HURRICANE WARNING (ARE YOU PREPARED?)
It's here. Hurricane season officially begins June 1st and the Eastern US knows it by name. Sandy, Katrina, Hugo, Andrew. These storms have wreaked havoc in the lives of millions of people and destroyed property in amazing demonstrations of power. Your only defense is to be prepared. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) each year presents hurricane preparedness week at the end of May with a website devoted to resources and advice on preparing for tropical storms and hurricanes (click here for NOAA Preparedness).
In addition to bottled water, canned foods, batteries and flashlights, there are other considerations in getting ready for the storm. The biggest question: Do we stay or do we evacuate? Heeding local authorities directives are always the best policy, but whichever you choose, you need to consider how to preserve and protect your most important documents. Birth certificates, passports, important records (such as insurance papers) and general identification documents are difficult to replace and need preserving. Especially in an evacuation, you need to have these records with you.
THE LIFEBOOK AS A LIFEBOAT (FOR YOUR DOCUMENTS)
The Family Lifebook from Family Life Resources is an all-in-one storage vault for your important papers that can be quickly retrieved in case of emergency or evacuation. Think of it as a lifeboat for your documents.
The Family Lifebook has places to record vital information and over 40 storage sleeves for bank accounts, insurance policies, titles and deeds. You'll know exactly where everything is and won't have to be searching multiple locations when trying to prepare for the storm.
For waterproofing and extra protection, place your Lifebook in a plastic storage container along with other valuables that need to be shielded from the elements. Being prepared is your best defense against disaster and your best chance of getting back to normal once the storm passes.
For a more detailed description of the Lifebook and its many features, click on the video below:
photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Your LifeBook....Don't Flee A Disaster Without It.
Is this guy carrying his LifeBook? If he's going to be rebuilding his life or if he plans to apply to FEMA for relief, he just might need it.
Hurricane season begins here in Florida in just a couple of months and, along with purchasing bottled water and flashlight batteries, people begin thinking about the possibilities of having to evacuate. Disaster experts all agree that having a good plan is important to your safety and security. Making sure that you and your family are physically safe is the first priority and your local emergency management agency can provide you with tools for that kind of planning. The Florida Division of Emergency Management can provide information on all types of preparedness issues. Contact them at www.floridadisaster.org.
WHAT DO WE TAKE WITH US?
Along with cash and items for consumption (food and prescription medicine) and personal comfort, most people will be concerned about their important and irreplaceable documents....birth certificates, ID cards, passports, etc. But most of us don't know where all of these documents are located and couldn't gather them quickly in case of emergency or evacuation. The LifeBook will give you a convenient, organized way to store and locate those papers necessary to conduct your life affairs in times of crisis. Start by thinking of those things that you will need while you are away. Contact phone numbers, banking information, medical access cards and passwords for websites are just a few.
WHAT WILL WE FIND WHEN WE RETURN?
Some victims of hurricane Sandy returned to find that their homes had sustained very little damage. Others returned to find that their homes were not at the same address where they left them. Still others never found them at all. Recovering from such a calamity is tough, but made all the more difficult if important documents have been lost. Insurance information, proof of identity, proof of ownership and access to financial assets will all be necessary as you begin the process of rebuilding. If you are under-insured or have little in the way of financial resources you may have to turn to the government for help. But don't think that you're not going to need documents. In fact, you may need more.
DEALING WITH F.E.M.A.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is where many people will turn in the aftermath of a disaster. There is funding available for temporary housing and assistance with restoration of many other aspects of life. Requirements must be met to qualify and many of those programs require documentation. For example, you can get assistance for a damaged car (you'll need proof of ownership and insurance information). There is help for rebuilding your home, but as the FEMA website describes "Below are a few types of documents that may be provided to prove ownership: Deed or Official Record, Title number, Mortgage payment book, real property insurance and tax bill." Speaking of taxes, counties can provide property tax relief, but you'll need those records. For information on assistance available please contact the FEMA website at www.fema.gov The point is: you need to make sure that you can get your hands on important papers and that they are preserved and safeguarded. The LifeBook does exactly that.
The LifeBook has eight tabbed sections that allow you to organize important papers and store them for quick reference. You'll always know where to locate passports, insurance papers, marriage licenses, bank information and titles & deeds. With everything in one portable portfolio, you'll have the peace of mind that everything can be taken with you and that the process of rebuilding will be that much easier.
<p>Image courtesy of coward_lion / <a href="http://www.freedigitalphotos.net" target="_blank">FreeDigitalPhotos.net</a></p>
ORGANIZING AND PROTECTING YOUR MOST IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
Quick, where is an original copy of your car insurance policy? Could you lay your hands on your birth certificate or passport within the next half-hour? Where are the mortgage papers located? In case of an emergency, do you know where your most important documents are stored? Does your spouse have any idea of how to access your retirement funds or life insurance if you suddenly die?
These questions can come at the most inconvenient times and even in the midst of crisis. Most families know that these important papers are somewhere around the house, but usually not in one place. The Family Life Book can help you assemble, organize and store those documents so that you or your family can gain instant access to them.
