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Contractor isn’t liable for bias against subcontractor’s worker

Dear Clients and Friends,

When it comes to employment law, construction sites can be complicated places. That’s be- cause there’s typically a general contractor who’s responsible for the whole project, but there are also a variety of subcontractors that are brought in to work on specific pieces of it. Inevitably, there’s a lot of interaction and coordination among everyone’s employees. And when something goes wrong, it’s not always clear who’s responsible.

Recently at a major public project in Wisconsin, a company called JP Cullen was the general contractor. One of its subcontractors was called EMI, and it hired subcontractors of its own. One of these was called UCI, and it employed a worker named Walter Love.

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How Wolves Change Rivers

Dear Clients and Friends,
If you’re hankering for a feel good moment you will probably like this video.
Should be a good one for all ages.
Best,
Ron

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Improved rules for credit scores will help borrowers with mortgage rates and more

Dear Clients and Friends,

The company behind the most widely-used credit score in America has announced three major changes to how it calculates consumers’ scores – and they should potentially help millions of people to get a better rate on a mortgage.

The so-called FICO score is used throughout the lending industry. A new version – called FICO 9 – has now been introduced, and it includes these changes:
(1) A limited credit history is less of a problem.
Currently, if people don’t have much of a history of borrowing money – because they’re young and just starting out in life, or because they have simply chosen not to rely heavily on credit cards, auto loans, etc. – this is treated as a negative. Such people usually get lower credit scores because they haven’t established a track record of handling credit wisely.
Under FICO 9, though, a limited credit history will no longer be treated as a strike against you. Rather, the company will look at a person’s payment history for other types of obligations – rent, cable, Internet, phone, utilities, and so on – and assign a score based on the person’s track record of regularly paying these types of bills on time.
(2) Medical debts are less of a problem. 
Under the current system, overdue medical debts are treated the same as any other overdue debt, such as mortgages or credit cards. Under FICO 9, though, overdue medical debts will be treated as less important than other types of debts. This could result in a 25-point increase in credit scores for people who have unpaid medical debts but no other unpaid debts, according to the company. The number of people who have unpaid medical bills has been increasing dramatically lately. According to the Experian credit bureau, about 64 million Americans currently have a medical collection on their credit report.
The change is occurring because FICO believes that medical debts aren’t a good way to judge a person’s ability or willingness to use credit responsibly. For one thing, unlike monthly credit card or auto loan payments, medical expenses are often large, unforeseen bills that consumers couldn’t reasonably have been expected to budget for.
Also, FICO says that people often assume their insurance company will pay a bill, and don’t get much notice if the bill later goes unpaid by the insurer. As a result, many times people aren’t even aware that there’s a problem by the time a medical bill goes to collection.
(3) Paid-off delinquencies are less of a problem.
Currently, if someone misses a payment or a debt goes to collection, this will hurt the person’s credit score for many years to come – even if the person later pays the bill or reaches a settlement with a collection agency.
Under FICO 9, though, old delinquencies won’t be considered in calculating a person’s credit score if the debt has been paid off in full or settled.
The rationale is that people sometimes miss their payments due to circumstances beyond their control – such as losing a job – but the fact that they’ve taken steps to make good on the debt shows that they still have an intent to pay their bills on time. (You should note, though, that these older debts will still show up on your credit report, so while they won’t affect your score, a lender could still find out about them and take them into account.)
Taken together, these three changes will mean better FICO credit scores for millions of Americans. This should help many people get better rates on a mortgage, or qualify for a mortgage when they otherwise couldn’t do so.
However, this won’t happen automatically. While FICO scores are considered in about 90% of overall consumer credit decisions, banks and other mortgage lenders can choose for themselves how they use the scores, and whether they want to “upgrade” to FICO 9 or use an older FICO version.
A large number of banks will probably follow the lead of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which currently use an older version of FICO. Fannie and Freddie both say they’re studying FICO 9, but haven’t made any decisions yet.
FICO 9 might be adopted first by lenders who issue “jumbo” mortgages or otherwise keep mortgages on their own books, rather than selling them to Fannie and Freddie.
It appears FICO 9 is being adopted more rapidly by credit card issuers, auto lenders, and other types of consumer credit providers. At a minimum, this could help borrowers obtain and use other types of credit, which could boost their FICO scores even under the older versions.
Decades of experience in successfully representing clients with Real Estate legal matters should allow us to be of help to you and yours.  Call for a free phone evaluation to find out.
Best,
Ron
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon - Season 1

