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Reasonable Fees

Compensation For Guardians and Conservators

By Platt & Westby, P.C. | December 7, 2011

Previously,we wrote about important changes taking effect on January 1, 2012 for those who serve in a fiduciary capacity. Click here for that article. A fiduciary’s compensation is often the subject of controversy and a great deal of acrimony can develop between the interested parties. To help provide guidance, especially within guardianship and conservatorship proceedings, the probate code is changing to give guidance on fiduciary compensation. Under the new A.R.S. § 14-5109 all approved fiduciary compensation must be “reasonable and…

Lien Stripping in Chapter 13 Bankruptcies

By Platt & Westby, P.C. | November 30, 2011

Due to the general decline in the real estate market, many people are finding themselves with homes that have lost so much value that, despite large down payments, they now find themselves with significant negative equity. Under certain conditions, debtors who file a Chapter 13 case can strip away their junior mortgages and significantly improve the financial position on their home. In order to do this, the debtors’ house must be underwater to such a point that the house is…

Is It Worth It To Mediate My Divorce Case?

By Platt & Westby, P.C. | November 14, 2011

Clients often ask me whether I think that it is a good idea to attempt mediation and my answer is almost always, YES. People going through a divorce are sometimes reluctant to mediate because they think that there is no chance of reaching a settlement and,therefore, they view mediation as a waste of time. However, that may not be the best attitude to take when going through a divorce. In my experience, most divorce cases end up settling at mediation.…

Consumer Bankruptcies Decline

By Platt & Westby, P.C. | November 9, 2011

The Arizona Republic is reporting that local bankruptcy filings declined significantly in October, 2011 from October, 2010 levels. October, 2010 saw 2,658 filings in the Phoenix area, while October, 2011 saw 2,074. This continues a nine month trend of year-over-year declines. Nationally, consumer bankruptcies declined nearly twenty percent. Follow this link to read the full article. The decline in bankruptcies seems incongruent given the slow pace of the recovery from the Great Recession and the continued high unemployment numbers. Perhaps…

Legal Separation v. Divorce

By Platt & Westby, P.C. | October 14, 2011

In certain circumstances a legal separation may be preferable to a divorce. A couple may choose a legal separation as opposed to a divorce for religious reasons, or possibly because one spouse wishes to remain on the other spouse’s health insurance. In Arizona, the procedure for legal separation is very similar to a divorce. The Court in a legal separation case is required to divide the parties’ property and debts, enter orders providing for the care and custody of the…

Rebuilding Your Credit After Bankruptcy

By Platt & Westby, P.C. | October 5, 2011

One of the most common questions brought up by potential clients considering bankruptcy concerns how the bankruptcy will affect their credit score, for how long, and how the debtor can rebuild. In general, the following is true: First, everyone’s situation is different, so specific predictions are impossible. Your entire credit profile will come into play in determining how hard your credit score is impacted. For instance, people with a relatively high credit score may suffer a larger drop than someone…

Basic Estate Planning

By Platt & Westby, P.C. | September 29, 2011

I spoke with my niece the other day. She is a new mother and had some questions about what kinds of basic estate planning she should consider. In her case, her family is just getting started and has few assets. However, with the birth of her son, she is concerned about who would care for him or make medical or financial decisions for him if she and her son’s father were suddenly deceased. Due to the fact that her son’s…

What Kinds of Debt Can I Discharge In A Bankruptcy?

By Platt & Westby, P.C. | September 21, 2011

Generally speaking, unsecured debts are dischargeable in bankruptcy. Among the most common kinds of debts subject to discharge are: credit card debts, medical debts, unsecured loans, loan balances on foreclosed properties which are not covered by the anti-deficiency statues (i.e. home equity lines of credit), personal loans, deficiency balances on repossessed vehicles, and some taxes. A valid discharge will protect you from collection efforts on these kinds of debts, even if a judgment was entered against you. Of course, there…

Should Your Spouse File Bankruptcy with You

By Platt & Westby, P.C. | September 15, 2011

Married couples are not both required to file bankruptcy when one spouse elects to file. In fact, there may be distinct advantages to filing separately. However, there are enough moving parts to this equation that both partners should have input from counsel.  On the positive side of the ledger, one spouse may choose not to file because the debts were incurred by the filing spouse prior to marriage such that the non-filing spouse has little or no liability for the…

Tax Consequences Arising from Foreclosure

By Platt & Westby, P.C. | August 31, 2011

Many times in foreclosures, people who have fallen behind on their payments walk away from their home without considering all the future consequences. One recurrent consequence is the possibility of tax liability arising from cancellation of all or a portion of the debt previously secured by their home. The liability can accrue via a foreclosure, short-sale, deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or even a loan modification. For instance, when a home is sold at foreclosure for $25,000 less than what is owed…