Friday, December 31, 2010

Executor's/Personal Representative's Deed

We The People Executor's/Personal Representative's Deed is currently available in Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York only.

However, you can usually accomplish the same effect of such a deed with one of the other deed forms by simply placing the name of the executor or personal representative as the grantor.

An Executor's/Personal Representative's Deed is a deed that allows the executor or personal representative of a decedent's estate to transfer real estate from the estate of a deceased person to the heirs or beneficiaries of the estate or to someone buying the real estate owned by the estate.


Note that the title of the person appointed by the court to handle a decedent's estate is known as an executor (executrix if female) in some states and as a personal representative in other states.

The person transferring the real estate must already have been appointed by the court as the executor or personal representative of the decedent's estate in order to transfer the real estate.

The court will generally issue Letters of Administration or Letters Testamentary (depending on whether the decedent left a will) to show that the executor or personal representative has legal authority to transfer title to the real estate.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Special Warranty Deed


We The People Special Warranty Deed is currently available in Utah only. A Special Warranty Deed falls somewhere between a Quitclaim Deed and a Warranty Deed or a Grant Deed. With the Special Warranty Deed, the grantor makes more covenants and warranties than with a Quitclaim Deed, but fewer than with a Warranty Deed.


The typical covenants and warranties (e.g. promises and assurances) made by the grantor of a Special Warranty Deed are as follows:

--the grantor will forever warrant and defend the title of the real estate against all lawful claims of the grantor and of any person claiming by, through, or under the grantor.


--the grantor will forever warrant and defend the title of the real estate against all lawful
claims of the grantor and of any person claiming by, through, or under the grantor.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fee Simple Deed



 

Please note that the Simple Deed is currently available in Pennsylvania only.
A Fee Simple Deed form is a deed that is designed to transfer "fee simple title" to real estate to another person. Fee simple title may generally be described as absolute title to land, free of any other claims against the title, which one can sell or pass to another by will or inheritance.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Grant, Bargain and Sale Deed



Please note that the We The People Grant, Bargain and Sale Deed is currently available in Nevada only.

A Grant, Bargain and Sale Deed is very similar to a Grant Deed (used in California) in that the grantor makes significant and important covenants by using this form of deed.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Correcting Deed

On occasion, a minor typographical mistake may be made on a deed, and that deed may be filed with the recorder's office before the mistake is caught. The We The People Correcting Deed form is a document that allows a person to correct certain minor typographical mistakes in a deed prepared by We The People that were not discovered until after the deed was recorded.
 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Interspousal Transfer Deed



Please note that the We The People Interspousal Transfer Deed is currently available in California only.

The Interspousal Transfer Deed is a special type of deed that allows interests in real estate to be transferred between spouses. With an Interspousal Transfer Deed, you are allowed to specify the appropriate exclusion so that the transfer of the real estate does not trigger a reappraisal of the real estate for property tax purposes.

Some common uses of the Interspousal Transfer Deed form include the following transfers:

• To a spouse's trust
• To a trust for a surviving spouse of a deceased spouse
• From a trust to the spouse of the settlor of the trust
• From joint tenancy to community property
• From joint tenancy to tenancy in common
• From one spouse to both spouses
• From one spouse to the other spouse
• From both spouses to one spouse
• To relinquish any community interest and to vest said property in the name of the grantee as his/her sole and separate property

You can choose to prepare either an Interspousal Transfer Quitclaim Deed or an Interspousal Transfer Grant Deed. Refer to the descriptions for Quitclaim Deed and Grant Deed to determine which type is right for you.
 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Warranty Deed


Please note that the We The People Warranty Deed is currently available in Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina and Utah.

A Warranty Deed gets its name because the grantor makes significant and important warranties and covenants by using this form of deed. The warranties and covenants can either be noted on the deed itself or are implied by law. Some of the typical covenants and warranties (e.g. promises and assurances) made by the grantor of a Warranty Deed are as follows:

• the grantor lawfully owns the real estate and has the right to immediate possession of the real estate;
• the grantor has good right to transfer the real estate;
• the grantor guarantees the quiet possession of the real estate (the right to use the property without interference);
• the real estate is free from all encumbrances (mortgages, liens, taxes, etc.); and
• the grantor will forever warrant and defend the title of the real estate against all lawful claims whatsoever.

