Saturday, August 31, 2013

Estate Planning Tools: Durable Power Of Attorney - Seven Factors To Consider

If something happens while you are alive, that makes it impossible for you to handle your financial affairs, sign legal documents or communicate your wishes to others, you could have trouble in many ways. Without a properly executed Power of Attorney, your family may need to get a court order just to handle your affairs. These can cost plenty and waste months of time.

Even though a power of attorney is a relatively simple document and is readily available from many sources, I am still amazed at how many families and individuals do not have one in force. Follow these simple guidelines and make sure that you are protected should anything ever happen that would cause you to need one.

Seven Factors To Consider:

1. Your Agents: One of the most important decisions with a power of attorney is your selection of agents. Will you use a single agent or appoint co-agents? Who will be your successor agent(s) if someone is unable or unwilling to fulfill their duties? These are the questions you need to answer before you are ready. Your agent(s) should be organized, good with numbers and possess great common sense.

2. Access Medical Records: Will you allow your agents to have access to your medical records? They may need this information to keep track of, or to dispute medical bills. But if you want or do not want them to have access to this information, you will need to specify inside your power of attorney.

3. General or Specific Powers: Will your power of attorney provide your agent with broad general powers or very specific powers? You can decide on either, but the more specific you get, the more limited the powers your agent will be allowed. Most people will choose to provide a general power that will include handling most financial, business and personal matters.

4. Beneficiary Changes: You can empower your agents with the ability to change your beneficiaries if you would like, but this can be a risky proposition. In most instances, you will not allow for this provision. You can also provide for the power to refuse potential inheritances. I think this can be helpful in situations where, if someone passes and is leaving you an inheritance, but you refuse it (or are deceased), it would go directly to your children instead.

5. Effective Dates: When will your power of attorney take effect? When will it terminate? You can have it take effect immediately upon execution, you can have it take effect upon the certification of some medical condition or you can specify a certain time period. You might use this if you were going to be out of the country for 3 months or in a rehabilitation program for certain length of time. All powers of attorney terminate immediately upon the death of the individual, but you can set other dates or events as previously outlined.

6. Hire Professionals: Will your agent have the power to hire professionals such as accountants, financial advisers, lawyers, etc? If you want them to be able to handle these on your behalf, you have to specifically allow them by including this power within your document. If not, you may want to specify who you are already working with and require their services if needed.

7. Receive Compensation: Will your agent be allowed to receive reasonable compensation for time and efforts spent acting as your agent? Will they also be allowed to receive reimbursement for any expenses that they incur while acting on your behalf? In most cases you should allow both of these. Taking care of someone's affairs can be time-consuming and there should be reasonable remuneration for these services. While you can specify either way, your agents may be unwilling to participate without it and this could cause bigger problem down the road.

Summary: Having a power of attorney drafted is a fairly simple and inexpensive process. You can hire an attorney, use online legal services or purchase a legal software package to assist you with the preparation. It is very important to follow the execution and filing recommendations for your state and county. Having proper witnesses and notarization of all signatures is a great safeguard for any legal documents, so make sure to get them done right.

To discover additional estate, financial and income tax strategies, check out my blog or download your FREE Wealth Expansion Kit by clicking here. The first step to creating wealth is knowing where you are and then charting a path that will enhance your financial strengths and correct your weaknesses.
Keith Maderer is a financial expert and has been a investment and tax adviser in the Western New York area for over 30 years. He is the owner of SENIOR Financial and Tax Associates and the founder of the Maderer Foundation, a private scholarship program.
Keith is also the author of "How To Get Your College Education For Less". Available on - ISBN No: 978-1-4538-2053-7.
You can get your FREE Wealth Expansion Kit, or check out his blog by visiting
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Friday, August 30, 2013

Tips on How to Get Your Criminal Record Expunged

You may have tried to forget about that time when you and your friends had a little too much fun on the spring break of '97 or forced yourself to believe that "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas". Although that breaking and entering incident happened way back when you were a college sophomore and that you got away with that little Vegas fiasco with just a month-long community service sanction, these can all go on your permanent record and can appear in background checks. For more grave crimes, it can even affect your chances of getting a reputable job or a loan from a bank.

Therefore, expunging or erasing your criminal records can reap a multitude of benefits other than just clearing up your conscience. It may be a lengthy process and a number of errors may come up but it will definitely be worth it. With that taken into account, here are some tips on how to get your criminal record expunged

Find out if your record can be dropped.

Most felonies and some serious misdemeanors can't be dropped off your permanent record. Offenses against children, sexual and violent crimes can't be erased. It's worth finding out if your criminal act can be expunged in the first place rather than going through all the processes only to find out it was all for nothing.

Give the judge a reason to allow the expungement.

Certain violations, even seemingly minor ones, can result in a loss of someone's rights. For example a person charged with a DUI may have his license revoked. In majority of cases, the offender may have to defend himself in front of a judge, even if it doesn't involve getting a right back. You need to make a good case for yourself to convince the judge because ultimately he decides whether you deserve a clean slate or not.

Show the judge how you can benefit from a clean record.

When convincing a judge, the best defense is to show how much you and others can benefit from the expungement. For example, if you have been stripped of your right to leave the country, explain how you have a family member in need of your attention abroad or something like that. Make sure your reason is convincing while still being truthful.

Begin the process early.

For most cases it can take four months to a year with a lot of waiting in between to clear your record, depending on the state you live in and the severity of the crime. Start by finding yourself a reputable lawyer and working on your paperwork early on to prevent any additional delays.

Be mindful of pretend lawyers and scams.

An attorney is not necessary to file for a record expungement. However, getting legal advice from someone knowledgeable in the whole process is a huge plus in getting your records cleared. Just be smart about the whole thing and be mindful of scammers who falsely guarantee you of a quicker process and certain expungement all for a steep price.

