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Miller Law Group, P.C.
1160 Pepsi Place, Suite 341, Charlottesville, VA 22901
(434) 974-9776
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With more than 30 years of combined experience, the attorneys and professional staff at Miller Law Group, P.C. have worked hard to protect what’s important to our clients, including their assets and their families.

We handle cases in the following areas of the law:

  • Bankruptcy & Debt Relief
  • Real Estate
  • Civil & Family Law
  • Wills & Powers of Attorney
  • Business Formation

Call us locally at 434-974-9776 or contact us online today for your FREE APPOINTMENT. Our law firm is located behind the Senior Center and is handicapped-accessible. Parking is available outside the door.

Serving the communities of central Virginia, including Albemarle, Augusta, Buckingham, Charlottesville, Culpeper, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Madison, Orange, Harrisonburg, Staunton and Waynesboro

Hours
Monday9:00 am–5:00 pm
Tuesday9:00 am–5:00 pm
Wednesday9:00 am–5:00 pm
Thursday9:00 am–5:00 pm
Friday9:00 am–5:00 pm
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Phone
(434) 974-9776
Address
1160 Pepsi Place, Suite 341, Charlottesville, VA 22901
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Your Social Media Legacy: Several articles have been in the news recently about who owns and gets to control the social media accounts of a deceased person. This problem has been brought to light by several families whose children have died and who want access to their child’s online accounts to preserve memories or find out about why they died, in the case of suicide.

To date, six states have legislation that would determine who controls your social media accounts when you die.  One bill in New Hampshire proposes to give the executor of a deceased person’s estate control over the social media and electronic communications accounts of the deceased person. Numerous other states and the federal government have legislation pending on this topic as well.

The various social media and electronic communication companies all have different rules governing what happens in the event of the death of a member and who gets control of the account.  Facebook has a policy of either deleting the account or memorializing it once it receives notice of a death.  The memorial page is a page that remains active only to allow friends and family to post comments on it.  Critics point to the fact that the deceased member’s family does not have any control over the site.  Such sites are often targets of cyber-bullying, which only adds to the grief of the family. Google recently introduced its Inactive Account Manager, which allows users to make a choice to either delete their data after a pre-determined length of account inactivity or to name heirs for the data.

Until all social media companies either take action, or are forced to by legislation, the best that social media account holders can do is to make plans to transfer ownership of these valuable accounts to heirs, just like any other asset.  Your estate planning lawyer can help you prepare a will listing all of your social media and electronic communication accounts and correspondingly list the names of the persons you want to bequeath those accounts to.  You can pick different people for different accounts, and that person will control the account and make decisions about whether to delete it or preserve it after you are gone.

It’s a new legacy for a new age, and estate planning for digital assets is constantly evolving.  Let our Charlottesville asset protection attorneys protect your digital assets and pass them along to heirs the way that you wish.

#CharlottesvilleAssetProtectionAttorneys #SocialMedia #EstatePlanning
http://www.millerlawgrouppc.com/practice-areas/estate-planning/asset-protection-and-planning/
 
To date, six states have legislation that would determine who controls your social media accounts when you die.
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Adopting your Grandchildren: In 2010, more than 7 million children were living with a grandparent, which represents 10 percent of all children in the United States. For a variety of reasons, grandparents might choose to adopt or care for their grandchildren. If you are a grandparent considering adoption, you might have questions about your options.

Why adopt my grandchildren?

When parents are otherwise unable to do so, raising your grandchildren can provide a home-like experience for them and avoid placement in a foster home. Adopting your grandchildren can end family crises (such as physical, mental, or sexual abuse) and reduce neglect of children. Raising your grandchildren can help them shape their own personal and cultural identity.

What are the rewards of raising my grandchildren?

Many grandparents who adopt their grandchildren cite preservation of family history, traditions, culture, and values as a main reward. Adopting your grandchildren can help resolve conflicts between parents and their children and maintain contact throughout the family. Similar to raising their own children, grandparents experience satisfaction and accomplishment when their grandchildren succeed in school, sports, and work.

What’s the difference between adoption and custody?

