Monday, March 27, 2017

California Estate Planning Basics


California estate planning is essential for residents of the Golden State. Basic strategies should encompass executing a last will and testament; establishing a healthcare proxy; and designating power of attorney rights. Dependent on estate value, establishing a trust can further protect inheritance assets.

California estate planning strategies must comply with state and federal laws. California has some of the most complex probate laws in the country, so it is best to work with a qualified estate planner or probate attorney.

Probate is used within the US to settle estates that are not protected by a trust. The process varies depending on if decedents engaged in estate planning procedures prior to death. When individuals die without leaving a Will, the estate settlement process requires additional time and exposes the estate to a higher level of creditor claims or the potential for heirs to contest the Will.

The last will and testament provides directive as to how estate assets should be distributed. It is also used to appoint a personal representative charged with duties required to complete estate settlement process. Without these written directives, the estate must be settled according to California probate code.

The timeliness of estate settlement depends on various factors. One of the most prevalent is estate value. In the state of California, estates appraised with values of less than $100,000 are usually exempt from probate if a legal Will has been executed and filed through court.

The estate must undergo a 40-day waiting period to avoid probate. Afterward, the personal representative must present a legal affidavit to the court before distributing inheritance gifts to designated beneficiaries.

When decedents do not leave a Will the estate is required to undergo a probate proceeding to determine rightful heirs. This is particularly important to understand if California residents do not want to bequeath gifts to direct lineage relatives. In order to disinherit relatives the Will must include a disinheritance clause which states the reason why heirs are not entitled to estate assets.

The purpose of including the disinheritance statement is to minimize risks of heirs contesting the Will. It is not uncommon for disinherited relatives to claim the decedent was under the influence of another person or was of unsound mind.

Contesting a Will can freeze assets in probate for months on end. This act can force personal representatives to sell inheritance assets to cover legal expenses. Defense fees can easily bankrupt small estates and leave nothing for designated beneficiaries.

In addition to protecting assets, California estate planning is the most effective strategy for establishing healthcare proxies. This document allows individuals to document the type of medical treatment they do or do not want to have if they are incapable of making decisions due to illness or injury. Healthcare proxies include 'Do Not Resuscitate' (DNR) orders, as well as providing directives regarding life support and delivery of nutritional intravenous feedings.

Estate planning is also used to grant Power of Attorney rights. POA is an important decision that should not be taken lightly. The person granted with POA powers should be someone who can be trusted to make smart financial decisions, and make difficult decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

Establishing California estate planning strategies is one of the best gifts to leave loved ones. Without written directives, decisions surrounding your estate will be left to the courts and chances are they won't be what you would have wanted. Additionally, putting affairs in order can reduce family discord and allow for efficient distribution of inheritance gifts.

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

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6090458

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Advance Directives: A Special Insurance Policy That Everybody Needs



What is insurance? A thing providing protection against a possible eventuality.

Given the advances in medical technology, there are many possible circumstances in which my body may be kept alive even if my mind may have ceased to function. This could result from accident or disease. It could occur in the near or distant future. Under these circumstances, I have very specific desires of things that I want to be done and others that I want to stop or prevent from occurring. Can I take out an insurance policy that will protect me against institutions or people taking actions that are against my wishes? Yes, it's called an Advance Directive.

This form of insurance can be acquired without an agent or attorney. To get this coverage you must invest some time and energy to get your state's forms and fill them out. This is usually a two-part form with the first section designating who can make health care decisions for you in the event that you are not capable. This is usually called a Medical Power of Attorney designation. The second part, sometimes referred to as a living will, is where you are able to give physicians and family specific instructions regarding your care. The forms can be downloaded on-line from several different sources or can be picked up from any hospital in your area.

The mechanics of the process can be a little difficult and uncomfortable. This small discomfort allows for procrastination to jump in and convince you that this is a good idea and you really should do it someday, but not today. Maybe you'll do it next week or next month. One way to help you get over the hurdle of procrastination is to really look at some of the many benefits that you get from completing this task.

Three benefits of Advance Directives:

  • Peace of mind from knowing that you have insurance in place.
  • A huge gift will be given to your family and loved ones. In the event that it is needed, they will be greatly helped and assured that you are guiding their decisions.
  • Protection of your estate and financial assets. Medical institutions are allowed to utilize their technology to prolong life even when the outcome may be futile. This process can drain your financial resources and possibly impoverish your family.

