Monday, May 25, 2020

Why Forming an LLC is a Good Idea


If you are experienced in running your business, you understand the importance of getting the correct corporate form in place. You should seek to have a structure that will not only aid long term expansion but also protect your assets. The good news - there are a lot of potential forms your business can take.

You should consider, if you have a small business, forming an LLC. Think about setting up an LLC if you have a small business. Fortunately, they are simple to create. There is little paperwork with them. Further, in many states, you won't need to file an annual report.

Also, LLC forms a business structure that can protect your personal assets. Just keep you LLC compliant and your personal property is protected.

With an LLC, you can safeguard your business name. Also, LLCs allow unlimited owners. This will help give your business growth room. Also, owners don't need to have US citizenship.

In addition, an LLC doesn't require meetings. It also needs little paperwork. And you can flow your profit and loss to your personal taxes.

Keep in mind that setting up an LLC has fees and paperwork. Also, you need to make sure you are following all city and state laws. Thus, only consider an LLC if you have a clear business plan.

Overall, an LLC is great for small business. So you should at least consider one if you are serious about your business. Remember, it can save you time and money, both of which you can invest in your business!


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Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Benefits of Legal Separation


Legal separation and divorce are very similar and they hold basically the same legal functions except for the fact that with a separation, you do not terminate your marital status. When a couple decides to become legally separated, it is not merely a verbal agreement. They can't simply say that they are not in love anymore and one of them will move out of the family home. Instead, they must go through the same process as couples who wish to undergo a divorce.

In a legal separation, the same issues will be addressed as in the termination of a marriage. The couple will have to sort out issues relating to asset division, property division, child support, child custody, visitation and spousal support payments (if there are any). The couple will also have to decide who will pay which debts as well.

There are a number of reasons why parties choose this rather than divorce, and the reasons are usually personal. People can choose separation for religious reasons, personal beliefs, health insurance concerns, or other financial reasons.

Oftentimes couples will decide to remain married for one of two reasons: either for the sake of their children or for a financial reason. For example, if a non-employee spouse has a pre-existing medical condition or some other serious medical condition; they may need to stay on their spouse's medical insurance so they can keep getting necessary medical care.

In some cases, the couple may need to remain legally wed until they reach the ten-year deadline for certain Social Security benefits. This holds true for the ten-year deadline for military enforcement advantages or, the twenty-year deadline for PX and commissary benefits.

There are another substantial benefit and reason why people choose legal separation and it has nothing to do with health insurance or money. They may be unsure if they really want to end their marriage; therefore, the time apart offers them a "cooling off" period where they can have time to think about what they really want. They may realize that they really do love each other, and later decide that they want to get back together. It's a lot easier to get back together after legally spending time away from one another as opposed to having to go through the process of remarrying.

Religion and culture can play a significant role in why couples decide to separate instead of divorcing altogether. In certain religions, divorce carries a negative stigma that many couples wish to avoid. With legal separation, the couples can enjoy all the material benefits of a divorce without having to deal with the negative stigma attached. Separation does not allow for remarriage unless the marriage is terminated through a divorce, but it can be assumed that people who part for religious reasons don't plan to remarry anyway.

In many cases, it is more affordable for the spouses, especially when the dependent spouse relies heavily on their spouse for medical insurance. When you factor in the quality of life enjoyed through the marriage, along with how much money it would cost for the dependent spouse to take out their own medical coverage (similar to what their spouse has been carrying), then it can be reflected in the alimony payments. Sometimes it is less expensive and allows the dependent spouse to remain on the health insurance, as opposed to paying them larger alimony payments, thus saving the expense for both parties.

Getting a separation in California does require some legal paperwork and going through the court system. The same as in a divorce, you want to have a qualified attorney representing your best interests when handling important matters such as child custody, child support, asset division, property division, and possibly spousal support payments. If you would like to enjoy the benefits of a legal separation, contact a skilled and knowledgeable divorce attorney without delay!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

By The People FAQs


  • 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 advice? 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. 

For more information please visit http://bythepeopleca.com/

Monday, May 18, 2020

Aging, Communication, and Preparation


Making plans for retirement is clearly one of the highlights of your life. From the time you get out of college and enter the workforce most of your time is accounted for, and over those years there are invariably going to be many experiences that make their way onto your "to-do" list. The day that you retire is the day that you start to check things off that list, and your life experience is enriched with every mark.

We often talk about the fact that one of the challenges that are inherently part of any type of long-term planning is the fact that you can't predict the future with any degree of certainty. This is true of financial markets, laws, our own health and that of our loved ones. All of these things impact retirement planning, but there is another factor that can be difficult to fully digest.

Your mental capacity may not be the same as your retirement years pass. When you are planning for retirement it is very important to be realistic and keep this in mind. What happens if you need long-term care? What if you never made your medical preferences known via the execution of advance health care directives? You don't want to start considering these matters for the first time when you are in the latter stages of your life.

It may be a good idea to plan for your twilight years simultaneous to making plans for an active retirement both emotionally and financially. Bringing the issues of long-term care and possible incapacitation out in the open with your family long before they are directly relevant is also something to consider. Successful people generally confront reality and stay ahead of the curve. If you follow the same path that brought you success throughout your life you will invariably age just as successfully.


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Friday, May 15, 2020

5 Reasons an LLC Is Right For You


As a business owner, you can run your business as a sole proprietorship, or it can be operated as a formal structure, for example, an LLC. Forming LLC as the business structure is an exceedingly good choice for the average entrepreneur. Managing your company as an LLC brings many benefits.

Following are just a few of many reasons to contemplate having an LLC, if you are a small business owner:

1. Protection of personal assets - As a business owner, you are more apt to be sued. You need to protect your personal assets from those of your company, so your personal monies are protected in case a lawsuit is brought against your company. By starting LLC that is correctly set up, you are usually protected.

2. Have a professional image - Nothing says a professional company like a legitimate business structure. Just about anybody can start a company, but it is the people that go the extra distance by setting up a business structure show how serious they are about their company, and people take notice of this.

