Estate Planning with Foreign Financial Assets

Estate Planning with Foreign Financial Assets

Estate planning can be a complicated and tricky thing to do, but this is especially true when you have diversified assets. It can become even more complex for the estate plan that has to take foreign financial assets, including real estate, into consideration. Whether you are thinking of purchasing any foreign assets or you have already done so, you need to know how these affect your estate plan. Making sure you have an attorney who specializes in estate planning is key. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you better understand the steps needed when dealing with foreign assets and how to put them into motion.

Wills and Their Validity

In most cases, a United States Last Will and Testament is a valid way for you to make sure your assets reach the people and places you intended them to go. However, if your will includes any foreign assets, there are separate rules that need to be followed other than just writing up a simple will.

If your will should include any foreign assets and the proper steps were not taken, it could make your entire United States Last Will and Testament an invalid document. Needless to say, this will be a huge hassle for your heirs! To avoid this situation, you must ensure that the document complies with the requirements of a valid will in the foreign jurisdiction where your assets are located. It’s important to consult an estate attorney in the country where these assets are located or at least one who is proven to be very familiar with the laws of that country. If you do not take the time to do this, you can take the risk of losing those assets or having them distributed in a way that does now follow your wishes.

It’s also important to take into consideration how multiple wills can affect your estate. Most likely an estate plan that takes the laws of multiple countries into account will require more than one document to set up a will.

Taxation

Your taxes are one of the more complicated issues that come along with foreign assets and estate planning. The United States maintains estate tax treaties with several other countries around the world. What this means is that when an individual passes away with any property in those countries, then that property will be included in the person’s estate and can sometimes be subject to the estate tax. If this should be the case for you, it may lead to a double taxation on these assets and would have a larger impact on the amount of assets that remain after all tax considerations.

Along with this, you need to remember that many foreign countries impose a higher estate tax rate on assets that are distributed in a certain way. Using France as an example: if you leave property to a cousin, it carries a higher tax consequence than if you were to leave the same property to a sibling.

Additional Costs

Dealing with estate planning that includes any foreign assets will require a lot more work to make sure that everything is accurate in each document. Every document, both foreign and domestic, should be reviewed to make sure they all comply with the rules and regulations of both countries.

Since each document should be cross-referenced to make sure that they go along with the laws, you will see more up front costs. Just keep in mind that these steps will save you even more money in the future by preventing costly mistakes.

If you have already set up your estate plan but have added foreign assets since then, you need to make sure that you speak with an experienced estate planning attorney such as Dan Higson to make sure the newly acquired foreign assets are covered.

Any type of strong estate plan benefits from an experienced estate planning attorney, but in the event that you have any foreign assets, it is even more important to have that experienced attorney there to help you along the way. He or she will take the time to help you double check everything, make sure you are leaving everything as it should be, and that everything is filed in the correct way.

If you have more questions about estate planning in the state of California, contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez today. You can also check out Dan Higson’s other blogs here!

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

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What Makes a Motorcycle Accident Different from a Car Accident?

What Makes a Motorcycle Accident Different from a Car Accident?

Getting into any kind of vehicular accident is scary and dangerous. It will also lead to a lot of stress and questions. What should I do next? How do I pay for these repairs and medical bills? While you may think that getting into a motorcycle accident has the same set of laws and consequences as a motor vehicle accident, there are a few differences. If you or a loved one is in a motorcycle accident, your first legal step is to make sure you have an experienced attorney who knows those differences and can help you navigate the legal path.

How Do Motorcycle Accidents Differ from Car Accidents?

Size – Most importantly, a motorcycle is a much smaller and lighter vehicle than most other kinds of passenger vehicles. This leaves riders with less protection than they would get with a regular motor vehicle. This leaves the person with a much higher chance of serious injury or death if they are in a motorcycle accident.

Less Visibility – Due to the smaller size, motorcycles are not as easily seen by other drivers and can be difficult to see. The visibility of motorcycles is also reduced at intersections.

Road Hazards – Any debris that may be lying in the road, along with wet or bumpy pavement, has little effect on most passenger vehicles, but can be trouble for the unsuspecting motorcyclist. This could lead to a motorcycle accident in a split second.

Less Protection – Aside from the protection of a car surrounding them, motorcyclist also do not have seat belts and lack airbags. Yes, they (should) have helmets and protective clothing, but it may still not be enough to shield the rider from serious injury in an accident.

Driver Skills – The ability to drive a motorcycle takes much more skill than just driving a car. An inexperienced driver may be much more likely to be in a motorcycle accident than a car accident.

High-Risk Driving – If a motorcycle rider is riding on a sport or super-sport bike, they may be more tempted to speed, can accelerate too quickly, and can sometimes be tempted into engaging in other unsafe driving practices.