When you discipline yourself to create an advance directive, set aside adequate time to consider specific details. The more specific you make your wishes, the better the quality of your policy. After completing the process you will enjoy a deep sense of satisfaction. So set a deadline to help you guide the process and make it happen.


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

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/5874790

Friday, March 24, 2017

Start an Online Business: Sole Proprietor, Corporation Or Limited Liability Company?


Who Is This Article For?

First, let's identify for whom this article is written. This article is for new entrepreneurs thinking about starting an online business which operates in the United States.

The information contained here is "entry level" for people just starting out in online business. It is not written for people in more sophisticated situations. That being said, let's get going.

Most new online business owners seem to "jump off the deep end" without giving much thought or doing much planning as to how they will operate their businesses.

That is a poor approach to starting a business. In reality, there are a number of considerations that need to be taken into account at the outset if you want to succeed with your online business and not expose yourself to problems down the line.

Forms of Business Entities

One of the first matters to consider is whether to form an entity to operate your business. Let's begin at the very basic level and quickly identify your options with respect to operating your business.

For most new businesses, your options are:
  • Sole proprietorship

  • Partnership

  • Corporation (S-corporation or C-corporation)

  • Limited Liability Company

There are other forms of doing business, but they are usually for more sophisticated enterprises, so we'll confine our discussion to the ones listed above.

Sole Proprietorship

This is the default option, one that many new entrepreneurs wind up using because they never really think about the issue.

Basically, a sole proprietorship is just you doing your thing. You and your business are not separated legally. That can be quite significant, as we'll see below.

Advantages of a Sole Proprietorship

Here are the advantages for choosing to do business as a sole proprietor:
  • Ease of Formation. A sole proprietorship is the simplest business format to form, because there is no formation. It's just you doing business as you. There is no separate legal entity within which you are operating your business. You may still require business licenses, tax id numbers, etc., but there is no separate entity to be formed and operated.

  • Low Cost of Formation. Since it is not necessary to form a separate entity to operate as a sole proprietorship, it is less expensive to get started because you don't have to pay an attorney or company to form a special entity for you and you don't have to pay any of the fees to you state that are required to form a corporation or LLC.

  • No Separate Income Tax Returns. Because there is no separate entity involved in the operation of a sole proprietorship, the IRS doesn't require you to file any separate income tax returns. You will normally just add a schedule (Schedule C) to your good old Form 1040 and file away.

Disadvantages of a Sole Proprietorship

Here are the disadvantages of operating as a sole proprietorship:
  • Personal Liability. This is the overriding disadvantage of doing business as a sole proprietor. Because there is no separation between you and your business, if you get sued all of your personal assets (house, car, investments, etc.) are at risk. Given the fact that we live in a litigious society where people are suing other people over ridiculous claims, and sadly prevailing sometimes, this is a major concern. If you end up with a judgment against you, you risk losing most of your personal assets.

  • Less "Professional" Image. Doing business as "John Smith" doesn't present the professional image in the business world that, for example, "World-Wide Multimedia, LLC" would. This may not be a major concern for you, but it is something to consider, especially if you are trying to get other businesses to recognize you as a joint venturer, affiliate, or member of their CPA network.

Partnerships

We won't spend much time on this one, because it is relatively rare in the online world. A partnership is an association of two or more people or entities for the purpose of engaging in business.
So, for example, if you and your brother-in-law want to start a business, a partnership could work. It is not something that is normally recommended, though, for reasons explained below.

Advantages of a Partnership

Frankly, in most situations there are none.

Disadvantages of a Partnership

Here are the primary disadvantages of a partnership:
  • Separate Tax Returns. Partnerships are required to file their own, separate income tax returns, so paperwork is increased without commensurate advantages being offered.

  • More Complicated to Form. Partnerships normally require paid assistance in the formation process, so costs are increased, again without offsetting advantages in most circumstances.

  • Increased Liability. This is the big one. A partnership does not protect your personal assets. Even worse, since you have one or more partners involved, you potentially become liable for their activities too, whether or not you actually participated in a given transaction. In addition, your partners can normally obligate the partnership to financial obligations and contractual agreements, sometimes without your knowledge. So, there is definitely increased personal risk to you financially in a partnership.

And, you must be cautious when pursuing business objectives with other people. You can end up in a partnership without meaning to.

