Monday, April 30, 2012

Living Trust - Great Way To Plan For Your Loved Ones

A living trust is basically a trust that is created when one is alive rather than being created when one dies. This legal agreement is drawn to ensure the property of an individual is dispersed as per his wishes when he dies. The individual transfers the ownership of assets to the trust. He then chooses a trustee who administers it. The trustee could be a friend, family member, a law firm or an attorney among others. The trustee holds the legal title of the property on behalf of the beneficiary.
Since this agreement is entered into when the owner is still alive, it can begin benefiting him immediately. It is revocable meaning that one can make any desired changes. It shows how the income and assets it has earned should be distributed after his death. If the owner is the trustee and he becomes disabled or incapacitated a successor trustee can manage the financial affairs.
It can be used for all kinds of properties. Just like the will, it offers quite a broad planning flexibility. For it to work properly it is important to ensure that all the property has been transferred from the name of the owner to that of the trust.
There are many benefits of having such an agreement. Firstly no property registered herewith will be subject to probate. Probate is a process supervised by the court that involves distributing your property to your inheritors and paying off your debts. With this kind of agreement, your assets technically are not yours any longer as the trust owns them. So, your loved ones are saved the hassle of probate which can be expensive and time consuming.
If one is able and willing, he is allowed to manage his own trust. In this case, he makes a provision for the successor trustee to take over after his death. Upon your death, the successor trustee simply transfers all ownership to beneficiaries named in the trust. After all the property has been transferred to the named beneficiaries, the trust ceases to exist.
Another benefit is that this document offers some level of privacy. This is because the terms of this agreement are not made public upon the death of the owner. This means that the deceased individual's debts, assets and inventories remain private. The estate is then distributed privately.
This is an easy way of transferring assets to your inheritors free of probate in a matter of weeks or a few months of your death. It is especially ideal for people with large estates. A married couple would also find it ideal at it could offer savings on income and on estate taxes in form of a joint living trust.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Defining Legal Terms - By The People Fairfield CA

Rene goes over what types of questions they can help answer at By The People. A lega document preparation company. See more at http;//

Saturday, April 28, 2012

DIVORCE !!! Easier than you think? - By The People Fairfield CA

Rene goes over how a divorce does not always need to involve a full legal team. He explains the process of how By The People can help file the paperwork necessary for the courts. See more at

Friday, April 27, 2012

By The People Fairfield CA

Rene talks about how By The People in Fairfield can help people with legal matters in an inexpensive way. See more at

Thursday, April 26, 2012

FAQs - Know More About DUI Record Expungement and Get Your Life Back on Track

Most states in the US allow DUI record expungement. Expunging your DUI arrest or conviction record eliminates all the consequences it has in your life and helps getting your life back on track. To help you in regards to expungement, this article answers some of the most frequently asked questions.
DUI record expungement - Frequently Asked Questions:
1. What does expunging your DUI record mean?
DUI expungement is a legal process through which your DUI arrest or conviction record is completely physically destroyed.
2. Are you eligible for an expungement?
You are eligible to expunge your DUI record:
- if a certain amount of time has passed since your arrest or conviction.
- if you have completed all the terms and conditions of probation.
- if you have no new pending charges.
- if you have paid all the fines, completed jail time, community service, rehab and fulfilled all the conditions imposed by the court.
3. What will you benefit from expungement?
Once you are notified that your DUI records are expunged, you are, thereafter, to be relieved of all the disabilities resulting from your DUI arrest or conviction.
It means you do not have to disclose your conviction or arrest to your prospective private employer or when applying for a home mortgage loan or under any other circumstances.
4. How much does expungement cost?
Hiring an attorney to expunge your DUI records costs around $400 to $4000 depending on many factors like the nature of your charges i.e., misdemeanor or felony, number of charges and experience of your DUI expungement attorney. In addition to this, court and filing fees can cost $100 to $400.
5. Do you need an attorney for expunging your DUI record?
You can expunge your DUI record with or without the help of an attorney. A DUI expungement attorney ensures that your records get expunged on time. So if you can afford an attorney fee you can hire one. Otherwise you must make sure every phase in the expungement process is completed on time and correctly.
6. Will they need your presence at the court?
If you have hired an attorney, he/she will take care of all the matters on your behalf. But if you have not, you must represent yourself in the court.
7. How long does the DUI expungement process take?
If you want to expunge your misdemeanor record, it will take roughly 2 to 6 weeks from the time the application is filed.
Or if you want to expunge your felony record or want to reduce it to a misdemeanor it usually takes 4 to 6 weeks from the time the application is filed.
8. What expungement will not do for you?
Your expunged DUI arrest or conviction can still be used to increase your penalties and punishments if you get another DUI in the future.
Now that you know the answers for some of the most frequently asked questions, so you can take steps to expunge your existing or older DUI conviction and arrest record and get your life back on track.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Quit Claim Deed Procedure For Termination Of Rights To Real Estate

A quit claim deed is the processing of transferring one's real estate investment to someone else. Individuals may choose to use this document to show good faith between spouses or family members so that there is no argument about who the property belongs to. There are several instances that a person may choose to file this document.

If a wife and husband own real estate independent from one another than the spouse that wants to remove their claim over their partner's property would have to sign this document. Similarly, in the event of a death of a parent, two or more siblings may inherited the house. The siblings would sign this deed to turn over their rights to ownership to another sibling.

Another common reason for this document is in the case of divorce. When spouses have joint real estate, it is common for one of them to file this form to terminate their rights. Signing this document severs any right to profit that can come from the sale of the home. However, both spouses would still be responsible for paying any debt that had occurred on the property before the deed was filed.

Individuals can find this document at almost any office supply store. Filing this document requires a copy of all of the ownership details of the property in question. Once the document is complete than the party for whom the property is being given and the individual(s) who are signing over their rights to the property will need to sign the document in front of a Notary Public. Record of this deed must be filed in the county clerk's office. Before initiation of this deed individuals should verify the law regarding such forms in the state in which they live.

