to sign it before you leave the mediation session in which you finished up your negotiating. The memorandum can summarize the essential points of agreement and can be used as a basis for preparing a formal settlement agreement that will be filed with the court as part of the now-uncontested divorce case.

Many mediators, especially those who are also lawyers, will prepare the written settlement agreement that will be filed with the court. However, you should also have a lawyer of your own look over the draft agreement on your behalf.

Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

When a Divorce is Coming

If you’re convinced that your marriage is irretrievably broken and you’re headed for divorce, here are ten steps to take.

When a Divorce is Coming

Consult a Divorce Lawyer Right Away.

Become informed about your legal rights and responsibilities. For example, suppose you decide to take the children and live at your parents’ house until the divorce is final. From a legal point of view, moving to your parents’ home, even temporarily, could be a huge mistake.

Copy all documents.

Go through household files and make copies of everything you can find: tax returns, bank statements, check registers, investment statements, retirement account statements, employee benefits handbooks, life insurance policies, mortgage documents, financial statements, credit card statements, wills, Social Security statements, automobile titles, etc. If your spouse is self-employed, it is important to gather as much information as possible about the finances of the business. Make copies of any financial data stored on your home computer.

Inventory household and family possessions.

List the major items: furniture, artwork, jewelry, appliances, automobiles, etc. Don’t forget to check the storage areas of your home and your safe deposit box for valuables.

Know the household budget and expenses.

If possible, go through your check register for the past year and write down each utility, mortgage, and other household expense for each month. Keep track of the cash you spend on a daily basis so that you’ll be able to ascertain your monthly cash expenditures also.

Determine how to manage the family debt.

If possible, determine the family debt and consider paying it down before divorce. Allocation of marital debt among divorcing spouses is one of the most difficult items to negotiate. While taking stock of debt, determine whether any of the debt was incurred by one spouse or the other prior to the date of marriage. This would be considered “non-marital debt” and it belongs to the spouse who incurred it.

Find out exactly what your spouse earns.

If your spouse earns a regular salary, it is easy to look at a pay stub; if your spouse is self-employed, owns a business, or receives any portion of income in cash, do your best to keep track of the money flowing in for several months.

Make a realistic appraisal of your earning potential.

Perhaps you have been out of the workforce for a while and have been devoting yourself to childrearing. Assess what your current employability is and whether furthering your education prior to divorce would benefit you in the long run.

Examine your own credit history.

If you do not have credit cards in your own name, apply for them now, use them, and establish your own credit history. If you have a poor credit history, try to pay creditors now and improve your own credit rating prior to divorce.

Build a “nest egg” of your own.

You should always have access to money of your own. If your spouse moves out and stops paying bills, you will need to pay them until temporary support orders can be entered. If you are the one who is going to file for divorce, you’ll need money for a retainer. Start saving now and plan to initiate divorce proceedings when you have built up a nest egg of your own.

Put your kids at the top of your list.

During the divorce process, keep your children’s routines as normal as possible. If you and your spouse cannot be together with the children without arguing, create a schedule of separate times for each of you to be with the children. Stay involved (or become involved) in your children’s school, sports, and social activities. Do not badmouth your spouse to your children. Put your children first in your life.

Free Consultation with a Utah Divorce Lawyer

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Monday, 11 June 2018

What you need to know about Form 10-K, 10-Q and 8-K

What you need to know about Form 10-K

Federal corporate securities laws require that businesses disclose information periodically regarding specific financial statements. Although these statements ask for straightforward information about each company’s financial state of being, it’s common for business owners to be confused by the way in which the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) asks for this information. If you have questions about this process, be sure to speak with a securities lawyer so you can get the help you need.

If your business needs to file reports with the SEC, here are the three important forms you’ll need to be familiar with.

Form 10-K

The SEC requires that companies provide financial information in ongoing periodic statements so that these companies can be adequately monitored. The Form 10-K is an annual report, which “provides a comprehensive overview of the company’s business and financial condition,” according to the SEC. This form includes specific audited financial statements. Form 10-K must be filed within 90 days of the end of the company’s fiscal year.

