Business Succession Law

Business Succession Law

Business succession planning is the process in which long-term needs are identified and addressed. The main concern in succession planning is in providing for the continuation of business operations in the event that the owner or manager retires or suddenly becomes incapacitated or deceased. This can occur by several means, such as transferring leadership to the following generation of family members or by naming a specific person to become the next owner. It is highly advantageous to have a business succession plan. Such a plan can create several benefits for the business, including tax breaks and no gaps in business operations. The plan will be formally recorded in a document, which is usually drafted by an attorney. A business succession plan is similar to a contract in that it has binding effect on the parties who sign the document and consent to the plan. Therefore, the main advantage of having a succession plan is that the organization will be much better prepared to handle any unforeseen circumstances in the future. A well thought out succession plan will be both very broad in scope and specific in detailed instruction. It should include many provisions to address other concerns besides the issue of who will take over ownership.

A business succession plan should include:
• Approximate dates or time frames when succession will begin. For example, the projected date of the owner’s retirement. Instructions should also be composed for steps to take as the date approaches.
• Provisions for what should occur in case of the owner’s unexpected incapacitation, such as in the event of severe illness or death. A replacement should be named in these provisions, and you should state how long their responsibilities will last (i.e., permanent or temporary).
• Identification of who will be the next successor or a guideline for how election should occur, and instructions to ensure a smooth transition.
• A strategic plan for the business after the succession has taken place. This should include any new revisions to current policies and management structures.
As you might expect, there are many legal matters to be addressed when creating a succession plan. Some common issues that arise in connection with business succession include:
• Choice of successor: If the succession plan does not clearly name a successor, it can lead to disputes, especially amongst family members who may be inheriting the business. Be sure to state exactly who will take charge.
• Property distribution: If there is any property in the previous owner’s name, this will need to be addressed so that the property can be distributed upon or during transition.
• Type of business form: Every type of business has different requirements regarding succession. For example, if the business is a corporation, the previous owner’s name must be removed from the articles of incorporation and replaced with that of the successor’s name. On the other hand, partnerships will usually dissolve upon the death of a partner, and it must be re-formed unless specific provisions are made in a contract.
• Tax issues: Any outstanding taxes, debts, or unfinished business must be resolved. Also, if the owner has died, there may be issues with death taxes.
• Benefits: You should ask whether the business will continue to provide benefits even after the owner has retired. For example, health care, life insurance, and retirement pay must be addressed.
• Employment contracts: If there are any ongoing employment contracts, these must be honored so as to avoid an employment law disputes. For example, if there is going to be a change in management structure, it must take into account any provisions contained in the employees’ contracts.

Picking the Successor
When creating the business succession plan, it is crucial that the person that succeeds the current owner is able to continue the company successfully. Without this ability, many individuals may be crossed off the list. Otherwise, it is just easier to sell the organization to someone that the owner has not invested interest in, and the continued transactions and revenue mean nothing personal. One of the primary reasons to have a business succession plan is to ensure the company continues functioning after the owner either enters retirement or dies. For the successor to be a family member, he or she must be fully prepared to work hard and invest time and energy into the business. Many owners of a business have multiple family members or assistants that could take his or her place. It is important to assess both the strengths and weaknesses of each individual so he or she is able to choose the person best suited for the position. There could be resentment and negative emotions that affect the arrangement with other members of the family, and this must be taken into account along with keeping other relationships from becoming complicated such as a spouse or the manager of the business who may have assumed he or she would take on the ownership or full run of the company.

Finalizing the Process
While some may sell the company before retiring or death, it is still important to determine the value of the business before the plan is finalized. This means an appraisal and documentation with the successor’s name and information. Additional items may need to be purchased such as life insurance, liability coverage and various files with the transfer of ownership if the owner is ready to conclude the proceedings. The current owner may also be provided monetary compensation for his or her interest or a monthly stipend based on the profits of the company. These matters are determined by the paperwork and possession of the business. The transfer may be possible through a cross-purchase agreement where each party has a policy on the partners in the business. Each person is both owner and beneficiary simultaneously. This permits a buyout of shares or interest when one partner dies if necessary. An entity purchase occurs with the policy being both beneficiary and owner. Then the shares are transferred to the company upon the death of one person. Succession plans are commonly associated with retirement; however, they serve an important function earlier in the business lifespan: If anything unexpected happens to you or a co-owner, a succession plan can help reduce headaches, drama, and monetary loss. As the complexity of the business and the number of people impacted by the exit grows, so does the need for a well-written succession plan.
You should consider creating successions plan if you:
• Have complex processes: How will your employees and successor know how to operate the business once you exit? How will you duplicate your subject matter expertise?
• Employ more than just yourself: Who will step in to lead employees, administer human resources (HR) and payroll, and choose a successor and leadership structure?
• Have repeat clients and ongoing contracts: Where will clients go after your exit, and who will maintain relationships and deliver on long-term contracts?
• Have a successor in mind: How did you arrive at this decision, and are they aware and willing to take ownership?
When to Create a Small Business Succession Plan
Every business needs a succession plan to ensure that operations continue, and clients don’t experience a disruption in service. If you don’t already have a succession plan in place for your small business, this is something you should put together as soon as possible. While you may not plan to leave your business, unplanned exits do happen. In general, the closer a business owner gets to retirement age, the more urgent the need for a plan. Business owners should write a succession plan when a transfer of ownership is in sight, including when they intend to list their business for sale, retire, or transfer ownership of the business. This will ensure the business operates smoothly throughout the transition. There are several scenarios in which a business can change ownership. The type of succession plan you create may depend on a specific scenario. You may also wish to create a succession plan that addresses the unexpected, such as illness, accident, or death, in which case you should consider whether to include more than one potential successor.

Selling Your Business to a Co-owner
If you founded your business with a partner or partners, you may be considering your co-owners as potential successors. Many partnerships draft a mutual agreement that, in the event of one owner’s untimely death or disability, the remaining owners will agree to purchase their business interests from their next of kin. This type of agreement can help ease the burden of an unexpected transition—for the business and family members alike. A spouse might be interested in keeping their shares but may not have the time investment or experience to help it blossom. A buy-sell agreement ensures they’re given fair compensation, and allows the remaining co-owners to maintain control of the business.
Passing Your Business Onto an Heir
Choosing an heir as your successor is a popular option for business owners, especially those with children or family members working in their organization. It is regarded as an attractive option for providing for your family by handing them the reins to a successful, fully operational enterprise. Passing your business on to an heir is not without its complications. Some steps you can take to pass your business onto an heir smoothly are:
• Determine who will take over: This is an easy decision if you already have a single-family member involved in the business but gets more complicated when multiple family members are interested in taking over.
• Provide clear instructions: Include instructions on who will take over and how other heirs will be compensated.
• Consider a buy-sell agreement: Many succession plans include a buy-sell agreement that allows heirs that are not active in the business to sell their shares to those who are.
• Determine future leadership structure: In businesses where many heirs are involved, and only one will take over, you can simplify future discussions by providing clear instructions on how the structure should look moving forward.
Selling Your Business to a Key Employee
When you don’t have a co-owner or family member to entrust with your business, a key employee might be the right successor. Consider employees who are experienced, business-savvy, and respected by your staff, which can ease the transition. Your org chart can help with this. If you’re concerned about maintaining quality after your departure, a key employee is generally more reliable than an outside buyer. Just like selling to a co-owner, a key employee succession plan requires a buy-sell agreement. Your employee will agree to purchase your business at a predetermined retirement date, or in the event of death, disability, or other circumstance that renders you unable to manage the business.
Selling Your Business to an Outside Party
When there isn’t an obvious successor to take over, business owners may look to the community: Is there another entrepreneur, or even a competitor, that would purchase your business? To ensure that the business is sold for the proper amount, you will want to calculate the business value properly, and that the valuation is updated frequently. This is easier for some types of businesses than others. If you own a more turnkey operation, like a restaurant with a good general manager, your task is simply to demonstrate that it’s a good investment. They won’t have to get their hands dirty unless they want to and will ideally still have time to focus on their other business interests. Meanwhile, if you own a real estate company that’s branded under your own name, selling could potentially be more challenging. Buyers will recognize the need to rebrand and remarket and, as a result, may not be willing to pay full price. Instead, you should prepare your business for sale well in advance; hire and train a great general manager, formalize your operating procedures, and get all your finances in check. Make your business as stable and turnkey as possible, so it’s more attractive and valuable to outside buyers.
Selling Your Shares Back to the Company
The fifth option is available to businesses with multiple owners. An “entity purchase plan” or a “stock redemption plan” is an arrangement where the business purchases life insurance on each of the co-owners. When one owner dies, the business uses the life insurance proceeds to purchase the business interest from the deceased owner’s estate, thus giving each surviving owners a larger share of the business.

Reasons to Hire a Business Succession Attorney
• Decisions during the Idea Stage: Even before you officially open your doors for business, you have several decisions to make that will affect your daily operations going forward. What will you call your company? Is the name you have in mind available? What is your marketing tag line? Can you use that without encountering any problems? Where will your business be located? Are there any zoning issues of which you need to be aware? These are just a few examples of decisions that need to be made before you even start doing what it is you want to do. These decisions will be a lot easier to make with the help of a business attorney.
• Startup Protocols and Legal Requirements: Another early decision you’re going to have to make involves the specific type of business entity you want to initiate. You need to do so for several reasons, not the least of which is that most types of business entities require some sort of registration and all businesses will need to register and obtain a business license from the local municipalities in which they operate. In addition, you may need to provide public notice of the intention of starting a business entity, which could involve publishing that notice in a newspaper for four weeks. You need to do this right or you could face other problems, which is another reason why hiring a lawyer for your business startup is a wise decision.
• Banking Questions: If you’re going to start a business, you’re also going to need to open a bank account or perhaps multiple bank accounts. You may also need to apply for credit in the forms of credit cards and/or lines of credit if attainable. It’s highly advisable for a plethora of reasons to keep all of your business finances completely separate from your personal situation, as it’ll be much easier to organize those separate forms of finances come tax time or should any other questions arise. A small business attorney can help you choose the proper bank and the type of account or accounts you should look to open so you don’t wind up scrambling after you begin your core mission.
• Tax Questions: Since the founding of our country, a common quote that people tend to repeat in several contexts is, “Nothing is certain except for death and taxes.” What is not debatable is that your business will be taxed in one way or another, and you need a lawyer for your business startup to make sure that you’re both in compliance with local, state and federal tax codes and so that you’re not unnecessarily facing double taxes. Tax questions should be answered before you get started so you know what to generally expect in this regard, and from there you should work with a tax accountant for your specific tax questions.
• Insurance Questions: One of the issues that you’ll begin to hear and think more about as you get ready to start your business involves liability. You are responsible for the product or service you provide to your clients or customers, and you want to make sure that you’re protected from personal liability should something go wrong. You may also need to comply with regulations that require some sort of liability insurance coverage, but choosing the proper coverage and understanding the nature of that coverage are involved tasks that need to be done right. A small business attorney can help guide your business towards the coverage you need while simultaneously helping you minimize the chance for unexpected and unpleasant surprises down the road.
• Debt Management: For most Americans, debt is simply a part of life. For the majority of small business owners, debt is something that exists even before they open their doors. Debt is real and it doesn’t go away easily, and like anything else, questions, confusion and problems relating to debt can arise that can harm your ability to push your organization forward. The best way to manage debt issues is by way of advice from a business attorney who can explain the legalities involved with it and fight for you if there is a problem.
• Dispute Advocacy: It’s common for any business to encounter disputes of one type or another. It’s also unfortunately common for a startup business to wind up dealing with a problem with a vendor or some larger, more established entity. Regardless, owners need a small business attorney at the ready to fight for their company when such situations arise. An attorney who isn’t going to hesitate to advocate zealously for clients can level the playing field and even help resolve issues before they become much larger problems. In some cases, even mentioning that you have an attorney representing you could help avoid those problems altogether.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, 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

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews

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Is It Better To Pay Off Debt Or File Bankruptcy

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Is It Better To Pay Off Debt Or File Bankruptcy?

Is It Better To Pay Off Debt Or File Bankruptcy

In general, paying off a creditor shortly before you file for bankruptcy is not a good idea. If you are filing for bankruptcy, you may be considering repaying certain debts before you file. Although paying off debts before filing bankruptcy may seem like the right thing to do, it is often not a good idea. In many cases, if you repay a debt within three months before filing longer if the debt was to a family member or close friend, the bankruptcy trustee can sue the creditor to get the money back.

Why Do Consumers Want to Repay Debts Before Filing Bankruptcy?

If you file for bankruptcy, at the end of your case you will receive a discharge. A discharge is a court order wiping out most or all of your debts some types of debts cannot be eliminated in bankruptcy. Sometimes a consumer doesn’t want a particular debt to be wiped out, and is tempted to pay it before filing bankruptcy. Some common situations where a consumer might want to pay off a debt before filing include:
• to ensure that a debt owed to a friend or close family member is not wiped out
• to protect a creditor that the consumer thinks has been fair
• to try to hide the bankruptcy filing from a bank, employer, or creditor
• to preserve a relationship with a medical provider, or
• to keep property, such as a car or home.
Many of the reasons that people want to repay debts are based on a misunderstanding of how bankruptcy works. For example, you might not automatically lose your home or car just by filing bankruptcy. And most credit card companies will become aware of your bankruptcy filing, even if you don’t have an outstanding debt with it and don’t list the debt in the bankruptcy. Paying debts off before filing bankruptcy can lead to problems once the case is filed.

Why Paying Debts off Before Filing Is a Really Bad Idea

Paying off a debt before filing your bankruptcy can cause problems for you and the person or business that you paid.

