Kane & Crowell

The official blog of Kane & Crowell, a Lebanon, Tennessee Law Office.

Why Do I Need a Last Will & Testament?

Why Do I Need a Last Will & Testament? Why Do I Need a Last Will & Testament?

To some people, it may seem scary to have a Last Will & Testament drawn up because that means you have to think about what will happen upon your death. If you do not have one drawn up though, you will not be in control of what happens to your assets upon your passing and you could leave your family in a mess.

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Is My Alimony Still Tax Deductible in 2019?

Is My Alimony Still Tax Deductible in 2019? Is My Alimony Still Tax Deductible in 2019?

As of January 1, 2019, the law has changed in regard to tax implications when it comes to alimony. A spouse who is either ordered to pay alimony or who receives alimony will no longer be allowed to claim the alimony as income or list the alimony as a deduction when it comes to taxes. Prior to January 1, 2019, the spouse receiving alimony was able to list it as taxable income and the spouse paying alimony was able to list it as a deduction, but this is no longer the case. This will apply to all alimony orders that are entered after January 1, 2019. This new change in the tax law will not apply to any Orders for alimony that were entered prior to January 1, 2019.

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How Can I Adopt My Stepchild?

How-Can-I-Adopt-My-Stepchild---Kane-Law How Can I Adopt My Stepchild?

You may be a stepparent that has helped your spouse, the biological parent, raise your stepchild and now you wish to formalize that relationship through adoption. This means that child would now be your own, legally.

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Do I Need a Prenuptial Agreement?

Do-I-Need-a-Prenuptial-Agreement---Kane-Law Do I Need a Prenuptial Agreement?

If you are getting married and want to protect your assets, then yes. A prenuptial agreement is a negotiated document, signed by a couple prior to their marriage. The document will typically lay out ownership of property, money, and assets. This document will be binding in Court as long as the document is entered into freely, knowledgeably, and in good faith. All assets of both parties must be fully disclosed or else the document will not be considered enforceable. It is very important that each person has their own attorney to ensure that each of you have full knowledge of what is going on and what you are signing and also make sure the agreement is enforceable.

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If I Sign a Power of Attorney, What Does That Mean Exactly?

If I Sign a Power of Attorney What Does That Mean? If I Sign a Power of Attorney What Does That Mean?

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives certain powers to someone you appoint to act on your behalf. The Power of Attorney will specifically lay out the powers that are given to the person whom you appoint. There are two types of power of attorneys that you can sign. A Healthcare Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to make healthcare decisions for you. A Durable Power of Attorney will appoint someone to handle everything else for you, including making deposits, paying bills, filling out insurance paperwork, etc.  Signing a Power of Attorney ensures that someone you trust will manage your financial affairs and make healthcare decisions in the event that you are not able to do so for yourself. A Power of Attorney is especially important if you have health problems that you foresee affecting your ability to handle matters for yourself in the future.  

It is also important to note that you are able to revoke the Power of Attorney at any given time. If you revoke the Power of Attorney, this means you are able to take away all of the authority that was granted by the Power of Attorney. Also, the Power of Attorney is only effective while you are still living. Upon your death, the Power of Attorney becomes void and is no longer effective.

If you have any further questions about a Power of Attorney or if you need one drawn up, contact Angel Kane at Kane & Crowell Family Law Center at www.kane-law.com or by phone at (615) 784-4800.

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My Name is Not on the Deed to Our Property. So, What Happens When We Divorce?

My Name is Not on the Deed to Our Property.- So What Happens When We Divorce? My Name is Not on the Deed to Our Property.- So What Happens When We Divorce?

Simply because only one spouse’s name appears on the Deed to property, does not mean that spouse is the sole owner of the property. Each spouse has an ownership right in the property if it were acquired during the marriage, regardless of how the property is titled. This means that a spouse is still entitled to their equitable share of the property in a divorce proceeding. A spouse can also have a marital interest in any property that is acquired before the marriage. Even if the property was acquired before the marriage and a spouse’s name is not on the property, that spouse may still have an interest in the appreciation of that property since the marriage. If a spouse has contributed to the property in any way, they can possibly claim an interest in the property.

The same goes for any property – cars, accounts, and retirement accounts. Do not let how something is tilted deter you from asking for your marital share.

If you are needing to file for divorce or have further questions regarding your interest in property, contact Angel Kane at Kane & Crowell Family Law Center at www.kane-law.com or by phone at (615) 784-4800. We handle cases in Wilson County, Sumner County, Trousdale County, Macon County, Smith County, and Rutherford County and are happy to put our experience at work for you.

