Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Baby Boomers Have the Most Divorces

Baby Boomers Have the Most Divorces

As a divorce lawyer, I’m constantly reviewing information and statistics about divorce. As the divorce rate continues to decline among Gen-Xers and Millennials, it’s the Baby Boomers who are still getting divorced at the highest rates.

According to researchers, students, and professors from the University of Maryland, the average marriage is lasting longer than ever, and young people are divorcing less often. This could have quite a bit to do with people being far more cautious in their approach to marriage, as the average age of people getting married for the first time is also higher than ever. Between the 1940s and 1970s, a woman in her first marriage was just over 20 years old on average. Now, she is just over 27. So people are getting married much older now. The Baby Boomer Generation got married a lot younger so that’s on reason that people think divorce is more common among them.

Baby Boomers keeping divorce rates up

Although overall divorce rates are steadily decreasing, they are still as high as they are primarily because of the Baby Boomers. From 1990 to 2012, the divorce rate for people between 55 and 64 year olds more than doubled as Baby Boomers entered retirement age. The divorce rate for people 65 and older more than tripled.

It will take some time to determine whether Millennials are, in fact, simply better at maintaining their relationships for life. The average time it takes for first marriages to end in divorce is 12 years. However, based on how many fewer Gen-Xers have divorced than Baby Boomers, it would seem like today’s young couples are going to continue the trend of fewer divorces overall.

Why Divorce is Better than Being Trapped in a Bad Marriage

There’s a certain stigma associated with divorce that many people have a hard time shaking. Those who are stuck in bad relationships often delay filing for divorce simply because they focus on negative questions, such as “what will other people think?” or “what if this decision ruins my children’s lives?”

Although it’s quite normal to have concerns and fears related to divorce, dissolving your marriage may be a much better option than staying in a toxic relationship. Here are some reasons why:

  • You can set a better example for your kids: While there are many challenges associated with being a single parent, the last thing you want to show your kids is that it is normal to put up with an unhealthy relationship. Children are going to grow up to look for the kinds of relationships they experienced and saw as a young child. Don’t model a bad relationship for them.
  • You can focus on yourself: After you get divorced, you can get back to focusing on yourself, learning who you are and living for you. You are still able to be a great parent, but you may also find a new appreciation for life.
  • You can escape danger: It is especially important to get a divorce if your spouse is at all abusive, whether physically, emotionally or financially. You should never have to accept an abusive relationship. Get out as soon as you can and escape the danger and fear you’re experiencing.
  • You can find a better fit for you: After spending some time alone and finding yourself, you can put effort into finding a partner who is actually good for you and strengthens and empowers you. You deserve to find someone who truly makes you happy.

Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Estate and Gift Tax Lawyer

Estate and Gift Tax Lawyer

Estate and gift taxes are imposed by the federal government on the transfer of property from person to another, either at death (estate tax) or while the giver of the property is still alive (gift tax). This article provides a brief overview of both forms of transfer.

Estate Tax in Utah

Estates are required to file a federal estate tax return if the value of the “gross” estate, minus certain deductions, is above a certain dollar amount ($5.49 million in 2017). The gross estate includes the value of all property in which the decedent had an interest at the time of his or her death — including such items as real estate, stocks and bonds, mortgages, notes and cash, insurance on the decedent’s life, and jointly owned property. If spouses own property in joint tenancy, and one dies, one half of the value of the jointly held property is included in the gross estate of the deceased spouse.

Utah Estate Tax Exemptions

Personal Exemption. The “personal estate tax exemption” allows a certain amount (or all) of a deceased person’s estate to transfer free of the estate tax. This has changed over time, reaching the $5.49 million mark in 2017. At any time Congress may increase or decrease this amount, or even repeal the estate tax altogether.

Marital Deduction. A deceased person’s estate can pass tax free to a surviving spouse, as long as the surviving spouse is a U.S. citizen and the deceased spouse’s interest in the estate passes to the surviving spouse outright (in other words, the property transfers directly to the spouse upon the decedents death).

