Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Estate Planning : The Probate Process Explained



The probate process can be a headache when estates are not planned well. Uncover the probate process with an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

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.

John Pollock is an attorney that specializes in estate planning. He is also the webmaster of [http://www.forms-free-4-all.com], a website offering free legal forms with easy to understand explanations of the relevant law.
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Monday, March 30, 2015

Is An LLC Best?


I am not a lawyer, I am a Judgment Broker. This article is my opinion, and not legal advice, based on my experience in California, and laws vary in each state. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a state-defined entity that can be thought of as being a hybrid business entity, having some features of both partnerships and corporations.

LLC's are popular primarily because they are more flexible, and are simpler to operate than type S or C corporations. Some think LLCs save taxes, however most often, they do not.

In some ways, LLCs are similar to corporations. Both LLCs and corporations provide basic liability protection for owners and/or shareholders, and officers.

One way LLCs are different, is that LLCs have owners, and corporations have shareholders. A LLC can have several owners, called "members" or "partners", named members, for the rest of this article.

A LLC's partnership agreement defines the member relationships in the LLC, and includes an ownership agreement.

LLCs can have at least one managing member, and may also choose to appoint officers. LLCs usually have an operating agreement, that describes the LLC's function. LLC members can be any combination of individuals, corporations, and other LLCs.

Double taxation occurs when a company first pays tax on their profits; and then their officers, employees, and shareholders, get taxed again on their individual incomes.

Historically, one of the primary reasons that LLCs were chosen, was for their potential tax savings. LLCs avoid the potential double taxation problems that C-type corporations can have.

Double taxation is not really an important financial issue now, because the IRS has caught up, and removed most of the way taxes could be saved on both common and creative types of income.

Now, there seems to be no tax advantages or disadvantages to forming a LLC. No matter what corporate structure or partnership one picks, they must pay taxes. Tax payments may be split up in different ways, however one way or another, income is taxed.

Single-owner LLCs are taxed the same as sole proprietorships, and file the same 1040 tax return and Schedule C, as a sole proprietor.

Single-owner entities rarely get the same liability protection that larger companies get. Multiple-owner LLCs may potentially provide better liability protection than some corporations.

Multiple-owner LLCs are taxed the same as partnerships. Partners in a LLC file the same 1065 partnership tax return, as would be done with any conventional business partnership.

Owners of LLCs are considered to be self-employed, and must pay a self-employment tax of about 15%, on the total net income of the business.

In C or S corporations, only the salary paid to employees is subject to employment tax. The IRS monitors salaries, and will define income as salary, if they think a company is not paying adequate salaries. Payroll taxation is expensive.

The actual advantages of LLCs over S or C corporations is that they are:

1) Much more flexible in ownership.

2) Simpler to operate.

3) Not subject to as many corporate formalities, or reporting requirements.

4) Owners of a LLC can distribute profits any way they want.

Usually, the state, county, and city, requires LLCs to pay them the same taxes, fees, and registration fees, as corporations must. Also, many states require LLCs to hire an accountant to prepare the LLC's tax returns.

LLCs no longer save you money. The best reason to choose to form a LLC, is the flexibility they offer.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

DIVORCE !!! Easier than you think? - By The People Fairfield CA



Rene goes over how a divorce does not always need to involve a full legal team. He explains the process of how By The People can help file the paperwork necessary for the courts. See more at http://www.bythepeopleca.com

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What Happens If You Become Incapacitated Without A Durable Power Of Attorney


A General Durable Power Of Attorney is an estate planning document that is meant to be in place for if you become incapacitated or disabled and are no longer able to speak for yourself or carry on your financial affairs. The durable nature of the power of the attorney comes into play when a trusted person that you name in the document steps into place for you to manage your assets and handle your affairs for you until you recover or for the rest of your life. What happens if you do not have this important document in place and you become disabled or incapacitated and are no longer able to act on your own behalf?

If you become incapacitated in most states without a General Durable Power Of Attorney in place for yourself then the Probate Court in your county steps in and decides who would be the person to handle your affairs that would have named in your power of attorney if would have properly made one. The probate court in your county of residence most likely must appoint both a Guardian and Conservator for you. A Guardian is appointed to look after your health and well-being and make decisions that are in your best interest of your person. A Conservator is appointed by the Probate Court to look after your money and make sure that you are not being taken advantage of financially. The conservator must file strict accounting reports with the Probate Court and will most likely have to post a bond in case any money is mishandled. This process can be extremely costly and drain your assets before you get to enjoy them again after you regain capacity or pass them on to your loved ones.