Paying Off a Debt Might Be a Preferential Transfer

When you file for bankruptcy, a bankruptcy trustee will be appointed. The trustee’s job is to fairly distribute your assets and property, if any, among your creditors. (You don’t have to give up all of your property during bankruptcy, learn what you can and cannot keep in bankruptcy.) The goal is to ensure that no one creditor has an unfair advantage over another. If you pay a creditor within a short period of time before your bankruptcy, the court may consider that payment to be a “preferential transfer.” Because you pay that one creditor 100% of the debt owed, and then have fewer assets left to repay other creditors through your bankruptcy, you have “preferred” that creditor over the others. If that happens, the trustee can try to get the money back through a claw back action.

How Far Back in Time Does the Court Look?

If you have made a preferential transfer to a creditor within the 90 days before you filed for bankruptcy, the trustee can file a claw back suit and try to obtain the funds from the paid creditor. If you repaid a close friend or family member, sometimes referred to as an “insider,” the time period that a court will consider extends to a year before you filed.

What Happens in a Claw back Suit?

In a claw back suit, the trustee brings a lawsuit against the creditor that you paid off in order to get the money back. A claw back suit can cause several problems with your bankruptcy.
• The result can be messy. The trustee may sue family members, employers, medical providers, and anyone else that you paid.
• It will likely delay your discharge since the court won’t enter a discharge until the claw back suit is complete.
• If the court finds that you paid a creditor in order to hide assets, it might deny your entire discharge. This happens most often when a consumer pays off close friends or family members.

What Debts Can You Pay Before Filing?

Not all pre-bankruptcy payments will be considered to be preferential transfers. You can make payments on debts if normally make such payments. The key is to not pay any more than you have been paying towards that debt. For example, if you regularly pay your physician $100 a month to repay a larger medical debt, you may continue to do so. You can continue to pay your regular car payment, mortgage, child support, or student loans. You can also pay credit card debt that you recently incurred to purchase regular necessities of life, such as gas or food.

Can I Pay Debts After My Bankruptcy Discharge?

If you want to ensure that a creditor gets paid, the best way to do this is after the bankruptcy. There is nothing that prevents you from paying off a creditor, even if its debt has been discharged in the bankruptcy. This is best done when you want to repay friends, family members, employers, or medical providers. However, many financial institutions and credit cards may refuse your payment after a bankruptcy discharge has been entered. No one wants to file bankruptcy. But when the bills become overwhelming, it becomes the best option for some. Bankruptcy can be a solution for those who are drowning in payments and can’t keep up. There are 2 kinds of bankruptcy for the average consumer: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. In Chapter 7, most of your debts are completely wiped out, though this is reflected on your credit report for several years. In Chapter 13, you arrange a plan with your creditors to pay pennies on the dollar for your debt over the course of 3 to 5 years, and then whatever is left is dismissed.

Your Credit Report Will Be Impacted For Several Years

When you file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it remains on your credit report for 10 years. With a Chapter 13, you pay it off sooner, so it only stays on your report for 7 years. This can make obtaining new credit really difficult. A few ways around this are reaffirming your car loan continuing to make payments on time can help rebuild your score. You can also get a secured card with your bank to help build credit a local credit union is usually your best bet for this. Don’t even think about opening any offers for credit cards you get in the mail when you file, though your mailbox will be full of them, and the idea of bankruptcy is to pay your balances down, not to let them keep adding up.
Your family might be affected
Did your parents help you co-sign your car loan, or a personal loan? If you’re making hefty payments and using bankruptcy to eliminate them, the burden of the loan will fall into their lap, which will impact their credit score and could impact their ability to get or eliminate credit. If you’re planning to file, definitely communicate your plans with them first. If you’re drowning in debt, they may be able to offer to help you first.
Moving might not be an option for a while
When you file for bankruptcy, your credit score will take a huge hit. Doing some savvy research and due diligence can help you restore your credit score within a few years, but keep in mind the bankruptcy will stay on your report for much longer. Until your score has recovered, mortgage lenders and landlords could view you as too risky and deny you housing as a result. Before you file, be sure you live somewhere you’re planning to stay for the next 3 to 4 years.

You’ll need to stop using credit

When you file for bankruptcy, a person called a trustee manages your case on behalf of your creditors. Some trustees can be more invested in the case than others, especially if they can collect assets from you for whom they earn commission. They’ll also decide if certain debts may not be discharged, especially debts you incurred within the previous 3 to 6 months you filed. If you’ve been racking up charges on a credit card or just took out a new loan, it’s likely you’ll still be on the hook for that if you file now. If you’re planning on filing, you need to stop using any kind of credit entirely for about 6 months before you file to ensure that as much debt as possible can be discharged.

Bankruptcy doesn’t mean you’re a bad person

All that said, if you’re thinking about filing for bankruptcy, don’t let the credit implications scare you. No one needs to know about your situation except you, your attorney (and yes, you should have one, as the paperwork can be overwhelming and confusing) and the court.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Individuals and in some cases businesses, with few or no assets typically file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It allows them to dispose of their unsecured debts, such as credit card balances and medical bills. Those with non-exempt assets, such as family heirlooms (collections with high valuations, such as coin or stamp collections); second homes; and cash, stocks, or bonds must liquidate the property to repay some or all of their unsecured debts. A person filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy is basically selling off their assets to clear their debt. People who have no valuable assets and only exempt property such as household goods, clothing, tools for their trades, and a personal vehicle worth up to a certain value may end up repaying no part of their unsecured debt.

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Businesses often file Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the goal of which is to reorganize, remain in business, and once again become profitable. Filing Chapter 11 bankruptcies allows a company to create plans for profitability, cut costs, and find new ways to increase revenue. Their preferred stockholders, if any, may still receive payments, though common stockholders will not.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Individuals who make too much money to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy may file under Chapter 13, also known as a wage earners plan. It allows individuals as well as businesses, with consistent income to create workable debt repayment plans. The repayment plans are commonly in instalments over the course of a three- to five-year period. In exchange for repaying their creditors, the courts allow these debtors to keep all of their property, including otherwise non-exempt property.

What to Do Before Filing Bankruptcy?

Before filing for bankruptcy, here are a few things you should do:
• Take a Credit Counselling course: This usually costs around $25 to $50; however, if you are unable to pay for a Credit Counselling course, you may be able to get the fee waived. The course will give you an overview of your debt relief options in and out of bankruptcy. If possible, take the course from an approved provider in your state, so you can use it to satisfy the required pre-bankruptcy credit counselling class. You won’t have to decide right away whether to file bankruptcy; the certificate of completion you will receive will be good for 6 months.
• Gather your financial documents, including your proof of income, bank statements, two years of taxes, lawsuit information for any cases filed against you, and a recent credit report. This will help you see the whole picture.
Advantages of filing for bankruptcy include:
• An automatic stay against creditors: Once you file, the court automatically issues this stay against any and all debt collection activity. It does not actually cancel your debt, but it suspends any debt collection proceedings until your bankruptcy case is complete or the stay is lifted. This means no more:
• Calls or letters from debt collectors
• Lawsuits on the debts
• Wage garnishments
• Home mortgage foreclosures
• Property repossession
If a creditor tries to collect a debt from you after the court grants your automatic stay, your attorney can bring a contempt of court action against them. This means the court can make them stop their collection attempts, fine them and/or make them pay you damages.
An automatic stay does NOT have the power to stop the following:
• Criminal proceedings
• Government tax audits
• The establishing, modifying or collecting of child support or alimony
• Establishment of paternity
• Co-debtors or co-signers
If you have already filed for bankruptcy once within the past year, you can petition the court for an extension of the first automatic stay. However, if you have filed two or more times during the past year, your automatic stay won’t go into effect without an explicit order from the court.
• Dischargeable debts: You may be able to discharge, or cancel, your responsibility to repay these debts. A dischargeable debt is one that can be eliminated by bankruptcy. These typically include credit card debt, medical and utility bills, and personal loans. Bankruptcy exemptions might allow you to maintain ownership of your property after bankruptcy. If you can “exempt” an asset, this means you don’t have to worry about it being seized in the bankruptcy. These exemptions play an important role in both Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcies. Some exemptions protect up to a certain dollar amount of an asset; sometimes the exemption covers the entire value of an asset. Some exemptions apply to certain types of assets, like a motor vehicle or wedding ring, while others can be applied towards any property you own.
• Credit Score: Although worries about a tanked credit ranking delay many in filing for bankruptcy, and a bankruptcy filing remains on your record for 7-10 years, many debtors actually start improving their credit scores after they file for bankruptcy. Once a person’s dischargeable debts are cancelled, this allows them to move forward with a clean slate and begin rebuilding their credit. However, filing for bankruptcy at the wrong time or filing when you shouldn’t can make a bad financial situation worse. Filing too early can sometimes mean that a person loses property he or she would otherwise have been able to keep, or that they have to file a different type of bankruptcy that is not in their best interests (i.e., having to file a Chapter 13 instead of Chapter 7). Regardless, even when bankruptcy is a person’s best option, filing also has real, lasting effects on a person’s finances that should be considered before filing.
The potential disadvantages of bankruptcy include:
• Loss of credit cards: Many credit card companies automatically cancel any cards you hold when you file. You will probably receive numerous offers to apply for “unsecured” credit cards after filing. These can help you rebuild your credit, but usually require annual fees and high interest rates.
• Immediate impact on your credit score: Chapter 7 bankruptcy stays on a person’s credit report of 10 years in North Carolina, while a Chapter 13 remains for seven (7) years.
• Difficultly obtaining a mortgage or loan: A bankruptcy filing can make it difficult to get another loan or mortgage for many years.
• Loss of property and real estate: Sometimes not all personal property and real estate will fit under an exemption. This means the bankruptcy court could seize some of your property and sell it to pay your creditors.
• Denial of tax refunds: State, local and federal tax refunds can be denied because of bankruptcy.
• Job and housing stigma: Some potential employers and landlords ask questions about any recently-filed bankruptcies and this can negatively affect your chances for both.
• Non-Dischargeable debts: There are certain kinds of debt that cannot be discharged by bankruptcy. Non-dischargeable debts typically include alimony and child support, student loans, criminal restitution and fines, and any debts acquired through fraud.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, 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

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews

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Utah Last Will And Testament Attorney

Utah Last Will And Testament Attorney

A Last Will and Testament is one of the most important legal documents a person can create during his or her lifetime. If a person dies without a Will they are said to have died “intestate” and state laws will determine how and to whom the person’s assets will be distributed. If a person dies without a Will the beneficiaries can not dispute the court’s distribution of that person’s estate under the intestacy laws. Even if that person expressed different wishes verbally during their lifetime the statutes control the distribution. With a valid Will, a person can legally determine how their property will be distributed and to whom. Most intestacy statutes distribute a deceased person’s assets between a surviving spouse and their children or to only the children if there is not a spouse. If there are no surviving children the assets then are generally distributed to extended family members. Making a will also gives you the opportunity to name an executor (the person responsible for distributing your assets) and a legal guardian for your children. A Will must meet the legal requirements set forth by the state in order for it to be valid.

Most states will also accept a Will that was executed in another state if the document is a valid Will under that state’s law. The general requirements for a valid Will are usually as follows:
• the document must be written (meaning typed or printed),
• signed by the person making the Will (usually called the “testator” or “testatrix”, and
• signed by two witnesses who were present to witness the execution of the document by the maker and who also witnessed each other sign the document.
A Will must be in writing, signed by the testator and by two witnesses. If the testator cannot physically sign his name he may direct another party to do so. Each witness must sign the Will in the testator’s presence. In Utah, an individual generally competent to be a witness may act as a witness to a will. Generally, it is recommended that the witnesses to the Will be “disinterested”, which means that they are not a beneficiary of the Will. However, in Utah the signing of a Will by an interested witness does not invalidate the Will or any provision of it.

If a Will’s authenticity is unchallenged it may be probated in a simplified procedure if it has been self-proven. Witnesses to a self-proven Will are not required to testify in court because the court automatically accepts a self-proven Will as authentic. To self-prove a Will the testator and the witnesses must swear in an affidavit before a notary to the authenticity of the Will. The affidavit should be part of the Will or attached to it. Make sure they are all provided for individually in your will—it sounds basic and obvious, but don’t name just one child and assume the court will automatically grant custody of all of them to the same legal guardian. This may be a particular concern if you have a child with special needs. If you want your children to stay together, specify this in your will. In fact, if this factor is more important to you than the legal guardian, say so that is, if for some reason the court does not approve your choice of guardian or your chosen guardian cannot serve but you would still like your children to stay together with a different guardian as named by the court, make this preference clear in your will. Especially if you prefer your children to stay together, is your chosen guardian in the position to care for all of your children, emotionally and otherwise? Does he or she have other children as well? How will the families blend? If your preference is to have your children raised in a two-person home, be sure to name each member of the couple as a co-guardian. For example, if you would like your sister and brother-in-law to jointly raise your children, include them both as co-guardians. Many people immediately think of their own parents for guardians of their children, but consider the age and general health of your chosen guardian and whether he or she will be able to handle the physical demands of raising children. If your children are nearing the age of majority, this may not be as much of a concern, but if you have younger children, it could be a very important consideration. Many parents would prefer that their children be able to stay in their same school or at least school district should something happen to them; either way, it’s important for you to consider where your child would be attending school while living with his or her new guardian.