To understand how the marital deduction and personal estate tax exemption might work in practice, suppose Bob dies leaving an estate worth $12 million. Putting aside community property issues for the moment, assume that his will states that $6.49 million go to his wife, and $6.49 million to his daughter Kate. In this situation, no part of the $6.49 million Bob leaves to his wife will be subject to the estate tax (as long as Bob’s wife is a U.S. citizen and all the property included in the $6.49 million passes to her outright). Of the $6.49 million Bob leaves to Kate, however, $1 million will be subject to the estate tax (the $6.49 million minus the first $5.49 million that is tax-free under the 2017 personal estate tax exemption).

Other deductions. Other deductions against the gross estate include certain administrative expenses, funeral expenses, claims against the estate, certain taxes and other indebtedness and charitable bequests.

Have a Tax Lawyer File the Estate Tax Return

The executor, personal representative, or person in possession of the estate’s assets must file the estate tax return within nine months of the decedent’s death. The estate can apply for a six-month extension of time to file, but the taxes must be paid within nine months of the decedent’s death. The time for payment of the estate tax may be extended in certain circumstances.

State Estate Taxes

Some states also impose estate taxes. The state in which the decedent lived may impose an estate tax, and states where real estate or personal property is located may also impose an estate tax. The law of each state having any connection to the property in question must be consulted in order to assess any tax consequences associated with the property transfer.

Federal Gift Tax

The gift tax is a tax on the legal transfer of property from one person to another, during the giving person’s lifetime. Certain gifts are exempt from the gift tax, including:

  • Gifts valued at a dollar amount of $14,000 or less to any one individual in a single calendar year (as of 2017);
  • Gifts to a spouse;
  • Payment of tuition or medical expenses on someone else’s behalf;
  • Charitable contributions; and
  • Certain gifts to political organizations.

Free Consultation with a Utah Gift and Estate Tax Lawyer

If you are here, you probably have an estate issue you need help with, call Ascent Law for your free estate law consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Does Bankruptcy Affect Divorce?

Does Bankruptcy Affect Divorce

Depending on your financial situation, it may seem like it is a sensible decision to file for bankruptcy at the same time as you file for divorce, especially if large debt was a major contributing factor to your divorce. However, these two legal processes can occasionally complicate each other when they occur at the same time and make the divorce process in particular go quite a bit slower. You’ll want to speak with a Chapter 7 Lawyer to make sure you are doing the right thing. At our office, we have active cases in both divorce and bankruptcy, so you can feel secure knowing that we can help you with your case.

Bankruptcy and Divorce Lawyer

If you file for bankruptcy during a divorce, the divorce court can still make decisions regarding items such as alimony, child support, child custody and visitation. However, the property division process cannot begin so long as bankruptcy courts still have control over your property.

It is also important to understand that just because you file for bankruptcy does not mean you will automatically be excused from certain joint debts that you incurred during the course of your marriage. Although bankruptcy may forgive these debts for you and put the responsibility on the shoulders of your ex-spouse, in most cases that spouse will be advised to take you back to divorce court to get an order for you to pay him or her back.

Certain divorce debts cannot be eliminated at all from bankruptcy. Alimony and child support will never be forgiven through bankruptcy, end neither will any payments that you make to your spouse as part of an exchange for property.

Some Reasons You Should Consider an Annulment Instead of a Divorce

All 50 states allow for no-fault divorces, but there are some circumstances in which you might prefer to get an annulment instead. While most marriages don’t qualify for an annulment, those that do might be better served by this process rather than divorce.