Since there are normally no formal organizational requirements for a partnership, a handshake may be all that is required. Just the act of doing business and sharing profits and losses with one or more other people can result in the courts declaring you to be in a general partnership, whether that was your intent or not.

Corporations

A corporation is a separate legal entity that is formed to operate your business. It is that separation between you and your business that can be a major advantage.

You will hear two broad types of corporations discussed: C-corporations and S-corporations. Those distinctions are a topic for another article, but they will be mentioned briefly.

In a nutshell, a corporation is a corporation, the S-corporation/C-corporation distinction is merely an election made by a corporation as to how it wants to be treated for income tax purposes by the IRS.

Advantages of a Corporation

Here are the principal advantages of using a corporation to operate your business:
  • No Personal Liability. The main advantage has already been hinted at. A corporation is a separate legal entity from you personally. Assuming you set things up properly and adhere to the operational requirements of a corporation, if your incorporated business gets sued only the assets owned by the corporation are potentially exposed to the business's liabilities. Your personal assets are shielded from liability.

  • More Professional Image. As discussed above, a corporation presents a more professional image to the world than a sole proprietorship.

  • One or More Owners. The owners of a corporation are called "stockholders." The law allows a corporation to have one or more than one stockholder. S-corporations may not have more than 100 stockholders (at the time of this writing). C-corporations may have an unlimited number of stockholders.

Disadvantages of a Corporation

Here are the main disadvantages of a corporation:
  • More Complicated to Form. Articles of Incorporation and other formation documents must be prepared and filed with the state in which you incorporate. Normally, you will need paid assistance and there will be certain filing fees paid to your state, so there is expense involved. At least with a corporation you are getting the offsetting benefit of limiting your personal liability.

  • Requires Separate Bookkeeping. Since a corporation is regarded as a separate enterprise from you personally, you will be required to keep separate books and records for business and tax purposes. This may require an accountant or CPA to assist you in setting them up properly.

  • Separate Income Tax Returns. Generally, a corporation will be required to file its own separate income tax returns. You do not report the corporation's income and expenses directly on your personal tax return.

  • Annual Filing Requirements. You state of incorporation will require at least one annual report to be filed for your corporation, and there will be a small fee charged by the state in connection with that filing.

Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)

Limited liability companies are probably the most popular entities these days. They are gradually replacing corporations and the "go-to" business entity.

So as to not over-extend the length of this article, I'll just list the advantages and disadvantages without more discussion, since they are almost identical with the remarks about corporations. Where there's a difference, it will be pointed out.

Advantages of an LLC
  • No Personal Liability (See discussion under corporations)

  • More Professional Image (see discussion under corporations)

  • One or More Owners. An LLC's owners are called "members." The law allows an LLC to have one or more members.

Disadvantages of an LLC
  • More Complicated to Form (See discussion under corporations)

  • Requires Separate Bookkeeping (See discussion under corporations)

  • Separate Income Tax Returns. A multi-member LLC will be required to file its own income tax returns. For single member LLCs, there are some special opportunities with respect to how they are taxed for income tax purposes. Often, the single member can choose to have the LLC disregarded for income tax purposes. That does not, however, jeopardize your liability protection from lawsuits.

  • Annual Filing Requirements. (See discussion under corporations)

Summary

I think it's fair to say that limited liability companies are the most recommended entities, especially for online businesses. As a general proposition, they offer the same protection of your personal wealth from business liabilities that a corporation does, and LLCs are usually considerably more flexible as far as what the law allows in their management structure.

There are a lot of subtle nuances that professionals can debate when considering the pros and cons of the various forms of doing business.

In reality, though, the main concern for most smaller businesses is liability protection for the owner's personal assets.

Liability protection can be gained by using a corporation (S or C) or an LLC as the entity for operating your business. Liability protection is not gained by operating as a sole proprietor or in a partnership (formal or unintended).


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Robert_L._Page,_JD/32457

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9300297

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What is Power of Attorney?


Power of Attorney is a legal document where one person authorizes another to act on his/her behalf. It allows that authorized person to manage business and/or financial affairs when one person is no longer able to do so. It may be required due to illness, overseas travel or mental incapacity.

Why is it important to organise a Power of Attorney? Should you be considered incompetent to deal with your finances - you need somebody else to be authorised to deal with your affairs. A Power of Attorney document allows you to choose the person, with defined authority and limits if desired, the power to protect, or re-arrange, your assets.