Shorter Stopping Distance – A motorcycle can stop more quickly than a passenger vehicle, so when a motorist is not keeping a safe distance behind a motorcycle, the rider can be easily rear-ended when he or she makes a quick stop.

Unfair Prejudice to Motorcycle Riders

It is an unfair fact that in many cases, a motorcyclist will be seen as a daredevil, based on past experiences around other riders or from the media. A reckless motorcycle rider is the minority, but it can leave a bad impression for those who have encountered those riders. This means that as your motorcycle accident case goes to court, it is crucial that you have a good attorney on your side who can figure out if the jurors have any previous bias towards motorcycle riders. An experienced attorney can help show the court that you, the defendant, are a responsible motorcycle rider.

Jurors Should Have a Basic Understanding of Motorcycles

In most cases, the majority of a jury will not have any first-hand experience on how motorcycles are driven or how a rider is supposed to react in certain road situations. For a jury to fully understand who is at fault and have a better understanding of the responsibility of both parties for injury compensation, there must be a fundamental knowledge of safe motorcycle practices.

For example, a motorcycle rider knows that speed creates stability on a bike, but a passenger car driver would likely consider that faster speed to be reckless driving. Having an attorney that is experienced in motorcycle accidents can help educate the jury and can greatly improve your case.

Motorcycle Accidents Have More Severe Injuries

Due to the open and exposed nature of motorcycles (which is often what attracts people to them) an accident that involves a motorcycle typically has more severe injuries than collisions between two cars. There are often times where serious and permanent injuries can occur in even a minor motorcycle accident. This again is when it’s very important to have an attorney who specializes in this kind of case and can help account for these types of damages.

An example of having an attorney who can account for injures due to a motorcycle accident is if a rider has road rash. This injury is often more painful than fractured and broken bones and common to riders who have been in an accident. The right attorney will be able to better calculate what compensation you would need for the future recovery of road rash as well as other injuries.

Beware of Sneaky Insurer Tactics

Just like your jurors may have a prejudice against motorcycle riders, some insurance companies do too. They sometimes will try to use biases to their advantage and leave many riders seeking the help of a motorcycle accident attorney after they realize that their insurance company is not acting fairly on their behalf. Always keep in mind that insurance companies are not on your side, and don’t want to pay out large amounts of money when they don’t have to. It is likely that if you are partially at fault for the accident, the insurance company could very well try and deny you any compensation.

The only way for you to make sure that you are treated fairly in court by both the jurors and the insurance company is to make sure that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney, like Dan Higson, who understands the hurdles that will come up when proving fault in a motorcycle accident case. You must not make the mistake of thinking that a motorcycle accident is the same as a car accident.

If you have further questions about your motorcycle accident personal injury case, contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez or check out Dan Higson’s motorcycle accident page, which goes over what to do immediately after an accident occurs.

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

DIY Estate Planning (and When You Need Legal Help)

DIY Estate Planning (and When You Need Legal Help)

When you really sit down and start to think about planning out your estate, you soon realize the headaches that can come along with it. Lawyers charge a big fee, but it’s important to make sure that everything is set up correctly. Fewer and fewer people are spending their money on estate planning help, and are opting to do it themselves or to not have any legal documentation at all. There are many online resources available to you if you choose this route, but it’s important to recognize when you’re in over your head and seek help from the professionals. You don’t want to leave your family in a bad financial situation later by saving some money now!

DIY Estate Planning

There is nothing out there that says you can’t plan your estate out yourself. In fact, you can easily access many books, software, and websites that get you the documents and knowledge to use them for free or for a much smaller price than using a lawyer.

In most situations, doing some DIY estate planning on a smaller budget is better than doing nothing at all. Should you pass away without a will and testament, state law will determine how most of your belongings are handed out, and the results may not match what you wanted. Check out this blog if you want more information on how that situation works. If nothing else, it’s certainly better to have simple living will and medical power of attorney forms set up before you are wheeled into an operating room, even if there has been no lawyer consulted.

Estate Planning Complications

While these forms may be easy to write up and print from a reputable website, there can be things that an average person would not think may go wrong when setting up these legal documents without a lawyer’s help. One of these mistakes may cost your heirs more than you saved in the legal fees in the long run.

If you are married, own a home, have kids, or other factors can add some complications to your estate planning and contribute to the possible mistakes in your documents. If you are worried about the estate tax charged for people who leave behind more than a million dollars, it may be in your best interest to at least consult with an attorney before you write anything up, as each state has a different process for this tax before the federal tax is added in.

Keep in mind, as you are setting up your DIY estate planning, that most lawyers also rely on software to keep track of these documents and reduce the chance of mistakes. Look around for one that helps you prepare the documents at a relatively low cost.