As a parent, you know that raising children is expensive, so while ideally, you will have prepared financially for your children ahead of time with estate planning, be sure to consider your chosen guardian’s financial resources as well. You probably would prefer a guardian who shares your basic values and goals as a parent so that your children will be raised similarly to the way you would have raised them. If religious doctrine or alternately, not teaching religious doctrine is particularly important to you, you should consider this when choosing a guardian. Think also about whether they can handle the responsibility of raising your child as well as what kind of parent they would be—are they patient, kind, and mature? Do they already get along well with your children? Before you make this decision and include a named guardian in your will, sit down and talk with your choice. First and foremost, you want to make sure that he or she will agree to becoming the guardian of your child should anything happen to you, but it is also useful to discuss all the considerations discussed above so you know for certain the answers to those questions. Part of your job as a parent now is to decide who you would want to care for your children in the event of your death. Imagine if writing a last will and testament were a pre-requisite to graduating from high school. The graduate walks across the stage, hands the completed will to the principal, and gets the diploma in return. It might sound strange because most 18 year olds have little in terms of assets but it’s a good idea for all adults to draft a last will and testament. Graduation from college is another good milestone to use as a reminder to create an estate plan. If you haven’t created a will by the time you marry or are living with a partner in a committed relationship then it’s fair to say you are overdue.
Reasons To Complete A Last Will And Testament.
• You are entering the military: Anyone entering the military, at 18 or any other age, should make sure his or her affairs are in order. Even for an 18-year-old, that means creating a will and other basic estate planning documents like a health care directive and powers of attorney.
• You received an inheritance: You may not think of the inheritance as your asset, especially if it is held in trust for you. But, without an estate plan, the disposition of that money will be a slow and complicated process for your surviving family members.
• You own an animal: It is common for people to include plans for their pets in their wills. If the unthinkable were to happen and you died unexpectedly, what would happen to your beloved pet? Better to plan ahead for your animals in the event of your death. You can even direct the sale of specific assets, with the proceeds going to your pet’s new guardian for upkeep expenses. You want to protect your family from red tape. If you die without a will, your family will have to take your “estate” (whatever money and possessions you have at the time of your death) through a long court process known as probate. If you had life insurance, for example, your family would not be able to access those funds until the probate process was complete. A couple of basic estate planning documents can keep your estate out of the probate court and get your assets into the hands of your chosen beneficiaries much more quickly.
• You have social media accounts: Many people spend a great deal of time online, conversing with friends, storing important photos and documents and even managing finances. Without instructions from you, will your family know what to do with your Facebook account, your LinkedIn account, and so forth?
• You want to give money or possessions to friends or charities: When someone dies without a will, there are laws that dictate who will receive any assets. These recipients will include immediate family members like parents, siblings, and a spouse. If you want to give assets to friends or to a charity, you must protect your wishes with a will.

Here Are Some Key Documents to Have Alongside Your Last Will and Testament

Filling out your last will and testament form is essential, but it’s not the only document you’re likely to need. You might also think about:
• An advanced health care directive or medical power of attorney: This names someone you trust to make decisions about your health (would you want to be on life support?) if you’re not able to do so yourself.
• Living will: Similarly, a living will records your wishes for your medical care if you become incapacitated. Are you religiously opposed to blood transfusions? Do you have specific rules you’d like your caretakers to follow?
• Durable power of attorney: A durable power of attorney names someone to manage your finances if you’re incapacitated and can’t do so yourself.
Duties of the Executor of a Last Will and Testament
When most people create their Last Will and Testament, they nominate a spouse, partner, child or parent as the executor of the Will without giving much thought to what the position of executor actually entails. However, once you understand the complex nature of the duties of an executor, you may decide to give a little more thought to the choice of the executor. State laws determine which estates are required to pass through formal probate and which estates can be probated without the need for formal probate. If an estate requires formal probate, the duties of the executor will be numerous. Not surprisingly, the larger the estate and the more complex the assets or Will are, the more difficult the job of executor will be. The job of executor starts by petitioning the appropriate court to open the probate of the estate. Along with opening the probate, all beneficiaries named in the Will, all known creditors, and the public at large are typically required to be notified of the probate. The executor is then required to identify value and inventory all estate assets. This process may require expert appraisals and requires a report to be made to the court when completed. Creditors of the estate are then given a specific time period to make claims against the estate. The executor must review the claims and approve or deny them accordingly. Any challenges to the Will by heirs or creditor disputes are also handled by the executor. Taxes, both of the decedent and the estate, must be filed by the executor and any tax obligations paid out of the estate assets. The probate of even a moderate sized estate can take months to conclude. Only when all assets have been accounted formal creditor claims handled and paid and all taxes filed and paid can the executor begin to transfer the remaining assets to the beneficiaries under the Will.
Advantages of a Last Will and Testament
• You can leave property to those you choose: One of the greatest advantages to having a will is that you can choose who will receive what from your estate. Without a will, your estate is subject state laws of “intestacy.” That means the people you would like to benefit may receive little or nothing, while others with whom you’re not as close receive the bulk. Accordingly, if you are not married but have a long-term partner, he or she could receive nothing under such laws. Alternately, if you are in the process of a divorce but it has not been finalized, without a will, your estranged husband or wife could make a claim on your estate.
• You can name a guardian for children and provide for them: A will allows you to choose a guardian for your children and set aside funds to make sure of their support and comfort.
• You can create a testamentary trust in the will: You can create a testamentary trust within a last will, which is created upon your death and used to hold property for another person’s benefit, such as your children.
• You choose your executor: The executor is in charge of making sure all your bequests are carried out. A will gives you complete control over deciding who this will be. The executor should be someone who is willing and able to handle everything that is involved with the closing of your estate. Without a will, a court appoints someone to administer your estate, and that person may not be someone you would choose.
• You can plan for personal matters: From burial arrangements to pet care, you can use a will to dictate what type of services, if any, you would like, and other personal matters.
• You can amend it: Circumstances change, and so can your will. Through a “codicil,” you can amend any provisions of your will at any time so that they better reflect your most current wishes and assets.
• You can revoke it: If you find that a will no longer represents your interests, you can revoke it entirely and start over.
• Doesn’t have to be expensive: Creating a last will can be surprisingly affordable, particularly if your finances, assets and beneficiaries are fairly straightforward.

Disadvantages of a Last Will
• Possible challenges: Although it’s possible that someone could challenge your will, if you have followed all of the proper procedures in its creation, your will and its provisions will likely stand.
• May need to go through probate: If you have assets that pass under your will worth more than a certain amount, your will must be filed for probate, the procedure through which a decedent’s assets are distributed; this can be a long process, which can, in turn, be costly for the estate. In contrast, a living trust does not require probate.
• It is public record: A will becomes public record once it is filed for probate, which means anyone can search for it and see its contents.
• May not fully address tax concerns: A will that is not carefully planned out could leave your estate open to paying large state and/or federal estate taxes or your beneficiaries to paying hefty inheritance taxes.

Will and Testament Lawyer

When you need a Will and Testament Attorney, please call Ascent Law LLC 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

Ascent Law LLC

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Affordable Family Law Attorney

Affordable Family Law Attorney

Usually when you hire an attorney, it’s to avoid being drained financially by an ex-spouse, former business partner or adversary who wants to sue you. But what do you do when you need a lawyer to protect your assets and paying for one is out of the question? In a criminal proceeding, if you can’t afford legal assistance, a court will appoint an attorney for you. In a civil case, generally described as a dispute between two private parties, to get legal representation, you have to get creative.

Here’s how to find legal help if you can’t afford a lawyer:
• Contact the city courthouse.
• Seek free lawyer consultations.
• Look to legal aid societies.
• Visit a law school.
• Contact your county or state bar association.
• Go to small claims court.
Depending on your situation, you can employ a variety of strategies to get free legal advice or cheap legal assistance.
Contact the City Courthouse
Whether it’s a divorce or you’re being taken to court for something else, if you don’t have a lawyer, a logical move would be to call the courthouse and ask who they would suggest going to.
Seek Free Lawyer Consultations
Some attorneys will offer free consultations usually by phone or videoconference. You aren’t likely to come away feeling like you’re ready to try your first case, but even if it’s just a 15-minute call, you may at least get enough information to have a better sense of what legal morass you’re in for. You might also be able to get some direction as to who can help you for free or a bargain basement price.


You could also consider hiring an up-and-coming law student to give you advice. Many law schools have pro bono programs in which law students can offer free legal advice.
Contact Your County or State Bar Association
You can call the second and fourth Fridays of each month from 9 to 11 a.m., as part of their Ask an Attorney Service, and they’ll answer legal questions for free. If you need advice that doesn’t fit in that window, the association offers a 30-minute consultation with an attorney for $30, and for certain topics for instance, pertaining to Social Security, unemployment, workers’ compensation and personal injuries, among others – they’ll offer the 30-minute consultation free of charge.
Go to Small Claims Court
Unfortunately, this isn’t a viable option for everyone. For instance, you can’t go to small claims court if you’re trying to work out your financial affairs after a divorce. But if the stakes are fairly low where someone owes you money or is trying to collect money from you, and it isn’t worth risking lawyer fees, you might consider small claims court.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
After looking around and talking to enough attorneys or law students, you may decide that you do need a lawyer and the more you look around, you may find one who will work with you on a small budget. It’s worth asking around because you may find that the fees aren’t as high as you fear, especially if you can get them capped. An attorney might give you a discount. Also, many attorneys offer payment plans, so that you’re paying monthly instead of one huge sum all at once. Of course, you could hit the jackpot and find a pro bono lawyer, or you might find someone willing to take your case on contingency. That is, if you lose your case, you won’t pay money, but if you win, the law firm will take a portion of the money awarded to you. However, it’s important to tread carefully before picking a lawyer. Choose a reputable attorney and make sure the rate is agreed upon before the lawyer takes your case. And don’t be too shocked if an attorney turns you down. It’s risky for lawyers to take cases on contingency, and they need to be confident a judge or jury will side with you, and that there’s going to be something sizable awarded to you.
How Much Does a Child Custody Court Case Cost?
Custody Battle Cost
The cost of a child custody court case can range anywhere from $3,000 to $40,000-plus according to most sources. Why such an enormous range? Because there are so many factors that impact how much a case will cost.
The two factors that will have the most impact, include:
• The attorney you hire
• If your custody case is contested or uncontested
How much does a custody lawyer cost?
Attorney fees can range anywhere from $85 to $400 or more per hour depending on the experience level of the lawyer you hire, their reputation, and their track record of success in litigating child custody cases. Attorneys can bill for their services in several different ways. A straightforward hourly billing process is standard, meaning you pay-by-the-hour for any time the attorney spends on your case, which means every phone call, email, meeting, and court appearance about your case will increase your bill. Some lawyers will bill a flat fee for child custody services. If the case is simple and straightforward, the flat fee will likely be less than a complex or contested custody case. A typical flat cost can range from $3,000 to $20,000. Finally, some lawyers charge on a retainer basis. A retainer is a fee paid in advance to the lawyer for handling your case. The lawyer draws from this retainer to pay his or her expenses as the case proceeds. If the case is finished quickly, depending on your agreement, you may be refunded remaining funds left in the retainer. If the retainer is used up before the case is settled, you will be required to make an additional payment. It’s essential to understand what is included in your attorney fees. Other items that attorneys may charge for include travel expenses, paralegal services, copying, faxes, and more. Make sure your contract is clear about how billing works, so you are not surprised by fees you didn’t expect.

Contested or Uncontested Case
The other major factor that impacts how much your child custody case will cost is whether your case is contested or uncontested. Having a contested case means that there is a dispute or challenge about how the custody of the child will be handled. For example, if one person is determined to have sole custody and refuses to cooperate or compromise, the case will proceed to a full-court trial, which will then require depositions, court time, possibly specialists or expert witnesses, and much more.
Other Child Custody Fee Factors
Other factors that may impact how much your child custody court case will cost include:
• The state where you live.
• If you need assistance negotiating or compromising on specific terms within your child custody agreement or parenting plan, you may need a mediator or arbitrator. Those costs can range from $100 – $300 an hour.
• If you require a custody evaluation done by an expert such as a child psychologist, these experts can cost anywhere from $1,500 – $6,000 or more.
• You may incur fees for miscellaneous items such as paying the sheriff or third-party to serve paperwork, court filing fees, subpoenaing bank records, or other documents.
Usually, each party in a child custody case is responsible for paying their legal fees. A judge might make an exception if one party makes substantially more money than the other, or if one party cannot afford legal representation. Some people may be entitled to legal aid or a pro bono attorney depending on their income level. While the thought of hiring an attorney and paying legal fees may seem daunting, in some child custody cases, it may be one of the best investments you ever make if it ensures the best situation for your child. Many attorneys will allow you to schedule an initial consultation at little or no cost so that you can learn more about your options.
Know Who You’re Dealing With
Many lawyers specialize in a particular area of the law. Be sure your attorney has relevant experience. An attorney who regularly drafts wills may not be the best choice to represent you in a courtroom if the subject is an auto accident. If family, friends or co-workers have hired a lawyer for a similar reason, ask them for recommendations. If not, check with your state and local bar associations. Some groups offer lawyer referral services for their members.
Do Your Research
Try to talk with more than one lawyer before you choose the one to represent you. But find out if you will be charged for an initial meeting. Be prepared to describe your problem in a brief, clear summary. Ask the various lawyers about their experience, their fees, what your options might be, and your chances of success, who will do the work, and when the problem might be resolved.
Know the Real Deal
Once you decide to hire a lawyer, be sure you understand what you’ve both agreed to. How often will the lawyer update you? What information will you are required to provide? Do you understand all your options? What will the total cost be? If you’re not clear on exactly what the lawyer is doing, ask for clarification. Although your chances of success can’t be guaranteed, discuss approaches to your case. You should be comfortable with your lawyer’s approach to your case. Be up front with your lawyer on all the facts and circumstances surrounding your situation. You may want to get the agreement with your lawyer in writing.
Payment Arrangements
Remember the most expensive lawyer is not necessarily the best one for you. Nor is a “bargain” rate always a great deal. Look for the best balance of experience and cost. You may want to ask your lawyer if a junior lawyer or paralegal can perform some of the work to lower your costs. You also may want to ask if there are tasks you could perform yourself to save time and money. For example, you might be able to copy, pick up or deliver certain documents. A lawyer may charge you a flat fee for a particular service or offer alternative methods of payment. Each has benefits and risks.
Contingency fees