3. Trust - If your business is an LLC, you are making it particularly easy to discover suppliers in which to do business with you, and particularly easy to get a business loan. Operating your business as a profession, and not a hobby, is a wonderful way to gain trust with those companies that you need to work with.

4. Low audit risk - Sole proprietorships are more at risk to facing an IRS audit than LLCs. This most likely has something to do with the fact that a person might be using the business as an excuse to get some tax benefits, though they would get more if they actually had an LLC and the IRS is onto these people. However, if a person has taken the effort of LLC formation, it is likely they are in business for all of the right reasons.

5. Business flexibility - When operating as an LLC, you have greater choices in how to handle operating your business. Adding additional owners is a simple process, which is not possible as a sole proprietor. A limited liability company is a very flexible business structure that gives a variety of options on how you wish to manage your company.

If you are going to run a business, then you should do what you can to run it as effectively as possible. Making use of an LLC as your business structure has many virtues, even more than those listed in this article. Treat your business right and make it an LLC.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

What is a Living Trust?


A living trust, created while you're alive, lets you control the distribution of your estate. You transfer ownership of your property and your assets into the trust. You can serve as the trustee or you can select a person or an institution to be the trustee.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Friday, May 8, 2020

Power of Attorney - What Are the Options?


Business or personal matters often require giving power of attorney (abbreviated as POA) privileges to chosen individuals. POA authorizes the chosen individual to decide matters relating to finance or healthcare for another person who is not capable of deciding anything on his/her own.

Before giving such privileges to any person, you need to know how it works, as well as the rights given to that person. The person nominated for the purpose must be competent in making decisions, some of which may go against the wishes of other members of the family.

Law makes it obligatory to give POA only to persons who are at least eighteen years old. It is extremely important to select a person capable of taking difficult decisions relating to finance and health.

People can choose between different kinds of rights and responsibilities that they can transfer through a Power of Attorney form, depending on their needs. Every POA involves two persons, the 'Principal' and the 'Attorney-in-Fact.' The former is the individual who defines the contract, and the latter is an individual who executes the duties specified therein.

The most usual kind of contract is the Durable Power of Attorney. It's a legal document, authorizing the attorney-in-fact to take decisions concerning the finances and health, as stipulated by the Principal. This kind of POA remains in force until the Principal dies or revokes this act.

The other frequently made document is called the Non-Durable Power of Attorney. The attorney-in-fact is authorized to make decisions for certain transactions, which are specified in the act. This kind of POA is usually made when the Principal needs to undergo surgery or another medical treatment that could make them unable to make decisions. This POA is valid for a particular transaction and automatically expires after the operation took place.

A Healthcare Power of Attorney is required while authorizing an individual for taking medical decisions for the Principal. It essentially involves discussing the types of treatments to which the principal may be subjected to.

The Limited Power of Attorney is generally given to another person for selling or transferring some Real Estate or property in the possession of the Principal. The privilege expires after the completion of the transaction.

Most do not feel comfortable discussing such topics. However, the kind of treatment to be followed should be discussed in advance, in case anything unexpected happens. For instance, if someone doesn't want to be kept on a life support system when the brain is declared dead, he/she should specifically mention it in his/her healthcare POA. Else, the medical personnel is obliged to obey the state laws and continue with regular medical treatment.


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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Uncontested Divorce Made Affordable - By the People


Divorce is probably never easy, but it doesn't have to be expensive. Rene of By the People in Fairfield CA talks briefly about help with uncontested divorces with our without children. Rene or Tammy will be happy to answer all your questions. Call them at 707-428-9871 and you can visit the website at http://bythepeopleca.com

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Adult Guardianship



Many families struggle with how to manage the finances, health care and other personal matters of adults who are unable to care for themselves. You may decide to pursue an adult guardianship if an adult is mentally or physically unable to make his or her own decisions and does not have a living will and power of attorney that provide a competent person to make those judgments.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Probate Process - What Is Probate? The Steps to Administering an Estate


Most people have heard the word probate before, but they might be wondering 'what is probate?' The probate process can refer to several things. The probate court determines whether or not a will is valid. If an executor is not named in the will, the court will assign an executor to perform those duties. However, the entire process of administering the estate of the deceased according to the will's instructions can also be referred to as probate. Many people think that an executor simply reads the will and hands out the bequests to the heirs. There is so much more involved in the duties of an executor during probate.

The actual court probate process is only a part of the responsibilities of the will's executor. The first duty is to file a petition to start probate in each of the states where the deceased owned property. Because each state has slightly varying probate laws, the answer to the 'what is probate?' the question will change a little depending on a specific state's legal code. However, there are some common events between states when it comes to processing wills and other estate administration. Before the executor of the will can even be formally appointed or approved, a petition has to be filed, a notice of petition must be published with a certain amount of lead time (usually at least 15 days), the legal documents must be given to the judge for approval, and the concerned parties (such as beneficiaries) must be notified.

Following these notifications, the court hearing will formally begin the probate process and approve the named executor of the will. After the court hearing, the executor needs to inventory all of the deceased's assets. This information has to be filed with the probate court. Next, all creditor's claims are addressed and paid off. The IRS also has to be paid. It is the executor's responsibility to file all taxes, including income, estate, and others, by their respective deadlines. The timelines are not adjusted due to the death of the taxee. What is probate? It's probably a lot more than most people realize.

Once all debts and taxes are paid, the executor of the will file a petition for the judge's approval of the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries. The concerned parties are notified, and there is a court hearing where the judge approves the distribution of assets. Finally, in the probate process, the executor transfers those assets to the beneficiaries. These steps are the main answer to the 'what is probate?' question.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Over 100 Legal Document Services at By The People



Rene of By the People in Fairfield CA gives a short overview of their services and the number of legal documents they can help with. For questions, call Rene or Tammy at 707-428-9871 and you can visit their website at http://www.bythepeopleca.com

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Naming Of Guardianship In Wills



When there are minor children, a Will should always be used to name a guardian(s) of their persons and property. This guardian is who will be taking care of them in your absence and will also have control over their finances, both from you and for their well being. This guardian that you appoint, needless to say, is someone that you must be able to trust completely with your children and someone who will make sure that they are cared for in the way that you have planned. This person "can" of course be someone other than your X.

