Tuesday, December 6, 2016

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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Monday, December 5, 2016

Sunday, December 4, 2016

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

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Why Advance Health Care Directives Are Important


Consider this scenario. You are in a hospital with a terminal illness, unconscious, connected to all kinds of medical machines, and has a very poor prognosis. Who will speak on your behalf during this time of illness? Who would tell the doctors, the nurses and your family members what your medical wishes are if ever you get into this terminal condition? Who would let your caregivers know what you would like to happen to you and your body in such a condition like this? Would you like to be kept alive by all means? Or would you rather decide not to be subjected to futile treatments knowing that this is not a dignified living for you? But how would you let everyone know all these wishes now that you are no longer capable of speaking up for yourself?

This is why Advance Health Care Directives (AHCD) are very important. As a clinical counselor working in a hospital for several years now, I have personally worked with families and witnessed them break apart because they could not agree in making medical and end-of-life decisions for the dying loved ones. Their loved ones, who were unable to speak up for themselves, did not have an advance directive. Remember the Terry Schiavo case?

I have witnessed many cases where, because patients did not have an AHCD, families and caregivers are plagued with guilt and have constantly asked themselves if they were making the "right" decision for their loved one or for themselves. Yet, I have also witnessed many cases where, because patients had an AHCD, their families and caregivers felt at peace, in spite of the pain, just because they knew they were honoring their loved one's medical wishes as reflected on their AHCD.

WHAT ARE ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVES (AHCD)?

AHCD are legal documents that enable you to do the following:

1. Appoint or designate a primary and secondary power of attorneys for health care whom you trust to speak on your behalf and honor your medical wishes in an event that you could no longer speak up for yourself.
2. Appoint a primary physician whom you trust to be your doctor or caregiver.
3. Make your end-of-life wishes known.
4. Make your wishes known regarding organ donation.
5. Make your wishes known regarding pain control.

For an AHCD to be legal, it has to be signed by you (the person creating the document) before two witnesses. These witnesses could not be your designated power of attorneys or your immediate family members or your health caregivers where you receive medical care. Close friends or distant relatives could be witnesses. If you cannot find witnesses, the document could be notarized by a notary. The notary can only notarize an advance directive if you have a valid photo ID (e.g. driver license or passport). This process applies particularly in California. Other states may have different processes.

I would also like to mention that a Living Will is a kind of AHCD. Likewise, an AHCD could also be known as "Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care."

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH YOUR ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE?

Once you created your AHCD, you keep the original and remember to keep it in an accessible place in your home. If possible, make several copies to give to your designated power of attorneys, your primary physician and to your hospital. I strongly encourage people to always bring a copy with them whenever they go to the hospital so that the hospital will not only have a copy of your document but also will know and honor your medical wishes. While creating an AHCD is not mandatory, it is a Federal Law that hospitals have to ask patients during their admission if they have an AHCD.

WHERE CAN YOU GET ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE FORMS?

Most, if not all, hospitals have AHCD forms. You can always ask your hospital if they have available forms. You can also ask your doctor if he/she has a form. There are many websites now on the Internet that offer AHCD forms. Just do a search on "Advance Health Care Directives."
I believe that your completed (properly witnessed or notarized and signed) AHCD is legally recognized in states other then your own. However, since each state may have its own froms and probably laws on AHCD, the best thing to do is to always bring an extra copy with you when traveling.

WHO CAN FILL OUT AN AHCD?

Many folks think that an Advance Health Care Directive is only for patients who are terminally ill. Not so. Any competent adult, 18 years old and above, can fill out an AHCD. I remember dealing with the family of a 20 year old woman who ended up on a persistent vegetative state (PVS) as a result of a car accident. Her parents ended up divorcing just because they could not agree as to what to do with her in her grave condition. The mother believed that her daughter loved life so much that she would not like to be living in such a terrible medical condition where there is no dignity of life any longer. The father thought otherwise. This sad break-up of a family would have not happened if, even at early age, their daughter had an advance heatlh care directive.

I strongly encourage you to talk to your physician or family members about this difficult yet very important subject. I just hope that this article has been a source of help.


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Friday, December 2, 2016

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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Thursday, December 1, 2016

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.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Estate and Retirement Planning - How Can My Estate Avoid Probate?


If you are a retiree, you likely have heard many claims made about probate problems. The word itself may even fill you with dread. If you are planning your estate, there are some things you should consider concerning probate. In this, as in all things, it is important to take a balanced approach. Let's review some of the issues pertaining to probate. Then you can decide if you need to approach your estate planning differently.

What is the purpose of probate?

You have heard this word many times, but may never have considered what it means. In legal terms, probate is the period of time during which a will is proven authentic or valid. The purpose of probate is to distribute an estate according to the decedent's wishes described in his or her will. Typically, the first step of probate is to use the person's probate assets and property to pay all debts. After that, any remaining assets and property are distributed to persons named in the will. There may be costs associated with the probate process.