It is important when filling out this form to be sure that it is free of errors. Any misprinting or oversights could result in an invalid document, which will delay processing. It is also important to do ample research to be sure that everyone who has ownership of the property is accounted for, as the document is not legal without all necessary signatures.

A quit claim deed is different than other deeds that are often used in real estate, such as grant and warranty deeds. A warranty requires proof that the property is free of debt and that no one else has ownership, whereas a quit claim does not require such evidence.

Once the form becomes finalized than the party that signed over their claim to the property no longer has any legal rights. Regaining any ownership would require legal action and proof that the individual signed the document under some type of distress that would make the signature invalid. Therefore, it is important that individuals have done ample research and consulted with an attorney before filing the document.

A quit claim deed is used in instances where one or two parties want to sign over their rights of ownership over real estate to another person or persons. Individuals need to be detailed oriented when filing this form, using all correct spellings of names and making sure to answer all questions. Once the document is signed it becomes legal. Individuals will want to consult with professionals to ensure that they understand the ramifications for signing this form.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Living Will Form vs. Health Care Power of Attorney Form

A will to live, formally called a living will form, is a type of advance directive. These legal forms are usually required to be notarized or signed and dated by witnesses.

A living will form usually covers specific directions as to what kind of medical treatment your caregivers will give you or are not allowed to give you. Some people go as far as to refuse food and water if they become incapacitated. A will to live is just that though, it is intended to force caregivers to give you the kind of medical treatment you want if you can't communicate those directives yourself. You are considered unable to communicate when you become incapacitated or brain damaged.

Another form similar to a living will form is a power of attorney for health care form. A power of attorney for health care form appoints some one you trust of your choosing to direct your health care decisions.

End-of-life health care decisions can be very difficult and emotional on your family; 1/3rd of Americans have had to make end-of-life health care decisions for their family. A living will form will keep your family members from making these critical, emotional, and frightening decisions.

You are also entitled to fill out a do not resuscitate order if you so choose to do so, this order will not allow your caregivers to put you on life support. Often times depending on the hospital and jurisdiction they will withhold do not resuscitate orders until their confirmed or simply not even recognize their legal power. Most hospitals will not perform intubations or resuscitation only when faced with these orders but they will treat infections, pump food and fluids directly into your blood stream, use pain management, and adequate comfort care are often times continued.

These types of forms are valid as soon as they are notarized or witnessed, copies should be given to your doctor, family, and any one else you feel may need a copy.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Tips on Power of Attorney - How to Choose the Best Type For Your Situation

There's not just one kind of Power of Attorney, and you need to make sure that you choose the right kind. After all, conferring Power of Attorney means that someone will be able to act on your behalf on health decisions and financial matters, making decisions for you when you're unable. It's important to get the right Power of Attorney, and these tips can help you choose the kind that's best for your individual situation.

1. If you wish to confer Power of Attorney on someone, or are applying to act with Power of Attorney on someone else's behalf, it is important to ensure that you get the right type. There are several to choose from. Nondurable, durable and springing are three types, and all of these can be verbal or oral, witnessed or unwitnessed.

2. Nondurable power of attorney applies immediately upon being granted and is appropriate for a set amount of time or for the duration of a specified matter - such as the sale of a house - after which it ceases to apply. This is suitable when someone needs a level of help with a transaction or operation of some sort but still retains many of their faculties.

3. Durable power of attorney is more appropriate in cases which will continue either in perpetuity or for the foreseeable future. If an individual has suffered serious physical injury or mental degradation to the extent where they are unable to make decisions with confidence and consistency (most usually in cases of senility), they may confer power of attorney to a trusted member of their family or a friend.

4. Springing power of attorney is for many people the most desirable state of affairs as it comes into effect at a specific time - most usually when a doctor certifies you as incapacitated or other circumstances have become effective, thus making it unsuitable or undesirable for you to make your own decisions.

5. If you are the one on whom Power of Attorney is being conferred, it is worth ensuring that you have a witness to the conference - part of the nature of Power of Attorney is that the person who is conferring it may often become confused, irritable or unreasonable, and may switch between lucidity and confusion without notice. They may well accuse you of defrauding them.

6. For similar reasons to the above, it is worth asking yourself before you take on Power of Attorney whether you are certain you can emotionally endure what will result from being empowered in such a way. It will often require making very fundamental and seismic changes in the person's life, and to do this will require great emotional strength, particularly if they are someone to whom you are close.

7. When acting with Power of Attorney, it is possible that you will encounter interference and displeasure from their family - which may also be your family. It is important to have the full confidence of people to whom the individual is close and with whom they retain a strong bond of trust. This will allow transparency in all stages.

8. Inform yourself as much as you can about the concept of power of attorney. Find out specifically where you stand as a result of taking on power of attorney before you enter into an agreement. Although the situation is a strain on everyone, it is you who will be required to conduct financial and organizational details, and it is therefore important that you make sure you are protected and allowed to do so.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Who Can Be a Member of an LLC?

One of the underlying principles behind the limited liability company is that it was created by lawmakers to be the easiest and most flexible legal entity to be used for a variety of purposes.
While running a business is the most common use, it is also used for holding real estate or other assets, family owned property, self directed IRAs and other investment holdings, and estate planning.
Because of its many uses, this type of vehicle needs to be flexible enough to have many different types of people or other entities be owners.
General Rule- No Member Limitations Imposed by Statutes
A member is the technical term used to designate an owner.
Because of this desired flexibility, the laws of every state do not place residence or citizen restrictions on who can be a member of a limited liability company. Despite this, the most common questions about this kind of entity is who can own one.
First, you do not need to be a resident of a state in order to own an LLC formed in that state.
Second, you do not even need to be a resident or citizen of the United States. There are many legal entities that are owned by foreign people and businesses.
Third, any kind of legal person can own one or an interest in one. For example, a member of an LLC can be persons, corporations, trusts, partnerships, or other limited liability companies.
There are Some Exceptions
The above rules apply for general companies. Some states have professional LLC entities. These entities have significant limitations on ownership. Generally, every member must be licensed to provide the regulated service that the legal entity was formed to provide.
If you are planning on conducting a business that is regulated by other state departments, those regulations may impose member and other limitations. Accordingly, it is important to check with all applicable laws and restrictions when deciding on who can and should be a member of your business.
The Operating Agreement Can Impose Limitations
While the LLC laws do not impose restrictions, it is important to review the operating agreement of a particular one to confirm there are no contractually imposed restrictions. The statutes allow for every limited liability to impose its own set of rules and restrictions.
The operating agreement is the official document that establishes ownership and puts in place a set of rules, policies and procedures that must be followed by members, managers, and the business itself.
With respect to members, the agreement will usually have an entire section outlining how one becomes a member and the rights and obligations of each one.
If you are forming a new LLC, then you need to be sure that your agreement does not impose any residence restrictions with regard to who can be an owner in the entity.
As you can see, this determination really depends on the nature of the particular company and its business, the operating agreement and the specific laws and regulations of each state.
Granting membership status to a person or other entity is a big deal. When one becomes a member, certain rights arise. The new person is your partner (sometimes for life) in the business.
Because this step is so significant, make sure you think through all the implications and please retain the services of a competent lawyer to help ensure you protect your interests and those of your business.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Uncontested Divorce - The Basics