Looking for a duilawyer in Virginia Beach? At Swango Law, we aim to provide aggressive DUI defense in Virginia Beach and Surrounding Areas.
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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Understanding Probate in California

Probate is the legal process that settles the property of the deceased person and tells how it should be equally distributed among the heirs and beneficiaries in case there is no will. The rules and regulations of probate vary form state to state and each state can have a different procedure and hearing process for probate. Some general guidance might be similar in most states but it is always advised to take help of a legal advisor in case you need to understand the probate process in your locality. Moreover you should understand that every probate case is different depending on the amount of money involved in it. The different property, debts and people involved in it make the whole case different from one other. There is no way that the rules and results of one probate case can apply to other case. Normally people have a view point that probate can be an ugly scene but the fact is that it can be easy if all parties involved in it work together for a positive outcome and preserve the memory of the deceased person.

In most cases, the property of the deceased person is transferred to his spouse if the person has not made any will before his expiry but in some conditions due to the parties' involved the property cannot be transferred to the spouse directly. The probate court which hears the matter of probate cases will get involved if there any issues relating to the property of the deceased person. The case has to go through a legal framework and the final order of the court has to be addressed by each person involved in the case. Now, since every state has different law regarding the probate so the hearings of the case in the court can be different in each state.

If the deceased person has a will and has named a representative,all the assets will be handled by this person unless the judge deems this person unfit, etc.If there is no representative named in the will then the court appoints a representative who handles the property unless the decision is made. The appointed representative is called the administrator and has sole responsibility of handling the property.

The Probate Process

In the initial phase the administrator opens the case in the court. During this period he evaluates the property and collects all the property of the deceased person. Few items which come under contract of the deceased person are not held in probate and they pass automatically to the beneficiary. Any bank accounts or other things which has the clause of "payable on death" are transferred to the person named in the contract. Only those limited property that have no clear beneficiaries are accountable for probate process. After accumulating all the property, the administrator sends a legal notice to all parties involved in the case and pays all the debts and claims which remain outstanding on the deceased name. Then the administrator distributes the remaining property to the beneficiaries of the decedent as instructed in the court's verdict.

If there are any disputes during the process then the court hearing decided upon the matter and the final verdict has to be agreed upon by every parties involved in the probate process. Anyone can file the claim on the property and if the court declines the claim then the opponent can file lawsuit to claim the property. If the lawsuit is made then court has to take the case more formally and this is when major problems occur during the probate process.

Normally, probate process take a longer time and if the amount involved is huge then the process can be more problematic. But if all the parties involved work together to make a positive solution then probate process can be competed easily and the property is distributed equally among the heirs or beneficiaries.

Luis Pezzini

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Things to Keep in Mind When Running an LLC Business

Running an LLC business is not a bed of roses. You have to stay on top of things. Aside from hands-on management, you also have to look outward into what your customers want. You have to be proactive in the way your products are designed or formulated. This is the only way through which you can stay in business. In managing your operations, keep the following in mind:

- Be committed

An LLC business is bound to fail if its owner is not committed enough to its business goals. This is one of the most common reasons why people with LLC businesses close shop. Successful entrepreneurs are committed to their business goals and have a clear plan on how they can make their goals possible.

- Be frugal

Having your own business is not an excuse to splurge on yourself because you expect a sizeable profit at the end of the month. That is still tentative. Revenues earned by an LLC business should be managed and spent wisely. Be frugal in your spending and limit your allocation only to those matters that are deemed important in running the company.

- Set goals

You cannot simply set-up your LLC business without having a goal in mind. This should be as detailed as how you envision your company to be in the next five years. Or perhaps you could set a target revenue within a reasonable period of time. You can measure your performance based on how near or far you are from achieving your goal. The way you spend your budget will have to depend on what your goals are. When you have a clear goal in mind, you are less likely to splurge your revenues as you earn them. Every expense item or spending requirement should be aligned with your business goals.

- Learn to manage risks

Being in business is risky, not just but everywhere at any time of the year. The only way to survive in the business world is to learn to manage these risks. Identifying and analyzing risks beforehand is a good exercise to help you prepare for these risks. Effective risk management comes with foresight and early preparation. When contingency plans are in place, these risks can become more manageable.

While running an LLC business is not exactly that easy, having the right mindset and being prepared for any eventualities allow business owners to be on their feet so that they can spot opportunities and manage the risks more effectively.

If you are looking for information on LLC business in Tennessee, click on the link. Or you can visit
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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Five Types of Power of Attorney Privileges

Establishing power of attorney privileges is an essential element of estate planning. POA authorizes another person to make decisions related to finances and healthcare for someone else in the event they are unable to make decisions on their own.

Before bestowing power of attorney privileges it is crucial to understand how the process works and the rights the person will be given. The person appointed to this position ought to be capable of making difficult decisions that might go against what other family members want.

Individuals who are granted authority to make decisions must be at least 18 years of age. It's important to choose a person who will remain true to decisions pertaining to medical and financial transactions.

There are five different types of power of attorney rights and responsibilities differ based on powers authorized. Each consists of two individuals that include the 'Principal' and 'Attorney-in-Fact.' The Principal is the person that sets up the contract and the attorney-in-fact is the person who carries out the duties on their behalf.

Durable Power of Attorney is the most common type of contract. This legal document authorizes the attorney-in-fact to make financial and medical decisions based on directives provided by the Principal. Powers remain in effect until the Principal dies or until powers are revoked.

The next most common document is the Non-Durable Power of Attorney which authorizes the attorney-in-fact to make decisions for specific types of transactions. Non-durable POA is generally used when the Principal must undergo surgery or some type of medical treatment that might prevent them from being able to make decisions. Powers are granted for a specific transaction and expire once the transaction is completed.