The following are a few common reasons why people choose annulments:

  • New information has come to light: Under Utah law, you must be able to demonstrate something you have found out since the marriage occurred would have stopped you from legally entering the marriage had you known about it earlier. Examples include a spouse who was already married, an enormous debt you were not aware of, lies about identity or other forms of fraud.
  • You are religious: Some religions, such as Catholicism, require you to have your marriage annulled by the church if you wish to get remarried someday. You may have a civil divorce and a religious annulment and still get remarried, although you might wish to get a legal annulment for simplicity’s sake. Keep in mind that the standards for a legal annulment are not the same as those for a religious annulment.
  • You do not want the divorce on public record: Some people wish to keep the record of their divorce out of the public eye. An annulment is not subject to public record like a divorce is, and so it can offer you some privacy in that regard.
  • You expect property division to be an issue: If you expect complications to arise with the division of marital property, going through the annulment process could prevent you from losing a portion of your assets.

Free Consultation with Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you have a bankruptcy question, or need to file a bankruptcy case, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. Attorneys in our office have filed over a thousand cases. We can help you now. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Drug Crimes Lawyer

Drug Crimes Lawyer

One of the most fundamental problems facing the American criminal justice system is debate over the answer to the following question: Is addiction a disease? Alcohol abuse was defined as an addiction by the American Medical Association in the mid 1960s, and drug abuse followed less than a decade later.

As a criminal lawyer, I’m different than others. I want people to know their rights and protect them. That’s why we put out information – to help people just like you. Now, we’ve provided information about drug crimes before here, here, and here, but there is always more to address.

Unfortunately, addiction is still widely regarded as a moral failing rather than a disease, which is perhaps why our nation’s drug laws focus on incarceration and punishment rather than treatment. The recent drug crimes case involving a Salt Lake City former judge suggests that addiction can quickly derail the lives of even the most moral and upright individuals.

In August, the 46-year-old judge pleaded guilty to one count of drug possession with intent to distribute. Investigators allegedly tracked the woman as she picked up packages containing drugs from a post office box in Salt Lake City.

The former judge has explained that she is addicted to the prescription painkiller Oxycodone; which she first began taking after a 1998 car accident. Some of the packages apparently contained Oxycodone pills while others contained different drugs that she allegedly traded for Oxycodone.

This month, she was sentenced to 90 days in jail followed by three years of probation. Under the terms of her probation, the woman has agreed to continue drug treatment and testing, among other things.

Many outside observers have been critical of the sentence given to the former judge; believing it to be too light. But let’s examine the facts. The woman has been a faithful public servant for years. And prior to her recent conviction, she had an absolutely spotless criminal record. She is also raising two young children as a single mother; including a child with special needs.

According to her attorney, the woman admitted to herself that she had an addiction problem before being arrested. She had even been trying to ween herself off of Oxycodone.

It is fairly plain to see that this former judge’s drug abuse was not the result of growing up in a bad neighborhood, falling in with the wrong crowd or simply lacking moral character. Even her decision to take drugs in the first place was motivated by a legitimate need to manage pain after an accident.

Addiction is a disease, but it often causes symptoms that include criminal and immoral behaviors. How much more successful would we be as a society if we treated the underlying disease rather than simply punishing the symptoms?

U.S. Supreme Court To Take On Important Drug Crimes Case

It’s a classic scenario that has landed countless drivers in hot water. A police officer pulls someone over for erratic driving or some other infraction, and the stop yields something much more substantial, such as a large quantity of drugs. Many drunk driving arrests and drug crimes charges start with a traffic infraction that may be minor, but is enough to establish probable cause and initiate a traffic stop.

But here’s an interesting and tricky question: what if the erratic driving was witnessed by an anonymous tipster, and a police officer makes the stop without having seen the bad driving for himself? That’s a question central to a case that will likely go before the U.S. Supreme Court in January of next year.

The incident occurred in California after someone made an anonymous 911 call to report that a Ford 150 pickup was driving recklessly and had run the caller off the road. Dispatchers were provided with important information including the truck’s license plate number, which was then passed along to the California Highway Patrol.

Officers spotted the vehicle and made the traffic stop, despite the fact that they did not observe the reckless driving themselves. During the stop, an officer smelled marijuana and searched the truck. Four large bags of it were found and the two men in the truck pleaded guilty to transporting marijuana.

