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Jury Verdict: Lowell MA must pay $1.5 M, plus interest, to owners of condos built on top of former garbage dump via Independent American Communities

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities Today’s post is an update to a story IAC has been following since 2016. In 2009, during installation of a drainage system, the Grand Manor Condominium Association discovered contaminated soil surrounding their housing complex. That prompted three years of investigation. The City of Lowell delayed responding at first, then […]

via Jury: Lowell MA must pay $1.5 M, plus interest, to owners of condos built on top of former garbage dump — Independent American Communities

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Community Property – California Estate Planning Laws — The Kate’s Vine

There was a recent story about a California man who was a high-level Silicon Valley executive. He met his sixth wife when he went to a bar where she worked as a waitress. They married. The honeymoon was short-lived. They battled for a while. The man passed away and left his $100 million to each […]

What Is the Community Property Law in California?

Written by Jane Meggitt; Updated June 20, 2018

Most couples entering wedlock in California know that it is a community property state, but may not know exactly how that affects them should they ever divorce. Basically, once a couple marries, or enters a domestic partnership, they are no longer two separate units but one legal entity. Community property is all property and all debts acquired during a marriage or partnership. There is an exception for inherited property and gifts.

 

Community Property

Property is virtually anything that can be sold or bought. Couples may think of community property in terms of real estate, bank accounts, retirement and pension plans, stocks and bonds and the like, but it also applies to cars, furniture and even clothing. When a couple divorce in California, the court decides how the marital property and marital debts are divided. It doesn’t matter if only one spouse incurred debt, as both of them are responsible for it. The mortgage on the family home is one such debt.

Separate Property

Property that a spouse acquired before a marriage is not part of community property. If one spouse had their own home prior to marriage, for example, and continued to own it and rent it out, not only is the dwelling not considered community property but neither is the rental income. Inheritances are always exempt from community property, and so is property purchased with inherited funds, as long as that is provable. Once a couple legally separates, their earned income becomes separate property, so that separation date is crucial.

Commingled Property

Some property becomes commingled during the course of the marriage, and legal help is generally needed to sort this out. For example, if a spouse had their own home before they married, but sold it and used the proceeds toward the martial home, that is separate property. If there’s a mortgage on the house, the resulting equity in the home is community property, and that means commingled equity. Pension plans are another tricky area, since one spouse may have contributed to the plan prior to marriage, making that separate property, but continued to contribute to the plan after marriage, making those contributions community property. Pension plan rules are quite detailed and an attorney may be necessary to ensure the property division meets all legal requirements.

Spousal Death

Community property discussions tend to focus on divorce, but the laws also come into play when one spouse dies. Assuming that the spouse left a will, he or she can only transfer half of the marital community property to other parties. The surviving spouse still owns the remaining half. If the spouse dies without a will, or intestate, that’s where problems can really arise. California laws of intestate succession, or who is entitled to the property of someone dying without a will, grants the late spouse’s property entirely to the surviving spouse only if there are no surviving children, grandchildren or other members of the immediate family such as parents. If there is one surviving child or other immediate family members, half of the late spouse’s property goes to the surviving spouse and half to the child. If there are multiple children or grandchildren, the spouse receives just one-third of the late spouse’s separate property, and the rest is divided among the children and grandchildren.

Opting Out

While community property is the law in California, there are ways for married couples to avoid it. For couples who have not yet wed, the answer is a prenuptial agreement, also known as a premarital agreement. Both parties must have their own attorneys to ensure fairness regarding the agreement. Those who are already married may enter into an antenuptial agreement, also known as a martial agreement. These agreements spell out what belongs to each member of the couple. Keep in mind that under California law, any type of pressure or duress in signing these agreements may invalidate them, so this is not a document put together the day before the wedding.

via Community Property – California Estate Planning Laws — The Kate’s Vine

Great Advice for Selecting an Attorney

A long-standing joke about lawyers is that they are actually “liars” who will take any money from you that they can. Don’t become a statistic and fuel this joke – select a lawyer that will really work for you! Read this article for tips on selecting BTR Law Firm that really knows their stuff.

Inquire about the fees that you are going to have to pay. These fees can vary greatly depending on their demand and experience, so you must know what you’re paying before choosing them. It is highly problematic to lose your attorney after your matter is already underway.

Never hire the first lawyer you come across. There are so many out there that it can be tempting to select the first one you come in contact with. Take your time and consult with a few before you make your decision. You don’t want to make the mistake of choosing the wrong one.

A good tip to remember when looking to hire a lawyer is to make sure you find a lawyer that has the necessary experience that you’re looking for. If you’re going to court soon for a criminal case, it wouldn’t make sense to bring on a divorce lawyer, you’ll need a criminal lawyer.

There is a great deal of legwork necessary in a legal case, both research and actually talking to witnesses, which will lead to the development of the presentation of your lawyer in court. That means any lawyer who tells you you’ll win up front has no idea what they’re talking about.

You should make sure you have a solid case before attacking someone in court. Keep in mind that some lawyers only have their own interest in mind and will advise you to go to court regardless of how solid your case is. Present your case to different professionals and do some research on your own before you go to court.

When meeting with a prospective attorney, ask him or her who you will primarily be talking to about your case. In some situations, lawyers give part of their caseload to a junior associate. If you feel you really connect with a certain attorney, suddenly finding out you will be working with another person may be quite upsetting. These feelings could be exacerbated if you don’t get along with the other person, too.

If you need a good lawyer for your business, use your network. You could ask your banker, partners, insurance agent or even your distributors if they know any good lawyers in the area. Do not hesitate to refer this lawyer to people you know if you have a good experience.

Never just randomly pick a lawyer out of a phone book or directory to work on your case. Since you do not know anything about a lawyer using this method, you could end up with someone who is incompetent or inexperienced. You could ask loved ones if they know of a lawyer who can help or look at online reviews.

Avoid lawyers who actively seek your business. Consider it a red flag if a lawyer solicits you after an accident without you having expressed any interest. These “ambulance chasers” tend to have sketchy business ethics, so it is best to steer clear of them. A good lawyer will have clients seeking their help, and doesn’t need to resort to this type of behavior.

A big mistake that people make is hiring a lawyer who contacts them after some sort of accident. Not only is it against the rules of professional conduct, in many states it is illegal. This is sometimes referred to as “ambulance chasing” and is frowned upon in the legal community.

If you need a specialized lawyer, ask the lawyers you are considering about their specialized training. There are seminars and additional classes lawyers can take to learn more about a specific issue. For instance, lawyers who are qualified to help you with filing for bankruptcy should be members of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.

Instead of becoming a victim who must pay high bills for little quality service, do your homework and find a reliable lawyer. You can easily find someone that will help you in the courtroom. Remember these tips next time you find yourself in a sticky situation, so you can come out on top!

via Knowing Where To Turn When You Need A Lawyer — Hire An Attorney For Debt Consolidation

Exxon Legal Issues with Establishing Environmental Accountability:

Watts Up With That?

This is in the news today via “Climate NEXUS”, which is a Madison Ave. PR firm:

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that he is launching a legal probe into Exxon’s climate denial. The inquiry will look into both consumer and investor protection laws, covering the oil giant’s activity dating back to the 1970s. Schneiderman’s investigation could open “a sweeping new legal front in the battle over climate change,” says the New York Times, which broke the story. Two separate reports by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times uncovered that Exxon has known about the dangers of climate change since the 1970s but sowed doubt by funding climate change skeptics to preserve its business. Exxon has been compared extensively to the tobacco industry, which was convicted of racketeering in 2000 for deliberately deceiving the public about the dangers of its products.

It seems all this is part of…

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