A Limited Power of Attorney is typically used to grant authorization to the attorney-in-fact to sell or transfer real estate owned by the Principal. This document revokes privileges when the transaction is completed.

A Healthcare Power of Attorney is needed to authorize a person to make medical decisions on behalf of the Principal It is vital to discuss the types of medical procedures wanted or not wanted with the person who will be in charge of making decisions to ensure they will abide by your desires.

People often feel uncomfortable discussing these topics, but it's best to openly talk about what kind of treatments should be given or avoided if the unthinkable happens. If a person is adamant about not being placed on life support if declared brain dead, they need to make their decisions known in a healthcare POA. Otherwise, medical personnel must abide by state laws and provide life saving treatment.

A Springing Power of Attorney is required to authorize release of medical records and information. The attorney-in-fact is required to obtain court authorization before they can make decisions on behalf of the Principal.

It's recommended to talk with a lawyer before drafting Power of Attorney documents. Lawyers can advise which document is best suited for the situation and help Principal's select an appropriate attorney-in-fact to carry out required duties.
 Simon Volkov is a real estate investor and probate liquidator who shares an extensive estate planning and probate article library. Topics include establishing power of attorney privileges, how to write a will, and strategies to avoid probate. Learn more estate planning strategies by visiting
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Monday, August 26, 2013

Estate Planning : What Is a Probate?

A major goal of estate planning is to avoid probate, when a court must remove one name from a legal deed and add another.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Estate Planning : Family Estate Trust or Revocable Living Trust?

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

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

Understanding Power-of-Attorney

A power-of-attorney (POA) is a legal document or instrument which allows one person to have the legal right to take actions and/or make decisions on another person's behalf. With a broad power-of-attorney, the recipient is able to legally do virtually anything that the issuer could have done him- or herself. As such, a POA can be a very powerful device in both daily, transactional, and probate application.

Power-of-Attorney Basics

A power-of-attorney document is issued (or "executed") by a person called the Principal. This is the person who intends to delegate certain rights and responsibilities to another person, or to have that person act on his or her behalf. The person to whom rights and responsibilities are delegated is called the Agent or Attorney-in-fact. Depending on the terms of the POA, the Agent may be given the power to:

- Manage the Principal's property (including buying and selling)

- Invest, liquidate, transfer, or otherwise manage the Principal's financial assets

- Undertake litigation or deal with legal matters on the Principal's behalf

- Take other legal, financial, or property-related actions or decisions

It is important to remember that, although a POA gives great power to an Agent, the Principal is still in control of his or her own affairs, and can make decisions regardless of whether he has issued a power-of-attorney. For example, a power-of-attorney can be revoked at any time by the Principal for any reason. Certain types of POA may also become invalidated upon the Principal's death or incapacitation (i.e., if the Principal becomes mentally incompetent to make sound decisions).

Types of Power-of-Attorney

Powers-of-attorney are generally divided into three main categories: durable, non-durable, and springing.

Non-durable powers-of-attorney are POAs which take effect immediately and will become invalid, should the Principal die or become mentally incompetent.

Durable powers-of-attorney are POAs which take effect immediately but remain valid even if the Principal becomes mentally incompetent and last until the Principal dies.

Springing powers-of-attorney are POAs which are designed to take effect upon the occurrence of a certain event, such as the principal's death.

Choosing an Agent

Choosing the right Agent is a key step in drafting a power-of-attorney. An untrustworthy agent can destroy your finances, relationships, and legal standing with the powers that you delegate to them. Furthermore, it is usually up to the Principal or people close to him/her to monitor the actions of the Agent. Keeping accurate records can help catch evidence of abuse before too much damage is done.

For more information on power-of-attorney, visit the website of Austin probate lawyers Slater & Kennon, LLP at
Joseph Devine
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Thursday, August 22, 2013

How to Write a Living Will

Generally, each state has a living will form that can be obtained from that state's health department. Write a living will and answer questions as accurately as possible.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What Is the Difference Between a Contested Divorce and an Uncontested Divorce?

When you and your spouse are seriously considering divorce, you'll find that there are several options for dissolution of marriage for you to consider, depending on your situation. In many states the two most common types of divorce are contested and uncontested.


In an uncontested divorce, both parties are able to work out the divorce terms without any input from the court. More divorcing couples prefer an uncontested divorce simply because it is generally less stressful and is less complicated compared to getting a contested divorce.

Of course, not all couples may benefit from an uncontested divorce. Couples who are in conflict with one another may have difficulty agreeing to common decisions brought about by a divorce, such as child custody, child support, spousal support, visitation, and division of assets.

An uncontested divorce usually involved drawing up a separation agreement mutually agreed upon by the divorcing parties, filing for dissolution of marriage, and attending a hearing. This entire legal process can take less than two months.

In some situations, however, an uncontested divorce does not go as planned and thus transitions to a contested divorce. Should this occur, then the services of a capable and experienced divorce attorney may be needed to ensure that your rights are protected at all times.


A contested divorce, on the other hand, is a type of divorce where both parties are unable to reach an agreement when it comes to all essential divorce terms. Contested is significantly more stressful and complicated compared to uncontested or mediated divorces, and could take several months or even years to resolve.

In a contested divorce, a court judge resolves the case if both parties are unable to resolve all contested points before the scheduled trial date. The judge bases the decision on the facts of the divorce case, including marital documents, records, and testimonies. Common parties who testify at the trial include you and your spouse, as well as witnesses who are testifying on your and your spouse's behalf.

Contested divorces usually always require the hiring of a family lawyer. It is always advisable to seek the counsel of an experienced lawyer in your area if you think your divorce will require going to trial. It's actually advisable to at the very least have a consultation with a family law attorney whether your divorce is contested or uncontested just to make sure your rights are protected.