They later appealed their conviction based on the traffic stop itself. A previous ruling by a high court set the precedent that it is not generally allowable for police to conduct a search or detain someone when acting solely on an anonymous tip. The question that the U.S. Supreme Court will address is whether anonymous tips should be treated differently when they concern drunk driving or reckless driving.

In recent years, several important criminal cases have gone before the nation’s highest court, and the rulings have proven to be influential around the country, including here in Utah. Based on the details and the questions posed, there is reason to believe that this case may prove to be important to the future of criminal defense as well.

Free Consultation with a Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer

When you need help on a criminal case, please give our office a call for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Does the Business Pay Lawyers Fees?

If you are a director, officer, or employee of a corporation or a manager, member, or employee of an LLC and you have been sued. Then, the company or business can pay for the attorney’s fees and costs. This advancement for payment of defense costs is found in both the Utah Corporate Code and the Utah LLC code. Whether the litigation involves intra-corporate issues or a business divorce, the fact that the company is advancing the attorney fees for the defendants significantly alters the playing field.

Does the Business Pay Lawyers Fees

The basic principle of advancement for expenses is that a corporation or LLC may pay for or reimburse the reasonable expenses incurred by a director/manager who is a party to a proceeding in advance of any final judgment. The purpose is to allow the director, who was acting on behalf of the company at the time of the alleged conduct, to have the company step up for his defense, advance the expenses, and relieve the director of the burden of those expenses, including attorney fees. Thus, it is more likely that quality persons will serve as directors knowing that should they be named in a proceeding; the company will be there to back them up financially.


To qualify for an advance of reasonable expenses, the director must furnish to the corporation their written statement that in their belief, they acted in good faith, and, they must furnish to the corporation a written “undertaking” to repay the advance if they are not entitled to mandatory indemnification and it is ultimately determined that the director did not meet certain standards of conduct. In effect, the corporation makes a loan to the director that will need to be repaid if the director actually took action or failed to take action which harmed the company. The director must confirm that the director’s conduct was in good faith, that the director reasonably believed that the director acted in an official capacity with the corporation which was in the best interests of the corporation or at least not opposed to the corporation’s best interest, and in the case of criminal proceedings that the individual had no reasonable cause to believe the conduct at issue was unlawful. The director may alternatively or in addition thereto give a written affirmation to the corporation that liability for the director’s alleged conduct was eliminated by the Articles of Incorporation.

With respect to an outside director of the company, one who is not an officer, employee, or holder of more than 5% of the shares of the stock of the corporation, the rules are slightly different. The outside director must still affirm to the corporation that they had a good faith belief they met the standard of conduct referenced above and have furnished their written promise to repay the advance if it is determined they did not meet such standard of conduct. This promise to repay is an unlimited general obligation which may not be secured by the company and shall be accepted without reference to the outside director’s financial ability to make a repayment.

Utah Business Lawyers Represent Company Directors

A director is defined as not only a director of the corporation but also an officer, partner, trustee, employee or agent of another foreign or domestic corporation, partnership, joint venture, trust, employee benefit plan or other entity.

The director must repay the advancement if they are not entitled to mandatory indemnification and either a court or the Board of Directors, special legal counsel, or shareholder vote determines that the director did not meet the standard of conduct.

A few additional rules are required for advancement to officers. If the individual is an officer but not a director the advancement may be made to “… the further extent as may be provided by the Articles of Incorporation, the Bylaws, a resolution to the Board of Directors or contract. …” If the company will not advance the expenses, directors and officers may apply to a court for an advance of expenses to the same extent to which a director is entitled to an advance. The court conducting the proceeding or any other court with jurisdiction may order the advance of expenses if the director is entitled to mandatory indemnification or the director is “fairly and reasonably” entitled to the advance.

Under the LLC statutes, an LLC has the power to “indemnify a member, manager, employee, officer, or agent or any other person.” The LLC statutes are structured to allow the Operating Agreement to provide the terms and conditions of indemnification, including advancement. However, a court would likely allow advancement in an LLC context in light of the Utah corporate statutes.