Adoption is permanent and results in the loss of legal ties to biological relatives and parents. Biological parents have the right to choose the adoptive parents, according to the juvenile and domestic relations district court. Custody, on the other hand, is not permanent. The legal ties to biological parents and relatives persist.

What challenges will I face?

Some challenges that grandparents face when adopting their grandchildren are health issues, social isolation, and financial issues. Some grandparents will experience health problems due to the demands of care giving, including depression, insomnia, and hypertension. Social isolation can also occur because grandparents-turned-parents find they have little time for themselves and have less time for community events. Finally, increased food, clothing, and medical expenses lead to financial pressure.

If you are a grandparent seeking to adopt your grandchildren, get in touch with an experienced Virginia family law attorney. Your attorney can help you understand your unique situation, the laws, and what options you have – in order to provide the best life and future for your grandchild.

#VirginiaFamilyLawAttorney #Adoption #Grandchildren
http://www.millerlawgrouppc.com/practice-areas/civil-family-law/
 
If you are a grandparent considering adoption, you might have questions about your options.
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Pros and Cons: Chapter 13
If you are considering bankruptcy, you may be wondering what is the best option for you—Chapter 7 or Chapter 13?

It’s important to first understand the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 proceedings. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you ask the bankruptcy court to discharge (or get rid of) most of the debts you owe.  In exchange, the bankruptcy trustee can take any property you own that is not exempt from collection, sell it, and distribute the proceeds to your creditors. With Chapter 13, you file a repayment plan with the bankruptcy court to pay back all or a portion of your debts over time.  The amount you will repay depends on how much you earn, the amount and types of debt you owe, and how much property you own.

A major disadvantage of a Chapter 13 filing is that your debts are not completely wiped out. Although some debtors wish to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy for this reason, many debtors are not eligible to file for Chapter 7.  Debtors can’t file under Chapter 7 if their income is above the median income for the area or if they have previously filed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy within the past 8 years or a Chapter 13 proceeding within the past 6 years.

Even if you are eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, however, there are some situations when filing for Chapter 13 is more advantageous:
- If you are behind on your car loan or mortgage and you want to make up the missed payments over time and hang onto the asset
- You have a tax obligation, student loans, or other debts that can’t be discharged in Chapter 7.  Instead, you can include these debts in a Chapter 13 plan and pay them off over time
- You have nonexempt property that you want to keep—When you file for Chapter 7, you only get to keep exempt property. With Chapter 13, you get to keep your property and repay your debts out of your income
- You have a co-debtor that you want to protect.  In a Chapter 7 proceeding, your co-debtor will still be on the hook for your debt. Under Chapter 13, the creditor cannot do this as long as you keep up with your bankruptcy plan payments
- You want to pay off your debts over time, but creditors are coming after you.  You can seek the protection of the bankruptcy court in a Chapter 13 proceeding and stop the harassment.

When contemplating bankruptcy, it is important to consider the consequences for all your options.  An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you select a bankruptcy plan that is the best option for you.
 
Pros and Cons: Chapter 13
If you are considering bankruptcy, you may be wondering what is the best option for you—Chapter 7 or Chapter 13?
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Creditor Harassment: When is it Too Much?
If you’re behind on your payments, a debt collector will be contacting you to collect the debt, possibly by using obscene language or threats towards you.  You might have some questions about your rights and responsibilities when a creditor is contacting you to collect.

When can a debt collector contact me?
A debt collector cannot contact you at inconvenient times or places – for example, they cannot contact you before eight o’clock in the morning or late in the evening, unless you agree to it. Collectors also cannot contact you at your work if you tell them not to call you there. The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act prohibits collectors from using obscene language, threats of violence, and many other actions.

What do I do when a collector is harassing me?
First try to talk to the collector directly. You might be able to resolve the issue with them, especially if you think you don’t actually owe the debt or think the collector is calling you mistakenly. If you decide later you don’t want the collector to contact you again, you must tell the collector in writing to cease and desist.

How do I tell the collector to stop contacting me?
The first step you should take is to write a cease and desist letter and send the original by certified mail. Pay for a return receipt so you’ll be able to document that the collector received the letter. After taking these steps, the collector should only be able to contact you to inform you there will be no further contact or that the creditor intends to take action against you.

