Your Free Credit Report and the 5 Most Common Errors Found

Rena McDonald

Debt Management is a service we provide in the Las Vegas and Henderson areas at our law firm. One of the first things you need to know to effectively manage your debt is your credit score. Most people are not aware that you are eligible to get a copy of your credit report for free once per year. The official site to access your official report is https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action. There are other sites that claim to offer free reports but they are commercial sites that often charge subscription fees or do not have complete information from the three credit reporting agencies. 

 

Credit companies are notorious for having inaccurate information and when it is negatively affecting your credit score, disputing and having that information removed will help improve your score. Five of the most common errors on credit reports are:

1. Misinformation: Make sure your name is spelled correctly and the correct middle initial is used. If it is incorrect, information from another person with a similar name may appear on your report. Also review your address, social security number, and employment information. 

2. Accounts listed as closed by the lender: If YOU closed an account, make sure your report does not list ‘Closed by grantor’. Accounts closed by creditors can negatively affect your score.

3. Bad Debts older than 7 Years: After seven years, credit reporting companies are required to remove old information. If you have filed a bankruptcy, discharged debt will be removed but the bankruptcy will be reported. 

4. Duplicate accounts: Accounts sometimes are reported more than once. This can negatively affect your score by showing higher debt and open credit. 

5. Debts from an ex-spouse: If you are in the process of a divorce, take your name off joint accounts so you won’t be liable for the future debt. You should check your credit report after divorce to make sure new debt from your ex isn’t added. 

Any consumer has the right to contact credit agencies and request that the error is removed. It is recommended that you send a certified letter. One letter per error should be sent. Contacting the source of the error is also an option. If you have questions or need help to remove bad information, McDonald Law Group can assist you as part of a personalized Debt Management Plan. Choosing an experienced lawyer to assist you can take the stress and pressure off of your shoulders, remove uncertainty whether correct practices were exercised and may help expedite the process. 

Content in this article is intended for informational purposes, should not be considered legal advice and does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. 

 

What Happens When You Die without a Will in Nevada?

Rena McDonald

Who really wants to think about their own death and what happens to their assets when they are gone. Maybe that is why some people find talking about creating wills is scary. However, if you do not develop an Estate Plan (yes, you have an estate, even if you are not wealthy), including a will and possibly a trust, your possessions and minor children will be given to whom the state decides is best, not what you think is best.

When a person dies without a valid will in place, his or her property passes by what is called ‘intestate succession’ to heirs according to state law.  All 50 states have different laws. What do Nevada’s Intestate Laws look like? Take a look at the graph below for some of the more common associations:

 

If you die with:

here’s what happens:

· Children but no spouse, parents, or siblings

· Children inherit everything

· Spouse but no children, parents, or siblings

· Spouse inherits everything

· Parents but no children, spouse, or siblings

· Parents inherit everything

· Siblings but no children, spouse, or parents

· Siblings inherit everything

· A spouse and children

· Spouse inherits all of your community property and 1/2 or 1/3 of your separate property

· children inherit 1/2 or 2/3 of your separate property

· A spouse and parents

· Spouse inherits all of your community property and 1/2 of your separate property

· parents inherit 1/2 of your separate property

· A spouse and siblings, but no parents

· Spouse inherits all of your community property and 1/2 of your separate property

· siblings inherit 1/2 of your separate property

 

Intestate Laws only effect property that would be assignable through your will, assets you own alone, or in your own name. Some examples of property that would not be affected by this law or a will is property you have transferred to a living trust, life insurance proceeds, retirement accounts, and jointly-owned property.

 

For answers to specific questions about your Estate, schedule a consultation with our office. Information provided in this article is for informational purposes. It does not constitute a client-attorney relationship and should not be considered legal advice. 

The New Nevada Commerce Tax: What you need to know

Rena McDonald

The New Nevada Commerce Tax: What you need to know  

The Nevada Commerce Tax is a new annual tax package passed by the 2015 Legislature. It became effective July 1st, 2016. All businesses, regardless of their annual gross income, are required to be registered for the commerce tax. However, unless your gross revenue is $4,000,000.00 or higher, you will not have any new tax liability.  

The first annual return is due Monday, August 15, 2016, for most.  If your business is registered with the Nevada Secretary of State, it is likely that the State of Nevada Department of Taxation has already pre-registered your business for the commerce tax. How do you know if you are pre-registered? You would have received a ‘Welcome Letter’ from Nevada Tax.  You still must complete the form enclosed with the ‘Welcome Letter’ to finish the registration process.

If you did not receive your ‘Welcome Letter’ you are still required to register and may do so online.  Go to http://tax.nv.gov/comtax/  and follow the simple instructions. Additional frequently asked questions can be answered at http://tax.nv.gov/Commerce/ComTaxFAQs/

Other changes that piggybacked the new Commerce Tax is an increase for the annual licensing fee for corporations. It has more than doubled to $500 a year from the former $200 annual fee. 

Even more questions? If you are a member of the McDonald Business Success Plan, help with business registration and regulatory compliance on the federal, state and local level is covered in your monthly allotment of legal services! Call our office for more information about enrolling in this cost-effective service or schedule a complimentary consultation.

This article was provided for information purposes only. It should not be considered legal advice and it does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. 

 

Do I Need Estate Planning?

Rena McDonald

Do I need estate planning? The short answer is yes. If you care what will happen to the assets you worked your entire life to procure, then you must make preparations. No matter the size of your Estate (the property and possessions you own), without estate planning, the State will decide what happens to your things after you pass. 

If you pass away, and you have not done any estate planning, the legal term for your estate is intestate. There is a statutorily mandated scheme that divides your assets amongst your heirs. Having a will is one step up from intestacy. Having a will allows you to specify to whom you want certain assets to go. So if you want your granddaughter to get your jewelry, you can specify that in a will. 

The problem will both intestate and wills is that they are governed by a legal process known as probate. Probate is the process by which the Courts divide your assets and give them to your heirs. Probate is expensive and can take a very long time. Meanwhile, your hard earned assets could be going to your probate attorneys' fees with very little left for your family.

The next step up in estate planning is to set up a trust. By having a trust, your assets avoid the probate process. You transfer your assets into your trust which typically you have complete control over during your lifetime. After you are gone, your appointed trustee takes over. The trustee will divide your assets according to your direction, thus eliminating the need for the Court. 

Not only does a trust save your assets for you heirs, you can literally reach out after death with a trust to control the actions of your heirs. For example, if you want your grandson to go to college before he inherits from your estate you can specify that in a trust. These types of trust are called incentive trusts.

You can also make specific provisions in your trust for the care of your pets. We call these pet trusts. Without these provisions, many pets are euthanized after the death of an owner. These are just a few of the options you can set up in a trust. 

Finally, it is very important to set up powers of attorneys for yourself. Powers of attorney allow your designated representative to make decisions for you in emergency situations when you can't make decisions for yourself.

If you already have these documents it is important to have them revised every few years so that they are current with new state and federal guidelines. You have worked too hard and achieved too much to let the State have more power than your own will. You also want to rest assure that the likelihood of family members and friends you leave behind will have far less stress, grief and anxiety to deal with in addition to the loss of you. Knowing that your wishes are clear and executed in the manner you see fit allows loved ones to move on. They can spend time remembering your wonderful legacy, not quibble over what they think you wanted. 

These are just a few types of estate planning tools that can be implemented by a licensed attorney to shelter your assets. You should consult a lawyer and develop a plan that helps you to keep the assets which you work so hard to procure. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or representation. For additional information or to set an appointment to review or begin an estate plan, please contact the office for an appointment.