Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Monday, December 29, 2014

10 Years: By the People Helps with Basic, Complex Legal Issues


by the people
Tammy and RenŽ Bojorquez have owned "By The People" for ten years. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

FAIRFIELD — For the past 10 years, By the People has been helping customers navigate the paperwork of uncontested legal matters.

Tammy and Rene Bojorquez, owners of By the People, began their company as a franchise of We the People.

“It was five years ago the company broke up and we went with our name because it was similar to what we had before,” Tammy Bojorquez said.

She describes the work they do as being similar to a paralegal’s job.

“We are a self-help service for a lot less than a lawyer would charge,” she said. “We can help you fill out the paperwork, and file with the courts.”

The company works with people on issues such as uncontested divorce or separation. For couples who can resolve their own asset and debt division or child issues, the company can prepare all of the necessary documents to get the divorce. They also do all of the filing and procedural work throughout the process.

“If a couple agrees on the division of property and assets, they may not even have to go to court,” Bojorquez said.

Other examples of the work they do is creating an incorporated company. They can create a company’s articles of incorporation and submit them to the Secretary of State. They can also help set up bylaws, minutes, seals and shares.

By the People can help with creating a living trust, which includes articles of trust, wills, financial powers of attorney, California advanced health care directives and health care privacy releases.

“We did a family trust for my father and it was expensive and very hard to understand,” Terry Thompson, a client of By the People, said. “When my husband died, I had By the People do a new living trust for me. It was easier to read and they were great.”

Thompson, 80, of Suisun City, said she was so pleased with their work and her treatment that she considers Rene and Tammy friends and likes to stop in when she is in town.

By the People also helps prepare paperwork for probate.

“We can help by preparing the documents needed, filing the paperwork with the court, setting court dates, arranging for publication, and many other steps needed to complete the process,” Bojorquez said.

She and her husband are so involved in serving others that the time has flown by.

“I just can’t believe we have been doing this for 10 years,” Bojorquez said. “It seems like just yesterday we started.”

Article Source: Daily Republic 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

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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Saturday, December 27, 2014

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, December 26, 2014

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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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

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.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

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.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Estate Planning : What Is a Durable Power of Attorney?

Durable power of attorney allows the power of attorney to manage funds even in the event of incapacitation. Find out what durable power of attorney is from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

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.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Wills vs. Power of Attorney

A will is in effect after death, but power of attorney is a living document. If a person is alive but incapacitated, the rights over assets and their care can be given to a third party.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

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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Monday, December 15, 2014

Four Reasons Why Business Owners Should Make A Will

If you own a business or have shares in a family company then you should consider making a Will. The following are some of the reasons why making a Will for business owners is so important.

1. The first reason is the fact you can select appropriate executors and trustees, who will be responsible for ensuring the running of the business after your death. Unlike funds in the bank, where management can be fairly minimal, your executors will almost certainly need to ensure the business is kept running in the short term until more long decisions can be taken.

For even the smallest business, your executor's job is to ensure that your financial obligations are met, this can include dealing with tax issues, employees and your business accounts. Failing to do so could have a detrimental effect on the value of the business and therefore mean your family lose out financially. So while your may ultimately want your spouse or children to inherit, if they are not going to be the appropriate executors then you can appoint executors who have the business skills to carry out the executor's duties effectively.

2. The second reason is that by drafting your Will, you can take advantage of the tax breaks offered for business property. There are ways in which the Will can be prepared to ensure that not only do you pass your business to the people you want to inherit, but you do so in a way that limits your total inheritance tax bill as well.

3. The third reason is for making a Will is so that you define exactly how your executors can act. By making a Will, you are able to ensure that your executors have all the necessary powers and authorities they will need to carry on your business and run it correctly. Without a Will, your estate may end up in a position where decisions or steps that are needed to ensure the survival of the business cannot be taken when they need to be. This could mean either a lucrative business opportunity is missed or that an expensive Court application is needed. Either way the result is detrimental to your estate.

4. The final reason for making a Will is to ensure that your interest in the business passes in the way that you want. So for example if you have that children assist in the business while others do not, you can draft your Will to take this into account.

You may therefore decide to ensure that your children who are involved in your business inherit the shares, while the others take cash or other assets. Doing this ensures both a fairness in the way your children are dealt with, but also means that your children who do take a role in the business will not to lose their livelihood following your death. Additionally it means that they will not be forced to sell the business to pay their siblings, a move which may mean they also lose out financially.

If you own a business then making a Will really is something to consider very seriously. The time and effort you have spent in building your business, and its value to it may not be properly passed to your family if you do not make a Will.

