Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pet Trusts in Connecticut

Every now and then there are stories in the news about an elderly rich person dying and leaving millions of dollars to their beloved pet dog, cat, bird, etc.  Just this past month, it was reported that when she died, a wealthy widow of an Italian property tycoon left $13 million dollars to Tommaso, a stray cat that she had taken in several years before.  The cat gained not only the money but also reportedly several opulent homes in Italy.  To ensure that Tommaso would be taken care of, the woman arranged for her former personal nurse to oversee the funds and care for Tommaso.
While such stories may prompt one to laugh at the good fortune to have such a fortune to leave to a pet, the reality is that in Connecticut “pet trusts” have been allowed since 2009 when the state legislature passed Public Act 09-169, making Connecticut the forty-fourth state to allow the creation of trusts to take care of pets after the death of their owners.  Under the law (General Statutes 45a-489a), you can create either a testamentary trust (created from your assets after your death) or an inter vivos or living trust (created from your assets while you are alive) to take care of any of your pets alive at the time of your death for the rest of their lives.  Part of this process involves designating both a trustee, who may take care of the pets on a daily basis, as well as a “trust protector,” an individual who will monitor the trust and ensure that it is being used appropriately.
Although most people outlive their pets, it is not uncommon for a pet to outlive its owner, either because of old age or an unfortunate accident.  Although you may not be able to leave millions of dollars and multiple houses to your beloved pet, a pet does not need such extravagance.  It takes much less to create a pet trust to take care of your pet and creating a trust to provide a monthly stipend for food or cover the costs of veterinary visits may go a long way toward ensuring that your pet is a more likely candidate for placement with another pet lover when you are gone.
Questions or comments about this post? Contact Jared Cantor.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Independent Foreclosure Review Now Available

Federal Bank Regulators have mandated a review process for homes subject to foreclosure in 2009 and 2010. The Independent ForeclosureReview (IFR) is currently being offered to certain homeowners who meet a laundry list of criteria. The IFR is just one step the federal government is taking with respect to the massive foreclosure dockets sweeping the country.  Homeowners can be screened to see if they are eligible through the IFR website. If the homeowner can prove “financial injury” then they may be compensated, financially or through “other remedies”. The “injury” required, as well as the compensation available, is still very vague. Though the review process has been started, no compensation has yet been doled out. Eligible homeowners were supposed to have been mailed an informational letter by December 31, 2011, though many who received the letter thought it was a scam. The application must be completed by April 30, 2012.

Those who are eligible must have been involved in a foreclosure action on their primary residence from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2010, and had their loan serviced by one of the following mortgage companies:

America’s Servicing Co.
Aurora Loan Services
BAC Home Loans Servicing
Bank of America
EverBank/EverHome Mortgage Company
GMAC Mortgage
IndyMac Mortgage Services
MetLife Bank
National City Mortgage
PNC Mortgage
Sovereign Bank
SunTrust Mortgage
U.S. Bank
Wachovia Mortgage
Washington Mutual (WaMu)
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
Wilshire Credit Corporation

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and Banking Commissioner Howard F. Pitkin are urging affected homeowners to have theirsituation reviewed. For more information visit the IFR website at http://independentforeclosurereview.com/

Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Shopping Do's and Don'ts!

Remember to be safe and civil this holiday season.  While we are all rushing about to complete our holiday shopping and spread our holiday cheer, it is important to remember that the State of Connecticut requires a certain degree of civility among residents and visitors.  Connecticut General Statute § 53a-181 states: 

(a) A person is guilty of breach of the peace in the second degree when, with intent to cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, such person:  . . . (5) in a public place, uses abusive or obscene language or makes an obscene gesture; or (6) creates a public and hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which such person is not licensed or privileged to do.

One Christmas shopper learned a lesson about state required civility after being arrested for a breach of peace on Black Friday for creating a commotion by cutting another patron in the checkout line of a Walmart in Southington, Connecticut.  Therefore, be sure to treat other shoppers with kindness and respect this holiday season. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fake IDs: Fun but a Possible Felony

When young adults think about the consequences “getting caught” or “busted” with a fake ID, they may imagine being lectured at by a bartender, being ejected from a club by a burly bouncer or perhaps being turned away from the local package store.  In all three cases, the worst that young adults imagine may happen to them is that they will lose the fake ID, and the sometimes substantial cost it took to acquire it, or that their parents might be called.

The truth, however, is that getting caught with a fake ID in Connecticut can have much more serious legal ramifications.  Under Connecticut law (General Statutes §§ 53a-138 and 139), if you are caught with a fake ID, which includes any ID that bears false information such as altered age or other personal information, you can be arrested and charged with forgery.  Forgery in this case means that the person, with an intent to deceive another, falsely made, possessed or altered a written instrument that he or she knew to be forged.  This would include trying to use a fake ID to purchase alcohol at a bar or at a package store as well as being arrested for another crime and the police discovering that you have a fake ID in your purse or wallet.  Depending on the level of seriousness, a person with a fake ID can be charged with second degree forgery, which is a felony.  If convicted, the law mandates that the person serve at least one year in prison, but not more than five years.

Regardless of the arguments in favor and against lowering the drinking age, the fact is that 21 is the mandated drinking age in Connecticut and across the United States.  Although buying and using a fake ID may seem like a moment of harmless fun, it carries with it significant risks that far outweigh, and could long outlast, the thrill of purchasing alcohol before the law permits.

Questions or comments? Contact Jared Cantor.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Law Designed to Stimulate Job Growth and Small Business in Connecticut

On October 27, 2011, Governor Malloy signed An Act Promoting Economic Growth And Job Creation In The State, House Bill No. 6801, into law. The Act does a number of things designed to jump start Connecticut business growth.

1.      Small Business Express Program. This program was created within the Connecticut Department of Economic and CommunityDevelopment (DECD), an agency already in existence to help Connecticut businesses. The Express Program will use streamlined application processes to expedite financial assistance to Connecticut businesses.  

2.      Business Entity Tax. The $250 annual BusinessEntity Tax (BET), payable by all LLCs, LLPs, limited partnerships and S Corporations organized or doing business in Connecticut, was effectively reduced by 50%. Starting January 1, 2013, the BET will be due every other year.

3.      Job Expansion Tax Credit. A new tax credit program whereby businesses will be given a tax credit for each new qualifying employee hired between January 1, 2012 and January 1, 2014. A qualifying employee is someone who (a) is receiving unemployment compensation; (b) has exhausted unemployment compensation and has not found a full time job; or (c) is receiving vocational rehabilitation services from the Bureau of Rehabilitative Services.

4.      Angel Investor Tax Credit. The existing tax credit available to Angel Investors will be modified so that the minimum investment to receive the credit is reduced from $100,000.00 to $25,000.00. The credit shall continue to be 25% of the investment, up to $250,000.00. Angel Investors are typically wealthy individuals that provide capital to business start ups. Check out "What's an Angel Investor?" from the Wall Street Journal for more information.