Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Resolve Your Divorce with a Level Head

Resolve Your Divorce with a Level Head

Even if you and your spouse both agree to dissolve your marriage and move on, divorce is never an easy process. There are many emotions and tough issues to resolve, and it can be difficult to keep a clear head when finalizing the terms of your divorce.

During this time, it’s extremely important to approach these issues rationally and to avoid getting overly emotional. After all, a great deal of your future rests on the decisions you make when negotiating with your former partner on matters involving child custody, child support and the division of marital property.

The following are several steps you should take to prepare for divorce in Salt Lake City:

  • Gather financial records: Before a divorce, get organized and prepare all of your financial documents and store them in a safe place — such as a friend or relative’s house.
  • Start saving money: Divorce can be expensive, especially if you need to engage in litigation. Start saving moving as early as possible to make sure you can cover the fees and costs involved.
  • Open new checking/savings accounts: You likely have joint accounts with your spouse, so you should open new checking and savings accounts as a place to store and save your own money.
  • Change your beneficiaries: If your spouse is listed as a beneficiary in your will or life insurance policy, you might want to name someone else.
  • Inventory marital and non-marital property: The division of marital assets can be a difficult process, and it helps to be organized. Make sure you know which key assets you share versus which ones you own separately.

Second Time Around: Four Tips for Success

Love makes the world go ‘round. Even after a lengthy or high-conflict divorce experience, many of my clients remarry. At any age, the opportunity to build a life with a person with whom you share abiding love and companionship is a blessing.

If considering a second marriage, or if you just started into your first relationship since divorce, take a look at these tips for making a second marriage or relationship last:

  • Once bitten, twice shy: You have been divorced — think about why. While you should not let ghosts of the past derail a future relationship, try to gain perspective on why a first marriage failed, and what you might do to avoid a split the second time around.
  • Prenuptial contracts: Anyone who goes through divorce is not likely to be squeamish about discussing assets and financial responsibility. Our firm regularly drafts clear, concise prenuptial agreements for clients entering a second marriage. Hard-earned assets or property are clearly identified as separate, so that they will remain free from equitable distribution, should the second marriage fail.
  • Stepparents: The role of a new spouse is complicated. If an earlier divorce was traumatic, there are a few clues as to how children will handle a second marriage. Maintaining a stable household, and keeping boundaries clear and lines of communication open, are respectful ways to address the anxiety of children in a new parenting situation.
  • Location, location, location: Second marriages often involve one partner moving into the home of another. While this makes sound economic sense, a residence owned by one spouse will always be their house. Talk to your partner about ways to keep separately- owned property, while finding a new residence both can call home.

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Corporate Attorney

Corporate Attorney

Oftentimes people wonder whether they need a corporate attorney to help them with a case.  If you have a corporation, limited liability company (“LLC”), partnership, or other entity, you may need corporate counsel.

Corporation

A corporation is a legal entity apart from its owners (shareholders).  Corporations can establish credit, acquire assets, and enter into contractual engagements. Potential liabilities are incurred by the corporation, not by the owners themselves.  This means that the personal assets of officers and shareholders are usually safe from the corporation’s creditors.  However, if shareholders fail to follow corporate formalities, a court may “pierce the corporate veil”, allowing creditors access to personal property. Owners of corporations don’t pay tax on the corporation’s earnings unless they actually receive the money as dividends or as compensation for services (e.g. salaries and bonuses).  The corporation itself pays taxes on all profits left in the business.

Benefits of a Corporation

  • First and foremost, there is limited liability for shareholders.  This perk attracts investors, as an investor’s liability and exposure is limited to the amount of his or her investment – less risk! This makes raising capital for your corporation less challenging.
  • Forming a corporation also increases the credibility of your company, and provides an opportunity for prestige among business and corporate officers.
  • Finally, corporations have several tax, compensation and wage benefits.

Detriments of a Corporation

  • You have to observe corporate formalities.  These are the basic operating rules that are necessary to ensure that the corporation maintains its status as a separate legal entity.  Some of the formalities include appointing officer positions, electing a board of directors, proper documentation of the corporation’s activity, annual meetings, etc.
  • Reaching corporate status is not a monumental task, but one must be sure to ensure the process is done correctly.
  • Another downfall is that a corporation goes through double taxation.  A traditional corporation must pay tax on all corporate income, followed by individual shareholders paying income taxagain on whatever distributions they received. One way to avoid the double taxation dilemma is to establish the corporation as a “pass through” entity.  This way all corporate profits pass through to the individual shareholders, so they alone will be responsible for the tax burden.  When a corporation elects to be treated this way, it becomes known as an “S” Corporation, which is discussed below.

