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BY MICHAEL GLASSFORD

(Please understand that the answers to these questions are general in nature and may not cover every individual situation.)

Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage by a court. It signifies the end of a couple’s intimate relationship but it does not dissolve the family relationship; instead it defines it for good or for ill. All too often, a party’s efforts to “win” at divorce ultimately erode the health of the ongoing family relationship.

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BY THOMAS J. SCRIBNER

(Please understand that the answers to these questions are general in nature and may not cover every individual situation.)

Do I need a will? Can I make one myself? Do I need a lawyer to draft it?

Do I need a will?

You only need a will if you have any assets you want to pass on. It is an unavoidable fact we will each die and someone is going to deal with our “stuff.” A will is the document which instructs who that someone is and how he or she is to distribute your assets That way your assets go where you want them to go.

Wills have been around for a long time and are relatively inexpensive to have drafted. If you don’t have a will, the state has drafted one for you. It is a one-size-fits-all model that changes every few years. Currently, if you are married and all of your children are also your spouse’s children (a first marriage), everything will go your spouse when you die. If it is a second marriage and there are children in the family who are not also your spouses, then your spouse gets the first $75,000 and the rest is split 50-50 between the spouse and the other children. That is not a pleasant mess to leave for your heirs to fight over. If your current family situation has children from more than one couple, has a child with special needs, or has a spouse or child who can’t handle money, you must make sure you have a will (as well as a trust).

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BY MICHAEL S. GLASSFORD

(Please understand that the answers to these questions are general in nature and may not cover every individual situation.)

Whether big or small, your legal issue can quickly place you at the center of a dark and lonely universe. Having the right lawyer at your side is the first step to getting your life back on track.
To find the right lawyer, ask the right questions. Instinctually, our first question is, “how much do you charge?” While this is a valid question, it is not necessarily the one with which you want to lead. There are thousands of experienced attorneys, at varying hourly rates, which are capable of representing you and achieving the same legal outcome.

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BY THOMAS J. SCRIBNER

(Please understand that the answers to these questions are general in nature and may not cover every individual situation.)

One of the most often asked questions I get in a real estate practice is regarding a fence line dispute. The facts are usually these: person A has a survey done and finds out his property line actually goes on the other side of his neighbor, person B’s, fence. A is upset that B has taken such advantage of him and wants B to immediately move his fence or he will take it down and sue for damages.

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BY LORIE D. FOWLKE

(Please understand that the answers to these questions are general in nature and may not cover every individual situation.)

There are many questions, confusion and urban legends about alimony. The theories range from “I am entitled to alimony because he was such a jerk,” to “she had an affair so I shouldn’t have to pay alimony,” to “courts don’t order alimony anymore, do they?” The short answers to those specific scenarios are: (1) alimony is not to punish someone; (2) alimony is based primarily on finances, though fault can provide some leeway; and, (3) yes, Utah courts do order alimony when the situation warrants.

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BY THOMAS J. SCRIBNER

(Please understand that the answers to these questions are general in nature and may not cover every individual situation.)

Trusts used to be the province of the super-rich, but since the late 1970’s, for reasons beyond this article, the rest of us have started using them. Trusts come in a multitude of different kinds, but we are only going to touch on the two most common trusts used in estate planning today.

Simple Trust

This trust has many names: Revocable Trust, Family Trust, Living Trust, etc. The simple trust is used in a modest estate plan where sophisticated tax planning is not needed. In the most common form, a person or a couple has a house that will need to pass on to children at death. Without a trust in place, a probate will be necessary. Why? Simply put, because it is hard to sign a deed after you have died, so someone must be given the power to do so in your behalf. The very first judges in Utah were LDS bishops who became probate judges for this reason. They were given the power to sign or appoint someone else to sign for the deceased person. If you have a trust, you appoint a Trustee (which is you while you are alive but then goes down a list of Successor Trustees after you die), so there is no need for a probate because you have already appointed the person to sign in your behalf.

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BY MICHAEL S. GLASSFORD

(Please understand that the answers to these questions are general in nature and may not cover every individual situation.)

Innocent or guilty, the defendant in a domestic violence case is a person with the right to a fair trial. By definition, the offender is a spouse, sibling, parent, friend or close relation. It is easy for a third party observer so say, “Send them to jail and throw away the key.” Due to the nature of Domestic Violence, these cases are fraught with several emotional and legal pitfalls that the defense attorney must be aware of and be able to address. The role of a defense attorney is to represent the defendant’s rights in court.

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BY JACOB R. POWELL

(PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS ARE GENERAL IN NATURE AND MAY NOT COVER EVERY INDIVIDUAL SITUATION.)

It has been said that “time is money.” No where is that more true than in debt collection law.

The race for the debtor’s property

There is a basic principle of property law that people get to do whatever they want with their money or property until somebody legally takes it. This principle is extremely important in debt collection law, since the creditor’s ultimate goal in debt collection is to get the debtor’s money or property that can be sold for money. To the creditor, that means that the debtor can sell property, spend money, quit jobs, move out of state, and do a number of other things that may frustrate the creditor’s ability to get money or property later, up until the day that the creditor gets a writ from the court to take specific property.

If a debtor has more than one creditor, then those creditors may be in a race to get the debtor’s property. Unfortunately for the creditors, the debtor is allowed to choose to make it easy for one creditor and hard for another as long as the debtor is not in bankruptcy (there is such thing as forcing a debtor into bankruptcy, but it is rarely done and generally hard to do).

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BY LORIE D. FOWLKE

(Please understand that the answers to these questions are general in nature and may not cover every individual situation.)

Most of assume that parenthood generally comes when a man and woman get together and create a baby. However there are exceptions from a legal point of view. The most common exception many people are aware of are when an unwed mother decides to place her child for adoption. In that situation the unwed father has no input to that decision in Utah unless he takes certain specific steps outlined in the Utah Code. Those type of cases have been litigated extensively in this state and, for the most part, held to be constitutional.

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BY THOMAS J. SCRIBNER

(Please understand that the answers to these questions are general in nature and may not cover every individual situation.)

So you are ready to start a business, what should you do? If you and a friend decide to go into business together, but don’t file anything, that is called a general partnership. Both of you can bind the business and both have liability for those decisions. Judgement creditors can go after your personal assets to pay for a business debt that has gone to judgement. Small business is what fuels the state and national economy, so governments want to encourage new small businesses. So, starting several hundred years ago Britain developed the corporation, a system which allowed people to invest without risk except as to their investment and have the company run by a board of directors and officers. This is still used by most large businesses, but can get pretty cumbersome for small businesses, including being taxed twice. It does have the very important benefit of limiting the liability of the investors, so a judgement creditor can only go after the corporation assets, not the individual investor.

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