Does sending a cease and desist letter mean my debt goes away?
No, it does not. It’s important to understand that sending such a letter to a creditor to whom you owe money does not get rid of the debt. All it should do is stop contact. The creditor or debt collector can still take legal action to collect the money you owe.

If you’re being contacted by a debt collector or creditor and have questions about your debt, contact a qualified debt relief attorney in Virginia. Your attorney can help you sort through your questions, evaluate your options, and pick the best choice for your financial future.
 
Creditor Harassment: When is it Too Much?
If you’re behind on your payments, a debt collector will be contacting you to collect the debt, possibly by using obscene language or threats towards you.  You might have some questions about your rights and responsibilities when a creditor is contacting you to collect.
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Honey, it’s Time to File for Bankruptcy
If you’re spending too much time dealing with harassing creditors, dodging their phone calls and fending off their advances, it’s time you take a serious look at bankruptcy. It could be time for a fresh start.
Many Americans consider bankruptcy to be embarrassing--perhaps a sign of weakness, failure, or even immorality.  However, you should know that medical expenses, not poor financial planning, has been proven to cause 62% of bankruptcy filings.  Other times, bankruptcy results from losing a job, reduction of overtime pay or sometimes mistakes in handling money.  Whatever the reason you find yourself in debt, it doesn’t matter. It really can happen to anyone.

So, how do you know if it’s time to file for bankruptcy?  The answer is when filing will provide a preferable way of life to the way you are living right now.  If you are scrambling every month to make ends meet, juggling funds, trying to stretch them, and engaging in a Russian roulette process of picking which bills to pay this month, these may indicate a need to file for bankruptcy. It may be time if:
•       You make only minimum payments on your credit cards
•       Bill collectors frequently harass you
•       Your finances make you feel scared and out of control
•       You use credit cards to pay for necessities

If you answered yes to many of these questions, and if you owe more than you can afford to pay, then bankruptcy may be a way to get a fresh start.

The law, in the form of the Bankruptcy Code, has set up a method for allowing people who qualify for bankruptcy to legally ease the burdens of their financial obligations. The Code has set up legal procedures which are followed to lead to the results you want—liquidation of most of your debts or a plan to pay them off over time.

In contrast to the way of life you have been living, bankruptcy can allow you a reliable and predictable way to manage your creditors and your money.  Contacting an experienced Charlottesville bankruptcy attorney today will help you make a fresh start.
 
Honey, it’s Time to File for Bankruptcy
If you’re spending too much time dealing with harassing creditors, dodging their phone calls and fending off their advances, it’s time you take a serious look at bankruptcy. It could be time for a fresh start.
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Have them in circles
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Short Sale: The Promised Land? In 2012, foreclosure sales and “short sales” together accounted for 43 percent of all U.S. residential sales. While foreclosure is a term often slung around on the news, the term “short sale” is lesser known. A short sale can help underwater homeowners, but short sales carry some inherent risks.

What are short sales?

A short sale is the sale of real estate in which the house is sold for an amount of money that is insufficient to pay off the homeowner’s existing debts on the property. Consequently, the property owner cannot pay the full debt, but usually, the lender will agree to accept less than the amount owed on the debt. Generally, the goal of a short sale is to have the bank forgive the deficiency, relieving the homeowner of the debt on the property.

What are the upsides of short sales?

A short sale is often used as a last resort in the face of foreclosure, which is the legal process used by lenders to enforce payment of a mortgage. Unlike a foreclosure, a short sale allows the homeowner more time to find alternate living arrangements. Foreclosures can be damaging to a borrower’s credit history, but short sales can have a lesser impact if reported properly to the bureau – thus, short sales, in some cases, are better than the alternative.

What are the downsides of short sales?

When a short sale occurs, the borrower can be liable for taxes to the IRS on the amount of the forgiven mortgage balance. In addition, when short selling, the homeowner has to list the home for sale, find a buyer to do the short sale, find a realtor, and get the lender to agree. A borrower/seller with a high-paying job or many assets might have a more difficult time getting a short sale approved.