Nonprofit Corporation

Nonprofit organizations are formed in the state where they intend to do business. Unlike a standard corporation, nonprofits do not conduct activities for the financial gain of shareholders.  Preventing the distribution of profits to members/shareholders is what distinguishes the nonprofit from a commercial enterprise; yet nonprofits still provide asset protection and limited liability.  A nonprofit corporation is not forbidden from making a profit — but if it does, that profit can only be used to further the overarching goal or mission of the organization.  Nonprofits can also trade at a profit and accept, hold and disburse money; but all profit and things of value are to be used to further the nonprofit’s quest.   Nonprofits are organized in many different ways: charities, service organizations, trusts, hospitals, universities, foundations, endowments and cooperatives can all operate as nonprofits.  Nonprofits can have “members”, although many do not.  They may have employees, and can compensate their directors reasonably, but only if compensation is documented ever-so-carefully.

Benefits of a Nonprofit

  • Nonprofit corporations generally have tax exempt status.
  • Once the recognized nonprofit entity has been formed at the state level, the nonprofit corporation can seek tax exempt status by applying to the IRS.  The IRS, after reviewing the application to ensure the purpose of the organization meets certain conditions, will issue an authorization letter granting it tax exempt status for income tax purposes. The exemption does not apply to other federal taxes such as employment taxes. Charitable contributions made to nonprofit organizations by individuals and corporations are also deductible.

Detriments of a Nonprofit

  • The reliability by which a non-profit organization can hire and retain staff, sustain facilities, or create programs is an ongoing problem.  Because nonprofits generally rely on external funding, they do not have much say over their precious sources of revenue.  This leads to reliance on government funds such as grants, contracts, vouchers or tax credits to support their operations.

Free Consultation with a Utah Corporate Attorney

If you are here, you probably have a business law issue you need help with, call Ascent Law for your free business 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

5 Reasons to Get a Prenuptial Agreement

5 Reasons to Get a Prenuptial Agreement

Many people see prenuptial agreements as a poor way to start a marriage because they seem to anticipate its failure. But with nearly 50,000 New York marriages ending in divorce in 2009, getting married without a prenuptial agreement—also called an antenuptial agreement or prenup—can be a risky proposition.

A prenuptial agreement is essentially a contract a couple enters prior to marriage that establishes in advance what will occur in case of divorce. It may make provisions for property division, clearly establish marital and personal property, set forth maintenance or alimony payments from one spouse to the other, and plan out the care and custody of minor children.

Prenuptial agreements can be especially useful in marriages where the spouses have unequal economic capabilities. In essence, such agreements limit the risk of loss to the economically advantaged spouse while still providing a guaranteed settlement to the economically disadvantaged spouse. But regardless, a prenuptial agreement can simplify the process of divorce and limit the necessity of settlement negotiations or litigation.

In fact, a prenuptial agreement can even help foster and preserve a happy marriage. While people regard a prenup primarily as divorce planning, it can also contain provisions for during the course of the marriage. A good prenuptial agreement can establish or clarify the rights and duties of each spouse during the duration of the marriage. It can help avoid common sources of marital discord—such as financial disagreements or disputes over child rearing—by resolving them before they occur.

Why Staying Together Is Not Always in a Family’s Best Interests

Rather than face their fears, many unhappily married people justify staying trapped in a dysfunctional situation. They let fears about money, the children, and changing the family dynamic paralyze them into inaction.

But there can also be costs to staying put, such as the following:

  • Marital bickering and fighting creates a tense atmosphere affecting the whole household
  • A miserable marital relationship erodes self-esteem and causes depression
  • A stressful marriage can hurt your health, leading to hypertension, heart attacks, and strokes
  • Poor work performance

Staying in a bad marriage can have a negative impact on the children[CK1], especially those in their formative years. Children from unhappy homes can exhibit behavioral issues, including the following:

  • Insecurity
  • Social withdrawal
  • Poor grades
  • Acting out in anger

Filing for divorce and embarking on a new life will seem less scary if you develop an action plan and then take steps to ensure a smooth transition. Consider options that help you become self-sufficient, such as getting a job, arranging for childcare, and finding affordable housing.

Build a support network of family, friends, and counselors. Also, look for an experienced divorce lawyer who can guide you through the legal process and fight for your interests, such as equitable child custody, child support, and property distribution.