Are you are looking for expert wills solicitors? Talk to Hull Solicitors Myer Wolff. Ashley Easterbrook is a partner in the firm's private client department.
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Saturday, December 13, 2014

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, December 12, 2014

The Advance Directive for Health Care: An Overview

An advance directive for health care is a legal document in which you state the medical treatment you want to receive at some time in the future if you are not able to speak or make sound decisions for yourself. Other names for it are advance directive, health care directive and medical directive. It consists of three parts: the living will, power of attorney and do not resuscitate form (DNR).

The living will is the part of the set of documents in which you make known to your doctor and family members the kind of care you would like to receive as you near the end of life and you can no longer speak for yourself. It is prepared in advance of circumstances requiring its use and does not override your expressed desires.

Therefore, your consciously stated desires will always prevail over what's in the document if the two don't agree.

A living will might specify the withholding and/or withdrawing of treatment. It can be general or specific. A general one usually includes wording that directs the withholding or termination of any treatment, other than that for comfort, if you have a terminal illness. More specific instructions apply to the withholding or withdrawing of specific forms of treatment. They might include things such as artificial feeding, intravenous fluids, or intravenous antibiotics.

A medical power of attorney is that part of the health care directive which allows you to appoint someone to act in your behalf in directing your medical treatment if you are not able to speak for yourself or make sound decisions. The health care power of attorney goes into effect when your physician decides that you are no longer able to understand the nature and the consequences of your treatment decisions.

The term for the person appointed to make these decisions is health care agent (proxy). It is most commonly a family member or close friend who fully understands your treatment wishes. The proxy cannot be a physician or other health care provider involved in your treatment though.

With the exception of state restrictions or limitations listed by you on the power of attorney form, your health care proxy will make all decisions with regard to your treatment once the medical power of attorney goes into effect. Therefore, it is very important that the proxy have a good understanding of your wishes.

In order for the document to be official and legal, you must fill out and sign the medical power of attorney form. Your health care agent must also sign the form. You can revoke the document at any time.

The do not resuscitate (DNR) form is the part of the advance directive for health care that allows you to instruct healthcare personnel to not attempt to revive you if you stop breathing or your heart stops beating. Unless the form exist and is visible medical personnel will assume that you consent to attempts to revive you. Those attempts might include the placement of a tube down your windpipe, chest compressions and the use of electrical voltage to stimulate your heart.

The do not resuscitate form is particularly valuable outside of the hospital, e.g. in situations where paramedics are called to a home. In that setting, it is important to have the form visibly on display where the emergency crew can see it. Otherwise, they will attempt resuscitation if it appears to be indicated.

Medical advance directive forms can be obtained from a number of sources including medical offices, hospitals, attorneys, social workers and some post offices. You can also draft your own. Because states regulate advance directives each state has its own official living will, medical power of attorney and do not resuscitate forms. Therefore it is probably best to use your state's official forms in order to be fully compliant with all your state's laws.

Victor E. Battles, M.D. is a board-certified internist with 30 + years of patient contact. He has been a principal investigator in several clinical research trials and is the founder of ProHealth Insight.
For articles on health care visit Pro Health Insight.
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Thursday, December 11, 2014

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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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

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.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Aging, Communication, and Preparation

Making plans for retirement is clearly one of the highlights of your life. From the time you get out of college and enter the workforce most of your time is accounted for, and over those years there are invariably going to be many experiences that make their way onto your "to-do" list. The day that you retire is the day that you start to check things off that list, and your life experience in enriched with every mark.

We often talk about the fact that one of the challenges that is inherently part of any type of long-term planning is the fact that you can't predict the future with any degree of certainty. This is true of financial markets, laws, our own health and that of our loved ones. All of these things impact retirement planning, but there is another factor that can be difficult to fully digest.

Your mental capacity may not be the same as your retirement years pass. When you are planning for retirement it is very important to be realistic and keep this in mind. What happens if you need long-term care? What if you never made your medical preferences known via the execution of advance health care directives? You don't want to start considering these matters for the first time when you are in the latter stages of your life.

It may be a good idea to plan for your twilight years simultaneous to making plans for an active retirement both emotionally and financially. Bringing the issues of long-term care and possible incapacitation out in the open with your family long before they are directly relevant is also something to consider. Successful people generally confront reality and stay ahead of the curve. If you follow the same path that brought you success throughout your life you will invariably age just as successfully.

Alan L. Augulis is a leading provider of expert estate planning guidance in Warren, NJ. For more information on retirement plan and other estate planning services, visit our website.
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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Saturday, December 6, 2014

DUI Expungement Basic Process

DUI Expungement can be achieved, although it's not easy. Always consult with a competent attorney. Expungement is really a court-ordered process in which the legal document of an arrest is sealed or erased. Expungement is also legal process through which an arrest or conviction may be erased from a person's criminal record. When a conviction is expunged, the process may also be known as "setting aside a criminal conviction." The availability of expungement, and the method for getting an arrest or conviction expunged, will range according for the state or county in which the arrest or conviction occurred.

