Thursday, June 22, 2017

Why You Need a Durable Power of Attorney Now!


Planning for unfortunate events such as serious illness or injury is rarely on anyone's list of favorite pastimes. Sometimes, though, enduring the small discomfort that may accompany preparing for the unexpected will avoid untold anguish on the part of your family and friends. This is certainly the case with the Durable Power of Attorney, an often simple document that becomes so very important if sickness or injury renders you unable to take care of your own affairs.

Power of Attorney Defined

A Power of Attorney is a document in which you (as the "Principal") allow someone else (the "Agent" or "Attorney-in-fact") to act legally on your behalf. The Power of Attorney may be limited to very specific actions that the Agent is authorized to take on your behalf. On the other hand it may give the Agent very broad powers. In either event, the Agent you appoint in the Power of Attorney should be someone that you trust without reservation. That could be a family member, an advisor, a trustworthy friend or a bank or similar institution.

The "Durable" Power of Attorney

The significance of having a "Durable" Power of Attorney is best understood if you know what can happen with the plain old garden variety of Power of Attorney.

If you sign a Power of Attorney that is not "durable," the document remains effective only while you are alive and competent to handle your own affairs. If you become incompetent or die, the Power of Attorney is automatically revoked by law and your Agent is no longer able to act on your behalf. This prevents a Power of Attorney from becoming irrevocable inadvertently, and, until recent times, it was the only way a Power of Attorney could be prepared.

The non-durable Power of Attorney has limited usefulness for family and estate planning purposes, though, because the Power of Attorney is often most needed when you have become incapacitated! That is when you really need someone else that is able to make legal decisions or take other actions on your behalf.

All fifty states now permit the use of a "durable" Power of Attorney that is not revoked simply because the Principal becomes incapacitated or mentally incompetent. This makes the Durable Power of Attorney a far more reliable document, particularly for family and estate planning purposes, since you may now authorize your Agent to act on your behalf even after illness, injury or other cause has rendered you unable to manage your own affairs. Even with a Durable Power of Attorney, however, the Principal's death causes an immediate revocation of the document and termination of the powers that are given to the Agent.

A Matter of Convenience

The Durable Power of Attorney is often used as a matter of convenience.

Suppose, for example, you have your home listed for sale. You have also planned a long awaited trip to visit Aunt Trixie in Deadwood, South Dakota, and you are concerned that an interested buyer may come along while you are on the road. A Durable Power of Attorney would be handy here to appoint someone you trust to act in your absence to negotiate the sale and sign any documents that are needed to make the deal binding.

The Durable Power of Attorney could be prepared so that it is effective only until the date you plan to return from your trip, and it might describe specific terms that your Agent must include in the sale, such as the minimum sale price that is acceptable to you.

A Matter of Protecting Loved Ones

What happens if, from illness, injury or another cause, you become physically or mentally incapacitated to the point that you are no longer able to handle your own legal affairs?

Let's suppose again that while you are incapacitated it becomes necessary to mortgage your home to pay your medical bills. Who will sign the mortgage? Even if your home is jointly owned with your spouse, he cannot obtain a mortgage without your signature.

In those circumstances it would be necessary to request the local probate court to appoint a guardian for you that has the power to handle your legal affairs. In many states, this type of guardian is referred to as a "conservator". Included in the conservator's powers might be the power to borrow money and sign a mortgage on your behalf making it possible to obtain the funds needed to pay the medical bills.

However, you may have heard that it is advantageous to avoid probate whenever possible, particularly if there is a good alternative available. The delay and expense associated with probate proceedings and the fact that they are conducted in the probate court, a public forum, make that good advice in most circumstances. And there is a better alternative than probate, but it requires you to act before the incapacity arises - you need to sign a Durable Power of Attorney.

When used in this estate planning context, the Durable Power of Attorney is generally worded very broadly to give your Agent the power to step into your legal shoes in almost any circumstance. In effect, you tell your Agent "You can do anything I can do."

Now, if you have prepared the Durable Power of Attorney and then become incapacitated, no one has to go through a probate proceeding to appoint a guardian or conservator to act for you - you have already given your Agent the power to do so. As you can see, the Durable Power of Attorney can save precious time and expense in critical situations and avoid having your personal affairs become the subject of a public proceeding.

Appointing a Successor Agent

It is often a good idea to appoint one or more successor Agents. The Agent you appoint in your Durable Power of Attorney may die or for some other reason become unable or unwilling to act as your Agent. In that case, you may be left without someone to act for you when you most need that assistance.

Appointing successors to your first choice of Agent helps insure that someone is always available to handle your affairs. Of course, each successor that you appoint should be someone that has your complete trust.

Revoking a Power of Attorney

As long as you are competent, you have the power to revoke your Durable Power of Attorney. To do so, send written notice to your Agent notifying him or her that the document has been revoked. Once the Agent has notice of your revocation, the Agent may take no further action under the Durable Power of Attorney. However, your revocation will not undo any permissible actions that the Agent has taken prior to being notified that the Power of Attorney has been terminated.