Family Life Resources, Inc. has created THE FAMILY LIFE BOOK, A WAY TO PROTECT, PROVIDE AND GIVE A LEGACY TO YOUR FAMILY. This book gives you instructions in how to organize your papers and a place to store them. It is organized into 8 tabbed sections that cover the different aspects of your life that need to be documented for your family in times of emergency, death or incapacitation. It's also very handy for just finding your papers for everyday access.
The Family Life Book is beautifully bound in a leatherette folio with three-ring construction so that you can add and delete items to fit your personal situation.
Sections include: What You Should Know In The First Six Hours, Your Legacy, Insurance Policies, Bank/Investment Statements, Personal Family Information, Personal Financial Information, Loan Statements and Titles-Deeds-Home Inventory. There are 6 forms for recording critical information (also available electronically on our website). You'll find 8 pages of written instructions and over 30 storage sleeves for policy copies, statements, deeds, passports and other important documents.
The Family Life Book is offered now from Family Life Resources, Inc. at $149.95 plus shipping. (quantity discounts are available).
You can call 1-800-553-8621 or email Steve Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or simply click here to purchase now:
This is a great way to make sure that those papers most important to you and your family can be preserved and located at any time.
PAGES IN THE LIFE BOOK: USER NAMES AND PASSWORDS
We at Family Life Resource, Inc. are preparing a new offering that we are calling The Life Book. It is a tool to organize your finances and assist your loved-ones in the event of your death, incapacitation or an emergency. You can get information about The Life Book by reviewing the FLR Blog, Inside The Love Book: A Read Me First Checklist to learn about those items that will be included (the "Love Book" was a previous working title). This series of articles goes into greater detail about each section of the book.
One of the most important elements of the book will be a page devoted to the recording of user names and passwords. Think of how much of your financial life is now found on your computer. If you don't routinely retain copies of bank statements, retirement accounts and insurance policies, your family will have no way of quickly determining what resources are available to administer your business and meet your obligations. A listing of your on-line financial relationships, through a chart of user names and passwords, will allow others to get a quick, accurate and helpful look at your affairs.
We would recommend that this page be located near the front of the book, especially if your family will be relying on your assets to take care of final expenses. Those issues normally need to be addressed and finalized within the first few days of your passing. Your financial provider website will give them real-time information on balances and availability of funds and will be necessary when dealing with funeral arrangements and expenses. In the longer term, the website locations are very helpful if your supporting documentation (policies, titles, statements, etc) cannot be found. The page is a covenient and central location for those who are hesitant to keep the information in a digital form and want a hard-copy listing.
Most sites today will include extra layers of security beyond user and password. Your page needs to include answers to challenge questions (What Was Your Mother's Maiden Name?). Give special instructions should entries be qualified by the use of upper and lower case letters. Update the list often as you should be regularly changing your passwords, especially on financial accounts.
It is extremely important that this sheet (as well as the remainder of The Life Book) be safeguarded. A list of your passwords opens up your digital world and your financial life to anyone who views it. Protection of personal information is the key defense against identifty theft, unauthorized use of accounts and loss of your assets.
Image Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
WHAT HAS GOD ENTRUSTED TO YOU?
Over the course of the next few months, these pages will be devoted to a new Family Life Resources, Inc. offering that we have titled THE FAMILY LIFE BOOK. It will be a way of organizing your financial, legal and life-management issues in such a way that your loved ones can manage your family affairs after your death or incapacitation. The book will also be a way of helping you keep track of those assets and belongings that God has entrusted to you while you are still alive. It will greatly assist you and your family in carrying out your stewardship obligations.
THE ACT OF STEWARDSHIP
When Christians consider the term "stewardship" they often relate it only to giving to their church or--more negatively--to being hit up for a pledge to the latest capital gifts campaign. More experienced believers know that stewardship has a broader definition that encompasses the handling of money and assets in your personal life and is always rooted in the knowledge that God owns everything and we are merely caretakers of His assets. But these mature Christians often miss the point that stewardship has an even wider meaning.
OH NO! HE'S GOING TO REFER TO THE GREEK TRANSLATION
I haven't been to seminary, but any divinity student will tell you that understanding the Greek translations of scripture were the most challenging, but often the most enlightening of their studies. And so it goes with the term "stewardship." The Greek term closest to stewardship is the word oikonomos. Depending on the context it can mean the management of household assets and handling of receipts and expenditures. But in many other situations it translates into "organization, arrangement, administration, order, plan, training and dispensation." It also signifies the burden of a special trust. This is a much more expanded view of stewardship and it needs to be considered when evaluating our requirement to be good stewards.
THE FAMILY LIFE BOOK: AN INSTRUMENT OF STEWARDSHIP
The Family Life Book will be an instrument in recognizing these wider stewardship obligations. It will help you organize, manage, arrange, administer, order, plan, train and dispense to your heirs those things that God has blessed you with and entrusted to you. You will use the book to organize your life, manage your finances, and administer your legal issues. It will assist you in arranging your affairs, planning for emergencies and training your loved ones in the process of good stewardship practices. Finally, it places an emphasis on dispensing God's assets to the next generation.
