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Plan staff attorneys are represented by AFSCME and support staff are represented by OPEIU.

 



Legal Services Plan Opening New Cases Through the end of 2013
UAW Legal Services Plan is here and open and available to assist you with legal problems. Under the terms of the tentative 2011 contract between the UAW and GM, Ford and Chrysler, the Plan will continue to accept new cases on the same basis we have in the past, until December 31, 2013. We will handle all the cases that come in, and continue to handle the cases that have been opened by the end of 2013 until they are completed. Please feel free to call or visit our offices with legal problems, issues and questions. Thank you for your support over the last 32 years. We are proud of our record of providing high-quality and efficient legal services, and of our service to UAW members.

Affordable Access to Justice
Having a prepaid legal services plan provides the following benefits to workers, their families and their employers:
  • 1) Costly legal problems are avoided when people have access to advice and consultation from a knowledgeable legal adviser;
  • 2) Productivity is enhanced and absenteeism is reduced when workers can focus on their jobs, not their legal problems;
  • 3) Access to the legal justice system (at a very low cost per member) is opened to low and middle income workers who are often disproportionately affected by certain types of consumer fraud, mortgage scams and other legal problems.
  • The UAW Legal Services Plan addresses workers' problems in just such a cost effective manner assisting thousands of members each year. The majority of legal problems are handled by providing advice and drafting documents. Other legal problems involve more extensive work – but are still handled in a cost-effective manner.
  • Statement from the Director
  • “Wealthy people have lawyers. Government funds help poor people to get legal assistance. Working families have often been unable to afford assistance with everyday legal issues and problems.
  • “For 32 years, UAW Legal Services Plan has pioneered one answer to providing legal help to working families. Through its offices and its panels of private attorneys, the Legal Services Plan has provided legal assistance and representation for a variety of basic legal problems, from buying a home to drafting a will to probating the estate of a parent to addressing debt and foreclosure. With efficient practices, the Plan has kept costs down, generally costing approximately $6 per month for each member – much less than the cost of just about any other type of benefit.
  • “Although the Plan does not and cannot possibly cover all types of legal problems, (Court representation for divorces, for example, has never been covered by UAW Legal Services Plan) it does cover many of the types of matters that concern working people – providing these members with access to the legal justice system and legal help which they would not otherwise have had.
  • “The Plan is proud of our record of providing high-quality legal services to UAW workers at a low cost. We have served Union members and their families on over 5 million matters through the years. We’ve saved countless homes and helped members with other types of personal matters. We hope that our model will inspire future efforts to bring affordable legal services, and therefore real access to justice, to working families.”
  • Dolores M. Galea Director
  • Why a Legal Services Plan
    The purpose of a prepaid legal services plan is to give working and middle income people access to the legal justice system. Wealthy people and corporations can afford legal advice and representation. Many poor people can find legal help at a legal aid office. Working and middle income Americans have the greatest trouble affording and even locating help for their everyday legal needs. The UAW Legal Services Plan and other prepaid legal services (there are hundreds throughout the country) are based on one idea – a well-run legal services plan can provide basic legal assistance, that would otherwise be unaffordable, in a very cost-effective manner.
    10 Legal Services Available to You
    As an active UAW member or retiree, you and your family have numerous legal services available to you free of charge from UAW Legal Services Plan offices and cooperating attorneys. Under the new labor agreements with GM, Ford and Chrysler, the Legal Services Plan will stop taking new cases at the end of December, 2013. Cases opened before that date will be completed. Here are some matters that are covered by your legal services plan:
  • 1. Will and Estates. Everyone needs to plan their estate. That means a will, which directs how assets will be distributed after death. Some people can also benefit from a living trust, though there is work involved in using it correctly. And most people are better off giving instructions on how they want to be taken care of if incapacitated, and at the end of life, through a living will or power of attorney. Don’t put it off.
  • 2. Review older wills. Wills drafted in the past may not fit what you want now, or as a result of new facts about your life and assets, a lawyer can review that with you. This is especially true if you anticipate a possible dispute about your estate after death (for example if you disinherited any family members) . Is your old will clear enough about the choices you have made on who will and will not inherit? Second marriages and blended families raise issues for many and finally it is useful to have trusts periodically reviewed. No matter who drafted past documents, a Plan attorney will review them with you, make changes if needed, and help you set your mind at ease.
  • 3. Probate of a relative’s estate. Occasionally, an estate doesn’t get probated right away after death when it should have been. Perhaps a house is the only asset. Everyone assumes that title was transferred by joint ownership or other conveyance, but it is not. If you will inherit and can become the personal representative for the estate, the Plan will handle the probate.
