Monday, September 28, 2020

What Are Advance Directives?

See a description of 4 advance directives which are important to have as one ages.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Living Trust and Wills - By the People

Living Trust or a will? Rene talks about some of the differences and what sets one apart from the other to help you make the best decision for your needs. Call Rene or Tammy at 707-428-9871 with any questions you may have, and see their website at

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Monday, September 21, 2020

How Can Someone Protect Their Credit Rating as They Go Through Divorce?

I’m concerned that my credit is going to be affected as I go through my divorce. What can I do to protect myself?

BY THE PEOPLE in Fairfield, CA can help with Uncontested Divorce or Legal Separation. For couples who can resolve their own asset and debt division and/or child issues, BY THE PEOPLE can prepare all of the necessary documents for you to obtain your divorce. We also do all of the filing and procedural work throughout the process. 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Do I Need Two Trusts for My LLC if I'm Married? | Mark J Kohler

Mark breaks down an important question about integrating your Estate Planning with your LLC and Business Planning. Married...2 trusts or 1 Joint Revocable Living Trust.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The 40 Do’s and Don’ts During a Divorce

After counseling hundreds of clients through the divorce process – and having experienced it as a child and adult myself – I have seen the good, the bad, and all the ugly. Too many times in the midst of divorce, unresolved anger takes over a person’s behavior and they become something that they usually are not. This can happen to the nicest of people; no one is free from the temptation of hurting their Soon-To-Be-Ex (STBE) as much as, if not more than, they have already hurt them.

To help keep things civil as possible, I have compiled a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” as a reminder of what ethical behavior during a divorce looks like.

  1. Spend this time working on yourself instead of focusing too much on the other person. This way you are better prepared to be without your STBE.
  2. Stop arguing with them and yourself. Remember, you are getting a divorce for a reason.
  3. Eliminate emotional, verbal, and physical intimacy from the relationship to prevent as much confusion as possible.
  4. Respect your STBE’s physical personal space as if the two of you were strangers.
  5. Answer only the question your STBE asks you. Try to prevent expanding the conversation in a way that will only cause further harm.
  6. Have one or two good friends that support you in this process. Just like with any trial life throws at you, a support system is essential to keep you secure.
  7. Respect new boundaries of ‘This is my space and that is yours’. Crossing those newly set lines will only lead to greater conflict.
  8. Discuss any and all surveillance with your attorney. Try to keep the process legal to benefit both you and your STBE in the long run.
  9. Make sure to have a witness with you when speaking with your STBE if you feel unsafe.
  10. Think of divorce as a business transaction instead of an emotional one. As difficult as it may be, by eliminating those emotional aspects you are more capable of cleanly handling the process.
  11. Allow your attorney to mediate as a way to help navigate through any tricky areas of marital dispute.
  12. Communicate strictly via text message or email as best you can. This will help maintain a healthy barrier between you and your STBE.
  13. Communicate to your STBE only what is necessary or needed. Allowing any extra interaction has the potential to complicate the situation exponentially.
  14. If you have children, all kid transitions must take place in a safe location.
  15. Remember to consider that your kids are ½ you and ½ your STBE, so even in the trickiest situation treat your STBE with respect. This will not only set an excellent example for your children, but it will also minimize any trauma from the divorce that they may be going through.
  16. Always answer only the questions your kids ask about the divorce, don’t elaborate. Providing details can be unnecessarily painful for you and your children.
  17. Reach out to your kids daily when you are not with them. It is important to keep strong lines of communication to let your children know that they still have you as a source of love and support.
  18. Give your STBE the first right of refusal when caring for the kids.
  19. Have a standard line as the reason for the divorce that doesn’t cause shame or embarrassment for you, your STBE, and/or your kids that you can use as a public or general response. Remember, you’re trying to make it through this process as painlessly as possible, so don’t put your family through any unnecessary negative attention.
  20. Remember your code of conduct and act accordingly. You are representing yourself, and your behavior is a significant reflection of who you want to become by the end of the divorce process.
  1. Focus so much on your STBE that you neglect self-care. Your top priority must be taking care of yourself.
  2. Belittle your STBE or try to instigate them: this is a sad reflection on your character and can cause further aggravation.
  3. Have sex with your STBE: this only confuses them, yourself, and the situation – even if you tell yourself “it doesn’t mean anything” or “it’s the last time.”
  4. Hit any part of your STBE, push or shove, verbally threaten harm, throw things, or block your STBE from leaving. This will only provide more for them to potentially use against you throughout the process.
  5. Overuse texting or emailing just to point out the flaws in your STBE. At this point, it is useless to point fingers and only adds stress and anger where it’s not needed.
  6. Undermine your STBE’s friendships or try to alienate them from family. You need to start focusing on you and becoming negatively and overly involved in your STBE’s life will not help you accomplish that.
  7. Go rifling through your STBE’s stuff. Nothing you will find will satisfy what you are feeling – that is something you have to do on your own.
  8. Track your STBE or record their conversations without permission. This is a violation of privacy that will inevitably make the entire situation worse.
  9. Be alone with your STBE, if at all possible. Just like emotional interaction and sex, this will make moving on and a cleaner divorce less of a possibility.
  10. Let your emotions override your logic during the divorce. It’s easy to get caught up in your head and what your feeling during this process, but to remain healthy and stable for yourself and your children, you must be able to be objective.
  11. Rehash reasons for getting a divorce. Both you and your STBE know why the divorce is happening – reopening old wounds can only cause further harm.
  12. Communicate verbally unless the communication is about the kids. With such a sensitive topic, keeping it as business-like as possible will benefit all parties.
  13. Send excessive text messages or emails for any reason. Try to limit them to a few per day at the absolute most.
  14. Ask your kids, instead of your STBE, to modify any transitions involving them. This will help to limit contact.
  15. Bad ever mouth your STBE in front of your kids. Your STBE is still their parent and creating a toxic relationship between them and the STBE is never healthy.
  16. Talk to the kids about the specifics of the divorce, money, separation of assets, or support. Try to limit anything you tell to just what is necessary.
  17. Keep your kids from speaking to your STBE when they are with you. Just because your contact with them must be limited, doesn’t mean the kids should feel pressured into cutting contact with them as well.
  18. Supervise your kid’s communication with your STBE. Make sure your STBE is respecting any boundaries that the two of you made for when it comes to communicating with your children.
  19. Spread rumors about your STBE. Often, you end up only hurting your kids and you looking petty in the process.
  20. Lose your values, morals, or ethics during the divorce. Always hold fast to what you stand for, and do not let the process of divorce negatively dictate your behavior.
Following these guidelines won’t guarantee a favorable outcome during your divorce – every situation and process is different. However, sticking to these basic rules will help you ensure that you do not lose yourself amidst the chaos of the process.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

