Law Firm of Gregory A Ross, PC

May 2, 2013

Payday Loans Leading to Revolving Door of Debt

Filed under: Bankruptcy,Debt Collection,Financial Planning — gregoryrosspc @ 12:01 pm

Short-term “payday” loans, and similar “deposit advance” loans offered by major banks, are trapping many consumers in a “revolving door of debt,” according to a study due to be made public Wednesday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. See the article here:

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/consumer/CFPB-Payday-loans-leading-to-revolving-door-of-debt.html?utm_source=April+29+email&utm_campaign=4%2F29%2F13&utm_medium=email

Debt Relief and Counseling Scams

Filed under: Uncategorized — gregoryrosspc @ 11:43 am

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 instituted a credit counseling requirement for debtors filing for bankruptcy protection. Credit counseling agencies sprang up quickly on the heels of this law to provide a service that was suddenly in hot demand. Many of these agencies jumped on the recession bandwagon to offer debt relief and consolidation services to debtors hurt by our sluggish economy. Whereas, legitimate nonprofit credit counseling services may offer benefits to some debtors, you may find yourself worse off even as you try to do the right thing.

Unfortunately some debt relief companies cannot follow through with their promises or, worse, are intentionally designed to scam vulnerable debtors who are trying to take control of overwhelming debts. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), fraudsters use various scams to target distressed debtors, including:

•Forming a sham nonprofit entity to circumvent telemarketing rules
•Piling on hidden costs — including excessive sign-up fees and service charges
•Accepting funds from you for your debt settlement and then failing to pay your creditors
•Charging exorbitant rates to perform tasks that you could easily do yourself
•Increasing your debt by charging you a percentage of your total debt or alleged savings
•Urging you to make “voluntary” contributions
So before you accept the services of a debt relief agency, do your homework. Thoroughly investigate the credentials and legitimacy of the company before signing an agreement or giving its agent personal or financial information. Also, seek the advice of a lawyer who can advise you about whether debt consolidation makes sense in your situation and recommend the best approach to successfully accomplishing your debt management goals. If bankruptcy is right for you, your lawyer can guide you toward legitimate trustee-approved debt counseling agencies.

August 22, 2012

The 3 Most Important Documents Every Parent Should Have for Their College-Bound Teenagers


Back to School is an exciting time for those parents who have children about to go to college for the first time (or returning to college).

•But did you know that once your child turns 18, your rights as a parent end?
•Did you know you do not have the right to look at their grades or talk to their doctors if there is a medical issue?

What’s that you say? But, I’m paying their bills for college (or their health insurance), why shouldn’t I have the right to look at their records or speak to someone about them? Well, the fact of the matter is, once a child turns 18, they become an adult and parents lose their rights.

So, what can you do about this?

You can make sure that your child signs a Durable Power of Attorney (which will allow you to deal with their finances, school records, etc.) a Medical Power of Attorney and a HIPAA Release (which will allow you access to their medical records and the right to talk to their doctors) BEFORE they go away to college. Then make sure you supply their school and their treating physicians with copies of these documents so that, if there is an emergency, the right people have the documentation in place to know that they can legally talk to you.

For more information about estate planning documents for your college-bound teen in Texas, please contact the Law Office of Gregory A. Ross, PC today.

For over 20 years, Gregory Ross has been serving the legal needs of North Texas area families. Mr. Ross is licensed in both State and Federal Courts. It is his mission in the practice of law to protect, honor and educate his clients. He advocates on behalf of his clients in the areas of Adoptions, Bankruptcy, Foreclosures, and Mental Health Commitments. He also provides clients with comprehensive estate planning including wills, trusts, and powers of attorney, and gives his clients peace of mind. His blog is updated regularly about laws affecting, Adoptions, Bankruptcy, Estate Planning and Probate, Foreclosures, and Mental Health Commitments.

August 21, 2012

Can You Change a Will Using a Power of Attorney?

