What Happens to Retirement Funds and 401(k) Plans in a Divorce

When a couple gets a divorce, many assets may be split either equally or in an equitable fashion. In most cases, retirement accounts such as an IRA or a 401(k) may be split at the end of a marriage. How much would each person get, and when would such a split take place if applicable?

Is the Money Sole Property or Marital Property?

It is possible that portions of a retirement account or a particular account may be considered sole property. For instance, if you already had $100,000 in a 401(k) before you got married or had an IRA that you solely contributed to before and during the marriage, that money may be exempt from division. However, any contributions or any growth based on contributions to an account after the marriage occurred would generally be considered joint property.

Is There a Prenuptial Agreement In Place?

A prenuptial agreement is essentially a customized divorce contract. It can bypass state laws regarding property division such as how retirement accounts are to be divided. For instance, you could create an agreement stating that your spouse isn’t entitled to your retirement account or that retirement funds will be split only if the marriage lasts for 10 years or longer.

Before agreeing to a prenuptial agreement, it may be a good idea to bring it to an attorney. An attorney may be able to determine if it is valid and can be enforced. If the agreement is not valid, state law may apply as to how such an asset is split.

Reasons why an agreement wouldn’t be valid include forcing a person to sign under duress such as the night before the wedding. It may also be invalid if it contains unreasonable terms that can’t legally be enforced in a given jurisdiction.

When Will the Money Be Divided?

Timing plays a big role in how a retirement account is to be split. In some cases, a spouse may want access to the money right away. However, this may result in income taxes owed as well as a 10 percent penalty if that person is under the age of 59 1/2.

Therefore, it may be preferable to wait to split that money until after age 59 1/2 or ask that any distribution be split according to the agreement when that distribution takes place. It may also be possible to conduct what is called a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO).

This makes it possible to transfer money from one spouse’s retirement account to the other spouse’s account without incurring any taxes or penalties. Once the money is transferred, it is considered that account holder’s property to do what he or she wants.

Divorce can be emotionally and financially painful for all involved. Therefore, it is worthwhile to end the process as soon as possible. Consulting with an attorney may make it easier to determine whether or not money inside a retirement account can be divided and how much each person may be entitled to from the other spouse.

Need more information? Speak to a NYC divorce attorney at Raiser & Kenniff, PC

what does a securities lawyer do

Securities law has generated immense interest, in recent years. The past decade, has seen it’s fair share of financial scandals – which has generated interest on the consumer side – on what securities law is, and how it helps prevent significant economic losses. The most well known collapse, is that of the financials market in 2008. In 2001, Enron, collapsed – which was triggered by deceptive accounting practices – which overvalued the company, and resulted in inflated stock prices. In another example, MF Global, who was a commodities brokerage firm, misappropriated close to $1 billion of consumer funds in order to fund it’s operations. It then declared bankruptcy in 2011. 

These are all examples of situations, where publicly traded companies – broke the law, to the detriment of consumers. In situations like this, there are federal and state laws in place – designed to protect shareholders and investors. In MF Global’s case – the government went into play – and was able to recover $1.2 billion from company assets as a form restitution. 

Securities fraud can cause a huge amount of harm. As a result, it’s become more important – and more relevant, to the every day consumer. Securities lawyers, are those who work and deal with securities law. A securities lawyer is someone who specializes in the complex laws + regulations that pertain to financial investments and publicly trade companies. Securities laws, are complex, and ever changing. Typically, when a consumer loses money – they will need the help of a Los Angeles securities lawyer, in order to to help recovery any losses – that occur due to wrongdoing. In addition, securities attorneys can help you when it comes to planning your investments – in a safe manner. 

If you suspect wrongdoing, there are a number of ways you can get help. You can visit the SEC’s Enforcement Tips and Complaints section and and submit a complaint. Alternatively, you should Google – to see if there are any on-going class action lawsuits that are relevant to your complaint. 

What is securities law

Securities law is an area of law that pertains to rules and regulations which govern financial instruments such as: stocks, mutual funds, and bonds. The point of securities fraud is to prevent fraud, insider trading, or other forms of unfair market manipulation. The point of securities laws and regulations it provide transparency. 

HOW HIRING A SECURITIES LAWYER CAN BE BENEFICIAL

Securities lawyers play a very important role in protecting investments. As you’re planning your investments, a securities attorney can assist you in researching the history, and health, of any companies you’re looking at. In addition, a securities lawyer can help you by reporting, or advising, on the background of any broker you’re looking to work with. 