Estate Planning Documents and Professional Assistance

As you shop around in preparation to plan your estate, here are five important estate planning documents that can be a low-end cost to you even when you have a legal pro help you prepare them. Depending on your situation, these can be tricky documents that can be set up incorrectly if not checked by a professional.

Basic Will and Testament

At the base of every estate plan, your will should transfer your assets, appoint a guardian for any minor children, and name an executor to your estate who will hand out your belongings as you see fit after you are gone.

Having an attorney help you with this document may be a good idea, as this can be the document that will have the most trouble spots that only an experienced lawyer would be able to spot. For instance, if there is a special needs child, some software programs will tend to dis-inherit this child if you answer a question a certain way. If you have stocks you want to equally share between children, there is a certain way to go about handling that in a will that may be best left to a legal professional to ensure correctness.

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust

An irrevocable life insurance trust is created so that you own a life insurance policy that becomes part of the taxable estate. Your heirs can own insurance directly on your life without using a trust, but not if those heirs are minors.

This is a trust that requires a very careful plan. You can add money in the trust to pay the insurance premiums using the annual exclusion, but that annual gift must be of a “present interest.” This means that it is something that the recipient can use right away. The beneficiaries of a trust like this are usually given ‘Crummey powers’ (right for a limited time to withdraw all the money from the trust). For these powers, a lawyer could write up a sample letter for the beneficiary called a Crummey notice in order for them to get the trust money.

To speed up this process with a lawyer, make sure you already have your first and second beneficiary ready so that the guesswork is already done.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney appoints a trusted family member or advisor to act on your behalf in legal or financial matters if for some reason you cannot.

A lawyer can help you quickly determine which rules apply to this in your state. If you own real estate in more than one state, you may need a power of attorney for both. They can also help you determine which powers should be included and when the document should take effect.

Health Care Proxy

This can also be known as a health care agent or health care power of attorney. A health care proxy will authorize someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable. Similar rules apply for an attorney’s help as with the durable power of attorney.

Make sure you have at least four copies of this document signed. Keep one for yourself, and give the other copies to your health care agent, your primary physician, and a trusted advisor.

Living Will

A living will expresses your preferences about certain parts of end of life care, instead of leaving it up to the person named in your health care proxy.

Having a lawyer who has witnessed life or death decisions with other clients help you can often better facilitate conversations about this difficult topic. It may be less stress emotionally on you and everyone involved to have a lawyer’s help setting up this document.

DIY estate planning is not for everyone, or at least not every aspect of it. Knowing what you are comfortable handling on your own and what you want guidance with will make the planning go much smoother (and cheaper in the long run) for you and your family.

If you want more estate planning tips, check out Dan Higson’s other blogs hereThis one goes over how to fairly distribute the assets of an estate. If you have more questions about estate planning in the state of California, contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez today!

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

California Debt Consolidation

California Debt Consolidation

Not everything is sunshine in California. While the sun is warm and the water is nice, there is a staggering 10% rate of unemployment in the sunshine state. This includes a poverty rate that is well above the national average. The state’s economic turn for the worse has created a tide of serious personal debt for many people. Those who took out mortgages before the housing bubble burst, as well as those holding credit card and business loans, seem to be taking the biggest hit. While some consider debt consolidation to be the best option, there are a few pros and cons to look at before you decide if that is the right choice for you. For many people struggling with debt, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a better plan.

The Pros of Debt Consolidation

If you decide that debt consolidation is right for you, here are some pros you can expect to achieve through the process:

  • Debt consolidation programs are more regulated and enforced now than they were a few decades ago.
  • It will provide you with a proven and predictable program to become debt free.
  • It can save you money, reduce your interest rate, and waive late fees/penalties.
  • Allows you to reduce your debts at a pace that fits into your budget.
  • Lets you manage multiple debts owed using a single and more affordable payment.
  • Will put you back in control of your finances to help reduce your stress.

The Cons of Debt Consolidation

Although debt consolidation programs are better than they used to be, there are still several problems with them, which may push you to look at your other options:

  • Sometimes the math doesn’t work out, and the debt consolidation does not outweigh the interest and late fees accrued during the process.
  • If you default on payment, you revert back to the original creditor agreement.
  • Creditors are not required to accept any debt relief proposals.
  • It takes discipline to make every single monthly payment.
  • It can take up to 3-5 years, sometimes more, to become debt free. This is mostly due to negotiations with the various companies.
  • While you stop paying your bills for debt consolidation, you may be at risk of being sued for the outstanding debts.
  • Debt consolidation will be noted on your credit report. Although this is not always harmful to you, sometimes this process can reduce your credit score significantly.
  • You may still be required to pay taxes on the forgiven debt.