A contingent fee arrangement means that your lawyer gets a percentage of whatever money you receive as resolution of your case. If you receive no money, then your lawyer collects no fees. However, you may owe charges for court fees, copying, and hiring expert witnesses. If you have very little money to pay hourly fees, it may be appropriate to negotiate a contingency fee with your lawyer. But before agreeing to a contingent fee, consider that:
• The size of a contingency fee, usually a percentage of any money you receive to resolve the case, is always negotiable. Sometimes you can negotiate a sliding scale fee (for example, 30 percent of any recovery up to $10,000; 20 percent of any recovery up to $50,000, etc.). Remember that there’s no particular percentage of a consumer’s recovery that constitutes a “standard” or “official” fee.
• The size of the contingency fee should reflect the amount of work that will be required by the attorney. Some cases are straightforward; others can be novel or uncertain. You may want to ask whether the case is likely to settle quickly and whether government agencies will gather significant amounts of evidence. A fee arrangement sometimes can be negotiated with a lower percentage for a quick settlement and a higher percentage if it goes to trial. Be sure you know exactly what is covered in your agreement. Your state also may have rules about maximum contingency fees; check with your state’s bar association.
Flat fee
You pay the lawyer a set dollar amount for a particular service, like writing a will. If the matter is simple and straightforward, say, an uncontested divorce or a simple bankruptcy filing, many lawyers often charge a flat fee. Be sure to find out exactly what the flat fee includes.
Hourly rates
The lawyer charges a set fee per hour. Your final cost will depend on how long it takes to complete your work. Hourly rates vary according to a lawyer’s expertise and experience. An experienced lawyer may charge a higher hourly rate but may complete the work more quickly. Because the hours worked on your case can add up quickly, you should ask for a written estimate of the number of hours necessary to complete your case to get an idea of what your final bill might amount to.
Retainer
Your lawyer may ask you to pay a fee up front. A lawyer can use this fee often called a retainer as a down payment on expenses and fees. It is important to review your account from time to time to understand how your money is being spent.

Public Legal Services
Depending on your financial situation, you may qualify for free or low cost legal services through special organizations. For example, you may be eligible for free representation in landlord-tenant or divorce cases. Look in your local telephone directory for legal services organizations or legal clinics associated with accredited law schools.
Pre-paid legal plan
Some organizations offer pre-paid legal plans that work like an insurance policy. In exchange for a monthly fee, you receive certain legal services as you need them. However, the fees charged and the services covered vary with each state’s law and the particular plan. Check out any plan carefully to be sure you know what’s covered and whether it makes sense for your situation.
Before You Hire Child Custody Lawyers
1. Consider Your Financial Resources: When deciding whether to hire a child custody lawyer, the most important consideration is the availability of financial resources. The retainer for a child custody lawyer can be quite expensive, depending on a number of factors including how many hours it may take to resolve the case, as well as the state in which you live. When considering whether to hire child custody lawyers, ask about the anticipated costs upfront. If you reach the conclusion that you are unable to afford a private attorney, remember that you still have options. You may be entitled to free legal aid or low-cost representation through the family court. In some jurisdictions, the court may base your entitlement to free representation on your current income.
2. Weigh the Complexity of Your Case: Typically, parents are advised to hire child custody lawyers when facing a difficult or complex child custody issue. For example, interstate child custody cases are usually considered complex. If you are facing a difficult custody case and you feel unsure about representing yourself, you should consider hiring a child custody lawyer who specializes in complex legal issues and has experience in family court. If you decide to represent yourself during your child custody hearing, being well prepared will give you the best chance of winning child custody. If you’re not sure where to begin, start by reading up on the child custody laws in your state.
3. Consider the Attorney’s Reputation: Many parents decide to hire a child custody lawyer based on the attorney’s reputation for winning child custody cases. Look to hire a child custody attorney with experience handling similar cases. And don’t be shy about asking for references! This is likely the most important case you’ll ever face in your life, and you have every right to investigate the attorney’s reputation before signing on the bottom line. If you are eligible for low-cost or free representation, be extra picky about the attorney’s reputation for winning child custody, especially contested cases that require representation in court. Be sure to ask any prospective child custody lawyer about his or her strategy for winning child custody cases, too.

Family Lawyer

When you need a family lawyer, please call Ascent Law LLC 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

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews

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Non-Profit Attorney

Non-Profit Attorney

501c3 rules are the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidelines set forth to regulate the activities of certain nonprofit organizations. 501c3 tax status is awarded to charitable organizations and provides them exemption from federal taxes. There are a wide variety of federal nonprofit tax codes, spanning from (1) to (28). 501c3 is one of the most popular yet restrictive tax codes. Some common examples of organizations that fall into this group include trusts and public foundations, but the most popular type of institution is nonprofit corporations. This type of nonprofit tax code stands apart from its counterparts because of the donation exemptions. Individuals or companies that donate to 501c3 organizations are able to deduct the contribution on their taxes. The majority of state governments also allow tax deductions for donations, making gifts to nonprofit entities under this category appealing to many donors. 501c3 institutions can also benefit from state tax reductions such as sales and property fees. Other outlets, like the post office, also provide discounts for certain types of groups. Organizations with 501c3 statuses span a wide variety of industries and service types. One of the main distinguishers of a public charity, at least according to the IRS, is that it isn’t a private foundation. They’re many other things that they look for to approve companies for tax-exemption, and they place a heavy focus on revenue sources.

The bulk of public nonprofit’s revenue must be provided by public donations or government entities, and one-third of the public donors must be composed of a broad range of backgrounds and classes. The IRS does allow that funds be obtained from individuals as well as companies, and it can also come from other types of charities. Individual donors can write off donations up to amounts that equal half of their yearly income while corporations can only deduct up to 10 percent of their income. There are many similarities between public and private nonprofit organizations, but there are specific differences that the IRS looks for when determining status. While most private organizations are run by families, the rules for a 501c3 charity demand that the majority of the company’s board members are not related.
Private organizations aren’t known for their continuously active programs, which is another stipulation for public entities. While they may not technically be active, many private foundations fund the activities of public groups through the use of grants. However, their donor base is usually much smaller than their counterparts because they don’t face the same variety of restrictions. Donors also don’t receive the same deduction opportunities as the IRS limits the claims to 30 percent of their income. It’s not impossible for private foundations to earn 501c3 status, especially if they’re practices result in a hybrid organization, but they’re the smallest type of institution among (3) tax codes. If they do in fact qualify, their donors are able to reap the same tax deduction benefits.

What Are Restrictions on Activities For Non-Profits?

501c3 organizations face extensive restrictions that are much tougher than other 501c tax code categories. Some of these rules include:
• Individual members or leaders can’t benefit financially from the programs and activities of the organization;
• The assets of a dissolved company much transfer to another 501c3 organization and not to any one person;
• Lobbying should be limited and only use a small percentage of the budget.
The IRS also prevents organizations from making official ties to political campaigns including candidate endorsements.

How Do You Obtain 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Status?

In order to obtain 501c3 status, the company or organization needs to complete and file Form 1023. Small entities or those with limited income can use the 1023-EZ Form if they meet the minimal requirements. The IRS requires companies with early earnings of $10,000 or more to pay an $875 filing fee. Organizations with lower revenues are only charged $400 for the application process, but certain entities, like religious institutions, can avoid the entire process as they aren’t required to apply. It’s easy for a nonprofit organization to maintain its tax exempt status and can be just as easy to lose it. Each year, the IRS revokes the tax-exempt status of more than 100 501(c)(3) organizations. Organizations recognized as exempt from federal income tax under this section of the Internal Revenue Code include private foundations as well as churches, educational institutions, hospitals, and many other types of public charities.
But these organizations can maintain their tax-exempt status if they heed the rules in six areas:
• Private benefit
• Lobbying
• Political campaign activity
• Unrelated business income (UBI)
• Annual reporting obligation
• Operation in accord with stated exempt purpose(s)

When Should You File For 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt Status?

To get the most out of your tax-exempt status, you’ll want to file your Form 1023 within 27 months of the date you file your nonprofit articles of incorporation. You should really file as soon as possible. If you file within this time period, your nonprofit’s tax exemption takes effect on the date you filed your articles of incorporation (and all donations received from the point of incorporation onward will be tax deductible). If you file later than this and can’t show “reasonable cause” for your delay (that is, convince the IRS that your tardiness was understandable and excusable), your group’s tax-exempt status will begin as of the postmark date on its IRS Form 1023 application.

Form 1023-EZ: The Streamlined Application

Smaller nonprofits may be eligible to file Form 1023-EZ, Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. This is a shorter, simpler application form that you complete online. Form 1023-EZ may only be filed by nonprofits with less than $50,000 in annual receipts and $250,000 in total assets. If you’re in the ballpark, complete the Form 1023-EZ Eligibility Worksheet contained in the Form 1023-EZ Instructions to determine if your nonprofit meets all the requirements for using the shorter streamlined form. If you are eligible to use it, this version of the form is much easier to complete and will take you much less time. The filing fee is also much smaller.
Identification of Applicant
This section tells the IRS about your organization. It asks for basic information like the name of your nonprofit corporation, contact information, and when you filed your articles of incorporation. Your nonprofit must have a federal employer identification number (EIN) prior to applying for 501(c)(3) tax exemption, even if it doesn’t have employees. This can be done quickly and easily. Even if your organization held an EIN prior to incorporation, you must obtain a new one for the nonprofit corporate entity.
Required Provisions in Your Organizing Document
There are certain clauses that you must have in your articles of incorporation in order to get your 501(c)(3) exemption, including:
• a clause stating that your corporation was formed for a recognized 501(c)(3) tax-exempt purpose (charitable, religious, scientific, literary, and/or educational), and
• a clause stating that that any assets of the nonprofit that remain after the entity dissolves will be distributed to another 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit or to a federal, state, or local government for a public purpose.
Narrative Description of Your Activities
Here you provide a detailed, narrative description of all of your organization’s activities — past, present, and future — in their order of importance (that is, in order of the amount of time and resources devoted to each activity). For each activity, explain in detail:
• the activity itself, how it furthers an exempt purpose of your organization, and the percentage of time your group will devote to it
• when it was begun (or, if it hasn’t yet begun, when it will begin)
• where and by whom it will be conducted, and
• how it will be funded (the financial information or projections you provide later in your application should be consistent with the funding methods or mechanisms you mention here).
Compensation and Financial Arrangements
The purpose of this section is to prevent people from creating and operating a nonprofit for the sole benefit of its founders, insiders, or major contributors. You’ll need to give information about all proposed compensation to, and financial arrangements with:
• initial directors
• initial officers (such as the president, chief executive officer, vice president, secretary, treasurer, chief financial officer, or any other officer in your organization)
• trustees
• the five top-paid employees who will earn more than $50,000 per year, and
• the five top-paid independent contractors who will earn more than $50,000 per year.
In computing the amount of compensation paid, include employer contributions made to employee benefit plans, 401(k)s, IRAs, expected bonus payments, and the like. You must also answer questions relating to possible conflicts of interest, which is an important part of the application.
Financial Data
All groups wishing to obtain 501(c)(3) exempt status must provide a statement of revenues and expenses and a balance sheet. An organization that has been in existence for five years or more must provide financial data for its most recent five years. Other groups must provide financial data for each year they have been in existence and good faith estimates for future years for a total of three or four years, depending on how long the organization has been in existence. These revised financial data requirements relate to IRS rules that automatically classify all new 501(c)(3) groups as public charities as long as they can show in their Form 1023 that they reasonably expect to receive qualifying public support. If your nonprofit is a public charity, you will want to include all the information necessary to avoid misclassification as a private foundation.
Public Charity or Private Foundation
This section relates to your nonprofit’s classification as a public charity or private foundation. Public charities, which include churches, schools, hospitals, and a number of other groups, derive most of their support from the public or receive most of their revenue from activities related to tax-exempt purposes. Most groups want to be classified as a public charity because private foundations are subject to strict operating rules and regulations. Under IRS regulations all new 501(c)(3) groups are automatically classified as public charities for the first five years as long as they demonstrate in their Form 1023 that they reasonably expect to receive qualifying public support. This way new groups applying for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status need not seek an advance IRS ruling on their public charity status. For the first five years, the group will maintain its public charity status regardless of how much public support it actually receives. After the initial five-year period, the IRS will start to monitor whether the group receives the public support necessary to qualify as a public charity.