You need to make sure that all of the above warranties and covenants are true before you use a Warranty Deed. Otherwise you may find yourself in the middle of an expensive lawsuit.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Grant Deed

Please note that the We The People Grant Deed is currently available in California only.
A Grant Deed is very similar to a Warranty Deed in that the grantor makes significant and important covenants by using this form of deed. With California Grant Deeds, the following covenants (e.g., promises) are implied by law:

• That previous to the time of the execution of the grant deed, the grantor has not conveyed the real estate to any person other than the grantee;
• That the real estate is at the time of the execution of the grant deed free from
encumbrances (mortgages, liens, taxes, etc.) done, made, or suffered by the grantor, or
any person claiming under the grantor.

Such covenants may be sued upon in the same manner as if they had been expressly inserted in the Grant Deed. You need to make sure that all of the above covenants are true before you use a Grant Deed. Otherwise you may find yourself in the middle of an expensive lawsuit.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Quitclaim Deed


Please note that the We The People Quitclaim Deed is currently not available in Pennsylvania. Instead, a Fee Simple Deed form is available.

A Quitclaim Deed is a type of deed where a grantor, a person who owns an interest in a property,transfers all or a portion of his/her interests to someone else. The grantor offers no guarantees about the title to the recipient, who is called the grantee.

A Quitclaim Deed is often used to clear up problems with a title or when someone wants to use a simple method to give up all interests in a property. Here are some examples of when a quitclaim deed is typically used:

• Mary inherited a property and shares ownership with her brothers and sisters. Mary sells her share to her brother and uses a quitclaim deed to transfer all of her rights in the property to him.

• A couple divorces. The former husband uses a quitclaim deed to transfer all of his ownership rights in a property to his former wife.

• During a title search the researcher finds out that, because of an error, a previous owner never relinquished his rights to a property. That puts a “cloud” or “defect” on the title, two terms that indicate the current owner isn't the only person with ownership rights in the property. The mistake is corrected by obtaining the previous owner's signature on a quitclaim deed that transfers all rights in the property to the current owner.

A quitclaim deed transfers only the rights of the person signing the deed. It does not guarantee that other people don't have an interest in the property. If there are other owners, their ownership is not affected by the quitclaim deed.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What is a Deed?

A deed is a legal document that is used to transfer ownership of real estate from one person or entity to another. Although the law governing deeds differs from state to state, a deed generally must satisfy the following seven requirements to be effective and valid:

1. Written document – the deed must be in writing.
2. Grantor – the deed must identify the person(s) who own(s) the real estate and is/are transferring it.
3. Grantee – the deed must identify the person(s) receiving title to the real estate.
4. Granting clause – the deed must contain a clause that transfers title from the grantor(s) to the grantee(s).
5. Legal description – the deed must contain a legal description of the property being transferred.
6. Execution, delivery and acceptance – the deed must be signed by the grantor(s), delivered to the grantee and accepted by the grantee.
7. Recordation – the deed is filed or recorded at the land records office in the county where the property is located. (This office is referred to by different names in different states, but is usually called the County Clerk's Office, City Register’s Office, County Recorder's Office, Register of Deeds, or Land Registry Office.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Will I Have to Pay Spousal Support?




Spousal support, as it is now commonly called, has in the past been known as "alimony".  Spousal support is not mandatory in most states. However, if the circumstances are such  that a spouse will face hardships if he or she does not receive financial support after the divorce, than spousal support should be considered. The deciding factor regarding spousal support is the need to maintain the spouse at his or her customary standard of living. In other words, the law recognizes that a wife (or husband) should not be forced to live at a level below that enjoyed during the marriage. However, other factors also need to be considered. For example, spousal support should most likely not be considered if:


1. The marriage was for a short duration (under two or three years), and both spouses are employed and self-sufficient.
2. This does not mean that the parties cannot agree on spousal support, which the court is, more or less, bound to accept.
3. Spousal support can run for an unlimited period, subject to the death or remarriage of the recipient spouse, or it can be fixed to terminate on a specific date.