A General Durable Power Of Attorney eliminates the need to appoint a Guardian and Conservator as a trusted person is named and given the powers to carry out your needs if you become incapacitated. This document allows you to be in control of your own affairs through anther instead of the choice being out of your hands and made by a government agency at a much greater cost of time and money. While it is not pleasant to think of yourself being incapacitated at any point in your life, it is a reality that most people do not die right away and go through some period of disability. Protect yourself by planning ahead.

Evan Guthrie Law Firm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of South Carolina. The Evan Guthrie Law Firm practices in the areas of estate planning probate personal injury and divorce and family law. For further information visit his website at http://www.ekglaw.com. Evan Guthrie Law Firm 164 Market Street Suite 362 Charleston SC 29401 843-926-3813
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Monday, March 23, 2015

By The People FAQs

  • Are BY THE PEOPLE Personnel attorneys? No, we are not attorneys. We are Legal Document Assistants. In California, we are a licensed and bonded profession.
  • What if I need legal advise? You can always consult with an attorney of your choice. We can provide you with a referral for an excellent local attorney who specializes in cases similar to yours if you have questions we cannot answer for you, or your situation is more complicated than our services are meant to help with.
  • Do you have a Notary Public? Yes, whenever we are open we have a Notary Public on staff. If you are a BY THE PEOPLE customer, all Notarizations of your documents are included in our fees. If you have documents not prepared by BY THE PEOPLE, we charge $10.00 per signature you need notarized, in Cash Only. You must sign the document in our presence and provide valid photo identification.
  • Does BY THE PEOPLE handle Criminal Matters? No, we only handle uncontested civil matters. However, if you would like to contact us, we may be able to refer an excellent local attorney to you.
  • I need to have my documents prepared immediately. Do you have Rush or Same-Day document preparation services? Yes, we can prepare certain documents within a few hours, if necessary. Rush and Same-Day services are available for the following documents: Wills, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives, Deeds, LLC and Incorporation Articles. A modest Rush Fees will apply to these services.
  • How long will it take to prepare my documents? The documents we prepare at BY THE PEOPLE are typed specifically at your direction. All documents are then rigorously proofed to ensure you receive the highest quality legal documents available anywhere. Most of our documents are prepared and ready for you to sign within one week, depending on your situation. 
For more information please visit http://bythepeopleca.com/

Sunday, March 22, 2015

By The People Commercial



We're a legal document assistance company, and basically that means we help people do their own documents. The main two services we provide are living trusts and divorce. So what we pride ourselves is going above and beyond for each and every one of our customers. Whether that means sometimes going to the house and doing a home visit for home bound people who need that service. Sometimes its a notary, sometimes it's a living trust. We work with everybody. If you have a legal need, we're going to be here to help you.

Part of the Free Commercial Push by A Squared. Published online only.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Easily Misused Estate Planning Terms


Wills and Living Wills

Wills and Living Wills are key parts of any good estate plan. However, though the two sound similar they serve very different purposes. A Living Will states your choices for the kind of medical care you want to receive if you become sick or injured and are unable to talk. A Last Will and Testament, often referred to as just a Will, deals with your property and how you want it distributed if you should die. Therefore, a will is only effective after you die and a living will is only effective before you die and when you incapacitated.

Advance Directive vs Advanced Directive

A Living Will is a type of advance directive. All advance directives are documents a person creates that state what his or her choices are in the event he or she becomes incapacitated or otherwise unable to communicate with other people. Advance directives, such as Living Wills or health care powers of attorney, typically address financial or medical situations and can state specific choices as well as nominate someone else to make decisions on the incapacitated person's behalf.

These documents are referred to as "advance" directives because you make them in advance or in preparation for the possibility that you become incapacitated. Some people mistakenly use the term "advanced" directive, implying that the documents are somehow more complicated or important than others. This is not true, and anyone can make advance directives fairly easily as long as they ensure the documents comply with state law.

