Once again, I am not a lawyer I am a paralegal. So this is not intended to be legal advice only legal information. Also let’s not forget that when a lawyer or a paralegal becomes involved your problem or concern becomes an issue.
To get started there are two things I did not cover last week. Testate and Intestate. Being Testate is having a notarized Will and or a Living Will that is registered with the probate courts or at the very least left with a lawyer or a loved one. Intestate means you don’t have a Will. Let’s be honest dying without a Will will make things incredibly difficult for your loved ones.
There are some states like Colorado which accept what is commonly called Holographic Will. A Holographic Will is very easy to create and 20 times more difficult to use. To create a Holographic Will all you have to do is get a notebook write down your wishes sign it and leave it someplace where you hope that somebody you trust will find it. Once found your loved ones will have to get your Holographic Will validated in the probate courts.
In most states 2 witness signatures are needed to help validate a Will. There are some states that do require up to 3 signatures. .Someone who can give you a usable witness signature is someone who does not benefit from your Estate. The idea is these signatures will help prove that you created your Will without being forced too. Also that no one faked it, trying to rip off your Estate.
Okay, moving on the most important part of a validating your Will is getting the dumb thing registered. You can register you Will your local probate court system, Sometimes you may be asked to file your Will with the county recorder’s office. This will cost you about $67. The fee may be a little different depending where you live.
Now you do not have file your Will with the Probate Court before you leave. But, I can’t say this loud enough your Will must be somewhere it can be easily found. Like I said before you can leave your Will with your lawyer or a loved one. However after you die you’re Will must go through Probate Court to be validated.
SIDE-NOTE: Validation simply put is satisfying a judge that these are indeed your last wishes and instructions. That no one bamboozled you or forced you into creating your Will. You’d be surprised how many fools will submit phony Wills trying to rip off Estates.
Now having a Will validated proving testamentary of your Estate will cost $190 as of 2012. Oddly having your Estate proved Intestate or without a Will will cost your loved ones $150.
More Probate to come. You might be surprised how complex dying can be.
Sorry folks for being so late with this week’s article. I understand from my internet service provider that a series of sunspot created significant interference was blocking my internet connection. I have been down for 4 days.
All right then to work. Once again I am not a lawyer, I am a paralegal. Also when a layer or a paralegal becomes involved you problem becomes an issue.
Picking up from last week, in small claims court, the court clerk can help you with services of process. For a fee. They will send your opponent a certified letter of your complaint for $15. In some county’s you might even be able to get the county sheriff to make service of process or hand deliver your complaint for $80.
SIDE-NOTE: Service of Process is the methods used by the courts and lawyers to notify someone they are being sued. If you mess up notifying your opponent, your case will be terminated or to but it simply ‘thrown out on its ass’. I will get deeper into that in future posts.
Now there are ‘people’ who get to be sue happy in the small claims court system. You see technically you can file as many court cases as you like. Using the county of Los Angles small Claims rules and regulations. For example, let’s say you file up to 2 complaints asking for $2500 in each case during the same calendar year. Each case costing you $50 dollars in filing fees. However if you file a 3rd, 4th or 5th case during the same calendar year each case will cost you a whole lot more in filing fees. You see each additional case you file will cost you $100 per case. Additionally the amount you can ask for in damages reduces. In the first two cases you filed you asked for the $2500 and if you file a 3rd one you can only ask for $1500. Additionally you can only claim the standard $30 filing fee as part of your damages even though you paid $100 in a filing fee.
SIDE-NOTE: Damages is supposed to mean how much money it will take to repair or fix your problem (issue) and make you ‘whole’. Your Lawyer’s fees, court costs and filing fees do count as damages. Just remember if you file more than 2 small claims court cases in the same calendar year you cannot claim the more expensive filing fees you have been charged as damages. You can only claim the slandered filing fee
Again please forgive me for being late. I will try to make sure tech didn’t become a future issue. Next week’s article will touch on probate and court costs.
Once again I am not a Lawyer… yet. I am a Paralegal. Also lets not forget when a paralegal or a lawyer become involved your problem becomes an issue.
As promised I am now gonna talk about Small Claims court. Small claims court system is a court set up to deal with small problems/issues. For example you move and your landlord refuses to refund your security deposit. You can use the small claims court system to try to force your landlord to pay up. On the flip side your landlord can also file a counter-claim saying you trashed your apartment and you owe them money. If you have a neighbor that won’t keep their dog from pooping in your yard and won’t clean it up you can take them to small claims court to try and force your Irresponsible Owner to pay for a yard cleaning service. Another reason, you may have loaned Cousin Fred $2500 and hasn’t paid you back yet, you can take him to small claims court to try to force him to pay you back. There are hundreds of things you can take into small claims court.
There is a limit on the amount of damages you can ask in small claims court. On average the most you can ask for is $5,000. In some states and or cities you like Los Angles can ask for as much as $10,000. If you want more after then that your case gets moved over in to Civil Court where sky’s the limit.
This is a piece of friendly advice not legal advice. If you are asking for damages over $3000 strong>PLEASE GOD SEE A LAWYER!
SIDE-NOTE: A good rule of thumb the more you ask for in damages THE MORE YOU NEED A LA<wyer!!!
SIDE-NOTE: A counterclaim is when the person you are suing is telling the judge ‘Yeah but the complainant (you) caused me damage too and my damage is more important.