            

Monday, December 20, 2010

Custody Terms




Joint Custody - means both joint physical and joint legal custody.

Joint Legal Custody - means both parents share the right and responsibility of making decisions relating to the child's health, education and welfare.

Joint Physical Custody - means each parent will have significant periods of physical custody
arranged to assure the child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents. It does not need to be 50/50; even 70/30 would be okay.

Sole Physical custody - means the children will live and be under the supervision of one parent.

Sole Legal Custody - means that one parent has the right to make decisions relating to the child's health, education and welfare.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

How Does the Court Determine Child Support?


Child support: Either or both parties may be ordered to pay an amount reasonable and
necessary for the support of any minor children of the marriage. The State of California
has enacted child support guidelines which establish the presumptive correct amount of
child support due. Deviation from the guidelines requires the court to state in writing why the application of the guidelines would be unreasonable or unjust, and:

1. The amount of support that would have been ordered under the guidelines;

2. The reasons for the deviation; and,

3. The reasons the support ordered is in the best interests of the child. Child support is
mandatory in all actions involving minor children. Petitioners with minor children
must include an order for child support, even if the other parent is unemployed or
cannot be found.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Possible Paths Your Divorce May Take:


A divorce case in California begins when the "Petitioner" files a Petition For Dissolution Of Marriage in the Superior Court asking the court to dissolve the marriage and to deal with any issues between the parties arising out of the marital relationship such as child custody,child support, spousal support, property division, debt division, payment of attorney fees and court costs, etc. How the case is subsequently handled depends on whether your spouse - the "Respondent":

• fails to file a Response to the Petition or,
• cooperates to settle the case by way of agreement or,
• files a Response and contests the issues in the case.
Depending on what your spouse decides to do - there are three ways to resolve the issues in the case:

1. Default Divorce: The Respondent in the case fails to timely file a response to the petition for divorce or legal separation; in which case the Respondent's "default" is entered by the court clerk and the matter proceeds without the Respondent's participation.

2. Uncontested Divorce: A case is "uncontested" when the parties work together to settle the issues by way of written agreement. This may be the case where the Respondent initially defaults or where the Respondent files a Response and the parties later decide to settle.

3. Contested Divorce: A case is "contested" when a Response to the petition is filed, the parties are unable to agree on the issues, and the court must resolve them for the parties in a trial. If your divorce becomes contested, We The People can assist only to a limited extent.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How the Divorce Process Works


Step 1: Choose The Proper Court
You will begin by answering a series of questions to make sure that the State of California has "jurisdiction" over the parties and issues in your case, that the case is filed in the proper county.

Step 2: File The Initial Document Package With The Court
After your initial papers have been prepared and signed, they will be filed with the court clerk.

Step 3: Serve The Initial Documents
After the documents have been filed with the court, they must be properly served on your spouse.  There are two ways to meet these "due process" requirements. Either your spouse can choose to accept service by signing an Acknowledgement of Serviceor he/she must be formally served with the documents.

Step 4: Entry Of Default (If No Response Is Filed)
If your spouse has either signed a Acknowledgment of Receipt or has been formally served with the Summons and Petition and has failed to respond within 30 days, he/she is "in default" and his/her default may, on your application, be entered by the court clerk. Once the default has been entered, the Respondent will be foreclosed from responding or appearing in the case unless he/she is able to successfully move to have the default vacated.

Step 5: Financial Disclosure
It is the policy of the State of California to insure a proper division of community property and to further insure that child and spousal support awards will be fair and equitable. To this end, California Family Code Section § 2100 et seq. mandates the exchange of prescribed "preliminary" and "final" declarations of disclosure, along with current income and expense declarations, in all marriage dissolution, legal separation and nullity actions. We'll prepare the financial disclosures for you based on the information you provide to us in our simple workbooks.