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Alimony Taxation: What you should know

        tax forms   

            Signed into law on December 22, 2017 the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017” makes changes to the existing tax code.  One of the important implications for our clients is the changes to alimony. 

            Under the previous law, alimony was deductible by the spouse paying alimony (the obligor).  Alimony received was considered taxable income on the tax return of the spouse receiving the spousal support (the obligee).  Accordingly, such alimony was taxed as the oblige spouse’s income.    

            The 2017 Tax act now changes this law going forward.  For divorces after December 31, 2018, alimony paid cannot be deducted by the obligor spouse.  At the same time, the obligee spouse does not have to pay taxes on alimony received. 

            This is a marked change in the existing tax laws regarding alimony, which has been the norm for seventy-five years.  It is important to note that the new law only affects divorces entered after December 31, 2018. 

            If you have any questions about divorce or alimony, contact Angel Kane at (615) 444-8081. 

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Five tips for meeting with your attorney

 

image: lawyer definition

My legal assistant and I were recently discussing what questions clients and prospective clients ask her about meeting with myself and other attorneys here.  As a result of our conversation, we came up with following tips for clients when meeting with their attorneys. 

Write down questions and concerns beforehand

What do you actually want to accomplish through your attorney? You should have a basic idea of what outcome you are hoping for. This helps me, as an attorney, to know what objectives I’m working towards and tailor my representation to achieve your goals.  As an attorney, I’m here to help you BUT you, as the client, are my customer and I seek to achieve your objectives on your behalf. 

Try to relax

Easier said than done, right? I understand whatever situation you may be in can be very stressful and upsetting. However, being able to speak clearly and calmly greatly helps us to understand the facts of your case.  Family law and criminal defense are possibly the two most emotional areas of the law, and I completely understand the stress and emotions one may experience.  In my 20+ years practicing law, I’ve seen clients cry in my office and get upset, and it’s perfectly fine.     

Make sure you tell me EVERTHING relevant to your case even if it makes you look bad

As an attorney, I have to know EVERYTHING in order to represent a client the best I can.  A crucial part of the attorney-client relationship is candor between the parties.  If you leave information out when discussing your case, especially if it’s on purpose, then this information could come out in the courtroom in front of the judge or jury. You do not want this to happen.  This can make both the attorney and the Client look bad and lose credibility.  When you tell me information, even bad information, there are various ways I can attempt to exclude or minimize this information.  

Bring a notebook

The legal process has many steps. It’s easy to get confused when talking about your case and the specific steps that must be taken. Taking notes helps you keep track of those steps, as well as writing down any additional information that I may need from you, for you to provide later. 

Bring any prior paperwork you may have

You should bring in all pertinent paperwork about your case if it’s ongoing.  The legal system operates on deadlines and dates.  I, as an attorney, need to see what has been filed with the court so I know what may have already occurred and what needs to be done going forward. 

I know the legal process can be scary and overwhelming. However, hiring an attorney to help guide you through the process can make it that much easier.  It’s always comforting to have someone on your side and fighting for YOU.  By following these suggestions above, you can have a more productive meeting with your attorney. 

Contact Angel at (615) 784-4800 to set up a consultation regarding your case. 

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Divorce: What To Expect

 

Image: divorce word tile

Many clients who come to us for advice during a divorce are going through it for the first time and have many questions. Although the process can be very complicated, knowing the basic information can help put a client at ease during a stressful time.

  Divorce can be a difficult situation for every party involved. It is the legal undoing of two people's assets, liabilities, and everything in between that make up the fabric of their lives. Knowing what to expect and being prepared for the inevitable changes are important when you are going through a divorce.

  The first decision to be made is whether the divorce will be contested or uncontested. If you can come to a full agreement, the divorce is uncontested and the process is more simple. If you cannot come to a full agreement, the divorce is contested and requires negotiation, mediation, and, in some cases, a trial.

  In an uncontested divorce, the parties, or their attorneys, complete the necessary paperwork and file with the Court. If children are involved, parents must take a parenting class and file the certificate of completion with the Court.

  In a contested divorce, one party will begin the process by filing a complaint for divorce. The other party will then file their answer to that complaint and, possibly, a counter-complaint. The parties or their attorneys will then enter the negotiation phase. If negotiation is unsuccessful, the parties must attend mediation with a third party. In most cases, an agreement is able to be reached in either of these two phases. In some cases, mediation is not successful and the parties must have a trial to allow a judge to decide the issues, which can be a lengthy process.