What to Expect with Debt Consolidation

In most cases, debt consolidation programs are set up by debt relief specialists who will conduct brief interviews with you to better understand your debts. They will also make sure they understand how much you can realistically afford every month for a payment.

With this information, your debt consolidation specialist can help you customize a debt management plan. Once the plan is OK’d by you, a letter will be sent out to all your creditors requesting the benefits of debt relief. If accepted, those creditors are added to the debt consolidation program that was set up for you.

There may be some creditors that do not accept the proposal for debt relief, and you would still be required to live up to the original terms with that creditor. Take this into account when you are setting up the monthly payment you can afford. While you look into debt consolidation, it is important to remember that no two situations are the same, and there is no single debt consolidation solution. This is where a debt specialist can provide more help and details.

Types of Debt Consolidation in California

There are many California debt consolidation programs out there if you want to take that route to get your head back above water. Here we will go over a few options for debt relief in California. These are the options you have if you want to act quickly on your mounting debt, and these options can prevent you from filing bankruptcy or foreclosure.

Debt Consolidation Loans

If you cannot seem to make any headway on your credit cards and other unsecured debt, getting a debt consolidation loan may work for you. These loans, which are offered by a wide variety of lenders, are designed to help you pay off your outstanding debts by consolidating your payment obligations into a single loan. Once you do take out a consolidation loan in the state of California, you will be relieved of any future obligations to your former creditors. Instead, you will only be obligated to pay that single payment on the loan.

While this is a convenient option, there are a few drawbacks. These loans are not typically offered to borrowers who have poor credit, and they can also carry high interest rates, which may make your debt worse rather than better. Also, using a debt consolidation loan can leave a bad mark on your credit score.

Debt Management Plans

When you use a debt management program, your credit counselor will review your household budget and help you come up with a money-saving plan that will lower your obligations without draining your budget. These plans have the power to put a reorder on your entire household budget.

Your credit counselor will be the one to negotiate with each of your creditors in the effort to reduce your outstanding rates. What amount you will actually save depends on the persistence of your counselor and the willingness of the creditors to negotiate. Having a knowledgeable person negotiate this on your behalf greatly reduces your stress levels while increasing your chances of getting a good deal.

California Debt Settlement

This is also known as debt negotiation and is regarded as the one of the better options if available to you. If a debt management program does not give you the results you want, then setting up a tailored program of California debt settlement might be what you need.

This is a several-step process starting with an entire team of debt settlement experts going to bat for you. They will negotiate with creditors to reduce principal balances and you will stop making any payments on your unsecured debts. You will also stop getting those collection calls at all times of the day.

This is a process that could last for a total of 2 to 4 years, but it might take less time in the state of California than if you used a debt management program. If you choose this option, you could easily see a debt reduction into the thousands of dollars.

Bankruptcy is a Good Option

Although it sounds scary, it’s possible that bankruptcy is the best option for your situation. Check out Dan Higson’s blogs on Chapter 7 and Chapter 13bankruptcy to learn more about the specifics. Many debt consolidation companies harshly and falsely criticize bankruptcy. Bankruptcy does not mean starting from zero. If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, for example, you will still be able to keep your personal possessions and many of your assets. You will also be done with the process in a matter of months instead of years. Bankruptcy will halt collections and lawsuits. Both bankruptcy and debt consolidation will harm your credit score, often to a similar extent.

When to Choose Debt Consolidation

If Chapter 13 is your only option (which takes 5 years to accomplish), or you absolutely do not want to file for bankruptcy for another reason, debt consolidation could be for you. If you are willing and able to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it is probably your best option, since it takes less time and provides more financial and legal protection. A good bankruptcy attorney is legally required to keep your best interests in mind. Debt consolidation companies are not required to give you all the information about your other options, and may be more interested in their own ambitions.

As long as you are careful with choosing a debt consolidation plan and are able to stick with it, you should see improvement in your financial situation. With all the different California debt consolidation options, you are sure to find the right option for you and your budget so that you can take that next step to the relief of financial burden. If you have more questions about debt consolidation in the state of California, contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez today!

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

Out of State Car Accident

Out of State Car Accident

It’s the time of year for family vacations and getaways. For many, this means a road trip across several state lines. As you set out on that road trip, the last thing you want to happen is a car accident, but what if that should happen to you? How does the process work if you are out of the state you live in when an accident occurs? Let’s take a look at how this works with the state of California.

How to Handle the Claim

No matter where an out-of-state accident occurs, dealing with the insurance claim can be quite a task. Lets say you have an accident in California, but you live in Nevada. If this is the case, then you are able to file and handle the claim in the state of Nevada. However, if you are unable to settle that claim, you would then have to file a lawsuit under California’s laws. This is because the accident occurred in the state of California, so that means it would fall under that state’s legal jurisdiction.

