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Montgomery Family Law Blog

Estate planning in Alabama: Dying without a plan

Planning in life is often essential. But planning for death is equally as important, especially when it comes to family members and loved ones. Dying in Alabama without definitive estate planning can make family members' grief even more stressful when they learn they've been left with the burden of having a loved one's estate go through intestate succession.

The purpose of such succession is to ascertain how the deceased likely would have written his or her estate plan and will. But, it is basically a guess and the deceased person may have chosen otherwise. When a person dies intestate, or without having a will, there is no way to know for certain what his or her final wishes would have been. Intestate doesn't take into consideration family members' needs or circumstances.

Divorce goes much smoother when feelings kept out of the process

Keeping heightened feelings out of the equation during a separation may be a difficult process, but often an necessary one for keeping the peace. Alabama couples going through divorce have a better chance of agreeing on issues when each party tries to keep a level head even if that seems impossible. Ending a marriage is not an easy task, even if the couple agrees it is the best decision for the entire family.

Each person should have his or her own attorney when it comes to ironing out a divorce settlement. Lawyers may be able to help their clients keep level heads during any negotiation meetings. Lawyers will offer advice and guidance, but the former couple will come to a consensus on issues themselves, or have to address their differences in court.

Real estate: Avoiding foreclosure in Alabama

Once the dream home has been found, the last thing anyone wants to have happen is the possibility of losing it. But things happen in life, so when it comes to real estate issues in Alabama, it's important to know how to avoid the stress of foreclosure. When a homeowner defaults on mortgage payments, lenders will usually try to recoup their losses and foreclose on a property, but there are things that can be done to keep the issue out of the court system.

Many homeowners don't realize they have options when they've fallen on financial hard times. Banks aren't in the business of owning properties, and many of them, along with mortgage companies, will work with people to help them out of a financial bind. Homeowners may wish to consider loan modifications or reinstatements. Or if things become too burdensome, perhaps selling the home may be an option before it gets to a dire straits situation. 

Montgomery residential real estate listings down over last year

Alabama residential listings seem to be in short supply compared to a year ago. In fact, the numbers of homes for sale in the residential real estate sector in Montgomery are down about 9.5 percent. The Montgomery Area Association of Realtors (MAAR) says demand is definitely is outdoing supply when it comes to single family homes. Fifty-three purchases actually closed this January -- more than 18 percent below projections by the Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE).

As for 2018, ACRE is predicting residential sales in Montgomery to be in the neighborhood of more than 4,600. In 2017, that number was 4,400. But year-to-year supply is down 9.5 percent. When inventory is in short supply, sales are as well. So, single family homes stayed on the market for about 113 days in January this year as opposed to an average of 125 when looked at over five years.

Don’t put up with parenting time interference

Whether you divorce your child's other parent and share custody, or were never married and are raising your child separately, it is often difficult to get accustomed to custody arrangements. The first several months are often frustrating for all parties, even if both parents want to work together to provide a good life for their child.

However, these difficulties do not excuse obstructive behaviors. If one parent's actions keeps the other from spending court-ordered time with their child or attempts to manipulate or control the other parent's relationship with him or her, it may qualify as parenting-time interference. This is a serious violation that may result in loss of parenting privileges in mild cases, or criminal charges in more extreme instances.

Estate planning in Alabama: The role of an executor

Very few people like to plan for the future, especially when that involves planning for the unexpected. Those are the things involved in estate planning. Alabama residents who have an all-encompassing estate plan have included naming a person as executor of their wills. But, what exactly does that person do and when? In a nutshell, an executor looks after getting a deceased person's possessions to the people to whom he or she left them after the person has died, as instructed in a will. 

It is not a job for the faint of heart since it can be both time-consuming and stressful, but it can also be an honor that the person believed his or her executor could be trusted with the important task. An executor is also responsible for paying off the debts of the person who wrote the will, otherwise referred to as the testator. The executor is entrusted to act in good faith.

Real estate: Pointers for selling a home privately in Alabama

Many homeowners are reluctant to sell their homes on their own, but it is doable. Alabama residents who want to make the foray into for sale by owner (FSBO) territory might benefit from a few real estate tips before making that decision. Selling a home privately will keep a sizable amount of change in an individual's pocket.

In essence those who are thinking about selling their own home can do pretty much everything a real estate agent can do, such as advertise the home for sale; market the home with ads in local newspapers, fliers and on social media; show the home as well as hold open houses. A realtor will also do a market analysis to come up with a list price that is comparable to similar homes that have recently sold. That is something a homeowner can also do. However, when it comes time to draw up an offer to purchase, an attorney can be of great assistance with the legal dynamics.

Keeping children happy and healthy in a divorce situation

When a couple separates, their children are likely to feel as much pain and sadness as they do. Divorce is difficult on all family members, particularly kids, so it is crucial that parents communicate the positives of the situation to their children to ensure both their mental and physical health. In many divorce situations in Alabama, a couple might need help to move past the animosity they may feel for each other in order to focus on what's best for their children.

Former spouses who are effective co-parents have to learn to get along with each other. Learning to do that when it was impossible within the marriage is necessary for a positive parenting plan the two people fashion for the sake of their children. It means working together to ensure the safety, well-being and happiness of their kids. Setting up boundaries initially may be a solid starting point to creating a well-rounded, positive parenting plan moving forward.

Ensuring the power of a power of attorney in estate planning

Ensuring a power of attorney actually has the power for which he or she has been named is crucial. Good estate planning will make sure that any individuals Alabama residents name as a power of attorney. These individuals have the legal power to make decisions for an individual when that person can't do so him or herself. But there are certain things that should be in place to make sure a POA can act as the individual naming him or her would wish.

POA documents should be reviewed every three years, or more frequently as warranted, to make sure they're in keeping with current state legislation. If they aren't worded in keeping with the current laws, they may be rejected. And as life situations change, a POA should reflect those changes. Circumstantial changes like divorce, death of an already named POA or distance are some reasons a POA document should be updated. 

Child custody rules in Alabama: Can a child be relocated?

Divorces are particularly hard on kids. They essentially have to start a new way of life, and many children don't take kindly to drastic changes in their routines -- especially young children. It's difficult enough on them knowing their parents won't be living together with them, let alone when their parents can't agree on where and with whom, exactly, they're going to be living. Child custody battles in Alabama can be brutal on kids, particularly, when one parent wants to move the kids to a new location entirely. 

But, there may be times when a move is in the best interests of the children. It may be because the custodial parent has been offered a better job, or the children would be closer to extended family. The court always wants to hear that any decision made regarding kids is always to their benefit. Usually the court considers relocation not to fit that parameter and the parent would have to prove that it would be. It is important in any relocation, that the noncustodial parent would still be near enough to his or her children to have regular visitation.

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