Probate ensures that your wishes for the distribution of your estate are carried out upon your death. Probate is a public process. If your estate is of any size, your heirs could suddenly have new friends trying to advise them on how to manage their newly inherited assets.
People often assume all assets are subject to probate, which raises the following question.

Are all assets subject to probate?

No. Some assets are excluded from probate. An example would be assets that are held in joint ownership with rights of survivorship, such as your personal home. Other assets not subject to probate are those governed by a beneficiary designation. This would include assets such as your 401(k), IRAs, life insurance policies, and annuities. Additionally, assets held in a trust are not subject to probate. If the majority of your estate assets are held in accounts of this type, you may not have that much to be concerned about.

What about my brokerage and bank accounts?

These types of accounts can be set up to transfer on death (TOD) to a beneficiary. This designation allows you to pass securities and banking accounts directly to another person (your TOD beneficiary) upon your death without having to go through probate. By setting your accounts up this way, the executor or administrator of your estate will not have to take any action to ensure that your accounts transfer to the person you have designated. The TOD beneficiaries will have to take steps to retitle the accounts in their name, but this is not a very cumbersome process.

As you can see, probate may not be as bad as you have heard. There are many things to consider during the estate planning process.  

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Advance Health Directive: The Living Will and The Power of Attorney



A living will, also called will to live, is one type of advanced health care system, or advanced health care principle. It often goes along with a specific type of power of attorney. These are legal tools that are usually witnessed or notarized.
A living will usually covers specific directions as to the course of treatment that is to be taken by caregivers, or, in particular, in some cases denying treatment and sometimes also food and water, should the patient be unable to give conscious consent ("individual health care instruction") due to illness.
A power of attorney for health care, appoints an individual (a proxy) to give health care decisions should the patient be unable to do so.
Refusal of treatment forms, the name suggests, the term "will to live", as opposed to the other terms, tends to point out the wish to live as long as possible rather than refusing treatment in the case of serious conditions.
In the Netherlands, patients and likely patients can identify the circumstances under which they would want euthanasia for themselves. They do this by providing a written order. This helps to ascertain the preexisting expressed wish of the patient even if the patient is no longer able to exchange a few words. However, it is only one of the factors that is taken into account.
In Switzerland, there are several associations which take care of registering patient declarations, forms which are signed by the patients declaring that in case of unending loss of judgment (e.g., inability to communicate or severe brain damage) all means of prolonged life shall be stopped. Family members and groups, also keep alternatives which entitle its holder to enforce such patient decrees. Establishing such decrees is pretty straightforward.
In the United States, most states recognize living wills or the label of a health care surrogate. However, a "report card" issued by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2002 concluded that only seven states deserved an "A" for meeting the standards of the model Uniform Rights of the Terminally Ill Act. Surveys show that one-third of Americans say they've had to make decisions about end-of-life care for a loved one.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

3 Positive Points of Starting an LLC


When you start a business you will have to sift through the variety of options that are available to you in terms of running a full scale operation. Even if you're the only person working within the framework of a company, you will still need to file paperwork with your state and city governments, and you will need to have a good plan of action. Sure, you could just go into business and wait for the penalties to pile up and then form a legitimate business, or you could look into the proper way to go about starting an LLC. The latter is far better in many people's views, and will definitely save you headaches later on. Consider the following positive points of starting an LLC.

Multiple Owners or One Owner - Whether you have a great deal of investors that want to be part owners or you are alone in the process you will find that an LLC allows you to run your company with a great deal of freedom. Not only that, you will be able to include others in a management or even ownership capacity later on as long as you have an operation document that will showcase your ideas moving forward.

Liability - The best part of starting an LLC is that you will not be liable for a great variety of issues that will come up. For instance, let's assume that you have a client that is hell bent on suing you, and so they sue the business that you own and you have to go to court. If you file your paperwork properly, and you lose the case, you will only be liable for the money that is held within your business, and nothing else! That means if you own a home, a boat, a car or just about anything that is not part of the business proper, you could stand to lose nothing on a personal level. This is a great thing because you can protect your assets and not worry about what some might do to try and get your money.

Taxes - Dealing with taxes can be quite easy because they flow into personal income taxes in many ways. You will find that you will have to deal with your taxes in a manner that is a bit more simple than starting a larger company or a different option in terms of business. While it's not a matter of not paying your fair share, it's really a matter of ease when tax time comes around.

The above 3 positive points when starting an LLC are just 3 items that many find to be great. There are a number of other integral points to consider and each one seems to make the formation of this type of company a bit better than others. Only you can decide what path your business takes, but when it comes to starting something away from the traditional route of 40 hour work weeks, this is definitely one of the more attractive options. You'll find that it's easier than others, and it can bring amazing profits in time.

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Power of Attorney



Rene at By the People in Fairfield CA talks about just some of the reasons for a need for a Power of Attorney. These documents can be really important aids in helping loved ones.

For any questions about the types of Power of Attorney, and what may be beneficial for your individual needs, call Rene or Tammy at 707-428-9871 and visit the website at http://www.bythepeopleca.com