Saturday, November 30, 2013

Estate Planning : Difference Between Will & Living Trust

A living trust can help beneficiaries and families avoid probate more so than a will. Find out the difference between a will and a living trust from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful day enjoying food, family and friends

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Estate Planning : Purpose of a Living Will

A living will, or advance directive, gives a named person the ability to 'pull the plug' in some medical instances. Learn the purpose of a living will from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Estate Planning Eases Confusion, Financial Worries

What you need to know about estate planning, including why having a will and assigning a power of attorney is crucial.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Estate Planning : The Purpose of an Irrevocable Living Trust

Irrevocable living trusts are rare and mainly used to keep the IRS from taxing the death benefit of a life insurance policy. Learn the purpose of an irrevocable living trust from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Estate Planning : What Is a Revocable Living Trust?

Revocable living trusts are 98 percent of living trusts; they help avoid probate and allow others to use money to take care of the trust maker. Find out what an irrevocable living trust is from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Estate Planning : What Is an Heir Apparent?

An heir apparent is the heir who is assumed to receive the deceased's property before the will is read. Find out what an heir apparent is from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

How to Properly Use a Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that authorizes one person to act on behalf of another in the legal or business dealings of the person authorizing the other. This type of document has a lot of relevance when, for example, somebody needs to execute some business or legal matter but is unable to do so for whatever reason. In the absence of the person, another person may be authorized to execute the matter through use of a power of attorney, which in common law systems or in civil law systems, authorizes another person to act on behalf of the person so authorizing the other. The person authorizing is known as the "principal" and the person authorized is called the "agent". The agent may, on behalf of the principal, do such lawful acts such as signing the principal's name on documents.

An agent is a fiduciary for the principal and, as this is an important relationship between principal and agent, the law requires that the agent be a person of impeccable integrity who shall always act honestly and in the best interests of the principal. In case a contract exists between the agent and the principal for remuneration or other form of monetary payment being made to the agent, such contract may be separate and in writing to that effect. However, the power of attorney may also be verbal, though many an institution, bank, hospital as well as the Internal Revenue Service of the USA requires a written power of attorney to be submitted by the agent before it is honored.

The "Equal Dignity Rule" is the principle of law that has the same requirements of the agent as it does to the principal. Suppose that the agent has a power of attorney that authorizes him or her to sign the sales deed of the principal's house and that such sales deed should be notarized by law. The power of attorney does not absolve the agent from the necessity of having the sales deed notarized. His or her signature to the sales deed must also be notarized.

There are two types of powers of attorney. One is the "special power of attorney" and the other, "limited power of attorney." The power of attorney may be specific to some special instance or it may be general and encompasses whatever the court specifies to be its scope. The document will lapse when the grantor (principal) dies. In case the principal should become incapacitated due to some physical or mental illness, his power of attorney will be revoked, under the common law. There is an exception. In case the principal had in the document specifically stated that the agent may continue to act on his behalf even if the principal became incapacitated, then the power of attorney would continue to enjoy legal sanction.

In some of the States in the USA, there is a "springing power of attorney" which kicks in only in case the grantor (principal) becomes incapacitated or some future act or circumstance occurs. Unless the agreement has been made irrevocable, the agreement may be revoked by the principal by informing the agent that he is revoking the power of attorney.

Making use of standardized power of attorney forms helps in framing a legally sound and mutually beneficial relationship for principal and agent. With the ease of use and ready availability of such forms, it is highly recommended that they be utilized when thinking of granting a power of attorney to someone. However, care should be taken not to let unscrupulous persons defraud innocent persons such as the elderly through ill-conceived agreements.

Wade Anderson is a CPA and operates
Click to view a Power of Attorney Form

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Overlooking a Health Care Power of Attorney Can Be Costly

A very important estate planning tool that is not given the same attention as a Durable General Power of Attorney is the Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA). A HCPOA is a document that gives someone you trust the ability to make your medical decisions for you when you are unable to do so yourself. Once drafted, signed and witnessed, the patient advocate (person appointed) appointed is essentially filling the shoes of the principal (person signing the document) with respect to all health care decisions; thus, physicians are expected to respect and abide by their decisions as if they were being made by the principal individual himself.

Appointing someone to act as your HCPOA plays a significant role for not just the principal, but also for the patient advocate. Without a properly drafted HCPOA, and in the event you have a loved one (e.g. spouse) in the unfortunate situation of being admitted into the hospital, you would have no authority to make medical decisions on your spouse's behalf. The proper procedure would be to file a petition with the court and be appointed as their Guardian/Conservator. This process can be time consuming and even costly.

When drafting your personal HCPOA document there is a particular section that deserves close attention. In the event you are in a persistent vegetative state or an irreversible coma, you will have to select who it is that you want to weigh the burden of your treatment versus the benefit. The three choices are: (1) Allowing your patient advocate to decide whether the burden of treatment outweighs the benefit; and based on that decision, your patient advocate has the authority to stop further treatment; (2) Allow the doctor to reasonably conclude that the burden of treatment outweighs the benefit; and based on the doctor's decision, the doctor will decide whether to stop further treatment; and (3) Allow you to live as long as possible regardless of the burden and cost of treatment.

These are three important choices that need to be carefully addressed. By making such a decision it allows your patient advocate to know beforehand that they are responsible for your medical treatment. Through careful planning and by appointing a trustworthy patient advocate, it can bring significant ease to your personal estate. It is advised to appoint someone who is close to you and who knows your wishes, whether religious or personal, as that person can then make the proper decisions with your specific intent in mind.