9 Reasons Why You Should Consider A Living Trust

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Clients often think trusts can do everything – as if they are magical creatures – the unicorn of estate planning. All their problems are solved because they have a trust. That may be the case, but it may not. Different trusts do different things.

Living trusts are often the topic of small talk at social gatherings or on the golf course, but not many people know what they actually do. They are “living” because they are created now, while you are alive. You sign it and it becomes an enforceable document. Your living trust can be revocable or irrevocable. A revocable trust can be revoked or amended by you. An irrevocable trust cannot be changed by you once it is signed. Because an irrevocable trust cannot be changed, you want to be extra careful to understand its terms. The vast majority of people will start with a revocable trust.

A typical estate plan includes a will that “pours over” your assets to a revocable trust. On your death, any assets in your name alone will become part of your estate. Your will then directs the executor of your estate to hand them over to the trustee of your trust to administer them.

For estate planners, this is where it gets fun. A trust can address many issues, depending on the trust language. Below are nine things you can do with a living trust.

  1. Reduce estate taxes. If you are married, the trust can provide for estate tax savings. In Massachusetts, for example, a properly drafted and administered trust can save a couple approximately $100,000 in estate taxes on the death of the second spouse.
  2. Protect minor children. A trust can hold the money for minor children until they are responsible enough to manage the money themselves. Many clients prefer to give the children access to the monies staggered over a period of time i.e. at ages 25, 30 and 35.
  3. Save your grown-up kids from themselves. If your child will most likely not ever be able to manage the money himself due to a drug or alcohol issue, or because he is just bad with money, the trustee can hold the money in trust for your child’s lifetime and distribute it as needed.
  4. Keep your assets in the family. If your child is getting married and you do not like her fiancé, you should have a trust. In the event they divorce, you do not want half your assets winding up with your ex-son-in-law.
  5. Take the sting out of the fling. If you are concerned that in the event of your untimely death, your grieving spouse will take up with the pool boy, or the cocktail waitress at the country club, putting the assets in trust with a professional trustee will make sure your spouse does not take all the money and give it to his or her latest fling.
  6. Avoid probate. If you put your assets in the trust during your lifetime instead of relying on your will to do that when you die, you can avoid probate. It is not difficult to do – you need to transfer ownership from your regular “Mary Smith” bank account to a “Mary Smith, Trustee of The Mary Smith Trust” account – and an experienced financial advisors or lawyer can assist you with this.
  7. Ensure your family’s privacy. If you have a will that is probated, it will become a matter of public record along with certain other information such as the value of your assets, and often, an inventory listing your assets. A living trust, on the other hand, is a private document.
  8. Protect yourself while you are alive. If you fund the trust during your lifetime and later become incapacitated, the successor trustee will be able to manage the trust assets for your benefit. This is important for people who are single, and for those who do not have children. You want a trust in place that will provide for you in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself.