Form 10-Q

Form 10-Q can be thought of as “filling in the gaps” in between filings of Form 10-K. Form 10-Q is intended to provide a continuous picture of a company’s financial standing. It must include unaudited financial statements. Form 10-Q must be filed for each of the first three quarters of the company’s fiscal year.

Form 8-K

This form is what companies file with the SEC constantly so that shareholders can see where the company is standing. Form 8-K doesn’t need to be submitted in certain time increments; instead, it needs to be submitted after “major events,” which would be of interest to shareholders. These events include, but are not limited to, declaring bankruptcy, completing an acquisition of assets, measuring operations within the company, the unregistered sale of equity securities, and several other internal operations changes.

It is essential for American businesses to understand corporate securities laws because the risks of missing a filing deadline are very high. Although these forms may seem like a complicated hassle to the businesses themselves, all of these measures are intended to protect companies, shareholders, and investors alike. It’s no surprise that the processes abiding by corporate and securities laws are complex; U.S. money market funds alone are worth around $3 trillion, and the SEC brought down a record 755 cases in 2014, totaling $4.1 billion, for violations.

If your company needs assistance with anything related to corporate law filings, it’s imperative to contact a corporate lawyer or corporate securities law firm for assistance.

ONLY 11 U.S. COMPANIES WENT PUBLIC IN 2016

“Why 2016 has been a terrible year for tech IPOs.” For reference, 43 U.S. companies had already gone public by this time last year.

So why are investors and executives alike reluctant to go public in the current market?

As recently as 2014, the IPO market was soaring; 275 IPOs were filed that year, up 23% from the 222 filed in 2013. Total IPOs hit $85 billion that year, compared to $55 billion in 2013. In fact, seven companies raised more than $1 billion in their public offerings. During these years, tech giants like Alibaba, Facebook, and Twitter went public, inspiring others to do so as well.

But the number of IPOs dropped sharply in 2015, with IPO revenues falling by about 60% and no blockbuster IPOs to speak of. So after a string of high-profile IPOs failed to meet expectations, private placement securities are looking very attractive to many companies right now. Plus, not only is there a surplus of private capital available for startups today, but tech companies have become obsessed with achieving unicorn status (a privately held company with a valuation above $1 billion).

Of course, there’s a reason unicorns are so rare. Just look at Theranos.

Theranos was once the darling of Silicon Valley. A fresh startup with an attractive young founder, high profile investors, and “disruptive” new technology. This April, the SEC launched a criminal investigation into Theranos for misleading investors, and even the best corporate and securities lawyers in the world may not be able to help the company survive.

So what can investors take away from the state of the IPO market and the Theranos debacle? Neither private placement securities nor IPOs will help a company with a lousy business model. Ultimately, the truth will come out.

For many startups looking to raise capital in 2016, private placement securities are looking like the safer bet. Many securities law firms will tell you that private placement offerings are essentially the opposite of an Initial Public Offering. Rather than offering stock to the public through an IPO, many companies will first seek to raise capital through private placement securities instead.

SEC CHARGES RENEWABLE ENERGY COMPANY, CEO, AND OTHERS WITH DEFRAUDING INVESTORS

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed fraud charges against four individuals and others who allegedly profited by defrauding investors in a cash-strapped Utah-based renewable energy company.

Patrick Carter, the founder and CEO of 808 Renewable Energy Corp. was charged along with the company, chief operating officer Peter Kirkbride, sales representatives Martin Kinchloe and Thomas Flowers, and three other firms: 808 Investments LLC, West Coast Commodities LLC, and T.A. Flowers LLC.  The complaint alleges that the fraud began in 2009 and lasted at least five years, raising more than $30 million from hundreds of investors.

