In these turbulent economic times, many of us are concerned about protecting our assets, whether it is the home, savings for a child’s education, or a dwindling retirement account. We need no reminder that life holds few guarantees and to further protect ourselves we have insurance on our lives, our homes, our cars, and the list goes on. But when was the last time that you reviewed your policy limits and confirmed that you have enough insurance? Or the right type of insurance policy riders?
I attended a meeting this morning where it was announced that there had been a significant rise in title insurance claims in New York State. These claims are made against title insurance policies issued to either the homeowner (if he/she purchased this optional policy at the time they bought their home) or the bank lending the money for their purchase or refinance (such a policy is always required by the bank).
I recently had an opportunity to sit down with a potential client who had acknowledged with her spouse a need to achieve at least a legal separation and possibly a divorce. Her main questions were focused on how that process would work as she had some ideas regarding traditional divorce litigation, mediation and collaborative law. Her case was not unlike pretty much all others in that the answer to the question of which process is optimal is unfortunately best answered with the benefit of hindsight after the matter has been brought to a conclusion. There are a number of factors for the parties each to consider when choosing a “dispute resolution model”, including the potential costs involved, how trusting the parties are of one another, and ultimately how they would like their divorce to look when it is finished. With respect to this last consideration, the resulting Judgment of Divorce will, in many ways, be the same document no matter what course the parties chose to achieve that result. However, how the parties feel about one another and how they are able to interact in a post-divorce setting may be markedly different.
Though the Buffalo area has not been hit as hard by the mortgage crisis as other parts of the country, there are still many local people who are affected. Whether in a foreclosure situation or in negotiating with a lender to accept something less than the full mortgage debt that is owed (a “short sale”), a homeowner may end up having a portion of his or her mortgage debt forgiven by his or her lender. In the past, this may have solved one problem (the inability to satisfy the mortgage) but created another: income tax due on the forgiven debt.