Fee Information
You must pay a fee when you submit your Form 1023 application. Check the IRS website for the current user fee.
Additional Schedules
Certain types of nonprofits must attach an additional schedule to their Form 1023 application. Most of these schedules concern statutory public charities–nonprofits like churches and hospitals that are automatically classified as a public charity no matter how much public support they receive. Each schedule asks for additional information geared to the type of nonprofit. For example, Schedule A for churches asks a series of questions designed to show whether the organization really is a church for tax purposes, such as whether it has a creed or form of worship. These schedules include:
• Schedule A: filed by churches
• Schedule B: filed by schools, colleges, and universities
• Schedule C: filed by hospitals and medical research organizations
• Schedule D: filed by supporting organizations
• Schedule E: filed by nonprofits over 27 months old
• Schedule F: filed by homes for the elderly or handicapped, or low income housing
• Schedule G: filed by successors to other nonprofits.
After You File
After reviewing your application, the IRS will do one of three things:
• grant your federal tax exemption
• request further information, or
• issue a proposed adverse determination (a denial of tax exemption that becomes effective 30 days from the date of issuance).
If you receive a proposed denial of tax-exempt status and you wish to appeal, see a lawyer immediately.
501c3 Requirements
The IRS requires that nonprofit organizations must meet specific requirements before earning 501c3 status. Some of the basic essentials include:
• Avoid any purpose that praises or calls for discrimination;
• Must have obtained an official status as an association, corporation, or trust;
• Provide a reason for their desire to seek tax exemption;
• Three-years of existence before applying;
• Earnings and funds raised by the outlet can’t benefit a sole member;
• Profits must be used for charitable activities;
• Political involvement should be avoided;
• Sole purpose is to meet public needs.
Non-Profit Attorney
A non-profit attorney handles many of the same issues as a business lawyer, but focuses on the special issues that affect non-profit organizations. An attorney can help your non-profit if you’re just starting up and need guidance on the paperwork that needs to be filed, when you file taxes, or when you need litigation. A non-profit lawyer can help you lay the proper foundation so that your organization can flourish. Your non-profit lawyer can advise you on the right form of entity for your organization, depending on the activities and goals you plan to achieve. For instance, your charitable organization may be able to gain a tax-exempt status if you meet conditions set forth in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and maintain specific documents. A political organization, private foundation, or religious organization has different legal and tax obligations. With the right lawyer, you can also get advice about the management for your non-profit such as how to form a board of directors, how to appoint officers, and whether you can form an affiliation. A non-profit lawyer can advise you what types of legal forms and documentation you need to maintain your non-profit status, and aid the education of directors, personnel, and other stakeholders so you can run your organization diligently. Depending on what service you need, your lawyer may use different methods of billing. For simple tasks like document drafting or review, a non-profit attorney often charges a flat fee. For longer or more complex matters, your lawyer will likely charge an hourly rate. Rates will vary depending on your industry, the complexity of your case, and where your business is located. Be sure to negotiate a rate up front with your attorney.

Non-Profit Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need legal help with a non-profit company or charity, please call Ascent Law LLC 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

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Best Utah SLC DUI

Best Utah SLC DUI

Utah officially uses the term “driving under the influence” (DUI) instead of “driving while intoxicated” (DWI). However, some people still use DWI and DUI interchangeably to refer to drunk or drugged driving. Utah’s DWI laws prohibit all motorists from operating a motor vehicle:
• with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05% or more, or
• while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
A driver is considered “under the influence” if “incapable of safely operating a vehicle” as the result of ingesting alcohol, drug or any other substance. Utah has a not-a-drop law that makes it illegal for motorists who are under the age of 21 years to drive with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system.

Getting a DUI Without Actually Driving

In Utah, a motorist can get a DUI even without actually driving. In addition to driving or operating a car, a person may not be in “actual physical control” of a car while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or with a BAC of .08% or more. The gist of this law is to keep roads safe from even the potential danger that an intoxicated driver creates when getting behind the wheel. Utah courts apply a totality of circumstances test to decide whether a particular driver is in actual physical control of the vehicle. Some factors courts consider include:
• where the driver was seated in the car
• whether the driver had the ignition key
• whether the driver was touching the steering wheel or other operating controls, and
• whether the driver was asleep or awake.
Determining actual physical control is fact-specific. No two situations are exactly alike. It’s best to consult an experienced DUI attorney to see if you’ve been properly charged with an actual-physical-control DUI.

Plea Bargaining in Utah DUI Cases

The best case scenario if you’re charged with a DUI in Salt Lake City Utah is the prosecution ends up dismissing the charge. But unless the court throws out evidence that’s critical to prove the charge, the prosecution is unlikely to agree to a dismissal. But in some cases, a reduction to an “impaired driving” charge is possible. An impaired driving charge is just an alcohol-related driving offense without the mandatory jail, fines, and license suspensions that come with a DUI conviction. In the United States, Utah has some of the most stringent DUI laws. According to state law, a motorist is considered drunk if they have a BAC of .05% or more, or if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol to a level that is unsafe to drive. For those motorists under age 21, Utah has a “not a drop” law, meaning these drivers can be charged with DUI and can lose their driver’s license privilege up to the time they turn 21 years old. The can also be charged with other alcohol related charges if there is any detectable amount of alcohol in their system.

Driving After DUI

When you are charged with DUI, one of your first concerns will be if you are still allowed to drive while your case plays out in court. In most situations, this will depend based on a variety of factors. Under current state law, even a first DUI offense may call for a 120-day suspension of your driver’s license and the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID).

Plea Bargaining

When you are facing these charges, it will be crucial to work with an experienced Salt Lake City Utah DUI attorney. By doing so, your attorney can work with prosecutors to plea bargain your case down to lesser charges, or possibly even have the charges against you dismissed. If you are given reduced charges such as impaired driving, the good news is that you will not be subjected to the mandatory fines, jail time, and license suspensions that are usually with DUI convictions. In the United States, Utah has some of the most stringent DUI laws. According to state law, a motorist is considered drunk if they have a BAC of .05% or more, or if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol to a level that is unsafe to drive. For those motorists under age 21, Utah has a “not a drop” law, meaning these drivers can be charged with DUI and can lose their driver’s license privilege up to the time they turn 21 years old. They can also be charged with other alcohol related charges if there is any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. Should you be facing these circumstances, do not hesitate to contact an attorney. Prosecutors usually have a standard first-offense plea offer. In other words, they offer everyone with a standard first DUI the same plea deal which is typically at the lower end of the allowable first-DUI sentence. Generally, an offense is considered a “standard first DUI” if the offender has no prior DUI convictions and the offense didn’t involve any aggravating factors such as accidents, injuries, or a particularly high blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

In theory, the standard offer is the same regardless of whether the defendant is represented by a private attorney, public defender, or no attorney at all. So, it would seem that hiring an attorney in a standard first DUI case might not be worth it. This conclusion certainly holds true in some cases. However, in practice, the standard offer is frequently just a starting point. Experienced DUI attorneys can often whittle down the standard offer by pointing out weaknesses in the prosecution’s case or bringing mitigating factors to the prosecutor’s attention. An attorney’s familiarity with local practices, the district attorney, and the judge can also help with these types of negotiations. Accepting a standard offer might also be unadvisable in cases where the defendant has viable defenses. However, an unrepresented defendant is unlikely to know whether there are any such defenses. So, prior to accepting a plea deal, it’s a good idea to at least get a lawyer’s opinion.

Public Defenders

Generally, all criminal defendants have the right to an attorney. If you can’t afford to hire your own lawyer, the court will appoint one for you. Appointed attorneys are normally from a public defender’s office. Public defenders handle a large number of criminal cases, including lots of DUIs. So, most public defenders are quite familiar with DUI law and defenses. Public defenders are generally well acquainted with the district attorneys and judges and know their tendencies knowledge that can be beneficial for plea bargaining. Public defenders also tend to have good trial skills because they take a lot of cases to trial. However, being represented by a public defender has its downsides. Public defenders have large caseloads. So, some defendants feel like they and their case don’t get enough attention. And you don’t get to choose your public defender you get who you get. Public defender representation is also limited to criminal court. A DUI arrest normally leads to two separate proceedings: “administrative per se” proceedings with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and a criminal court case. Generally, defendants who have a public defender will have to deal with the DMV proceedings on their own.

Private Lawyers

When you hire a private DUI lawyer, it’s typically to represent you in DMV proceedings and criminal court. Having the same attorney work on both aspects of your case can lead to better outcomes, including a shorter license-suspension period. Most defendants see the price as the major drawback with private lawyers. Hiring a private DUI lawyer will generally cost you between $1,000 and $5,000. If your case goes to trial, it can be even more expensive. (And there are cases where spending the money for a private lawyer won’t get you a more favorable outcome than had you gone with the public defender.) However, hiring a private DUI attorney (assuming you can afford one) can be well worth it. Of course, when you’re retaining an attorney, you get to decide who that attorney will be. Attorneys who specialize in DUI cases often have an in-depth understanding of DUI law and defenses that other attorneys don’t have. In some cases, this expertise can lead to more satisfactory results perhaps, a better plea bargain or dismissal of the charges altogether. Having a private lawyer can also minimize the time you have to spend in court. In some areas, public defender clients must personally appear for all court dates. With private counsel, on the other hand, you usually won’t have to be present for routine court appearances. For many people, especially busy professionals, not having to miss work to come to court is a significant perk. Another benefit of hiring an attorney is you’ll typically get more one-on-time than you would with a public lawyer. Most people feel more comfortable with their case when they get all their questions answered and concerns addressed.

You Need an Attorney to Go to Trial

Though you’re entitled to represent yourself in a DUI trial, it’s almost never a good plan. The learning curve for trial practice is steep and usually comes only with considerable experience. A lack of legal knowledge and trial skills will put you at a severe disadvantage in court. And judges typically have little patience for self-represented defendants who don’t know the rules of court. The bottom line is you don’t want to try a DUI case on your own—if you’re going to trial, you should have an attorney.

Pleading Guilty to DUI

Most people who are charged with driving under the influence (DUI) don’t take their case to trial. Generally, trial is the way to go only if you have a decent shot at winning. If the jury finds you guilty at the end of a trial, the time and money (assuming you hire an attorney) you’ll have spent fighting your case will have been for nothing. You’ll end up in the same position or worse than if you had pled guilty or no contest—in other words, resolved your case with what’s often called a “plea deal” or “plea bargain”—at the beginning of the case. But, of course, for the average person, it’s difficult to know whether you have a real chance of beating a DUI charge at trial. However, an experienced DUI lawyer can normally tell you how strong the government’s case is and whether you have any viable defenses.

When Do You Plead Guilty or No Contest?

The first court date in a DUI case is normally the “arraignment.” At the arraignment, the judge normally asks whether the defendant plans to hire an attorney or wants a court-appointed lawyer. Defendants who have their attorney situation resolved on that first day will typically enter a plea to the charges. Otherwise, the judge might set a new court date for the defendant to come back with an attorney and enter a plea to the charges. In either scenario, the defendant’s initial plea is normally “not guilty.” For defendants, there’s usually no benefit to pleading guilty at the first court appearance. Generally, plea deals a prosecutor offers on the first day are the same or worse than offers that come later. So, it’s typically best to initially plead not guilty and get a new court date a few weeks out or so. This additional time will give your attorney the chance to review the prosecution’s evidence and come up with a legal strategy. Even if you ultimately decide to make a plea deal, this investment of time by your attorney often pays off anyway. With a good understanding of the facts of your case and some legal research, your attorney might be able to get you a better deal by pointing out problems with the prosecution’s case and possible defenses to the charges. Prosecutors who have doubts about their ability to prove a DUI at trial are more apt to offer plea bargains favorable to the defendant. So, in many DUI cases, the defendant ends up entering a guilty or no contest plea at the second or third court date. However, it’s possible for a defendant to enter one of these pleas at any point prior to the jury’s verdict. Prior to pleading guilty or no contest to a DUI, your attorney is supposed to go over the consequences of your plea with you. By entering your plea, you’ll necessarily be giving up a number of constitutional rights. These rights include the right to remain silent, the right to cross-examine the witnesses against you, and the right to a jury trial. In court, you’ll likely have to sign a form that specifies the terms of your plea agreement such as fines, jail time, and the charge you’re admitting to and indicates you understand you’re giving up various constitutional rights. Oftentimes, these forms have boxes to initial next to a description of each constitutional right you’re waiving by entering the plea. The judge handling your case will typically ask you whether you signed the form and understand the consequences of your plea. Once satisfied that you know what you’re getting into, the judge will ask how you want to plea to the charge. You then respond “guilty” or “no contest,” depending on which one you agreed to. When you plead guilty or no contest to a DUI charge, the judge will find you guilty and the court clerk will enter a conviction. This conviction is exactly the same as a conviction resulting from a guilty verdict at trial. Generally, DUIs are misdemeanor criminal offenses. But if the offender has multiple prior DUI convictions or the current offense involves aggravating factors like deaths or injuries, a DUI can be a felony.

DUI Process

The DUI process is highly complex and technical, and not geared toward making things easy for the offender. The average person even the average attorney cannot reasonably be expected to understand everything that is involved in a successful DUI defense.

Arrest, Testing, and Charges

The roller-coaster ride of a DUI case begins when an officer arrests you for suspicion of driving under the influence. The officer will then take you in for a blood or breath test to verify your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If your chemical tests comes back with a BAC of .08 or above, a charge of driving with a BAC over .05 will be added. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test, a “refusal” allegation will be added to your charges, and your license could be suspended for 1 year. After the testing phase, you will be booked and (depending on the circumstances and your criminal history) released on bail or a promise to appear in court. The arresting officer will prepare and submit a report to the prosecutor, who will either decline to file charges or charge you with DUI.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, 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

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How Much In Debt Should You Be To File Bankruptcy?

How Much In Debt Should You Be To File Bankruptcy

Although you don’t need to have a specific amount of debt to be eligible for bankruptcy, other issues will determine whether bankruptcy is a good option for you. Bankruptcy laws don’t require debtors to have a certain minimum debt amount to be eligible for bankruptcy relief. In most cases, whether bankruptcy is the right choice for you will depend on your individual circumstances. There is no minimum debt requirement in bankruptcy. How much debt you have is certainly an important consideration when determining whether bankruptcy is in your best interest. But more importantly, whether it makes sense for you to file for bankruptcy depends on:
• whether you are able to repay your debts outside of bankruptcy
• whether your creditors are willing to work with you
• whether you can discharge (wipe out) the types of debt you have in bankruptcy, and
• the facts of your individual case.

