I’m Too Young To Have A Will… Right?

If you are in your 20’s, 30’s or 40’s and you think you are “too young” to have a Will here are some concerns to think about:

  1. If you have any minor children, a Will can nominate your choice for a guardian in the event of your death.   Of course any surviving parent will have the right to custody over any nominated guardian.  But what if there is no surviving parent? Or what if the other parent has no relationship with your child?  If your Will nominates a guardian, a court will honor your selection of a guardian if no surviving parent is available.  Also, if you haven’t nominated a guardian, well meaning family members might otherwise engage in a custody battle.  Do you really want Grandma Helen battling it out with Uncle George for custody when your choice to care for your children is Aunt Susan?
  2. You probably own more property than you realize.  If you are tempted to say I don’t need a Will because I don’t own anything, think again.  Perhaps you have some property you’ve inherited yourself that you wish to leave to a particular family member.  Do you have a car?  Some money in a bank account? What about that collection of coins, dolls or trains you’ve had for years?  Maybe you don’t own anything now, but hopefully you will in the future.
  3. Creating a Will allows you to direct who should receive your property.  If you don’t have a Will, certain laws called “intestate succession” laws control who inherit your property.  If you are married, those laws basically state that your spouse get your property UNLESS you have a child or children by a person other than your spouse.  In this event, those children (whether adults or minors) get one-half of your estate.  If this is not want you want, you need a Will.  And if you are single without a Will, the intestate succession laws can vary as to who is to receive your property dependent on the members of your family.

- Sheila Harmer, Associate Attorney

More information about Bellah Perez, PLLC can be found on our website,http://bellahperez.com. For a free consultation, call 602-252-9937 or e-mail us.

Driver Beware

In several recent auto accident cases, we have litigated an all-too-common type of Arizona accident.

John Doe is eastbound on Main Street, planning to turn left onto northbound First Avenue. He enters the intersection on a green light, and stops to wait for westbound traffic as the light changes to yellow. Mary Roe is westbound on Main Street and planning to go straight through the intersection. Doe starts his turn, and is hit by Roe, often resulting in a serious “T-bone” crash.

We all deal with this potential scenario on a daily basis. Most of us have been in or witnessed such an accident. After the fact, the first question would be the color of the intersection light that the vehicles had just before the impact. There would be also be questions about speed, the positions, and movements of the vehicles.

In some cases, the police, insurance carriers and attorneys will agree that the legal fault lies totally with the left-turner, whose duty to yield is set forth in Arizona Revised Statutes §28-772:

“The driver of a vehicle within an intersection intending to turn to the left shall yield the right-of-way to a vehicle that is approaching from the opposite direction and that is within the intersection or so close to the intersection as to constitute an immediate hazard.”

However, in many cases, there are arguments that the vehicle going straight should bear at least a portion of the fault because they ran a red light, were speeding, or for other reasons.

Typical of lawyers, we have been willing and able to argue these facts both ways, depending upon our client’s position. However, for your legal protection, and your personal health and safety, there is no question that you need to exercise the utmost caution in either position.

As the left-turner, if there is any traffic coming toward you, you need to be absolutely certain it is stopping, regardless of the changing light. Any approaching vehicle might speed up or otherwise keep going,  regardless of the light color or the stopping of other vehicles.

As the vehicle going straight, if there is any vehicle in the intersection stopped or signaling for a left turn, you need to assume that he might turn at any moment, either not noticing you or assuming that you will stop. You should stop safely on the yellow if possible, and otherwise be extremely alert for the need to take any possible evasive action.

- Stephen J. Green, Personal Injury Attorney

More information about Bellah Perez, PLLC can be found on our website,http://bellahperez.com. For a free consultation, call 602-252-9937 or e-mail us.

