Monday, 20 August 2018

6 Ways to Protect Yourself During a Utah Divorce

6 Ways to Protect Yourself During a Utah Divorce

Sometimes a divorce is the only option. But don’t rush into it without doing a few things to protect yourself. If you are still communicating with your spouse, it may be smart to discuss a mediated divorce. If not, keeping the following in mind can help:

  • Speak with an attorney. Many divorce attorneys offer free consultations. This is your time to meet with various attorneys not only to decide which lawyer to hire, but to get a better idea out of what you can expect in your divorce.
  • If you have children, don’t move out. Moving out could ruin your chance of gaining custody in the future.
  • Do not sign anything that you’re unsure of. Even informal written agreements can come back to haunt you in court. Always speak with your lawyer before signing anything.
  • Cancel joint credit cards. Be sure to tell your spouse you are canceling a credit card, but also protect yourself against any ludicrous charges that might be made after the separation.
  • Secure records. It is a good idea to secure and make copies of your financial records, including tax returns, credit card statements, loan applications and pay stubs. Also, protect important personal records such as Social Security cards and birth certificates.
  • Make a budget. Divorces aren’t always easy on your wallet. Consider making a budget to help you keep your finances under control during the proceedings.

A Study Finds that 79 Percent of Separations End in Divorce

A new study from researchers at Ohio State University reveals that approximately 79 percent of married couples that separate end up getting divorced.

According to researcher Dmitry Tumin, the majority of separations in America last for one year or less, though some can drag on for many years. While some separations remain unresolved and a few lead to reconciliation, the vast majority end in divorce. I’ve personally seen this as a divorce lawyer. It is very common practice, even in Utah.

The researchers found that the average amount of time for a first separation is approximately four years. For respondents that divorce after separating the average length is three years, and for those who reunite, the average length is two years. There was not a single instance in the study of a couple reuniting after three years of separation. Correspondingly, those separations that last for less than a year are significantly more likely to end in couples reuniting, which means that the longer the separation goes, the more likely it is that a divorce will eventually occur.

These findings, while not particularly surprising, may be of interest for people who are considering separation. Many people separate in hopes that time apart will do their relationship some good, but in reality, it would seem that not much changes during the course of a separation.

There can be some benefits to a separation, including tax breaks and less financial and emotional strain due to divorce court proceedings. However, for some people, separation may seem as though they are simply delaying the inevitable.

What Are My Options If I Want to Get a Divorce?

Most people fear divorce. They do not know what to expect and they are afraid of what may happen during and after the dissolution of their marriage. They are afraid of the costs of divorce and of the large amount of time that may be needed to end their marriage. So instead of facing the problems in their marriage, some choose to stay in a loveless relationship that drains them emotionally, physically and financially. But that only works for a time.

If you reach the point where you would like to get out of your marriage, you should understand that there are a number of ways to go about getting a divorce. While the process may be difficult, it is usually worth the effort.

But forceful attorneys know how to negotiate for a fair resolution of these difficult issues. Sometimes, mediation is the best approach, and experienced divorce lawyers can guide you through the mediation process keeping you out of court while protecting your rights and doing what is best for your family. Most divorces do not go to trial, but with a skilled divorce attorney in your corner you can make sure your rights are protected throughout the divorce process.

Free Consultation with a Utah Divorce Attorney

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 fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

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

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Birth Injury Claims and Medical Malpractice

Birth Injury Claims and Medical Malpractice

Having a baby is one of the most rewarding experiences of human life. After nine months of growth and care, a new life is brought into the world. Normally this experience is one of blessed joy; however, what happens when something goes wrong?

Birth injuries due to negligence are some of the most common drivers of medical malpractice lawsuits. If something happens to you or your unborn baby as a result of your doctor’s negligence, your doctor could be held liable for injuries or even wrongful death. If you suspect a birth injury could have otherwise been avoided, contact your local personal injury lawyer to see if you are eligible for compensation.