While I often tell clients that trusts are not the Pepto-Bismol of the estate planning world, the reality is most people can benefit from a living trust. Talk to your lawyer about whether a living trust can indeed help ease your estate planning heartburn.

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Sunday, September 13, 2020

Children and Divorce

For children, separation and divorce can be an especially sad, stressful, and confusing time. But there are ways to help your kids cope with the upheaval of a breakup.

Helping your child through a divorce
A separation or divorce is a highly stressful and emotional experience for everyone involved, but children often feel that their whole world has turned upside down. At any age, it can be traumatic to witness the dissolution of your parents’ marriage and the breakup of the family. Kids may feel shocked, uncertain, or angry. Some may even feel guilty, blaming themselves for the problems at home. Divorce is never a seamless process and, inevitably, such a transitional time doesn’t happen without some measure of grief and hardship. But you can dramatically reduce your children’s pain by making their well-being your top priority.

Your patience, reassurance, and listening ear can minimize tension as your children learn to cope with unfamiliar circumstances. By providing routines your kids can rely on, you remind them that they can count on you for stability, structure, and care. And by maintaining a working relationship with your ex, you can help your kids avoid the stress and anguish that comes with watching parents in conflict. With your support, your kids can not only successfully navigate this unsettling time, but even emerge from it feeling loved, confident, and strong—and even with a closer bond to both parents.

How to tell kids about divorce
When it comes to telling your kids about your divorce, many parents freeze up. Make the conversation a little easier on both yourself and your children by preparing what you’re going to say before you sit down to talk. If you can anticipate tough questions, deal with your own anxieties ahead of time, and plan carefully what you’ll be telling them, you will be better equipped to help your children handle the news.

What to say and how to say it
Difficult as it may be, try to strike an empathetic tone and address the most important points right up front. Give your children the benefit of an honest—but kid-friendly—explanation.

Tell the truth. Your kids are entitled to know why you are getting a divorce, but long-winded reasons may only confuse them. Pick something simple and honest, like “We can’t get along anymore.” You may need to remind your children that while sometimes parents and kids don’t always get along, parents and kids don’t stop loving each other or get divorced from each other.

Say “I love you.” However simple it may sound, letting your children know that your love for them hasn’t changed is a powerful message. Tell them you’ll still be caring for them in every way, from fixing their breakfast to helping them with homework.

Address changes. Preempt your kids’ questions about changes in their lives by acknowledging that some things will be different, and other things won’t. Let them know that together you can deal with each detail as you go.

Avoid blaming
It’s vital to be honest with your kids, but without being critical of your spouse. This can be especially difficult when there have been hurtful events, such as infidelity, but with a little diplomacy, you can avoid playing the blame game.

Present a united front. As much as you can, try to agree in advance on an explanation for your separation or divorce—and stick to it.

Plan your conversations. Make plans to talk with your children before any changes in the living arrangements occur. And plan to talk when your spouse is present, if possible.

Show restraint. Be respectful of your spouse when giving the reasons for the separation.

Help your child grieve the divorce
For kids, divorce can feel like an intense loss—the loss of a parent, the loss of the family unit, or simply the loss of the life they knew. You can help your children grieve their loss and adjust to new circumstances by helping them express their emotions.

Listen. Encourage your child to share their feelings and really listen to them. They may be feeling sadness, loss or frustration about things you may not have expected.

Help them find words for their feelings. It’s normal for children to have difficulty expressing their feelings. You can help them by noticing their moods and encouraging them to talk.