Redemption – Refinancing Personal Vehicles During Bankruptcy

When considering Chapter 7 Bankruptcy people always want to know whether they can keep financed vehicles.  If payments to the lender are current, the answer is almost always ‘yes’.  Additionally, Chapter 7 bankruptcy, provides the opportunity to refinance loans on personal vehicles to the fair market value of the vehicle by “…paying the holder of such lien the amount of the allowed secured claim of such holder that is secured by such lien in full a the time of redemption.”  U.S. Code: Title 11 Section 722.  This means a car lender is entitled to receive fair market value of the property, which is often much less then the loan balance.  Financed vehicles with ‘negative equity’ are especially common when the loan involved: balance roll-over from a previous loan; unethical car dealers; steep depreciation; zero down payments financing; lenders cross-collateralization; and excessively long loan terms.

The Bankruptcy Code’s basis for allowing redemption is that Chapter 7 bankruptcy also lets people simply surrender property back to the lender.  When surrender happens, the lender gets the property back and recoups the fair market value of the property upon resale.  Redemption puts lenders in essentially the same position as if the property were surrendered.

Although redemption put lenders in the same position as if the property were surrendered, redemption can provide substantial benefit to someone with an upside down car loan. For example, if $20,000 is owed while the vehicle’s fair market value is $10,000, reducing the vehicle balance to $10,000 may be possible with a new post-bankruptcy redemption loan.  At the same time all debt associated with the old loan is eliminated by the bankruptcy.

The apparent difficulty of getting financed for a lump sum payment is mitigated by the presence of lenders who specialize in bankruptcy redemption/refinance loans.  They include:

722 Redemption Funding, Inc:     https://www.722redemption.com/

Fresh Start Auto Loan Affiliates: http://www.freshstartloans.com/fslc/home.asp

Redemption Funding Inc at:         http://www.manta.com/c/mmd27cd/redemption-funding-inc

Redemption loans typically have a high interest rate, which must be considered before entering the loan.  If the interest rate or other loan terms negate the benefit of principal reduction you should review other options with your attorney.

In summary, there are multiple ways to keep a financed personal vehicle while filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  One possible option is redemption, which not only allows retention of the vehicle but also reduces the amount to be paid for the vehicle.  A bankruptcy attorney at Bellah Perez, PLLC can help you determine the best way to keep your financed vehicle while at the same time getting the bankruptcy relief you need.

-Jeffrey Wolfe, Bankruptcy Attorney

More information about Bellah Perez, PLLC can be found on our website,http://bellahperez.com. For a free consultation, call 602-252-9937 or e-mail us.

Adoption Answers

We are frequently asked the same questions when dealing with an adoption. Today we will explore a few of the answers to these questions.

1. Any adult, whether single, married or legally separated can qualify to adopt a child. A married couple can jointly adopt a child.

2. Non-blood related adoptive parents must be certified as acceptable to adopt a child prior to the Petition for Adoption being filed with the Superior Court. The Certification will be issued only after an investigation is conducted by the court and facts dealing with the prospective parents such as social history, financial ability, moral fitness, physical and mental health are evaluated. If the investigation proves favorable, then the perspective parents will be Certified. If the investigation proves negative, they will not be certified and a Petition for Adoption will not be granted.

3. No adoption can be granted unless Consent to Adopt has been obtained from the natural parents or the rights of the natural parents have been severed by court order.

4. If the child to be adopted is at least 12 years of age or older, that child must consent to the adoption or the adoption will not be granted.

5. In the Adoptive Order, the name of the child can be changed to that of the adoptive parent.

More information about Bellah Perez, PLLC can be found on our website, http://bellahperez.com. For a free consultation, call 602-252-9937 or e-mail us.

Should I keep my home if I am filing for bankruptcy?

Whether you decide to keep your home or surrender the home through your bankruptcy depends on different factors.  Some factors to consider are the current value of your home, the amount of the lien securing your home, and your current income and living expenses as well as other current housing options.