If you have questions regarding Florida divorce laws or other Florida family law matters and you live in (or the jurisdiction of your divorce) is in the Tampa Bay Area, contact Denmon & Denmon Law at (813) 554-3232 to schedule a consultation or visit our website.
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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Importance of a Power of Attorney

Without a comprehensive power of attorney (POA), many people are unable to handle the financial affairs of their loved ones, nor make health care decisions without court intervention (conservatorship and guardianship). Unfortunately, it continues to be our experience that many people, including financial advisors, accountants and even some attorneys do not understand exactly what one is and why it is so important to have one. Clients often come into our office assuming that, just because they are married or are a joint owner of assets, they are able to sell or transfer assets. In fact, a current client is unable to sell his mother's home because she never signed a durable power of attorney.

A power of attorney is a legal document where one person (the principal) authorizes another (the agent) to act on their behalf. There are durable powers of attorney which authorize your agent to make decisions for you regarding financial matters and healthcare powers of attorney which permit your agent to make decisions regarding your healthcare needs.

Yours can be broad in scope, giving your agent the ability to make any and all financial decisions for you (a General Durable POA) or you can limit your agents authority by specifying the types of financial decisions you will permit them to make (a Limited Durable POA). You may also prefer to give your agent the immediate authority to make decisions on your behalf (a Durable POA) or you can limit your agents authority to act only when you become incompetent (a Springing POA).

What is a Guardianship and Conservatorship?

Guardianship is a legal relationship where the court gives a person (the guardian) authority to make personal decisions (medical, housing, etc.) for another (the ward). A proceeding is initiated by filing a petition in the probate court. A written statement by a doctor may be necessary to establish the ward's incapacity. The court then determines whether a guardian is needed due to the ward lacking the necessary mental capacity to make personal decisions. Unless limited by the court, the guardian has the same rights as parents have over their minor children. The guardian is required to report annually to the court regarding the condition of the ward.

A conservator is a legal relationship whereby the probate court gives a person (the conservator) the power to make financial decisions for another. The court proceedings are similar to those of a guardianship except the court is determining whether the person has the capacity to manage his or her financial affairs. A conservator is also required to file an annual accounting documenting (with verification) all of the income and expenses incurred each year. A surety bond (an insurance policy) is often required by the court to protect against the conservator engaging in any improper use of the person's assets.

A power of attorney is nearly always preferred over a guardian or conservator. It does not cost nearly as much and it allows you to choose who will be your agent. If you do not have a power attorney and you suffer a stroke or debilitating disease, your loved ones will likely have to face expensive and time consuming court proceedings to handle your affairs.

Brett Howell, the founder of the Elder and Estate Planning Law Firm, specializes in helping Michigan families protect their estates. Contact our office for a confidential consultation to discuss your concerns with Brett - you will be glad (and relieved) you did. Contact Brett by calling the Elder and Estate Planning Law Firm at (810) 953-3846 or visit his website for more information.
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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Reasons Why It Is Important to Assign Someone Power of Attorney

Establishing the extent of, and limitations to, the agent's power is essential to a successful relationship between the two parties. An agent can be anyone the principal trusts (who is typically 18 years old or older) to carry on the principal's important matters, which may include financial, personal tax, and real estate matters. The letter of attorney may identify alternative agents if the named agent dies, becomes legally disabled, resigns, or refuses to act on behalf of the principal. A letter of attorney sets the standard for the amount of authority that the agent will have. It should be very specific about what powers are being granted and what limitations are placed on these powers.

With a durable letter of attorney, the document typically states that the transfer of power is effective immediately or when the principal is unable to coherently make decisions on his/her own due to some disability or incapacity. If the durable letter of attorney is to become effective when the principal becomes disabled or incapacitated, the definition of "disability" and "incapacity" should be included in the power of attorney, along with a method of showing the existence of a disability or incapacity. This helps the agent and third parties know when the powers pass to the agent. This is important because some third parties may be cautious about recognizing the agent's power to act on behalf of the principal. A statutory power of attorney, simply tracks the language from the State's letter of attorney statute. To make a legally binding, it must comply with all state laws, and should be signed, dated and notarized by the principal.

Medical power of attorney assigns an agent to make health care decisions for the principal when a physician certifies in writing that the principal is no longer able to make these important decisions. For example, a person is unable to make health care decisions while in a severe coma. Despite the significant grant of power, an agent is obligated to follow the principal's instructions when making decisions on his/her behalf and the principal may revoke the authority granted to the Agent. Two witnesses must be present for the signing of the written medical power of attorney, and there are limitations on who may serve as witnesses.

The letter of attorney is a valuable tool that can provide the principal with the peace-of-mind that his/her affairs will be taken care of. If you would like to know more about durable, statutory and medical power of attorney, consult with a trusted legal professional.

Deke Foxhoven works to provide consultation on a variety of legal affairs. Foxhoven is an experienced and friendly Austin lawyer, and he can provide legal services pertaining to estate planning,business law and family law. Foxhoven builds relationships with his clients; listens to their goals, needs and concerns; and develops a plan to help them, their businesses, and/or their families flourish. Call his office at (512) 333-2004 for no charge to discuss your situation.
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Saturday, August 17, 2013

DUI Expungement Process - Steps to Clear Your DUI Record

If you are convicted of DUI, you may want to expunge your DUI record in order to get a job, loan, house, etc. Expungement refers to the process of removing or erasing your DUI records. You are required to petition the court in order to get your records expunged. This article discusses steps to clear your DUI record by covering the whole process from petitioning to obtaining expungement. Each state's expungement laws vary; therefore, this article gives you a basic idea on the process.

