What is a Power of Attorney?

As you grow older, it is natural for your physical and mental health to decline. While it may be manageable at first, over time it may become harder and harder to manage your own affairs, and eventually you may need to consider allowing someone else to handle things for you. It is for this reason that you should consider whether a power of attorney would be appropriate for you and your estate plan. Continue reading “What is a Power of Attorney?”

Equitable Distribution is Not Equal Distribution

During a divorce, one of the most essential steps is the equitable distribution of marital property. This means that all the money and property acquired by the couple during their marriage will be divided between the two of them. However, dividing up the property isn’t as simple as adding up the value of all the couple’s assets and dividing them in half, because equitable distribution is not the same thing as equal distribution. Continue reading “Equitable Distribution is Not Equal Distribution”

Explaining Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

When many people think of bankruptcy, they imagine something extreme: their property confiscated, their bank accounts emptied, their rooms left bare. And while that can happen to some people in rare and unusual circumstances, there are two primary forms of bankruptcy available to individuals. The more common version, where your non-exempt property may be sold off to satisfy as much of your debt as possible, is known as Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is an alternative option and is more appropriate for particular situations. Continue reading “Explaining Chapter 13 Bankruptcy”

Writing a Last Will and Testament: Five Things to Consider

Writing a last will and testament is always a difficult undertaking. If nothing else, it requires you to confront the fact that you won’t always be there for your loved ones, and you need to plan for what will happen to them when you are gone. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when you are writing your will, to ensure you don’t leave your loved ones with unnecessary problems. Continue reading “Writing a Last Will and Testament: Five Things to Consider”

Consumer Automobile Debt Skyrockets With Rolling Debts

Consumers that borrow money to purchase automobiles increasingly find themselves with debts that far outweigh the value of their cars, according to a new article in the Wall Street Journal. In one noteworthy case, one man found himself with a $45,000 loan on a car worth $27,000. Some commentators have compared this growth of automobile debt to the spate of high-interest mortgages that were common prior to the 2008 housing market crash and are concerned what this high level of debt means for consumers. Continue reading “Consumer Automobile Debt Skyrockets With Rolling Debts”

Why You Should Consider a Pass-Through Entity For Your Company

There are many ways to potentially organize a business, from partnerships to corporations to LLCs and more. However, certain kinds of companies are treated differently from others, and they are known as “pass-through” entities. Depending on your business’ needs, a pass-through entity could be exactly what you need to protect your business’ bottom line. Continue reading “Why You Should Consider a Pass-Through Entity For Your Company”

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?

Even in the legal profession, there aren’t very many people who enjoy going to court. Aside from being a stressful and time-consuming experience, it is also expensive and can take substantial time to resolve a case. It is unsurprising, then, that other methods of solving disputes have arisen, to avoid the time and expense necessary to conclude matters in court. For those who have a conflict with someone else they want to resolve without going to court, there is always the option of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

ADR generally encompasses three kinds of dispute resolution: negotiation, mediation and arbitration. The first, negotiation, is commonplace and mostly informal, simply involving the parties in a dispute talking to one another and coming to an agreement. In this circumstance, the parties have total control over the terms of their deal, with no outside involvement. Ideally, a constructive negotiation would be the beginning and end of any dispute, but unfortunately, circumstances are not always so ideal.

The next kind of ADR, mediation, is when the parties to the dispute hire an impartial third party, known as a mediator, to direct the negotiation and help them come to a mutual understanding. The mediator keeps matters organized, allowing both sides to make their case and helping them to put together an arrangement that will, hopefully, resolve the conflict between them. Mediation is more formal than mundane negotiation, but less formal than arbitration or going to court, and it is also significantly cheaper. Mediators do not have authority to make decisions about the dispute, and any settlement reached through mediation would need to be enforced in a court proceeding if one side repudiates or breaches the agreement.

Finally, the last form of ADR is arbitration, which, like mediation, involves bringing in an impartial third party (known as an arbitrator) to help resolve the dispute. Unlike mediation, however, an arbitrator is empowered to make legally binding decisions about the dispute. While less formal and expensive than going to court, arbitrators nevertheless have great latitude in terms of what evidence they accept and how they resolve a dispute.  Once it is decided, an arbitration award is very difficult to overturn or reverse. This means that anyone who wants to resolve a problem through arbitration needs to be very careful, lest they wind up going to court to contest an arbitration award that is no better than what they could have gotten for just bringing a court case in the first place.

If you are considering an alternative method of resolving your dispute, contact an experienced attorney who can help you decide if ADR is right for your situation. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones & Sweeney are skilled in the areas of negotiation, mediation, and arbitration as well as other areas of alternative dispute resolution. Call (973) 256-0456 or fill out our contact form for a consultation.

What Does It Mean to Have a Guardian?

Guardianships aren’t the most commonly talked about part of caring for elders, but unfortunately, they do become occasionally necessary. Not everyone has a power of attorney set up before they become incapacitated, either because they put it off until it is too late, or because the onset of their incapacitating condition is so sudden, they have no time to prepare. Either way, it is important to know what a guardian is, just in case a guardian becomes necessary for you or your loved ones. Continue reading “What Does It Mean to Have a Guardian?”

What is a Testamentary Trust?

If you are thinking about planning your estate, you may already know the benefits of having a will. However, it is important to know the tools you have available to you for estate planning beyond executing a simple last will and testament. One such tool is known as the testamentary trust, and depending on your needs, it can be an essential part of your estate plan. Continue reading “What is a Testamentary Trust?”

Medical Bills Remain Biggest Cause of Bankruptcy in US

There is an image that some people hold about people who declare bankruptcy, that they are irresponsible or can’t control their spending habits. However, according to CNBC, medical bills are a key factor in as much as two-thirds of all bankruptcies in the United States based on a recent research study. Unfortunately, this trend of “medical bankruptcy” is nothing new and, according to the study cited by CNBC, has been at roughly the same level for the past decade. Continue reading “Medical Bills Remain Biggest Cause of Bankruptcy in US”