Maximum debt limits for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. While there is no minimum debt amount required to file for bankruptcy, you can’t have more than $1,257,850 in secured debt or $419,275 in unsecured debt if you want to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy is an important financial decision that can affect your credit for years to come. Before you make a hasty decision to file for bankruptcy, consider whether or not you can afford to repay your debts outside of bankruptcy. If you have sufficient income, you may be able to pay off your debts without resorting to bankruptcy. A good credit counseling agency may be able to help you evaluate your situation and determine whether you might be able to pay off your debts through a debt management program. But don’t go to just any credit counseling agency there are many shady organizations that take your money and provide questionable services. There are also certain limits to how often you can receive a bankruptcy discharge. This means that if you don’t have a lot of debt, it may be a good idea to save your bankruptcy filing for when you might really need it. If you can work out a solution directly with your creditors, you may not need to file for bankruptcy. In some cases, creditors might be willing to work with you to cure your default. By negotiating with your creditors, you may be able to:
• settle your debts for less than you owe
• reduce your principal balance or interest rate, or
• enter into a payment plan to get caught up.

Will Bankruptcy Eliminate Your Debts?

Bankruptcy may not eliminate all types of debt you have. Congress has decided that certain debts are too important to be discharged in bankruptcy (these are commonly referred to as non-dischargeable debts). If most of your debts are not dischargeable in bankruptcy, it may not be in your best interest to file.
The following are some of the most common debts you can’t discharge in bankruptcy:
• domestic support obligations such as alimony and child support
• priority tax debts
• debts incurred through fraud or false pretenses
• obligations arising out of personal injury caused by drunk driving, and
• student loans (unless you can prove that the undue hardship exception applies in your case).
In many cases, filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy can provide an affordable and convenient way for you to reorganize and repay your non-dischargeable debts. Even if you can’t discharge your non-dischargeable debts in bankruptcy, you can pay most of them off through your repayment plan in Chapter 13 bankruptcy (you won’t pay long-term debts in full, such as a mortgage or student loan). Whether or not filing for bankruptcy relief is in your best interest will depend on your individual circumstances. But in many cases, no matter how much debt you have, it might make sense to consider bankruptcy if you can’t afford to pay back your debts and your creditors are:
• suing you
• garnishing your wages, or
• trying to repossess or foreclose on your property.
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there are some debts that you must or should continue to pay. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can wipe out many types of debt and help you get a fresh financial start. But not all obligations will go away. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is an excellent way to get out from under dischargeable debt, such as credit card balances, medical bills, and personal loans especially if you don’t own much property, and you meet income requirements. But Chapter 7 bankruptcy doesn’t help you get rid of everything you owe.

Post-Petition Debt: Bills Incurred After Filing for Bankruptcy

When your bankruptcy case is pending, it’s common to get a bill and wonder whether the balance will be included in your matter. If you incurred the debt after filing for bankruptcy, the court won’t include it in your bankruptcy. It’s a post-petition debt and you should pay it.
Examples of common post-petition debts include:
• domestic support obligations, such as child and spousal support
• utilities
• rent and lease payments
• condo or homeowners association (HOA) fees
• most taxes, and
• insurance.
Whether the court will wipe out a balance that existed before the bankruptcy filing will depend on whether the obligation qualifies for a discharge. For instance, a utility balance predating the bankruptcy will likely get wiped out because most utility bills are dischargeable. By contrast, child support arrearages aren’t dischargeable, so you’ll continue to owe any outstanding arrearages after the case.
Debt Secured by Collateral: Mortgages, Car Loans, and More
When you purchase expensive property on credit, the lender often requires collateral in case you fail to pay the loan. Known as a “secured debt,” this type of loan is used when taking out a:
• mortgage
• home equity line of credit
• car loan, or
• a loan for business property, such as fixtures or equipment.
Whether you can discharge a secured debt will depend on if you return the property you pledged as collateral. If you give the collateral back to the bank, the loan associated with it will be dischargeable in your bankruptcy case. By contrast, if you want to keep collateral in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you should continue making regular payments until you satisfy the loan. Otherwise, the lender can use its lien rights a type of ownership interest in the property to take back the property in a foreclosure or repossession. If you fall behind while you’re in bankruptcy, the bank must file a motion and get permission from the court to proceed against the property; however, once the case ends, the lender is free to pursue its lien rights. Even if you can’t discharge all of your debt, you still might get a brief payment break.

The automatic stay protection that stops most creditors from engaging in collection attempts during bankruptcy extends to most debts that you can’t discharge, including:
• student loans
• most taxes, and
• government or court fines and penalties.
Keep in mind, however, that once your bankruptcy case is closed and the automatic stay is terminated, you will remain legally obligated to pay those non-dischargeable debts. How much you’ll have to pay after your Chapter 7 case will depend on whether you have property that isn’t protected by a bankruptcy exemption. Since many Chapter 7 filers can keep all of their property, most non-dischargeable debt balances will remain the same. The amount you owe should drop, however, if the bankruptcy trustee appointed to your case can sell nonexempt property and use the funds to pay down creditors according to the priority payment system. The system ensures payment of important debt (such as non-dischargeable support obligations and taxes) before less essential obligations (such as credit card balances and student loan debt).
Voluntary Debt Repayment
You might decide to repay a debt that would be discharged in your bankruptcy especially if you owe money to a friend or relative, or wish to continue seeing a particular medical provider. Keep in mind that you can’t use assets that creditors are entitled to receive. To avoid trouble, the simplest approach might be to wait to make the voluntary debt repayment until after your bankruptcy closes. There is no minimum amount of debt you must have in order to file for bankruptcy relief. While the amount of your debt is an important factor to consider, there are other more important factors to take into account in determining if a bankruptcy filing is in your best interest. These include:
• whether you can afford to pay back your debts
• whether you can reach a resolution with your creditors outside of bankruptcy
• the types of debt you have, and
• your specific circumstances.

Before you file for bankruptcy relief, consider how much income you have and whether you can afford to pay back your debts. If your income is high enough to pay back your debts, you may not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or you may have to pay back a significant portion of your unsecured debts in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you don’t have a lot of debt and you have sufficient income to pay back your obligations, it may be in your best interest to delay filing for bankruptcy until when you really need it. There are limits to how often you can receive a discharge in bankruptcy. If you file to eliminate a small amount of debt you can easily pay off, you may not be entitled to another discharge for many years. You may not have to resort to bankruptcy if your creditors are willing to work with you. If you can settle your debts outside of bankruptcy, you may not need to file. But if your creditors are suing you, garnishing your wages, or trying to foreclose on or repossess your property, filing for bankruptcy may be your best option to stop the collection activities. Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t wipe out all types of debt. Obligations you can’t eliminate with a bankruptcy discharge are called non-dischargeable debts. The most common non-dischargeable debts include:
• alimony
• child support
• priority tax obligations, and
• student loans (except in rare circumstances).
If most of your debts are non-dischargeable, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will not help you. But you may be able to pay off your non-dischargeable debts in Chapter 13 bankruptcy through a three to five-year repayment plan. Regardless of the amount of debt you have, filing for bankruptcy is an individual decision that depends on your particular circumstances. In general, filing for bankruptcy relief may be in your best interest if:
• you don’t have enough income to pay back your debts
• creditors are harassing you, suing you, or garnishing your wages, or
• your lender is about to foreclose on or repossess your property.
Indicators of When to File Bankruptcy
While there is no minimum debt to file bankruptcy, the amount of debt is certainly a vital thing to consider when filing. However, there are other indicators or factors that dictate on when you should file for bankruptcy and these include:
• Your ability to repay your debts outside of bankruptcy
• Your creditors’ willingness to work with you
• Your ability to discharge the types of debts that you have
• Other circumstances of your individual case
On the other hand, there is a maximum debt limit that you need to know especially if you are filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You cannot have more than $394,725 of unsecured debt and $1,184,200 of secured debt (for 2018) if you want to file for this type of bankruptcy. When to file bankruptcy is one of the most important decisions that you have to make in your financial life. Remember, when you should file for bankruptcy largely depends on your circumstances aside from the types of debt that you have incurred.
Factors To Consider When Filing For Bankruptcy:
• Unsecured debts: If you mostly have unsecured debts, then you can file for bankruptcy. It does not matter how much as there is no minimum amount of debt needed to file. Examples of unsecured debts include credit card debt; cash advance (payday) loans, and medical bills.
• Secured debts: If you are behind on a house or car payment, this may be a very good time to file for bankruptcy. You will be able to keep your property and you will have 3-5 years to make up the back payments, often at a greatly reduced interest rate.
• Employment situation: Being unemployed and having trouble keeping up with your payments can make you eligible to file for bankruptcy so that you can discharge some of your unsecured debts. By doing so, you can stay current with your secured debts or catch up on those payments via a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Likewise, if you are employed but still unable to meet your debt obligations, filing for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 can help you retain your assets (house and car) and free up cash to pay for them by eliminating or reducing payments on credit cards, medical bills and other unsecured debts.
• Paying for bankruptcy court costs: To qualify for a debt discharge, you will need to pay for the court costs such as the filing fee, attorney fees, and education courses. Remember that none of these fees will be wiped out after filing for bankruptcy. However, the amount of these fees is minimal in relation to the monies saved on future debt payments which continue to mount with interest and late charges.

Bankruptcy Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need legal help with a bankruptcy in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC 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

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews

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Lawyer For Hindu Church

Church Lawyer

Under Utah tax law, churches are exempt from having to pay federal, state, and local taxes. For purposes of Utah tax law, churches are considered to be public charities, also known as Section 501(c)(3) organizations. As such, they are generally exempt from federal, state, and local income and property taxes. “Exempt” means they don’t have to pay these taxes. This is so even though they may earn substantial amounts of money. Not just anybody can call themselves a church and enjoy a tax exemption. An organization must be an authentic church to qualify. For tax purposes, a church is a place of worship including Christian churches, temples, mosques, synagogues, and other worship places. Churches also include conventions and associations of churches. Usually, it’s pretty obvious whether an organization qualifies as a church.

However, where questions arise, the IRS looks at the following factors to determine whether an organization is a church for tax purposes. These include whether it has:
• a distinct legal existence
• a recognized creed and form of worship
• a definite and distinct ecclesiastical government
• a formal code of doctrine and discipline
• a distinct religious history
• a membership not associated with any other church or denomination
• ordained ministers ministering to its congregations
• ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed studies
• a literature of its own
• established places of worship
• regular congregations
• regular religious services
• Sunday schools for religious instruction of the young, and
• schools for the preparation of its ministers.

Limited IRS Oversight of Churches

Because of the First Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion, the IRS has long adopted a largely hands-off approach to regulating churches. For example as long as an organization qualifies as a church, it need not apply to the IRS to receive its tax exemption—the exemption is automatic. Moreover, churches need not file the dreaded IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ–the annual information forms that other charities must file each year. However, many churches apply to the IRS anyway. The advantages of doing so are that the organization will obtain official recognition of its tax-exempt status which assures donors that their contributions are tax deductible, and it will be listed in IRS records as a qualified charitable organization and it can obtain a determination letter from the IRS stating that contributions to it are tax deductible.

How to Be Respectful when Visiting a Hindu Temple

If you are foreign to Hindu temples and culture but would like to learn about this faith, visiting a temple is a good way to begin. You do not have to practice the Hindu religion to visit a Hindu temple; their temples are open for any to visit. You may decide to visit at a significant time, such as when a specific service or ceremony is being conducted. Otherwise, drop by and observe the temple for yourself, or call ahead and ask if they can offer you a guided tour. Since Hindu temples are sacred places to people of Hindu faith, behave calmly and respectfully at all times.

Preparing to Visit the Temple

• Wash yourself before visiting a temple: Before you plan to go to temple, you should take a shower or bath. Anyone is allowed entry inside a temple, but since temples are spiritual places, it’s traditional to bathe before attending a temple. To prepare yourself mentally and spiritually, you may also wish to take several moments to pray and think about God or your personal spiritual beliefs.
• Dress appropriately for the temple: While it’s not necessary to wear traditional clothing to a temple, both men and women should wear modest, conservative clothing to the temple. This will indicate respect for the sacred place, and will allow other attendees to focus on the temple gods and their own acts of worship, rather than being distracted by loud or inappropriate clothing. Women should wear a long skirt or dress. It’s also appropriate for women to wear long pants. Wear something that is loose enough for you to comfortably sit cross-legged in. Men should wear business-casual clothing, such as slacks and a button-down shirt. Avoid wearing animal skin of any kind; this could be offensive to practicing Hindus.
• Buy offerings to bring to the temple: Deities can be offered various material things: flowers and fruit are common and affordable choices. You could also choose to offer cloth or sweets. Presenting your offerings to the temple deities is a form of respect. Hindus believe that offerings like these will please the Gods and may result in blessings and fulfilled prayers. Commercial establishments generally set up makeshift shops in the surrounding area selling various things that you can offer the statues. It is not required to bring offerings; if you would rather not bring offerings for your first visit, you don’t have to.