Step 6: Prepare And Notarize A Marital Settlement Agreement
If we have served the Respondent with the Summons and Petition and he/she has defaulted (failed to file a Response) and your case is not going to settle by way of an agreement, you will skip this step and move to Step 8. However, if you and your spouse are going to settle the case by way of agreement, we will prepare an agreement which resolves all of the issues in your case. Generally these issues include:

o Child Custody
o Child Support
o Child Visitation
o Spousal Support
o Division Of Community Property
o Division Of Community Property Debts

Step 7: Prepare Order To Withhold Income For Child Support (Wage Garnishment)
Whenever a support order is made or modified, the court must include in the order an Order/Notice To Withhold Income For Child Support that directs the paying spouse's employer to pay to the party receiving support that portion of the paying spouse's earnings due or to become due as will be sufficient to pay (a) the support amount ordered by the court, and (b) an amount ordered to be paid toward liquidation of any arrearage.

Step 8: Prepare And File The "Judgment Package"
The end result and the final goal of the action for dissolution or marriage, legal separation, or nullity is to obtain a Judgment from the court. The Divorce Judgment dissolves the marriage and is a court order which resolves the issues between the parties such as child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, property division, debt division, and the payment of attorney fees and costs. Whether you obtain that judgment with the agreement of the other party or after the other party's default or after hearing of the matter at trial, a proposed "Judgment package" of documents must be prepared for submission to the court.

Step 9: Serve The Judgment
Where there are orders in the Judgment enforceable by contempt (such as child & spousal support orders or restraining orders) it is important that a conformed copy of the Judgment be personally served on your spouse and that you obtain a proof of service of the Judgment. Failure to properly serve notice of any order enforceable by contempt on the other party may make it impossible for you to bring a contempt action later to enforce it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What Is A Declaration Of Disclosure?

A Declaration of Disclosure lists full and accurate information about your property, debts, income and expenses to the other party. Spouses must always be completely open and honest in their dealings with each other. Within 60 days of serving the Petition, each spouse must serve on the other (by mail is easiest) a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure. It lists all assets and debts, in which the spouse has an interest, along with a completed income and expense declaration. At or before the time you enter into any final agreement for support or the division of property, each spouse shall serve on the other spouse a Final Declaration of Disclosure. In other words, you are telling the court that you have complied with the disclosure law. In some counties, you and your spouse can waive the Final Declaration of Disclosure in your Marital Settlement Agreement.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What debts am I responsible for now?


Income, accumulations and debts of either spouse that are acquired after the date of separation are their own separate property, whether or not a divorce action has been filed. You are responsible for all community debts incurred by either spouse between the marriage and separation. Debts from before marriage or after separation are separate property (and responsibility) of whoever incurred them.

You can be responsible after separation for accounts that are in both of your names or in the name of either spouse with merchants who are accustomed to dealing with you as a couple and have not been notified that you are separated and want your name removed from the account. Give these creditors notice in writing.

You will always be liable for any debt for which you were originally liable when it was incurred. If your spouse is ordered by the Court to pay a specific debt and your spouse fails to pay it, the creditor can come after you or repossess the property.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What is the date of separation?

The date you and/or your spouse decided you didn’t want to be husband and wife. Even if you continue to live together you can consider yourselves separated.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What if I want to file for bankruptcy?




If one spouse is considering bankruptcy with large amounts of community debt, the other spouse will be affected. Therefore, your spouse should be notified and given the opportunity to join.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Divorce after a Judgment of Legal Separation.



If you get a legal separation Judgment and later want to be divorced, you have to start
from scratch and file a new case. It should be smooth and easy since all issues were
previously decided in the legal separation case.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Divorcing Aliens


Resident aliens who are divorced after less than two years of marriage are in danger of losing their resident status and they and their dependent children may be in danger of deportation. There will, however, be no prejudice to status if the divorce was caused by child or spouse abuse. If there's a recent green card in your case, you should consult with an immigration attorney.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

When Can I Remarry?