SIDE-NOTE: Damages is supposed to mean how much money it will take to repair or fix your problem (issue) and make you ‘whole’. Your Lawyer’s fees also count as damages.
Now we come to the actual filing fees. Filling fees can vary from city to city and by how much you are asking for in damages.
For example in the county of San Diego California you decide to file a small claims court case asking for $1500 this is going to cost you $30 in filing fee. The same case in Dallas Texas will cost you a $61. Understand though if you ask for more in damages it will mean a higher filing fee. Going back to San Diego if you ask for $5000 the cost jumps up to $50.
strong>SIDE-NOTE</wyer!!!: Service of Process is the methods used by the courts and lawyers to notify the person you are suing that there is now a law suit filed against them. If mess up notifying your opponent, your case ends. I will get deeper into that in future posts.
Next week I’ll finish with small claims, also I might do more opinion pieces
As before I am not a Lawyer I am a Paralegal. Also when a Lawyer or a Paralegal becomes involved your problem becomes an issue.
WARNING! When you make your 1st, 2nd, 3rd or last filing fee payment make damn sure that check will clear. If it bounces, it is a $53 fine. Plus, neither Trustee nor your Lawyer is gonna be happy with you if it bounces. So if you run into trouble talk to your lawyer or with the bankruptcy court clerk. If you keep them in the loop, the clerk or your lawyer may be able to get a payment rescheduled. Just remember the entire fee must be paid in full 180 days after you started your Bankruptcy. Also remember, if you get into serious trouble and can’t make your payments, talk to your lawyer you may now qualify for the full fee waiver.
Now this is a piece of friendly not legal advice. If you decide to go down this road make damn sure you got every single debt you owe listed and turned over to your Lawyer. There have been cases of Clients who kept certain debts back from their lawyers because they thought could manage this debt on the sly. Unfortunately everything crashes after they receive their discharge and their lawyer is forced to go back into their bankruptcy filing and add this debt. This costs the client another $245 in court costs. Not to mention what their lawyer charges for getting the right forms filled out and convincing the Trustee that their client isn’t playing games.
Seriously amending or adding debt to a Bankruptcy Discharge is meant for unforeseeable financial emergencies. For example if you suddenly find yourself hit with several thousand in unexpected medical bills after receiving your discharge; you can get them added to your bankruptcy.
All right than moving on to Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. A Chap. 13, basically means, ‘ I messed up give some time to get my shit together.’ The cost of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy breaks down as follows, $235 filing fee plus a $46 miscellaneous administrative fee. Don’t worry you will have the same options to get the filing fee paid as is in a Chapter. 7. Except for the fee waiver, the waiver is for souls with absolutely no income.
The way a Chapter 13 works is once again you list all your debts and assets. Plus how much you can reasonably pay, not comfortably pay, reasonably pay. What happens is your payments are given to the Trustee and she/he will give your debtors a portion of that money. You also will have given the Trustee a workable plan to get your finances back to where they needs to be so you can handle your debt.
Side-Note: A reasonable payment is how much you can give the Trustee and still keep your family fed and housed. Plus enough for a dinner and a movie every now and then. A comfortable payment lets you go out partying every weekend.
More about the Costs of Captor 13 next week.
I am not a Lawyer I am a Paralegal. Also when a Lawyer or a Paralegal becomes involved your problem or concern becomes an issue.
Okay there are two types of Bankruptcy used by the average person. The most well-known are Chapter 7, and Chapter 13. A Chapter 7 basically means
‘I ain’t got it and I can’t get it. Back off.’
When your bankruptcy is filed with the courts your creditors do have to back off but each and every one of your creditors must be officially notified of your Bankruptcy. This usually means a certified or registered letter through the post office. Most honest debt collectors will treat a telephone call as notification until they receive the official notification. If you have a lawyer her/his Firm will take care of that for you. Unfortunately Chapter 7 bankruptcy is where a lot of your valuable assets/possessions could be liquidated/sold to repay your creditors. If you own your own home or have specialized equipment that you need to keep or find a job PLEASE GOD SEE A LAWYER!!!!! A good lawyer will be able to help you protect at least some if not all of such assists/possessions.
Example: You are a Plumber and you just bought a brand new Cadillac. Your lawyer will be able to protect your work van and equipment but that Caddy you are so pleased with. So, sorry your shiny Caddy has to go back to the dealer. You’ll have to make do with a used mini-van for about a year.
If you really behind the 8-ball and if you take the time to look you can find a Bankruptcy Firm and Legal Aid group that will be willing to make their fees a part of your Bankruptcy debt. (They get a tax write off which balances the taxes paid on fees they charge rich people) However you will still have to come up with the Filing Fee. Currently the fee breakdown goes like this $245 case filing fee, $45 miscellaneous administrative fee and $16 Trustee surcharge. This is according to the United States Courts website. Bringing the total to start your Chapter 7 up to $306.
Don’t Panic! There is a way to break that $306 into manageable payments. It is just a matter of adding the right form to your bankruptcy petition. You will have to make the 1st payment when turn over your bankruptcy petition into the courts. In some cases your lawyer could get the whole fee waived. Also remember your protection officially doesn’t start until your bankruptcy petition is filed with the court.
Side-note: A petition is not a complaint. Simply put when you are filing a petition you are saying one of 2 things to the court. ‘I have this problem that I need your help with.’ or ‘this is a bad thing and I think you need to look into it.’
Next week I’ll talk about Chapter 13. Which simply put means ‘Give some room to get my act together.’