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Friday, October 12, 2018

Preparing for Your Child Custody Case

Your child is often the most important aspect of your life. That is why your child custody case is so critical. Your child custody hearing can determine how your child will be cared for and raised for years to come. It should not be taken lightly.

You know that you need to be prepared for your case, but you may be unsure what specific steps you should take to be as ready as you can be. Your family law attorney will be able to provide particular guidance for your unique set of circumstances. However, you can also use these general guidelines to point you in the right direction.


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Monday, October 1, 2018

4 Common Will Contests

A will contest or will challenge questions whether the will is valid or whether specific terms are really what the testator intended. In some will contests, the entire will could be determined invalid. In other situations, only portions of the will may be disregarded.

While there can be any number of validity challenges, will contest typically center around just a few common problems.

1. Lack of Testamentary Capacity

To create a will, you must be of sound mind. That means that the testator must have the mental capacity to understand what he or she is doing. The same requirement exists if the will is being modified or revoked as well.

Being of “sound mind” requires that the testator know what property he or she owns and understands the effects of creating and finalizing the will. This standard is relatively low. However, it can be a real challenge for someone who is suffering from the beginning stages of dementia or has another health issue.


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Monday, September 24, 2018

Information You Need to Start the Bankruptcy Process

Filing for bankruptcy can be extremely complicated. Your attorney will need a complete picture of your finances to determine which type of bankruptcy will work best for you and whether you qualify for certain types of bankruptcy. Appropriate pre-bankruptcy planning will also depend on your current financial status and when certain obligations will come due.

To prepare for your filing, you will need to gather information and obtain specific paperwork regarding your assets, income, and debt obligations. Your attorney will be able to provide a tailored list necessary for your situation, but you can use the following suggestions to get this process started.


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Monday, September 17, 2018

What is Common Law Marriage?

Common law marriage has existed since, at least, 1877. While many states no longer recognize it, some states do, if you meet specific qualifications. The concept can be useful in some situations, particularly as it relates to making healthcare decisions or inheritance.

Requirements for Common Law Marriage

It is a common misconception that if you and your partner live together for seven years, then you are automatically considered common law married. The truth is that common law marriage requires a few more steps than merely living together. The requirements for common law marriage in most states are set out below.


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Monday, September 3, 2018

Can a Living Trust Replace a Will?

Wills and trusts can be extremely complicated, especially when they relate to one another or feed off of each other. You can certainly have both tools as part of your estate  plan. Depending on your unique financial circumstances and personal preferences, it may make sense only to have a will. Moreover, there are some things that a will cannot do that a trust can, and vice versa. Are there ever situations where a trust can completely replace a will? Probably not.

Why Would I Want a Trust Instead of a Will?

The main reason that people prefer trusts instead of wills is that trusts  do not have to be probated, which can be an expensive and time-consuming process. It can also be difficult for your loved ones in some situations. A probated will is also a matter of public record, which may not be desirable for some people. For these and  and other reasons, some individuals choose to use an estate planning tool that will avoid the probate process -- a living trust.

In some situations, using a trust can also reduce or eliminate estate taxes, and a trust is especially  helpful if you own real property in several states. Placing all of that property into the trust allows your loved ones to avoid opening probate in each of those states..


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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

How to Negotiate a Commercial Real Estate Lease

There are number of considerations for business owners involved in negotiating a commercial lease, not the least of which is the fact that the main objective of landlords is to maximize profits. By understanding the following fundamental concepts, it is possible to make a good deal.

Market Conditions

First, understanding the market conditions for commercial properties is crucial. Generally, pricing is based on square footage, but there is a difference between "usable" square feet and "rentable" square feet.

Rentable square feet is the actual measurement of the space that is being leased. However, rates are typically quoted based on usable square feet which combines the space with a percentage of common areas such as lobbies, hallways, stairways and elevators.

In addition, commercial leases are considered "triple net." This means that tenants are also required to pay for taxes, insurance, and maintenance for a unit as well as a percentage of these costs for the common areas. By understanding these market conditions and the rate other businesses are paying for similar units, it is possible to negotiate the appropriate rate.

The Term

There are a number of factors involved with the term of a lease. For some businesses, such as retail stores or medical professionals, having a stable location is essential for attracting customers and patients, respectively. With this in mind, the term should be long enough to minimize rental increases, but sufficiently flexible to avoid getting locked in. This goal can be accomplished by negotiating terms of one or two years with renewal options.


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Friday, August 17, 2018

Why would a bankruptcy petition be denied or a debt be considered non-dischargeable?

There are many reasons why a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy petition might be denied.  If filings are incomplete or deadlines are missed, the petition might be dismissed by the Bankruptcy Court.  Similarly, if a petitioner fails the Bankruptcy Means Test, a Chapter 7 claim may be denied.  In either of these scenarios, the objection would be to the entirety of the petition and no relief would be granted.  The Court may sustain an objection to a petition if the petitioner does not provide documents requested by a trustee, fails to complete required credit counseling, attempts to hide assets or commits fraud in the Bankruptcy petition.  While there are many other reasons for an objection, it would be impossible to provide an exhaustive list of possible objections.  It is important to remember that an attorney can help to guide a petitioner through the process without incident.


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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

What is an Estate Tax? Is it the same as an Inheritance Tax?

While the terms "estate tax" and "inheritance tax" are often used interchangeably, they are not synonymous. Let's try to clarify the difference.

Estate Tax

Estate tax is based on the net value of the deceased owner's property.  An estate tax is applied to these assets when they are transferred to the beneficiary. It is important to remember that an estate tax doesn't have anything to do with the beneficiary or that person's resources.

Federal estate tax only affects individuals who die with more than $5.45[s1]  million in assets and individuals with such large estates can leave that amount to their beneficiaries without being subjected to a  tax liability. Ninety-nine percent of the population will not owe federal estate tax upon their death.

In most circumstances, no federal estate tax is levied against spouses. As of the Supreme Court's recent ruling, this includes gay married couples as well as heterosexual couples. Federal estate taxes can, however, be charged if the spouse who is the beneficiary is not a citizen of the U.S. In such cases, though, a personal estate tax exemption can be used.  Even where remaining spouses have no liability for federal estate tax, they may be charged with state taxes in some states, taxes which cannot be avoided unless the couple relocates.


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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Adopting a Grown-Up: Top Three Reasons for Adult Adoption

While the vast majority of adoptions involve adults adopting children, all states have laws that permit “adult adoption,” in which a person 18 or older is adopted by another adult as mutually agreed by the parties. Some states may restrict adult adoptions to cases where the person being adopted is of diminished capacity. If the person being adopted is married, some states require the spouse to consent. Other states simply require the two adults to consent to the adoption.


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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Real Estate Contracts in a Nutshell

Buying a home typically involves entering into an agreement with the seller and most real estate contracts contain standard terms. However, it is essential to consult with an experienced real estate attorney who can review the contract. Let's take a look at some of the key terms in a real estate contract.


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Monday, July 2, 2018

What are the different chapters of Bankruptcy?

Chapter 7

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is filed by individuals and businesses unable to pay their existing debts. It is the simplest and quickest form of bankruptcy available. Unsecured debts, including credit cards, medical bills and personal loans, are discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Certain debts, including mortgages, car loans, student loans, and child support arrears, may not be discharged.  An individual is allowed to protect certain assets from being liquidated and disbursed to creditors in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A business that files for Chapter 7 must liquidate all of its assets.  Not everyone can qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.


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