DUI expungement process:

1. Where to file a petition for expungement?

You need to file a petition for expungement in the superior court in the county where your DUI arrest occurred.

2. What are the grounds for denial of expungement?

You can be denied for expungement:

- if you haven't completed probation.
- if you didn't show a good reason to expunge your DUI record.
- if you are convicted of severe felony.
- if a great deal of time has passed since your arrest or conviction.

3. What are the grounds for acceptance of expungement?

You are allowed to expunge:

- if this is the only conviction on your record.
- if you didn't spend any time in state prison.
- if you have rehabilitated yourself.

4. How to file for an expungement?

- Do you need a lawyer?

You don't necessarily need a lawyer for expunging your records. It's just that this process involves a lot of paperwork and if you have a lawyer by your side, he can give you advice regarding that. If you don't wish to hire a lawyer, you should learn all the procedures that are required to get this process done.

- How long does it take?

The entire expungement process could take anywhere from 4 to 6 months.

- What is the filing fee? 

The filing fee may vary from $50 to $400 depending on your case and your state.

- What forms do you need to fill and where to get them?

You need to go to your county courthouse and ask the clerk for the expungement forms. As mentioned above the forms may cost around $50 to $400. The clerk may give you the following forms: 1. Expungement petition, 2. Affidavit or proof of service form.

5. What happens after you file the petition for expungement?

After you file the petition for expungement, a copy will be sent to all agencies that have your records like arresting agency, the county attorney, the city police department etc. They may accept or refuse your request. If they accept, the court will grant your petition without hearing. If they refuse, a hearing will be held and you are required to attend. (This law can vary from state to state). You will be notified of hearing date through the mail. In some states, though, the court sets the hearing date, while in others you have to pick the date. You must ask your clerk beforehand regarding how your state's county court hearing date is set.

6. The Court hearing and decision:

Your petition for expungement may or may not be granted. If you won the expungement hearing, you must check after 60 days to see for yourself whether your records show up during a criminal record check. The 60 days period is when the court orders all the agencies to seal your record. However, if you lose your hearing, you may need to ask for an expungement once again.

Expunge your DUI record "completely" with the help of DUI Process Manual. It offers little-known strategies to clear your DUI record completely and pass employment background checks in a step-by-step approach. Especially, this strategy is helpful if your state (US) does not allow formal expungement. Visit my site for free DUI strategies report and DUI Process Manual review and take action to clear DUI record [].
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Friday, August 16, 2013

Criminal Records: Do You Qualify for Expungement?

Expungement is not the same thing as sealing. The terms are very close in meaning with subtle differences. However, an expungement means that the criminal record is erased as if they crime never happened. Sealing simply hides the record and make it no longer public information. This is important because each state has different laws that apply to each of these terms.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Updating Your Will - There May Be More Reasons to Do So Than You Realize

Your Last Will and Testament is your only chance to decide what happens to your estate assets upon your death. It is the cornerstone of your estate plan -- the document from which all other estate planning tools flow. Once you have taken the time and effort to create your Will, don't make the mistake of failing to update it when necessary. Some reasons that a Will needs to be updated are obvious; however, consider the following, not so obvious, reasons as well when deciding if it's time to take another look at your Will.

Death: People think to update a Will when a parent, spouse or child dies, but the death of the person named as executor or guardian of your minor children can also prompt a review of your Will. The death of a business partner or even an in-law may also warrant a Will update.

Marriage or Divorce: Clearly, your own marriage or divorce calls for a revision of your Will; however, other marriages or divorces may also necessitate a change. The marriage or divorce of a parent, child or guardian, for example, can call for a review of your Will.

Birth: Although it is easy to rely on a generic term, such as "issue", to cover all of your children or grandchildren, it may be preferable to name each beneficiary by name in your Will to avoid any possible future confusion. As such, take the time to update your Will when there is a birth in the family.

Beneficiary Reaches the Age of Majority: Minors cannot inherit directly in your Will. As such, you likely named a trustee for any minor children when you made your Will. If a child has reached the age of majority, you will need to remove the trustee and provide for the direct transfer of those assets to the beneficiary in your Will.

Change in Assets: Although you may have a general provision in your Will for any asset not specifically named, if you acquire an asset worth a significant amount of money, or sell one, you may need to update your Will to address that asset for clarification.

Change in Location: In the confusion of a move, people typically don't think of how residency can affect a Will. State laws, however, can directly impact provisions in your Will, warranting a review and possible revision.

Change in State or Federal Laws: Laws change on a regular basis. Federal tax laws, for example, seem to continuously change. A significant change in either a state or federal law can result in the need to make a corresponding change to your Will.

You Reach the Age of Required Distributions: IRAs and 401(k)s typically require you to start taking distributions around the age of retirement. If you have significant funds in one of these accounts, the required distributions can change your asset structure enough to warrant a Will update.

Change in Guardian: This is a big, yet often forgotten, reason to update your Will. Regardless of the reason why you wish to change the named guardian for your minor children, if you wish to do so you must make it official by revising your Will.

Experienced estate planning attorneys Atlanta GA of the Pyke & Associates P.C. offers estate planning and business planning resources to residents of Atlanta GA. To learn more about these free resources, please visit today.
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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

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.

Simon Volkov is a California probate liquidator and real estate investor who specializes in buying and selling probate properties. He shares insights about California estate planning and shares resources for learning how to avoid probate and protect inheritance assets at
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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Living Will - Why it is More Important and Its Pros and Cons

A Living will, quite often you must have come across this term. But how many of us know its usage, its importance, advantages and disadvantages? There are many articles written on this topic. One can go and find out information from various sources. This article mostly features the important factors of living will, the basic idea behind its making as well as its advantages and disadvantages.

