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

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.

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.

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

April 28, 2011

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Myths and Fallacies

Bankruptcy Solutions

1. YOU CAN’T FILE BANKRUPTCY UNDER THE NEW LAW
No, THE 2005 REFORM ACT just made it more difficult and added SPEED BUMPS to overcome. This is why you need to consult a consumer bankruptcy attorney before you do anything if you are in financial distress.

2. YOU MUST BE BEHIND IN YOUR BILLS OR BROKE TO FILE BANKRUPTCY
No, do not wait until it is an emergency with bank restraints and income executions. Figure out where you will be financially 6 months from now. Will it be better or worse?

3. YOU CAN’T WORK AND FILE BANKRUPTCY
No, the starting point is the MEDIAN INCOME set in the Means Test under the new law which is currently $38,294 for single person with no dependents in Texas.
– $55,178 for family of 2.
– $65,477 for family of 4.
– Each state is different.
This is just a starting point. Certain expenses will help qualify you, so one’s gross income can be substantially higher in some cases. See your local Salinas and Monterey bankruptcy attorney to see if you qualify.

4. YOU WILL LOSE YOUR HOME IF YOU FILE BANKRUPTCY
NO: Each state has different protection for homes. If your home is underwater (meaning no equity in it), it is not considered an asset in the bankruptcy and you may elect to keep it or surrender it. Texas has an unlimited dollar value homestead exemptions to protect equity in your principal residence.

5. IT WILL DESTROY MY CREDIT IF I FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY MY CREDIT SCORE WILL GO DOWN
Let’s face it: most clients already have bad credit. Question is: What are you going to do about your debt? Most credit scores will go up after filing bankruptcy, particularly in a Chapter 13.

6. YOU WILL NEVER GET ANOTHER JOB OR BE ABLE TO RENT AN APARTMENT
You have a better chance of landing that job if you take action to fix your finances. Employers do not want harassment at work or income executions. Landlords want tenants who can use their salary to pay rent, not the Marshal or credit cards.

7. IF YOU FILE BANKRUPTCY, YOU MIGHT AS WELL MAX OUT CREDIT CARDS
WRONG! Stop using the cards and stop paying them and see a consumer bankruptcy professional. Maxing out those cards will create more problems in your bankruptcy filing and may be bad faith. Bankruptcy is meant for the UNFORTUNATE but HONEST debtor.

8. YOU SHOULD DO ANYTHING TO AVOID BANKRUPTCY INCLUDING CASHING IN 401K OR RETIREMENT FUNDS
WRONG! Your retirement funds are protected! And, you will be taxed and penalized on retirement withdrawals by the IRS! Don’t listen to those Cable Television Talkingheads who tell you to cash in your retirement!

9. IMMIGRATION STATUS WILL BE AFFECTED AND YOU WILL NEVER BECOME A CITIZEN
NOT TRUE: Filing bankruptcy is NOT a crime and will NOT affect your Green Card or CITIZENSHIP!!

10. MY BANKRUPTCY WILL BE IN THE NEWSPAPERS AND EVERYONE WILL KNOW ABOUT IT.
Bankruptcy filings are published in some newspapers since it is a matter of public record. Your real friends will understand, and who cares about anyone else. They aren’t in your shoes and don’t know what led to having to file Bankruptcy.

11. THOSE DEBT MANAGEMENT PLANS (DMP) ADVERTISED ON TV AND RADIO WORK!
NO! If you pay the DMP and do not pay your creditors, you will be sued by the creditor. Most DMPs are being investigated by the Attorney General.

12. YOU CAN KEEP 1 CREDIT CARD (JUST DON’T TELL YOUR BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY)
No. Bankruptcy allows a Fresh Start. You must list all of your debts. It is likely that the card will be closed anyway.

13. YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO FILE BANKRUPTCY
Most bankruptcy attorneys have payment plans. In Chapter 13, most of the fees can be paid through the plan payments. You are generally instructed to stop all credit card payments freeing up money for fees.

14. YOU ARE A FAILURE IF YOU FILE BANKRUPTCY
Studies show that bankruptcies are generally caused BY HEALTH PROBLEMS, EMPLOYMENT PROBLEMS, and MATRIMONIAL PROBLEMS.

15. YOU HAVE TO PAY EVERYTHING BACK ANYWAY, SO WHY FILE BANKRUPTCY?
In A Chapter 7 bankruptcy debts are wiped out with the exception of certain taxes, child support/alimony and student loans. In Chapter 13 you pay back debts that must be paid, such as certain taxes, mortgage arrears if you are keeping the house, or payments for vehicles on which you still owe money.

Contact us with any of your Bankruptcy questions. The initial consultation is free.

Law Office of Gregory A. Ross, PC
4245 Kemp Blvd., Ste 308
Wichita Falls, TX 76308
Telephone: (940) 692-7800
Facsimile: (940) 692-7813
Email: info@gregoryrosspc.com
www.gregoryrosspc.com

January 23, 2011

Financial Peace University

“More than one million families have attended Financial Peace University with amazing results. On average, these families paid off $5,300 in debt and saved $2,700 in just the first 90 days! Stop worrying about money, and start your journey to Financial Peace today.”  Taken from Financial Peace University, http://www.daveramsey.com/fpu/home/

Years ago I discovered Financial Peace University (FPU) and can honestly say it made a significant difference in my financial life.  While I sometimes stray from the ideas taught in this course, overall its teachings guide my financial planning.  I would encourage you to look into this program.  The instructor, Dave Ramsey, is entertaining as well as passionate about  FPU. The course teaches on the following subjects:

  • Super Saving – How and why to save money
  • Relation with Money – How to communicate with your partner about money
  • Cash Flow Planning – Developing a monthly budget that works
  • Dumping Debt – Tools to eliminate debt in your life
  • Credit Sharks in Suits – Credit scores and how to deal with debt collectors
  • Buyer Beware – Marketing and its effects on you
  • Clause and Effect – Understanding the world of insurance
  • That’s Not Good enough – Understanding the power of purchasing with cash
  • Of Mice and Mutual Funds – Understanding the jargon surrounding investing
  • From Fruition to Tuition – Retirement/college planning
  • Working in Your Strengths – Finding that right job
  • Real Estate and Mortgages – Understanding the largest investment most will make
  • The Great Misunderstanding – How generous giving can change your life

I have no connection with and make no money from this course.  I simply think it is the best course out there.  If you’ve ever struggled with finances, please consider Financial Peace University.

Powered by WordPress