According to the SEC’s complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Utah, the defendants misled investors, falsely claiming their funds would be used to acquire new equipment and expand 808 Renewable. Instead, the complaint alleges that Carter paid millions for “consulting fees” by 808 Investments LLC, a company he owned and controlled, and diverted millions more to support his lavish lifestyle, to pay commissions to sales representatives, and to make Ponzi-like payments to investors. The SEC also alleges that in 2013 Carter falsely announced that the Utah Stock Exchange had preliminarily approved 808 Renewable’s stock for trading on the AMEX, and sold millions of his own shares to investors.

“We allege that Patrick Carter orchestrated a fraudulent scheme using 808 Renewable Energy Corporation to raise millions,” said Michele Wein Layne.  “While telling investors their funds would be used for the benefit of the company, Carter and his associates looted 808 Renewable.”

The SEC’s complaint charges Carter, 808 Renewable, Kirkbride, Kinchloe, Flowers, 808 Investments, LLC, West Coast Commodities LLC and T.A. Flowers LLC with violating federal antifraud laws and related SEC rules.  The SEC seeks disgorgement of allegedly ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest and penalties, permanent injunctive relief, and penny-stock bars against the defendants, as well as officer and director bars against Carter and Kirkbride.

Flowers and T.A. Flowers LLC have offered to settle the SEC’s action without admitting or denying the allegations against them.  Under the settlement, which is subject to court approval, they will agree to full injunctive relief, disgorgement plus prejudgment interest of $1.4 million, penny-stock bars, and a $160,000 penalty assessed against Flowers.

Free Initial Consultation with a Securities Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Students Eligible for Loan Discharge

Get out of student loan debt free? If you’re a former student of Corinthian Colleges, you might.

The for-profit Corinthian Colleges, which stopped operating in 2015 and displaced more than 10,000 Utah students, was under fire by the U.S. Department of Education after it found the schools made false claims about their post-graduation employment rates and other information between 2010 and 2014. In April 2017, thousands of more Corinthian students in other states were made aware of their potential eligibility for student loan forgiveness.

Students Eligible for Loan Discharge

While the story isn’t new, more students may be getting the financial help they so desperately need. Utah’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against the schools and its subsidiaries (Heald, Everest College, and WyoTech) in 2013 for a predatory scheme targeting low-income students, and the schools were accused of falsely advertising programs that didn’t exist, misleading students about their credits transferring to Cal State, and engaging in illegal debt collection practices.

In 2015, the Department of Education also levied a $30 million fine against Corinthian for inflating job placement numbers, while the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau won a lawsuit that ordered the schools to pay back $500 million in restitution for students. Corinthian sold most of its locations to Zenith Education Group in February 2015, filed for bankruptcy, and ceased operations.

Now, Corinthian Colleges students may be able to wipe away their remaining student loan debt — and get a refund on any loan debt they’ve already paid back. Find out how below.

Am I eligible for a student loan discharge?

Letters recently went out to thousands of students around the country to explain how students could cancel their federal student loans used to attend these schools. About 40 states have arranged for a streamlined process to discharge these loans. The affected programs include those at Heald and Everest/WyoTech, with campuses across the country.

Generally, you may be eligible for federal student loan forgiveness if you either attended a Corinthian school that closed on April 27, 2015, or you believe you were defrauded by the school you attended or it otherwise engaged in actions that violated state law. You must not have finished your program, or transferred your credits to another school.

Two bills currently in Congress also would help veterans who used GI Bill money to pay for attending for-profit schools like Corinthian and ITT Educational Services, the latter of which shut down 14 campuses last year.

How do I get my student loans canceled?

If a former student qualifies, he or she can get their federal student loan canceled and they won’t have to make any additional payments. They’ll also be refunded the payments they already made.

Students who believe the schools lied about their job prospects, credit transfers, or other issues should fill out a discharge application on the Department of Education’s website, borrowerdischarge.ed.gov. You can request a loan forbearance — a temporary stop on your payments or a stop on collections on loans in default — as your claim is being reviewed.