  • Securities lawyers can determine whether a financial instrument you’re interested in investing into is suitable
  • Securities lawyers can hlep you find all the important disclosed information regarding any potential investments

In addition, a securities lawyer can advise you on the most common forms of fraud, or mismanagement of investments, and can explain to you how to be careful and watchful for any fraud. Securities lawyers can advise you on the types of claims that are possible, for those who suffer losses that can be attributed to wrongful conduct. Examples include:

  • breach of fiduciary duty
  • conflict of interest
  • churning – a form of increasing broker fees
  • failure to supervise
  • malpractice
  • market manipulation
  • misrepresentation
  • risky investments
  • and more

More importantly, a Los Angeles securities attorneys can represent you in any litigation that arises as a result of your investments. That means – class action lawsuits, lawsuits against a broker, and more. The one thing you need to remember, is that many broker agreements have arbitration clauses, which limit your ability to pursue an against the broker in court. As a result, it’s extremely helpful and important to have a securities lawyer review any broker agreement – before signing it. 

How does being accused of a crime impact your immigration status

When the USA gives someone permission to reside here, the last thing want, or need, is that person to commit a crime. When you commit a crime, while on a temporary visa, or even a greencard, this could impact your immigration status.

For example, say you have a green card – one of the requirements in order to get naturalized – is the fact you need to have not committed any crimes. If you are convicted of a crime, then this will endanger your ability to get naturalized as a citizen. In almost all cases, you will never be able to become a naturalized citizen. While you may be able to retain your green card, you will never become a US Citizen. If, and when, this happens – you’ll need not only the services of a Los Angeles immigration attorney, but also a Los Angeles criminal lawyer, who can help you. The immigration attorney will be necessary, for when it comes to filing your paperwork – and then advocating on your behalf with the Department of Homeland Security and the various parties involved in the immigration hearings. The criminal attorney you hire, will be necessary to defend you in criminal courts. It is the job of the criminal attorney who is hired, to absolve you of the crime committed. If he, or she, can get you vindicated, then you will probably have no issues – when it comes to your immigration status.

When it comes to other VISAS, besides Green Cards, they to follow similar rules. In the case of most visas, if you are convicted of a simple misdemeanor – it will probably not impact your immigration status too much. However, if you are convicted of a felony, and serve jail time, it is very likely that after you serve your jail time – you will be deported.

If you have a job, or a family in the USA – whose immigration status is dependent on yours, then this can be extremely problematic. As a result, in situations like this – it’s extremely important you hire a criminal attorney. People who have a normal visa, are at greater risk than those who have a Green card, when it comes to suffering from negative consequences as a result of a crime. People who have a green card, have more much “freedom,” to commit a crime – and not have it impact their ability to remain in the USA. Even if you commit a crime, while on a green card, you won’t NECESSARILY get deported. However, if you are here on a VISA, your immigration status is greatly at risk.

Passenger Claims in At-Fault Vehicles

When you put yourself in the hands of another driver as their passenger, you do so with the expectation that you’ll arrive at your destination safely. Usually this is the case but, there are times when it doesn’t work out that way.

If an accident occurs and the other vehicle’s driver is at fault, then that is the party that should be responsible for resolving your claim. However, there can be occasions when the driver you’re riding with is partially or completely at-fault for an accident. Can you still make a claim if you’re a passenger in a car where the driver is at-fault?

If you’re a passenger, you’re not the party in control of the vehicle. So, if the driver is negligent in their operation of the auto resulting in injury to passengers in the auto, then those passengers can make a claim against the policy of the vehicle they were riding in. One notable exception to this would be if the driver of the vehicle didn’t have permission to be driving the vehicle. In other words, if an individual steals a car and has a passenger and an accident ensues in which the passenger is injured, the passenger would not be able to recover from that insurer.

If you are in an auto accident and you’re injured, you need to make a claim so that you can be compensated for your medical bills, any lost wages, and your pain and suffering. Even if you are a passenger in a car with a friend or family member, you can make a claim. Don’t let the fact that a friend or family member is liable deter you from making a claim. Sometimes people worry about how this will affect the at-fault party financially. Remember that when you make a claim against someone, insurance is what pays and insurance is designed to protect the personal assets of the policyholder. In other words, you don’t have to feel bad about making a claim. If you need help, consider speaking to a NYC personal injury lawyer to help you.