You can't remarry until the Judgment has been entered and the date specified on it for termination of your marriage has passed, at least six months after the date the Summons was served on your spouse.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What if we Reconcile?


Reconciliation is a state of mind that goes beyond dating or occasionally sleeping together. But, what do you do about the dissolution if you are certain you no longer want a divorce? If no Response has been filed and no Judgment has been obtained, the case can be dismissed and Petitioner alone can file a Dismissal form. If there's been a Response, both parties have to sign the Dismissal.

Friday, December 3, 2010

What if we've already divided our community property?


It is still community property and it stays that way until it is formally divided by the Court. Even if it has already been divided by agreement of the parties and physically transferred, both parties own it as tenants in common until changed by Court order. This is also true of community debts.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How Long Will it Take for Me to be Divorced?

six months after notice was served on your spouse.
You can turn in the papers for getting your Judgment 31 days after your spouse has been served. As soon as your Judgment is entered by the Court (signed by the Judge), all orders are effective, but your marriage is not finally dissolved until

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How the Divorce Process Works


Step 1: Choose The Proper Court

You will begin by answering a series of questions to make sure that the State of California has "jurisdiction" over the parties and issues in your case, that the case is filed in the proper county.

Step 2: File The Initial Document Package With The Court

After your initial papers have been prepared and signed, they will be filed with the court clerk.

Step 3: Serve The Initial Documents

After the documents have been filed with the court, they must be properly served on your spouse. There are two ways to meet these "due process" requirements. Either your spouse can choose toaccept service by signing an Acknowledgement of Serviceor he/she must be formally served withthe documents.

Step 4: Entry Of Default (If No Response Is Filed)

If your spouse has either signed a Acknowledgment of Receipt or has been formally served with the Summons and Petition and has failed to respond within 30 days, he/she is "in default" and his/her default may, on your application, be entered by the court clerk. Once the default has beenentered, the Respondent will be foreclosed from responding or appearing in the case unless he/she is able to successfully move to have the default vacated.

Step 5: Financial Disclosure

It is the policy of the State of California to insure a proper division of community property and to further insure that child and spousal support awards will be fair and equitable. To this end, California Family Code Section § 2100 et seq. mandates the exchange of prescribed "preliminary" and "final" declarations of disclosure, along with current income and expense declarations, in all marriage dissolution, legal separation and nullity actions. We'll prepare the financial disclosures for you based on the information you provide to us in our simple workbooks.

Step 6: Prepare And Notarize A Marital Settlement Agreement

If we have served the Respondent with the Summons and Petition and he/she has defaulted (failed to file a Response) and your case is not going to settle by way of an agreement, you will skip this step and move to Step 8. However, if you and your spouse are going to settle the case by way of agreement, we will prepare an agreement which resolves all of the issues in your case. Generally these issues include:

o Child Custody
o Child Support
o Child Visitation
o Spousal Support
o Division Of Community Property
o Division Of Community Property Debts

Step 7: Prepare Order To Withhold Income For Child Support (Wage Garnishment)

Whenever a support order is made or modified, the court must include in the order an
Order/Notice To Withhold Income For Child Support that directs the paying spouse's employer to pay to the party receiving support that portion of the paying spouse's earnings due or to become due as will be sufficient to pay (a) the support amount ordered by the court, and (b) an amount ordered to be paid toward liquidation of any arrearage.

Step 8: Prepare And File The "Judgment Package"

The end result and the final goal of the action for dissolution or marriage, legal separation, ornullity is to obtain a Judgment from the court. The Divorce Judgment dissolves the marriage and is a court order which resolves the issues between the parties such as child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, property division, debt division, and the payment of attorney fees and costs. Whether you obtain that judgment with the agreement of the other party or after the other party's default or after hearing of the matter at trial, a proposed "Judgment package" of documents must be prepared for submission to the court.