  • 4. Guardianship or conservatorship proceedings. Many people care for and make decisions for parents or other relatives who are not able to make decisions for themselves. Sometimes this is done without any court proceeding, based on a power of attorney or joint account but sometimes a guardianship is needed. Your Plan attorney can help you decide what is the best course for you.
  • 5. Social Security Disability for Retirees. Did you know that you can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits even if you retired from the plant and became disabled after your retirement (but usually before age 65)? You may feel that there is no point to applying for Social Security Disability in these circumstances but there can be advantages to you. If you have any questions about this, contact our specialized Social Security Disability office (at 1-800-482-7700) which will discuss your particular situation and advise you if applying would benefit you.
  • 6. Fixing credit report problems. If you haven’t sought credit lately, you may not know if your credit report is accurate. Your Plan attorney can advise you on how to obtain a free credit report. A Plan attorney will examine he credit report and help you fix incorrect information.
  • 7. Resolving real estate deed, boundary or easement problems. Is the deed to your property in the right name? Does it cover the land it should? Sometimes a person who should be on the title is not really there, or someone who cosigned the mortgage but should not be on the deed is on the deed anyway. Also, sometimes uncertain property boundaries or easement questions are left undecided for years, risking neighbor disputes or difficulty selling when the time comes. A Plan attorney can prepare a new deed to fix title problems. A Plan attorney can help you determine what your rights are and assert them, to resolve disputes now.
  • 8. Addressing burdensome debt. There is no magic bullet to deal with debt burdens, but there are useful tools. In these lean times, the “fresh start” provided by bankruptcy can be a life saver for some. A review of your debt will show if this is true for you, or if there are legal issues with loans or debts that should be asserted on your behalf. And if you get sued on a debt, come in right away. We can help.
  • 9. Obtaining a mortgage loan modification. Federal programs, and loan servicers own programs, promise changes in terms for those who qualify that can mean the difference between keeping or losing your house. But they don’t make it easy to get a modification, no matter how you try or what your circumstances. A Plan attorney, working with you and often your housing counselor, can help when you are doing what you should but the loan is not getting modified.
  • 10. Collecting debts owed to you. Many hard-working UAW members help their relatives or friends with loans, only to find that nothing comes back when it is supposed to. Don’t wait until the legal limitation period runs and there is nothing you can do.
  • If you have other questions about what is covered by your legal services benefit, feel free to call us. We are here to help you.
  • Tax law changes protect non-spouse beneficiaries of retirement accounts
    After recent tax law changes, the beneficiary of your 401(k) or Individual Retirement Account (IRA) will soon be able to roll over the account without a tax penalty, even if he or she is not your spouse. Currently, if you own a 401(k) or IRA, only your spouse after your death can defer taxes on the inherited account by rolling it over to his or her 401(k) or IRA. If your beneficiary is not your spouse, the normally required immediate payout of the funds from the account, typically in a lump sum, could result in a significant tax bite. The Pension Protection Act of 2006, which became law on August 17, 2006, has eliminated this tax consequence. Read more below
    Nursing Home Care
    Concerned that the cost of nursing home care will deplete their assets, some senior citizens try to plan their estates so as to qualify financially for Medicaid nursing home benefits. A strategy some have used is to gift or transfer property to beneficiaries before entering the nursing home, so that the property will not be counted as an asset in the Medicaid application process. Such a transfer normally triggers a "Medicaid disqualification period." Also called a "transfer penalty period," this is a length of time in which the applicant is disqualified from benefits and is calculated to approximate the number of months of nursing home care the gifted property could have paid for. Read More Below
    Why are Legal Services Taxed
    Have you ever wondered why at the end of the year, your W-2 or 1099 tells you that you have to report approximently $80 of income for your legal services benefit? [NOTE: This is not to say that you are required to pay $80 for this benefit. Instead it means that you pay taxes on that amount based on your individual tax bracket which ranges from 15% to 33%. That means that for most members the actual tax is between $12 and $25 depending on your tax bracket.] The answer is that the United State Congress took away favorable tax treatment for group legal services plans, effective June 30, 1992. Prior to that time the money that it takes to run the plans, the employer’s payments to the legal services plan, was tax exempt to you. While it was income, just like wages and other benefits such as health, dental and vision coverage, there was a special section of the tax code, which kept you from being taxed on it. That provision, called Section 120 of the Internal Revenue Code, expired on June 30, 1992 and has never been reenacted. Instead you are required to pay taxes on that amount based on your individual tax bracket which ranges from 15% to 33%. That means that for most members the actual tax is between $12 and $25 depending on your tax bracket.
     
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