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

Monday, September 17, 2018

Navigating a Gray Divorce

Navigating a Gray Divorce

Our law firm represents people going through divorce on their way to a new future. Some have been married four years or less, and some forty years or more. In the United States, while the average divorce rate is leveling off, the divorce rate for couples over 50 doubled between 1990 and 2009.

Consider these facts from a National Center for Family and Marriage Research study focused on divorce at midlife:

  • In 2009, one in four divorces involved persons 50 years of age or older.
  • Marital biography affects the divorce rate. Remarriages are more likely to end in divorce.
  • Increased life expectancy may fuel a desire for greater satisfaction in intimate and personal relationships.

While issues of divorce are similar for all couples, the impact of divorce at 55 is different than it is at 25. If you are over age 50, it is critical that your divorce lawyer achieves financial results that enable you to maintain your quality of life through retirement.

Here are tips for navigating later-life divorce:

  • Retaining wealth is key. Our skilled mediation lawyers help you and your spouse make equitable agreements that will help you keep money in your pockets. Alternatively, when we represent you individually, we have the resources and tenacity to discover, and properly value, complicated or hidden assets, in order to ensure your fair share.
  • Later in life, children are older, and child custody and child support disputes may be over — but different child-related issues arise. We craft fair and clear prenuptial agreements, to ensure the proper transfer of property or possessions to your children, in the case of remarriage.

Important Things to Know About Residency Requirements for Divorce

When you begin the divorce process, you must understand the rules about where you can file your papers and which court has jurisdiction over your case. These are known as residency requirements.

Before you can file, you must satisfy the basic legal requirement that either you or your spouse have a residence or domicile in that state. The concept of “residence” is simple — it just means that either you or your spouse have been present in the state for a certain amount of time.

“Domicile” is slightly more complicated. More than just being present in the state for a certain period, either you or your spouse must have a permanent, single home in the filing state. To establish domicile, courts consider factors such as where an individual works, votes, banks, has a registered vehicle and where his or her children attend school (if applicable)

Even if you are not able to establish domicile, there is a good chance you will still be able to file for divorce if you meet the residency requirements of the state.

Filing Divorce Paperwork

When you are ready to file, you will submit the required paperwork in the state where either one or both of you can establish residency or domicile. If you can establish residency or domicile in multiple states, then you have the option to file for divorce in any of them. In this scenario, it is important to consult with a divorce lawyer about where you are most likely to get a favorable outcome.

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

Leave a Legacy

Leave a Legacy

A will is no longer just for distributing your worldly possessions. With so much of life being handled online, it’s likely you have digital assets that need to be addressed in your estate plan. From your Paypal account to your music library, this digital footprint can live on for years, even decades after you pass away.

A digital will may be just what you need to protect your privacy rights and ensure your property is properly transferred. It doesn’t need to be a legal document like your official will. A digital will can simply be a list of all your digital property, where it’s stored, and the user name and email address associated with each account. Here’s what you need to know when planning for your digital estate.

Creating a Digital Will

A digital will can be an informal document that allows family members to close down your online accounts. If you want to transfer rights to things such as a domain name or a website, it’s advisable to account for these in your formal will. Here are a few steps to create your digital plan:

  1. Inventory Your Digital Footprint

Create a list of all the sites where you have accounts, including social media, photo storage, email accounts, online brokerage accounts, blogs and accounts that automatically withdraw from your bank account.

  1. Draft Detailed Instructions

Let people know what you’d like to see happen with each account. For example, you may not want your Facebook page memorialized, but you do want your photo albums shared with loved ones.

  1. Select a Digital Executor

Select a mature person to carry out your wishes after you’re gone. Let the executor know about your digital will in advance. Let them know how they will find the document when the time comes. Be sure to name your executor in your digital will. You should also name an alternate executor in case your executor is unable to serve.

  1. Store Your Document in a Safe Place

A will is only useful if it can be found. If you store the will on a password-protected device, make sure for that device can be accessed when you die. Consider printing and signing your digital will, and storing it with your other important personal documents.

Digital Assets in Your Formal Will

You’ve spent years creating a digital archive filled with your favorite photos. You also have an extensive music collection you’d like to pass on to friends. The law regarding the transferability of your digital assets are vary widely.

For example, your iTunes purchases are only for a license to use the content, whether it’s books, music, or video. You don’t own the media, even if it’s downloaded. The Apple license is non-transferable so it can’t be left in your will. To avoid this problem, a few sites have policies, such as Apple Home Sharing, which allows people in the same household to access a common library.