It’s advised for students to continue making payments while their discharge paperwork is being processed, until they’ve been notified by the federal government or their loan provider that the loans have been canceled or are in forbearance for the time being. If you receive an email titled “Borrower Defense Claim,” it is from the Department of Education and includes communication on a full or partial approval of your borrower defense application. After that, you’ll receive additional information confirming that your loans have been discharged.

For more information, check out the State of Utah Department of Justice’s interactive tool to help students learn about their eligibility for student loan relief and their legal rights.

If I didn’t go to Corinthian, how do I get my student loans forgiven?

If you’ve never attended Corinthian Colleges but want to find a way to get rid of your student loans (don’t we all?), be careful of any scams that involve application fees or advance payments. In some situations — such as your job, a disability, or the closure of your school — you may be able to have your student loans forgiven.

It’s important to note that any type of loan forgiveness is only in regards to federal student loans — Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL) Loans, and Perkins Loans — not private loans from a bank or other source. A Borrower Defense Discharge (what most Corinthian Colleges students would apply for) is a type of loan forgiveness called “borrower defense to repayment” and does not apply to Perkins Loans.

The Department of Education has a lot of good FAQs on this topic, but here are a few standout bits of information on types of loan forgiveness, cancellation, or discharge:

Public service jobs and teaching jobs have their own loan forgiveness programs; for example, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program forgives the remaining balance of your Direct Loans after you’ve made 120 qualifying monthly payments (or 10 years) while working full-time for a qualifying employer. If you have yet to enroll in college and are considering a job in public service or teaching, make sure to read up on these programs.

A total and permanent disability discharge will wipe out several loans, including Direct Loans, FFEL Loans, and Perkins Loans, as well as no longer require you to complete a Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant service obligation.

A loan discharge in bankruptcy is rare, but possible if the bankruptcy court finds that it would impose undue hardship on you and your dependents if you kept your student loans. Generally, you need to have a severe disability. You must file for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, as well as file a separate action called an adversary proceeding. Several tests are used to determine undue hardship.

Free Consultation with a Utah Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you have a bankruptcy question, or need to file a bankruptcy case, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. Attorneys in our office have filed over a thousand cases. We can help you now. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Saturday, 9 June 2018

What Can I Keep if I File Bankruptcy?

Many people mistakenly believe that they will lose everything when they file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This is not the case. The Bankruptcy Code allows debtors to claim certain necessary property as off-limits from creditors and the trustee. That property is the debtor’s “exempt property.”

What Can I Keep if I File Bankruptcy

The debtor claims property as exempt in the schedules that are filed to initiate the case. If no objections are filed to the exemptions, they become final 30 days after the meeting of creditors, commonly called the 341 meeting.

Exempt property is not property of the bankruptcy estate. You are free to keep it after bankruptcy when you are free of debt.

In Most Cases, Chapter 7 Filers Keep Their Property

Most Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases are no-asset cases. That means the debtors give up nothing to the trustee. The exemption systems permit debtors to retain the means of day-to-day living, free from the claims of their creditors.

The point of bankruptcy is to get a fresh start and that is only possible if the debtor has something to start with. In addition, used household goods and personal effects have little resale value, and so do not represent a real source of value to repay creditors.

Do federal or state exemptions apply? And which state?

Congress created a set of exemptions in the bankruptcy code but allowed each state to opt-out of those exemptions in favor of state law exemptions. Sixteen states allow debtors to choose between federal and state exemptions. The other 34 states require use of their own exemptions.

You’ll need to consult state law or search National Bankruptcy Forum’s Consumer Laws by State section for the list of specific exemptions available to you. In order to use a state’s exemptions, you must have lived in that state for two years prior to filing. If you haven’t lived there for two years, you must use the exemptions of the state in which you lived for most of the six months prior to the two-year lookback period.

For example, say you were born and raised in North Dakota. On January 1, 2017, you moved to Utah. It’s now May 1, 2018 and you’re filing for bankruptcy. You haven’t lived in Utah for the two years necessary to use the Utah exemptions. So, you have to look back two years to May 1, 2016 and use the exemptions of the state you lived in for the six months prior to that date. Because you lived in North Dakota during the relevant period, you’ll use the North Dakota exemptions.

