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Birmingham AL Collaborative Divorce Law Blog

Monday, June 6, 2016

ESTATE ADMINISTRATION WITH MARRIED AND UNMARRIED PARTNERS


While talks pertaining to divorce, death, and/or estate planning are hardly welcome ones in a loving and committed marriage or partnership, couples must realize that frank and honest discussions about divisions of property and assets are an absolute necessity.  This is doubly true and important when couples may have children from prior marriages or hold significant assets, especially assets attained prior to the partnership or marriage.  There is also now added complexity for same sex couples in Alabama as a result of last year’s Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruling in Obergefell v.
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Monday, June 6, 2016

Avoiding Common Mistakes in Estate Planning


Estate planning is designed to fulfill the wishes of a person after his or her death. Problems can easily arise, however, if the estate plan contains unanswered questions that can no longer be resolved after the person's demise. This can, and frequently does, lead to costly litigation counter-productive to the goals of the estate. It is important that a Will and Trust be written in language that is clear and that the document has been well proofread because something as simple as a misplaced comma can significantly alter its meaning.

Planning for every possible contingency is a significant part of estate planning.
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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

How to Fully Fund a Trust


What does funding the trust mean in estate planning?

While part of a comprehensive estate plan includes putting a will in place, it only becomes effective after it has been probated in court, a process that can take several months or longer. In order to avoid the expense and delays associated with these proceedings, many individuals can benefit from establishing a revocable living trust.  

A living trust is a legal document that names a trustee (usually the person making the trust), lists the property owned by the trust, and specifies how property is to be distributed by the successor trustee.


Read more . . .


Monday, May 2, 2016

Why it is Crucial to Review Beneficiary Designations


As you are likely aware, there are several assets in your portfolio that will be disposed of according to the beneficiary designations on the account. While this is a simple and convenient way to transfer funds from one generation to the next, it is not without risk -- especially if an estate plan is contradictory to the terms of the designation.

It is vital to regularly review any assets with such beneficiary designations, including any assets that are set to transfer via a contractual agreement. Oftentimes, people create these accounts and name beneficiaries, only to leave the same person on the account for the next several decades. In the event of a remarriage -- or the beneficiary predeceases the account holder -- this could create a dicey situation for the estate administrator.
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Friday, April 15, 2016

PERSONAL INJURY AWARDS AND SETTLEMENTS IN DIVORCE


Imagine the following scenarios, all of which happen with more regularity than the public might think:

  1. Husband and wife have been married for nine (9) years, with three (3) small children – seven, five, and two years of age respectively.Husband is diagnosed with cancer, and due to a flagrant and negligent failure to diagnose, the cancer spreads resulting in lengthy chemotherapy and radiation treatments, surgery, and additional treatments.During the treatment, Husband was unable to work or help care for the family, while Wife attempted to hold down her job and care for Husband and the children.An attorney was contacted regarding a possible medical malpractice case, and suit was filed over the misread imaging results.Claims included not only damages for the Husband, but claims for loss of consortium for the Wife (i.
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Friday, April 1, 2016

Losers & Losers - Can't We All Just get Along

On the heels of our last post comparing and contrasting a scorched earth versus collaborative divorce approach, we now take a look at a prime example of the former scenario.  In an outspoken cry for sanity and reasonableness, an Ontario Superior Court Justice, Alex Pazratz, recently issued an order calling into question the litigious process of child custody disputes.


Read more . . .


Friday, March 11, 2016

Divorce & Child Custody: It Doesn't Have to be Scored Earth

Adversarial and litigious divorces can be extended and prolonged psychological and financial battles.  Depression, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, guilt and shame are all too common.  However, a growing trend in divorce practice, and especially here in Alabama, approaches a divorce proceeding in a rational, civil and ultimately, mutually beneficial manner for both parties – Collaborative Divorce.


Read more . . .


Friday, March 4, 2016

Forgery & Identity Theft Between (Ex-) Spouses

Signing your spouse’s name, filling in their date of birth and listing Social Security numbers happens all the time in many marriages.  Checking accounts, forms for schools/jobs/home/etc. and a host of other opportunities arise when necessity or convenience demands signing “Jill Jones” rather than “Steve” or vice-a-versa.  More often than not, these instances are inconsequential and are consensual between the spouses.  But what happens when your spouse or your ex-spouse uses your name, your social security number or your date of birth without your knowledge and without consent?


