Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Protect Your Assets From Your *Future* Ex

In the past few decades, it seems like many people have lost perspective when it comes to the sanctity of marriage. We now are exposed to what I like to call a "microwave" society.  What does that mean?  It means that we are a society of instant gratification.  With the constant changes in the world, our lives change so quickly and suddenly, we sometimes fail to plan ahead in anticipation of our ever changing desires.
Did you know that according to, 41% of first marriages end in divorce; and 60% of second marriages end in divorce. You must be thinking, "What does this have to do with Asset Protection?"   The simple response -  is everything!

I have met with many clients whose family members failed to plan ahead and have  unexpectedly passed away. They came to seek legal counsel about their loved one's estate, only to discover that their loved one was either legally married or in the process of a divorce at the time of their passing. This now raises myriad unexpected issues if the divorce was never fully filed or finalized.

In the state of Florida, if you pass away without a will or if you are legally married to someone - even if you haven't been with them in years or you were in the process of getting a divorce - and you pass away, your "intended former" spouse may end up with all of your assets or may have a claim to your estate. Obviously this is something that you wouldn't want your beloved family members to have to encounter.  

How do you prevent this from happening? You plan ahead. If you or a loved one are legally married but separated  or in the process of a divorce, you may want to seek the legal counsel of an estate planning attorney.  Unfortunately, we dont know when the unfortunate will happen, but we can always plan for the future of our loved ones. If you want to assure that you have control over the disposition of your assets, then simply plan ahead.

At the Alvarez Law Firm we assist our clients in planning ahead.  Let us help you understand your legal rights. For the month of August we will conduct a free  30 minute asset protection or estate planning consultation, for new and former clients.

 Call us today for your free consultation.  


Rachel Alvarez

The Alvarez Law Firm A Professional Association 

~Remember, the best compliment we can receive is referring us to your friends and family.~

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Asset Protection 101

As times get more and more difficult we start hearing more and more legal jargon. 
One of the most frequent calls we receive to our office is about "Asset Protection". I am sure somewhere along the way you have heard this term before - but what does it really mean?

Asset Protection is planning that utilizes a series of lawful techniques and applies them strategically
to protect your assets.

Who are you trying to protect your assets from?  - From claims of future creditors.

These techniques are designed to prevent potential future creditors from going after you and your assets. If done appropriately, these techniques will frustrate the creditor and deter them from coming after you legally, allowing you to maintain  your assets.

One of major benefits of Asset Protection is that a future creditor who recognizes how difficult it would be to collect on successful judgment, might decide it makes little sense to pursue a claim, or be willing to settle for pennies on the dollar.

It is important to plan ahead - before you have any legal issues or have any potential creditors
pursuing you. If you have a creditor attempting to collect a debt or a lawsuit filed against you then it is simply too late to protect your assets. Its best to plan ahead.

At the Alvarez law firm we can assist you to protect your future.


Rachel Alvarez
The Alvarez Law Firm A Professional Association
~Remember, the best compliment we can receive is referring us to your friends and family.~

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Times are tough, Even for your Creditors!

In the past few years  most of us have felt the economic crunch in some way or another. Some have lost employment, some have reduced their budget and others have reorganized their finances.
However, a true indicator that times are tough beyond a doubt is when the creditors are getting so aggressive they are willing to break the law to get their collections.
As a consumer rights attorney, I have seen many different approaches as to how aggressive creditors can be. You, as a Consumer, must be aware of your legal rights. 
One of the most popular trends we are seeing amongst creditors is what I like to call "Double Dipping". This is where a creditor knows that you have either filed for bankruptcy or entered into a settlement agreement to resolve the matter and still they continue to harass you for a debt that NO LONGER EXISTS.
 This type of behavior is ILLEGAL and PROHIBITED not only under Florida Law but also under Federal Law. If you have a creditor that continues to harass you after bankruptcy or after completing the terms of a settlement agreement, you may have a legal right to sue the Creditor for violating such laws.  You, as a consumer, need to know your legal rights.
Rachel Alvarez
The Alvarez Law Firm A Professional Association
~Remember, the best compliment we can receive is referring us to your friends and family.~

To put it in writing, or not to put it in writing: that is the question...

Often times, a pair of individuals choose to partner up and start a business. Much like a marriage, the partnership is wonderful in the beginning. Think of it as the honeymoon period. 

I typically work with the partners from the beginning, think of me as the marriage counselor. From the moment they tie the knot - or sign the paperwork in this case, I try to figure out what type of relationship they have had in the past and what each party is bringing to the table.

One of my first recommendations is usually to display all of their ideas and duties in writing. This way there is no confusion as to what each party is responsible for. However, from time to time, I will have partners who will tell me "Rachel, our Word is our Bond." 95% of the time, these types of partnerships end in disaster. It is important for all business partners to come to the table knowing exactly what they have brought and what is expected of them.