All property that you own can be distributed in your formal will or trust. You’ll need to check with each site or service provider to understand if your purchase is an ownership right that is transferable or simply a license to use the product.

Using Legacy Policies

Many popular websites have legacy policies in their Terms of Service Agreement to address what will become of your digital footprint after you die. Policies vary from allowing a named executor to close an account, to authoring your account be deleted after a period of inactivity. It’s a good idea to review a site’s legacy policy before drafting your digital will. The following are a few examples from popular businesses:

  • PayPal has a process to allow an estate’s executor to close a user’s account. Remaining funds will be liquidated by check made out to the estate.
  • Twitter allows family members to deactivate a deceased member’s account. Twitter does not provide log-in information to the executor.
  • Ebay’s user agreement doesn’t allow transfer of accounts to others. If you need to close an account due to death, you should contact their support team.
  • Google’s “Inactive Account Manager” allows you to decide how your account is handled if it’s inactive for a specified length of time. For example, if you have not logged into your email in one year, the account will be deleted. You can designate up to 10 people to handle your accounts as digital executors.
  • Facebook lets family members convert the deceased’s account to a “memorized” status. Upon receiving proof of death, sensitive personal information is deleted and the status of the account is changed.

Uniform Digital Assets Law

A growing number of states introduced legislation to address access issues to a deceased’s digital property. The personal representative of your estate has a legal duty to protect your assets. But they can be blocked by on-line provider polices about when or if they will grant access to legally appointed fiduciaries.

The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act is a model law designed to work with a state’s existing laws on probate, guardianship, trusts, and powers of attorney. The law gives your estate’s representative power over your traditional assets, including digital ones. The act allows your representative to manage digital property like computer files, web domains, and virtual currency, but restricts their access to electronic communications such as email, text messages, and social media accounts unless the original user consented in a will, trust, power of attorney, or other record.

Free Consultation with a Utah Legacy 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

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Improper Protective Orders

Improper Protective Orders

An order of protection is a powerful tool. Throughout Utah, orders of protection help to protect individuals and their families from threats of violence, or abuse at the hands of another.

Filed by a petitioner, a protective order can require the respondent to stay away from a family home or workplace, require payment of child support, compel someone to refrain from certain acts or behaviors, and provide penalties for violating those conditions.

The issuance of an order of protection through the Family Court[H1] is a civil proceeding that intercedes between family members or intimate partners. Given the occurrence of domestic violence in our society, the necessity of protective orders is unquestioned in the proper circumstances.

Too often, an order of protection is sought not for protection, but as an emotional ploy—or worse—a tactical move in a heated divorce or child custody proceeding.

With our focus on family law, we vigorously defend clients against protective orders obtained and used for wrongful reasons, including the following:

  • Manipulating, controlling, or abusing
  • Providing a quick means of eviction
  • Influencing the outcome of a child custody or divorce action
  • Restricting or eliminating access to children by the respondent
  • Obtaining temporary child support
  • Enacting vengeance

An order of protection is a needed safeguard in our society. Nevertheless, an improperly obtained protective order is by itself abusive. If a protective order is wrongfully obtained against you, immediately seek experienced counsel—for your own protection.

Who is Most Likely to Get Divorced in America?

The idea that half of all marriages end in divorce is a complete myth, as you may know. The truth is that the divorce rate peaked in the 1970s and has been declining steadily ever since. However, according to some recent research published in the Washington Post, there are certain groups and demographics that tend to have much higher divorce rates than others.

The following is some insight from this study into who is most likely to get divorced or married more than once in the United States.

  • Education: People who have received at least a bachelor’s degree from a four-year university are significantly less likely to get divorced than people who have a high school education or less. People who have post-baccalaureate education split the difference, with women more likely to get divorced than women with bachelor’s degrees, but men with advanced degrees less likely to get divorced than men with bachelor’s degrees.
  • Race or origin: The study took a close look at which races were most likely to get divorced at least once. Native Americans had the highest divorce rate (45 percent for men, 44 for women), followed by African Americans (42 percent for men and women), Caucasians (38 percent women, 36 percent men), Hispanic (30 percent women, 27 percent men) and Asian (18 percent women, 16 percent men).
  • Employment status: People who are employed (38 percent women, 32 percent men) are less likely than people who are unemployed (44 percent each) to have gone through a divorce or had more than one marriage.