Alternate guardians should also be named in the event that the original guardian is for whatever reason unable to assume responsibility. Naming of guardians and alternates should not be done any other way but in a Will. This will relieve any hint of confusion after you are not able to take care of your kids yourself. Of course, if there is a surviving parent that person will be automatically named guardian if living in the same household; but, if your will specifies a different person to control the money, then this can fit your goals quite nicely.

This situation can and often gets tricky in divorce cases. Since you are divorced, the parent with legal custody of the child(ren) should designate a guardian. If you are the legal guardian, then you have the authority to designate who will care for your children after you die. Understand, however, that if somebody besides the other biological parent is named, this decision might not be binding.

When a custodial parent dies, the non-custodial parent always has priority in seeking guardianship and custody, unless that person is deemed unfit to perform the duties necessary or is unsafe to leave with children. If you are set against your "X" getting custody of your children if you were to die, you need to make sure that you or your appointed guardian will be able to prove that your "X" is unfit or unable to perform the job.

However, be aware that the court will probably have to approve who you have proposed to be the legal guardian eventually even if named in your Will. The purpose of your Will in this regard, though, is to guide the court in its judgment. It will also help avoid family arguments over who is better qualified to raise your children and will give the person you choose the authority over all others.


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Friday, April 24, 2020

Legal Separation Vs Divorce - Understanding How to Choose


Happily ever after is not always the case when it comes to being married. Often times married couples have a hard time and need to have a break from each other for one reason or the other. It is amazing how many marriages actually end in divorce. However, before you make the decision to get a divorce it is important to know all the facts and options before making a choice. You need to look at legal separation vs divorce when choosing the right one to fit your needs. First, let us look at and distinguish the differences.

Legal separation is similar to a legal divorce however there are notable differences that need to be taken into account. A legal separation does not permanently dissolve a marriage, it is something that can be temporary if so desired. There are some couples that just need time apart from one another and living separately is the answer.

A legal separation occurs when the two parties are living separately and it has been filed through the court system. Do not mistake a legal separation for a separation. A separation is not filed with the courts and does not carry the same provisions as a legal separation. Much like a divorce, a couples assets, property and child custody are addressed via a legal separation agreement which is filed with the courts. A separation does not provide provisions and is based solely on verbal agreements. Living separately is mainly used to determine if separating is really what a couple wants to do. There is no paperwork or filing with the courts in the case of a separation.

A legal separation is mainly different from a divorce in the fact that the couple is still legally married. There are benefits to living separately instead of immediately filing for a divorce. A divorce terminates the marriage and any and all joint interest the couple may share. A living separately does not terminate the interest however it does divide the interest. Another benefit of living separately is the couple can still take advantage of the tax advantages of being married, they can also continue with joint insurance coverage.

Once legally separated can be canceled at any time and the marriage returned to its original status. If a couple automatically proceeds with a divorce when there is a chance for reconciliation, the couple would have to get re-married. If there is any possibility of a reconciliation a legal separation is the way to go. It gives you the time to decide if being separated permanently is what you really want.

The statistics show that 50% of first time marriages end in divorce, especially for individuals under the age of 40. This may not be surprising to many of you because it is a sad but true fact. It seems to be a quick fix for many troubled marriages. Maybe if more people know there were other alternatives to divorce, no so many divorces would be happening. There are times when all a troubled marriage needs is a little time and reflection for both parties to see that they truly were meant to be together.

Whether you choose to have a divorce or get legally separated, it is highly recommended that you obtain legal counsel. Both a legal separation and divorce require filings to be made in the courts. A divorce also requires a reason for the divorce whereas a legal separation does not require any reasoning. Do not take for granted the different options afforded to you, sometimes making decisions quickly and while in an irritated or frustrated state is rash. Divorce and separation are not games, they are serious matters and need to be viewed as such.

Divorce is not something anyone wants to experience but there are times when the only alternative to a bad marriage is divorce. Whether you decide to have a full-blown divorce or give a legal separation a try, it is important to find out all the details and facts before making a decision. Each state and country have different rules and prerequisites that apply for both legal separations and divorce. This is one of the most important decisions you will make; therefore, make it wisely.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Setting Up an LLC - The Benefits and Steps of a Limited Liability Company


A limited liability company (which is commonly abbreviated as LLC) offers limited liability to its owners as a legal form of business company in the United States. Many small business owners are drawn to this type of business formation because it offers limited liability for the actions and debts of the company. This type of business formation excludes personal liability from the general debts and other obligations of the company and limits the liability of the owners to the extent of their equity. An LLC has characteristics of both a partnership and corporation; the primary partnership characteristic is the availability of pass-through income taxation while the primary corporate characteristic is limited liability.

Many entrepreneurs choose to setup an LLC for tax reasons. LLCs avoid "double taxation" because the income of the LLC itself is not taxed at the company level. Instead, taxes on profits and deductions of losses are computed at the individual level on the personal tax return of each LLC member (owner). LLC owners can elect for the IRS to tax the LLC as a sole proprietorship, partnership, C Corporation, or S Corporation. Owners make this election through the IRS after the company forms with the state.

After setting up an LLC, the bottom-line profit of the business is not considered to be earned income to the members, and therefore is not subject to self-employment tax. But it is still important to consider that the managing member's share of the overall profit of the LLC is considered earned income, and is subject to self-employment tax.

Members of an LLC are compensated using either guaranteed payments or distributions of profit. Guaranteed payments represent earned income to the members, which qualifies them to enjoy the benefits of tax-favored fringe benefits. A distribution of profit allows each member to pay themselves by merely writing checks. However, as a member of an LLC, you are not allowed to pay yourself wages.

Another important perk of setting up an LLC is that the managing member of an LLC can deduct 100 percent of the health insurance premiums he pays, up to the extent of their pro-rata share of the LLC's net profit.