Probate Estate vs Trust Estate vs Taxable Estate

An estate is a general term used to describe an area or amount of property. It is sometimes used when referring to assets that are part of the probate estate at someone's death, or assets that are not payable to another person at the owner's death or not part of a trust estate. If an asset is part of a trust estate, then generally the asset will not be part of the probate estate. Further, when considering the taxable estate of an individual for estate tax purposes the IRS will consider the gross estate of the decedent to include the value at the time of his death of all property, real or personal, tangible or intangible, wherever situated. If property is part of a trust estate, it may or may not be part of the gross estate for federal estate tax purposes depending on certain facts about the trust.

Medicare vs Medicaid

Medicare is a federal program attached to Social Security. It is available to all U.S. citizens 65 years of age or older and it also covers people with certain disabilities. It is available regardless of income.
Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that helps low-income individuals and families pay for the costs associated with medical and long-term custodial care. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid has strict eligibility requirements.

Experienced estate planning attorneys Dallas TX of the John R. Vermillion & Associates, LLC offers estate planning and business planning resources to residents of Dallas TX. To learn more about these free resources, please visit http://www.revocabletrusts.com today.
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Friday, March 20, 2015

Suspension, Termination and Conflicts Relating to Advance Directives and Powers of Attorney


Powers of attorney are commonly used instruments, but few people spend the time to really understand how they actually operate. This includes attorneys and lay persons. Depending on whether a power of attorney is considered durable, there are certain events, such as a principal's subsequent incapacity, which may limit, or restrain an agent from exercising his or her enumerated powers pursuant to the power of attorney instrument.

Let's take a look at just some of the events which can result in a suspension or termination of a power of attorney. Firstly, if a power of attorney is not durable, meaning it does not contain certain language referenced by law, the following events will terminate a power of attorney. 1) principal dies, 2) becomes incapacitated. Of course a subsequently executed "poa" that explicitly revokes all previous ones, will also result in its termination.

If a poa is durable, the scenario mentioned above is a little different. While the death of the principal still results in termination, subsequent incapacity of the principal could lead to a multitude of scenarios. If a petition to determine the incapacity of the principle is filed, the authorities granted in the power of attorney are suspended until the petition is dismissed or the court enters an order authorizing the agent to carry out powers granted to him. Certain powers, like the authority to make health care decisions for the principal, remain effective until the Court orders otherwise.

In emergency situations, if the agent feels he needs to act on the principal's behalf the agent may ask or "petition" the court to allow him to use powers which are otherwise suspended, after a petition to determine incapacity has been filed.

Other issues arise when powers of attorney conflict with advance directives which the principal may have executed and which may have given different individuals authority to act on his or her behalf. These disputes sometimes involve family members, who have different opinions on what is best for the principal. The law provides that if an advance directive and a poa conflict, the advance directive controls, unless a poa is later executed, and expressly states otherwise.

While do-it your self forms for powers of attorney and other documents such as a living will and advance directive are easily obtainable, understanding how these instruments interact and often conflict, requires a little bit of patience, and in many instances some attorney advice.
If you would like additional information on this topic or other legal issues, feel free to visit http://Schneiderlawfirmpa.com.
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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Divorce/Legal Seperation - By The People


BY THE PEOPLE 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.

Since we are a local company and file divorces every day, we can provide you with up to date information about filing fees and the local court systems. In California the minium time period for a divorce is 6 months from the date of service.

Legal Separation is the same process for the court and same documents needed.You will still need to address all of the same issues, the only difference is the end result. You will still be married, having dealt with all asset/debt division and child custody, visitation, support, and if you decide to go forward with a divorce, you will need to start over from the beginning.

Our fees to prepare all of your divorce or legal separation documents is $599.00 if there are minor children, or $499.00 if there are no minor children. The only other fee you will pay will be the filing fee for the court of $435.00. Our fee is due up front, and we accept cash, check or credit cards. The filing fee for the court is not due up front; it is due as soon as you are ready to file with the court. The paperwork is usually ready to file within a week of starting the process. The Court only accepts cash, check or money order for their fees.

When you are ready to get started with your divorce or legal separation at BY THE PEOPLE, you may make an appointment or come in as a walk-in to our office at 1371-C Oliver Road, Fairfield CA. We will have you fill out a worksheet that will give us the information we need about you, your spouse and the issues your need to address in your divorce. Most of our customer find it takes about 30 minutes to complete the necessary information in our worksheet. You may come in with your spouse or you may come in on your own to fill out the worksheet and begin the process. The choice is yours.

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