• Remove your footwear outside the temple: Most temples will have a space designated for your shoes: usually a series of cubby-holes along one of the temple’s exterior walls. Removing shoes shows respect for the temple and the deity statues within. This is not optional: removing shoes, sandals, or any other footwear is a mandatory rule of every Hindu temple. Socks are fine, you can keep wearing them. However, if the temple floor is made of marble or any other slippery stone, you want to remove socks so you don’t fall.
• Circulate through the temple: Traditionally, upon entering a Hindu temple, you’ll see an array of deities and statues arranged around the temple walls. Begin with the deity on your left. From there, continue to walk through the temple in a clockwise direction, pausing before each deity you come across. Many temples have separate queues for men and women, and you will have to follow it accordingly. If you’d like to know ahead of time if there are separate queues for each gender, you can call the temple and ask in advance.
• Respectfully view the statues: When you finally get to see the statue closely, you may join the palms of your hands near the heart into a traditional pose and bow. This is the minimum act you should perform in front of each statue as a respectful gesture. Practicing Hindus will often bow or fully prostrate themselves in front of statues as a sign of respect and reverence. If you feel comfortable, you can prostrate yourself as well, although it’s not required.

• Bring your offerings before individual statues: If you have brought fruit or flowers to offer to the deity, you may do this as you circulate through the temple. Hand each offering to the priest sitting outside the idol’s chamber. Under no circumstances should you enter the inner chamber. The inner chamber or the chamber where the idol is seated is considered the most sacred and private area and no one can go in without previous sanction. If there is no priest outside the chamber, there may be a nearby platform for worshipers to place their offerings on
• Accept any items from the priest: While you are in the temple, you may notice a priest pouring water over the hands of worshipers. This is a spiritual, purifying gesture: if the priest offers you the water, let him pour it over your hands. The priests may also give “Prasad:” blessed food (always vegetarian) which is offered to the deities. Prasad is also considered holy, and you should eat it outside the temple. Anything the priest gives you should be accepted with your right hand. Avoid taking or giving anything with the left hand.
• Avoid touching shrines or statues: A single temple can house hundreds of statues—do not attempt to touch any one of them; this will be seen as an inappropriate and disrespectful act. In Hindu faith, only priests are permitted to touch the statues. Keep a respectful distance. Also avoid photography. Taking pictures is restricted or forbidden in many temples. Before taking a photo, look for the temple’s rules. Rules may be written outside on notice boards, or you may ask someone, including the priest.
• Follow rules of common decency: The temple is a sacred, holy space, and you should exhibit polite, constrained behavior when visiting. You can speak quietly, but avoid loud conversation, laughter, or crying. Do not chew gum loudly or at all—and throw any trash you have in a trash can. To show your respect for the temple, turn your phone off when you enter, and don’t smoke in or around the temple. A priest may offer to place a small mark on your forehead (usually made from ash or turmeric). You may accept or decline as you feel comfortable; the mark carries no great spiritual significance and does not necessarily indicate a belief in the Hindu religion
• Provide a donation, if desired. As you make your way through the temple, you may see a small donation box. If you feel like donating, fold the bills and put them with your right hand in the donation box. Remember that donations are never required and you do not have to donate. Even if someone coaxes you to donate, you always have the right to refuse
• Keep an eye out for beggars: Depending on your location, you may find many beggars outside temples. You don’t have to give them cash if you don’t want to. If you want to help them temporarily, buy them some food. If you are alone, it would be a good idea to not encourage beggars. They can be persistent, and can keep following you or trouble you for more money

Utah Religious Law

Religious law includes ethical and moral codes taught by religious traditions. Different religious systems hold sacred law in a greater or lesser degree of importance to their belief systems, with some being explicitly antinomian whereas others are nomistic or “legalistic” in nature. In particular, religions such as Judaism, Islam and the Baháʼí Faith teach the need for revealed positive law for both state and society, whereas other religions such as Christianity generally reject the idea that this is necessary or desirable and instead emphasize the eternal moral precepts of divine law over the civil, ceremonial or judicial aspects, which may have been annulled as in theologies of grace over law.

Types of Religion

The major religions of the world (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, Christianity, Taoism, and Judaism) differ in many respects, including how each religion is organized and the belief system each upholds. Other differences include the nature of belief in a higher power, the history of how the world and the religion began, and the use of sacred texts and objects. Religions organize themselves—their institutions, practitioners, and structures—in a variety of fashions.

Hinduism Beliefs

Some basic Hindu concepts include:
• Hinduism embraces many religious ideas. For this reason, it’s sometimes referred to as a “way of life” or a “family of religions,” as opposed to a single, organized religion.
• Most forms of Hinduism are henotheistic, which means they worship a single deity, known as “Brahman,” but still recognize other gods and goddesses. Followers believe there are multiple paths to reaching their god.
• Hindus believe in the doctrines of samsara (the continuous cycle of life, death, and reincarnation) and karma (the universal law of cause and effect).
• One of the key thoughts of Hinduism is “atman,” or the belief in soul. This philosophy holds that living creatures have a soul, and they’re all part of the supreme soul. The goal is to achieve “moksha,” or salvation, which ends the cycle of rebirths to become part of the absolute soul.
• One fundamental principle of the religion is the idea that people’s actions and thoughts directly determine their current life and future lives.
• Hindus strive to achieve dharma, which is a code of living that emphasizes good conduct and morality.
• Hindus revere all living creatures and consider the cow a sacred animal.
• Food is an important part of life for Hindus. Most don’t eat beef or pork, and many are vegetarians.
• Hinduism is closely related to other Indian religions, including Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, 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

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews

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Accident Attorney In 84604

Accident Attorney In 84604

If you’ve been involved in a Car Accident, then you need to arm yourself with the best Auto Accident Attorney in 84604. Failure to act immediately can result in significant financial exposure to claims against you, regardless of whether you were at fault. Remember, failure to act on getting an auto accident attorney in 84604 could have severe financial consequences, regardless of if you were at fault.

Accident Lawyer in 84604
Always primed to assist 24/7, your friendly auto accident attorney in 84604 is known for aggressively representing clients and securing significant financial restitution.
• Free Compensation Consultation to find out how much your case is worth.
• Get your vehicle out of the tow-yard.
• Get reimbursement for your out-of-pocket expenses.
• Get your car repaired ASAP or top replacement valuation.
• Get you the best medical care and your medical expenses paid.
• Get your lost income and wages reimbursed.
• Fight to get you the Maximum Monetary Recovery.
It makes perfect sense to use an attorney with local knowledge in 84604 rather than a car accident lawyer or paralegal appointed by your insurers, who take on cases at a National level rather than locally in the greater Provo area.
Get an Auto Accident Attorney in 84604 in the following circumstances:
1. Serious Injuries. If a serious injury has occurred to anyone.
2. If the auto accident has resulted in tragic death.
3. If it is clear someone is at fault.
4. Construction Zone; if the auto accident happens in a Construction Zone.
5. Police Report. If the Cops have filed a report, you need to hire an auto accident attorney.
6. If Auto Accident Attorneys are already involved, then Lawyer up immediately.
7. Insurance Issues. If anyone involved does not have insurance, you’ll need an auto attorney.


An Auto Accident Attorney in 84604 will also cover the following areas:
• Auto Attorney in Provo
• Auto Accident Attorney in Utah
• Car Wreck Lawyer in Utah
• Vehicle Accident Attorney in Provo
• Auto Compensation Lawyer in Utah
• Best Auto Attorney in Provo
• Truck Accident Attorney in Utah
Auto Accident Attorney in 84604 for serious injury
Car crashes including hospitalization, broken bones or injuries that are likely to be permanent in nature should always be handled by an auto accident attorney in 84604. Even with no apparent serious injury you must be on guard because no matter how nice someone appears, if they develop an ache or pain over the next few weeks and they can pin it on you, they’ll run squealing to an auto accident attorney and you’ll be caught on the back foot. To stay ahead of the curve in an Auto Accident situation always consult an Auto Accident Attorney in 84604 for every vehicle accident collision, car wreck or truck accident situation.
Auto Accident with someone without Insurance
If you’re involved in an accident in 84604 with an uninsured driver, pick up the phone to an Auto Accident Attorney without delay. We cannot and should not feel any sympathy toward a driver who has such little disregard for their own actions as to drive without insurance. You need an auto accident attorney to bring retribution against the perpetrator and to secure the right and just financial compensation in Provo you deserve. It was their choice to drive without insurance. Now they must live with the consequences of their actions as you simply must engage a local auto accident attorney in Provo

Check my rights after a Vehicle Accident in 84604

If you’re unsure of your rights, confused about your insurance policy or find yourself stuck in negotiations with your insurer it’s time for an auto accident attorney to wade into the fray, on your side, representing you and only you in the issue. Sometimes it pays to instruct the best, then stand back and put them into battle for you. Often your insurer may not be acting in good faith and remember your insurer is a corporate entity and out to make a profit for shareholders.
How Much Compensation Will I Get For An Auto Accident In 84604
Compensation after an Auto Accident is always driven by the strength and experience of your auto attorney combined with the level of damage and personal injury. An insurance adjustor settles the value of your claim. Do not trust the auto insurance adjustor because it’s their job to get the best deal for their own client – the insurance corporations. Do not speak to any insurance adjustor without first consulting an auto accident attorney.
Immediate Steps to take after an Auto Accident in 84604
• Remain silent about who is to blame for the incident
• Switch on the audio recording on your phone or tablet to record the scene
• Do not admit fault
• Do not apologize
• Never sign anything at the scene
• Co Operate with Law enforcement but never answer their questions
• Always give a no comment interview to law enforcement if you think you might be at fault
• Contact an Auto Accident Attorney in Provo
• Call your insurance company, tell them you have a lawyer
• Try to stay calm and relax, everything is going to be alright in the end
State Law Covering 84604
Car accident litigation is governed almost entirely by State law in 84604 and victims must prove the same basic four elements in order to recover compensation.
Duty in Auto Accident Cases in 84604
Drivers in 84604 have a legal obligation to obey the rules of the road and operate their vehicles responsibly. This means not speeding, using blinkers, maintaining control of their vehicle, being in sound physical and mental state, exercising awareness, observing traffic signals, operating headlamps and certainly not drinking alcohol and driving or driving under the influence of drugs.
Breach in Auto Accident Cases in 84604
With the existence of a duty of care in 84604 being widely accepted, you’ll need to start proving with evidence that the opposite driver made a breach of their duty on the road. In 84604, breach of duty can be direct evidence, eyewitness testimony, traffic surveillance video, admission of fault, apology, police reports or forensic evidence such as skid marks, paint smudges or drug and alcohol readings
Causation in Auto Accidents in 84604
After your auto accident attorney in 84604 has proven duty and breach, they also need to prove the opposing party caused your injuries. In 84604 this is usually done via medical testimony and showing the injuries to be consistent with the nature of the car wreck and of course, that these issues did not exist before the accident.
What can I get Compensation for in an Auto Accident?
The top compensation reasons for an Auto Accident Payout are:
• Personal Injury
• Whiplash
• Medical Expenses
• Pain
• Grief
• Loss of earnings
• Psychological Harm and PTSD
• Cost of a Rental Car
• Repair or Replacement of your Vehicle
• Trauma
Should I get an Auto Accident Attorney for a car accident that was my fault in 84604


If you are at fault in a Car Accident then take the following steps immediately:
• Contact the insurance company covering the vehicle you were operating
• Provide all relevant information
• Ask them to confirm the policy limits
• If you suspect the limits may not be enough you could be personally liable
• Contact an Auto Accident Attorney in Provo immediately
Many people believe their insurance company is their friend. The voice on the end of the claim hotline can be reassuring but beware and ask yourself, do they really have your best interests at heart? After all, if the car accident wasn’t your fault then your insurance company looks after you right? Not always the case and remember, your insurance company is a business just like any other and that business is looking to make a profit at the end of the year. They are answerable to their stockholders first, and then their clients. In that very order! While your insurer may ‘seem’ to be acting in your best interests they’ll always be cutting costs and saving money. Money that should be unlocked for you as their client, not kept in a reserve for a stockholder’s pension plan. It’s well known in the Auto Accident business that most insurance companies use a secret formula to save them the most amounts of money and giving you the least amount possible. It’s a double-edged sword and it’s unfair to hardworking people across Utah, from all walks of life. If you forgo seeking the assistance of an auto accident attorney in 84604 based upon the fact the accident wasn’t your fault can be a ‘fools’ errand’. Do not for one second believe an Insurance Corporation cares about whose fault an accident is. Their only concern is how little of a payout they can get away with.
What does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do and Why is it Beneficial to Hire One?
A personal injury lawyer is someone who provides legal representation to individuals who have been injured in an accident. Personal injury lawyers work in tort law, which includes negligent acts as well as intentional acts. They pursue compensation for accident victims.

Types of Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury cases often involve the negligent acts of others. This includes automotive accidents, including motorcycle accidents and truck accidents. Personal injury lawyers may also handle other types of transportation accidents, including aviation accidents, bike accidents, mass transportation accidents, boating accidents and pedestrian accidents. They may also handle cases involving premises liability, including negligent security, slip and fall accidents and animal bites and attacks. They may also handle cases involving nursing home abuse and neglect and construction accidents. Medical malpractice cases also fall under the umbrella of personal injury cases.