What does all of this mean? Unless the California driver chose the higher liability coverage, you would be covered under the California minimum insurance liability amounts. These amounts are: up to $15,000 per person for bodily injury, $30,000 per accident per bodily injury, and $5,000 per accident.

If your injuries or damages do not exceed the minimum liability coverage in California or the driver’s extended coverage, filing a claim should not be much different than with any other accident in-state. Should the injuries or damage exceed that coverage, your claim could get tricky. If the driver has the minimum coverage for California, their insurance would only cover the vehicle’s damage and not your injuries, thus leaving you with all of your medical bills.

Having the Right Insurance Coverage

There is a simple solution for you so that you can make sure to avoid the common problem of being a driver with too little insurance coverage. Simply make sure you carry on your insurance policy the Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This is an added coverage should you be in a car accident anywhere with another motorist that does not carry enough or any insurance at all. Having this coverage on your policy means your insurance coverage would kick in even if the party that hit you does not have sufficient coverage.

If you do not carry the Uninsured/Underinsured coverage on your policy, it is a good idea to call and get it added as soon as you can, since a significant portion of the population drives uninsured or underinsured.

If You Have to File a Lawsuit

Remember that if an accident happens in the jurisdiction of California, should you have to file a lawsuit, it would need to be filed in California and need to go by that state’s personal injury laws.

To do this, you need to make sure that you have a lawyer who is licensed in the state of California. There are two ways you can make sure you have the right lawyer. You can either find a lawyer in California who would be willing to handle your case and deal with it remotely, or you can find a lawyer in either state who is licensed in both Nevada and California. It’s easier by far to find lawyers who are licensed in both states when the states are right right next to each other. If you are in an accident several states away, it is unlikely that you will be able to have such a luxury. It is possible to find a California attorney who is willing to help you remotely, but you may find it easier and less stressful to find a lawyer in your state as well as the state where the accident took place.

If you have further questions about car accidents or personal injury lawsuits pertaining to California, contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez today!

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

Toys R Us Bankruptcy

Toys R Us Bankruptcy

With the ever-growing popularity of online shopping, it is a wonder that so many brick and mortar stores are still up and running. The days of running out to the store to grab the latest and greatest item are almost completely a thing of the past, and many retailers are feeling the strain. Now another kid’s retailer has taken a hit with the recent Toys R Us bankruptcy.

Toys R Us announced that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on September 18th, 2017. This filing will help the toy retailer relieve itself of debt left over from the $6.6 billion acquisition by Bain Capital Partners back in 2005. At the time, that deal was valued at $6.6 billion. Since the acquisition, the toy giant has accumulated $4.9 billion in debt with $400 million having interest payments due in 2018 and a total of $1.7 billion that is due in 2019.

It seems that the acquisition of Toys R Us had more to do with the value of the real estate. The deal came a year after K-Mart and Sears merged based on the idea that combining the real estate value of both stores would help to strengthen both.

Toys R Us now joins Payless ShoeSource and Gymboree, which are among the retailers that have also filed for bankruptcy over the past two years. This bankruptcy protection filing comes after other private equity-backed retailers closed up some of their locations earlier this year.

Toys R Us currently has 1,600 stores open around the world (including Babies R Us locations). The stores will continue to operate as usual, but the company’s operations outside of the US and Canada are not a part of these protection proceedings. What will happen with these locations remains to be seen. However, the company did say that it also intends to seek protection in parallel proceedings for Canada as well.

The company also said that it has already received a commitment from some lenders for a total of over $3 billion in debtor-in-possession financing. This is still subject to court approval, but Toys R Us “is expected to immediately improve the Company’s financial health and support its ongoing operations during the court-supervised process.”

If this lender help goes through, where does that leave the company? It will focus on restructuring its debt, allowing the financial flexibility to continue a turnaround. These initiatives will include improving its website and revamping the Babies R Us business. It plans to put a bigger focus on items that are less likely than diapers and blankets to be sold on Amazon, like cribs.

The Toys R Us bankruptcy protection also allows the retailer the ability to manage the upcoming holiday season and give some clear long-term plans to the vendors like Hasbro and Mattel.

“Today marks the dawn of a new era at Toys “R” Us, where we expect that the financial constraints that have held us back will be addressed in a lasting and effective way,” CEO Dave Brandon stated. He also went on to say that, “We are confident that these are the right steps to ensure that the iconic Toys’R’Us and Babies’R’Us brands live on for many generations.”

We have seen over the past year or two that many retailers are getting out from under the real estate footprint and finding that the fast-growing market is online. Relying completely on brick and mortar stores is out of sync with the everyday shopper, as fewer and fewer people head into the mall and instead log in to the store. You can read more about this “Retail Apocalypse” on Dan Higson’s blog here.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

When you are making the decision on whether or not to file for bankruptcy, there are always a lot of questions. This is a decision that will affect your future credit and, at times, your reputation. There are many types if bankruptcy that you can file for different circumstances, so you need to make sure that which type you file is the right one for your situation.