Step 9: Serve The Judgment

Where there are orders in the Judgment enforceable by contempt (such as child & spousal support orders or restraining orders) it is important that a conformed copy of the Judgment be personally served on your spouse and that you obtain a proof of service of the Judgment. Failure to properly serve notice of any order enforceable by contempt on the other party may make it impossible for you to bring a contempt action later to enforce it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What's the difference between a divorce, a legal separation, and an anullment?


Divorce (also called "dissolution of marriage") ends your marriage. After you get divorced, you will be single, and you can marry or become a domestic partner again. If you get divorced, you can ask the judge for orders like child support, spousal support, custody and visitation, domestic violence restraining orders, division of property, and other orders.

Legal Separation does not end a marriage. You can't marry or enter into a partnership with someone else if you are legally separated (and not divorced). A legal separation is for couples that do not want to get divorced but want to live apart and decide on money, property, and parenting issues. Couples sometimes prefer separation for religious reasons 

Annulment (or "nullity of marriage" or "nullity of domestic partnership") is when a court says your marriage is NOT legally valid. A marriage that is incestuous or bigamous is never valid. There are other reasons for anullments, but annulments are very rare. If you ask to have your marriage annulled, you will have to go to a court hearing with a judge. We The People cannot assist in preparing forms for annulment.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Funding my Living Trust



 


Once your trust has been signed, a very important task remains to be accomplished. In order to achieve your objectives of ensuring that your loved ones receive their inheritance as you planned as well as eliminating the delay and cost of probate, assets must be transferred to the trustee of the living trust. Your trust will remain "unfunded" until you transfer your assets into it.

People often place their real estate, financial accounts, proceeds for life insurance and annuity contracts, corporations, partnerships, businesses and any other significant assets into the trust. Not all assets need to go into a living trust. Life insurance allows you to directly name a beneficiary to whom the proceeds would be paid upon your death without processing through probate. IRAs and 401Ks cannot be placed in a trust.

Assets many choose not to include are small assets which may be able to pass to heirs without formal probate through the "pour over will." The pour over will takes property left outside of the trust and places it into the trust after you pass away so that the property may be distributed in accordance with the trust. The value and type of assets which you may leave to be dealt with by
a pour over will and still avoid probate vary from state to state.

As is often the case, it is a good idea to check with a Certified Public Accountant, or Attorney if you have questions on your transfer to obtain advice on which assets you should transfer to your living trust.

Examples of commonly transferred assets include, but not are limited to:
  • Real estate
  • Savings accounts
  • Sole proprietorships and other business interests
  • Other significant property or assetsStocks and bonds held directly in a certificate; ownership interests in private or closely-held corporations

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Parties of a Living Trust


Settlor/Grantor - The person who creates the trust.

Trustee - The person who will manage the trust. The grantor and the trustee are generally the same person.

Successor Trustee - The person(s) with whom the settlor places the responsibility for managing and distributing the assets placed in the living trust after the settlor's death. If you pass away your successor trustee gathers your assets, pays valid debts, claims and taxes, and then distributes your assets as you have directed in your living trust without your assets being subject to probate.

Also, if you become incapacitated, your successor trustee can take over the management of the assets in the trust for your benefit without any further legal proceedings.

Beneficiaries - The person(s) named by the settlor to receive the assets after death. The settlor will designate in the living trust how the estate should be divided and when the beneficiaries would be entitled to receive the distributions. When the settlor dies, the successor trustee is responsible to distribute the assets according to the wishes of the settlor, as set out in the trust.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Our Living Trust Package includes:


1. DECLARATION OF TRUST or THE TRUST AGREEMENT is the written document that sets forth the terms and conditions of the trust. This document is tailored to meet the unique needs of
your family and circumstances.