Rather than going through the stress of probate, a HCPOA is the simple document that can protect your wishes as the principal and provide your patient advocate with the convenience that they would not otherwise have.

Adil Daudi is an Attorney at Joseph, Kroll & Yagalla, P.C., focusing primarily on Estate Planning, Shariah Estate Planning, Asset Protection, Business Litigation, Corporate Formations, Physician Contracts, and Family Law. To contact him for any questions related to this article or other areas of law, he can be reached at or (517) 381-2663.
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

California DUI Expungement - Expunge Your Record and Move on With Your Life

Having a DUI arrest or conviction record can tarnish your reputation and make it difficult for you to get a job, loan, college, military etc. Fortunately, California State allows you to expunge your DUI record thereby, helping you to leave behind your past crimes and move on with your life. However to obtain DUI expungement in California you must meet certain requirements. Also, your expungement is not guaranteed even after it's ordered.

Can your case be expunged?

Under California law, your case can be expunged if you meet the following requirements:

1. if you fulfilled the conditions of probation.

2. if you are not presently serving a sentence or on probation for any other crime.

3. if you are not presently charged for any other crime.

Also other factors are considered before granting an expungement such as whether you are a minor or an adult at the time of your conviction, whether you are charged for misdemeanor or felony, and whether or not you were sentenced to a state prison. If you meet such requirements your case will be expunged.

What happens when the expungement is granted?

Under California law, expunging means withdrawal of plea of guilty or no contest and entering a plea of not guilty or setting aside the judgment if you are found guilty in the trial. Once granted, you are thereafter, relieved from all the consequences resulting from a DUI violation, though with some exceptions.

Your life after expunging DUI record:

Job Applications:

As per the California law, when applying for a private job you can firmly answer "no" to the question "have you ever been convicted of a crime?" in the application form. Also, your DUI record will not show up when conducting a background check.

But expungement does not serve its purpose when you apply for a government job. Your DUI convictions will be revealed as expunged. It's not very helpful though. Also, your expunged records are seen as a prior conviction, meaning, it can be used for enhancing the penalties of your future DUI conviction in case you commit any.

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. Visit my site for free DUI strategies report and DUI Process Manual review and take action to clear DUI record [].
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Top 10 Estate Planning Mistakes

Just as we discussed last month regarding Medicaid planning, there is also a lot of misinformation that exists in the area of estate planning. Nearly every day someone will tell us for example, that they heard that if you have a will "there is no probate". Unfortunately, this type of erroneous information is often passed on as helpful estate planning advice. Clients frequently learn the hard way that relying on such advice can cost them thousands of dollars. In an effort to help educate and prevent others from making these all too common mistakes, we have complied our list of the top 10 estate planning mistakes.

1. Procrastination.

Most everyone is at least aware that it is important to have an estate plan. Far too often however, they procrastinate doing anything about it. Don't let this happen to you.

2. Not having a will.

The majority of people do not even have a basic will. A will is essential in nominating who will be responsible for administering your estate and to whom your estate will be distributed to after your death.

3. Not Having Powers of Attorney.

Planning for death is only part of estate planning. In addition to a will, it is extremely important to have a durable power of attorney for your finances and a health care power of attorney for medical related decisions.

4. Failing to recognize a will won't avoid probate.

Assets in a decedent's name only will not avoid probate even if there is a will.

5. Failing to consider a trust.

Too many people mistakenly believe a trust is only for the wealthy. They also fail to understand how expensive and time consuming probate can be. A trust often can save your family time and money if you become disabled or upon your death.

6. Failing to properly fund a trust.

For those persons who decide that a trust is right for them, simply signing the trust is only part of the process of having a trust. Assets such as a home or other real estate, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, etc., must be re-titled into the name of the trust in order to avoid probate.

7. Doing it yourself.

While everyone loves to save money, the old adage that you "get what you paid for" is particularly true in estate planning. If your estate and loved ones are important to you, it is strongly recommended that you do not attempt to plan your estate on your own.

8. Putting children's names on assets.

Adding children's names to bank accounts, real estate or other assets is often the surest way to create problems after your death.

9. Incorrectly naming beneficiaries.

A good estate plan must also take into account those assets that have a beneficiary, such as life insurance, annuity, IRA or 401K. The failure to correctly name primary and secondary beneficiaries will undermine even a well drafted will or trust.

10. Failing to periodically review your estate plan.

A will or trust drafted years ago may not be appropriate today. As circumstances or laws change, it is recommended that your plan be reviewed by an elder law attorney.

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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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Estate Planning Glossary

Estate: Essentially includes everything you own. This includes life insurance, business interests, personal property, real estate and retirement plans. The "value" of your estate is determined by the "fair market value" of the assets.

Probate: The public, court controlled, legal process for changing title to assets for people who have died. Since deceased persons are legally incapable of transferring property, the probate court provides the process for transferring a decedent's property. Owning property in more than one state will require multiple probates.

Will: A legal document that advises the probate court about a decedent's wishes for distribution of their assets. A will is only effective after the person's death.

Will Substitutes: Certain forms of ownership that transfer property automatically on death. The most common will substitutes are beneficiary designations and joint tenancy. Will substitutes can cause unforeseen results and consequences.

