Debtors Prison An American Carol

All right, five months ago it is Christmas time. As usual, there was a Christmas Carol movie is playing on a number of different cable stations. I think my three favorite are Bill Murray’s Scrooge, Vanessa Williams’ a Diva’s Christmas Carol and Patrick Steward`s, A Christmas Carol. I think Mr. Steward’s came closest to what Charles Dickens wanted to say. In each movie the main plot was pretty much the same, old greedy Ebenezer Scrooge or a Scrooge type character who refuses to part with a single coin and was out to squeeze every last possible coin from poor souls no matter how or why they got into debt. It did not matter what damage or suffering his greed caused. All that mattered was putting that shiny coin into his pocket.
With that in mind, one of his favorite things to do in getting that coin, in the book, was to buy the debt of others have the unfortunate debtor arrested and jailed as a debt dodge. It didn’t matter if they were employed trying to pay or not. Debt was an actual crime in the 18th and 19th centuries. With his victim in jail, in jail without a trail or due process, Ebenezer would seize and sell their homes, furniture anything with the remotest monetary value, turning the debtors ill parents, wives and children out to suffer in the streets. You know in the real world of the 19th century single and or widowed women with children just as often wound up in debtor’s prison as men did. Debtor’s children and wives were often sent to workhouses and orphanages. Places that were too often a half a step from hell. That is if they weren’t just dumped on the streets after their house was seized.
That would be a scary world to live in wouldn’t it. Thank the Lord we don’t live in such times, right? After all it only happens in fiction and history books, right? I mean such a thing could happen not in today’s America, right?
Wrong Virginia! It is very real! And it could very well happen to you!
Just ask the Minnesota woman, who went to jail over a $250 owed for a credit card she didn’t know she had. Or The Illinois breast cancer survivor who was jailed over a $280 medical bill the hospital told her she didn’t owe. There was a woman sent to jail over a $60 phone bill owed by her husband dead 10 years. Let’s not forget the Kansas City guy who went to jail for $1000 he owed a furniture store after making payment arrangements. This last January a judge sentenced a man in Kenny Illinois to an ‘indefinite jail term’ over $300 he owed a lumber yard.
This doesn’t include to poor souls sent to jail because they didn’t have the money or a job to pay a fine. Only to discover that their $60 fine after 90 days spent in jail is now $6000. After all someone has to pay for the prison, prison guards’, food and uniforms.
After all didn’t one bund ant say “If you were a good person and a favorite of God you would have been born rich?”

Durable Power of Attorneys.

Hi there just so you know I am not a Lawyer I am a Paralegal. So this in no way to be considered as legal advice. Let’s not forget when a lawyer or a paralegal becomes involved your problem becomes an ISSUE.

Side-Note:  The person you choose for your Power of Attorney is your agent. That is how they will be referred to in any other legal documents related to your power of attorney.

Okay, let’s talk about the Durable Power of Attorney or P.O.A. The deference between a durable power of attorney and the ones I talked about last week is fairly simple. Once a regular power of attorney has been ended its over you can never use it again. For example you have set up a Health Care Power of Attorney you appoint a special someone to look after you if something bad happens. Then something bad happens and your special someone does step in to look after you and you do get better great happy ending well done…  However, 6 months later you are in an auto accident and if you haven’t created a new health care power of attorney. Sorry, your special friend can’t do a thing for you. You are on your own until blood relative gets there. With a durable power of attorney you can set things up so that your special friend can step in no matter how many times you get hurt or sick. But keep their limit their power to only to when you are sick and or injured.

Now, to cover the 2 types of a durable power of attorney. 1st is the medical durable power of attorney. This person is who y

you want making the medical decisions for you when you can’t.  2nd a fiscal durable power of attorney.  This Solider handles your money and sees to it that your bills get paid while you are out of it.  As I said before a person you give authority too in a power of attorney does not have to be a lawyer. It can be anyone you choose as long as they are of legal age.

Side-Note: Legal age means being old enough to vote, sign a contract and be responsible for you actions.  In all the United States this means being at least 18 years old. Old enough to kill or be killed for your country but not old enough to drink.

Just so you know, you can choose just one person to be both your medical and a financial durable power of attorney agent at the same time. Most often though most people don’t.

The fact is a durable power of attorney is a major portion of a Living Will. I will be getting into what makes up a Living Will next week.

 

 

 

PROBATE

All right, once again I am not a lawyer, I am a Paralegal, so anything you read is not to be taken as, construed as, intended to be taken as legal advice.  Let’s not forget when a lawyer or a paralegal becomes involves you problem becomes an issue.

Okay let’s talk about Probate. Probate is a legal system focused on taking care of things after you die. Namely it takes care of who administers and how someone handles your Wills and your Estate after you leave. Simply put, Probate Law will make sure your wishes are followed and no one is cheated.

Let’s start with Wills.  Wills are binding legal documents describing what you would like done after your death.  For example you have an ancient beautiful grandfather’s clock that has been handed down through generations and you want it to go to your great-grandson Eric who has been in love with your clock since he was two.  With a Will you can make sure he gets it. Also if you think there might be a huge fight over your clock and you’re afraid that fight might hurt your family, you can order your clock sold and have the money equally divided among your heirs.  You can also leave directions on how to deal with your physical remains.  If you have children, you can leave directions about who you want to take care of them.

Speaking of wills, let’s talk about a living will.  A living will is once again a legal binding document. It deals with what you want done if things go bad with your health.  You can direct how long you want to be kept on life support, or how far your doctors can go as they try to save your life.  If your heart stops do you want CPR?  Who can make decisions about your care or what life support measures can be used in your care. If can’t think for yourself but don’t need life support who do you want making decisions about your care.

Probate law also covers your life insurance policies. Making sure your loved ones gets their money and what you want done with it gets done.

An Estate is your money, for example bank accounts, even to your last tax refund and personal property such as cars, jewelry and art work. Of course let’s not forget your house.

SIDE-NOTE: Just so you know the infamous Estate Tax as of 2013 does not come into play unless you have property and assets worth over $5,250,000.  I don’t know too many people in my world

with those kind of assets.

SIDE-NOTE; An Asset in the legal world is anything such as a house, car, jewelry bank accounts or stocks and bonds. Or say you have written a book and it sells fairly well. It can be anything as long as it has a money value attached to it.

This is Probate next week I will be getting into the actual costs of the Probate Legal System.