At the Alvarez Law Firm, we enjoy assisting our clients in creating their futures, successfully. 

Rachel Alvarez
The Alvarez Law Firm A Professional Association
~Remember, the best compliment we can receive is referring us to your friends and family.~

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Corporate Liability - What does it mean?

It is very common for business owners to receive their corporate renewals in the mail and not know what to do with them or what the renewals are for. In the state of Florida the deadline to renew without penalty is May 1st of each year.  Most people do not realize how important this renewal is for their business. 

As a business owner, it is always the objective to limit your liability solely to the business and avoid personal liability altogether.  However, if you fail to renew your business entity (i.e. LLC, INC, or PA) then you may be opening the door to personal liability.

Most business owners do not understand the importance of corporate formalities and why it is so important to make sure you preserve these formalities. The most commonly violated formalities are commingling of funds and assets. A perfect example of commingling funds is paying for groceries out of your corporate account. An example of commingling assets is using the business vehicle for personal use.  

A main benefit of incorporating your business is to separate the business entity from yourself and minimize personal liability. The moment that you and your business become one in the same (i.e. commingly of funds or assets), you assume the risk of personal liability.

You do not want to be one of the many businesses that find themselves in this situation. If you would like to learn more information on this topic, call us at The Alvarez Law Firm. We will be able to assist you with your corporate renewal, maintaining corporate formalitites, and reducing your personal liability.


Rachel Alvarez
The Alvarez Law Firm A Professional Association
~Remember, the best compliment we can receive is referring us to your friends and family.~

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What does Foreclosure Really Mean?

Most of us have become familiar with the term Foreclosure. However, most homeowners who are being foreclosed don't know what that really means.

A simplified definition would be  best described as: a time when a borrower cannot repay a loan and the lender seeks to sell the property. In Florida  most foreclosure cases are for two reasons: for title and debt.

The lender not only has the right to collect the debt that was owed to them but they are also entitled to clear the title and take away the interest that any party may have on title for this property. Most homeowners get overwhelmed and pretend that this foreclosure action is not against them. However,  the moment you receive a foreclosure summons you should immediately seek legal counsel to learn what your legal rights are. Each case is unique as well. It is important to know that your attorney has listened to all of the facts before giving you your options. At the Alvarez law firm we assist our clients through these difficult times.  It is our job to help you understand the law.

Please contact our office for a free 30 min consultation regarding foreclosure defense and alternatives.  


Rachel Alvarez
The Alvarez Law Firm A Professional Association
~Remember, the best compliment we can receive is referring us to your friends and family.~

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Short Sale Misconceptions

One of the most common misconceptions that most people have is; "If I short sale my house-that's it, I have nothing else to worry about."

Unfortunately, this is not always the truth. Unless the lender specifically gives you a waiver of liability - meaning they say "with this short sale we are done" then you may still owe them money.

The lender has the right to come after the borrower for up to 5 years after the short sale to collect what is owed to them. You must think "how is this possible?" 

Under Florida Law, the statute of limitations allows the lender to pursue any monies for up to 5 years. Simply put - it's the lender's legal right to do so. How can you avoid this? You could make sure an attorney or other real estate professional negotiates the deficiency prior to closing, which means you get that letter that says "We, the lender, will not come after you" or you can settle it out after the fact or file bankruptcy to avoid a lawsuit. Further, you may have tax liability.

It is important to know your legal rights. At the Alvarez law Firm we help you understand the law.


Rachel Alvarez
The Alvarez Law Firm

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Corporate Formalities

Have you ever heard of the legal term “corporate formalities” ? If you own a corporation, an LLC, a partnership or any business entities you should be very well versed in what a corporate formality really is and how it will impact you.

 Under Florida each business entity (for the sake of this article we will use a corporation) you are required to preserve corporate formalities.  What does this mean?  In order to maintain personal
limited liability you must respect the business entity as a human being. Courts in recent years have found ever expanding reasons to hold directors, officials, managers, members and shareholders personally liable for corporate responsibilities. As a business structure such as a corporation you must treat it as if you have given birth to a human being. Under the eyes of the law a corporation is consider to be an individual it can sue and be sued and it can own real estate.  However, have a corporation is a task in itself. 

Typically after setting up the proper corporate structure and getting a Federal Identification Number you are set to start transacting business.  As you are transacting business you must remember like all separate entities/individuals you must preserve its rights. The purpose of setting up a corporation is to have legal protection and privacy. However, if you do not maintain its individuality you may lose these benefits.

Simple things you must remember when maintaining your business entity: 1) keep a separate bank account. If you have real estate owned by a corporation/llc you should collect rents and pay maintenance and taxes from this account; 2) you should not co-mingle funds and assets. An example of this is paying for personal expenses directly from your business account; 3) good record keeping. The purpose for this is for liability reason not only from a legal perspective but also from a tax perspective. You never want to be the one person that is sued or audited and you have no proof to defend your rights. 4) Agency issues. Be sure when you are transacting business that you make it very clear to the third party that you are acting in the capacity given to you by the business entity. And finally, always, always have an annual meeting and pay your filing fees this with the state of Florida.