If you and your husband or wife have decided that you want to get divorced, you want the legal process of dissolving your marriage to be as simple as possible. If that is the case you will want to know more about uncontested divorces, which have a number of benefits for both of you. Here are some basic ideas and suggestions, as well as information about uncontested divorce that will help you move forward.

First of all you should be aware that an uncontested divorce doesn't necessarily mean you agree on the reasons for the divorce. It is not the same as a 'no fault' divorce. What it means is that you and your 'soon to be ex' have agreed that you want to get through it in a civilised way. It means that you have agreed that the property acquired during the marriage is being divided fairly along with any savings, pensions or debts. You should also both feel that the separation of assets pays attention to the needs of each of you. You may want to get a lawyer to check over the finer points if your finances are complicated but if not, you can get uncontested divorce forms online. If you can negotiate the terms between you it is far less traumatic and much cheaper.

One key point is that you should take your time. You should never rush the process, having an uncontested divorce usually speeds up the process dramatically, even when you take time to negotiate. You can usually sort things out in a few weeks whereas some contested divorces can go on for months with bitter arguments causing upset, especially to any children involved.

There are many advantages to an uncontested divorce, one of which is, undoubtedly, the cost. An 'uncontested divorce' means that both of you agree to all the terms of divorce, which means you don't have to pay for additional court fees or even pay an attorney for the extra time they would have to spend on sorting out the division of y our assets. This can be very helpful if money is tight as you don't have to spend large sums of money going to court. You could perhaps save it towards your living expenses after the divorce or for your children, or some of the larger expenses that you may not foresee when you are first on your own.

If you do decide to opt for a lawyer, you need to remember that your family lawyer cannot act for both of you, even if the divorce is uncontested and fairly amicable. One of the things you should decide early on is which of you will use the family lawyer, unless you both decide to go elsewhere or to do it yourself. Your lawyer will meet with you to sort out all the documents that are involved in getting a divorce. You will the opportunity to see what is in the documents before they go to your spouse and then to the court. The more you can sort out beforehand, the better it will be. There may be times when both of you will have to meet with your respective lawyers to go over the terms of your divorce, even if you have agreed the terms if there are complicated matters to sort out.

The key thing is to keep open the lines of communication so that your divorce can be as simple as possible.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Do You Really Need a Living Trust?

There are folks who are willing to sell a living trust to anything that moves. They frequently claim that everybody needs a living trust or two. Well, almost everybody. At the other extreme, there are those claiming that (almost) nobody needs living trusts.

No wonder many of you are confused. So, do you really need a living trust?

A living trust is just one of many different tools in financial and estate planning. But, living trusts can help you achieve goals not possible with other planning tools. At the same time, they require effort, time and resources.

Living trusts can serve you well while you are alive. They can also serve your family members and others you love long after you are gone. Just like with a will, you can provide for distribution of property after death.

Property held in living trusts avoids probate. This alone makes them very attractive. Probate is a legal process. It takes place in probate courts. In some states these courts are also known by other names, such as surrogate.

You and your property may be subjected to probate proceedings even if you are still alive. This may occur if you become physically and/or mentally incapacitated. In this situation, living trust (along with other documents) can help you avoid a potential nightmare.

Probate can be a very expensive and time-consuming procedure. By the time its over, a significant part of your estate may evaporate.

At the same time, living trusts are not the only way to avoid probate. If probate avoidance is your primary (or only) goal, you should at least consider other options. Such option may be less costly and time consuming.

If you own substantial assets or reasonably expect to do so in the future, you should at least consider a revocable living trust. Such trusts do not diminish the control you have over your property. They can be amended or even terminated. You can continue using your property the same way.

By contrast, irrevocable living trusts mean a loss of control over your assets. Once these trusts are executed, all provisions become fixed. You won't be able to change or terminate your irrevocable trust. Why would anyone want to give away the control over assets?

Well, irrevocable trusts can come with benefits. Your children, grandchildren (and others) can receive much more in the event of your death. Properly designed and drafted irrevocable living trusts can result in substantial income, estate and gift tax savings. They can also provide an additional layer of protection against creditors.

Testamentary trusts take effect after death. They are provided for in a last will and testament (a will). The advantage here is that no additional paperwork or actions are necessary during lifetime. In other words, you avoid extra headaches.

A big drawback is that a will must be probated for testamentary trusts to take effect. Wills can be lost and even intentionally destroyed. In addition, your will may be invalidated by the probate court in part or in full. In short, your testamentary trust may never come into existence.

Once again do you really need a living trust? At the end, it boils down to what you want to achieve during life and after you are gone. Living trusts can help you accomplish things not possible otherwise. But, there are also many other financial and estate planning tools available to you.