The basic steps to setting up an LLC are fairly simple:

Step 1: Find a copy of the LLC Articles of Organization Form for your state. This is usually located at the Secretary of State's office. It is also a good idea to check there are any rules concerning business names in your state.

Step 2: Choose a name for your business. Almost any name will work so long as it is not the same or deceptively similar to a name being used by another entity that is filed with the State Filing Office which is usually the Secretary of State's Office. The name must end with the words Limited Liability Company or an abbreviation such as LLC or L.L.C. The ending such as LLC or Inc is not considered part of the name when searching for availability.

Step 3: Complete and File the Articles of Organization form with the State Filing Office. The State Filing Office where you turn in the form is usually the Secretary of State where you are required to pay a filing fee. The Articles of Organization form is a relatively simple document that includes the name of your business, its purpose, office address, the registered agent who will receive legal documents, and the names of each initial member of your proposed LLC. A registered agent is simply a person or incorporated company who can accept service of legal papers if your company is sued or the person who can receive mail from the State Filing Office. You can act as your own registered agent, however, the address you use must be a street address and not a P.O. Box. The address is important to make sure you receive papers that are served or sent to your company.

Step 4: Submit a notice to your local newspaper for publishing. This step is sometimes required by your state, you may want to check to make sure. Some states even require this step to be done before filing your Articles of Organization form. This notice should detail your intention to setup an LLC.

Step 5: Prepare and Sign an Operating Agreement. This is not required by the state but is a very important step in maintaining your liability protection and preventing disagreements between the members. The Operating Agreement is an essential document which sets forth the rights, duties and obligations of each member of the LLC. It also usually sets the ownership percentages between the members, the division of profits and the distribution of income. This document can also strengthen your liability protection by demonstrating that you have completed the organization of the company and are in compliance with the process.

The State Filing Office usually does not provide Operating Agreements, this will be something that you have to come up with. Many people use online services such as settingupllc.com, and other people go further and hire attorneys which can be much more expensive.

Step 6: Obtain an Employer ID Number (EIN) from the IRS. As a separate legal entity, your LLC requires its own federal tax identification number from the IRS. This can sometimes be avoided if an LLC is owned by only one person, in which case the person has the option of reporting taxes on his own social security number. To get the Employer ID Number you can acquire from SS-4 from most post offices and then file it with the IRS.

Step 7: Setup a Separate Bank Account for the LLC. A separate legal entity requires a separate bank account. It is important that you do not co-mingle your funds between business and personal bank accounts. The courts will look at this if you were to ever get sued.

Step 8: Document Ownership Interest Percentages of the LLC. To avoid disputes and ownership conflicts in the future, it is important to assign ownership percentages when the company is first formed. This step is not necessarily required, but it would be very wise.


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Monday, April 20, 2020

Durable Powers of Attorney in Wills and Estate Planning


Planning how your estate shall be divided, distributed and disposed of doesn't only mean creating a last will and testament or putting up a trust for someone. Estate planning also means preparing for the unexpected, such as falling ill to an incurable disease or becoming incapacitated later in life. In this regard, you'll need the help of someone you completely trust to put your affairs in order even when you're no longer able to make those important decisions or even communicate your wishes. Drafting durable powers of attorney gives this person you appointed the legal means to sign documents, make decisions, and represent you in court.

The Medical Power of Attorney and The Living Will

Actually, the functions of a medical power of attorney play in tandem to the directives of a living will. They're both health care directives, but the durable power of attorney for health care focuses solely on assigning someone the legal duty to make decisions related to your illness or health condition. It needs a living will, which contains your instructions and wishes, including end-of-life decisions. Once you've lost the capacity to think or act on your own, such as when you've fallen into a coma, this durable power of attorney takes effect and hands over the responsibility for your personal health and well-being to your agent or attorney-in-fact.

You'll have tighter control over managing your living will, estate planning, and health care directives when you specify that these shall only take effect after a physician has confirmed that you lacked the mental and physical capacity. In this case, you have a springing durable power attorney in hand. The term capacity here legally pertains to a person's lack of understanding of the nature of his medical condition, the health care options open to him, and the possible consequences of making these choices. In addition, that person also loses the ability to speak out or make hand gestures to relay his personal preferences for medical care. This is where a health care declaration becomes an invaluable document in your estate planning.

The Financial Power of Attorney

Through a durable financial power attorney, you give another person - someone you fully trust to act in your best interests - the legal authority to act on your behalf. However, this power attorney for finances doesn't hand over absolute authority to your proxy. You may limit or extend your agent's legal access to your financial accounts. Generally, your financial surrogate can file and pay your taxes, manage your business, handle financial transactions in your name, access your bank accounts, claim an inheritance, collect Social Security and other benefits, and make use of your assets and properties to pay off debts and provide for your family's daily expenses.

These two powers of attorney must be specified as durable when filed. Otherwise, they won't take effect once you were found lacking the capacity to think and act for your well-being. A divorce ends both documents when the agent is also the spouse. The court may revoke an agent's authority under a power of attorney for health care when it finds that the agent has acted improperly. A second person named in the document takes over as an alternate agent.


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Saturday, April 18, 2020

Deeds - Some Ways To Make Changes - By the People


Rene at By the People talks about Deeds of trust and how they can help people make the necessary changes to their title for a number of different reasons. Call 707-428-9871 with any questions, and visit the website at http://www.bythepeopleca.com

Thursday, April 16, 2020

LLC Information: The Basics of a Limited Liability Company


You will find a lot of LLC information on the Internet about the limited liability company. This legal entity has become the most common and popular of all other choices because it was specifically created to be the most flexible entity available.

As a result, it can be used for small business, real estate, holding and managing any property, family and estate planning, and joint ventures. One can be really simple such as for a single owner small business or an LLC can be used to handle very large and complex activities. For example, Fidelity Investments is an LLC which is owned by many owners and manages billions of dollars of assets.

This Article covers the basic attributes of this amazing legal vehicle.

CREATED BY LAW ONLY

A Limited Liability Company is a separate and distinct legal person that is created at the state level. It is only formed once a state has acknowledged its existence.