You must also notify third parties with whom your Agent has been dealing that the Durable Power of Attorney has been revoked. For example, if the Agent has been dealing with a stockbroker, you must notify the stockbroker as soon as possible. Do this in writing, as well, and do it immediately. Third parties who do not receive notice of the revocation are entitled to, and probably will, continue to rely on the Durable Power of Attorney.

Making the Durable Power of Attorney Effective upon Incapacity.

It is possible to have a Durable Power of Attorney that only becomes effective if and when you become incapacitated. This document is referred as a "springing" Durable Power of Attorney because it "springs to life" on the occurrence of a future event - your incapacity. The document should include a detailed definition of "disability" to make clear the circumstances in which your Agent may act on your behalf.

Knowing that your Agent is unable to exercise his or her powers until you are actually unable to do so yourself may make using the Durable Power of Attorney more comfortable for you. Unfortunately, even with a good definition of incapacity in the springing Durable Power of Attorney, your Agent may find that third parties are simply not willing to make the judgment that you are indeed disabled. If they are wrong, they may be held liable to you for any damages that you sustain as a result of the error in judgment. You may therefore find the springing document cannot be relied upon in all circumstances.

Don't Procrastinate!

Estate planning is easy to put off. But don't! Advance planning, such as executing a Durable Power of Attorney, may make a horrible circumstance for you and your family just a bit more bearable.

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

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) vs. Living Will



Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order covers two types of emergencies: when your heart stops beating or you stop breathing. Living wills covers almost all types of life-prolonging treatments and procedures.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Probate and Administrative Process, Know Your Rights


Probate is the system in which the court's system's method of processing the estates of a dead person. It is a legal document that enables the administration of the estate of the deceased. It allows for the resolving of claims and distribution of the deceased's will. Any grievances surrounding a deceased person's estate are filed in the probate court also known as the surrogate court. Once probated, the will becomes a legal instrument that can be enforced by the executor.

Administration process

Administration process of an estate on the other hand is the process by which the deceased person's assets are collected, maintained and distributed. An estate administrator sees to the proper administration of the will.

The Probate process

The probate process begins after the death of a person. An interested person files an application to administer the estate; a fiduciary is then appointed who is to administer the estate and at times may be required to pay a bond to safeguard and to insure the estate. Creditors are notified and legal notices published. There may be filed a petition to appoint a personal representative may need to be filed and letters of administration obtained. All these processes must be done in accordance with the limitation clause.

Property that avoids probate

Property that passes to another person contractually upon the death of a person does not enter probate for example a jointly owned property with rights of survivorship. Property held in a revocable or irrevocable trust that was created when the grantor's was still alive does not also enter probate. In most of these cases the property is distributed privately and without many issues thus no court action is required.

What happens in the probate and administrative process?

After a probate case has been filed in court, an inventory is entered and the deceased's property collected. The debts and taxes are paid first then the remaining property distributed to the beneficiaries. The probate and administrative process may be challenged at any time as a whole or part of it. The issues that arise during such hearings include will contests and paternity issues and these have to be solved before the matter is decided.

The need for the appointment of an administrator arises where the deceased left no will, some assets are not disposed of by the will, in cases where there is a will however, the case goes to probate directly. The estate administrators act like will executors but where the will does not state how to distribute of property, they follow the laid down laws.


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

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Monday, June 19, 2017

What Is a Deed of Trust and What Is It Used For?


A deed of trust is a term for a document which has a specific legal meaning in the United States not shared in other parts of the world. It means that the value of land or so called real estate is transferred to a trustee who holds the land or real estate as security in relation to a loan. The usual language used to describe the person borrowing the money is that of trustor whilst 'beneficiary' is the word used to describe the person that benefits from the deed, or in plain English the person or institution that lent the money.

This type of legal document is only relevant in a few states. The states which usually use this type of deed are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia,Idaho, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. The other states in the United States tend to prefer the use of mortgages to secure the interests of lenders in relation to real estate transactions. Theoretically, the loan to which this type of deed relates is created in such a manner that lending institution or person transfers money to the trustor so that they may purchase the property so that the purchaser may then transfer this money to the person selling the property and the seller then executes a grant deed followed by an accompanying trust deed executed by the purchaser to create the trust deed. However, the usual practice is that the property is put into the hand of an escrow holder until the funds are available and the grant deed and deed of trust are in the possession of the escrow holder to enable the reversal of the purchase if all of the necessary elements do not fall into place.

A trust of this type is certainly distinguished from the nature of a mortgage because this type of property document revolves around three parties. A mortgage is only ever between two parties. Also, a trust of this nature does not actually involve a transfer of title from the mortgagor to the mortgagee in the way that a mortgage does. Usually, the method of documenting a deed of this nature is with the county clerk near the location of the property. This enables the searching and registration of encumbrances and interests in the relevant property such that it is possible to have an open system of property registration.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/David_A_Coleman/113927

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

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 safe guard 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!