If you want to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you should become familiar with some details. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy (also called a wage-earners plan) will allow a person with regular income to create a plan to repay all or part of his or her debts over time. Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a debtor proposes a repayment plan to make installments to creditors over a period of 3 to 5 years.

Chapter 13 Eligibility

Before you file, you need to know whether or not your actual situation makes you eligible for Chapter 13. In California, “Any individual, even if they are self-employed or operating an unincorporated business, is eligible for chapter 13 relief so long as the individual’s unsecured debts are less than $395,725 and secured debts are less than $1,184,200.” These amounts are adjusted periodically to reflect changes in the consumer price index. In addition, a corporation or partnership may not be a chapter 13 debtor.

The Bad Outcomes or “Cons” of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can take up to five years for you to repay your debts.

Your debts must be paid out of your ‘disposable’ income. This means that the income you have left after spending on necessities like food, shelter, or medical care is used to pay off your debt. All of your extra cash will be tied up during the entirety of your repayment plan.

Filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for up to a total of 10 years.

You will lose all of your credit cards, meaning you will be very limited on your extra money, since it is all already tied up in the repayment plan.

Having a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy on your credit report will make it more difficult to get a mortgage if you do not already have one.

You will not be able to file for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy if you went through any bankruptcy proceedings under Chapter 13 within the last 6 years.

Declaring Chapter 13 bankruptcy now will make it harder for you to declare Chapter 7 later if you need to.

You will not be able to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy if a previous Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case was dismissed within the past 180 days, for reasons such as violating a court order or requesting dismissal after a creditor asked for relief from the automatic stay.

Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy will not get rid of your obligations to pay any alimony or child support.

Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy will also not get rid of your student loan debt.

Even if you have filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may still be obligated to pay some of your debts, like a mortgage lien, even after your bankruptcy proceedings are completed.

The Good Outcomes or “Pros” of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

While it usually takes longer for you to pay off your debts than many other forms of bankruptcy, Chapter 13 will allow you more time to make your payments, and trustees may be more flexible on the terms of your payments. You may also be able to stretch out your debt payments or reduce the amounts of your payments. You can sometimes even give up a piece of your property that you are making payments on to relieve some of the debt. Once you have successfully completed your repayment plan under Chapter 13, an individual creditor cannot obligate you to pay them in full.

While you are making your payments under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you get to keep the property on which you are making payments.

Even though a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will stay on your credit record for years, it may be easier to explain the process to a future lender. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is less harmful and easier to explain than missed debt payments, repossessions, or lawsuits, as it shows that you were trying your best to pay off your debts.

You lose access to your credit cards, but depending on your situation, those credit cards may be part of what got you into this mess in the first place. You might be able to obtain new lines of credit within one to three years of filing your bankruptcy, but with a much higher interest rate. It’s always important to be extremely careful with your credit card payments!

There are lenders out there who specialize in lending to ‘high risk’ people. That can be seen as an unfair characterization to make on someone who has taken a big step in solving his or her financial problems. Nevertheless, there is still an option for you, should you need to find a lender for something.

Even if you have gone through bankruptcy before, either with Chapter 13 or 7, if you obtained a Chapter 13 discharge in good faith by paying at least 70 percent of your unsecured debts, the six-year bar to file again does not apply.

If you do declare Chapter 13 bankruptcy now, you can get started sooner on rebuilding your credit. You can also always get a Chapter 13 plan if there is another disaster before you are entitled to file for Chapter 7. Basically, you can file Chapter 13 bankruptcy repeatedly, just remember that each filing will show up on your credit record and report.

To avoid harsh limitations against you for re-filing for bankruptcy, it is best to observe all court orders and rules as well as not ask to have your case dismissed if a creditor asks for relief from the stay. Remember, you are only prevented from re-filing for 6 months.

No matter your financial situation, it is always a good idea to at least consult with an attorney who specializes in these types of issues and see what your options are before you make a decision to file for any type of bankruptcy. If you have more questions about bankruptcy in the state of California, check out Dan Higson’s Chapter 13 bankruptcy page, or contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez today! If you want more information on Chapter 7 bankruptcy, check out Dan Higson’s blog here.

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

Gymboree Bankruptcy

Gymboree Bankruptcy

In what seems like a growing trend these last couple of years, another retail chain is starting the process of closing its doors. Children’s clothing store Gymboree filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in an attempt to escape from a mountain of debt. The clothing store first started up in in San Francisco in 1976, and at the time of filing on July 11, 2017, had a total of 1300 stores operating under its name as well as the “Janie and Jack” and “Crazy 8” chains.