Tom Cruise And Jimmy Fallon Have An Epic Lip Sync Battle

Dear Clients and Friends,

Some fun stuff here.
Click the video below and enjoy.
Best,
Ron

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What businesses need to know about commercial leasing

Dear Clients and Friends,

Companies that are leasing their own space for the first time are often surprised by the terms of a commercial lease – and even companies that have leased space before sometimes overlook important points where they might be able to negotiate matters to their advantage. Here’s a quick guide to what to look for:

Letter of intent. This sets out the basic terms of the agreement so everyone is on the same page before a formal lease is drafted. Be careful – the document should say that it’s non-binding. You don’t want to sign a general expression of interest and suddenly discover that it’s a legal contract.

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How should California married couples hold title to Real Estate?

Dear Clients and Friends,

Married couples who own property in California should take title as Community Property (not as joint tenants).
Why community property? If married couples hold property as joint tenants, they only get a step-up in basis* (see definition below) in their half of the property when the other spouse passes away. If a married couple holds property as Community Property, 100% of it gets a step-up in basis when one spouse dies.

For example: Spouse A dies and the surviving spouse B, wants to down size and use the proceeds from the sale of the house for living expenses. If the property is owned as community property and sold right after A’s death there will be no capital gains taxes owed. This can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax savings and more money for B and/or B’s heirs and beneficiaries.
As a former Attorney with the IRS, I was specially assigned to the estate and gift tax division. This, along with my being a California Licensed Real Estate Broker and an experienced real estate and tax-collection-defense attorney, gives me a unique expertise in this area. I invite to you call me for a free phone evaluation of any legal problem you or those you know, may have to see if we can be of help.

Best,
Ron
*Basis is the amount of one’s capital investment in a property.  With a step-up in basis the IRS will value a property at the time of inheritance rather than at the decedent’s date of purchase – as would be the case if a property were to be transfered during one’s life.
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Easements

Dear Clients and Friends,

An “easement” is a legal right of someone who doesn’t own a piece of property to use the property for a particular reason.

Many properties have easements on them, so it’s important to know about them if you’re considering buying real estate.

An easement permits a third party (such as a neighbor) to use part or all of a property for a specific purpose. For instance, someone may have a right to walk or drive over part of the property to access their home or to go hunting or fishing there.

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You may need company policy covering cloud storage.

Dear Clients and Friends;

Cloud services make it easy for an employee who is planning to go to work for a competitor to steal confidential information.

In the past, businesses were often able to catch such employees because they would typically mail a large number of files to a personal e-mail account in the days before they left. But if an employee has routinely synced his or her computer with a home device, it is much harder to prove they did something wrong.

Employees can even set up a script at home so that every time a file is added to Dropbox, it is printed on their home computer.

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Should divorcing couples sell their house?

Aside from child custody, the most emotionally charged issue in a divorce is usually who gets to keep the house. For most couples, a house is their most valuable asset, and it has an enormous symbolic value as well.

But while couples often fight over who gets the house, keeping the house isn’t always the smartest plan. In some cases, the better route is to jointly sell the property, split the proceeds, and then buy or rent a smaller home. Most people going through a divorce would be wise to at least consider this option.

Buckminster Fuller

Buckminster Fuller

Dear Clients and Friends,

As a fan of Buckminster Fuller (1885-1983 Architect, Author, Inventor, Philosopher), permit me to share a few of his wisdoms with you.
It may also be a source of delight to each of you to see the living applicability of his mechanical wisdoms to human relationships from child rearing to staff management to resolving ones own personal challenges.
Here’s to a delight or 2 for each of you.
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Best,
Ron