Birth injuries can affect either the mother or the unborn or newborn child. Common birth injuries include cerebral palsy, cranial and spinal cord injuries, fractures and bone injuries, infant brain damage, cephalohematoma and Erb’s Palsy. These injuries, while not uncommon in Provo or elsewhere, can typically be avoided through proper medical supervision. For example, cephalohematoma can be avoided by following proper vacuum extraction procedure. Bone fractures and physical deformities can also be prevented by avoiding excessive use of force during delivery.

In the case of many birth injuries, a doctor’s actions — or lack thereof — can be found directly responsible for you or your child’s injuries. For instance, in the case of infant wrongful death due to umbilical cord strangulation, the medical staff could have executed an emergency C-section in order to save the baby. In the eyes of a lawyer, failure to do so may result in liability for the child’s wrongful death.

In addition to being physically and emotionally draining, fetal injury and wrongful death cases are often difficult to prosecute. If you suspect that an injury sustained during childbirth could have reasonably been avoided, contact a local medical malpractice lawyer and discuss the best course of action for your situation.

THE SAD TRUTHS BEHIND AUTISM AND BIRTH INJURY

Truthfully, childbirth is one of life’s most beautiful, rewarding experiences. Whether you’re new to parenthood in Utah or are more than familiar with child rearing in other American states, welcoming a new child into the world is simply an unforgettable happening.

However, not all childbirths occur without their own respective flaws. Because I’m an injury lawyer, I’ve seen far too many hopeful adults, what should be a routine infant delivery turns into a series of heart-wrenching, emotional events, occasionally resulting in wrongful deaths. In fact, according to recent, in-depth research, there very well might be a strong link between attention deficits and birth injuries.

According to medical researcher Viola M. Frymann, at least 80 percent of children who battle ADD, ADHD or even Autism, underwent some sort of birth injury during the delivery process. She says: “The most common injuries occurred during the labor and delivery period, a time in which the nervous system can be severely damaged, leading to cognitive and psychological problems.”

Typical birth-related injuries include, yet aren’t limited to forceps and vacuum extraction complications, erroneous epidural administrations and complex umbilical cord issues. With wrongful deaths and incidents of medical malpractice abounding here in Utah and elsewhere, it’s important to pay attention and stand up for those who can’t formally defend themselves: infants.

Free Initial Consultation with an Injury Lawyer

If you need a personal injury lawyer in Utah, 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, 19 August 2018

Putting a Trust in a Will

Putting a Trust in a Will

There must be a valid will to properly designate how and to whom a person’s property is distributed upon their death. If you would like to create a trust that will come into effect only after your death, consider putting a testamentary trust into your will. Read on to learn about how to place a testamentary trust in a will.

What Is a Testamentary Trust?

A testamentary trust is a type of express trust that is written in a will or in a document incorporated by reference into a will, which arises upon the death of the settlor. It specifies what assets or funds are to be distributed after the death of the settlor. Testamentary trusts are preferred over other types of trust because they can protect the assets from the immaturity of minor children or other family members.

Regarding testamentary trusts, the following parties are involved:

  • Settlor: is the person who creates the trust to transfer his or her assets to the beneficiaries. This person is also called the “grantor” or “trustor.”
  • Trustee: is the person who will handle the trust and manages the assets or the funds involved in the trust. A trustee holds the legal title to those assets.
  • Beneficiary(s): is a person or entity that receives a benefit from the trust. Beneficiaries of a testamentary trust are usually minor children, family members with disabilities, or anyone who inherits a large sum of money.
  • The probate court: is a court that has jurisdiction over the probate of wills and administration of estates. The probate court will check up on the trust and make sure it is being properly handled.

Creating a Testamentary Trust In a Will

To create a testamentary trust in a will, the settlor must designate a trustee and specify the beneficiaries. As mentioned above, a testamentary trust comes into effect not until the settlor dies. Thus, the testamentary trust must be contained in the settlor’s last (final) will, so the trust can be created upon the settlor’s death.

Then, the probate process will take place. A testamentary trust is not automatically created upon the settlor’s death. While other types of trusts may avoid probate, a testamentary trust must go through the probate process. The testamentary trust will come into effect upon the completion of this process.

