Sheehan & Associates, P.L.C.

Detroit Law Blog

How do you find your spouse's hidden assets?

Trust is a terribly fragile thing, and it isn't uncommon for the trust a couple shares to be shattered completely on the way to a divorce. That can often leave one member of a couple wondering, "What is my spouse hiding?"

Frankly, it could be plenty. Some spouses are tremendously reluctant when it comes time to disclose all of their financial assets so that there can be a fair division of the marital property. While you can hire a forensic accountant and get your attorney's help to find some of the assets, it's also possible to track down a few things yourself.

Can bankruptcy help with tax debts?

If you've fallen behind on your taxes, can a bankruptcy help?

Many people erroneously believe that taxes can't be discharged through bankruptcy -- but that's untrue. While there are limitations on what you can do, bankruptcy may be a viable recourse for some people.

What do you do when an employee is drinking at work?

What do you do when you suspect that one of your employees is reaching for "liquid courage" throughout the day at work?

It's hardly surprising that employers frequently have to deal with on-the-job drinking by their employees. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, one out of every 12 adults abuses alcohol. Since a drunk employee exposes your company to professional and physical danger, you need to take action.

Choosing your child's guardian: What to consider

For parents, there's nothing more important in an estate plan than choosing a guardian for their minor children.

Naturally, you hope to live long enough to raise your own children. If an accident should happen, however, that claims your life and the life of your child's other parent, you need to be prepared. That means choosing a guardian for your children with care.

Mistakes you need to avoid when writing your will

You already know that getting your will together is really important in order to protect your family's future -- but it's also important not to rush yourself through the process once you've begun. If you rush, you're far too apt to make some serious mistakes.

What can happen if you make a mistake in your will? Well, some mistakes will invalidate your will entirely. Others will cause your wishes to be misinterpreted. Some mistakes may even be very expensive for your heirs -- which is also something you probably want to avoid.

Take care when hiring independent contractors for your business

In a nation where the "gig economy" has become the norm, independent contractors are all over -- and smart businesses are taking advantage of all the wonderful talent out there.

However, you do need to take care when you hire an independent contractor to work for your company. While there's a lot less paperwork involved than there is when you hire an actual employee, there are at least three important documents you don't want to skip:

Could you be overlooking important marital assets?

A lot of American women still tend to rely on their husbands to handle the family finances -- which can put women at a disadvantage if the marriage crumbles.

While spouses are supposed to disclose all their assets during the divorce proceedings so that there can be a fair division of the marital property, there are always a few spouses who are going to play loose and free with the rules. With that in mind, every divorcing woman (and man) should start thinking critically in order to identify potential forgotten assets in the marital pot, including:

  • Bank accounts, including accounts that were opened and maintained online
  • Real estate, including vacation property, timeshares and undeveloped land
  • Cars and other vehicles, including those used for recreation only
  • Life insurance policies, especially whole life and universal life plans that accrue value with time
  • Retirement plans, including 401(k) plans and others that are vested with a long-term employer or the military
  • Stocks held in any company, including restricted stock, online brokerage accounts and any deferred compensation a spouse may be due
  • Art collections, antiques (whether individual pieces or an entire collection), coin collections, stamp collections, wine collections, rare books and other valuable items that a spouse may have acquired during the course of a marriage
  • Cemetery plots and burial or funeral agreements, including pre-paid plans
  • Club memberships, including golf and country clubs
  • Intellectual property, including royalty rights, copyrights, patent and trademarks
  • Unpaid loans -- especially if there is a substantial likelihood that they'll eventually be repaid
  • Travel reward points and frequent flyer miles (which can add up to considerable amounts of money)

Saddled with debt? You probably aren't as alone as you think

Being broke and saddled with a lot of unpaid debts can be an incredibly lonely experience. More than likely, you see many of your friends and relatives through the filter of their social media accounts. That means that you see what they want to present rather than the whole picture. Most people don't discuss their financial woes that openly. It's easy to start to believe that you're the only person in your social group that's hiding from creditors or struggling to keep the utilities turned on.

But you're far from alone in your money troubles. In fact, if you're struggling with debt, you've actually got a lot of good company. Here are some facts you should know:

  • 40 percent of Americans can't cover a $400 emergency without borrowing, selling something or visiting a pawnbroker.
  • 25 percent of Americans have nothing set aside for retirement -- not in a 401(k) through their employer and definitely not independently.
  • More than half of the country -- close to 6 out of every 10 people -- is living paycheck to paycheck.
  • Even worse, nearly 2 out of those 6 people are going deeper into debt with each pay cycle because they're spending more than they earn.

Student loans and bankruptcy?

You've probably heard it before a few dozen times: Your student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. That's been true ever since 2005 when the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act went into action.

However, there is an "undue hardship exception" that's important to know about -- especially if you're having serious financial problems. Congress was vague about exactly what constituted an "undue hardship," so most bankruptcy courts (including the Sixth Circuit courts, which is where Michigan lies) have begun to use what is known as the Brunner test.

'Adulting' in modern times: Get your digital estate plan in order

Part of being a grown-up is attending to a lot of unpleasant -- but necessary -- tasks. That includes getting your estate plans ready and making a will, designating your executor and heirs, establishing powers of attorney for medical care and finances and maybe even thinking about setting up a trust.

If you've done all that already, congrats! You have every right to be pleased with yourself. However, you may still be overlooking a critical component of modern estate planning: the disposition of your digital assets.

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Sheehan & Associates, P.L.C.
1460 Walton Blvd , Suite 102
Rochester Hills, MI 48309

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