Trust: A legal document that provides instructions to a personal trustee on how to manage and distribute the estate. A Living Trust is established during the person's lifetime and is usually revocable and amendable. A properly funded trust avoids probate and can provide instructions for management of the estate in the event of death or incapacity. A Testamentary Trust is established as a part of a will, but like a will, is only effective on death and must also be probated. Special kinds of trusts can be used to provide for disabled children or grandchildren, called a special needs trust. Also, certain irrevocable trusts can help protect assets from nursing home expenses.

When you create a trust, you (Trustmaker) transfer your property into the name of the trust, to be managed by you or someone else that you choose (Trustee) for the benefit of yourself or someone else (Beneficiary). In a Living Trust you are generally the Trustmaker, Trustee and Beneficiary so that you retain total management and control over your assets. However, at the time of your death, if the trust is then the owner of everything in the estate, there is nothing to probate and that process is avoided. Your Successor Trustee simply follows your instructions for further managing and distributing your estate. A revocable Living Trust does not require any special or additional tax filings, and can generally be revoked or amended at any time.

Guardianship: A guardianship is a legal relationship in which the probate court gives a person (the guardian) the power to make personal decisions (i.e. medical decisions) for another (the incapacitated person). If the judge determines that the person does not have the mental capacity to care for his or her own needs, the judge will appoint a guardian. Unless limited by the court, the guardian generally has the same rights, powers and duties over the person that parents have over their minor children.

Conservatorship: A conservatorship is a legal relationship in which the probate court gives a person (the conservator) the power to make financial decisions for another (the protected person). The court proceedings are similar to those of a guardianship except the judge is determining whether the individual has the capacity to manage his or her financial affairs. If the individual is determined not to have the necessary mental capacity, the court will appoint a conservator to make financial decisions for the individual. Once appointed, the conservator must file an accounting each year documenting all of the income and expenses generated on behalf of the protected person.

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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Friday, November 15, 2013

Reasons to Start an LLC Business

There are various resources that tell you how to start an LLC business. But, there is a big difference between knowing and actually doing the right thing. When you start an LLC business, it is important to have a good grasp of why you are doing it. More than knowing how to start the business, you have to find reason in why you are getting into business in the first place. Here are some of the reasons that could motivate you in starting your own LLC:

- To make money out of something that you enjoy doing

Locals enjoy doing several things, but not everyone could profit from what they do. If gardening in the backyard, for example, is a passion, you might want to think about selling your harvest. You can always turn your hobby into a small business and generate income from something you love doing. As they say, if you enjoy what you are doing, it would not feel like you are working. You can start an LLC business that you can operate from your own home with your relatives and perhaps a small group of friends as your members.

- To get a slice of the pie

Recent years saw a surge in products marketed based on health benefits. The green revolution has begun and this puts at an advantage being an agricultural state. If other companies can sell health-based products, so can you. Identifying a niche that has not been saturated yet will give you a bigger chance of getting a bigger share of the pie so to speak. This goal is enough to sustain your interest even after you start an LLC business.

- To help the community

Did not earn the nickname "The Volunteer State" for nothing. This sense of community can be a source of profits as well. You can hit two birds with one stone when you start an LLC business: you get to help your community and you earn profits in the process. You can think about employing people from your community too as a way of helping ease the unemployment rate in your locality. On a more personal note, you will be helping the people you employ put food on the table and send their kids to school.

- To be your own boss

This sounds cliché but it is true. Most folks would love a life of self-sufficiency and without having to be at the beck and call of someone else out of fear of losing a job. It's also the best way to regain whatever self-confidence you may have lost at the expense of some power-trippers.

- To have a source of income because the day job is not enough

Those who are employed do not necessarily get enough money to support all their family's needs. Some have even taken pay cuts just to stay employed. With a business, they can augment their incomes to bring home more earnings. Putting up a small business like an LLC will give these people another source of income stream that they can use to provide their family's needs.

When you are clear about why you want to start an LLC business, it is easier for you to stay on track towards your business goals. All your action plans will have to revolve around your motivation for doing business.

If you are looking for information on start an LLC business in Tennessee, click on the link. Or you can visit
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Thursday, November 14, 2013

HIPAA Authorization As Part of an Estate Plan

You may think that an adequate estate plan consists of a will or living trust coupled with a durable power of attorney and a healthcare power of attorney and living will. There is now an additional estate planning document that you may need to have for a more complete plan. This additional document is what is known as a HIPAA Authorization and could make a big difference in the quality of care that you receive.

All of these forms may sound confusing in their name and actual purpose, but HIPPA is an abbreviation for an act of Congress concerning health care records. HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act. HIPAA was enacted by Congress to increase medical privacy for individuals. there was a concern that medical records were too easy to access and could fall into the hands of the wrong individuals. Once in the hands of these individuals the information could be used for wrongdoing to exploit the patients. Congress made the act to enhance the privacy of medical patients and severely restrict who could access a patients medical records. Every medical provider, whether it be a hospital, doctors office, or clinic must have written authorization to release medical records to anybody that is not the patient including a spouse or other family members.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has recently imposed multimillion dollar penalties on medical providers that have violated the act. Healthcare providers have clamped down on who can access records to prevent liability and future payouts in lawsuits. So now it is more important than ever to plan for the act as part of an estate plan. This would come into play if you were to become incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. An adequate estate plan must have a person in place to make medical decisions for you. The person you name must be able to access all of your medical records to be able to make the best health decisions for you. Most states have a Healthcare Power of Attorney form that includes a HIPAA release provision that allows the appointed agent access to medical records. This is so the agent will have access to all information that might be necessary to make a healthcare decision for a principal that is no longer able to speak for themselves. It also may be necessary to fill out a separate HIPAA release form for additional family members to have access to medical records that may not be a named agent under the Healthcare Power of Attorney. Healthcare providers can be more accepting to releasing medical records if they see a HIPPA release.