And, in order for a state to establish one, there must be a document filing made by an organizer. The filing is usually called the Articles of Organization and it must strictly comply with the requirements of a state. Each state has its own set of requirements and disclosures and fees.

PERSONAL LIABILITY PROTECTION

Once formed, an LLC provides its owners with legally endorsed personal limited liability protection from the entity's debts and obligations. This feature is similar to the corporation.

If you are worried about personal exposure to lawsuits arising from your business, you should form a limited liability company. For example, you open a store-front business that deals with the public directly, you may worry that the commercial liability insurance you have might not fully protect your personal assets from potential slip-and-fall lawsuits or even claims by suppliers for unpaid bills. Running your business as a Limited Liability Company will give some protection against any other claims against your business.

PASS THROUGH TAXATION

If the entity is owned by just one member, then there is no added tax complexity. The income generated by the LLC is passed through to the single owner and reported on his or her personal return. Even if it is owned by multiple members, profits and losses are normally passed through the owners as if it were a partnership. But unlike a general partnership, on owners are subject to personal liability because of ownership.

This tax benefit is a significant one. The corporation, another alternative, offers the same personal asset protection but is subject to what is known as double taxation. While there is an option for elect for a corporation to be taxed as a pass-through (single layer), there are quite a few requirements and restrictions. With the LLC, your entity will automatically qualify for the best tax treatment.

SIMPLE TO MANAGE AND OPERATE

Another great feature is that you can tailor the management and ownership structure of a limited liability company to suit your needs. There are very little legal mandates and this makes it easier for anyone to use one to meet their specific purposes.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Amy_McDaniel

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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Incorporation and LLC's - By the People



Rene of By the People Document Preparation Service in Fairfield CA talks briefly about the basic differences between Inc. and LLC, and the benefits and features of each. Give Rene or Tammy a call at 707-428-9871 with any questions you may have so they can help you get the right product for your business.

See more at http://www.bythepeopleca.com

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Four Reasons Why Business Owners Should Make A Will


If you own a business or have shares in a family company then you should consider making a Will. The following are some of the reasons why making a Will for business owners is so important.

1. The first reason is the fact you can select appropriate executors and trustees, who will be responsible for ensuring the running of the business after your death. Unlike funds in the bank, where management can be fairly minimal, your executors will almost certainly need to ensure the business is kept running in the short term until more long decisions can be taken.

For even the smallest business, your executor's job is to ensure that your financial obligations are met, this can include dealing with tax issues, employees and your business accounts. Failing to do so could have a detrimental effect on the value of the business and therefore mean your family loses out financially. So while you may ultimately want your spouse or children to inherit, if they are not going to be the appropriate executors then you can appoint executors who have the business skills to carry out the executor's duties effectively.

2. The second reason is that by drafting your Will, you can take advantage of the tax breaks offered for business property. There are ways in which the Will can be prepared to ensure that not only do you pass your business to the people you want to inherit, but you do so in a way that limits your total inheritance tax bill as well.

3. The third reason is for making a Will is so that you define exactly how your executors can act. By making a Will, you are able to ensure that your executors have all the necessary powers and authorities they will need to carry on your business and run it correctly. Without a Will, your estate may end up in a position where decisions or steps that are needed to ensure the survival of the business cannot be taken when they need to be. This could mean either a lucrative business opportunity is missed or that an expensive Court application is needed. Either way, the result is detrimental to your estate.

4. The final reason for making a Will is to ensure that your interest in the business passes in the way that you want. So for example, if you have that children assist in the business while others do not, you can draft your Will to take this into account.

You may, therefore, decide to ensure that your children who are involved in your business inherit the shares, while the others take cash or other assets. Doing this ensures both fairness in the way your children are dealt with, but also means that your children who do take a role in the business will not to lose their livelihood following your death. Additionally, it means that they will not be forced to sell the business to pay their siblings, a move which may mean they also lose out financially.

If you own a business then making a Will really is something to consider very seriously. The time and effort you have spent in building your business, and its value to it may not be properly passed to your family if you do not make a Will.


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Ashley_Easterbrook

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Friday, April 10, 2020

What Happens During Probate



Probate is the court process that determines whether your will is legally valid. The probate court is also where your estate is officially distributed to your creditors and the beneficiaries under your will. Depending on the value and complexity of your estate, the probate process can take several months .... or it may be eligible for a simplified process.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

What Is An Executor Of An Estate



You can start planning your estate at any time. Typically, though, most people don't begin to draft their Will, or establish a trust to hold property, until the "big" things in life happen -- like getting married, buying a home, having children, or starting a business.

Monday, April 6, 2020

What is Probate? Should Probate be Avoided?



- What is Probate?

- Should I try to avoid Probate with my Estate Plan?

- How can I avoid Probate?

Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Five Types of Power of Attorney Privileges


Establishing power of attorney privileges is an essential element of estate planning. POA authorizes another person to make decisions related to finances and healthcare for someone else in the event they are unable to make decisions on their own.

Before bestowing power of attorney privileges it is crucial to understand how the process works and the rights the person will be given. The person appointed to this position ought to be capable of making difficult decisions that might go against what other family members want.

Individuals who are granted authority to make decisions must be at least 18 years of age. It's important to choose a person who will remain true to decisions pertaining to medical and financial transactions.

There are five different types of power of attorney rights and responsibilities differ based on powers authorized. Each consists of two individuals that include the 'Principal' and 'Attorney-in-Fact.' The Principal is the person that sets up the contract and the attorney-in-fact is the person who carries out the duties on their behalf.

Durable Power of Attorney is the most common type of contract. This legal document authorizes the attorney-in-fact to make financial and medical decisions based on directives provided by the Principal. Powers remain in effect until the Principal dies or until powers are revoked.

The next most common document is the Non-Durable Power of Attorney which authorizes the attorney-in-fact to make decisions for specific types of transactions. Non-durable POA is generally used when the Principal must undergo surgery or some type of medical treatment that might prevent them from being able to make decisions. Powers are granted for a specific transaction and expire once the transaction is completed.