How Liens Impact Bankruptcy Exemptions

Note that exemption amounts refer to your equity in the asset. If you co-own the asset, only your share of the equity is relevant. If an asset is subject to a mortgage or a lien, your equity is the value of the item after deducting the amount of the lien or liens (the equity).

Imagine that you purchased a home that is currently worth $300,000 and you have an outstanding mortgage loan of $250,000. Your equity in the home is $50,000. If an exemption protects more than $50,000 of equity in your home, creditors can’t touch it. Now imagine you bought the same home but only owe $75,000 on your mortgage loan. In that scenario, you have $225,000 of equity. Unless your state’s exemption protects more than $225,000 of equity, the bankruptcy trustee can sell your home, pay you the amount of the exemption, and give the rest to your creditors.

Generally, the trustee won’t sell an asset if you only have slightly more equity than the exempt amount. They’ll only sell if you have enough nonexempt equity to make a meaningful payment to creditors.

Common Exemptions

Exemptions are meant to ensure that you have the necessary means to live and work. They protect the debtors from creditors who might otherwise seize everything and leave the debtor destitute. While each state has its own exemption rules, there are several major exemptions offered by most states.

Excluded Property

Some assets are completely excluded from the bankruptcy process by federal law. Pension rights and 401(k) plans are not a part of your bankruptcy estate and are safe from creditors. IRAs are also excluded from your bankruptcy estate up to $1 million. Social Security benefits, unemployment benefits, disability benefits, veterans benefits, and alimony or support payments are excluded from the bankruptcy estate. If you have received or are going to receive an award as damages for personal injury, that amount is excluded from the bankruptcy estate, too.

Wage Exemption

Under Chapter 7, the wages you earn after you file for bankruptcy are generally not considered part of your bankruptcy estate. That gives you an opportunity to start saving as soon as you file. Wages that you earned before you filed but didn’t receive until after you file are part of the bankruptcy estate. You may be able to keep wages earned before filing and received after filing if you can prove that you need the money for reasonable and necessary living expenses.

Homestead Exemption

A homestead exemption protects some or all of your equity in your home. Generally, for a homestead exemption to apply, the home must be your primary residence. If you’ve moved to a new state, you can’t claim a homestead exemption unless you’ve owned the home for at least 40 months prior to filing for bankruptcy. If you haven’t owned the home for 40 months, you can only take the federal exemption of $23,675. 11 U.S.C.A. § 522(d)(1).

Auto Exemption

Most states offer an exemption for all or part of your equity in one or more cars. The federal auto exemption is $3,775. 11 U.S.C.A. § 522(d)(2).

Household Goods Exemption

The law wants to protect the items you need to survive. That includes your furniture, clothing, appliances, and medical supplies, among others. Federal law exempts up to $12,250 of household goods, as long as no single item is worth more than $575. There are limits to the household goods exemption; you generally can’t keep multiple televisions, art (unless you created it), recreational vehicles such as boats and ATVs, and similar non-essential items. 11 U.S.C.A. §§ 522(d)(1), 522(f)(4).

Wild Card Exemption

Federal law and many state laws offer a “wild card” exemption. This exemption can cover any property or can be added on to any other exemption. Unfortunately, the wild card doesn’t apply in the state of Utah.  The wild card is a way for you to protect items that are important to you but would otherwise be subject to liquidation. The federal wild card exemption protects up to $1,250 of equity in any property, plus up to $11,850 of the unused portion of the homestead exemption. If you only use part of your homestead exemption, you can apply the unused part to any property up to $11,850. If you don’t claim a homestead exemption, you can protect $13,100 ($1,250 + $11,850) of equity in any property.

Free Consultation with a Bankruptcy Lawyer in Utah

If you have a bankruptcy question, or need to file a bankruptcy case, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. Attorneys in our office have filed over a thousand cases. We can help you now. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506