  In Tennessee, the mandatory waiting period for a divorce from the time of filing is 60 days if the parties have no minor children and 90 days if the parties have minor children. This means that the divorce cannot be finalized until the time period runs.

  If you or someone you know is contemplating divorce or have been served with a complaint for divorce, contact us to get answers to your questions and let us assist you in making the best decisions.  Call Kane and Crowell at  (615) 784-4800 for more information about the divorce process in Tennessee.  

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Why Am I Required to Take a Parenting Class to Get a Divorce?

 Image: certificate of completion

Everyone going through a divorce in Tennessee has to take a court-approved parenting class if you have minor children at the time of your divorce. According to www.tn.gov, “This class or series of classes gives parents the information necessary to deal with their children and with each other during and after the divorce process. These seminars are meant to help the divorcing family through the traumas of divorce without putting more stress on the parties and their children.” The class includes topics related to children and family such as counseling; an overview of the Court, mediation, child support, and parenting plan process; suggested ways to help children of various ages cope with divorce; and grief and loss stages that everyone involved may experience through the process. This class must be completed within sixty (60) days of your divorce being finalized, BUT the sooner you can take the class, the better off everyone will be (and maybe even save you money in the long run.)

  The class can be taken in-person or online and typically lasts 4 hours. The cost is approximately $50, depending on the course you choose. As part of our legal services in a divorce case, we help our clients figure out the best way for the to complete this crucial step. Contact us today at (615) 784-4800 to see how we can assist you. 

 

 

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Step-Parent Adoption 101

 
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Blended families are sometimes hard to navigate. The goal of the courts is to keep families intact. However, that is not always possible or the best scenario. Some biological parents make the decision that it would be in the best interest of the child for him or her to be adopted by their step-parent. In Tennessee, children may be adopted by a step-parent in a couple of ways.
  
  A biological parent's legal rights regarding and claim to a minor child must be terminated before a child may be adopted. This may be done involuntarily by a court or the parent may consent to the termination. In the case of involuntary termination, the court will look at whether the parent has abandoned the child, whether the parent has provided for the child, and whether the parent has established a relationship with the child, among other factors. In the case of consent to termination, the biological parent simply has to be included in the petition for adoption as a co-petitioner, along with the other biological parent and the step-parent. After all petitioners sign the petition in front of a notary, the petition may be filed with the court and a court date may be set.
   
   It is important for all parties to understand the results of termination of parental rights. The parent whose rights are being terminated will not be responsible for future support of the child, but will be responsible for any child support arrears owed before the adoption is finalized by a judge. The parent will also have no claim in the future to any property, inheritance, or benefits of the child. Alternatively, the child will no longer be entitled to any claim to any property, inheritance, or benefits of the parent.
   
   Once the adoption is finalized, the step-parent will be responsible for the child until the age of 18. At the request of the parties and upon approval of court, the child's last name may be changed to the last name of the step-parent.
   
   Step-parent adoption is a fairly easy process. In Tennessee, the required home study, 6 month waiting period and adopting parent class may be waived by the courts. If you are considering a step-parent adoption, contact us for help. We would be happy to assist you in the process. (615) 784-4800.
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Establishing Paternity in TN

Parentage Photo

 

It's a situation that we see too often: Parents cannot agree on a visitation schedule for a child and the father cannot see the child because he has no legal rights. A mother may move away with the child and the father disagrees but has no grounds to contest the move because he has no legal rights.

  In Tennessee, a mother's husband at the time of the birth of child is the legal father of that child, whether or not he is the biological father. If the mother and father are not married at the time of the child's birth, the parents may sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity and have the father's name placed on the birth certificate. A voluntary acknowledgment of paternity and birth certificate, however, are not sufficient legal proof that a man is a child's father.

  If the parents were not married at the time of the child's birth and the father wants visitation and legal rights to the child, he must ask for an order of the court. A mother and father can agree to paternity and ask the court to establish the father's rights to the child. Alternatively, if they disagree, the father is entitled to a paternity test to prove he is the father of the child. Once the parties agree or a successful DNA test is complete, the court will produce an order of paternity and establish visitation and other legal rights.

  Establishing paternity is a very important step in being able to parent your child. Many fathers wait until there is an issue with visitation or support before they ask the court to establish them as the father's child. Due to the length of time this can take, a father may miss out on a significant portion of a child's life. If you were not married to your child's mother at the time of the child's birth and have never been legally declared the child's father, do not procrastinate in establishing paternity. We have successfully helped establish paternity for fathers in multiple counties and we would be happy to help you. Contact us with questions today at (615) 784-4800.

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