A Limited Power of Attorney is typically used to grant authorization to the attorney-in-fact to sell or transfer real estate owned by the Principal. This document revokes privileges when the transaction is completed.

A Healthcare Power of Attorney is needed to authorize a person to make medical decisions on behalf of the Principal It is vital to discuss the types of medical procedures wanted or not wanted with the person who will be in charge of making decisions to ensure they will abide by your desires.

People often feel uncomfortable discussing these topics, but it's best to openly talk about what kind of treatments should be given or avoided if the unthinkable happens. If a person is adamant about not being placed on life support if declared brain dead, they need to make their decisions known in a healthcare POA. Otherwise, medical personnel must abide by state laws and provide life-saving treatment.

A Springing Power of Attorney is required to authorize a release of medical records and information. The attorney-in-fact is required to obtain court authorization before they can make decisions on behalf of the Principal.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Simon_Volkov

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Thursday, April 2, 2020

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 to get 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.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/4339215

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Why Making a Will Is An Important Task for Your Family And You


All our lives we work hard to ensure that our family never has to face a difficult time ever but we promptly forget all about them at the end. We are talking about preparing wills or last testaments that people almost always don't prepare or unnecessarily delay due to a psychological block. The psychological block is our inherent fear of death which is aggravated during the making of a will. The preparation of a will is almost an indication of our own mortality and that is something none of us want to accept.

But whether we accept it or not, our mortality is the only truth and we must keep the responsibility of taking care of our family with us. A will could save our family from a host of troubles out of which some could be huge hassles that will need a lot of time and resources to solve. Say, for example, the most common form of trouble that comes from the non-preparation of a will is property disputes. Normal property disputes could siphon off huge amounts of time and resources. Plus there is no guarantee that the problem will be solved within a stipulated time. Property disputes are known to stretch for years and some even extend till the death of the supposed beneficiary. This means there are chances that your family might never get to enjoy the property that rightfully belongs to them.

Does that statement depress you? But that's simply the beginning as there will be more and more problems associated with the non-existence of a will.

The next problem that could occur is the proper division of the property and in case of common ownership of a property- the lack of a trust fund. These are legal wrangles that could again put pressure on your family or dear one's resources.

Making a will is the best form of property management as the methods of division is expressly mentioned in the will. Without the existence of a will, there are chances that the beneficiaries or dependents will have a tough fight in their hands to ensure their right on the property. Then there are properties which have common ownership and for those, you need to create a trust fund. But that's again not possible without the presence of a will or testament.

Make a will immediately as this will not only guarantee the peace and security of your loved ones but also give you the strength to accept your own impending mortality.


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Saroj_Ku_Ghadei

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Monday, March 30, 2020

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Advantages of Making a Will Which Can Serve As a Catalyst for Preparing It


Like most legal documents, the importance of a will increases with its acceptance amongst authorities. Making a Will is a complete legal procedure and its advantages are many which make the preparation imperative on the part of the owner. But the legal responsibility for making a Will shouldn't be taken in a negative light and procrastinated about. Instead the very advantages of making a Will could be the single greatest catalyst for the preparation of a Will by the owner of the assets. Below are a few of the major advantages of making a Will that could be the catalyst for the owner to prepare it.

Also we would like to state that people rarely find making a Will to be a pleasant task. Preparing a Will is a metaphor for our own mortality which people don't want to face. But as they say- No one is immortal or escapes death and taxes! Who knows? You could compromise with your own mortal end during the preparation and come out with a better view on life.

The advantages of making a Will are:

No dispute between dependents: There can be no chance of any conflict or dispute between the several dependents of the property if a will is already made. The will perfectly sums up what is left to whom and that itself diffuses any chance of conflict plus the division is also ensured by law of the land. Without a Will, inheritance disputes often run into years and decades which are not a viable option.

Lack of ambiguity: A Will is a legal document that clearly states the division of the property and that in itself clearly puts out the lack of ambiguity.

Property Management: The property can now be easily managed or divided according to the directions given in the Will and that leads to a better sense of property management.

Appointment of Executor/Guardian or Trustee: Will often appoints a responsible person as a Executor or a Trustee who acts as the overseer of the property. This also is important when the beneficiary is a minor or of unsound mind and cannot look after the assets.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Saroj_Ku_Ghadei

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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Living Trust Definition - What is a Living Trust?


The best living trust definition is a written legal document which substitutes for a will as your primary estate planning vehicle. When you have a trust you transfer your assets such as your home, financial accounts and personal property to the trust. In addition, you change the beneficiary or contingent beneficiary of retirement accounts and life insurance to the trust. These assets are then administered for your benefit during your lifetime, and either continue to be held or transferred to your beneficiaries when you die.

The creator, also called the grantor, of the trust, usually names him or herself as the initial trustee in charge of managing the assets. This allows the grantor to remain in control of the assets during his or her lifetime. For all practical purposes under this living trust definition, nothing changes in the way the grantor manages or controls the assets after they are put in trust. The only difference is the named owner.

A successor trustee is named in the document, usually a family member or friend but sometimes an institution such as a bank or trust company. This successor trustee then will manage the trust assets for benefit of the grantor if the grantor becomes disabled and for the contingent beneficiaries after the grantor dies.

This living trust definition is for the revocable living trust. It is also sometimes referred to as a revocable inter vivos or a grantor trust. It may be revoked or amended at any time by the grantors as long as they are still competent.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Robert_Olson

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Friday, March 27, 2020

Estate Planning - More Than Just A Legal Will


When people think of Estate Planning, they generally think of legal wills. Estate planning is not just a will, although it does involve writing one. Rather, it's a series of legal steps that involves allowing your beneficiaries to avoid probate and minimize the taxes incurred, and for you to write a living will in which you nominate trusted associates who would assume power of attorney and executor status should you be incapacitated or die. Estate planning also allows you more direct control over how your assets will be treated when you're gone.