A DUI expungement ordinarily signifies that an arrest or conviction is erased from someone's criminal record for most purposes. Right after the DUI expungement procedure is finished, an arrest or even a criminal conviction ordinarily doesn't have to be disclosed by the particular person who was arrested or convicted. As an example, when filling out an application to get a job or apartment, an applicant whose arrest or conviction is expunged does not must disclose that arrest or conviction.

In most cases, no document of a DUI expunged arrest or conviction will show up if a prospective employer, academic institution, or other company conducts a public data inspection or background search of an individual's criminal record.

A DUI expungement arrest or conviction is just not automatically completely erased, in the literal sense from the phrase. A DUI expungement will ordinarily be an available part of a person's criminal file, viewable by selected government agencies, such as law enforcement along with the criminal courts. This limited accessibility is sometimes known as a criminal file currently being "under seal."

In some legal proceedings, this kind of as for the duration of sentencing for any crimes committed following an expungement, or in immigration / deportation proceedings, an expunged conviction that's "under seal" might even now be regarded as evidence of a prior conviction.

If you had a drink and got pulled over, would you know what to do?

Click to get your FREE Special Report "10 Simple Steps To Avoid A DUI" I'm only giving it away for a few more days... James Steele
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Friday, December 5, 2014

By The People FAQs

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

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Probate - By The People

If you are having to go through the Probate Process with the court, let BY THE PEOPLE help.

We may be able to assist you in representing yourself, by preparing the documents needed, filing the paperwork with the court, setting court dates, arranging for publication, and many other steps needed to complete the process.

Our fees are 1% of the value of the estate (up to $3,500.00). Any fees for the courts, probate referee, publication will be extra.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Incorporation/LLC - By The People

Let By The People help you set up your Corporation or LLC.

We will create your Company Articles, file them with the Secretary of State, and create an Organizational Kit for you, including: Sample Bylaws and Minutes, Seal, Shares, and Misc. Needed Forms.

Our fees are $399.00 plus filing fees:

INC - $115.00 and LLC - $85.00

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Divorce/Legal Seperation - By The People

BY THE PEOPLE can help with Uncontested Divorce or Legal Separation. For couples who can resolve their own asset and debt division and/or child issues, BY THE PEOPLE can prepare all of the necessary documents for you to obtain your divorce. We also do all of the filing and procedural work throughout the process.

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

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

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

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

For more information, please visit

Monday, December 1, 2014

By The People Commercial

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

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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

What Is Health Care Power of Attorney?

A health care power of attorney or a health care proxy is a document that designates a person or persons you name and authorizes that person to make health care decisions for you -- but only in circumstances when you can't make the decisions for yourself.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

7 Important Reasons to Form a Corporation or LLC for Your Business

Are you operating your business as a real business or as a hobby? It's time to make your business OFFICIAL before the summer push for business!

Let me ask you two important questions:

  1. Are you operating your business under your own name, a DBA or fictitious firm name, basically as a sole proprietorship or maybe as a general partnership? AND/OR
  2. Are you or your family at risk because of business or personal assets that are unprotected from unexpected losses or legal issues?

If you answered YES to either question please read on for important news about why NOW is the time to form an corporation or LLC for your business.

  1. Make it Official. Operating as a sole proprietorship or general partnership sends a message that you are still "testing" your business, or that you're not sure you'll really make it. Perhaps your accountant told you that incorporating is an unnecessary expense or that it won't help you save on taxes due to an expectation of low profits. This is the WORST marketing message you can send when you want to attract new clients and partners to your business, who want assurance that you're about your business and here to stay.

  2. The Law of Attraction. You get what you focus on. Testing, hoping and "seeing if things work out or not" BEFORE you decide to step-up and make your business official by incorporating broadcasts a clear message to the universe that you're not really serious about your business or committed to a positive outcome. The Law of Attraction states that the universe returns not what you wish for, but what you program into your deepest belief system through your dominant thoughts, actions and feelings. Making your business official and really stepping up says, "I am ready to receive!".

  3. Limited Personal Liability. You may be thinking "I already lost everything in the market collapse from 2008" and still recovering. If you're one of the few that managed to survive and grow your assets since then, but are still holding them in your own name, you're playing a VERY RISKY game (similar to those with assets in unstable European banks). Even if you don't have any assets right now, a lawsuit or judgment will destroy any credit you are looking to build in the future PLUS you may be looking over your shoulder for years waiting for someone to come after you when you finally do start to turn things around. That's no way to live your life. One lawsuit from an unprotected business can ruin your chances of getting a personal auto loan or refinancing your home. Good people who "play by the rules" can still be sued for the most unexpected reasons. You may be thinking "my business insurance will help me out" but are you really covered? Even if your business is never sued, what if you're unable to pay a vendor and they come after you? Do you want to be personally liable? Put a halt to greedy people looking to take what you have worked for! This is the best time to form an LLC or corporation to limit your personal liability.