It is important to know that your claim against an insurance company is subject to policy limits. If your damages exceed the amount of coverage available or if there are numerous injured parties, you may not be able to collect the entire amount of your damages. In cases such as these, it may be necessary to look to any underinsured coverage you might have on your policy. This can assist with paying your damages if there is not enough coverage otherwise.

Finally, in the event the car you are riding in is an uninsured vehicle, you should check your own policy to see whether or not you have uninsured coverage. This is coverage of your own that is designed to protect you if other drivers and auto owners have failed to have liability coverage in force.

Sometimes accidents will happen. When they do, you might find yourself as a passenger in the at-fault vehicle. You’ll have to deal with the consequences. Hopefully, they won’t be too bad but, whether they are minor damages or major damages, you can certainly make a claim if you’re a passenger in an at-fault vehicle.

what happens if I get divorced, can I keep the money from the settlement or is it divided?

If you get divorced, the money you get from the settlement remains in your possession. While California is a community property state, the proceeds of a personal injury settlement belong to you – and thus you retain them. Having said that, it’s advisable that you speak to a Los Angeles family law attorney who can help you.

What Happens if A Doctor Says I’ll Never Fully Recover from My Car Accident?

If a doctor says you’ll never fully recover from your car accident, he or she may be right. After all, your doctor is the medical professional, which qualifies him or her to correctly diagnose your condition. You should give doctors the benefit of the doubt because of their experiences with dealing with other car accident victims and their related personal injuries. If not, you may find yourself drowning in astronomical medical bills and an altered lifestyle you can’t maintain. This situation can impact your mental, physical, psychological and emotional states.

Before the Diagnosis
The next best thing to paying careful attention to the doctor’s diagnosis is having experienced car accident lawyers on your side. They, too, have years of experience of dealing with car accident victims, but from a legal standpoint. They know and understand the lengthy and tedious process of court litigation and what it takes to win your case. Making contact with an attorney should be done as soon as possible following the accident. Their involvement will ensure that your rights are protected. So, once you have reported the accident to the authorities, and before negotiating with the other driver involved or contacting your insurance company, call a personal injury lawyer.

After the Diagnosis
Following the medical examination, the devastating news of not fully recovering is not an easy one with which to cope. Having a reputable team of experienced and proficient lawyers working for you could make all the difference. The medical process could be overwhelming enough for you and family members to handle. In addition to paying emergency medical transportation to the hospital, you are faced with other expenses, including:

  • Hospital stay
  • Prescribed medications
  • Trips to and from doctors’ visits
  • Seeing several medical professionals on an ongoing basis
  • Long-term home care, including special hired services

In addition to the list above, due to limited mobility caused by the accident, your quality of life changes. You may never be able to work again, so there goes your opportunity of paying for medical and other expenses. Like many car accident victims, you may be left in a depressed state due to the traumatic news of the post diagnosis. This state often leads to emotional and psychological stresses.

How A Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
After sustaining injuries from a car accident that leaves you incapacitated, you need to be able to survive financially. Unfortunately, insurance companies are usually unwilling to pay fair compensations. Holding them accountable is one of the strengths of personal injury attorneys. They’ll also be there to guide you through the process. You can rely on them to aggressively pursue your case by gathering all the evidence needed. Due to their knowledge of how the court system and insurance companies operate, they have the skills required to combat anything that will not work in your favor.

You may not be able to undo a car accident, but you can make your life as comfortable as possible following one. It’s all about having the right help on your side. If the doctor says you’ll never fully recover, your attorney will see that you are justly compensated.

If the other driver was drinking and driving, or was doing something illegal at the time, not only will this driver be responsible for your damages – but he may also face criminal charges. When a driver causes a car accident, and is under the influence of drugs, or is driving dangerously – then criminal charges may come into place, which will require him to hire a los angeles criminal lawyer.

Do I need to hire an immigration lawyer?

This is a very popular question we often hear. In our digital age, everyone with a computer hypothethically has access to all the forms, booklets, data, and free information they could ask for. This begs the question: is hiring an immigration lawyer really worth it? Many people think hiring an immigration lawyer is pointless, simply because all of the information is available online already. Many simple immigration cases can be handled without legal representation – but often, immigration cases are complicated.

 

How much do immigration lawyers charge?

Legal fees for immigration attorneys vary widely. For exmaple, hiring an attorney to help you file a family-based immigration petition, will be less than if you hired an immigration attorney to defend you in a deportation case.

