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Surprise Legal Issues Blog

Health care power of attorney: Things you need to know

When it comes to your health, it's important to make the right medical decisions at the right time. Unfortunately, it's possible that you may not always be able to make these decisions for yourself.

A health care power of attorney can make medical decisions easier on both you and your loved ones. This document comes into play if you're incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions on your own.

Arizona basics on will creation

Arizona families whose deceased relatives took the time to create a valid will before death will have a much easier time navigating the days, weeks and months after losing their loved ones. For this reason, when you take the time to draft a last will and testament, you're not doing it for yourself -- aside from the peace of mind it brings you. In fact, you're doing it for your family.

Therefore, when you draft and sign your will, you want to make sure that you do it in a lawful and appropriate manner by following the basics on will creation in Arizona:

  • Will creators, a.k.a, testators, must be at least 18 years of age or older.
  • Testators must also be of sound mind, which means that they need to understand the terms of the will and what the document intends to accomplish in terms of their estate planning goals.
  • When it comes to signing the will, the testator must sign it before two witnesses. Those witnesses must also sign the will to acknowledge that they witnessed the signing.
  • Nuncupative wills, which are orally stated wills, are not honored in the state of Arizona.
  • Holographic wills, which are handwritten wills, may be valid in some cases. In order for a holographic will to be valid, it must be signed and the material provisions must be written in the handwriting of the testator. Such a will does not need to be witnessed for it to be valid.

What not do with a tax return before filing for bankruptcy

Numerous businesses have had to file for bankruptcy recently. One prominent example is Mattress Firm, one of the biggest mattress stores in the United States, which has had to close 16 locations in Arizona. However, personal bankruptcies are just as devastating, but they fail to make headlines. 

With the end of 2018 almost here, it is time to start thinking about tax season. Many people know they will need to file for bankruptcy in the near future, but then they receive a sudden influx of money with their tax returns. Before filing for bankruptcy, you want to make sure you do not make one of the following mistakes with your tax return. 

Why you should take notes about time with your children

In an Arizona child custody dispute, one of the most important considerations of a family court will be the determination of which parent served as the primary caretaker of the children. In most cases, this parent will be the one who the courts prefer to take over childcare duties after the divorce. Sometimes, however, both parents served as primary caretakers, and in this case, they may have equal custody rights under the law.

To receive the advantages of primary caretaker status during a child custody trial, parents will need to show the court how they served the children in this capacity. For this reason, parents may want to keep a child custody journal in which they take daily notes of what they did with and on behalf of their kids.

How to frame your request for a parenting plan modification

One thing to count on in life is that things will change. If you've been through a divorce -- and you have children -- then you understand more than most that life can take a 180-degree turn. For this reason, when you create a parenting plan in your divorce -- or when a judge creates one for you -- even though the plan must be followed, the plan is not immutable. In other words, you may be able to modify or adjust the plan if it's required.

When a parent or child experiences a significant change in circumstances, a modification to the parenting plan could be necessary. This modification could involve a change in parental custody, a change in the way visitations are carried out or a change in where and with whom the children live.

How do you answer a divorce petition?

A divorce begins with the filing of the divorce petition by one party. Next, the petition will be served on the other party. Finally, the other party will have the right to respond with an answer. In most cases, the other party has approximately 30 days to submit the answer.

Refraining from answering the divorce petition would be like ignoring a lawsuit brought against you. The party filing the lawsuit could get everything that he or she wants if you don't make your voice heard. As such, it's important to always take the time to work with a divorce attorney to formulate a well-thought-out response.

How can bankruptcy delay a foreclosure?

Many Arizona homeowners have been able to delay their foreclosure proceedings -- and prevent the loss of their homes -- by filing for bankruptcy. This benefit may be received by filing for bankruptcy after it is clear that a foreclosure will occur. The bankruptcy then triggers what's referred to as an "automatic stay," which prevents all debt collection activities against you -- including legal actions like foreclosure.

The automatic stay benefit is received whether the homeowner files for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Once the court issues the "Order of Relief" which grants the automatic stay, creditors must stop all of their collection efforts. They cannot call you and harass you to pay your debts on the phone, they cannot continue to garnish your wages through court-ordered wage garnishment and they can't continue to proceed with efforts to foreclose on your residence. Even if a foreclosure sale is scheduled relating to your property, this sale must be postponed until your bankruptcy has been finalized.

How to amend a trust

You cannot ignore the necessity of a thorough estate plan that lets you transfer your wealth in the manner you see fit and carry out any philanthropic goals you have. To have this protection, many people create wills and trusts early in life. However, as the years go on, there may be aspects of your trust that you need to modify to better reflect current conditions. You need to follow proper legal protocol to ensure the state follows your wishes adequately after you pass.

Review these documents once every couple of years

Strategies to protect your credit score during a divorce

Payment histories and how much debt you currently hold are the most important factors that could alter your credit score. Since a divorce can result in added expenses, it's important to watch these two factors as they apply to the amount of credit card and other debt you're currently holding.

Here are some strategies you can employ to ensure that your divorce does not harm your credit rating:

Can I appeal my child custody decision?

Whether or not you can appeal your child custody decision depends on the answer to two questions: (1) Did a judge issue a final ruling on your child custody case or did you settle it out of court; and (2) was that decision unlawful or was the lawfulness of your legal process jeopardized for some reason?

If you answered "yes" to both questions above, then it might be possible to file a child custody appeal.

  • MCBA | Maricopa County Bar Association
  • State Bar of Arizona
  • ABA | American bar Association | Defending Liberty Pursuing Justice
  • Oregon State bar
  • NACBA | National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
  • NACA | National Association of Consumer Advocates
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The Dodds Law Firm, PLC, is located in Surprise and serves clients throughout the West Valley area. To schedule a consultation with a lawyer, call 623-208-6098 or toll free at 877-827-9906. You can also contact us online.

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