As the name says "living will", from its name it suggests that it has got something to do with legal document. Yes, a living-will is a document in which an individual writes about his/her medical wishes and desires. This document is converted into a legal document and is used during the time when an individual will no longer be able to take any decision due to incapacity or illness. In other words, this term is explained as advance health care directive, advance directives or advance decision.

An individual who has made such kind of advance directives, appoints a person so that he can take any decisions on their behalf. This kind of will is an oldest form of "leaving instructions for medical treatment". In today's world, concept of making such kind medical wish or desire on a legal document is quite encouraged. This legal document is benefited while giving comprehensive guidance regarding an individual's care.

Writing a living will has to be very specific. Therefore, in some cases it restricts the use of various kinds of burdensome treatment. Individual can also express their wishes on how his food and water will be supplied, either via medical devices or tubes. An individual can also be more specific regarding the service that he expects with respect to pain relief or analgesia, antibiotics, feeding, usage of ventilators or antibiotics.

Disadvantages of advance directives:

• Main disadvantage of an advance decision is; there is no statute in New York governing such kind of living-wills. Advance will is valid as long as it states specific and convincing evidence.
• Drafting out an advance will is not an easy job. It requires specific instructions regarding all possible events in future. It is impossible for one to imagine what an individual would really want in the situations.
• In case an individual fails to make his advance will specific and clear, then there could be refusal of treatment.

Advantages of advance directives:

• The main advantage of living will is that it respects the human rights of a patient.
• Drafting an advance directive creates full discussion on medical treatment and services.
• It helps the medical professionals to decide what the patient wants.
• A patient's family or relatives will be free from taking difficult decisions.

Once you decide to create such kind of legal document, you should not get confused in between an advance directives and a trust. Role of a trust is to handle the property/assets of an individual after his/her death. Trust has got nothing to do with the medical care decisions. In response to increasing improvement in the field of medicine, concept of an advance directive was implemented.

Visit for more Annuity and Life Insurance Tips and Tricks.
Call Robert Eldridge directly at 800-643-7544.
Robert Eldridge holds over a decade of experience as a multiline agent in multiple states and currently serves on the membership council of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors
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Monday, August 12, 2013

An Overview of a Quit Claim Deed

The deed to a property is a legal document that establishes ownership. There are different types of deeds. Here is an overview of a quit claim deed.

An Overview of a Quit Claim Deed

Quit claim deeds are a form of deed used in the transfer or sale of property when a grantor, a person who owns an interest in the property, is essentially allowing the transfer of that property to another person. The grantors do not actually own the property but rather simply have responsibility over it. For this reason, grantors have the legal right to sell the property but there is a catch.

The quit claim deed offers little protection for buyers down the road. Although the property will be transferred to the grantee from the grantor, the quit claim deed does not legally protect the grantee from future claims to the property. The grantor does not legally own the property and so that leaves a back door open for potential future problems regarding the property.

Quit claim deeds are often used in a couple situations due to their relative simplicity compared to many of the other forms that have to be filed during property transfer and/or sales. One, the quit claim deed is used to clear up a title. And two, quit claim deeds are effective for those who want to use a simplistic method for giving up their interests in a certain property.

When used in a sale of a property, quit claim deeds can result in significant risk to the buyers of the property. However, quit claim deeds still have other uses that are very beneficial. For instance, in the case where there are multiple people who have claims to a home, such as when a relative passes away, a quit claim deed is an effective way of one of these people to legally transfer their interests in the home to another person. A divorce can create a similar situation, making the quit claim deed very useful.

It is important to be smart about which form of deed you will be using and signing whether you are a seller or a buyer. Know what the potential risks are and the protections that are being offered by the deed so as to better be prepared.

Raynor James is with the site - - FSBO homes for sale by owner.
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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions About Wills, Living Wills and Powers of Attorney


The simplest way to ensure that your funds, property and personal effects will be distributed after your death according to your wishes is to prepare a will. A will is a legal document designating the transfer of your property and assets after you die. Usually, wills can be written by any person over the age of 18 who is mentally capable, commonly stated as "being of sound mind and body."


Although wills are simple to create, about half of all Americans die without one (or Intestate). Without a will to indicate your wishes, the court steps in and distributes your property according to the laws of your state. Wills are not just for the rich; the amount of property you have is irrelevant. A will ensures that what assets you do have will be given to family members or other beneficiaries you designate. If you have no apparent heirs and die without a will, it's even possible the state may claim your estate.

Having a will is especially important if you have young children because it gives you the opportunity to designate a guardian for them in the event of your death. Without a will, the court will appoint a guardian for your children who may be someone you do not even know.


What you generally need to make a will:

1) Your name and place of residence;

2) Names and addresses of spouse, children and other beneficiaries, such as charities or friends;

3) Alternate beneficiaries, in the event a beneficiary dies before you do;

4) Name and address of an Executor/ Executrix to manage your estate;

5) Name and address of an alternative Executor/Executrix, in the event your first choice is unable or unwilling to act;

6) Name and address of a guardian for your minor children;

7) Name and address of an alternative guardian, in the event your first choice is unable or unwilling to act;

8) The age you wish your minor children to have control of their inheritance;

9) Any burial requests you may have (cremation, where you want to be buried, etc.);

10) Your signature;

11) Two Witnesses' signatures; and

12) Notarization.

Two of the most important items included in your will are naming a guardian for minor children and naming an Executor/ Executrix.


In most cases, a surviving parent assumes the role of sole guardian. However, it's important to name a guardian for minor children in your will in case neither you nor your spouse is able and willing to act. The guardian you choose should be over 18 and willing to assume the responsibility. Talk to the person ahead of time about what you are asking. You can name a couple as co-guardians, but that may not be advisable. It's always possible the guardians may choose to go their separate ways at some later date, and, if so, a custody battle could ensue. If you do not name a guardian to care for your children, a judge will appoint one, and it may not be someone you would have chosen.