For example, an immigration lawyer in Los Angeles might charge you $500-$1200 for a citizenship/naturalization application, whereas they might charge $1000-$3000 for an asylum application.

Some attorneys may charge you more, if they have more experience, etc, or other advantages.

There are three main reasons you should consider hiring an immigration attorney: the application process for visas and family based petitions is complex. In addition, the US government is increasingly growing towards putting people in detention centers – and deporting them.

Hiring an immigration attorney reduces your risks and increases efficiency

When you hire an immigration lawyer, you’re able to complete your visa application, and therefore save yourself time. On average, it’s been estimated that hiring a visa lawyer can save you 4-8 weeks in processing time. In addition, an immigration lawyer knows exactly what type of visa is pertinent to your case, and can help you compile a valid and formal application without any errors. This will end up saving you tons of time, and money. In addition, it could help you avoid getting rejected – which would case issues in other ways. In addition, hiring an attorney can help prepare you for your interview at a consulate, or at USCIS within the country. Bottom line, you’re lowering chances of getting rejected.

Most people fail to realize that applying for a relief, via a waiver, or a visa adjustment, makes them more likely to get deported and/or excluded. Not hiring an attorney, and making the wrong decision, could harm your future: you risk being deported and excluded from US for a period of 3-20 years.

You’re here illegally, and want to go “legit”

Unlawful presence is a big term, especially now with the elections coming up. Unlawful presence, deals with the fact that some people are here illegally, and are undocumented – and want to get legal residency. Typically, in situations like this – you’ll need to hire an immigration lawyer who can review the facts of your case and help you determine what to do next. It is very difficult, in this situation, to do anything on your own. You will need the services of a Los Angeles immigration attorney, who can advise you. If you file a waiver of inadmissibility, you’ll need an attorney who can help you through this process and lower your overall risks.

 

How is Property and Debt Divided During Divorce

It’s common for a couple going through divorce to have to think, and decide, about how to divide their property and debts. Often, parties will prefer deciding on their own – rather than involving a third party, or letting a judge decide. If a couple is unable to agree, they can submit their property and their disputes to the courts – who will use state laws to divide the property and debts.

Courts divide property under two basic methodologies: community property or equitable distribution. Debts, are also divided up based on these principles.

In 10 states, such as Alaska, CAlifornia, Arizona, Idaho, etc, all of the property of a married person is classified as either community property(which means the property is owned equally by both spouses), or the property is defined as the separate property of either spouse. When a couple divorces, the community property is divided in half between the two spouses. Each spouse is entitled to keeping his or her separate property.

Generally, the courts will award each spouse a % of the total value of the property. Each spouse will get personal property, assets, and debts, whose worth adds up to the his, or her, % value that he/she is entitled to. If you are confused about what all of this means, we highly suggest you speak to a Los Angeles divorce lawyer, in order to get more information.
Here are some general guidelines on what is considered community property, and what isn’t:
Community property generally includes all of the earnings and everything materialistically speaking, acquired with those earnings. All debts that incurred during the marriage, are community property debts.
Separate property of one spouse means gifts and inheritances given to just that one spouse. Examples could be personal injury verdicts/settlements, proceeds of a pension(that was vested before marriage). Property purchased with separate funds of a spouse is another example of something that is considered that spouse’s separate property. A business which is owned by one of the spouses before the marriage, remains his or her separate property. The only instance in which the property, or business, could be considered a part of the community property – is if community funds went into the separate property. If community property is commingled with separate property, than that separate property may become in part, or entirely, community property. Getting exact specifics will depend heavily on the advice provided to you by a divorce attorney, familiar with the specifics of your case.
Another important case, especially when dealing with high net worth divorced couples, looking for divorce, is who gets to keep the house or houses. If you have children, then the parent who spends the most time with the kids, remains in the marital home. If you don’t have children, and the house is the separate property of just one spouse – then that spouse has the right to ask the other to leave. If, however, you don’t have children and you own the house together – then life can be trickier. Neither of you can have the other leave, legally. You can request it – but can’t demand it. If you don’t come to a decision, then the courts will decide for you. If your spouse decides to change the locks, and prevent you from entering your home – then you can call the police. The police will instruct the other spouse to open the door, and let you in.

What does a business lawyer actually do?

Running a business can be complicated. We live in a high litigation friendly world – where companies jump at the chance of suing a competitor. The existing economic situations, has made it difficult for small and medium sized businesses to conduct business. There are pitfalls at every step. In addition, due to the upcoming election – there may be a drastic change in the tax code system – due to conflicting views amongst the various candidates. Obamacare, changed healthcare coverage for business owners as we know it.

