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April 30, 2012

Protecting Your Personal Assets in Your Relationship

Starting out in a new relationship is one of the most exciting things in life. You have stars in your eyes, butterflies in your stomach, and you are so elated that you have found your lifelong soul mate. When you are in this part of the relationship, you think that nothing could ever go wrong, but unfortunately the reality is that there is a strong chance that this may not be the last relationship you will ever have. This is not to say that you should prepare for the worst, but you should definitely protect what you have worked so hard for.

Plan for the Best and Prepare for the Worst

Be an optimist with a pessimist’s plan. If you are going into a relationship with the thought that it will fail, then it probably will. The best course of action is to go into a relationship with the thought that it will succeed, but putting into place the right actions for a just in case can help you as well as your partner. You not only want to protect yourself, but you want to protect them as well. Although it is a tricky subject to cover, if the two of you can work together through it, you can most likely work through anything.

Lay it All Out on the Table

When your relationship gets to the point that it is becoming a partnership, you will need to take some serious action. Whether you are moving in together or even getting married, there are things that you will need to know about each other. In order to accomplish this task, you will need to each lay your finances out for the other to examine. You both should share your credit report, banking information, bills, assets owned, retirement and investment accounts, and anything else that has to do with assets and liabilities. If you have an open and honest relationship, this should not be an issue. By doing this, you will be transparent with each other and you will know how to proceed.

Know the Law

Having an understanding of the laws in your state when it comes to joint property is important when it comes to your relationship. You should know at what point your debts and assets become shared. In most cases this immediately happens upon marriage, so make sure that you have all of the information you need before tying the knot. In some cases there is a certain timeframe where your relationship is considered a legally binding partnership that hold the same responsibilities as a marriage. There are also some states that will allow cohabitation agreements. Make sure that you know what laws apply to you and your relationship before getting too far into it.

Relationships are not started with the plan to fail, otherwise you would have never started the relationship in the first place. Not only that, you wouldn’t hand all of your assets over to someone without first knowing what they are going to do with it and probably not without some sort of protection for you if things go wrong, so don’t do it in your relationship. Get to know all about your partner, including their financial status, so that you know the kind of road you are headed down.

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April 17, 2012

Robotic Advice Alarms Legal Profession

Azimov would not have been surprised to see the practice of law changing radically around the world. According to recent news reports, the once-highly esteemed lawyer profession is now being threatened by robots and supermarkets.

The fields of automation and robotics have made great inroads into a lot of professional disciplines. From car manufacturing to space exploration and from pharmacology to accounting, software programs and robotic solutions are being increasingly employed not only to augment operations but also to completely replace human professionals.

Until now, the legal profession has seemed to have largely escaped the threat of robots due to the decidedly human scope of the discipline. The legal industry still operates on the premise that hiring excellent lawyers with many years of experience is vital to win a case. The reason clients retain prestigious law firms with the right connections is because it increases the odds of a successful outcome. Prediction and intuition are important aspects of the practice of law, but robots may perform better in such aspects by means of computerized analysis.

Lex Machina, a technology firm that started as a Stanford University project, has compiled an encyclopedic database of patent and trademark case law that can interpret complex data. Sophisticated interpretation of the law is how law firms make a living, and it is through this interpretation that attorneys are able to predict likely case outcomes. By stripping away human perception, Lex Machina interprets data using computational modeling that is free from the pitfalls of human error. It would take an army of lawyers charging many billable hours to perform the work that Lex Machina easily accomplishes in a short time.

While robots are not expected to replace attorneys in the courtroom in the near future, computer automation has already replaced several attorneys in law firms in at least one particular area -e-discovery. The tedious process of e-discovery involves looking for relevant case data by combing through massive amounts of records stored in electronic formats. For law firms looking to significantly reduce expenses by trimming staff, e-discovery is exactly what they need.

As if being replaced by robots wasn’t unceremonious enough, lawyers will now have to worry about losing their clients to supermarkets. A new law in the United Kingdom is paving the way for banks and supermarkets to sell legal services to their customers.

The Legal Services Act opens the door to Alternative Business Structures, a type of business run by legal service providers who aren’t necessarily lawyers. Under this new legal arrangement, UK supermarket chains such as Tesco would be able to offer legal services to their customers. Solicitors in the UK have naturally criticized the new law, explaining that the quality of legal services will be decimated. The new law also encourages the creation of mixed practices under one roof; for example, financial and legal advice could be dispensed in the same office.

The Tesco supermarket chain has already expressed interest in offering affordable legal services to British customers interested in saving money. Tesco already offers banking services in their stores, and it expects to sell residential mortgages to shoppers later this year.

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March 25, 2012

Three Myths About Bail Bonds

When you or someone you love has been arrested, emotions can run high. Instead of getting concerned and worrying about “worst case” scenarios, educate yourself about the bail process.

Here are three myths about bail debunked.

1. If a family member can’t pay your bail bond, you stay in jail.

Although a family member is allowed to post the money required for your bail (if any), you can also have friends take care of this for you.
The basics of bail are fairly simple. You are innocent until proven guilty, so after your arrest, the court must gather evidence to convict you of wrongdoing. Likewise, you are allowed to obtain a lawyer to defend you. Bail is a document that states you can be set free on the condition that you will return for your court date(s). You may have to pay a certain amount of money for bail as a deposit of sorts. This increases the likelihood that you will return to court if there’s a good reason why you may not want to.