Types of Compensation
Personal injury plaintiffs may be entitled to compensation for the damages that they have suffered. This includes medical expenses, loss of income, loss of earning capacity, emotional distress, loss of consortium, loss of companionship, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish and pain and suffering.
Acts of Personal Injury Lawyers
The specific actions that personal injury lawyers do depends on the type of case, specialty area and where they are in the process of a case. Some of the activities that personal injury lawyers may do and how they benefit your case include:
Investigating Claims
Personal injury lawyers generally work on a contingency fee basis in which they only charge attorney’s fees after they have secured a settlement or jury verdict. Because they often finance a case, they take great care in screening potential clients and evaluating the merits of the case. A personal injury lawyer will not want to take on a case that he or she does not believe will result in a win for the client.
Gathering Evidence
A personal injury may gather evidence to support the plaintiff’s claim. This may involve procuring any police or incident report. He or she may track down witnesses and get witness statements. He or she may take or instruct a photographer to take pictures of the accident report. He or she may also retain evidence for the case, such as property damage, camera footage or other evidence. Evidence may establish liability for who caused the accident and the extent of the damages that the plaintiff suffered. Evidence may include medical reports, medical records, bills, employment documents, employment reports and property damage reports.
Negotiating with Insurance Companies
Most people do not negotiate as part of their typical lives. However, personal injury lawyers are used to negotiating with insurance companies. They can review the policy details and determine the maximum level of compensation that may be available based on the specific circumstances of the case. A personal injury lawyer may also handle all communications with the insurance company and prevent the injury victim from doing anything that may jeopardize his or her claim, such as giving a recorded statement.
Sending Demand Letters
A personal injury lawyer may send a demand letter to an insurance company after thoroughly investigating the claim. This demand letter states the facts of the accident and demands a certain amount of damages for the injury that the defendant caused.
Preparing Pleadings
If the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement, the personal injury lawyer may prepare a complaint against the defendant. The complaint sets out the legal arguments regarding why the defendant is responsible for the accident. The complaint also states an amount of damages that the client is seeking. The defendant generally has 30 days from the date of receiving the complaint to prepare an answer to it.
Conducting Discovery
The plaintiff’s lawyer may initiate discovery processes. This includes sending interrogatories to the defendant to ask for certain information. It can also include deposing parties, witnesses and experts.
Representing Clients at Trial
If the case proceeds to trial, a personal injury lawyer provides representation in court. Personal injury lawyers are familiar with court customs and procedures and can ensure that these steps are carefully followed.
Contact a Lawyer for Assistance
It is important to have a personal injury lawyer by your side if you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else. A lawyer can help you level the playing field since the other side will likely have a lawyer on his or her side. He or she can draw on resources like expert witnesses and private investigators when necessary.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, 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

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews

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OSHA Lawyer For Businesses

OSHA Lawyer For Businesses

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency that establishes rules and handles matters relating to workplace health and safety. The agency also investigates employee complaints in order to determine whether regulations have been violated. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 set forth the regulatory framework under which Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) operates. Violations typically result in fines. The Act provides a number of rights to employees pertaining to their well-being, including protections against retaliation:

• Working conditions that are free from risk of serious harm
• Access to clear information (in layman’s terms) on potential safety and health hazards in the workplace
• Access to documentation (for review) on any illnesses or injuries pertaining to the job site
• Ability to make a confidential complaint with OSHA, and to request an inspection
• Freedom to be involved in a requested OSHA inspection
• Access to copies of any tests conducted at the work site related to potential workplace hazards
• Freedom from retaliation or discrimination in relation to OSHA complaints
The agency, created as part of the U.S. Department of Labor in 1971, has five general priorities:
1. Reports of imminent dangers
2. Fatalities & accidents involving the hospitalization of more than three workers
3. Employee complaints
4. Referrals from other government agencies
5. Targeted inspections

Whistleblower Protection Under OSHA

Unless you are self-employed or fit one of the other narrow exceptions, you have the right to file a complaint against your employer for OSHA violations. If that employer takes adverse action soon after such a complaint is filed, such as a demotion or termination, the employee may have a whistleblower claim. A whistleblower is an employee who alerts the authorities about a potential violation of the law or the public trust. Since an OSHA violation may involve any number of existing federal laws, the time limits for filing a claim depend on that particular law. For instance, a railroad worker has 180 days in which to file a complaint under the Federal Rail Safety Act, while an employee has just 30 days in which to file a Clean Air Act complaint. If any adverse action is taken after filing such a complaint, you may file a whistleblower claim with OSHA within 30 days. How to respond in the face of a safety or health hazard in the workplace largely depends on whether it poses an imminent risk. If it indeed poses an imminent risk, the employee has the right to refuse that particular work-related task. The employee also has the right to refuse to return to work until the hazard is corrected. But if there is no imminent threat, the employee first should inform the employer of the problem — in writing. If the problem is not fixed within a reasonable amount of time, or if the employee experiences significant resistance, then a complaint may be filed with OSHA (or the appropriate agency).

Remember, your employer may not legally retaliate against you for complaining of an OSHA violation. OSHA grants workers a host of rights designed to protect workers from injury, illness and death. Here is a sampling of your rights under OSHA:
• You cannot be fired or retaliated against for rightfully asserting any of your OSHA rights.
• If your workplace poses an imminent threat to your life, you have the right to refuse work.
• Your employer should inform you of your OSHA rights.
• You can get training from your employer on the health and safety standards that apply to you.
• You can request information from your employer regarding OSHA standards that apply to you.
• You can ask your employer to cure any OSHA violations without fear of retaliation.
• You can file a complaint with OSHA regarding workplace safety concerns.
• You can request an inspection of your workplace for any OSHA state plan violations.
• You are entitled to see the results of any such investigation or inspection.
If you are injured on the job, here are some of the basic steps you should follow as quickly as possible to avoid further injury to yourself and others:

• Seek medical attention: It goes without saying that your first priority is to seek any medical help that you require.
• Notify your employer of dangerous conditions: The next step is to notify your employer of the injury and of any dangerous conditions that still exist.
• File a claim for workers’ compensation: Immediately file your workers’ compensation claim to be compensated for your medical bills and other losses suffered as a result of the injury.
• If your employer doesn’t remedy the danger, file a complaint with OSHA: If your employer doesn’t remedy the threat to worker safety, file a formal complaint with OSHA and/or any related state agency. OSHA maintains a list of approved OSHA state plans.
• If you are retaliated against or fired, contact OSHA and consider a lawyer: OSHA explicitly protects workers from being retaliated against or fired. If your employer harasses you, demotes you or otherwise retaliates against you, immediately contact OSHA and consider hiring a lawyer.
What Businesses Does OSHA Inspect?
OSHA is responsible for making sure its standards are being met by businesses. Notwithstanding, it is impossible for them to inspect every business. The government schedules OSHA inspections as follows:
• Programmed Inspections: Regularly scheduled inspections that are in “high hazard” industries
• Investigation of Imminent Dangers: Any condition or practices that could reasonably be expected to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.
• Investigation of Complaints: OSHA has a responsibility to investigate complaints made by employees or cases referred to them.
• Faulty and Catastrophe Investigations: Any work-related incident that results in the death of an employee or the in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees must be investigated.

How are OSHA Inspections Conducted?

Inspections are conducted by compliance officers. They typically are done without advance notice by state compliance inspectors. Although a prior announcement isn’t necessary, workplace inspections generally must be conducted at a reasonable time, typically during the employer’s normal work hours, and in a reasonable manner. When an OSHA compliance officer arrives at your workplace to conduct an inspection, you have the right to request their warrant. If they cannot provide you with their warrant, you have the right to deny entry. OSHA may get a warrant from a judge. If you allow them entry without asking for a warrant, or let them conduct their search despite not having a warrant after you’ve asked for one, you voluntarily consent to the search. Businesses who are considered low-risk industries may be eligible for the small business exemption. Businesses with 10 or fewer employees are exempted from programmed inspections so long as they have an occupational injury lost workday rate lower than the national average. The national average is published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Defenses to OSHA Violations

You can defend against a citation by showing any of the following:
• You lacked knowledge of the violation;
• Compliance with the standard was impossible or not feasible;
• The violation was caused by an unanticipated employee violation of your work rule;
• No employees were exposed to a hazard; and
• Compliance with the standard would have greater a hazard to employees.
When unsafe working conditions place the life of a worker in imminent danger, the worker should report the dangerous condition to OSHA. The worker also has the right to refuse to work if:
• There is a reasonable and good faith belief that a condition in the workplace poses an immediate and substantial risk of serious physical injury or death;
• The employer will not fix the dangerous condition;
• The immediacy of the danger does not allow enough time to report the condition to OSHA or the appropriate state agency; and
• The worker did not have a reasonable alternative.
The worker can refuse to return to work until the employer eliminates the danger or investigates and determines that no imminent danger exists. If a dangerous condition does not create the risk of imminent danger, the employee should inform the employer of the problem in writing. If the employer fails to correct the condition, the worker can file a complaint with OSHA or with the appropriate state occupational safety agency. OSHA regulations and many state laws prohibit an employer from retaliating against a worker that reports a violation. This means the employer may not fire, demote, or reduce a worker’s pay because the worker filed a complaint about unsafe working conditions. A determination of employer retaliation by OSHA can result in the reinstatement of the worker to their former position and an order for compensation for lost wages.

Types of OSHA Violations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, enforces workplace safety in the United States. Businesses and work sites are subject to periodic OSHA inspections, and employee safety complaints can also trigger OSHA inspections. These inspections may detect violations of OSHA codes that range from minor to extremely hazardous. There are six specific categories of OSHA violations, each of which carries either a recommended or a mandatory penalty.

De Minimis Violations

A de minimis violation is a technical violation of OSHA rules that have no direct impact on health or safety. It is the least serious class of violation, and inspectors do not levy fines or issue OSHA citations for these violations. Inspectors verbally inform employers about de minimis violations and list them on the employer’s case inspection file. A ladder with 13 inches between rungs rather than 12 inches is an example of a de minimis violation.

Other-than-Serious Violations

A violation of OSHA rules that would not usually cause death or serious injury but that is nevertheless related to job safety or employee health is considered an other-than-serious violation. According to the United States Department of Labor, the maximum penalty for each such violation is $13,494. However, inspectors can choose not to levy a fine, or to reduce the penalty by as much as 95 percent. Inspectors make decisions about penalties based on factors such as the size of the business and the cooperativeness of its owner. Failure to provide copies of safety regulations and failure to post required documentation in work areas are considered other-than-serious OSHA violations.

Serious Violations

When an employer knows of or should know of a situation that has a definite chance of causing serious injury or death, but does not remedy it, OSHA issues a serious violation. Inspectors must assess OSHA fines of up to $13,494 for each serious violation, but they can adjust penalties based upon the seriousness of each particular violation, as well as the employer’s previous history, the size of the business, and the good faith of the employer. Failure to ensure that employees who carry heavy loads wear steel-toe boots is an example of a serious violation.

Willful Violations

The most serious violation category is willful violations, and it is reserved for intentional violations of OSHA rules or situations that show disregard for employee health and safety. According to Health Leaders Media, the minimum penalty for each willful violation is $9,639 and the maximum fine is $134,937. If an employee is killed, the maximum fine is $10,000, six months imprisonment, or both. Occupational Health and Safety Magazine shares that more and more state prosecutors are also pressing criminal charges in these cases. An example of a serious violation might involve a fatal crushing accident because the employer did not implement adequate safety procedures for equipment that had caused prior crushing injuries.

Repeated Violation

If an employer is cited for a particular violation, and a subsequent inspection reveals another identical or very similar violation, OSHA inspectors may cite the employer for a repeated violation. The maximum fine for a repeated violation is $134,937. However, if the employer contests the original violation and is awaiting a final OSHA decision, inspectors cannot consider a violation of the same type to be a repeated violation.

Failure to Abate Prior Violation

When an employer receives a violation citation, the citation includes a date by which the employer must remedy the situation. If the employer does not do so on or before the specified date, it may be liable for a fine of $13,494 per day from the day after the specified date until it remedies the condition.

General Exclusions

Most private sector employers and their employees in all 50 states are covered under OSHA. Unless you are certain that you are exempt from the act, you should assume that the standards apply to your business. Exclusions from OSHA include self-employed individuals, churches, federal and state governments and their political subdivisions. OSHA exempt industries include businesses regulated by different federal statutes such as nuclear power and mining companies, domestic services employers, businesses that do not engage in interstate commerce and farms that have only immediate family members as employees.

Record-Keeping Exemptions

Businesses with more than 10 employees must maintain OSHA injury and illness records unless OSHA classifies the business as partially exempt. If you have fewer than 10 employees during the year, unless OSHA or the Bureau of Labor Statistics says otherwise, you do not have to keep illness and injury records. Your business might classify as partially exempt if it meets OSHA’s low-hazard requirements. In this case, you do not need to keep records of injury and illness. Low-hazard industries include retail, finance, service, real estate and insurance. All employers must report to OSHA any workplace events that caused the death or hospitalization of three or more workers.

Multiple Employers

If you and another employer share the control of your employees, when violations or injury occur, you must determine who is liable for them. To determine which employer is responsible, OSHA considers who has the power to control the employee’s duties and to change her employment conditions, who pays the employees’ wages and who the employee views as her employer.

Utah State OSHA

In Section 18 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, states are encouraged to establish and administer their own health and job safety plans. OSHA approves and monitors state plans. As of the date of publication, 22 states have developed OSHA-approved plans. The state plan must at least be as comprehensive as the federal plan. One benefit of state programs is that they might cover certain hazards that federal law does not address. Although most states adopt plans that are identical to federal law, the state might set different criteria for businesses that are exempt from state coverage. You can obtain information on your state’s job safety and health plan via OSHA’s website OSHA sanctions can be very severe and difficult to fight. If you are facing an investigation, a local employment attorney can help you meet OSHA requirements. If you were recently inspected, consult with an employment lawyer as the inspection is the beginning of a multi-step process and you may have some defenses. If you are dealing with dangerous working conditions or have been injured on the job you will benefit from the assistance of a legal professional. A lawyer can help determine your rights and help you decide whether you need to sue or will be better off negotiating with an employer. Contact a local employment attorney and let them help guide you to a better, safer working environment.

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Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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