After the provisions are reviewed by all parties, a trust will proceed to generate distributions. A trustee, chosen by the settlor, will manage the property or funds in the trust until the trust terminates. The trustee may be required to go to the probate court at least once a year and ensure the court that the trust is being handled in accordance to the will and state law.

Example of a Testamentary Trust in a Will

Let’s say you decide to include a testamentary trust in your will. You have a 3-year-old daughter and you want her to receive your assets after you die. You designate your uncle, Bob, as the trustee of your testamentary trust. You specified that upon your death, Bob will manage your assets for the benefit of your daughter until she reaches the age of 21. You want Bob to be in charge of giving your daughter monthly income for education and expenses. When your daughter turns 21, she will receive the remaining assets, and the trust will terminate.

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

What Rights to Custody Do Step Parents Have?

What Rights to Custody Do Step Parents Have

Although it is possible for stepparents to request custody or visitation of a children who are not biologically theirs, it can be a challenging process. As a family lawyer, I’ve seen some things that may help. There are some ways in which the law treats stepparents similarly to natural parents, as a step parent has likely played a significant role in the child’s life. In other situations, however, the natural parent’s rights will take precedent.

One of the major issues in a stepparent achieving custody or visitation rights is the idea of “standing,” or that parent’s right to even have his or her case heard in court. In a situation involving stepparents, there are several factors that come into play:

  • How involved that stepparent has been in the child’s life
  • How long the stepparent participated as an actual parent in the child’s life in place of a natural parent
  • The existence and strength of the relationship between a stepparent and child
  • How much financial support the step parent provides to the child
  • Whether there could be a detriment to the child if the stepparent is denied custody or visitation

Stepparents are, in general, more likely to receive visitation than actual custody. Approximately half of the states in the nation have laws that authorize stepparent visitation, with additional states having processes in place to allow them to petition for it. Utah allows for stepparents to petition for these rights.

The lack of a blood relationship, however, is a significant barrier to overcome when seeking custody rights. Natural parents must be clearly unfit for custody if a court is to place the children in another home.

Can a Veteran’s Spouse Claim VA Benefits During Divorce?

Although wives and husbands of military personnel typically lose benefits when they dissolve their marriage to a service member, federal law does provide certain protections for former military spouses. Depending on the length of your marriage to a service member, you may retain these rights:

  • Access to the commissary and post exchange — If you were married for at least 20 years to a service member with at least 20 years of service credited toward retirement, you are entitled to use the commissary and PX. You may retain these privileges until you remarry.
  • Retirement pay — For an ex-spouse to qualify for a share in a service member’s retirement pay, the couple must have been married for at least 10 years and for at least 10 years of the member’s service time. State equitable distribution laws decide how much of the retirement pay the ex-spouse receives. Retirement pay continues until the service member dies.
  • Healthcare — Ex-spouses of retired or active-duty service members may continue their health insurance coverage under the Department of Defense’s TRICARE system as long as they don’t remarry or enroll in an employer’s group healthcare plan. However, the spouse’s sponsor (the ex-spouse service member) must have at least 20 years of service and the couple must have been married for at least 20 years of the credited service.
  • Survivor benefit — The service member may elect, within two years of the divorce, to leave a survivor benefit to an ex-spouse. This is a monthly payment that begins upon the death of the service member, and it can relieve financial hardships that come with the termination of retirement pay.

Free Initial Consultation with a Lawyer in Utah

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

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Is Mediation the Best Route in Divorce?

Is Mediation the Best Route in Divorce

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a cost- and time-effective divorce option that enables couples to avoid contentious litigation. Two types of ADR used in family law in Utah are mediation and the collaborative divorce process. Mediation employs the use of a trained, neutral third party, such as an attorney or other trained specialist, to assist a divorcing couple craft satisfying divorce and child custody agreements. In the collaborative process, each spouse is represented by a trained attorney and the group together works to create agreements that reflect the wishes of each party.

