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Somebody’s Watching Me

Someone’s Watching Me

Do you remember the Rockwell and Michael Jackson song from the 1980’s? For some strange reason, we’ve heard the song a handful of times within the last week. Ironically, one member of our team has also been dealing with credit card information being stolen, likely by a digital pickpocket.

Cyber crime is a criminal act done to commit fraud by stealing personal information, resources, or money by using technology. Did you know that smart phones can be used to steal information from you?  Any time you see someone with their phone out near you, the potential is there that they are trying to hack into either your cell phone or scan the credit cards in your wallet. Unfortunately, there is no way to be able to figure out who is a criminal versus someone who is merely looking at a text. Here’s what you can you do to protect yourself:

* Make sure you have reliable spyware installed on both your computer and cellular telephone;
* Choose strong passwords, change them often, and make them all different;
* Be cautious when using public Wifi or your own hotspot;
* Close your browsers and turn them off when you aren’t using them;
* Use a RFID protected wallet;
* Do not give out bank account or wiring information unless you confirm who is requesting it and the end destination;
* Review credit card and bank statements on a regular basis;
* If in doubt, block the person requesting to connect on social media or double check to see if you are already connected on that platform; and
* Be very cautious if someone makes an unsolicited telephone call you asking for identifying information, even if they introduce themselves as a representative from your credit card company, mortgage lender, bank, or similar.

Essentially, take the time to think before you act and trust your gut.

As always, please let us know if you have questions about this or anything other legal matters that you may have.

 

Helpful Links

Department of Homeland Security:
https://www.dhs.gov/topic/combating-cyber-crime

Old Republic National Title:
https://www.oldrepublictitle.com/panational/newsletter/Cybercrime2.htm

Information of digital pick pocketing:
http://www.fightidentitytheft.com/digital-pickpockets

You know you want to listen to the song….:
https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&p=somebody%27s+watching+me+song#id=1&vid=2d3209714264f5fd355174f9205181ad&action=click

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Prepare for College Post-divorce

Ahhhh, college.  It was a great time with new found freedoms. We could eat french fries for lunch and dinner, yet not gain any weight. Weekends started on Wednesday and we never went out before 10pm. Our planning for the future consisted of mid-terms and finals, not 401k and flexible health spending accounts.  This wasn’t just us, right?

If we went back to college now, we would be a lot more serious.  The costs have skyrocketed and students are more competitive than ever. Our 40 something year old selves didn’t have the same pressure that the kids today have in part because college wasn’t as expensive. Had we known, we might have done things differently. We might have even start putting some of the money that we earned from part-time jobs into a Roth IRA instead of investing in a long gone 12 pack of beer (probably not).

We always recommend preparing for how you will pay college expenses long before the application process begins. It’s never too early to start planning for your child, especially if you need to prepare for college post-divorce.

The Massachusetts Bar Association provided some useful information about things to consider especially if are divorcing or already divorced:

http://www.massbar.org/publications/lawyers-journal/2015/may/allocating-college-education-expenses-in-divorce

 

Please let us know if we can help you with the negotiation and planning process or answer any questions that you may have. We even know an amazing person to help you select the best college based on family finances and educational goals; we would be happy to refer you in the right direction!

 

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Don’t be like Chicken Little

Whatever you do today, do not panic like Chicken Little. Are you going to spend the day wondering if you should train for the 2018 Boston Marathon?* Good for you!  Will you spend today pondering a semi-legitimate excuse why you can’t work tomorrow so that you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Go for it! Whatever you do today, do not panic about the Federal Reserve’s slight increase in interest rates. The sky is not actually falling, but it is a great time to think about your mortgage.

 

Mortgage rates are cyclical. Interest rates go down, then they go up, before they go back down again. We have been spoiled for a very long time with historically low rates. For at least the short term, they will be on the rise; however, we have no idea where they will eventually peak or if they will ever return to the crazy low rates of recent years. What does this mean for you?

Now is a great time to refinance your existing mortgage. If you have an adjustable mortgage, now is the ideal time to lock in a stable, fixed interest rate. If you have owned your house for a while and have not recently refinanced, now is a great time to explore a lower, fixed interest rate.

This is an excellent time to sell your current home or buy a new home. The real estate market is currently in a very sweet spot where homes are still competitively priced and mortgage rates are still very low.