It will include provisions such as:
Names of trustees
Names of your family members
Names of beneficiaries and terms of distribution
Name of a custodian for any minor beneficiary
Names of who will serve and in what order as successor trustee

THE POUR OVER WILL transfers any remaining assets or property not previously transferred into the trust. The function of the pour over will is to act as a safety net to catch any property that has been intentionally or inadvertently left out of your trust at the time of your death. This document allows those assets to "pour over" into the trust so they may be distributed according to the terms of the trust. This is also the important document that will state your choices for a guardian if you have minor children.

An ORGANIZATIONAL SECTION for record keeping and to collect information about your personal and financial affairs is included. Forms are provided which can be completed regarding where assets are located, wishes for memorial services, and any other information which you consider to be pertinent. The organization will be instrumental in assisting loved ones settle your estate, as well as beneficial to your power of attorney agents or representatives in the event that you are disabled or incapacitated. It also allows for easy tracking of your assets to benefit you while funding your estate, managing your estate and furthermore, getting and staying organized can speed estate distribution.

A POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR FINANCES AND PROPERTY MATTERS allows you to delegate broad authority over your personal financial affairs. A power of attorney for finances and property matters gives you peace of mind to know the person you designate will manage your affairs should you be unable or unavailable as well as during periods of incapacity. You may choose a power of attorney that is effective immediately and continues to be in effect even if you become incapacitated or incompetent; or you can choose a springing power of attorney, which doesn't become effective until you become
incapacitated or incompetent. We The People will not be able assist Minnesota residents in preparing a springing power of attorney.

(Please note: With a springing power of attorney, a physician generally must certify the incapacity of the principal
before the power of attorney "springs" into effect, but the physician may be reluctant to make such a certification
because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.)

THE DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTH CARE allows you to appoint a person to make important decisions about your medical care, including your right to withhold certain medical treatments in certain circumstances.

THE LIVING WILL can be part of the durable power of attorney for health care or a separate document in some states. It is an optional document that formally expresses your end of life decisions and your wishes to forgo extraordinary medical treatment if you become terminally ill.

Friday, November 26, 2010

What types of trusts do By The People offer?


We The People now offers the following four living trust products, which have the following characteristics:

Single Trust


a. Assets are held in trust during the settlor's life and then distributed to beneficiaries after the settlor's death.

b. Used by a single or married individual.

c. Main purpose is to avoid probate of the assets transferred to the trust.

Joint A Trust (with optional B trust)

2.
a. Assets are held in trust during the settlors' joint lives. After one settlor dies, assets remain in trust for the suriving settlor, with the surviving settlor having full control over the assets and an option to create a B trust (with limited control) for tax purposes. Assets are distributed to the beneficiaries after the surviving settlor dies.

b. Used by a married couple.

c. Main purpose is to avoid probate of the assets transferred to the trust.

d. Second main purpose is to give maximum flexibility to surviving spouse. If necessary, the surviving spouse may elect to create an irrevocable estate tax-saving trust (B trust). Generally, this trust is appropriate for married couples with a combined estate up to $4 million.

e. The main disadvantage of this trust is the surviving settlor inherits all the assets after the first death and the deceased settlor loses control over his or her share of the estate after his or her death. Of course, if the surviving spouse elects to create the irrevocable estate tax-saving trust, then the disadvantages associated with the A/B trust would also apply here, with the big difference that the surviving spouse makes the choice. The surviving spouse has 9 months in which to create the irrevocable B Trust by signing a qualified disclaimer and the surviving spouse must not have accepted the interest or any of its benefits prior to the disclaimer. The surviving spouse should consult with his or her qualified tax professional to determine whether to activate the irrevocable trust.

3. Joint A/B Trust
a. Assets are held in trust during the settlors' joint lives. After one settlor dies, assets are divided into an A trust, with the surviving settlor having full control over those assets, and a B trust, with the surviving settlor having limited control. Assets are distributed to the beneficiaries after the surviving settlor dies.

b. Used by a married couple.

c. One main purpose is to avoid probate of the assets transferred to the trust.

d. Second main purpose is to minimize estate taxes, so generally appropriate for married couples with a combined estate greater than $2 million and less than $4 million.

e. Deceased settlor's property is transferred to an irrevocable trust at the first death, which carries with it disadvantages including:

i. Annual tax returns must be filed for the irrevocable trust.
ii. Surviving settlor has limited access to the deceased settlor's property.

a. The characteristics of an A/B/C trust are the same as the A/B trust except that on the first death, any of the deceased settlor's property above $2 million is passed to a C trust (also called a QTIP trust) to postpone payment of estate taxes on property in excess of $2 million. Generally appropriate for married couples with a combined estate greater than $4 million.

