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Back to School Safety Tips

back to school
Classes start August 22 in Wichita Falls. School days bring congestion: Yellow school buses are picking up their charges, kids on bikes are hurrying to get to school before the bell rings, harried parents are trying to drop their kids off before work.

It’s never more important for drivers to slow down and pay attention than when kids are present – especially before and after school.

Here’s some good advice from the National Safety Council:

Back to School Safety Tips

Happy Independence Day!

4th

The Law Office of Gregory A. Ross, PC will be closed the week of July 1 – 5 to celebrate the July 4th holiday. We will return July 8th. Happy Independence Day!

Filing Bankruptcy on an IRS Lien

If you have back taxes or even an Internal Revenue Service lien, you are not barred from filing for bankruptcy. In fact, parts of the U.S. Bankruptcy code deal specifically with taxes. If you hold an IRS lien, however, there’s a good chance the lien will still be waiting for you when your bankruptcy case is finalized. The code is designed to force you to pay the lien, whether you’re in bankruptcy or not.

Back Taxes and Liens
If you’re preparing to file bankruptcy, it’s important to note the difference between back taxes and liens. Back taxes are considered the money you owe to the government in taxes not paid. You don’t have to have a lien to have back taxes, and these back taxes could be as simple as a shortfall of $100 of a federal income tax return three years ago. A lien results when the IRS attaches your tax debt to your property, usually your house, as a way of securing the debt. It also gives the IRS the legal right to your property, and is sometimes a precursor to selling the home to satisfy the debt.

How Liens Happen
The IRS periodically reviews tax liabilities; if you have one, you’ll receive what is called a Notice and Demand for Payment. This will tell you what you owe. If you either ignore this letter, or talk to the IRS but cannot fully repay what you owe, within 10 days of receiving the letter, this can trigger a lien. The lien doesn’t start right away, however. For the lien to be valid, the IRS must file the motion according to your state’s property laws. For example, in California, the IRS would file the motion with your county tax clerk.

A Lien’s Validity in Bankruptcy
A federal tax lien is valid only if it was filed before you filed for bankruptcy. When a lien is created, the federal bankruptcy code recognizes this as secured debt, meaning it’s treated the same as debt with collateral in bankruptcy. Even in bankruptcy, the lien will not go away. The IRS’s lien is given a high priority in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 proceedings. Even if you go through Chapter 7–which wipes out all your debts–the lien does not go away.

Paying Liens in Bankruptcy
Because federal tax liens are considered secured debt and receive priority in bankruptcy, it’s likely you’ll be paying at least some, if not all, of it back. In Chapter 7, this likely means the sale of real property such as your home and other assets to satisfy the lien. In Chapter 13, where you repay some part of what you owe your creditors, the bankruptcy trustee must make every attempt to create a plan that pays back your priority claims in full, which can include the lien. Once the plan is finalized, the IRS is bound to it, even if it does not receive full payment.

Discharging Liens
While the bankruptcy code can help you discharge back taxes, it can provide little help for IRS liens. Liens are designed to get the debtor to repay, no matter the circumstances. The only way to be rid of a lien is to repay the money owed, whether you’re going through bankruptcy or not. There are ways to appeal and get rid of the lien, but these are usually due to procedural circumstances. An attorney who specializes in bankruptcy or tax law can tell you if you the IRS violated your rights or its procedures during the lien process.

Call the Law Office of Gregory A. Ross, PC
Call us at 940-692-7800, or email at info@gregoryrosspc.com to discuss your options.

Celebrate Flag Day

United States Flag
The Law Office of Gregory A. Ross, PC wishes our clients a Happy Flag Day!

Today, June 14, is Flag Day. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, in 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress. The United States Army also celebrates its birthday on this date.

The tradition of the first flag day observance began on June 14th, 1885. Bernard J. Cigrand, a 19- year-old teacher at Stony Hill School in Waubeka Wisconsin, placed a 10 inch, 38- star flag in a bottle on his desk then assigned essays on the flag and its significance. This observance was also the beginning of Cigrand’s long years of fervent and devoted effort to bring about national recognition and observance of Flag Day. The crowning achievement of his life came at age fifty when President Wilson, on May 30, 1916, issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide observance of Flag Day. Then in 1949, President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating the 14th day of June every year as National Flag Day.

Flag Day is not an official federal holiday; it is at the President’s discretion to officially proclaim the observance. On June 14, 1937, Pennsylvania became the first (and only) state to celebrate Flag Day as a state holiday. New York statutes also designate the second Sunday in June a state holiday as Flag Day.

Perhaps the oldest continuing Flag Day parade is at Fairfield, Washington. Beginning in 1909 or 1910, Fairfield has held a parade every year since, and celebrated the “Centennial” parade in 2010, along with other commemorative events.

One of the longest-running Flag Day parades is held annually in Quincy, Massachusetts, which began in 1952. The 59th Annual Appleton, Wisconsin 2009 Flag Day Parade featured the U.S. Navy. The largest Flag Day parade is held annually in Troy, New York, which bases its parade on the Quincy parade and typically draws 50,000 spectators.

Federal law stipulates many aspects of flag etiquette. The section of law dealing with American Flag etiquette is generally referred to as the Flag Code. Some general guidelines from the Flag Code answer many of the most common questions:

•The flag should be lighted at all times, either by sunlight or by an appropriate light source.
•The flag should be flown in fair weather, unless the flag is designed for inclement weather use.
•The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
•The flag should not be used for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
•The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard.
•The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
•The flag should never have any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind placed on it, or attached to it.
•The flag should never be used for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
•When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
•The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.
•When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.

Do you celebrate Flag Day? Do you fly a flag?

Memorial Day

Flag

The Law Office of Gregory A. Ross, PC will be closed this Monday, May 27 in observance of Memorial Day.

Payday Loans Leading to Revolving Door of Debt

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

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.

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.

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

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