Evan Guthrie Law Firm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of South Carolina. The Evan Guthrie Law Firm practices in the areas of estate planning probate personal injury and divorce and family law. For further information visit his website at Evan Guthrie Law Firm 164 Market Street Suite 362 Charleston SC 29401 843-926-3813
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Roadblocks to Surpass When Starting an LLC Business

Some folks have a lot more excuses than reasons to start an LLC business. Some optimists would prefer to label them as roadblocks that serve well as challenges. Taking this perspective will help business owners persevere despite the challenges that come their way. Here are some of the roadblocks that anyone starting an LLC business in are likely to face:

- Bad economy

Even when the economy is good, you might still have reasons not to take the entrepreneurial jump. It is a fact, however, that opportunities abound even on a bad economy. The challenge is how to spot these opportunities so that your LLC business can flourish.

- Financing

Money is not always enough to start an LLC business, or elsewhere for that matter. Fortunately for those who wish to put up their own LLC, there are banks that offer financing instruments that could provide the necessary operating capital.

- Location

There will be no shortage of business-worthy locations as long as you are offering the right products and services in the right place where your customers are likely to be at. School fairs and carnivals would be ideal for a food kiosk or a novelty shop. Just be where your potential customers could possibly hanging out.

- Marketing plan

Of course, a big factor to consider in setting up your LLC business is your marketing plan. How are you going to promote your products and services to your customers? What messages would be compelling enough for them to buy your products or avail of your services? These are just a couple of questions you should ask yourself. The answers to these questions should be factored in when you draft your marketing plan.

- Suppliers

Most small businesses do not exist on their own. In most cases, you will have to rely on suppliers whether for your raw materials or for the products that you are going to distribute. Your partners in your LLC business are your suppliers. Make sure that you find those that can match your customer demand. If necessary, you should be able to find several suppliers to ensure that you will not run out of the products and services that you intend to sell to your customers.

- Number of employees to hire

Hire only based on what you can afford. Some new start ups would hire more employees than what they could afford on their budget. They hire people so they don't have to do all of the work themselves. If there are some tasks that you can do yourself, do it yourself for the meantime and keep whatever money you could instead of paying an additional employee who might not exactly be critical for the operations of your LLC business.

If you are looking for information on LLC business in Tennessee, click on the link. Or you can visit
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Naming Of Guardianship In Wills

When there are minor children, a Will should always be used to name a guardian(s) of their persons and property. This guardian is who will be taking care of them in your absence and will also have control over their finances, both from you and for their well being. This guardian that you appoint, needless to say, is someone that you must be able to trust completely with your children and someone who will make sure that they are cared for in the way that you have planned. This person "can" of course be someone other than your X.

Alternate guardians should also be named in the event that the original guardian is for whatever reason unable to assume responsibility. Naming of guardians and alternates should not be done any other way but in a Will. This will relieve any hint of confusion after you are not able to take care of your kids yourself. Of course, if there is a surviving parent that person will be automatically named guardian if living in the same household; but, if your will specifies a different person to control the money, then this can fit your goals quite nicely.

This situation can and often gets tricky in divorce cases. Since you are divorced, the parent with legal custody of the child(ren) should designate a guardian. If you are the legal guardian, then you have the authority to designate who will care for your children after you die. Understand, however, that if somebody besides the other biological parent is named, this decision might not be binding.

When a custodial parent dies, the non-custodial parent always has priority in seeking guardianship and custody, unless that person is deemed unfit to perform the duties necessary or is unsafe to leave with children. If you are set against your "X" getting custody of your children if you were to die, you need to make sure that you or your appointed guardian will be able to prove that your "X" is unfit or unable to perform the job.

However, be aware that the court will probably have to approve who you have proposed to be the legal guardian eventually even if named in your Will. The purpose of your Will in this regard, though, is to guide the court in its judgment. It will also help avoid family arguments over who is better qualified to raise your children and will give the person you choose the authority over all others.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Estate Planning : How are Trusts Taxed?

In estate law, trusts are taxed differently depending on whether they are revocable or irrevocable trusts. Learn how a trust is taxed from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Criminal Record Expungement - How to Get a Clean Record

Is it possible for you to expunge or clean your criminal record?

In order for you to delete any item from your criminal record, it is necessary to file a petition to the court asking them to erase or expunge information. Here is a short step by step process on how to file a petition.

  • Complete the petition for expungement and the general waiver and release form -- In order to complete the information required by the form, it is important for you to know the date of your arrest, the enforcement agency that took charge of the action, the offense that you were arrested or convicted, and the disposal date of your case.

  • Make several copies of this form and deliver them to the court where your case was handled.

  • It is necessary to pay $30 for every charge that you like to be removed. However, this does not apply to all acquitted charges.