 Does it matter which lender you work with on a purchase or refinance? Yes, yes, yes (did we say yes?). The reality is that most lenders have access to and can offer you similar mortgage programs; however, not all lenders are not all created equal. Can you keep a secret? At Weiner Jackson & Simmons, we have our favorite lenders (and real estate agents too). We love working with people who are detail oriented, communicate with everyone involved in the transaction, and who do not panic when we hit a detour, as so often happens. If this is something that you want to explore, let us know and we will point you in the right direction.

So, no, the sky is not falling. The sun is shining and spring is only four days away. Get ready!

* If you are thinking of training for the 2017 Boston Marathon and haven’t yet started, it is time to panic, unless you are Batman, in which case, you should be totally fine.

 

Do you want to know MORE?

Two resources that will help you to understand how the Federal Reserve operates and what this all means for you:
The Federal Reserve (always best to go to the original source):
https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/press/monetary/20170315a.htm

A warmer perspective on the current trend from the Palm Beach Post:
https://www.google.com/amp/www.palmbeachpost.com/business/consumer-advice/first-fed-rate-hike-2017-impact-mortgage-rates/ACwXFE8sUzmcQYbd3cxW4I/amp.htm

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What is in a Name?

 

2016 was the year of “celebrity” deaths.  One passing that went fairly unnoticed was Richard Trentlage, who wrote the Oscar Meyer Wiener song.

Let’s be totally honest: growing up with a name like “Faye Weiner” can be a challenge. Nobody ever knows how to pronounce or spell it and more than every once in a while, someone will sing that catchy song to you like it’s the first time that anyone has ever thought of doing it.

Having a unique name can be rich with family history and personality; however, if you want to change your name, it is very easy to do through legal proceeding.

The most common type of procedure involves a change of marital status. At the time of marriage or divorce, Massachusetts law allows a person to change surname. You cannot force someone to change their surname; however, there is a growing trend of individuals who strongly want their (soon to be) ex-spouse relinquish their married name at the time of divorce. A while back we posted an article on Facebook and Twitter discussing this topic:
https://www.facebook.com/pg/Wjslegal/posts
https://twitter.com/WJSlegal

We often see our clients struggle with their post-divorce surname; the biggest reasons that we hear are concerns about having the same last name as the children, avoiding the process of changing all accounts and legal documents, as well as easier recognition within the community.  Either using your married or maiden name is acceptable and common.

Absent change of marital status, all you need is an original birth certificate, a completed petition to the probate and family court in your county, and a filing fee. Once the documents and fee are submitted, you need to attend a quick judicial hearing. It’s that easy.

….and for those who actually read to the end of this blog, a quick history lesson: the actual last name  “Weiner” is pronounced differently depending from where your ancestors migrated. In this case, the family name is related to wine producers (aka “Wine-er”) in European vineyards.

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Five Rings.

We are going on a limb with this one: Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen likely have a prenuptial agreement. We haven’t seen it, but hopefully, he made provisions for him to retain all of his Super Bowl rings and his MVP trophies if their marriage ends.

 

If at the time of the marriage, Brady disclosed that he owns three Super Bowl rings and a couple of trophies, but didn’t make provisions for the future? In that case, his wife may have a claim for rings and trophies for the fourth and fifth as marital assets. OUCH (especially for number five).

 

We love prenuptials for average couples because they create an opportunity for them to have uncomfortable conversations about their priorities and financial future. Have you been married before? Do you have children? Do you have some savings or a home? If the answer to any of those questions is “yes,” then a prenuptial is an important legal protection for you.

 

Protections typically include division of property, alimony, debt, life insurance, health insurance, and what financial support children from a prior relationship might get during the marriage or when the parent dies. In order for a prenuptial to be valid, the following conditions must be met:

  •          Both parties must make full disclosure of all assets and liabilities;
  •          The agreement must be fair and reasonable at the time entered into by the parties;
  •          Both parties must be represented by counsel;
  •          Both parties must sign the document prior to the wedding;
  •          Both parties must sign the document of their own free will;
  •          Both parties must have the capacity or ability to sign the document; and
  •          The agreement must also be fair and reasonable at the time of divorce.

 

Given the second look at the time of divorce, it would be unlikely that our GOAT would lose his fourth and fifth rings if they were not protected in a prenuptial. That would just be unfair and unreasonable, wouldn’t it?

 

On to SIX!