What Happened?

The company, which had previously secured $308.5 million in financial help in order to keep its doors open, is following other retailers like Payless and JC Penney, who have also filed for bankruptcy recently. It’s believed that brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling due to a reduction in the amount of mall shoppers. More and more shoppers are getting their products online and spending less and less time in the store.

Gymboree’s new CEO, Daniel Griesemer, recently took over the company on May 22, 2017, and quickly started making some changes. The company announced that the chief financial officer was leaving the company and has asked the turnaround company AlixPartners to help it navigate the bankruptcy waters. In the meantime, one of Gymboree’s executives will serve as interim CFO.

Earlier this spring, the company let its investors know that they projected not having enough cash to get through the following 12 months. The Gymboree bankruptcy is being done to restructure the debt that the company holds.

What Now?

In filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the retailer will seek to eliminate more than $900 million in debt from its balance sheet. According to the bankruptcy filings, the company, which was bought by Bain Capital in 2010 for $1.8 billion, has accumulated a staggering $1.4 billion in debt.

Along with the Gymboree bankruptcy filing, the company will close 375 of its stores in an attempt to respond to the changing amount of in-store customers. The company has stated that it could ultimately close as many as 450 of its total 1,281 stores, but will be running the remaining stores with business as usual for now. Griesemer claims that by going through this restructuring process, Gymboree will come out as a stronger and more competitive organization.

With the Gymboree bankruptcy in progress, its rival in the children’s clothing business, Children’s Place, took the smart route and started aiming their business online when they saw the early signs of slowing sales in retail store fronts. It will be interesting to see if Gymboree follows the lead of Children’s Place and many other retailers and starts work on making their online footprint bigger. If not, they may face more bankruptcy and store closures in the future.

To see which Gymboree stores are in your area and across the country, you can consult their website here.

If you want to read more about the recent trend that has a record number of stores closing across the country, check out Dan Higson’s blog on this “Retail Apocalypse.”

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California: The Basics

Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California: The Basics

A wrongful death claim comes about when a person dies as the result of a wrongful act or negligence of another person or entity. What exactly does this mean? How does it get handled? What are the steps? We will go over all the basics of a wrongful death lawsuit below with a focus on the state of California.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

If a wrongful death lawsuit is filed in the state of California, it will be a claim filed as a civil lawsuit. This means it is brought to court directly by any survivors of the deceased person or by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. Fault expressed in these claims is solely in terms of money damages, which the court orders the defendant to pay the deceased’s survivors if the lawsuit is successful. A few examples of common causes of wrongful death claims include vehicular accidents, medical malpractice, and liability due to faulty products.

These claims differ from criminal cases for homicide. A homicide case is brought by the state and could result in the guilty party being penalized with jail or prison time. A family in California could bring a civil wrongful death lawsuit to court even if there is already a criminal case going forward.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?

There are only certain people who are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The California statute specifically allows these following parties to bring about a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court:

  • The deceased person’s surviving spouse.
  • The deceased person’s domestic partner.
  • The deceased person’s surviving children.

If there are no surviving people in the deceased’s line of family, then it is possible for a wrongful death lawsuit to be brought on by anyone ‘who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession.’ This means that the people able to claim a wrongful death lawsuit can include the deceased person’s parents or siblings who were dependent upon them while they were alive. Should the person filing the claim be financially dependent upon the deceased person, there are also the following people who are allowed to bring about a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • The deceased person’s ‘putative spouse’ and children of that spouse.
  • The deceased person’s stepchildren.
  • The deceased person’s parents.

All of these statutes for people able to claim a wrongful death lawsuit are in the California Code of Civil Procedure section 337.60.

What Are the Damages Available in Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

There are several different types of personal injury damages that are considered in a wrongful death lawsuit in California. The specifics in amounts will depend on all of the factors of an individual case. The damages are usually divided according to how they compensate the estate for losses that are associated with the death or the surviving family members for the personal losses that they suffered as a result of the death in the claim.

The losses that are most attributed to the estate will include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses.
  • Lost income, including potential income that the deceased person would have been expected to earn in the future (within reason).
  • Medical and hospital bills for the deceased person’s final illness and/or injury.

Losses that are most attributed to surviving family members will include:

  • Loss of anticipated financial support.
  • The value of household services.
  • Loss of love, community, affection, moral support, and guidance.

What is the Time Frame to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

As with other types of claims, there is a specific time period in which a family can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This is known as a statute of limitations. In California, the law requires a wrongful death lawsuit to be filed within two years of the date of the decedent’s death. If the case is not filed in the state’s civil court system within those two years, the family will most always lose the right to file it at all. ***Special Note:   A Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death matter has a ONE year statute of limitations.