Free Initial Consultation with a Protective Order Lawyer in Utah

Getting a restraining order or protective order can hurt you emotionally, financially, and devastate your career. If you need help with a protective order, 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

Life Insurance Beneficiary Lawyer

Life Insurance Beneficiary Lawyer

The preparation of a beneficiary designation clause in a life insurance policy is important. If no beneficiary is designated, the policy proceeds many end up going into a decedent’s estate and being distributed to unintended beneficiaries. Sometimes, the life insurance contract terms may provide that if there is no named beneficiary, the proceeds are paid to certain surviving members of a decedent’s family such as a spouse or children.  While this may appear reasonable, such payment does not always reflect a person’s intent. A Utah life insurance beneficiary lawyer can make sure that your intent is conveyed clearly.

When a life insurance policy is purchased, it is important to understand the type of policy that is obtained.  The simplest type of life insurance is called “term” insurance.  The premium that is paid buys a certain amount of insurance, say $700,000, and the policy continues in force for a definite term, say one-year.  If the insurance is not renewed, there is no remaining value and the policy comes to an end.

“Whole life” type insurance is different because when someone pays the premium, the policy retains some value like a savings account.  In these policies it is possible to fully pay for the value of the insurance over time and then not to have to continuously pay once the policy is fully paid.  The insurance coverage continues until death and no further payments need to be made.

There are a number of different life insurance products and an experienced insurance professional can assist with understanding the various costs and benefits.  Life insurance can provide a means to increase the value of an estate and also provide a source of liquid funds to pay after death obligations such as estate tax.  The use of life insurance trusts has been a popular estate planning consideration.  Since life insurance proceeds can be very large and valuable it is important to insert a beneficiary’s correct name and provide for an alternate beneficiary to insure that the proper individuals will receive the life insurance proceeds. A life insurance beneficiary lawyer can help Utah residents name alternate beneficiaries as needed.

Problems can arise when a person buys life insurance and many years pass and the beneficiary designation is forgotten.   For example, a person may designate a parent as a beneficiary at a time when the person is not married.  However, years later after the person is married and has children, the parent may not be the intended primary beneficiary.  Moreover, the designation of the parent could be detrimental if the parent has his own large estate that may incur estate taxes.

The beneficiary designations should always be reviewed and up-dated to account for any changes and to make certain that the designations are consistent with an over-all estate plan.

Executor in a Will

Doing a good job as an executor requires someone with persistence and who pays attention to detail. However, most people need professional assistance as an executor in a will since each estate confronts many issues such as the collection and valuation of assets, the payment of debts, claims and taxes and the distribution of estate funds to beneficiaries.

An Executor is also known as a fiduciary and he has duties, responsibilities and powers that must be exercised properly.  The Utah Probate Code, as well as decisions of the Federal Courts, Utah Court of Appeals and Utah Supreme Court, provide a wide array of conduct that an Executor (now called a personal representative), as a Fiduciary, must follow.  For example, an Executor should pay all of the debts, taxes and obligations that a decedent and the decedent’s estate may be obligated to satisfy.  Executors also have a general duty to treat all of the estate beneficiaries fairly and cannot engage in conduct which improperly favors one over another.  Also, a fiduciary cannot engage in self-dealing which means that he cannot handle estate affairs in a manner that would wrongfully benefit himself over the interests of the estate and its beneficiaries. An attorney can help an executor make sure that they uphold this duty.

A Utah lawyer can guide an appointed executor to recognize and to perform his obligations as required by the Surrogate’s Court and related laws. When an Executor acts improperly he may breach his fiduciary duty and can be held accountable for his conduct.  The Court has the power to remove an Executor and revoke his powers and also may require him to pay damages for wrongful acts.  These damages are referred to as a surcharge.  A breach of fiduciary duty may occur either because the fiduciary acts in a certain manner or is negligent in performing his duties. The code lists many of the powers that are given to Fiduciaries such as the power to invest estate or trust property and to pay proper expenses.  Estate beneficiaries have a right to review the actions of all fiduciaries since it is required that beneficiaries be provided with an account of all of the estate or trust transactions.

As can be seen, acting as a fiduciary such as an Executor is a large responsibility.  As noted, all fiduciaries are held accountable for their performance and also must provide the estate beneficiaries with a written accounting of the acts and transactions that they engage in, these accountings can be the subject of a separate Accounting Proceeding in the Probate Court.

Free Consultation with a Utah Life Insurance Beneficiary 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