All of this, and more, pose huge potential issues for business owners. The solution, is hiring a competent business lawyer, who can advise you on the specifics of what you need.

Below are some common scenarios where hiring a business lawyer would be helpful:

You need to protect your intellectual property: Trademarks, copyrights, and patents, are examples of intellectual property. An example of a trademark – is the name Apple. Imagine if a company hijacked it, and started using the name – pretending as if it were the actual Apple company? It would be a nightmare! If Apple didn’t have a trademark, though, they would have no recourse to those violating their mark. The is where a trademark lawyer (a type of business lawyer) would be helpful. Trademark attorneys can help you file a mark, and more importantly – help prevent anyone from violating or infringing upon it.

You need help with contracts: If you are offering an employment agreement, or if you’re buying or selling your business – you’ll need a contracts attorney who can advise you. The point of hiring the los angeles contracts lawyer is to not only help you protect you – but also to help you create a “rock solid” agreement, that enables you to settle future issues without having to go to court, due to specific clauses in the agreement.

You are new to business: If you’re opening a new business, you’ll probably need help formulating a new corporation. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a corporation in order to conduct business. You can simply hang your shingle. But, the issue is without a corporation – you can be sued, and have your personal assets at risk. You can hire a business attorney to help you form either an S corp or a C Corp. Both corps have their advantages and disadvantages. The one thing both do, is protect your personal assets from business liabilities.

You are being sued: If you’re being sued, for a service or product, or some other breach of contract, you’ll need a business lawyer to protect you. Because this is a civil argument, you have to provide your own attorney. Only in criminal cases is an attorney assigned to you, free of charge.

Can I break an annuity from an auto accident settlement?

Victims of auto accidents may be entitled to compensation for the damages sustained. In general, in order to receive damages, the victim must show that the other driver was negligent. In many auto accident cases, insurance companies offer payment to settle the dispute without requiring the parties to go to court. Settlement amounts depend on a variety of factors and each case is different. A personal injury attorney can represent victims of auto accidents throughout the process to help you make informed decisions. A personal injury attorney can also negotiate on your behalf and make sure your interests are protected. A settlement should be sufficient to compensate for all of the damages you sustained in the accident, as well of those that will continue in the future.

In many auto accident cases where a settlement is paid, an insurance company pays the funds over a period of time rather than paying a one time, lump sum. This arrangement is referred to as a structured settlement or annuity. These structured payments put less of a burden on the payer and provide tax benefits for the recipient. An annuity may also have certain interest benefits. Many recipients of annuity payments in an auto accident case desire payments to be received earlier or in larger quantities. Unfortunately, breaking an annuity is not an easy task and it can rarely be accomplished, unless the terms of the settlement agreement specifically allow alternative payout options.

One option when an annuity cannot be broken is to petition the court to set aside the annuity. If there are compelling reasons to set aside the annuity or other valid legal arguments to accomplish the same, then you may receive relief from the restrictions. However, this relief is rarely granted by the court and is only permitted in extreme situations.

Another option is to find an entity that purchases the settlements from auto accident victims. These arrangements usually have significant limitations and require the victim to forfeit a large portion of the total settlement to be received. Ultimately, if you qualify for this type of arrangement, you will likely give up a substantial amount of the settlement.

If you are currently involved in an auto accident or other personal injury claim, contact a personal injury attorney before you accept and settlement offers. A personal injury attorney can make sure that the settlement arrangement takes into consideration your particular needs at the current moment and in the future. A personal injury attorney will also be able to advise you about settlements, so you make an informed decision. This will help you understand if a settlement offer is fair and adequate to compensate for your needs. Do not delay contacting a personal injury attorney.

If you previously accepted a settlement offer and need advice about breaking an annuity or otherwise expediting the payment process, then a personal injury attorney may also assist. A personal injury attorney can review the technical aspects of your settlement agreement and determine if there are any alternative methods to receive payment. In some instances, a personal injury attorney may be able to petition for relief from the restrictions of the annuity. A personal injury attorney can also assess the viability and legality of offers from third parties to pay in exchange for your interest in the annuity.

About the author

This guest blog post was written by Anna Jacobs, a lawyer with Zogby Legal – a great resource, when trying to find trustworthy, and pre-vetted, Riverside car accident lawyers and attorneys.