4. Joint A/B/C Trust
[aka Disclaimer Trust]

d. Contains no estate tax saving provisions, so generally appropriate for a single person, or a couple with an estate less than $2 million.

What is probate?


Probate is the court supervised distribution of your assets if you don't have a living trust and can be a long, expensive process that simply does not have to occur. The expense of this process as compared to the expense of administering a living trust should be calculated to decide whether, in your case, creation of a living trust is a better solution. Death is a difficult time for everyone concerned, and you may want to protect your family from having to go to probate court, if there is a better solution in your case.

The probate process usually involves…

• Filing a deceased person's will with the local probate court
• Taking an inventory/getting appraisals
• Publishing notices
• Paying all legal debts
• Distributing the remaining assets and property to the rightful heirs

Probate may require an "executor" and an "attorney." Sometimes the executor is referred to as the "personal representative." The executor is responsible for making sure the Last Will and Testament is followed. The executor often hires an attorney to handle the necessary paperwork.

Executors and attorneys are allowed to charge "reasonable fees" for their services. Executors who are family members frequently waive their own fees where the estate is small, but they are not obliged to do so. Some additional fees beyond those paid to the attorney and executor include court costs, filing fees, etc. These fees are paid out before any proceeds are distributed to the decedent's family.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day, celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, has been an annual tradition in the United States since 1863, when during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving to be celebrated on Thursday, November 26.

The event that Americans commonly call the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated to give thanks to God for helping the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony survive their first brutal winter in New England.

The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days, providing enough food for 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans. The feast consisted of fish (cod, eels, and bass) and shellfish (clams, lobster, and mussels), wild fowl (ducks, geese, swans, and turkey), venison, berries and fruit, vegetables (peas, pumpkin, beetroot and possibly, wild or cultivated onion), harvest grains (barley and wheat), and the Three Sisters: beans, dried Indian maize or corn, and squash. The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating "Thanksgivings"—days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving_(United_States)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What is a Living Trust?


A living Trust is designed to pass your assets to your loved ones as you planned as well as eliminate the delay and cost of probate of assets placed in the living trust during your lifetime. A living trust is created with a document known as a Declaration of Trust or Trust Agreement. This legal document contains articles which name who you want to leave your property to and how, as well as name those you trust to carry out your wishes.

A Living Trust can also be called by its common name, a "revocable living trust." It is called "revocable" because you can change your trust anytime during your lifetime and even revoke the entire trust during your lifetime if you choose and take the assets back.

It is described as "living" because the trust is created while you are alive. The trust survives you at death and will distribute your assets per your instructions. It is a "trust" because it creates an entity into which assets can be placed for normal use during your lifetime and then be available for distribution to anyone you select after your death.

Benefits of a Living Trust


There are many benefits to having a living trust. Some of these are advantages that can benefit everyone, while other benefits of a living trust are for estates in a certain financial category.

The following are a list of benefits of a living trust that affect anyone and everyone who has one:

• A trust allows for the quick and easy transfer of property to your loved ones
• A trust can provide uninterrupted management of the estate should you and your
spouse become incapacitated
• A trust can provide an organizational section for record keeping and to collect
information about your personal and financial affairs
• A trust can avoid the probate process, thus avoiding the time and expense that usually
occurs with court proceedings
• A trust may help you avoid or reduce certain estate taxes
• A trust is a private document (as probate is a matter of public record)
• A trust is valid in every state
• A trust can be revoked or amended at any time during your lifetime