Decide what you really want, examine all available options and make your decision accordingly.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

LLC Operating Agreement: The Basics

Your LLC Operating Agreement is a document kept internally, signed by all members and kept on file with the limited liability company itself. It is not filed with a specific government entity, nor does it have a deadline or due date -- but that doesn't mean it isn't one of the most important documents your LLC has at its disposal.
Sometimes called a Member Control Agreement or an Operating and Member Control Agreement, this document is an important source of guidance and direction for your business, and you cannot afford to overlook this part of your business paperwork.
What is an LLC Operating Agreement?
An LLC Operating Agreement is really the limited liability version of Corporate Bylaws -- it lays out specific direction for various contingencies and processes for the business to follow.
What sort of information must be included in this Agreement?
An operating agreement typically includes the following:
  • Responsibilities and duties of the members and managers
  • Whether management is vested in members, or managing members
  • Rights afforded to those members
  • Specific distribution of profit or loss among the members
  • When and how much members contribute financially to the business
  • How a member will be replaced upon leaving or death
  • How a member can be removed
  • Percentage of members required in order to legally have a membership meeting
  • The amount of money the corporate officers can spend without member approval
  • Method by which members can transfer their ownership interest (like corporate shares) to another entity
Why does my business need an LLC Agreement?
First, because it may be the law; some states require limited liability companies to keep an Operating Agreement on file.
But regardless of whether you're legally required to have an agreement on file, it's crucial that you address those potential instances now, when everyone can agree on what will happen if one member is acting improperly or another passes away.
Without an LLC Operating Agreement, your LLC has no procedures in place for dealing with business actions or inner conflicts, and your business could end up in a legal battle, wasting your hard-earned resources.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How a Power of Attorney and a Revocable Living Trust Work Together

If you have a Revocable Living Trust, you know that it can serve as an essential incapacity planning tool. If you're ever disabled - through illness or injury - to the point that you can no longer manage your own financial affairs, your Disability Trustee can step in and take over your trust property.
However, if a Revocable Living Trust is the only estate planning tool in your incapacity plan, then there are probably gaps that need to be filled. Unfortunately, your Disability Trustee can only control property that's been funded into your trust. That's why it's important to also have a Durable Power of Attorney for finances.
Transferring Property into Your Trust
With a Durable Power of Attorney, you appoint an agent to manage your non-trust property in the event of your disability. So, if you have a stroke or are in the later stages of Alzheimer's, your agent can access property that's been left out of your Trust, and transfer it to the Trustee. This ensures that your assets are properly and consistently managed during your lifetime, and that there's a smooth transition of property to your beneficiaries after you pass away.
Managing Non-Trust Property
There is certain property that should not be transferred into your Revocable Living Trust. This includes assets like retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and sometimes even motor vehicles. With a properly drafted Durable Power of Attorney, your agent can manage these assets on your behalf.
Your Disability Trustee won't have power to engage in Medicaid planning on your behalf. However, with a properly drafted Durable Power of Attorney, your agent can handle this task.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Medical Power of Attorney

A Medical Power of Attorney gives specific instructions, prepared in advance, that are intended to direct medical care for an individual if he or she becomes unable to do so in the future. Plainly speaking, a Medical Power of Attorney is made in anticipation of a medical emergency. If you are in an accident or suffer a disease or disorder that may leave you incapable of making a sound medical decision, a Medical Power of Attorney permits you to choose in advance who will represent and enforce your interests. The person authorizing the other to act on his behalf is the "principal" and the one authorized to act is the "agent".

A Medical Power of Attorney should be given to someone whom you trust unreservedly; this is an individual who will be making decisions for you when you are incapacitated, even if you are not on life support or terminally ill. However, an agent does not have the authority to act until the principal's attending physician certifies in writing that the principal is incompetent.

A Medical Power of Attorney is not legally effective unless the principal signs a disclosure statement that he or she has read and understood the contents before signing the document. If the principal is physically unable to sign, another person may sign the document in his or her presence and at his or her directive. Two qualified witnesses, who are competent adults, must witness the procedure. At least one of them must not be related to the principal, the principal's attending physician or the attending physician's employee, entitled to a part of the principal's estate, an individual who has a claim against the principal's estate, or an officer, director, partner or business office employee of the healthcare facility.

An individual may revoke the Medical Power of Attorney by notifying either the agent or the principal's health care provider of his or her intent to revoke the document. This revocation will take place regardless of the principal's capability to make sound medical judgments. Further, if the principal executes a later Medical Power of Attorney, then all prior ones are revoked. If the principal designates his or her spouse to be the agent, a divorce revokes the Medical Power of Attorney.

An agent, acting in good faith, will not incur criminal or civil liability for a medical decision made under a Medical Power of Attorney.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

What Is an Expungement?

As human beings, we are prone to making a mistake now and then. The vast majority of us get through the event with nothing worse than being taught a good lesson. Some, however, do not. In some cases, a poor decision can lead to a criminal record that can follow a person around for the rest of our life. This hardly seems fair. What is an expungement? It is a method for keeping this from happening.

Public Policy

In California, the state government invokes public policy positions that shape the law and conduct of people and businesses in the state. For example, a rather benign policy is to promote green energy production by forcing utility companies in the state to buy a certain percentage of their power from solar and wind energy generation companies.

California has a fairly forgiving public policy regarding criminal records. Specifically, there is a policy of giving the courts discretion to reconsider whether a person who has a single criminal blemish on their record should have that record swiped clean. This process is known as expunging one's record and there are a number of different methods for pursing an expungement in California.

Petition for Dismissal

A person with one blemish on their record can file a Petition for Dismissal in some situations in California. Upon filing, the court will reopen the past criminal matter. The judge will determine if all the conditions dictated to the defendant in that criminal action have been met. This can include tasks such as paying all restitution and fines handed down as well as completing any probation period successfully.

If the judge finds all these conditions have been met and it is in the interest of justice to expunge the criminal record, he or she will dismiss the past action. This allows the defendant to truthfully and legally answer that they have not been convicted of a criminal charge should such a question be answered in the future in, for example, a job interview.