Let them be honest. Children might be reluctant to share their true feelings for fear of hurting you. Let them know that whatever they say is okay. They may blame you for the divorce but if they aren’t able to share their honest feelings, they will have a harder time working through them.

Make talking about the divorce an ongoing process. As children age and mature, they often have new questions, feelings, or concerns about what happened, so you may want to go over the same ground again and again.

Acknowledge their feelings. You may not be able to fix their problems or change their sadness to happiness, but it is important for you to acknowledge their feelings rather than dismissing them. You can also inspire trust by showing that you understand.

Let kids know they’re not at fault
Many kids believe that they had something to do with the divorce, recalling times they argued with their parents, received poor grades, or got in trouble. To help your kids let go of this misconception:

Set the record straight. Repeat why you decided to get a divorce. Sometimes hearing the real reason for your decision can help.

Be patient. Kids may seem to “get it” one day and feel unsure the next. Treat your child’s confusion or misunderstandings with patience.

Reassure. As often as you need to, remind your children that both parents will continue to love them and that they are not responsible for the divorce.

Give reassurance and love
Children have a remarkable ability to heal when given the support and love they need. Your words, actions, and ability to remain consistent are all important tools to reassure your children of your unchanging love.

Both parents will be there. Let your kids know that even though the physical circumstances of the family unit will change, they can continue to have healthy, loving relationships with both of their parents.

It’ll be okay. Tell kids that things won’t always be easy, but that they will work out. Knowing it’ll be all right can provide incentive for your kids to give a new situation a chance.

Closeness. Physical closeness—in the form of hugs, pats on the shoulder, or simple proximity—has a powerful way of reassuring your child of your love.

Be honest. When kids raise concerns or anxieties, respond truthfully. If you don’t know the answer, say gently that you aren’t sure right now, but that you’ll find out and it will be okay.

Provide stability through the divorce
While it’s good for kids to learn to be flexible, adjusting to many new circumstances at once can be very difficult. Help your kids adjust to change by providing as much stability and structure as possible in their daily lives.

Remember that establishing structure and continuity doesn’t mean that you need rigid schedules or that mom and dad’s routines need to be exactly the same. But creating some regular routines at each household and consistently communicating to your children what to expect will provide your kids with a sense of calm and stability.

The comfort of routines
Kids feel safer and more secure when they know what to expect next. Knowing that, even when they switch homes, dinnertime is followed by homework and then a bath, for example, can set a child’s mind at ease.

Maintaining routine also means continuing to observe rules, rewards, and discipline with your children. Resist the temptation to spoil kids during a divorce by not enforcing limits or allowing them to break rules.

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Friday, September 11, 2020

Legal Separation vs. Divorce

In both a legal separation and a divorce, there is an agreement between the two spouses (either a separation agreement or divorce decree) that has been ordered by the court. This agreement sets the rules that you and your spouse will now live by since you are no longer living with one another: how your finances will be separated, how child custody and child support will be divided, how the property will be divided, who will pay spousal support, etc.

This agreement might be reached amicably by the two of you, or you may need the help of an arbitrator or mediator. If you can't mutually come to a decision, it may even have to be court-ordered, but at the end of the day, there is a written, court-ordered document that sets the rules and boundaries for how you and your spouse will live, separately from one another.

Differences between legal separation and divorce

With a legal separation, you are still married in the eyes of the law. You can't remarry, and you'll even record yourself as married on most government forms. With divorce, the marriage is over.

Benefits to Legal Separation

If legal separation is allowed in your state, here are some reasons why you might choose it:

  • It’s required in some states before you can get a divorce. The amount of time you must legally separate before the court grants a divorce varies from about six months to a year.
  • To keep the health insurance coverage provided by a spouse’s plan.
  • There are social security, military or pension benefits that you might qualify for if you remain married.
  • There may be tax advantages to filing as a married couple vs. filing single after a divorce.
  • You are unsure about divorce and need to spend some time living apart from your spouse to see if you can resolve your differences.

It's important to remember, however, that each state mandates legal separation differently. Some states do not allow legal separation (or limited divorce as Maryland calls it) at all, including Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas. However, Maryland does have a ‘limited divorce,' and Georgia has ‘separate maintenance,' which are both like a legal separation.

Legal separation in some states also requires that the two spouses be living apart from one another in different residences at different addresses. So, you can't be living in different rooms of the same home and be legally separated.