 If you are unclear as to what implications this will have on you as a business structure or what tax implication it will have on you as a person you should always seek the advice of an Attorney or CPA.

Rachel M. Alvarez

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Did you know that Nasty Bill Collectors Might Owe YOU Money?

Have you ever had a bill collector call you repeatedly only to say some mean and nasty comments?  Have you ever had a bill collector call you at work and then attempt to make you feel like you were a deadbeat?  In this bad economy no one benefits more than collection agencies.
Collection agencies make a profit when they collect money from the consumer. However, the tactics that they use are at times abusive, sneaky, and downright dirty. Creditor abuse is not uncommon and is actually very real. How do you identify creditor abuse?
In Florida consumer rights are defined and outlined under the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA). Every state’s creditor abuse laws may vary. The following is a list of examples of what Florida considers to be creditor abuse:
1.      Receiving calls from your creditor after you have asked him or her not to call
2.      Receiving calls before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
3.      Receiving calls at your place of employment after you have asked the creditor not to call your place of employment
4.      Receiving threats from your creditor
5.      Having your creditor show up at your door to collect (in some situations)
6.      Creditors insisting that they can legally collect on debts that are very old (beyond the statute of limitations)
7.      Creditors using profanity or abusive language
8.      Creditors using or threatening violence
9.      Creditors calling after you have advised the creditor that you have an attorney and have provided them with that information
10.   Creditors threatening that you will be arrested (there is no such thing as debtor’s prison in the state of Florida)
What is considered “abusive/harassment” under Florida Law?
Courts consider a number of different factual situations to be harassment. Specifically, courts have stated that once an indebted person has been advised of the debt by the creditor and has explained to the creditor that the person cannot pay the debt for a specific reason, then any further contact could be considered harassment. This is determined on a case by case basis and the creditor may be liable for statutory damage.
Who must follow the collections laws in Florida?
In Florida, the law states that no person may engage in the prohibited collection practices. This generally means everyone attempting to collect on a debt must refrain from the prohibited collection practices.
The FCCPA prohibits the enforcement of a debt when the person knows that the debt is not actually legally owed. There are numerous other actions which may constitute creditor abuse as well. However, not all bill collectors follow the rules. When that occurs, under the FCCPA, a debtor may be able to recover up to $1,000 in damages from the debt collector or creditor, as well as attorney fees and more.
As a consumer you do not have to live through this abuse. You should seek the advice of a consumer rights or bankruptcy attorney to help you preserve your legal rights.  

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Aspirations for 2011

With each new year comes much potential and we should all make the best of 2011.  As most people do for the New Year,  we too at the Alvarez Law Firm thought it would be a great opportunity  to set new and higher goals for our firm.

As is our philosophy,  we believe that we should continuously be growing and learning - becoming better  with each day.

In 2011:

  •  We vow to provide even higher quality customer service to our clients.
  •  We promise to contribute to our community by educating with informational seminars held at least once a month.
  • We resolve to do our best in every case and to advocate for our clients and protect their legal rights.
  • We make it a point for our clients to always have a positive experience when we assist them with their legal matters.
  • We strive to maintain a good working relationship with our clients, affiliates, employees and community.
  •  As an attorney, I feel that it is imperative to always maintain integrity and sincerity.

At the Alvarez law firm it is vital that each and every one of our clients understand that it is our intention to create a personal relationship with each of them.

As we continue this year we hope to assist you in accomplishing your goals from a legal perspective and hope that you acheive your goals in every other perspective.


Rachel Alvarez
The Alvarez Law Firm A Professional Association

Monday, January 3, 2011

*Happy New Year!*

 During the first quarter of the new year most individuals decide to go into business for themselves. If this is something you're considering, there are so many decisions and options to weigh.

The following are only some important decisions you may have to make:

What kind of business entity should I be (i.e., LLC, Corporation, Incorporation)? How you are recognized under the state law is important because you are then able to understand what your legal rights and duties are.

Do I need an EIN (Employment Identification Number)? It depends on the type of business you setup. Which types of businesses need an EIN is key to knowing how to avoid future trouble with the IRS.
Who should be my Registered Agent? This is key in understanding that this person is the one who will be receiving all future correspondence for your business. This includes lawsuits.

Do I need a partner? Not all people need a partner depending on the type of business that you will be conducting. Sometimes instead of a partner you just need a contractor or an employee. It is important to understand the needs of your business.

Do I collect sales tax? Not all businesses collect sales tax. If you are a business that is legally required to collect sales tax, then you must do so.

There are so many decisions to make but where to begin?

At the Alvarez Law firm we make it our priority to educate our clients to what legal rights you may have.  Let us help you understand your legal rights.


 Rachel M. Alvarez, Esq.