The quick answer is no. A person that holds a Power of Attorney from you cannot change your Will for you. A Power of Attorney gives the person you choose the power to make financial, medical and legal decisions for you if you become incapacitated. However, your Power of Attorney cannot change your Will for you in any U.S. state, since all 50 states require you to have the mental capacity to make, change or revoke your Will.

Requirements for Changing a Will

All 50 U.S. states have the same basic requirements for changing a Will, either by making a new Will or attaching a Codicil. To change a Will, the testator (the person making or changing the Will) must be “of sound mind,” or capable of understanding what the Will does and what effect his changes will have. Although the testator does not have to be physically capable of writing the changes or of signing them, he/she does have to give the directions to someone else to do so. If a person the testator directs signs the Will on the testator’s behalf, the testator must be conscious and watching the other person sign.

How Power of Attorney Works

The powers granted by a Power of Attorney generally do not begin until the person for whom you have Power of Attorney is incapacitated. Since the testator of a Will must have the mental capacity to understand changes to his/her Will, the person with Power of Attorney cannot use that power to change the Will, since the Power of Attorney usually only has power if the testator is incapacitated. The person who has been granted Power of Attorney may help the testator change his Will while the testator is still of sound mind, but he/she may not use the Power of Attorney to change the Will without the testator’s express direction and consent.

Call us at 940-692-7800 with your questions about Powers of Attorney or Wills.

2012 Holidays

Filed under: Uncategorized — gregoryrosspc @ 4:07 pm

The Law Office of Gregory A. Ross, PC will be closed in observance of the following remaining holidays of the year:

September 3, Monday, Labor Day

October 8, Monday, Columbus Day

November 12, Monday, Veterans’ Day

November 22 and 23, Thursday and Friday, Thanksgiving

December 24 and 25, Monday and Tuesday, Christmas

January 1, 2013, Tuesday, New Year’s Day

We are generally closed for vacation the week after Christmas and before New Year’s Day

January 13, 2012

Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday

Filed under: Uncategorized — gregoryrosspc @ 3:02 pm

The Law Office of Gregory A. Ross, PC will be closed Monday, January 16th, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

January 10, 2012

Top Ten Reasons to Update Your Will

Update WillIf you have a Will, be sure to keep it updated when there are important changes in your life. Your Will should not be stored away and forgotten. Take it out and review it at least annually to be sure that it still works properly, especially if things have changed in your life.

Here’s a list of the Top Ten Reasons you may need your Will updated:

  1. Marriage
  2. Divorce
  3. Birth of a Child
  4. Death of Someone Receiving Property Under the Will (a Beneficiary)
  5. Moving to a New State
  6. Receiving a Large Inheritance
  7. Your Named Executor Passes Away
  8. The Guardian for Your Minor Children Passes Away
  9. You No Longer Have a Good Relationship With Someone Named in Your Will
  10. You’ve Changed Your Mind About Who Should Receive Your Property

If any of these reasons apply to you, it’s important to see an attorney as soon as possible to get a new Will or a Codicil prepared. You’re probably wondering, “What’s a Codicil?” It’s a legal document that changes the terms of a Will. It’s similar to an amendment to a contract, but it must meet the same legal requirements of a Will in order to be valid. A Codicil is a good option if you only have a few changes to your Will. If there are a lot of changes, or if your life situation has changes significantly, it’s usually better to get a new Will.

If it’s been a while since your Will was done, give us a call at 940-692-7800 and we can work with you to determine if you need a new Will or a Codicil.

July 29, 2011

June 1, 2011

Federal Estate Tax

Filed under: Family Law,Financial Planning,Probate — Tags: , — gregoryrosspc @ 12:21 pm

The Estate Tax is a tax on your right to transfer property at your death. It consists of an accounting of everything you own or have certain interests in at the date of death. The fair market value of these items is used, not necessarily what you paid for them or what their values were when you acquired them. The total of all of these items is your “Gross Estate.” The includible property may consist of cash and securities, real estate, insurance, trusts, annuities, business interests and other assets.

Once you have accounted for the Gross Estate, certain deductions (and in special circumstances, reductions to value) are allowed in arriving at your “Taxable Estate.” These deductions may include mortgages and other debts, estate administration expenses, property that passes to surviving spouses and qualified charities. The value of some operating business interests or farms may be reduced for estates that qualify.