It should be understood that the successful petition for dismissal is not entirely the end of the matter. Should the petitioner subsequently be convicted of another crime, the expunged matter can be revived and returned to the person's record. Juvenile Records

The old adage that boys will be boys has proven to be no less true in modern times. Of course, now we have to include the adage girls will be girls, but such is society. The question is should a poor decision made when a boy or girl is, for example, 13 haunt them for the rest of their life? In California, the answer is generally no. Once a minor turns 18 years of age, they are considered an adult and can petition to have their juvenile records sealed. This effectively vacates their past criminal record and gives them a fresh start as they head into their adult life. Certificate of Rehabilitation

The third process for dealing with a past criminal conviction is the Certificate of Rehabilitation. This process is applicable to a defendant who was convicted of a crime and actually served time in a state prison. The petition doesn't actually seek the expungement of the criminal record because state law does not allow for it. Instead, it places positive remarks on the person's record that are designed to show that while they committed a crime in the past, they have turned their life around after jail and are acting as a law abiding citizen.

A petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation is filed with the Superior Court. To qualify for it, the petitioner has to show that they have been living in California for the previous five years. They then must also show that they have been crime free for the prior seven years. If the court finds these requirements are met, it will issue the Certificate and automatically send a request for pardon to the Governor of California. Pardons are rarely granted, but the small chance it will is more than worth sending it in.

What is an expungement? It represents a second chance at getting one's life in order from a legal perspective. It is the rare individual who hasn't made a serious error or two in their life. If this error was criminal in nature, California law provides the potential for relief in a number of ways as detailed above.

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Essential Elements of Durable Power of Attorney

Durable power of attorney is used to authorize a person to legally make decisions on your behalf about finances and health care. The 'durable' part keeps the powers in place until death; allowing the attorney-in-fact to carry out duties such as paying bills, making deposits, filing tax returns, or obtaining medical records.

Without a durable power of attorney, relatives won't be able to have any input regarding medical or financial decisions. In order to manage affairs they have to go to court to appoint a person as the attorney-in-fact and obtain permission to act on your behalf. Not only is this inconvenient, it adds to existing burdens of coping with the crisis at hand. This can be averted by setting up financial and medical POA forms.

The simplest way to execute these documents is by hiring a lawyer. Other options include utilizing legal service providers like LegalZoom or purchasing do-it-yourself kits via the Internet or office supply stores.

A financial POA is advisable for everyone that has any kind of personal finance matters. This document grants permission to the designated attorney-in-fact to pay bills; make deposits into bank accounts, financial portfolios, and retirement accounts; file tax returns; and engage in specific transactions documented in the POA form.

Medical power of attorney forms let people state what kind of health care procedures they do or do not want to receive if a life-threatening event occurs. Some states require people to execute a living will in lieu of medical POA, so it's best to obtain legal counsel to determine appropriate forms.

Healthcare directives should include a consent form to release medical records to the attorney-in-fact. Confidentiality laws prohibit medical personnel from releasing personal health information to others without proper consent.

For most people, the logical choice for attorney-in-fact is family members. It's important to realize that the person chosen will have access to sensitive financial and medical information, so it's crucial to choose wisely. In lieu of relatives, attorney-in-fact can also be financial planners, attorneys, or a personal friend.

In most situations it is advisable to designate one attorney-in-fact for both financial and medical durable power of attorney. While not mandatory, having one person in charge can be more efficient. If this isn't feasible, it's best to designate two people that are capable of working well together.

Establishing POA is also an important estate planning strategy. One of the most valuable gifts anyone can provide to their family is making certain their affairs are in order. Settling loved ones estate can be a complicated issue if directives aren't provided in a last will and testament.

Writing a Will helps to expedite the probate process which is used in the U.S. to settle decedent estates. Wills are needed to ensure that loved ones receive the inheritance property you want them to have. They also are used to establish guardianship for minor children and appoint a personal representative to manage estate matters.

Both Wills and durable power of attorney forms grant authority to those charged with specific duties and helps make their job easier. For a nominal fee and a few hours of time, these documents provide peace of mind knowing that everything is in order should the unthinkable occur.

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By The People, Fairfield CA does over 80 different legal forms to help you get what you need done effectively and efficiently. Give us a call at 707-428-9871. Let us know how we can help you. If it isn't something that we do, we certainly know places to direct to you.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Court Probate Of A Will

Probate is a legal process of solving any claims of property on a valid will. The process involves dividing the property of a deceased person to the beneficiaries. This process underscores the relevant functions of a court by ensuring effective management of the estate of a deceased person. This involves validation of the will by a surrogate court through interpreting the instructions of the deceased. The legal process declares the executor as the personal agent of estates and the interests of parties that have claims against the property. The court must adhere to the following steps in administering any legal administration.

First of all, all the creditors must be notified on the legal process. They should be notified through publication of legal notices by the responsible, legal administration. This ensures that they are fully aware of the whole process and how they are going to recover the debts that they deceased borrowed from them.

A petition should have a personal agent filed in court for effective ruling. This accomplished by obtaining documents of administration that can guide the court in choosing a reliable person in the legal process at hand. That is why a competent person who shared important information with the deceased is the one who is chosen as a personal representative.

Taxes that are involved in running estates, inheritance and gifts should be taken into consideration whenever the estates go beyond certain thresholds. Effective validation and taxation is done on the property before distribution of assets. This ensures that any taxation rates are deducted or added before a court ruling is given on the estate of deceased.

The appointed personal representative has the responsibility to govern the estate before a court ruling. This essentially involves gathering all the assets of the deceased and identifying all the outstanding liabilities. This process ensures that all the debts, remainders and disbursements are made effectively to compliment legal distribution of estates.

The executors must be given effective guidance on how to distribute assets. This entails taking into account the rights of creditors and the process of executing the property at hand to the beneficiaries. This gives the executors and creditors a clear time frame for the process and duration that would be taken to resolve the problem.

Lastly, a clear ruling can be given by the surrogate court when all the above steps are followed before any probate action. This ruling should be substantial to favor the beneficiaries of estates and other property of deceased.

The information you obtain in this article is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Valuable Information for People Planning to Form an LLC

Putting up a business is a good way to earn money. While it can be rewarding, it can also come with a few potential risks. For instance, starting a corporation during challenging economic times may not be ideal. This can cause substantial losses especially when you are putting up the corporation on your own for the first time. Forming an LLC can be your best option when looking for an alternative that is less formal but is as flexible as a corporation.