  • The entire process is expected to take 90 days. However, this will depend on your petition and whether there is an objection within a month by the State's Attorney or the enforcement agency. If there are any objections, the court will hold a hearing and you will be notified to attend the session.

What is the waiting period before you can file for expungement?

It is expected that you will need to wait for three years after you are convicted before you can file for an expungement. However, these rules vary depending on the nature of the case. To learn more information about this, you can contact the Criminal Justice Information System.

Who are allowed to see my criminal record?

Aside from you, there are also other groups of individuals who are permitted to view your record.

  • The Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Agencies -- Police departments, parole, courts, probation departments, defense attorneys, prosecutors, and correction officials are given the right to review your record.

  • Potential Employers -- Public employers such as the local, federal, and state government agencies are allowed to see the records. Aside from this, owners of child care agencies, museums, hospitals, banks, schools, school bus companies, and brokerage houses are also enable to view the criminal record that you hold.

  • Occupational Licensing Agencies -- All agencies that issue licenses for professionals are allowed to view your criminal record. Some of these agencies include those that give licenses to barbers, doctors, nurses, drivers, and brokers.

  • Bonding Agencies -- If an employer takes a bond on you, which is usually an insurance policy, the agency that is tasked to issue that bond will be permitted to review your criminal record.

Because a lot of people are allowed to view your criminal records, it is very necessary to ensure that all information written is accurate. Gary P. Thompson is a private investigator and data broker for
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Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Living Will - Your Medical Directive

How do you feel about life-support systems for the terminally ill? How much thought have you given to the decisions your family may face when contemplating the choice of maintaining or terminating life-sustaining medical treatment for you? Certainly, it is an easy subject to avoid considering. However, it is important to recognize there are measures you can take now that can help solidify your thoughts and wishes on the subject, thus providing your loved ones with guidance in the event such decisions become necessary.

A Closer Look

At the present time, nearly all states have passed some form of law dealing with the requirements for living wills or health care proxies. While a health care proxy allows you to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf, a living will generally allows you to specify the particular types of treatment you would like to have provided or withheld. Each state has its own set of requirements.

A living will is a medical directive - written in advance - that sets forth your preference for treatment in the event you become unable to direct care. The document may be drafted to include when the directive should be initiated and who has the decision-making responsibility to withdraw or withhold treatment. In addition to allowing respect for your wishes, the living will can help alleviate feelings of guilt or uncertainty experienced by those faced with the responsibility of making important decisions for loved ones.

The Patient Self-Determination Act

A far-reaching federal law, known as the Patient Self-Determination Act, requires all health care providers that receive Medicare and Medicaid to inform everyone over age 18 of their right to determine how they want to deal with this issue and whether they want to fill out a living will. If you have received information on this subject, it's no coincidence, since the law also requires increased emphasis on community outreach and education.

This law impacts virtually every hospital, nursing home, and health maintenance organization (HMO) throughout the country. It is important to note that the law does not mandate that health care providers require their patients have a living will. Instead, it stipulates that health care providers must provide written information about the patient's rights to make decisions about medical treatment, including the right to make an advance determination about life-sustaining medical treatment, and record whether the patient has done so.

At the present time, it appears most of these organizations have determined this question can most appropriately be handled when a patient is admitted. Therefore, the next time you are admitted to a hospital-even for something as minor as having a mole removed-don't be surprised if you are given information about these rights and are asked to fill out a form that asks whether you currently have a living will or wish to have one.

The living will is a legal document and each state has its own specific requirements. A qualified legal professional can help you understand the benefits of a living will and what has to be done to assure its validity.

The Law Office of Laura L. Ergood, LLC will help you create an Estate Plan, Will, Durable Power of Attorney and/or Advance Health Care Directive that suits your specific needs. If you want to control how your house, bank accounts and/or all other assets are ultimately handled and distributed, please contact Estate Planning Attorney Laura L. Ergood for guidance. LAW OFFICE OF LAURA L. ERGOOD, LLC 385 N. Kings Highway, Suite 102 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034 856.266.9525 P | 206.350.5483 F Email Web
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Friday, November 8, 2013

Which Is Best, A Will Or A Living Trust?

You don't have to be wealthy to need a will in regards to your personal property. After you're gone, legal wrangling can become time consuming for family members left behind and often creates indecision and fighting amongst potential beneficiaries as your wishes may not be clear. A will is usually straightforward and simply put is a legal document that specifies how your property will be dispersed at the time of your death. It can be revoked or amended at any point in your lifetime, and can be used to appoint a guardian for any children that are not yet of legal age.

Another option to be considered is a living trust. A living trust handles property management of all assets and all of these assets are transferred to the trust. Typically, you will act as your own trustee while specifying who will act as trustee upon your death. A living trust has the added benefit of avoiding probate after you die and preventing public disclosure of all your private financial matters. A living trust does have some drawbacks. It must be maintained and any new property acquired must be transferred to the trust or it will not be under the protection of the trust. A living trust is also more expensive to initiate and must be managed. Generally a living trust is recommended if your estate exceeds a specific dollar amount, you have minor children, you're willing to manage the trust, and if you want control of when your beneficiaries receive any assets.