An Executor/Executrix is the person who oversees the distribution of your assets in accordance with your will. Most people choose their spouse, an adult child, a relative, or a friend to fulfill this duty.

If no Executor/Executrix is named in a will, a Probate Judge will appoint one. Probate refers to the legal procedure for the orderly distribution of property in a person's estate. The Executor/Executrix files the will in probate court, where a Judge decides if the will is valid. If it is found to be valid, assets are distributed according to the will. If the will is found to be invalid, assets are distributed in accordance with state laws.

Responsibilities usually undertaken by an Executor/Executrix include:

--Paying valid creditors;

--Paying taxes;

--Notifying Social Security and other agencies and companies of your death;

--Canceling credit cards, magazine subscriptions, etc.; and

--Distributing assets according to the will.


You'll probably need to update your will several times during the course of your life. For example, a change in marital status, the birth of a child or a move to a new state should all prompt a review of your will. You can update your will by amending it by way of a Codicil or by drawing up a new one. Generally, people choose to issue a new will that supersedes the old document. Be sure to destroy the old will after you sign a new one.


The property included in your will may be subject to taxation. In planning your will, take into account the following:

---Federal estate taxes will generally be due if the net taxable estate is worth more than $1,000,000. This amount is scheduled to gradually increase from $1,000,000 in 2002/2003 to $3,500,000 in 2009 so that it will eventually shield $3,500,000 in gift or estate transfers from tax per taxpayer. Estates in excess of the exempt amount can be taxed at a rate from 37% to 50% (the top percentage is scheduled to gradually decrease to 45% in 2009). Also, note that these estate tax changes are scheduled to be repealed in 2010. If not extended, the tax law will revert to the estate and gift tax provisions in affect in 2001. Consult a tax or financial professional to determine a plan that is right for you and your family.

---State death or inheritance taxes

---Federal income taxes

---State income taxes

You may be able to minimize your estate tax by establishing a trust or giving gifts during your lifetime. You can also cover the cost of estate taxes by purchasing a life insurance policy intended to pay taxes. Talk to your life insurance agent to find out more about how this works.


Once your will is written, store it in a safe place that is accessible to others after your death. I suggest that you keep it in a fire proof box that you can purchase at any office supply store. I do not suggest that you keep your will in a safe deposit box because many states will seal your safe deposit box upon your death. Make sure a close friend or relative knows where to find your will.


A living will is not a part of your will. It is a separate document that lets your family members know what type of care you do or don't want to receive should you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious. It becomes effective only when you cannot express your wishes yourself. Discuss your wishes as reflected in your living will with family members, and be sure all your doctors have a signed copy.


A power of attorney for health care (health care proxy) is not a part of your will. It is a separate document that authorizes someone you name to act in accordance with your medical intentions. It becomes effective only when you cannot express your wishes yourself. You should make sure that all your doctors have a signed copy.


A financial durable power of attorney is not a part of your will. It is a separate document that authorizes someone you name to act in accordance with your financial intentions. It becomes effective only when you cannot express your wishes yourself. You should make sure that all your financial professionals (stockbrokers, accountants, financial planners) and banks have a signed copy.


The end of your life is something you probably don't want to dwell on, but thinking about what will happen to your loved ones and your assets and personal possessions is important. Making sure you've done all you can to make their lives easier will give you peace of mind. And once your will is drafted, you won't have to think about it again unless something significant in your life changes.

Sheri R. Abrams is an Attorney in Fairfax, VA. Her practice is limited to the areas of Social Security Disability Law and the preparation of wills, living wills, health and financial powers of attorney. Ms. Abrams is a graduate of Boston University's School of Management and the George Washington University School of Law. Ms. Abrams is rated "AV" by Martindale-Hubbell. More information can be found at

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

How Does a Living Trust Work?

The idea of a living trust is that, while a person is still alive, they transfer their assets into a trust document that administers the assets.

Friday, August 9, 2013

How to Make a Living Will

Just saying that you don't want extraordinary measures taken if you become incapacitated doesn't cut it; you need to spell out your wishes in a living will.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

5 Reasons Why You Need A Living Will

Many people think a living will is not something they need unless they reach senior citizen age. However, this could not be further from the truth and you could end up seriously regretting not taking the time to make one out. Life is unpredictable and often uncontrollable which is enough reason for adults of any age to invest in a life will in order to protect themselves when bad fortune arises. Below are five reasons every adult should take the time to make out a living will no matter how old they are.

1. Protects You When You No Longer Can Communicate

The most advantageous part of having a living will is that it protects you in a future situation in which you no longer can communicate your wishes. If something was to happen the medical professionals in charge of treating you have a big say in what happens to you once you are in a state in which you cannot communicate what you want to be done.

2. Prevents Major Arguments Between Family Members

Having a living will prevents major arguments between family members when the decision is not up to the medical professionals in charge. The other people that have a say in what happens to you are your family members. If they disagree on what should be done with you it can cause relationship ending arguments between members of your family. This is the last thing you want happening during such a tough and difficult time. With a living will it will be your choice and no one else's. This will eliminate any argument or debate as to what should happen to you.

3. Gives You Control Over Medical Treatments/Procedures

A living will also gives you control over what medical treatments and procedures take place in a situation where you are ill to the point of not being able to communicate. In this situation a living will orders doctors to fulfill your wishes in writing. This way you take the decision out of their hands.