What is an LLC?

A Limited Liability Company or LLC is a relatively new business model slowly becoming popular among small business in the US. This type of business combines the limited liability feature of a corporation and the operational flexibility of a partnership.

The concept of an LLC was introduced in the late 70s. In other countries, this business model came much earlier and has different statutes and guidelines than that of the US.

Advantages of forming an LLC

LLCs in the United States normally call its partners "members." These members benefit from the incorporation while maintaining small business setups. They also report losses and profits on their individual tax returns much like in a partnership or proprietorship. On the other hand, members also have protection from personal liability. This means they are not responsible for any company debts just like in the setting of a corporation.

Moreover, if the company encounters any legal trouble, only the company assets are at risk. Credit companies cannot go after any of the members of the LLC and their respective personal assets. This is the reason many people today want to form an LLC.

How to form an LLC

The first step is to choose a business name. It must be distinct from other businesses in the state. It also needs to have a clear labeling as an LLC. There are states that do not allow using certain words in the name of the LLC. "Bank" and "Insurance" are two examples. Make sure to choose the proper words for the company.

The next step is to file for the Articles of Organization. This document contains a complete overview of your business. The Articles of Organization include basic information such as your business name, address, and its members. It also documents the stocks that your LLC may issue and legitimizes the operation of your enterprise.

Another important document is the Operating Agreement. It contains the written code of conduct of your company. This actually works as a binding contract among the members. This document also needs formal adaptation and amendment. While this may be not required in most states, people who want to form an LLC are advised to at least draft one.

Like other business models, you also have to secure the necessary licenses and permits. These may vary depending on the nature of the business and the state laws. Document filing companies can be of great help when you are too busy to file the necessary documents.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Understanding Conservatorships

As your parents age, many concerns and needs will arise. One of them being whether or not a conservatorship is appropriate. A conservatorship, also referred to as adult guardianship, is the process of having someone make the necessary medical and financial decisions for your loved one. There are many different things that go into qualifying the need for a conservatorship and establishing an appropriate conservator. Not everyone will need a conservatorship, but for someone who does not have a good Advance Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney in place, it can prove to be very helpful.

An Advance Health Care Directive is a document which lays out the medical wishes of the elder in case he or she becomes incapable of making those decisions. The Power of Attorney is document assigning a person to handle all financial decisions for the elder. There are two different types of conservatorships which can fill in the missing pieces - conservator of the person, and conservator of the estate.

The conservator of the person handles the medical and personal decisions, while the conservator of the estate handles the finances. It is ideal for the conservator of the person to be a relative, and the conservator of the estate should have experience of handled finances, especially if the estate in question is immense or complex. In some cases both aspects may be handled by one person.

There are two things that need to occur for a conservatorship to be considered. First, the elder in question must be physically or mentally incapable of making major decisions. Second, they must not have adequate legal documents stating their preferred personal and financial decisions. Here are some examples:

They do not have a Power of Attorney for their finances.
They do not have a medical directive or a living will.
Even if they do have a medical directive, there may be particular health matters which need to be decided upon and were not mentioned in the directive.
Even if they have a Power of Attorney for both their medical and financial decisions, they may still need help with personal decisions, such as where to live, etc.
In order to start the process for establishing conservatorship, legal documents must be filed which clearly state the physical and mental condition of the elder in question and why they are incapable of making decisions on their own. Family members and the elder in question must be given time to file their own papers stating whether they support or contest the conservatorship.

Many times relatives involved disagree on who is the appropriate person to carry out the conservatorship. It is advisable to discuss it together, including the elder in question, and come to an agreement before starting the process. This will save much time and money. Also, whoever the agreed upon conservator is should be aware that it is a very time-consuming and even stressful responsibility. The conservator may handle everyday care, how to spend assets on long-term care, deal with Medicare, doctors, insurance, and all other financial, medical, and personal decisions for the elder in need.

In some cases, it can be difficult to determine whether or not there is a diminished capacity of the elder to make decisions. For some, they experience physical or mental limitations, but are not completely incapable of making decisions for themselves. When this happens, a judge may either appoint a court counsellor to talk with the elder, or may speak with them himself.

The judge will weigh all the options, read reports from doctors and family members, ask the elder if they understand the court proceedings, whether or not they even want a conservator, and whether they feel capable of making decisions. After this, the judge may appoint a lawyer to represent the elder during the court proceedings. Otherwise, the judge may appoint a conservator but limit their authority. If this happens, further court hearings may be required to receive the judge's approval on certain decisions.

If you feel that your loved one is loosing their capacity to make decisions, do your homework and discuss options and ideas with other involved relatives to reach a uniform agreement. This will help you save precious time and money before you start the legal process to establish a conservator for your loved one. To find an experienced attorney to help you in these matters, get in touch with the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) for a referral to one in your area.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions About Power of Attorney

What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a document that helps you deal with the issue of managing your finances when you are unable to do so, for example, if you become mentally incompetent. Alternative exist, such as living trust, but this is the most common way of handling this life situation.
How do I choose my Power of Attorney agent?
Pick someone who you really trust. They can be either a close relative or someone you have known for a long time. Don't trust your affairs to anyone who you think might not follow your wishes. If you choose an attorney or accountant as your agent, there is usually a fee. Family members will usually perform agent duties for free. Choose someone with financial smarts - your financial affairs will probably be better managed by someone who manages their own financial affairs carefully and effectively. Discuss the issue with your potential agent first and express your values and wishes with regard to how your affairs should be handled. This also gives the agent an opportunity to consider and communicate to you whether he or she is willing and able to handle the responsibilities.
What if my agent doesn't act in my best interests or follow my wishes?
A number of agent provisions are included. These provisions clarify issues related to how the agent handles your affairs including: accounting of the agent's actions, compensation and misconduct.
Am I allowed to change my agent?
You may change your mind about the agent you selected. You can revoke a signed POA document at any time, regardless of the reason. If you are unsure about the person you selected as your agent, you may choose to revoke the POA and select a different agent. This should be done in writing should using a Revocation of Power of Attorney document, and you must provide notice to the agent under the POA that you are revoking.
What different types of Powers of Attorney exist?
General: Your agent will have very broad authority to manage your financial and personal affairs. Your agent will have the legal authority to make gifts, operate a business, grant a disclaimer power, make living trust transfers and handle a personal residence.
Health Care: If you employ this type of document, another person you legally authorize will be able to make decisions about your medical care when you unable to.
Special: With this type of document, your agent will have powers limited to the specific areas you designate. For example, you might designate only the ability to access your safety deposit box or to manage your checking account.
Durable: A "durable" POA is effective even if you become mentally incompetent. Some states allow you to make your document "durable".

