Q: I need my handicap parking rights but I heard that a recently passed Colorado law might take them away from me.
A: As of July 1, 1999, if in fact you are disabled, then you have nothing to fear. But if you are not, or if someone uses your vehicle and the use is not a "direct benefit" to you, then you might have your handicapped tag revoked or at least suspended. The non-handicapped user could be subject to civil and criminal penalties, as can you if you improperly obtained a handicapped placard in the first place.
It is really too early to know what kind of impact this law will have but now is the time to be sure that your handicapped parking privileges are properly used.
Q: I just received notices that liens are about to be placed on our house. But I already paid for the work involved! Can they really do that?
A: Recently there have been many seminars held and articles written about frauds and scams that seniors face. But locally more seniors seem to be caught up in the mechanics lien trap than any other single problem. And sadly, there is no complete protection.
Whenever work is done, a homeowner runs the risk of having to pay twice for materials and subcontracted labor, even though the contractor was paid in full. The Colorado legislature had to make a choice between the owner paying twice or protecting unpaid laborers and material suppliers. Thus, before making the final payment, it is incumbent upon the property owner to be sure that all bills have been paid. Otherwise a supplier or sub-contractor can give notice and file a lien within 60 days of the work. The lien acts like any other lien and can be "foreclosed."
Some owners insist on paying the expenses directly while others want to see "lien waivers" from everyone. The contractor also furnishes a lien affidavit. But an undisclosed claimant can still step forward. Thus, the bottom line is that an owner can only do so much and these liens can always pop up. So the best defenses are to deal with people who you know and trust.
Q: I heard that recent changes in the IRS Regulation have destroyed the benefits of charitable remainder trusts in particular and charitable contributions in general.
A: This "rumor" seems to be widespread here in Colorado. The "Regs" were adjusted to lessen the income tax benefits generated by the charitable deduction but charitable deduction remainder trusts and charitable contributions are still useful tools to consider. Your CPA should be able to show you how a contemplated transfer can be used and then you can decide whether the numbers make sense.