While collaborative divorce and mediation are alternatives to litigation, I’m telling you as a divorce lawyer that these methods may not be the best choice for you. Drawbacks to these processes include the following:

  • Communication: ADR may not be a good option for couples experiencing a volatile break-up. When partners are bitter, non-communicative, or hostile, mediation can quickly go awry and turn a low-conflict process into the first skirmish of a long divorce battle.
  • Integrity: If a spouse acts in bad faith — either hiding assets or attempting to manipulate his or her partner — mediation is a futile exercise.
  • Representation: Without advocacy by a family law attorney, either party in mediation may feel pressured to make uninformed concessions they would not otherwise agree to.

Under any circumstances, divorce is difficult. Before you make decisions that affect your future, contact an experienced divorce lawyer to choose the route through divorce that is best for you.

Documents to Update After Divorce

When your divorce is finalized, it’s time to update some key documents. These include:

  • Social Security: If you changed your name when you got married, you can regain your married name and obtain a new Social Security card through the Social Security Administration. If you are middle-aged or older upon divorce, inform yourself about Social Security benefits.
  • Driver license: Change the name on your driver license if needed through the Utah Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • Healthcare proxies: Estate planning is an important priority following divorce. A new will and other estate planning documents should be prepared along with updated health care documentation.
  • Policies: Life insurance, retirement and other policy beneficiaries should be revisited if appropriate.
  • Credit cards: Order a copy of your credit report and review it to ensure your credit record is clean following your divorce. There may be forgotten joint accounts, equity loans or other lines of credit to be closed following a divorce. Follow through with banks and creditors.
  • Safety deposit boxes: If your safety deposit box is held jointly, close your account. Obtain a new box and move your valuables. The signature of your ex-spouse is likely required to close the box.
  • Memberships: Club and other memberships may need to be updated, including online memberships such as Amazon Prime.

Although addressing more legalities may seem like too much following your divorce, these updates conclude your divorce and enable your future to unfold smoothly. With time, your individual identity becomes well established.

Tips for Achieving Financial Success During, After a Divorce

While planning for your divorce might seem like a daunting and unappealing process, it is important to prepare yourself for the process you are about to go through and what lies beyond it. Specifically, sound financial planning can help you avoid some of the challenges divorced people tend to face.

Below are a few tips to help you protect yourself financially during and after a divorce:

  • Choose the right lawyer: The attorney you consult should be able to help you achieve a favorable outcome that will set you up for long-term financial stability. He or she should be a true partner to you throughout the entire process.
  • Inventory everything you own: Keep track of what you own and the amount of money you have in accounts and other assets. Get copies of all documents that verify these assets so you have clear evidence and are more organized when settlement negotiations begin.
  • Consider taxes: The way assets get divided during the divorce process can have some significant tax ramifications. You must consider this for every move and decision you make.
  • Check your credit score: It is important to know where you stand so you are not surprised after your divorce when you find yourself in need of a loan, but are unable to get one due to a poor credit rating.
  • Update your beneficiaries: Review the beneficiaries on your retirement plans and any other accounts or estate documents with named beneficiaries to be sure you are not inadvertently giving money or assets to your former spouse.
  • Insure child support and alimony: If your former spouse becomes disabled or passes away, you don’t want to be left high and dry when it comes to child support and alimony. This insurance can provide you with some peace of mind.

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 fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

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

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Health Care Directives

Health Care Directives

Health care directives are a part of estate planning that most people don’t think much about. As an estate planning lawyer, I’m often shocked to find that most people, even elderly folks, don’t have one.

Health care directives allow you to specify your health care decisions beforehand in case you are unable to express them during a medical emergency. You may be wondering what duty your health care providers have in enforcing your health care directives.

Many people often wonder whether or not their medical care providers have a duty to follow their wishes when it comes to their health care. These wishes are often recorded in documents like living wills and health care directives.

Duty to Follow Health Care Directives

In general, medical care providers are generally held to a pretty strict duty to comply with your recorded wishes that relate to your health care if you become incapacitated. In addition, if your health care directives or living will appoint someone as a legal agent in charge of your health care (called a health care agent), doctors and other medical providers are also under a duty to follow their orders and decisions about your care.