If you think that short selling might be a good solution after considering all the pros and cons, contact a knowledgeable Charlottesville real estate attorney. Your attorney can help you evaluate if a short sale might be a viable solution and, if so, assist you with the complex legal issues you might face.

#VirginiaRealEstateAttorneys #ShortSales #DebtRelief
http://www.millerlawgrouppc.com/practice-areas/residential-commercial-real-estate/
 
A short sale can help underwater homeowners, but short sales carry some inherent risks.
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Why a Revocable Living Trust? You may have heard of a revocable living trust, but you don’t have any idea if you need one or how it differs from a will.

A revocable living trust is an estate planning document that you can use to determine who will get your property when you die. “Revocable” means you can change the terms anytime you want up until your death, and it is “living” because you make the trust during your lifetime. The trust will list your property, name a trustee (the person who will care for the property), and name who will get the property when you die.

It’s important to understand how a revocable living trust differs from a will and the advantages of each document.  With both of them, you can name beneficiaries for your property, leave your property to young children, and revise your document as your circumstances change. However, some advantages of a will are:
- Naming guardians for your children
- Naming managers for your children’s property
- Naming an executor to manage your estate
- Instructing how your debts or taxes should be paid
- There is less cost to draft a will than a trust

A revocable living trust can provide many more advantages, including:
- Avoiding costs of probate.  Probate is the court-supervised process of wrapping up a person’s estate.  It is expensive, time consuming, public, and a burden to a grieving family. Property left through a trust passes right to the beneficiaries without probate
- Avoiding a conservatorship.  If you are incapacitated, your family can take over control of your assets without having to go to court
- Keeping your personal information, such as amounts of assets and debts, private after your death.  Since probate is avoided by using a trust, all of your family’s information is kept out of the public probate process.

Revocable living trusts can be a useful estate planning tool for your family, and they have many advantages over wills.  Consult with a skilled Charlottesville estate planning lawyer today to determine if a revocable living trust is right for your family.

#CharlottesvilleLivingTrustAttorneys www.millerlawgrouppc.com/practice-areas/estate-planning/living-trusts/
 
It’s important to understand how a revocable living trust differs from a will and the advantages of each document.
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Loan Modification Scams
If you’re behind on your loan payments, you may receive mailings from companies offering to help consolidate or modify your loan.  While the solicitation often looks official, beware!  These types of offers are often scams.

Loan modification scammers prey upon desperate borrowers. The solicitation is often from a company whose name sounds like it is affiliated with a government program. These companies employ common ploys to get you to call them and, once you do, they press hard to get you to sign up for their loan modification services. Here are some things to watch out for:

Doubtful claims and guarantees—The company may claim to have obtained successful loan modifications for 90 percent of its clients or may claim that it can stop a foreclosure process.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Upfront fees—If a loan modification company demands a large upfront fee, run for the hills.  Once they get this from you, they have no incentive to perform any work and they probably won’t.

Suggestions to pay the loan modification company instead of your lender—The company will often suggest that you pay it’s fees rather than your loan payment.  Do not do it. They will take your money, obtain no loan modification, and you will just be further behind on your mortgage or other loan.

Recommendations to stop communication with your lender—Loan modification companies often advise you to stop communicating with your lender, but you need to keep the lines of communication open. Don’t just ignore your lender’s letters and phone calls.

Instead of falling prey to these loan modification scams, there are some ways you can protect yourself:

Contact the lender yourself—there is no secret involved to negotiating a loan modification, so contact the lender directly and ask for it yourself.

Investigate government modification programs—There are many government or proprietary modification programs you may qualify for, so look into those.

Work with a non-profit, HUD-approved counselor—You can get free foreclosure prevention counseling from a HUD-approved housing counseling agency.

Check with the Better Business Bureau or Virginia consumer protection agency to check up on a loan modification company.

If a loan modification company comes calling, exercise caution and consult with your Virginia debt management attorney to protect your rights.
 