One of the most important parts of any estate plan are measures to avoid too much of the estate's worth being lost to taxes. In the United State and abroad, dying can attract a number of specific taxes from both State and Federal governments, like death tax and estate tax. The simplest way to minimize estate tax is to name recipients of funds or assets from your estate in your legal will, specifying that a certain amount should be given as a gift. Provided your lifetime tax-free gift threshold of $1 million is not exceeded, these portions cannot attract any taxation.

An important part of any estate plan is the inclusion of a living will. A living will is not usually considered a legally binding document, however, it is given consideration if you are ever incapacitated and left unable to carry out your legal rights, or make decisions. While the living will itself may not carry much weight, you can nominate someone to assume your enduring power of attorney (EPA). If you are unable to exercise the living will as a legally binding decision, your enduring power of attorney can only be challenged by a court.

The will itself is the most important part of any estate plan. If you should die without writing a will, the specific laws of your state will determine how your assets will be divided following probate. Additionally, with no prior planning of where the assets should go on the event of your death, your estate is likely to be taxed the maximum possible amount. Where no will is present, the spouse is likely to keep one third of the value of the estate with the remainder to be distributed evenly among children.

An estate plan enables you to stipulate, for instance, that if your children receive an inheritance, the property is given to them personally and not, for example, to the child's spouse. Should your child ever divorce, then the value of any inheritance received would not have to be shared in any divorce settlement, as it would not be a shared asset of that marriage.

One of the more important aspects of estate planning is the protection it can provide your assets. Typically, after a person passes away their family sells the assets that were left to them and divides the proceeds among themselves. If, however, you have a company or significant property holdings, you may wish to prevent the breakup of any of these assets, judging them to have more value whole compared with their value after being broken up.

Estate planning allows very specific instructions for how such assets should be treated if you wish to prevent this asset division from happening. For example, you can specify in your will that you require that your business be run by a family trust whose members and membership requirements you specify. It is not uncommon for people to wish to leave behind some legacy when they've gone, and the establishment of a family trust to ensure your assets are managed properly by a family member is a good way of ensuring it.

Another common request made is for a trust fund to be established as a scholarship fund or similar. Again, with a proper estate plan, it is possible for a benefactor to specify who a scholarship fund is for, and who is allowed to sit on any board or committee it relies on to pick a recipient.

Estate planning is the method by which specific instructions may be given in advance on how to manage your affairs should you become incapacitated or die. Estate planning represents the best way of protecting your assets from the whims of financially irresponsible relatives, excessive government taxation, and dissolution of your assets by the normal laws of succession in the state or country concerned.


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Andrew_Stratton

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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Legal Document Preparation - By The People


Rene talks about how By The People Document Preparation Service in Fairfield CA can help people with uncontested legal matters in an inexpensive way. See more at http://www.bythepeopleca.com, or call 707-428-9871

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

How to Properly Use a Power of Attorney


A power of attorney is a legal document that authorizes one person to act on behalf of another in the legal or business dealings of the person authorizing the other. This type of document has a lot of relevance when, for example, somebody needs to execute some business or legal matter but is unable to do so for whatever reason. In the absence of the person, another person may be authorized to execute the matter through the use of a power of attorney, which in common law systems or in civil law systems, authorizes another person to act on behalf of the person so authorizing the other. The person authorizing is known as the "principal" and the person authorized is called the "agent". The agent may, on behalf of the principal, do such lawful acts such as signing the principal's name on documents.

An agent is a fiduciary for the principal and, as this is an important relationship between principal and agent, the law requires that the agent be a person of impeccable integrity who shall always act honestly and in the best interests of the principal. In case a contract exists between the agent and the principal for remuneration or another form of monetary payment being made to the agent, such contract may be separate and in writing to that effect. However, the power of attorney may also be verbal, though many an institution, bank, hospital as well as the Internal Revenue Service of the USA requires a written power of attorney to be submitted by the agent before it is honored.

The "Equal Dignity Rule" is the principle of law that has the same requirements as the agent as it does to the principal. Suppose that the agent has a power of attorney that authorizes him or her to sign the sales deed of the principal's house and that such sales deed should be notarized by law. The power of attorney does not absolve the agent from the necessity of having the sales deed notarized. His or her signature to the sales deed must also be notarized.

There are two types of powers of attorney. One is the "special power of attorney" and the other, "limited power of attorney." The power of attorney may be specific to some special instance or it may be general and encompasses whatever the court specifies to be its scope. The document will lapse when the grantor (principal) dies. In case the principal should become incapacitated due to some physical or mental illness, his power of attorney will be revoked, under the common law. There is an exception. In case the principal had in the document specifically stated that the agent may continue to act on his behalf even if the principal became incapacitated, then the power of attorney would continue to enjoy legal sanction.

In some of the States in the USA, there is a "springing power of attorney" which kicks in only in case the grantor (principal) becomes incapacitated or some future act or circumstance occurs. Unless the agreement has been made irrevocable, the agreement may be revoked by the principal by informing the agent that he is revoking the power of attorney.

Making use of standardized power of attorney forms helps in framing a legally sound and mutually beneficial relationship for principal and agent. With the ease of use and ready availability of such forms, it is highly recommended that they be utilized when thinking of granting a power of attorney to someone. However, care should be taken not to let unscrupulous persons defraud innocent persons such as the elderly through ill-conceived agreements.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/3646412

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Wills and Trusts - What Are the Differences?


Both of these legal documents offer a way to distribute estate assets when a person dies but each is different in a variety of ways.

Wills

With a will, it is cheaper to prepare but it can be expensive to probate. In many jurisdictions, according to estate law, this is a legally binding document, which will allow you to give your assets to a designated beneficiary or beneficiaries. Unfortunately, this usually does not happen until after the person of the will dies. A will executor carries out the distribution of their assets. After the creator dies, the will must go through probate. During probate, the court will decide if the will is valid. Then the court will supervise the distribution of the assets. This can be a costly process because the assets can be subjected to estate taxes. When this is the case, an estate lawyer's services may be required.

With a will, one of the drawbacks is that they become public record after the creator's death so everything about the will is public knowledge. In order to manage the distribution of assets, there will be a conservatorship or a power of attorney.