Read more . . .


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Social Media: Blessing or Curse To Your Domestic Case?

Take a moment and remember back to the times when Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Reddit, Vimeo, Tumblr or Snapchat did not exist.  Depending on your age (and perhaps addiction level to social media), you had one of two reactions: (1) a sense of freedom and peace which washed over you or (2) pure panic as you realized you would never know what your friend’s boyfriend’s cousin had for dinner last night!  Regardless of which camp you were in, the fact is that society, relationships and communication are heavily driven in today’s world by social media.

Billions of people connect all over the world every day via social media platforms, the largest of which are Twitter and Facebook.  You can celebrate the mountaintop experiences of your life and of those you know and love (and even those you don’t know at all) or share the rough patch through which you are struggling.  Perhaps one of the most common aspects of social media communication is the ability to post your feelings, both good and bad, about individuals, groups or business and organizations.  Bad experience at the grocery?  Post about it and make sure your neighbors know.  Just had the best meal ever while visiting New Orleans?  Post about it and recommend it to every contact you have.  With Twitter, post and tag (via hashtags) the business, restaurant or company and often times you’ll get a direct response.  That’s pretty amazing considering some of these organizations are multi-country conglomerates.


Read more . . .


Friday, July 4, 2014

A Shared Home

A Shared Home but Not a Joint Deed

Many people erroneously assume that when one spouse dies, the other spouse receives all of the remaining assets; this is often not true and frequently results in unintentional disinheritance of the surviving spouse.

In cases where a couple shares a home but only one spouse’s name is on it, the home will not automatically pass to the surviving pass, if his or her name is not on the title. Take, for example, a case of a husband and wife where the husband purchased a home prior to his marriage, and consequently only his name is on the title (although both parties resided there, and shared expenses, during the marriage). Should the husband pass away before his wife, the home will not automatically pass to her by “right of survivorship”. Instead, it will become part of his probate estate. This means that there will need to be a court probate case opened and an executor appointed. If the husband had a will, the executor would be the person he nominated in his will who would carry out the testator’s instructions regarding disposition of the assets. If he did not have a will, state statutes, known as intestacy laws, would provide who has priority to inherit the assets.

In our example, if the husband had a will then the house would pass to whomever is to receive his assets pursuant to that will. That may very well be his wife, even if her name is not on the title.

If he dies without a will, state laws will determine who is entitled to the home. Many states have rules that would provide only a portion of the estate to the surviving spouse. If the deceased person has children, even if children of the current marriage, local laws might grant a portion of the estate to those children. If this is a second marriage, children from the prior marriage may be entitled to more of the estate. If this is indeed the case, the surviving spouse may be forced to leave the home, even if she had contributed to home expenses during the course of the marriage.

Laws of inheritance are complex, and without proper planning, surviving loved ones may be subjected to unintended expense, delays and legal hardships. If you share a residence with a significant other or spouse, you should consult with an attorney to determine the best course of action after taking into account your unique personal situation and goals. There may be simple ways to ensure your wishes are carried out and avoid having to probate your partner’s estate at death.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Learn More about Our Collaborative Divorce Practice in B-Metro

When we decided to come together and create a new family law firm in 2013, we knew there was a dire need for an alternative to the contentious way divorce is handled today. As family law attorneys, we’ve been in the trenches with families divided by conflict and strife, and know how damaging the process can be to a family.

That is why we champion collaborative divorce - as a way to offer a better solution to couples going through difficult times, without the stress and acrimony normally associated with a divorce.

As explained in this piece from B-Metro on our practice, collaborative divorce was not always available in Alabama. It took a concerted grassroots effort from our team and other professionals in the state to bring collaborative divorce to Alabama, an effort that involved a lot of education – education that is still ongoing.

Now, however, our clients can benefit from an interdisciplinary approach to divorce that features support from a wide variety of resources, including mental health and financial professionals, to solve difficult problems for families. Respect, patience, and cooperation are what drive our approach, and our goal of creating better relationships is our foundation.

Read more about our approach to divorce and family law in B-Metro and contact us if you have any questions about the divorce process. 


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