Loan Modification Scams
If you’re behind on your loan payments, you may receive mailings from companies offering to help consolidate or modify your loan.  While the solicitation often looks official, beware!  These types of offers are often scams.
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Gary Busey and Chapter 7
Chapter 7 bankruptcies are known for discharging (wiping out) the debts of the debtor and giving the debtor a “fresh start.”  So, how in the world did actor Gary Busey go through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, have his debts discharged, and still end up owing the Internal Revenue Service over $450,000

Busey filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in February 2012, claiming that he was broke and owed creditors over $500,000.  During the bankruptcy, he was exonerated from over $57,000 worth of debt.  He was also allowed to keep his assets, which amounted to $26,000.  After completing a money management course, he was discharged from bankruptcy on November 26, 2012.

However, Busey ended up still owing the IRS $450,000 because of the nature of the debt. When filing under Chapter 7, a debtor is allowed to keep any property that is considered “exempt” by bankruptcy exemption laws. Busey still owed the IRS for back taxes because those back taxes are not dischargeable in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy unless certain conditions are met.  The debt is dischargeable only if all of the following conditions are met:

The taxes are income taxes. Taxes such as payroll taxes or fraud penalties cannot be eliminated in bankruptcy.

The debtor did not commit fraud or willful evasion. If you filed a fraudulent tax return or otherwise willfully attempted to evade paying taxes, bankruptcy won’t get rid of your debt.

The debt is at least three years old. To eliminate a tax debt, the tax must have been originally due at least three years before you filed for bankruptcy.

The debtor filed a tax return. You must have filed a tax return for the debt you wish to discharge at least two years before filing for bankruptcy.

You pass the "240-day rule." The IRS must have assessed the income tax debt at least 240 days before you file your bankruptcy petition, or must not have been assessed yet. The time limit can be extended if the IRS suspended collection activity for some reason.

If you owe creditors, including the IRS, it’s important to consult with a knowledgeable Virginia bankruptcy attorney to understand your rights and make sure that filing for bankruptcy eliminates as many of your debts as possible.
 
Gary Busey and Chapter 7
Chapter 7 bankruptcies are known for discharging (wiping out) the debts of the debtor and giving the debtor a “fresh start.”  So, how in the world did actor Gary Busey go through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, have his debts discharged, and still end up owing the Internal Revenue Service over $450,000.
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What is a deed of trust?
It is a transfer in land by a borrower to a lender to secure the payment of the borrower’s debt. In exchange for a loan of money from the lender, the borrower places legal title to the property in the hands of the trustee who holds it for the benefit of the lender (who is named in the deed as the beneficiary).  The borrower retains possession of the property as well as equitable title to it. Transfer of legal title to the trustee is void when the debt is timely paid.  However, if the borrower defaults, the trustee has the power to sell the property and pay the lender the proceeds to satisfy the debt.

How are deeds of trust and mortgages similar?
- Both are used in bank loans and private loans
- Both secure repayment of a loan with real estate
- Both are considered evidence of a debt
- Both are recorded in the county where the property is located

How do deed of trusts and mortgages differ?
- The number of parties involved:  A deed of trust is an arrangement among three parties—the borrower, the lender, and an impartial trustee, whereas a mortgage is between the lender and the borrower
- The procedure for enforcing the lien: A mortgage is enforced pursuant to a court supervised foreclosure process, whereas a trust deed gives the lender the option to bypass the courts and instead hold a non-judicial foreclosure or trustee’s sale

An advantage of a deed of trust is that it simplifies the foreclosure process because the lender does not have to go to court to foreclose. Further, the time period for a trustee’s sale can be very short—in Virginia, it can be as short as 30 days.  However, there is a greater chance for litigation over title in a trustee’s sale created by a deed trust because the sale has not been judicially approved.

- See more at: http://www.millerlawgrouppc.com/2013/07/09/deed-of-trust-v-mortgage/#sthash.dEK9I3I9.dpuf
 
A deed of trust can be used in place of a mortgage in certain states, including Virginia. Here is the low down on how deeds of trusts differ from mortgages. - See more at: http://www.millerlawgrouppc.com/2013/07/09/deed-of-trust-v-mortgage/#sthash.dEK9I3I9.dpuf
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