Trusts

A trust is more expensive to prepare but when there is a trust, it will usually allow the beneficiaries to avoid any probate costs. After having a trust written it can take effect any time during a person's lifetime using a trustor to convey assets to the trustee to hold for the beneficiaries. When the creator dies, the probate is avoided. This is because the assets were transferred during the lifetime of the trustor. The trust will continue to function even after the trustor dies.

With a trust, it will usually remain private and allow the beneficiaries of the trust to maintain confidentially about the specific terms of the trust. Generally having a trust can provide more tax benefits. In some jurisdictions, they will allow for a certain amount of the trust assets to be passed on to the beneficiaries without requiring them to pay gift and estate taxes. Depending on any applicable trust laws, the tax perks available will vary from one jurisdiction to another jurisdiction.

In managing a trust, it can be done by a trustee or a trustor but will depend on how the trust has been set up. If the trustor manages the trust then he will usually specify who will manage it once he has died.

In conclusion

Looking at all the facts it appears that it is best if a trust is set up to distribute the assets instead of using a will. If you are uncertain talk to an estate attorney for legal advice as to which one you should set up for your particular situation.


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Lora_Davis

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Monday, March 23, 2020

Estate Planning : Have You Been Named in the Will?



If you are a beneficiary in a will, you will most likely receive notice after the will is entered in probate court. Learn what to do if you have been named in a will from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Advance Medical Directive: The Basics


Advance medical directives are legal documents designed to outline a person's wishes and preferences in regard to medical treatments, interventions and other health care related issues. Policies may vary from state to state, but regardless of location, advance directives should always be included with each individual's personal medical records.

Advanced directives typically fall into three categories:

  • Do Not Resuscitate Order: This legal document, also known as DNR, is extremely valuable for determining end-of-life issues. A DNR order, however, is not legal until signed by the patient, a witness and a physician. It should also be dated correctly and clearly state whether the patient wants to be resuscitated or not if their heart stops beating.

  • Living Will: This written document stipulates what kinds of medical treatment the patient recommends should they become incapacitated. It can be either general or very specific depending on the person and how adamant they are about their end-of-life care issues. The usual items outlined in a living will include: whether they wish to be on life support, receive tube feedings, length of time (if any) that they will stay on breathing machines, the individual that will make decisions on their behalf, etc.

  • Durable Power of Attorney: This type of advance directive allows an individual the opportunity to designate someone, or a number of individuals, to act on their behalf for specific affairs. A durable power of attorney, or DPOA, has the ability to make bank transactions, sign social security checks, apply for disability, or even write checks to pay utility bills while an individual is medically incapacitated. Once the document is signed, the DPOA has legal priority even over next of kin.

When Should a Directive be Created?

You will see an advanced medical directive used for several different situations-such as when someone is having a major surgery, diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or is even becoming a single parent. Advance medical directives are extremely beneficial if an individual is unable to make his or her own medical decisions. Whatever the reason, all advance medical directives should be signed by an attorney and be notarized.

How to Obtain an Advance Medical Directive

Luckily, there are many ways that someone can obtain an advance medical directive. Many companies have booklets available, social workers and nurses usually have them on hand, and hospitals and attorneys also have copies of directives. It is worth the effort to ask for an advance medical directive as it will be invaluable during a medical dilemma.

By having previously documented personal wishes and preferences, the burden of making tough decisions for family's and physicians' is lessened. Not to mention, the patient's autonomy and dignity will more likely be preserved by following their own choices regardless of mental or physical capacity.


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Thursday, March 19, 2020

What Happens if a Person Dies Without a Will?


If someone dies without leaving a valid Will, the person is said to have died intestate - that's legalese for without a will - the property she held in her own name as his or her own separate property passes to the person or persons specified in the laws of the deceased's state of residence, after any bills and taxes are taken care of.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Features of a Revocable Living Trust


Financial advisor Ric Edelman discusses why a revocable living trust is a key part in the estate planning process.

Monday, March 16, 2020

QDRO Forms to Divide Pension Benefits in Divorce - "Shared Interest" Or "Separate Interest" Approach


Many people facing the prospect of divorce are surprised to learn that pension benefits accrued during the course of a marriage are considered marital property (or, in some states such as California, community property) that is divided between the spouses upon divorce. A pension plan falls under the category of retirement plans known as defined benefit plans. These types of retirement plans generally provide that upon retirement, the participant (employee) is entitled to a monthly annuity that is payable over his or her lifetime.

Because of certain provisions contained a Federal law known as the Employment Retirement Security Act, a divorce judgment or matrimonial settlement agreement, standing alone, is not a legally sufficient mechanism for dividing a pension plan. It is essential that a further order, known as a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) be entered by the court and approved by the pension plan administrator.

In situations where the participant spouse is not yet retired, the QDRO form can utilize two different methods for dividing pension benefits. These include the "shared interest approach" and "separate interest approach."

If a QDRO form uses the Shared Interest Approach, payments to the Alternate Payee cannot begin until the Participant chooses to retire and begins to receive a retirement allowance. Furthermore, payments to the Alternate Payee must end upon the Participant's death unless the Alternate Payee was designated in the QDRO as the surviving spouse of the Participant for the purpose of electing a Qualified Joint and Survivor Annuity and such election was elected by the Participant at the time of the Participant's retirement.

If a QDRO form applies the Separate Interest Approach, a "separate interest" is carved out for the Alternate Payee and adjusted to his or her actuarial life expectancy. In addition, the Alternate Payee controls the timing and manner of his or her receipt of the benefit payments. The Alternate Payee can commence receiving benefits at the Participant's earliest retirement date, rather than wait for the Participant to begin to receive a retirement allowance.

In most instances, it is highly beneficial for the non-participant spouse that the QDRO form utilize a separate interest approach. Sample QDRO forms are available for download. Upon completion of a proposed QDRO form, the document must be submitted to the pension plan administrator for approval, and, thereafter, to the divorce court adjudicating the matter.


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