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

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Understanding the Difference Between a Will and a Living Trust


When planning for the future of your children as you get older, there are a few options on how to pass on your assets such as property, life insurance, stocks, etc. The two major ways of stating and distributing your assets after your passing is with a living trust or will. When you hear the words trust fund or wills, it refers to estate planning. Although there are different trusts out there, the main one I will focus on is a living trust.

Will

A will is a document that is created to help distribute assets and properties to a beneficiary after one passes away. With a will, it will be submitted through a probate process, which is a court process. In this process, the courts will validate the will and ensure that all the instructions are followed properly while also repaying any creditors. The downfall to a will is that it becomes public so anyone can see the distribution of your assets to your selected beneficiaries. On top of not having privacy, it could take several months to even years for the court to sort everything out!

Living Trust

A living trust is a legal document that states three parties: Grantor/Trustor, Trustee, and Beneficiaries. The grantor/trustor is the individual or couple who establishes/creates the trust. The trustee is the person nominated to be in control of the trusts assets. In many cases, the trustee is the same as the grantor/trustor. Beneficiaries are those at the receiving end who will benefit from the trust. A trust is beneficial to most people who have property worth $100,000+ and/or those who have large amounts of assets. In certain states, properties at $100,000+ can be subject to legal fees in the probate process. With a living trust, it bypasses the whole probate process and all assets can be immediately accessed by the beneficiaries. As opposed to a will, a living trust is private so it does not go through a probate process, therefore it is NOT a public record. Things that can be listed in a living trust include: stocks, bonds, real estate, life insurance, personal property, etc.

A trust is beneficial for estate planning for those who have large amounts of assets. By establishing a specific living trust known as an A-B Trust, an individual can reduce the amount of taxes paid significantly. For example, in 2012, the current estate tax is $5.12M with a cap at 35% over the $5.12M. In an A-B Trust with a couple passing their assets to their one kid, they would designate half the fund to the surviving spouse and the other half to the kid. The surviving spouse and the kid will then each receive a tax break of $5.12M giving a sheltered total of $10.24M from estate taxes. When the surviving spouse passes, then his/her half is giving to the kid who is then subject to another $5.12M tax break. Unlike a trust, a will however will be only have a tax break of $5.12M.

Conclusion

When comparing the differences of having a last will versus a living trust, it shows that the trust comes out on top. A trust will help to give privacy, immediate access to assets from beneficiaries, AND tax breaks. For those who are near the age of deciding what to pass on to their children or know someone in that situation, help them understand the difference of the two and sway them toward a living trust if feasible!

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

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Should You Include Your Spouse When Forming a Small Business LLC?



In this video it talks about a couple of reasons why you may not want to have your spouse included in your LLC. But every situation is different.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

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.


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

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Monday, June 12, 2017

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

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Is A QDRO Always Required In A Divorce?



For many divorcing couples, retirement plans make up the majority of the marital estate. While some couples can agree to simply "each keep their own" in the asset division, for many other spouses a division of one of the accounts is necessary to ensure a fair distribution of marital assets.
When division of a retirement asset is required in a divorce, many people are unsure how to proceed. They may have heard the term Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), but have no idea if or how it applies to their situation. This lack of knowledge often leads to errors that can end up costing them more money in the long run.
This is why it is important to understand early on what type of retirement accounts exist. Once you know what type of accounts are in play, you can assess whether a QDRO - or a different, similar order - is required. You will also better understand the most effective way to distribute the assets in the final property division settlement.
Individual Retirement Account (IRA) - Since IRAs are not subject to ERISA, a QDRO is not required to divide this type of account. Pursuant to 26 U.S.C.A. §408(d)(6), a transfer from an IRA can be made to a spouse or former pursuant to a decree of divorce or a written instrument incident to a divorce. This written instrument can be either a separation agreement or divorce decree. In most cases, a letter of instruction and copy of the Final Judgment/Settlement Agreement should be enough to transfer money from the IRA.
Non-Qualified Plans - There are numerous types of retirement assets that cannot be divided in a divorce. Non-qualified plans fall outside the purview of ERISA and are not subject to division via QDRO (or usually any other means). These plans usually have names that include words like Supplemental, Excess Benefit, SERP or even Non-Qualified, and are offered to key, high-ranking employees as a means of providing additional retirement benefits beyond those allowed under ERISA. The language of many of these plans specifically preclude payments to anyone other than the employee, and no court order can change this.
Non-ERISA and Government Retirement Plans - ERISA specifically excludes any federal government retirement plans. While these accounts are divisible, it is done with a document other than a true QDRO. While the name QDRO may be used generically to refer to any order related to retirement account division, government plans each have their own mechanisms for division and it is important to understand each. You can learn more about these plans at www.tsp.gov and www.opm.gov. Rules governing state and local government plans vary by state, so it is important to familiarize yourself with the rules specific to your jurisdiction.

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