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Cleveland Legal Issues Blog

What is the "elective share" in probate?

Like other states, Tennessee has a provision in its laws for what is commonly called the elective share. The elective share protects the surviving spouse from being left penniless after the other spouse's death`. Presumably, this is because, as a society, we assume that spouses want to and even should provide for their significant others.

Because of the elective share, it is difficult for a Tennessee resident to cut a surviving spouse out of his or her will, simply because the spouse can then use Tennessee's elective share laws to claim a portion of the estate during the probate process.

What is a revocable living trust and why are they popular?

Many Cleveland residents have probably heard about revocable living trusts. This is because many people, attorneys, financial professionals and others, actively promote them as a way to avoid probate and accomplish other estate planning goals.

To review, a revocable living trust is a document that does most of the work of a will. Instead of creating a will that has to go through the probate process after the author's death, Ohio residents create this type of trust while alive. They will usually appoint themselves as trustees as well beneficiaries of the trust. As the name implies, they may dissolve, or revoke, the trust at any time.

Bankruptcy filings are continuing to fall

The number of individuals filing for bankruptcy protection across the country has continued to fall since 2005, when just over 2 million people filed for bankruptcy.

As of 2017, over 765,000 individuals filed for personal bankruptcy protection. In 2016, over 770,000 people filed for bankruptcy. During the height of the Great Recession, in 2010, over 1.5 million people availed themselves of bankruptcy protection, which is close to twice the number of people who filed in 2017.

VA benefits package making its way through Congress

The United States House of Representatives has passed a series of measures designed to strengthen the quality of veterans benefits being offered to those who have served this country.

The measures are specifically targeted to reduce the rate of suicide among veterans by improving the quality of mental health services being offered.

Chapter 13 is the right choice for some in debt

If you're struggling with debt, you may not be sure how to tackle it. One of the options is to pursue a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is ideal for those who earn too much to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or those who would not like to liquidate their assets.

With a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you'll still make payments on your debts each month. The payments may be less than what you pay now. Creditors agree to the new terms and payments, and you make them to a single trustee for the next three to five years.

What is Medicaid planning?

Probably one of the biggest causes of the so-called middle class squeeze is the high cost of healthcare, particularly as a person ages and requires more medical assistance.

By way of example, should someone who has worked hard to accrue some modest assets need to enter a care facility at the end of their lives, then they may see their entire legacy eaten up by nursing home bills.

Considerations when a divorce involves a family business

Many people in Cleveland and other parts of the greater Chattanooga area, as well as those throughout Southeast Tennessee, have invested a lot of time and energy in building up a family-held or other small business. For many, their share in the business is their most valuable financial asset.

What this means is that in the event of a divorce, or sometimes even in the event of breakup between an unmarried couple, a lot is at stake. In addition to the fact that a person stands to lose a good chunk, perhaps around half, of his or her investment to the other spouse, the divorce could also spell the end of the business altogether.

How do I appeal a VA disability decision?

Many veterans in Tennessee have suffered some sort of disabling injury or illness in connection with their service to the country. In these circumstances, the veteran can apply for disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

These veterans benefits work differently than, say, Social Security disability benefits. One important difference is that a veteran can be found partially disabled and receive payments commensurate with a partial disability. In the world of Social Security, either one is unable to work or is capable of employment and thus not eligible for disability payments.

Grounds under which one can challenge a will

Creating a will is an important step for almost anyone in Southeastern Tennessee to take. Doing so can save a lot of trouble for one's family after one's death, as a well-drafted will should give clear instructions about how a Cleveland resident wants her property handled after she dies.

However, while an important estate planning device, a will is no guarantee that our state's probate process will go along without a hitch. After all, a disgruntled family member may challenge the validity of a will for a number of reasons.

Divorce debts: Creditors might still contact you for payment

With any divorce, there is a potential for debt to be divided between you and your ex-spouse. If it's marital debt, then both of you may be responsible for the debts after your marriage ends, even if the debts are assigned to only one person.

If the person responsible for those debts doesn't pay, the credit card company could come looking for you to pay what's owed. If that happens, you might find yourself in a difficult position and need to find a way out of debt to protect your finances. While you can seek to hold your ex-spouse responsible for the debts, the creditors will continue to pursue you for the money they need in the meantime. If your ex goes into bankruptcy, then you may be the one who has to shoulder the burden in the end.

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