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

By The People FAQ's

  • Are BY THE PEOPLE Personnel attorneys? No, we are not attorneys. We are Legal Document Assistants. In California, we are a licensed and bonded profession.

  • What if I need legal advise? You can always consult with an attorney of your choice. We can provide you with a referral for an excellent local attorney who specializes in cases similar to yours if you have questions we cannot answer for you, or your situation is more complicated than our services are meant to help with.

  • Do you have a Notary Public? Yes, whenever we are open we have a Notary Public on staff. If you are a BY THE PEOPLE customer, all Notarizations of your documents are included in our fees. If you have documents not prepared by BY THE PEOPLE, we charge $10.00 per signature you need notarized, in Cash Only. You must sign the document in our presence and provide valid photo identification.

  • Does BY THE PEOPLE handle Criminal Matters? No, we only handle uncontested civil matters. However, if you would like to contact us, we may be able to refer an excellent local attorney to you.

  • I need to have my documents prepared immediately. Do you have Rush or Same-Day document preparation services? Yes, we can prepare certain documents within a few hours, if necessary. Rush and Same-Day services are available for the following documents: Wills, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives, Deeds, LLC and Incorporation Articles. A modest Rush Fees will apply to these services.

  • How long will it take to prepare my documents? The documents we prepare at BY THE PEOPLE are typed specifically at your direction. All documents are then rigorously proofed to ensure you receive the highest quality legal documents available anywhere. Most of our documents are prepared and ready for you to sign within one week, depending on your situation.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Incorporating a Business and Articles of Incorporation

The most important legal document that your business may ever file is that of your articles of incorporation. This document outlines the way in which your business is to be structured as well as its purpose for operation. It states the guideline of rules in which the company must operate. The articles of incorporation must be drawn up and submitted at the time of incorporation and will state where you plan for your business to go in the future.

Generally speaking, standard articles of incorporation will include the full name of your new corporation as well as the name of its owners, board of directors, and its intended management structure. Along with this will be specific state by-laws and regulations that must be adhered to by the company's officers. Also stated is whether you plan to issue stocks and make the company one that is publicly traded, or if you intend on keeping it privately held. If shares of the corporation are to be sold, this document will list the amount that will be issued. It is also required to list the address for the company's registered office.

Whether you decide to incorporate your business in order to acquire investors or for tax purposes you will need to file articles of incorporation. This document will be used to state specifically in what type of business the company intends to engage. Also included will be your company's plan for reporting profits as well as the accounting period that will be used for paying taxes. Depending on the type of corporation your are forming, you can decide whether to add INC, Corp, or LLC to your businesses name. Part of the incorporation process is that of the articles of association. This mandatory document defines the rules and regulations that governs company's board of directors and its shareholders.

Although it is possible to later make amendments to your articles of incorporation, you will want to file them correctly. Completing them properly the from the start will not only save you money, it will help to avoid any delays in the incorporation process. Due to this fact, it is advisable to seek the assistance of an experienced corporate lawyer. This will insure the corporation's compliance with state laws. Provided that you feel confident in preparing your own documents, there are templates available online and at your local library that will assist you in this process.

There are several benefits of incorporating your business. Once the articles of incorporation are properly filed with the secretary of state, your new corporation effectively becomes a separate legal entity. The business may be eligible for certain tax deferrals or deductions. A shareholders liability is limited to the amount that they have invested in the corporation and they cannot be held accountable for the debts that the corporation has incurred. A corporation also has the ability of continuance beyond a particular ownership. Typically, corporations have a superior ability of raising capital which can lead to the future growth of your company.

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Did You Know A Will Requires Probate?

A common comment that I hear is something like this: "But I don't have to worry about probate, I have my own will."

That's a common misconception. But by their very nature a will has no legal effect until the death of the person who's will it is. And for that reason, to give the will it's authority, or to carry out the terms of a will, it must be supervised by a Court of Law. That means probate. The probate court grants the authority for the terms of a will to be complied with.

Most people, when they learn about probate, and what it is, want to avoid it in their own case. Probate ties up the estate for a period of about 1 to 2 years --- or eleven years in Howard Hughes' case.

Probate costs an average of 5 to 10% of the value of the estate assets in court costs and attorney fees. So if you have a modest $200,000 estate (remember you have to include life insurance as well as all your real and personal property), probate could cost from $10,000 to$20,000. That's a hefty fee.

Court records, by their very nature, are public records. Settlement of an estate can lose all the privacy for the heirs. Anyone can go down to the courthouse and request your probate records. There they can find the names and addresses of all you heirs and everything that was distributed. I don't think you want that known to the world for safety sake.

Their are 3 ways to keep an estate out of the probate court upon a person's death.

One, have a will like this: "Being of sound mind, I have spent all my money while I was still living." The danger of that is to run out of money before you run out of life.

The second way is to have an estate that is of less value that your resident State's probate exemption amount. This is different in every State. It ranges between $5,000 and $100,000. So check your State laws to see how rich you have to be to have your estate go through probate.

The third alternative is to have nothing in your name at the time of death. The way to do this is to hold assets in joint names with someone else (which creates another problem). Or you can have your assets titled in a revocable living trust. This is becoming by far the most popular method to avoid probate.

Revocable Living Trusts are a little more costly than Wills to set up, but the fee to administer them is negligible --- sometimes even zero. The time it takes to settle a trust can be a little as a few weeks versus the year or two for a will to go through the probate process.

So you can easily see why Living Trusts are the preferred choice over a Will.

