BE CAREFUL ABOUT “REVERSE” MORTGAGES

On the surface, a reverse mortgage seems like an excellent way to supplement your retirement income. By using your house as collateral, a bank will pay you (instead of you paying them) its equity (value) back to you in monthly installments. By taking into account their hidden fees and with the eventual loss of title of ownership, the following paragraphs will argue that this type or mortgage may not be such a great idea after all. The reverse mortgage originated in 1989. In that year, the Federal Housing Administration, under the direction of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, started a program called Home Equity Conversion Mortgages. As Mortgages in Canada are available to property owners over the age of 62, their relative ease in being obtained and popularity through clever advertising, made them grow at an exponential rate. Some Expert Witnesses claim that these home loans covered even the post-construction procedures, such as surveys and inspections. Under their terms, the home being mortgaged must be your primary residence. The amount of money that can be paid to you is based upon the equity of your house. If you have other mortgages in force (with using your home as collateral), the remainder of your equity will be the basis upon which the funds will be derived. Payments made you can be in one lump sum, in installments for the rest of your life, or as a credit line. Another plus is that this source of income is not subject of income tax. The duty to repay the loan is deferred until either: your die (as being the...
WHAT IS “ASSISTED” LIVING?

WHAT IS “ASSISTED” LIVING?

As we, our parents and relatives age, their ability to live independently eventually becomes unsafe, unrealistic—or both. One option in having them avoid the very real possibilities of household accidents and injuries can be found in convincing our elder loved ones to reside in assisted living facilities. Not to be confused with convalescent homes, assisted living accommodations are less expensive and offer options that can enable seniors to enjoy a large degree of autonomy. They range from single residences to multi-level apartment complexes. Visually, they are more appealing than nursing homes (without their depressing atmosphere). In addition, they provide a more traditional residential ambiance in that they have reading areas, kitchenettes and private sleeping quarters. What also distinguishes them from a convalescent setting is that they reinforce “activities of daily living” or ADL’s (morning routines, bathing, preparing meals, and getting dressed). This is provided by staffing case managers who instruct and recommend more efficient ways to help them continue to live independent lives. In many ways, it is the best of both worlds. Seniors are able to have onsite care/support as needed, while being able to enjoy their golden years in a safe, independent environment. Tenants are encouraged to participate in group activities (such as shuttle service to attend concerts, movies, and casinos). In addition, many are allowed to have small pets live with them. As they age, seniors can transition to an elder care facility once it becomes evident that intensive medical care and attention are needed. According to Arizona Assisted Living Cost, assisted living facilities are regulated at the state level. In general, these facilities are required...
FIREARM TRANSFERS AND MEDICAL/CASUAL MARIJUANA USE:  SOME IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER

FIREARM TRANSFERS AND MEDICAL/CASUAL MARIJUANA USE: SOME IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER

Federal law always overrides state law. This is certainly the case with respect to federal gun laws and drug use. Although California law allows marijuana to be used medicinally and recreationally (but not with its wholesale distribution and sale), the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and Explosives deems ANYONE who uses marijuana—whether as a personal choice or under the prescription of a doctor, to be acting in an “unlawful” manner. Whereas California lawmakers view this drug in a lesser light from other types of narcotics, (surprisingly) the federal government classifies marijuana in the same category as heroin. The giving, “gifting,” or the transfer of firearms to beneficiaries from decedents carries with it a great deal of unimaginable risks involved with violating federal gun laws. These can range from being ordered to pay heavy fines to outright imprisonment! For example, before you can legally receive an inherited firearm, you will first need to apply/receive a Federal Firearm License (FFL). In addition, you will also need state firearm license from Sacramento. If the feds discover through their rigorous background checks that you are a medical marijuana patient or are casually using this drug, your application will be both denied AND you will be banned forever from legally owning a gun or even 556 ammo—it’s as simple as that (remember—federal law always trumps state law). Instead of unintentionally breaking the law and becoming felons, beneficiaries need current information with respect to firearm transfers. Our law firm retains the services of a local firearms consultant who can assist you with expert advice needed to avoid these potential pitfalls....

BE SKEPTICAL WHEN GETTING AN EMAIL OR PHONE CALL FROM THE I.R.S.

In their never-ending pursuit with finding new ways to scare and defraud honest taxpayers, criminals are now employing a new scam. This one involves reaching out to citizens (either by telephone or via the internet), identifying themselves as I.R.S. agents, and making baseless criminal allegations demanding immediate payment of taxes owed. Once more, many scammers have been able to modify Caller I.D. readouts and in using the official federal agency’s logo embedded within their fraudulent emails in order to pull off this deception. This trick is currently being carried out across the United States, and has needlessly stressed out and swindled a large number of middle class families and retirees. According to the Internal Revenue Service, agents do not initially contact taxpayers either by phone or by email regarding a tax matter. Instead, residents are first notified by regular mail. Only after someone has been formally contacted by traditional methods do they confer electronically. If you or a loved one receives any type of phone call or email like this, the first step in taking action is to contact your local I.R.S. field office. Their number can be found in the white pages, or online. Second, you can notify the U.S. Treasury Inspectors at (800) 366-4484 and provide them with as much relevant information as you can. Another option to take in fighting back is to simply email: phishing@irs.gov and copy/paste the suspect email message. Lastly, the I.R.S. recommends that you also contact the Federal Trade Commission and activate a consumer complaint by filing an “I.R.S. telephone scam” report. Their main website is:...

DOMA: Perry Doesn’t Address State Law Concerns

DOMA: Perry Doesn’t Address State Law Concerns As discussed in previous posts by this blog and numerous other commentators, the landmark Supreme Court case United States v. Windsor resulted in the Defense of Marriage Act (commonly abbreviated as “DOMA”) being ruled unconstitutional, causing same-sex married couples to be federally recognized. What many people do not know is that another case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, was not decided by the Court due to procedural reasons. The Perry case could have had the same effect on state law as Windsor had on federal law—invalidating state laws that did not recognize same-sex marriages. The Court’s refusal to rule on the merits of Perry allows state courts to have the ultimate decision about whether state laws that ban or fail to acknowledge same-sex marriage are constitutional. Because the states have no federal precedent to obey, considerable uncertainty exists about how same-sex couples are treated within individual borders. The lack of uniformity means that despite being recognized for federal purposes, a same-sex married couple can be disregarded within a state depending on local law. This is a highly variable situation, as Paul Ferrara, Senior VP of Wealth Management at US Trust, aptly describes in the following scenario: “Imagine a same-sex married couple travels by train from Boston to Washington, DC. The train made stops in Providence, New Haven, New York, Newark, NJ, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore and then Washington. If the couple disembarked the train in Providence, New Haven, New York, Baltimore and then Washington, their marriage would be recognized. However, if they disembarked in Newark, Philadelphia or Wilmington, the marriage would not be recognized. The...