Stewardship is not ultimately about possessions and assets, but about the value of humans and their relationship with God. Putting your affairs in order is a chance to help others understand how God's blessings have enriched their lives and how those blessings need to be guarded and transformed into advancing His ministry and His kingdom. A special section of The Family Life Book will allow you to bestow to others the most important inheritance that we receive: The Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the writings of Paul the word oikonomos is directly used to charge us with the responsibility for presenting the gospel as a divine trust, as part of our stewardship obligation, even if we don't recognize it as such (1 Corinthians 9:17). Placing a letter to your family and a statement of faith in The Family Life Book will be a way to pass down that most important possession that God has entrusted to us...Him.
Image credit: Freedigitalphotos.net
Reverse mortgages have been advertised as the best product for seniors to use to help supplement their income in their retirement years. While there are pro’s and con’s for this product, it is here to stay and will continue to be marketed to and utilized by seniors.
There may be a new hitch that seniors considering this product should be made aware of before signing on the dotted line. In an article written by Elizabeth Ecker on March 14, 2012 for the Reverse Mortgage Daily, she reported that a reverse mortgage could be considered proceeds that can be legally garnished in order to satisfy a personal injury judgment, at least according to a New Jersey Court of Law.
In the case, an 85-year-old reverse mortgage borrower was involved in an auto accident. He was sued for personal injuries and settled out of court for $400,000 to the defendants. A judgment was filed against him for the debt.
Now there are many ways to collect on a judgment. Income has always been top of the list in such collection processes. The definition of "allowable income for garnishment" is the subject in this case.
The defendant had taken a reverse mortgage out with his mortgage lender that paid him $959 per month over the course of the loan. The trial court determined the payments were beyond the reach of the judgment creditors and denied plaintiff’s motion to garnish the payments to satisfy the debt. However, upon appeal, the appellate court reversed the decision of the lower court and granted the motion to garnish the payment.
“The trial court determined the payments were beyond the reach of the judgment creditors, and denied their motion to compel the mortgagee to comply with a writ of execution,” the appellate court documents state. “We reverse, reasoning the mortgagee’s obligation to make monthly payments to defendant, the judgment debtor, is properly construed to be a ‘debt’ against which plaintiffs, the judgment creditors, may obtain an order directing execution and garnishment.”
If you are considering a reverse mortgage product, contact an approved credit counseling agency to help you understand all of the variables that might affect you. Knowledge is power and helps you make an informed decision for your future.
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Before I answer the question "Can I transfer property before filing Chapter 7?" let me start by stating that I am not an attorney and this blog does not contain legal advise. Bankruptcy law is complicated and any legal questions should be taken to an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy law. With this said, the simple answer to the question is "Yes."
Of course life is not simple so let me expound on this. Property can be transfered or sold prior to bankruptcy. The real question is when. There is a two year period immediately preceding the bankruptcy that trustees look at very carefully. Any property, real or personal, can be sold at the fair market value and you can even use that money to pay your attorney for filing bankruptcy. But property transfered during that two year period, that is less then fair market value, can cost you your bankruptcy.
Some people want to transfer or sell property in order to protect it from being taken or sold and then the money distributed to their creditors as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. Their intention is to get it back after the bankruptcy has been discharged. That behavior is fraudulent and can cost you to lose your bankruptcy discharge. An example would be: Selling a car to a friend for $50.00 then filing bankruptcy. Even if the title is transfered, the car was not sold at the fair market value. The court will interpret this as hiding an asset from your bankruptcy estate. If however the bluebook value on the car was $5000.00 and you sold it for $5000.00 then the transfer of the title was honorable.
A more common example is taking your name off a joint account like a deed. Lets say Grandma left her property to her five grandchildren and you are one of them. But you need to file bankruptcy and do not want to harm the the others who are titled on the deed as well. You can quick claim the deed over but you will need to list that transaction in your bankruptcy petition ( because the petition asks that question) and the trustee may not approve your bankruptcy unless the property is sold and your portion is returned to your bankruptcy estate.
The transfer of titled or real property is easy to track. The transfer of personal property is easier to hide or so you may think. A woman filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy. When the appraiser came through her home they saw a large free standing jewelry box. When they looked inside it was empty. The trustee wanted to know what happen to all of the jewelry. The woman stated it was costume jewelry and she gave it to her children. The trustee stopped the bankruptcy because they suspected she had, in that large jewelry box, jewelry that had value and she was attempting to defraud the court.
Many times, property that is transferred prior to filing bankruptcy can be kept and claimed as exempt. However, because people are not aware of the bankruptcy laws, they choose to transfer property and complicate their bankruptcy process. It is best to wait past the two year period after the transfer before filing. It is always a bad idea to commit perjury.
If you would like more information on bankruptcy see our other blogs on the subject. You are invited to visit our website at www.FLRMinistry.com or call us at 800-553-8621 Monday - Friday 9:00 - 5:30. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to get updates.