LLC Attorney Files Lawsuit

Persons bringing intra-corporate claims who are owners of the entity must realize prior to bringing suit that should they name management or employees in such a suit, it is likely that such defendants will seek and obtain an advancement from the company to pay defense costs. Thus, in effect, the plaintiffs, by virtue of their ownership in the entity, are paying a portion of their assets and interest in the company to cover the advanced attorney fees of their opponents. Within any intra-corporate dispute or business divorce context, the balance of the issues may be shifted purely by the fact the company’s accounts are being drained to pay the defendants’ attorneys’ fees. While some may claim foul, the advancement statutes are an important protection for management brought into any kind of proceeding; giving them assurance that their personal funds are not at risk while defending themselves for acts allegedly taken while they were acting in their official capacity for the company.

Free Consultation with a Utah Business Lawyer

If you are here, you probably have a business law issue you need help with, call Ascent Law for your free business law consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Monday, 13 August 2018

Avoiding a Contentious Divorce

Avoiding a Contentious Divorce

It can be a harrowing experience to bring up the idea of divorce with your spouse. At some point, if you believe divorce is imminent, the conversation is going to have to happen. However, there are certain things you should never do or say during this conversation, as it could hurt you later on.

The following are a few examples:

  • Never make promises about your assets: Avoid promising to leave the home and move elsewhere, or make promises about certain pieces of property you have. Breaking these promises — or making promises you never intended to keep — could come back to haunt you. Only discuss these specifics with your divorce attorney.
  • Never discuss value of specific property: No matter the type of item, you should never offer opinions as to what a specific piece of property is worth. There are many complications that could arise if you do so. Instead, a lawyer will help you get objective appraisals of the value of your property.
  • Never discuss child custody or visitation: Regardless of what you want to happen regarding child custody after your divorce, you should never attempt to discuss this issue during the initial divorce conversation. These decisions are best made by a judge or in formal negotiations in the presence of your attorneys and a trained mediator.
  • Don’t let your emotions get the best of you: This is much easier said than done, as the conversation is likely to be emotional in nature. It can be tempting to hurl insults or yell, but keeping your cool will prevent your spouse from being able to claim you are emotionally unstable and/or unfit to have custody of your kids.
  • Don’t say anything on social media: Keep everything related to your divorce off social media. In fact, consider avoiding social media as much as possible during your divorce, as even innocuous posts could be taken out of context by your spouse’s legal team to be used against you. You can temporarily disable your accounts until your divorce is finalized.

How You Can Navigate a Contentious Divorce

Divorce can be a complex legal process commonly wrought with emotional and financial stresses. Ideally, you would be able to negotiate a divorce settlement quickly and easily, but unfortunately that’s not always possible.

If you have reason to believe your upcoming divorce will be contentious in nature, there are a few things you can do to make sure you get through the process as efficiently as possible.

Always Take the High Road in Divorce

First, be sure to avoid responding to threats — as this is exactly what your ex-spouse wants you to do. If threats become severe or harassing, reach out to the police and have law enforcement officers deal with it rather than responding.

You should also establish a no-contact rule, except for email. You are more likely to react to verbal screaming and insults than you are text-based communication. Plus, through text, you always have a record of what your spouse is saying. If he or she acts abusive in an email, it will reflect poorly on him or her in court.

Rely on your Divorce Lawyer For Help

Don’t be hesitant to have your attorney serve as your intermediary. This can be the best way to navigate a contentious divorce, as it allows you to remove yourself — to some degree — from the emotional stresses of the divorce. Be sure to hire a divorce attorney who is patient and who will answer your questions and address your concerns quickly.

Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Domestic Asset Protection Trusts

Domestic Asset Protection Trusts

Whether you have a higher net worth or are in a high-liability profession, a domestic asset protection trust can help protect you and your family from lawsuits. If you wish to stop the claims of future creditors and litigators, we can help you. There are several ways to protect your assets, from gifting to family members and charities to paying for certain Medicare costs up front. Setting up a trust, however, is one of the most effective strategies.

Asset Protection Trusts and Other Trusts

Types of trusts include:

  • Revocable Trusts: These do not provide protection from creditors. Since the person who created the trust can amend it, that person’s creditors can also reach the trust’s assets.
  • Irrevocable Trusts: When a trust is created by someone other than the trust beneficiary, assets can be shielded from creditors. There are certain exceptions to this, however, such as government entities and individuals to whom are owed child support payments. Unless a trust is a self-settled irrevocable trust, it will only provide minimal protection.

We’ve talked about asset protection and asset protection trusts here, here, here, and here.


In May 2013, Utah established a new self-settled domestic asset protection trust statute. This law provides a great degree of protection: as long as a person creates and funds an irrevocable trust with his/her assets and meets the requirements of the statute. When these are met:

  • The person’s future creditors will not be able to attach the trust property
  • They will not be able to force distributions from the trust to the trust’s creator
  • They will not be able to require the trustees to pay directly to the creditor distributions that would otherwise be made to the trust’s creator


Whether one of these new trusts is right for you depends on the size of your estate and your personal wishes. We listen to each client and create custom plans for asset protection. For example, your life insurance and retirement plans might already have sufficient asset protection in place, but other assets may be at risk. We can help set up special trusts, corporations and limited liability companies to protect you.

Salt Lake City Pet Trust Lawyer

Your pets have their own favorite foods, toys, playtime activities, medicines, and other specific health care needs. A pet trust allows you to specify with exactness how your pets will be cared for in your absence. They can get the veterinary care they need, at the veterinarian they are accustomed to, through directives you make in your pet trust. They can be ensured of daily exercise, proper boarding, as well as any other needs they have come to appreciate as being part of your loving family. Sure, you could informally ask your friends or heirs to take care of your pets after your death or if you become disabled. Sadly, the pounds receive many such animals, as those agreements are not enforceable and leave far too much to chance. Your pets mean too much to leave their futures so uncertain. Call us about a pet trust and make sure all of your family is cared for.

What is a pet trust?

A pet trust is a legally-enforceable document that ensures your pets are properly cared for in the event of your death or disability. Under Utah law, a trust can be created that provides for all of your pets and other domestic animals, such as horses, dogs, cats, and birds. When a trust is created, funds are set aside to provide for your animals’ on-going maintenance and care in the event of your incapacity or death. A trustee that you appoint is charged with managing those funds and may legally use them solely for the proper care of your animals, and no other purpose. A pet trust is the only sure way of providing for the continued care of your animals after your death or even if you simply become incapable of taking care of them.

Benefits of Having a Pet Trust

Many people think a will is sufficient. But it is not. Money left for animal care might be contested by heirs. A trust avoids this possibility entirely, by giving you complete control over the designated assets both during incapacity and after death. Wills are subject to court processes and may result in undesired consequences, but a trust is not: it puts you in control by doing what you want, when you want, and keeps you out of court entirely.

Through a pet trust, you can designate not only how the funds are used, but how the funds can be invested and grown over time, to continue providing care and then, following the passing of your pets, to provide for a charitable gift to a charity of your choosing (perhaps animal related, if you like). The amount you set aside can be determined according to your own animals’ needs, such as what kind of animals they are and how many, the type of boarding they need, and medical care they might require as they age.

How Seniors Can Protect Their Pets

Studies have shown that seniors live longer, healthier, more content lives when they have a companion animal. But often seniors are worried about what will happen to their animals when they pass on. Pet trusts make it possible to continue to let your pets know how much they are loved and how much happiness they have brought into your life. With a pet trust, you can rest assured knowing that your companion animals will not be left to fate after your death or incapacity.

Free Initial Consultation with an Asset Protection Lawyer

When it’s time to protect your assets, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506