The person named in a Power of Attorney to act on your behalf is referred to as your "agent" or "attorney-in-fact." With a valid Power of Attorney, your agent can take any action permitted in the document. Often your agent must present the actual document to invoke the power.

If you do not have a Power of Attorney and become unable to manage your personal or business affairs, it may become necessary for a court to appoint one or more people to act on your behalf. Usually referred to as guardians, conservators, or committees. If a court proceeding is required then you may not have the ability to choose the person who will act for you.

By executing a Power of Attorney for Finances (also referred to as a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances) you can decide who you want to make decisions about your legal and financial matters. You can be very specific about what actions you are authorizing your partner (or agent) to make, including which accounts he/she has access to and the types of decisions he/she can make.

A Power of Attorney for Health Care allows decisions to be made specifically on what kind of treatment the person wants, based on their medical condition.

A Living Will in some ways duplicates the information in the Power of Attorney for Health Care. It is a separate document that lets your family members know what type of care you do or do not want to receive should you become terminally ill or comatosed. It can also cover situations in which a person may survive but is not capable of making their own medical decisions.

It can be a directive stating that there is to be no heroic measures to keep the person alive when there is no realistic prospect of any meaningful recovery.

An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document authorizing a named person or people to act on your behalf. Subject to certain conditions it continues in force until death.

Guardianship is a legal relationship whereby a probate court gives a person (the guardian) the power to make personal decisions for another (the ward). A family member or a friend can initiate the proceedings by filing a petition in the probate court where the person lives. A medical examination by a licensed doctor may be necessary to establish the person's condition. A court of law will then determine whether that person is unable to meet the essential requirements for his/her health and safety.

As long as you are alive you have the power to revoke the Power of Attorney. To do this you must contact your attorney-in-fact to advise that the Power of Attorney has been revoked.

You can also specify a date that the Power of Attorney will expire.

A Power of Attorney is also important for unmarried couples, who live together, when a partner becomes incapacitated and unable to make decisions. When this occurs the law usually assigns the incapacitated person's next of kin as the decision maker. With a Power of Attorney, unmarried couples can give their partners the power to make decisions.

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

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/167288

Monday, March 20, 2017

Estate Planning : Family Estate Trust or Revocable Living Trust?



Most people who ask for family estate trusts really want a revocable living trust to reduce estate taxes and manage finances.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Incorporation - Is It Right For My Business?


The process to form your incorporation is relatively easy, and the legal concept of incorporation is recognized all over the world. A Certificate of Incorporation is the evidence of incorporation and registration of the legal entity with the authorities of a particular state or an offshore jurisdiction. A primary advantage of incorporation is the limited liability the corporate entity affords its shareholders, and in many cases, favorable tax treatment. For anyone starting up his or her own business, an understanding of business incorporation is a must before taking that step.

Incorporation is a system of registration which gives a business certain legal advantages in return for accepting specific legal responsibilities and is an option that many businesses each year decide to take advantage of. However, prior to filing with the state, you should have your attorney and accountant advise you as to whether or not incorporation is the right step for your business, both from a legal standpoint and from a tax perspective. If the corporation is a closely held corporation and does business primarily within a single state, local incorporation is usually preferable. Incorporation is a state process, and therefore the process and specific benefits may differ from state to state, as well as registration costs, resident agent fees, etc.

What type of incorporation is best for my business? A "C" Corporation, an "S" Corporation or a Limited Liability Company (LLC)? In addition to those choices, you then need to decide where to incorporate. Not only does each state offer certain benefits, but costs to file and maintain the corporate status are different. Additionally, if your business purpose is rather simple and straight forward, you may be able to use an online incorporation service to incorporate, at substantial savings. Remember, when in doubt, or if any questions or issues need addressed, seek professional advice...it usually is cheaper in the long run!

There are certain states that offer important incorporation benefits to the directors and shareholders. You need to make a comparison of these benefits, as well as the filing costs, to determine if incorporation in that state is warranted. Another consideration for incorporation in a state other than where your business is located, is that you may be required to register as a foreign corporation in your resident state. This will usually entail annual filing fees equal to or greater than that for a domestic corporation. Again, prepare a checklist and weigh all benefits as well as additional costs, etc. before the incorporation process begins. Rather than incorporating in another state, you may also benefit by an offshore incorporation. Check it out carefully.


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

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

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



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

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

Friday, March 17, 2017

Defining Legal Terms - By The People



Rene goes over what types of questions they can help answer at By The People. A legal document preparation company.

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