No amount of money will ever bring back your loved one or make up for the heartache and loss, but a wrongful death lawsuit can help with the finances surrounding the death, and in most cases is a welcome relief. With these basics in mind, if you believe that the death of a loved one was caused by negligence or a wrongful act, it’s important to contact an experienced lawyer that can answer more of your questions and help you take the steps necessary to start the process of your wrongful death lawsuit. If you have further questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit in California, contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez today!

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

Is Bankruptcy Your Best Option? Bankruptcy Chapter 7

Is Bankruptcy Your Best Option? Bankruptcy Chapter 7

Bankruptcy Chapter 7

Deciding whether or not to file for bankruptcy for your debt is a hard choice to face. In some situations, it may seem like the only way out of debt. Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy will improve short-term quality of life, but it can also damage your future credit as well as your reputation. There are both good and bad outcomes when you file. Filing this chapter of bankruptcy provides for liquidation of nonexempt property and distribution of goods to debtors. Let’s go over the good and the bad results of Chapter 7 bankruptcy in more detail:

The Bad Outcomes or “Cons” of Bankruptcy Chapter 7

Here are some of the downsides of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy:

If you do file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it will stay on your credit score for some time. It can remain on your credit report for up to a total of 10 years. This may make it harder to get approval for anything from a car purchase to a small bank loan.

You can lose property that you own that is not protected by bankruptcy exemptions, and that property could be sold by the bankruptcy trustee. You may also lose your luxury possessions if not protected by an available exemption.

You may lose all of your existing credit cards.

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy may make it more difficult to get a mortgage if you do not already have one.

Making the decision to declare bankruptcy right now might make it harder to do so later should something worse come along. Example: If you complete a filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you cannot declare Chapter 7 again for eight years. This eight-year countdown begins from the date you last filed.

Bankruptcy filing will not relieve you of your responsibility to pay alimony and/or child support.

Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy will not eliminate most of your student loan debt.

You may still be obligated to pay some of your debts, such a mortgage lien, even after your bankruptcy proceedings have been completed.

If you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy for relief but have an excess of income at your disposal, the court may request you to convert your case from a Chapter 7 to a Chapter 13. Doing this would change your plan to be free from most debts within four to eight months to a plan that would require you to repay your debts over the course of three to five years.

The Good Outcomes or “Pros” of Bankruptcy Chapter 7

Now let’s go over some of the benefits of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy:

Even though a bankruptcy stays on your credit for years, the time to complete the process under Chapter 7 bankruptcy usually takes only 3-6 months. If you decide against filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy when necessary, it could lead to missed debt payments, defaults, and lawsuits hurting your credit further. This situation may be more complicated to explain to a future lender than bankruptcy.

Most states have generous exemptions that allow you to keep a lot of what you own. Sometimes the exemptions allow more coverage to keep your property than you actually need. You also get to keep the salary you earn and the property you buy after you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

You might also be able to get new lines of credit within a time frame of one to three years after filing bankruptcy, but it may be credit with a higher interest rate.

There are lenders out there that specialize in lending to bad risks. This may seem like an unfair tag to put on someone who has taken a step in solving financial issues, but you can use one of these lenders if you need to.

Yes, you can only file Chapter 7 bankruptcy once every eight years, but you can always file a Chapter 13 if another issue hits you before that eight years is up. You can file a Chapter 13 four years after filing a Chapter 7.

Filing for bankruptcy will get rid of many of your financial obligations, including some Internal Revenue and Franchise Tax Board debt. However, keep in mind that only a family court order can suspend alimony or child support responsibilities.

If you have filed for bankruptcy, it will prevent your lenders from aggressive collection, meaning the daily phone calls will cease and the letters will stop arriving in the mail.

If you received a Chapter 13 discharge in good faith after paying at least 70% of your unsecured debt, the eight-year bar to file a Chapter 7 does not apply.

If you do not owe money on any type of debts that survive your bankruptcy, the amount as well as the number of debts that a bankruptcy court can relive you from paying can be unlimited.

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy does not require that you need to have debts of any certain amount in order to file for relief. If even your case gets converted to Chapter 13, it can still improve your finances by giving you more time to pay off your debts. With Chapter 13, you get to keep all of your property as well.

Sometimes the best advice a bankruptcy attorney can give a client is not to file a bankruptcy. So be careful when hiring a bankruptcy lawyer who boasts about how many bankruptcy cases he or she files and/or ignores other possibilities for your situation.

Looking into bankruptcy options comes with many considerations, and you will need to look at every consequence to decide what is best for you and your assets. You should contact an experienced attorney to discuss your situation and learn more about how the bankruptcy laws can help you in your financial troubles. If you have more questions for bankruptcy in the state of California, check out Dan Higson’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy page or contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez today!

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.