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

LLC, Corporation, or Sole Proprietorship?

What type of business is best for you: LLC, corporation, or sole proprietorship? This article takes a closer look at several factors and how they relate to each of these entity types so that you can make the best decision for your situation.

Startup costs

Filing fees always depend on the location, but in general, filing fees are going to be higher for corporations and LLCs than for sole proprietorships.

Sole proprietorships will generally file with the county in which they are located, though in some locations filing is done at the state level (and in just a few locations, at the city level). Filing fees could be as low as $5 or as high as $120, depending on your location.

Corporations and LLCs, on the other hand, could have a filing fee that's anywhere from $30 to $300, depending on location. Nonprofit corporations typically have a reduced filing fee.

Limited liability protection for owners

An LLC (which stands for Limited Liability Company) and a corporation both provide limited liability protection to its owners; if the business defaults on a loan, provided the company has obeyed all local, state, and federal rules and regulations and acted properly, the owners are not financially responsible for the debts or obligations of the business, and those owners' corporate assets cannot be seized by the courts to pay for them.

A sole proprietorship, on the other hand, does not provide this type of protection. There is no legal separation between the business and the person; if the business defaults on a loan, since it is really the sole proprietor him- or herself whose name is on the loan paperwork, it's that individual that is responsible to pay it back.

Tax structure

An sole proprietorship must pay a self-employment tax of 13.3% (reduced in 2010 from 15.3%); a portion of this tax goes toward Social Security, and a lesser portion goes toward Medicare. Only the first $106,800 of your income must pay the Social Security tax.

LLCs and corporations, however, are not required to pay a self-employment tax. Each of these business structures have a decision to make. There are two different tax structures for a corporation: C corporation, and S corporation, and LLCs similarly have tax structure choices to make (though for LLCs, the options depend on whether the business is a multiple- or single-owner LLC).

The tax responsibilities are extremely important to understand, as choosing the wrong organizational structure for your business can negatively impact your bottom line. It's always best to discuss your business choices with an attorney or legal advisor.

What should I do?
At the end of the day, it's important to weigh all of these options carefully before making a decision. It's easy to look superficially at the filing fee involved and go from there, but since this isn't your only true business expense, acting on filing fee alone is only looking at part of the picture.

As with every business decision, it's best to consult with your legal advisor before making any rash decision so that you know you're weighing all of the factors.
Good luck!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Most Common Uses of Special Power of Attorney

A special power of attorney becomes necessary in situations that require legal authorization to act as an agent for another person. This could be to authorize someone to handle banking transactions, business affairs, sell real estate or motor vehicles, or grant permission to a caregiver to obtain medical care for minor children.

Essentially, a special power of attorney can be written up for nearly any kind of transaction people perform. Privileges can be given to engage in real estate transactions; open or close bank accounts or transfer funds between accounts; manage financial investments; buy, sell, or trade business equipment and assets; or act as an agent to enter into negotiations with government organizations like the Internal Revenue Service.

Government bureaucracies, banks, and medical professionals cannot discuss information pertaining to you or your assets without written authorization. Nor, can a person enter into financial arrangements or make medical decisions without the appropriate power of attorney form.

It is advisable to have an attorney write up special power of attorney documents to ensure they contain appropriate legalese and are recorded through courts, if necessary. However, people can write their own POA documents using preformatted templates that only require filling in the blanks. At minimum, it's a good idea to have lawyers review self-written forms to make certain they will be valid in a court of law.

Each POA form includes the name of the person executing the document, known as the 'Principal' and the person authorized to act as the 'Agent' or 'Attorney-in-Fact.' The latter term sometimes confuses people because they assume it refers to a lawyer. However, agents do not have to be lawyers or have any connection to the legal field.

One of the more common uses of special POA documents is to authorize agents to conduct real estate transactions. Investors use this form to permit realtors to buy or sell investment properties. They also use this document to grant property management groups the right to manage rental properties and collect rent monies.

Another use of real estate POA is when homeowners need to authorize construction companies to purchase materials to build or renovate their home. Lastly, this form can be used to transfer real estate utilizing 1031 exchanges.

Business owners need to establish special power of attorney to authorize agents to conduct certain types of business transactions. These could include buying, selling, or trading business assets, business notes, or real estate, as well as taking part in joint ventures with partners.

Individuals that need others to manage investment accounts will have to setup power of attorney forms. Privileges can include: making deposits and withdrawals into investment accounts; managing mutual funds, Keogh's, and IRA's; or working with investment firms and stock brokers.

Taxpayers that owe the IRS back taxes and hire an organization to negotiate for them will have to assign POA privileges. These powers can authorize agents to respond to IRS notices; prepare tax returns; acquire 4506 tax forms; or work with the IRS to lessen outstanding balances or setup a payment plan.

Last, but not least, special power of attorney is frequently utilized with estate planning methods to grant privileges for engaging in proceedings related to estate settlement. It is best to speak to an estate planner or probate lawyer to ensure proper forms are filed.

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Getting Started On Your QDRO

Filing a QDRO document is required if you are divorcing and have a retirement plan or account that needs to be divided. You can file a QDRO, or it can be filed by your former spouse. Either way, law counsel is always a good idea.

You may contemplate waiting to worry about your retirement account until you are a little closer to retirement. Experts however, warn against this as you may reduce the chances of being able to claim your money as more time goes by.

You can get started by gathering as much information on yourself, your former spouse, and your plan as possible. You will also need to have a copy of your divorce decree. You can then fill out the QDRO with the help of your legal counsel.

After you have completed your document and looked over it, you will need to send it to your spouse or former spouse and his or her lawyer for approval. Neither party needs to sign it before more approval is received from the plan administrator and the court systems.

Once your plan administrator has received the document, you may be requested to make changes before your document can be approved. Once the document is approved, you may then receive instructions on how to receive your award.

You might have the option to receive your reward all at once, but more likely, you will be awarded in monthly payments. You may also want to look into the possibility of rolling your payments into your own 401k, penalty free. Depending on the plan you have, the cooperativeness of your spouse, and other factors, you should be able to complete a QDRO process in two to six months.

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