Exceptions to a Health Care Directive

However, there are some situations in which your doctor or medical care provider can go against the wishes that you have set forth in your health care directives. Health care providers can do so when:

  • The directive set forth decisions that go against the conscience of the doctor or individual medical services provider,
  • The directives set a policy that goes against the policies of the hospital or other medical institution based on reasons of conscience, or
  • The directives include decisions that would result in ineffective health care, or asks health care providers to adopt health care standards that violate those of the provider, hospital or other medical institution.

However, even if these factors are present, this does not mean that your doctor or health care provider can simply ignore your health care directives. Instead, if your doctor or health care provider thinks that they will go against the wishes and directions set forth in your health care directives, or against the orders of your health care agent, they must immediately inform you or your agent. When this happens, you or your agent will have the option of taking steps to have you transferred to another doctor or medical facility where your wishes and instructions will be honored. Indeed, if your doctor or medical care provider refuses to do so and still goes against your wishes and orders, the doctor may be liable for damages to you.

Pregnancy and your Health Care Directive

Despite what is written above, doctors and medical care providers may be able to legally ignore your wishes and orders contained in your health care directives if you are pregnant. In order to have your wishes still be carried out, you should specifically state in your health care directives what your wishes are for your care when you are pregnant.

Even if you specify your wishes for when you are with child, your doctor may still be able to override your wishes in order to keep you and your fetus alive. This is especially true if you are in your second or third trimester.

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

Friday, 17 August 2018

How to Get the Best Outcome in Divorce

As you go through your divorce, important to be focused on the long term, making sure you’re ending up with the best possible settlement for you. This requires you to have a clear picture of exactly what it is you want as you move forward with your life.

How to Get the Best Outcome in Divorce

With how stressful and emotional divorce can be, however, this is often easier said than done. To make this process less difficult, you should identify all of the most important issues and your top priorities ahead of time, and stick to them throughout the divorce proceedings. Having a game plan before negotiations actually begin will help ensure you stay on the right track.

The most common issues individuals need to navigate are child custody and support, the division of marital assets and alimony. Let’s take a quick look at each:

  • Child custody and support: If you have children, what happens to them is going to be a significant component of your divorce. Even if custody itself ends up being an easy issue to resolve, you still must consider things like visitation schedules, the division of expenses, the amount of child support that the non-custodial parent will pay and how you will jointly make child-rearing decisions.
  • Property division: The division of martial property and assets can quickly become contentious, especially when there are particularly valuable or sentimental items involved. Consulting a divorce attorney or financial planner will help you figure out how to best address your priorities through this process.
  • Alimony: If alimony (or spousal support) is an issue in your divorce, get an idea of how much you’re seeking or willing to pay out in alimony payments each month. Note that almost all alimony arrangements are temporary in nature.

Child Tax Credits After Your Divorce

Some of the most valuable tax credits are those that are granted to parents to help provide assistance with the costs of raising their children. But when parents are separated or divorced, who gets to take advantage of these tax credits?

There are different stipulations for each type of tax credit:

  • Child and Dependent Care Credit. This credit covers expenses for child care options like day care so that you can work or look for work. The total credit amount of up to 35 percent of care expenses, up to $3,000 for one child and $6,000 for more than one, so long as those children are under 13 or disabled. For divorced parents, only the custodial parent is able to claim the credit.
  • Child Tax Credit. This tax credit gives parents that have incomes below a certain level a $1,000 credit for each child under the age of 17. The custodial parent will usually take this credit, but the noncustodial parent can claim it if the custodial parent decides to release the dependency exemption to the noncustodial parent. The credit is also lowered for single parents or could be completely unavailable if gross income is over $75,000.
  • Earned Income Credit (EIC). EIC is meant to provide low-income workers with tax breaks. A taxpayer’s ability to claim this credit depends on adjusted gross income and earned income, and for parents, the total amount of the credit depends on the number of kids. Only the custodial parent can claim EIC in a divorce. Alimony and child support paid to you does not qualify as earned income.

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 fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

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

Telephone: (801) 676-5506