Often clients come into our office with at least two liens on their homes: their primary mortgage and a second mortgage, a home equity loan, and/or a lien as a result of a renovation or addition such as a pool loan.  These loans are secured against the property and are non-dischargeable.  In many cases the total amount of loans against the property cause the home to be underwater and more expensive to keep the home than to temporarily rent.

We recommend looking and exploring your options in order to make an informed decision.  Filing bankruptcy will allow you the fresh start that you need and part of that may be walking away from your home. Additionally, if you want to keep your home, you can  talk with an attorney about possibly attempting to remove your second and third liens secured by your residence through a Chapter 13.

More information about Bellah Perez, PLLC can be found on our website, http://bellahperez.com. For a free consultation, call 602-252-9937 or e-mail us.

Did Dr. McDreamy Unfairly Charm Auctioneers?

It is time for a guest blog from our law clerk:

A company owned by Grey’s Anatomy star, Patrick Dempsey, aka Dr. McDreamy, won a bankruptcy auction to purchase Tully’s Coffee, a Seattle-based coffee chain.  The chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2012.  Dempsey pushed for the purchase of the company in order to keep an alternative to Starbucks and also to save over 500 jobs.  There were a total of six companies bidding for ownership of Tully’s, including Starbucks Corp.  Starbucks offered to buy Tully’s for $10.6 million.  This bid was higher than Dempsey’s winning bid of 9.15 million.   Continue reading

21 Questions

We always conduct an initial consultation with prospective clients.  This offers us the opportunity to determine whether an individual actually needs to file bankruptcy, and, if they do, what chapter they should file and if there would there be any issues in with their case.  Time and again, I find myself asking my potential clients numerous questions, but I am rarely asked many questions.  This amazes me.  Filing for bankruptcy is a legal process, and I would imagine that someone not familiar with that process would have many questions.  Maybe the problem is that people are unsure of what questions to ask.   Continue reading

The Politics of Adoption

The adoption of a child should be a happy and joyous time for a family as parents see their dreams of having a child become a reality.  The Russian government, however, has just passed legislation that will most likely harm many American families who were interested in adopting Russian children, or who are already in the process of adopting a child from that country.

The new bill puts a total ban on Americans adopting Russian children and is believed to be the response of growing tension between the two countries.  The adoption legislation follows the heels of a highly controversial law signed by President Obama last month.  The US law is in honor of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who uncovered political corruption among several Russian tax officials.  Magnitsky was arrested and detained.  While in detention, he died.  It is strongly believed that his death was the result of the actions of prison officials.  The United States’ bill imposes a ban on the entrance into the US by several of the Russian officials involved in the Magnitsky case and prohibits them from using the US banking system.  Russia touts its adoption ban as its own human rights’ measure because the bill is named after a Russian child who was adopted by Americans and died in 2008 from neglect.  Continue reading

The Color Purple

Today I am digressing from legal analysis and legal questions to talk about the color purple.  When I say “the color purple”, I am not referencing that movie starring Oprah.  Although, it was a great movie.  I am talking about the national symbol for domestic violence awareness.  I was introduced to this color at a luncheon on Wednesday for Eve’s Place, a shelter for victims of domestic violence, which is located in Arizona.  The luncheon was a fashion show fundraiser designed to be lighthearted and to encourage attendees to donate to Eve’s Place.  Despite the fun atmosphere, the luncheon presented some serious themes.

Continue reading

The Scarlett Letter “B”

Many people hold off on filing for bankruptcy because they feel ashamed that they were not able to manage their debt on their own and for not being able to pay their creditors.  They also worry that if they seek bankruptcy relief, the world will know that they have committed this “shameful” act, and that they will  somehow be branded with a scarlet letter “B.”

First of all, I do not believe that filing for bankruptcy should be viewed as shameful or embarrassing.  Now, I know that I am a bankruptcy attorney and that people will think this is a biased opinion.  But, I really do believe this.  We all experience tough times and sometimes it is harder to pull ourselves out of those tough times than usual.  We need help, and there is nothing wrong with needing help.  Continue reading