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Always read before you sign!

Posted by Weinstein in Blog, Business and Corporate Law, Divorce, Taxes with Comments Off on Always read before you sign!

Always read documents before you sign them – and if there’s something you don’t understand, ask an attorney. Never just sign something because your spouse hands it to you. Otherwise you might be signing away important rights.

Always read documents before you sign them – and if there’s something you don’t understand, ask an attorney. Never just sign something because your spouse hands it to you. Otherwise you might be signing away important rights. This happened recently to the widow of a government employee who retired under the Civil Service Retirement System.When he retired, he chose an annuity payable only during his lifetime, as opposed to one that provided a survivor annuity for his wife. The wife signed a spousal consent form. After his death, she applied for a survivor annuity anyway. She argued that neither her husband nor the notary who witnessed her signature had explained the form to her, and that she didn’t read it and only signed it because she trusted her husband. But a federal appeals court said this didn’t matter, because the wife should have read the form before she signed it.

In another case, a wife in Kentucky signed a tax form handed to her by her husband.When the IRS later slapped the couple with $87,000 in additional taxes and $544,000 in interest, the wife argued that she shouldn’t be liable because her husband had made all the financial decisions and handled the taxes, and she had simply trusted him. But a federal appeals court said that wasn’t
good enough. “One spouse cannot bury his or her head in the sand or turn a blind eye to the other’s accounting,” the court said. The wife in this case was liable for her share of the taxes because she “did just that, failing to question her husband even when the documents she signed should have pushed her to do so.”

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