A simple will might be a better option if there is informal probate available where you live. Informal probate is a greatly expedited form of probate and is generally available to those whose estate is under a certain dollar amount. If you are single without children, and you don't own a business, it probably isn't necessary to set up a living trust and a simple will is sufficient. Upon your death, the executor of your estate will submit your will along with a petition to the probate court. The petition requests that the will be accepted as legal and valid and request that the executor named in the will be legally appointed. Any heirs, beneficiaries, or creditors must be notified of the submission of the will and have a specific amount of time to challenge it or submit claims against the estate.

This process does not apply to living trusts, which is why many people opt for a living trust versus a will. Each person's situation is unique and should be evaluated by an attorney who is familiar with estate law. Talk to your family and determine who will handle your affairs after your death. With everyone understanding who will handle which aspects of the estate and what to expect, the loss of a family member is a less stressful one.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Becoming Incorporated - The Pros and Cons Of Incorporation

So you currently have your own business and you're pondering over whether or not you should incorporate it, or carry on as a sole trader?

Before you make the incorporation decision, you need to consider all of the advantages and disadvantages that incorporating brings.

This article will set out to explain the benefits and downsides to incorporation, starting with the benefits ...

Benefits of Incorporation:

Personal Liability Protection

An incorporated company is a separate legal entity responsible for its own debts. Shareholders only have responsibility for servicing debts and liabilities up to the value of their equity in the Company.

Creditors of a corporation can only seek payment from the assets of the incorporated business and not from the personal assets of shareholders, directors and officers.

As a small business owner of a non incorporated company, your personal assets are at risk if your business fails to service it's debts.

Personal liability protection is therefore a major benefit of business incorporation.

However, owners forming new corporations with small amounts of invested capital may well be asked to provide personal guarantees that credit will be honoured to reduce the risk of the lender.

Also, owners of incorporated businesses are required to personally ensure that the company makes its required tax repayments.

Protection From Legal Action

As with personal liability protection from debts above, the personal assets of the company's owners is protected by the separate legal entity status in cases where the incorporated company faces legal action.

Note, incorporation does not protect a company's officers from liability and prosecution in cases where the company is found guilty of criminal negligence.

Tax Advantages

Some incorporated businesses can enjoy lower taxation rates following business incorporation compared with partnerships and sole traders. One way of achieving lower taxation is to minimise the salary paid to the owners to reduce higher rates of personal taxation, and draw income from the business in the form of dividends which are taxed at a lower rate.

Obviously professional advice from a qualified taxation expert should be sought in all instances as all personal circumstances are different.

Other taxation benefits of incorporation are that once incorporated, many additional items of expenditure become tax deductible. For example medical expenses, entertainment expenses, vehicle and travel costs, recreational facilities and pension costs all become tax deductible. This can be a significant cash benefit. In particular money placed in an approved pension plan is tax free as is the funds growth.

Raising New Capital

Once you've incorporated your business, the ability to issues shares simplifies the process of raising capital investment. It's also easier to get loans and other finance approved from financial lending institutions if you are an incorporated company.

Transferring Ownership

The existence of shares also simplifies the sale of your business in the future. Also should an owner or director die, the business can continue to operate indefinitely.

Business Credibility

Having the words Inc or Corp in your business name gives a positive perception of long term financial stability.

Disadvantages of Incorporation

Double Taxation

Once incorporated, earnings are subject to double taxation, whereby, company profits are taxed, and then the dividends paid to shareholders from the "net" profits are also taxed.

With a non-incorporated business, the income the owner receives from the business is only taxed once. Double taxation can be avoided if the corporation is registered as an "S-Corporation"

Statutory Compliance Costs

Compliance with legal and accounting requirements places a significant burden on companies in terms of staffing, cost and time. There are also fees associated with the initial company incorporation, and ongoing operations.

Loss of flexibility The separate legal entity status of incorporation also means that the company finances are separate from the individual's, therefore the individual cannot "borrow" money from the accounts of the corporation, and statutory requirements in general reduce the flexibility of what can and can't be done with the business and its finances.

The above are some of the key advantages and disadvantages that you as a business owner need to consider before you begin the process of incorporation. You should always seek legal advice as all cases are different.

Richard Taylor is an MBA and Company Director with a particular interest in small business start ups. Click on the following link to learn more about the benefits and disadvantages of business incorporation.
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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Advantages of Incorporation

It is a universal fact that persistent hard work and some timely luck is needed to be successful in any business venture. However, when it comes to forming a corporate entity for your business, a little homework is all that is required to help make an informed decision which could lead to the continued success of your business.

While it is correct for business owners to give premeditated thought as to their venture's location, customer service, human resources and other management issues, it is equally important that the owner consider the corporate structure of the business as well.

Many business owners don't consider this, but the corporate structure that is chosen can often times be the difference between the venture's success or failure, especially in today's highly competitive and litigious marketplace. Most often, entrepreneurs select the corporation as their preferred entity choice, which encompasses several unique benefits.

Incorporating, while definitely not for everybody, offers several distinct and money-saving advantages over other types of legal entities. Here are eight advantages of incorporation:

1. Protection of Personal Assets
If you operate as a sole proprietor or partnership, there is virtually unlimited personal liability for business debts or lawsuits. In other words, should you go out of business or be a defendant in a lawsuit, your personal assets such as homes, jewelry, vehicles, savings, etc. are subject to seizure. This is generally NOT the case of incorporation. When you incorporate you are only responsible for your initial investment in the corporation; as such, this limited liability feature of a corporation, while not a guarantee, is DEFINITELY one of the most attractive reasons of incorporation.