After the net amount is computed, the value of lifetime taxable gifts (beginning with gifts made in 1977) is added to this number and the tax is computed. The tax is then reduced by the available unified credit. Presently, the amount of this credit reduces the computed tax so that only total taxable estates and lifetime gifts that exceed $1,000,000 will actually have to pay tax. In its current form, the estate tax only affects the wealthiest 2 percent of all Americans.

Most relatively simple estates (cash, publicly traded securities, small amounts of other easily valued assets, and no special deductions or elections, or jointly held property) do not require the filing of an estate tax return. A filing is required for estates with combined gross assets and prior taxable gifts exceeding $1,500,000 in 2004 – 2005; $2,000,000 in 2006 – 2008; $3,500,000 for decedents dying in 2009; and $5,000,000 or more for decedent’s dying in 2010 or later (note: there are special rules for decedents dying in 2010.)

Exerpt from IRS article at: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=164871,00.html

May 10, 2011

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomato

Filed under: Uncategorized — gregoryrosspc @ 11:38 pm

It was on this day in 1893 that the Supreme Court ruled that the tomato was a vegetable, not a fruit. Their ruling was in light of a 10-year-old piece of legislation called the Tariff Act of 1883, which ruled that a 10 percent tax had to be paid on all imported vegetables. The case, known as Nix vs. Hedden, was filed by John Nix and several other tomato importers against Edward Hedden, the Collector of Customs at the Port of New York. The case wound up in the Supreme Court, where Webster’s Dictionary was heavily cited. The plaintiffs argued that according to the dictionary definition of fruit — the structure that grows from the flower of the plant and holds the seeds — a tomato was a fruit. They called two witnesses, both of whom heard the definitions of “fruit” and “vegetable” out of the dictionary and were asked whether those definitions were any different in the world of trade and commerce. Both talked for a while but said no, the definitions were no different. The counsel for the plaintiff then read the definition of tomato.

Each side then proceeded to read a series of Webster’s Dictionary definitions. The counsel for the defense read “egg plant,” “squash,” “pepper,” and “cucumber” — all of which, like tomato, are fruits in the botanical sense — but which are widely considered vegetables. In response, the counsel for the plaintiff read the definitions of “potato,” “turnip,” “parsnip,” “cauliflower,” “cabbage,” and “carrot,” none of them botanical fruits but all considered vegetables.

Justice Gray delivered the opinion of the Court, and he said: “Botanically speaking, tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans, and peas. But in the common language of the people, whether sellers or consumers of provisions, all these are vegetables which are grown in kitchen gardens, and which, whether eaten cooked or raw, are, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, and lettuce, usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish, or meats which constitute the principal part of the repast, and not, like fruits generally, as dessert.”

Nix v. Hedden has been referenced in numerous cases since, including a 1990 Second Circuit Court of Appeals case about a delay in a tomato shipment. The judge wrote: “In common parlance tomatoes are vegetables, as the Supreme Court observed long ago, see Nix v. Hedden, although botanically speaking they are actually a fruit. Regardless of classification, people have been enjoying tomatoes for centuries, even Mr. Pickwick, as Dickens relates, ate his chops in ‘tomata’ sauce.”

The debate has continued, but the problem is that “vegetable” has no actual scientific or botanical definition — it is a culinary term. In 1987, the state of Arkansas designated the Vine Ripe Pink Tomato as their official state fruit and vegetable.

Tomatoes were slow to catch on in the United States — in 1845, the editor of the Boston Courier wrote that tomatoes were “the mere fungus of an offensive plant, which one cannot touch without an immediate application of soap and water with an infusion of eau de cologne … deliver us, O ye caterers of luxuries, ye gods and goddesses of the science of cookery! deliver us from tomatoes!” This opinion was echoed over and over again by journalists, agricultural experts, farmers, and gardeners across the country.

From The Writer’s Almanac, by Garrison KeillorJesus and Tomatoes Coming Soon

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