4. Reduce Potentially Unwanted Medical Bills for Your Family

In the situation that you get into an coma or vegetative state, a living will decides exactly what is done with you. Many people would rather die than live an additional 20 years on life-support. The reason being is because if they are on life support it will rack up enormous medical bills in which their family will have to pay. If you do not specify this, then your family may be left paying insurmountable medical bills. If you do not want to see something like this happen then you need a living will that specifies exactly what you would like to happen in a given situation.

5. Gives You Peace of Mind

Last of all, making out a living will give you peace of mind. These are designed to give you the control to prevent more bad things from happening in tragic situations. Tragic situations are hard enough and you want to know that your family as well as yourself will be taken care of properly in such a situation.

The last thing you want to do is be lazy and end up giving people outside of your family control over what happens to you under bad circumstances. Get your living will made today. It is so easy to put off but it is probably one of the best decisions you can make.

About the Author
Scott Gray is a writer and website publisher who writes for Morely Levitt. Morley is a will and estate lawyer. His office is located at 120-11181 Voyageur Way, Richmond, B.C. Canada. If you are looking for information about a will in Ladner or Tsawwassen BC Canada, or other areas like Vancouver and Richmond British Columbia, be sure to give him a call at 604-270-9611.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How to Legally Change Your Name

Marriage, divorce, or just dislike of the name your parents gave you -- all are reasons to follow these steps toward a new name.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Taxation of LLCs

If you are an owner of an LLC it is important to keep in mind certain tax implications.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Do I Need a Will and Living Trust?

If you are looking for a simple, one-line answer to the question above, YES, you do need a will and living trust to divide your assets to your heirs, closest living family members, blood relatives, or whoever you fancy! If you do not leave a will written, your assets might not distributed the way you'd like, and the court will decide which of your living members get access to your properties and liquid stock. Having a will and living trust is thus, extremely important so that you are fully in control of your assets after your death.

Why are Wills and Living Trusts Important?

Wills and living trusts are the only way you can make sure your assets are passed on the ones you are related to, with the distributions you deem correct. Particularly, if you have small children, wills are great ways to establish guardianship of minors and ensure that your kids get their share of your assets and monetary accumulations left behind.

As intestacy laws change from one state to another, you do not know who gets how much access to your property if you do not leave a will behind.

The Difference Between a Will and a Trust

A will is a document that allows you to fix which parts of your assets are divided amongst your heirs and family in the event of death. After you die, all the assets you own would be divided as per the instructions in the will, and thus, you are solidly in control of your funds. The court ensures that the rightful distribution of your funds takes place after your death and there are no disputes.

A living trust is more like a legal mechanism that makes sure you draft terms and conditions for use of your assets and controls gifts and charities you are likely to keep continuing after your death. Living trusts are simply known to take care of your life insurance policies and other benefits and will not take into account the complete accrued financial holdings and amounts you have.

Thus, legally, you are recommended to have both wills and trusts put up in the event of an untimely death thus, legally, you are recommended to have both wills and trusts put up in the event of an untimely death. There are provisions for you to change the will as many times you'd want to. The last edition of the will you sign would be considered valid during the time of your death.

Lawyers with Boyes and Farina, P.A., provide estate planning, tax and business litigation in Florida. Palm Beach Gardens Probate Litigation provides innovative solution for your problem.
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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Advance Medical Directive: The Basics

Advance medical directives are legal documents designed to outline a person's wishes and preferences in regard to medical treatments, interventions and other health care related issues. Policies may vary from state to state, but regardless of location, advance directives should always be included with each individual's personal medical records.

Advanced directives typically fall into three categories:

  • Do Not Resuscitate Order: This legal document, also known as DNR, is extremely valuable for determining end-of-life issues. A DNR order, however, is not legal until signed by the patient, a witness and a physician. It should also be dated correctly and clearly state whether the patient wants to be resuscitated or not if their heart stops beating.

  • Living Will: This written document stipulates what kinds of medical treatment the patient recommends should they become incapacitated. It can be either general or very specific depending on the person and how adamant they are about their end-of-life care issues. The usual items outlined in a living will include: whether they wish to be on life support, receive tube feedings, length of time (if any) that they will stay on breathing machines, the individual that will make decisions on their behalf, etc.

  • Durable Power of Attorney: This type of advance directive allows an individual the opportunity to designate someone, or a number of individuals, to act on their behalf for specific affairs. A durable power of attorney, or DPOA, has the ability to make bank transactions, sign social security checks, apply for disability, or even write checks to pay utility bills while an individual is medically incapacitated. Once the document is signed, the DPOA has legal priority even over next of kin.

When Should a Directive be Created?

You will see an advanced medical directive used for several different situations-such as when someone is having a major surgery, diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or is even becoming a single parent. Advance medical directives are extremely beneficial if an individual is unable to make his or her own medical decisions. Whatever the reason, all advance medical directives should be signed by an attorney and be notarized.

How to Obtain an Advance Medical Directive

Luckily, there are many ways that someone can obtain an advance medical directive. Many companies have booklets available, social workers and nurses usually have them on hand, and hospitals and attorneys also have copies of directives. It is worth the effort to ask for an advance medical directive as it will be invaluable during a medical dilemma.

By having previously documented personal wishes and preferences, the burden of making tough decisions for family's and physicians' is lessened. Not to mention, the patient's autonomy and dignity will more likely be preserved by following their own choices regardless of mental or physical capacity.

This article was written by Roger Brent Hatcher, an attorney at Smith, Gilliam, Williams & Miles, a leading Atlanta Law Firm since 1928.
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Friday, August 2, 2013

Probate Problems

When someone dies, the property goes into probate. If the person had a will, the property will be distributed easily; in the absence of a will, it may be more complicated.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

How Often Should I Update My Will?

You should review your will every few years and revise as needed. After major life events occur, for instance, getting married, it is important to update your will with the new information.