2. Transferable Ownership
Corporations are generally much easier to sell and are usually more attractive to buyers than either a sole proprietorship or partnership. The reason for this is because a new buyer will not be personally liable for any wrongful acts committed by the previous owners. For example, if someone buys a sole proprietorship, the new owner can be held personally liable for any mistakes or illegalities on the part of the prior owner... even if the new owner had NOTHING to do with the situation! This is usually NOT the case with a corporation.

3. Taxation
When you incorporate a business, there are numerous tax advantages at your disposal that are virtually impossible to accomplish with other business entities. When a business is incorporated, a separate and distinct legal entity is created. Because of this, there are various transactions that can be structured within the corporate parameters of the business that will save big money on taxes. For instance, if you own a building, you can rent office facilities to your corporation and claim depreciation and other deductions for it. Your corporation can then claim the rental expense. You are prohibited from doing this if you are a sole proprietor or a partner in a partnership.

4. Privacy and Confidentiality
Incorporating your business is a great way to keep your identity and business affairs private and confidential. If you want to start a business, but would like to remain anonymous, forming a corporation is the best way to accomplish this. Moreover, some states such as Nevada offer even more privacy protection for corporations and their shareholders.

5. Easier to Raise Capital
When you're looking to raise money through investment or borrowing, a corporation can actually make finding and getting the money you need easier. If you want to take on investors, you simply sell shares of stock. If you want to borrow, a corporation can add clout when dealing with banks or other lending institutions.

6. Perpetuity
As mentioned in #3, when you incorporate a business, you create a separate and distinct legal entity. This separate and distinct entity (the corporation) will exist in perpetuity irrespective of what happens to the shareholders, directors, or officers. This is NOT the case with sole proprietorships, partnerships or even limited liability companies. For example, if an owner, partner, or member dies, the business AUTOMATICALLY ends or gets wrapped up in the legal dissolution process. Corporations, on the other hand, exist forever.

7. Retirement funds
Retirement funds and qualified retirement plans, such as a 401k, may be established more easily.

8. Credit Rating
Regardless of an owner's personal credit scores, a corporation can acquire its own credit rating, and build a separate credit history by applying for and using corporate credit.

Yusoff Allian is a legal expert on the formation of C-corporations, LLCs, and LLPs. To learn more about the advantages of incorporation, visit
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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Understanding Deeds When Selling a Home

When selling a home, there are a few fundamental topics you need to understand. This brings us to the issue of the different types of deeds you will run into.
Understanding Deeds When Selling a Home

The process of selling property is easier if you understand the basics of the sales process. Marketing the property and dealing with buyers and/or the hassles of real estate agents can be aggravating, but the piles of paperwork and all the different forms involved are really the biggest issue. Among these many forms and papers are deeds. We'll help make selling property a little easier for you by clearing things up a bit.

A warranty deed is a pretty basic deed that, for the most part, states the seller owns the property and there are no liens (debts, etc) against the property that will be transferred over. It is stating that the property is legally owned and there are no hidden tie-ins the buyer should be aware of. This deed ensures buyers that the property they are buying is actually owned by the person they are dealing with and they won't be met with any surprises later on. Furthermore, if another person were to try to claim the property down the line, the warranty deed would legally protect the new buyer and the buyer would be entitled to compensation from the original seller. The warranty deed is used in the majority of property sales.

On the other hand, quit claim deeds are presented to these buyers instead by a person who does not necessarily legally own the property, but instead holds responsibility for that property. Such instances where this can occur are upon a death when the property is transferred as inheritance, or when spouses are both on the name of the deed and a divorce is occurring. Quit claim deeds, unlike warranty deeds, do not offer a great deal of protection to the buyers of the property. In truth, they should be avoided unless you know exactly what you are doing and have experience in buying and selling property.

Understanding the different between these deeds will help two fold. Sellers of property will not get caught up mistakenly offering the wrong type of deed and buyers will be better prepared to know what sort of legal protection and ownership rights they will be ensured depending on the sort of deed signed. In the case of these two deeds, the warranty deed is definitely the way to go.

Raynor James is with the site - - FSBO homes for sale by owner.
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Monday, November 4, 2013

LLC FAQ's - If My LLC Business Goes Under, How Much Will I Lose?

One of the scariest times in the life of a business is its decline. This is usually due to a loss of revenue or customers. Costs rise and profits sink. If you are a business owner, particularly under an LLC, what happens to your business if it goes under?

If an LLC (or limited liability company) falls into bankruptcy, the business can enter a restructuring in Chapter 11 or for an immediate liquidation of assets, Chapter 7. In a chapter 7 filing, all of the LLC's assets are sold and the money gathered from that sale is then distributed between the creditors that are owed. If an LLC files Chapter 11, the company begins a restructuring process, aided by a court to dissolve the debt slowly and continue on with the business.

Fortunately, members of an LLC are only responsible for any debts that are incurred in the business name alone, and if filing for bankruptcy, a court will assist in settling all business operations. If the LLC is filing bankruptcy and has a personal guarantor, it will have an effect on the guarantor's credit rating and personally guaranteed debts can be reported on a credit report for up to 10 years.

Upon choosing whether to make your company an LLC, you may want to keep all of this in mind. You may not lose anything personally, but it can do harm to the credit of a guarantor. As an owner of an LLC, it's vitally important to do anything you can to prevent having to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 11.