Disadvantages to Legal Separation

  • You may still be responsible for your spouse’s debts.
  • Your spouse is still considered the next of kin and can make medical and financial decisions for you and may still retain property rights if you die.
  • You are not free to marry anyone else.

If your marriage is in trouble, it is essential to contact a qualified, local attorney in your area who can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of any next steps you might take. As you can see, a legal separation can be just as complex as a divorce, and as costly, and may be a step you don't have to take depending on the laws in your state.

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Monday, September 7, 2020

Family Law Basics: What is Legal Separation?

Wisconsin family law attorney Kathryn Grigg explains how legal separation is different from divorce in the above video.

BY THE PEOPLE in Fairfield, CA can help with Uncontested Divorce or Legal Separation. For couples who can resolve their own asset and debt division and/or child issues. We can prepare all of the necessary documents for you to obtain your divorce. 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Power of Attorney = Power in Your Hands

If you manage your property remotely and use a local trusted friend or family member to handle the rental issues for you, you need a contract or a power of attorney. It is a contract involving the details on the work and the compensation in return. It should also define what happens in the case the contract is breached.

With a power of attorney, you grant the person permission and authority to make decisions on behalf of you. Your power of attorney is like a backup and you can revoke it any time you want.

The power of attorney can be very general or specific. To protect yourself, you should always use a limited power of attorney. A good limited power of attorney document for a rental property should specify the expiration date, the property on which it is authorized, and acts permitted. You can customize this according to your needs.

For an ongoing property management purposes, you can specify the expiration date for a year or two. On the other hand, if you are on vacation or just want your power of attorney to sign the lease with the tenant, you can set the dates for a shorter period of time.

You also want to restrict the properties your power of attorney has the authority on by specifying the address of the property. Or if you allow him/her to act on all the rental properties in a city or state, you can put this in the document.

Other important things to spell out in the power of attorney are the kinds of delegations you grant. You might allow your power of attorney to lease the property only, but not collect future rent payments for you. You might give the power to them to furnish the property or adjust the rent or not. It is entirely up to you to decide how much or little power you grant to your power of attorney.

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Thursday, September 3, 2020

Power of Attorney - 6 Factors You Should Consider When Nominating the Best Agent

Ever wondered how your modest finances or properties are handled, in case something occurs to you or you will have to go away somewhere? In that case, consider the power of attorney. What is power of attorney? This is a legal document that would facilitate you to allow an organization or a person manages your business matters and your finances.

The principal is the person who is creating or signing the power of attorney, while the agent or the attorney-in-fact is the person who would be granted with authority. Because the power of attorney will give the agent the control over banking, credit and other financial concerns, it is important to be made with care that's why legal assistance is important.

Power of attorney can be divided into 2 types, the general and the specific. The general power of attorney can handle different personal and business transactions while the specific power of attorney identifies a specific transaction when the document would take effect.

Here are some factors you should consider when choosing the best agent for your power of attorney:

• Capability. It is much recommended to think about the capability of the agent in managing legal matters and the principal's property. You should not entrust your own finances to the agent who has problems in controlling over their own finances.

• Age. In case you are thinking about your child as the attorney-in-fact, you should consider the age. There are differences on every state of laws on creating the power of attorney. However, approximately all of the laws accept that no agent must be under 18 or 21 years old.

• Work experience. It's a good idea to award authority to an agent who is competent and expertise in legal matters or in finances.

• Time. While deciding on the perfect agent to stand for you, at that time it is very vital to think about how much time they can provide in handling legal matters and financial.

• Location. It's advisable to consider an agent who is not far from the property and the principal.

• Organization and documentation skills. The principal may perhaps require the attorney-in-fact to trace and correctly document the several transactions made whether it will be for personal, business or government purposes.

Another factor you should pay attention is how to decide the spouse as the attorney-in-fact. Nearly all military personnel will give the power of attorney to their spouses in case they are in battle. Another option is a close relative.

You do not always have to opt for a family member, you can decide on a non-relative attorney-in-fact. If the principal is slightly worried about giving many duties on one agent, then he or she may well find other co-agents. However, you could do that only if the power attorney specifies the information or the limitation of the capabilities. Previous to making the decision on an agent in the power of attorney, the principal ought to talk to the agents first and ask them if they are keen to be agents.

When carrying out the task, no organizations will control the agent. It will just depend on the principal as well as the principal's relatives to supervise if the agent is carrying out what is predetermined in the power of attorney.

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Wednesday, September 2, 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