A family member or friend that pays the amount requested for your bail bond is called a guarantor. This person is responsible financially if you do not come back to court for trial (of course, you are also legally responsible for deciding not to return, too).

2. There is no rhyme or reason to bail amount.

This is untrue, too. The court has many reasons for setting bail at the amount they choose to set it at. One factor in determining bail is the severity of the crime. If a crime is very minor, there may not be any money required for a bail bond. If the crime is more serious, the amount can be hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Also, the court may consider the evidence, as well as your general character and past criminal record when determining bail amounts.

3. You have to come up with the whole bail amount.

This is one of the biggest misconceptions about bail and bail bonds. The only time you have to come up with the total sum requested for bail is if you “skip” bail, or do not show up in court when you are required to. If you do what’s asked of you, typically only ten percent or so of the total amount needs to be paid to the bail bond agent.

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March 13, 2012

Finding The Right Solicitor Or Lawyer

In years gone by, whether you live in the UK or the US, you would have to undertake the task of finding a lawyer or solicitor when a legal dispute arose.  The law professions were seen as somewhat staid and many firms survived by operating on their long established reputation.  This approach changed dramatically in the US in 1977 when advertising restrictions on lawyers were greatly relaxed.  Solicitors in the UK were still under restrictions until the mid 90s, before following the lead of the US.  Now advertising has become commonplace and you can’t turn on the TV without seeing a legal firm of some type touting their wares.  As a result those who need a solicitor or lawyer will often go for the name that they remember from a TV or radio advert.  However, this can be a mistake and you should really take more care before making your choice. 

Location

Whilst many solicitors and lawyers will operate across the state or even country; it could be that their nearest office is a long way from your home.  Discussions can of course take place over the phone, but in most instances being in the same room is a necessity to deal with some matters thoroughly.  Therefore it is always advisable to first look for options in your local area.  The quickest and easiest way is to do a Google search for the type of service you need and your location, eg. “solicitors in Pontefract” or “lawyers in Orlando”.

Speciality

Once you have found a few local options then take some time to highlight the firms that provide specialist representation in the area that you require.  Some unscrupulous firms will be happy to represent your case even if they don’t have suitable knowledge and experience, which could jeopardise your case.  It is a good idea to ask the firm a few questions about past cases that are similar to yours.  It is possible to include your required speciality into your Google search, eg. “solicitors in Pontefract” + “accident claim” or “lawyers in Orlando” + “personal injury”.

History

Although it isn’t essential to find a firm that has been operating for a long period, it can be a good guide.  There will of course be excellent lawyers that have only been operating for a relatively short period.  However, if you go for one that has been around for many years then there is a better chance that they work in the right way, otherwise they would have gone bust by now.  At this point have a dig around online; looking for reviews of the firm and also ask friend and family members if they have any experience of the firms you are considering.

Straight talking

The legal world can be extremely confusing at the best of times and even more so if your legal representative uses confusing language and jargon.  In order to understand the details of the case clearly it is important to be able to communicate effectively.  Speaking to the remaining solicitors and lawyers on your list over the phone should give you a clear indication of whether you will be able to work effectively with them and help you make your final choice.

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March 12, 2012

Bankruptcy and Its Implications

People under severe financial problems are naturally in distress. They are frustrated and desperate especially when creditors are beginning to pressure them into settling their debts. In worst situations, when the chances of finding money to pay off the debt becomes almost impossible, the easiest way out for many is filing for bankruptcy.

However, is filing for bankruptcy the best solution? To know the answer, let us look into bankruptcy and its implications.

Filing for Bankruptcy: When?

Generally, a person in debt should file for bankruptcy only if and when he has exhausted every possible means to come up with a compromise agreement with his creditor and has failed in his efforts.

What Happens After Bankruptcy is Filed?

Upon filing for bankruptcy, the creditors will be notified immediately about it. The debtor can then expect that the unsecured creditors will cease from going after him for the settlement of his debts.

What follows after is that a trustee will be appointed to take charge of the bankruptcy case. The trustee’s job is to make sure that debtor will really pay his creditors. To facilitate payment of the debts, the trustee will sell most of the debtor’s assets. It will also be the trustee’s responsibility to make sure that when the time comes that the debtor will have sufficient income later, the debtor will begin to pay part of his income to the repayment of his debts.

Another responsibility of the trustee includes looking into the financial affairs and transactions of the debtor to see if he has transferred some of his money or properties a third party. His aim is to recover those so it can be used to reconcile all the debtors’ financial obligations.

When a person files for bankruptcy, an agency will keep a permanent record of the bankruptcy, and this record is accessible by the public for a certain amount of fee.

Under normal circumstances, bankruptcy lasts for at least 3 years, but this can also be extended.

What Happens Next?

Filing for bankruptcy is only the beginning of a long and tiresome process. Here are some of the things that will happen right after the filing of bankruptcy:

  • Every time a debtor moves to a new place or address, he has to inform the trustee about the move and give him the new address;
  • This is also applies when changing names such as when getting married, getting remarried, after a divorce. The trustee has to be informed about the new name;
  • When traveling abroad, the debtor has to secure a written permission from the trustee. There are situations when a debtor will be required to surrender his travel documents such as passport or visa to the trustee;
  • Any changes in income and assets during bankruptcy must also be communicated to the trustee.

In conclusion, filing for bankruptcy is not good as it will have a negative impact on a person’s credit record and history. It will also take a very long time to repair a credit record. So before finally deciding to file for a bankruptcy, think about all the consequences first. Of course to some it’s the only option left, and there is life after bankruptcy.

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