The editor is a contributor for Big Baseball Bat & Big Barrel Baseball, and compares a large number of products on the internet.
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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Advance Directives and Why You Need One

You've probably heard of advance directives, but are unsure of what they actually do and how they can help you. The truth is that these are a great way to plan ahead for your future, but they do require a bit of work upfront first. This is a good thing though, since it will save you time and energy later. It's better to have the work done before you actually need to do it so in a time of emergency everything is already sorted out beforehand.

The first thing to be aware of is the medical power of attorney, also called a healthcare proxy. This person is lawfully able to make medical decisions for you in the event that you are unable to. This includes when you are suffering from dementia and when you are not conscious. This is a big shoe to fit into, so to speak, so it is important that you select someone that you trust completely. Sometimes, you may want to select a backup healthcare proxy in the event that something happens to your original choice for POA. This doesn't happen often, but when it does you will want to be prepared. So having another person you trust on deck allows you to not worry about constantly updating your POA paperwork.

You also need to know that your POA will not be able to make decisions that override your decisions. This is to benefit you, of course. If you were to wake up out of a coma, you would then be able to once again make your own decisions and not have to worry about your POA making a decision that you do not want them to.

Some states do not actually honor other states' advance directives. Some do. So it will require a little research, either on your own or with your attorney, to make sure that if you are moving from New York to California, for example, that your advance directive will hold up under the scrutiny of the legal system. The easiest solution to this problem is to have an advance directive made up for each state that you will be residing in. So if you do move into a California retirement home, make sure that you set up an advance directive as soon as possible once you are a resident there.

A final consideration for the State of California is that if you are in a skilled nursing facility and want to set up an advance directive, you must have a patient advocate sign the paperwork as a witness. Again, this is to protect you and your rights.

Basically, the State of California wants to ensure that the patient is of sound mind and that they are not being taken advantage of. This is why an advocate must sign-they look out for their patients' best interests.

Matthew G. Young is a freelance writer who specializes in financial, sports, and health-related topics. To learn more about in home health care visit Paradise In Home Care
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Saturday, November 2, 2013

7 Advantages of Living Wills

Although the word will is used as part of a living will, it really isn't a will at all. Basically living wills, also known as inter vivos trusts, advance directives or healthcare directives, are documents that express the preferences and desires regarding medical treatments of a person in case they are later unable to communicate their wishes due to permanent unconsciousness or an illness that is terminal. Often they help people who want to avoid artificial life support as well as other more advanced medical procedures to sustain life so they can have a natural death. Today they also include things like organ donation, artificial resuscitation, and tube feeding as well. When these wills are valid, health care professionals are bound to carry out the instructions in the living will.

These wills are not just a choice for the sick or the elderly. They are an important choice for anyone, since anyone can end up dealing with accidents or sudden illnesses. Not convinced that you need a living will? Well, here are a few of the advantages of having a living will that may change your mind.

Advantage #1 - Refuse Treatments You Don't Want - One of the main advantages of having a living will is that it allows you to refuse any treatments that you do not want. Perhaps you do not want artificial resuscitation or a feeding tube in certain cases. With your inter vivos trust you can specify the treatments that you do not want given to you. Some people feel that certain treatments are against their moral beliefs, and the living will gives them the opportunity to make sure they are not given these treatments in a time where they cannot voice their opinion and dissent.

Advantage #2 - You Know the Outcome - Having a living will also is advantageous because it allows you to know the outcome before it happens. You never know what type of accident could happen or what type of disease could attack your body. However, when you have your document in place, you can know what the outcome will be if you have one of these problems and can no longer make your own medical decisions.

Advantage #3 - Prevent Arguments Among Family Members - A living will can also help to prevent arguments among family members if something unfortunate happens to you. No doubt you have family that cares about you, and all of them may have different ideas of the best treatments if you are ill and unable to make your own decisions. The last thing you want is your family arguing about your treatments. So, having your healthcare directives in place totally eliminates any arguments that could occur with your family members.

Advantage #4 - Make Decisions Easy for Your Family - Making a decision about a dying loved on or a permanently ill loved one can be so hard for the family. It can be a lot of pressure to make these kinds of decisions. However, when you have your living will done, your family will not have to make the decisions for you, which makes it so much easier for them.

Advantage #5 - Insure Doctors Follow Your Wishes - No doubt you want to be sure that your doctors follow your wishes in the end. With an advance directive, you can insure that your doctors do follow your wishes and that they don't just do what they feel is best for you. This allows you to be in control of the decisions made instead of the doctor.

Advantage #6 - Authorize Treatments You May Want Given - While a living will allows you to refuse treatments, it also can help you to authorize treatments that you may want given to you as well. There are many medical treatments that require authorization from the patient, and you may be in a position where you cannot do this; however, if you have the authorization in your will for certain treatments, it can insure you get the treatment you need.

Advantage #7 - Eliminate Financial Encumbrance for Your Family - Often people who end up with permanent illnesses end up needed long time care, which can be very expensive. Some people prefer not to leave this type of financial encumbrance on their family. With your living will, you can choose options that will eliminate financial encumbrance for your family so you don't have to worry about them searching for financial resources to help pay for your treatment and care.

So, I hope that explains what a living will is and why it is a good idea to have one.

Ken Black is the owner of Visit this site for more information about living wills.
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Friday, November 1, 2013

Why Advance Health Care Directives Are Important

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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