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Basics of Indiana Collection Law

If you are owed money and the person or entity that owes you refuses to pay you will have to make the decision whether or not you want to take the matter to court to enforce collection of the monies owed to you. In Indiana for claims involving $6,000 or less, $8,000 or less in Marion County Indiana, there is a simplified procedure for filing a lawsuit in what is called Small Claims Court. The filing fee generally changes slightly from year to year but it should be around $90. Most courts in Indiana are going to e-filing. As a pro-se plaintiff, you are able to file as before. But that law could change in the future.

The advantage to filing in Small Claims Court is a faster route to trial if a trial is necessary. In addition to a streamlined process for obtaining a judgment, Small Claims Court is also designed for a streamlined process for the collection of the judgment. If a trial is required then it usually can be scheduled in a relatively short period of time. One month up to six months. This is a much quicker time frame in which to get in front of a judge than you would have in a court outside of Small Claims Court. Many claims are reduced to judgment without the need for a trial and in that case, you might have a judgment Within 2 months after filing the lawsuit.

Obtaining a money judgment against the person or entity that owes you money is often the easiest part of the process. You then have to collect on the Judgment the court provided to you. This is not automatic. Just because you have a judgment does not mean the person or entity that owes on the judgment will voluntarily pay.

In Indiana, the most common form of collecting on a judgment once one is obtained is through the garnishment of wages. The wage garnishment statutes in Indiana are favorable for creditors. An employer will be required to pay a percentage of an employee’s wages into the court if they receive the proper paperwork from the Judgment creditor through the court system. The formula that is used is 25% of net income (net income is take-home wages after deducting only taxes and Social Security withholdings). If the Judgment debtor makes less than $217.50 which is 30 hours at minimum wage of $7.25 then nothing is taken from their wages on a garnishment. If they make between $217.50 and $290 the entire amount over $217.50 up to $290 is taken as garnishment. If their net income is over $290 then 25% of their wages are garnished. This formula is provided to employers on the paperwork they receive from the court instructing them to garnish the employee’s wages to satisfy the judgment. There can be other considerations such as support payments and independent contractor issues that could change this formula.

Perry Law Office can help you collect on this difficult to collect judgments or help you obtain a judgment.

What is a Windfall Offset in Social Security Disability?

Many times people who file for disability with the Social Security Administration (SSA) have claims for both Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Also, many times, the person who is found disabled is really only entitled to, at most, five months of past due SSI benefits. Yet, SSA will start off with paying the person many more months of SSI to which they are not really entitled. When SSA tries to figure what you are owed in past due DIB, they reduce that amount by what you have been overpaid in SSI. This is called the windfall offset. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? But it is not. SSA withholds the past due DIB until the offset is calculated. In about a twenty-one percent (21%) of the time it is not calculated at all and another thirty-one percent (31%) of the time it is not done in a timely manner. Two percent (2%) of the time it is done incorrectly. Only about forty-five percent (45%) of the time are things done properly. This can be very confusing to individuals receiving disability benefits. It can also make it difficult for the disabled person to receive all past due benefits to which they are entitled. At Perry Law Office, after we help a person obtain a favorable decision that they are disabled, we follow their claim in an effort to see that all past due benefits are properly paid.

Transfer on Death Deed

A transfer on death deed (aka TOD or TODD) can be used to name a beneficiary for your real estate upon your death. You, as the owner, retain full ownership and responsibility for the property, including paying property taxes and filing for any applicable exemptions. The actual transfer of ownership is not completed until the owner’s passing. The deed must name the beneficiary, after all, that is the reason for doing the deed. It must still be properly recorded in the county where the real estate is located. The deed can be revoked or changed at any time prior to the owner’s passing.

If the property is sold before the owner’s death, then the beneficiary has no future rights to the property even if a valid TOD was recorded. It is the same as in a Will or any other deed, only what is owned can be conveyed or transferred, and when the owner sells the land they cannot also convey it to a beneficiary as they no longer retain ownership. Another consideration is when the property is held jointly such as tenants in the entirety, then both owners must convey the property to the same beneficiary, otherwise, the TOD is void.

By way of the automatic transfer upon death, the property is no longer part of the deceased’s estate. Using this type of deed can be beneficial in eliminating the need to open an estate and go through the probate process. In general, you must open an estate and go through probate if the value of the estate is $50,000 or more. If you are interested in discussing the possible benefits a transfer on death deed may be to your estate plan, please contact Perry Law Office for a free consultation.

What does a Personal Representative of an Estate need to do to get started?

Personal Representative is a gender-neutral legal term used in Indiana and is the person(s) named to wrap up a deceased’s affairs and distribute the assets. Other states may refer to this person as the Executor (male) or executrix (female) of the Estate. If the Decedent had a Will, they typically would have named their choice for Personal Representative in this document. Once the estate is opened with the court, the court will officially approve the Personal Representative, thus giving them the authority to handle the affairs and assets of the decedent.

There are several things you are tasked with handling, while some of them may not seem difficult, they can be time-consuming and hiring an attorney may help.
1. Locate the Will and determine how distribution of assets is to go. This is more involved than just finding the assets and handing them out
to the heirs, and there are time frames that should be followed.
2. Locate and secure all assets making sure they are locked, insured, and harbored in a safe place. This includes securing the house, vehicles,
bank accounts, and personal belongings.
3. Keep the utilities and mortgage paid, but cancel the non-essentials like cable and the newspaper.
4. Open an estate bank account.
5. Review all bills, and determine what must be paid now.
6. Determine if tax returns must be filed.
7. Everything must be kept separate than the Personal Representative’s assets.
8. Determine all heirs to inherit under the Will. Get approval by all to close the estate and distribute the funds.
9. You as Personal Representative could have personal liability if handled incorrectly.

This is not an exhaustive list of the duties of a Personal Representative and every case is different.

Please contact Perry Law Office, your Fort Wayne attorneys 260-483-3110 or visit us at our website.

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Perry Law Office