  4. Reduce Your Taxes. The bottom line is that operating as a sole proprietorship will cost you the most in employment taxes (up to 15.3% on earned income up to $113,700 in 2013). That means that your income will be taxed as the HIGHEST possible TAX RATE as a sole proprietorship. By the way, filing a Schedule C (the form filed for earned income from a sole proprietorship) also means that your business is among those MOST LIKELY TO BE AUDITED. Why? The IRS has a $300 BILLION tax gap and they believe the biggest tax cheats are the little business owner like you. Why? Their stats show them that sole proprietorship are MOST likely to UNDER report their income and OVER report their expenses (two big no-no's with the IRS). Operating as an S corporation or LLC taxed as an S corporation in many situations is a much better approach for two reasons. You will have part of your profits as distributions which are NOT subject to the 15.3% employment taxes AND move that profit to schedule E, not schedule C which is more likely to be audited!

  5. Access More Funding Options. Operating as a sole proprietorship or general partnership limits you when it comes to funding options. You are also DAMAGING YOUR PERSONAL CREDIT SCORE by operating this way. How do you finance your business as a sole proprietorship? You use your PERSONAL CREDIT cards which will drive up your revolving debt which will in turn DRIVE DOWN your personal credit score! When you form a corporation or an LLC you will SEPARATE your PERSONAL and BUSINESS CREDIT. Yes, any type of cash funding with a personal guarantee will come into play, but that DEBT does NOT show up in the personal credit bureau which is HUGE for future funding! As you form a new LLC or corporation NCP will help (if you choose) to build your business credit scores quickly and get your business in a position to secure funding to grow. But the first step is to form a separate legal entity.

  6. Simply Your Life. Yes, in fact operating as a sole proprietorship will complicate your life, not the opposite. Separating your business and personal life will make it much easier for you to navigate both from a financial and legal point of view. Now you will have each in its own compartment where it belongs to protect your overall success.

  7. Asset Protection. Forming an LLC for your safe assets like investments (those outside a retirement plan) will help you sleep better at night knowing you don't have all your "eggs" in one basket. If you are using a LIVING TRUST to protect your assets that will NOT work and everything in your trust may be vulnerable. Do you own other businesses that really should be operating through a separate bank account in a separate entity? Do you own real estate in your own name that may be sending a message that you are rich and have assets worth taking? Have you been in business for years or are you operating more than one business in one entity? Are you doing some business with a new partner and making the big mistake of running that revenue through your current business? Avoid these costly mistakes and form a separate company for that separate business.

Do you need support in forming a corporation or LLC? Not sure what entity or state is best? Call Nevada Corporate Planners, Inc. at 1-888-627-7007, the company I founded. We incorporate in all 50 states and have amazing support and turn key packages to help you also with building business credit and helping keep the IRS off your back!
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Friday, November 28, 2014

What is Probate and Will it Affect My Inheritance?

What is probate is a fundamental question. Financial planners claim less than 20-percent of heirs and beneficiaries receive their intended inheritance. Funeral expenses, unpaid debts, estate taxes and legal fees can financially deplete the estate, leaving nothing for those left behind.

This article answers the "what is probate" question and provides tips and techniques to keep assets out of probate. Estates will process through the court system faster when fewer assets are involved.

Probate is the legal process used to validate decedents Last Will and Testament and tie up financial loose ends. The last will is the instrument used to convey final wishes and designate who should receive money, personal belongings, real estate and valuable items.

Numerous options exist for creating a Will. Preformatted Wills can be downloaded online or purchased at office supply stores. Complex estates generally require assistance from a probate attorney or professional estate planner. Much depends on the estate's net worth and how many heirs are entitled to assets.

An estate administrator is designated within the decedent's Will. This individual is responsible for a wide range of duties, so it is best to appoint someone who is good with finances and able to cope well under stress. This is of particular importance when family discord exists.

Probate begins when the decedent's death certificate is submitted to probate court. The estate administrator must create an inventory list of assets and obtain property appraisals for valuable assets such as real estate, collectibles, antiques, artwork and heirloom jewelry. Other duties include paying outstanding debts, filing a final tax return and distributing assets according to directives outlined within the Will. Most Administrators require assistance from an attorney or estate planner.

The process of probate typically takes six to nine months to settle. This can be financially challenging for estates with business or real estate holdings. The estate is responsible for maintaining real estate properties and managing business entities. If the estate does not possess the financial means to maintain property or handle business affairs, the court can order these assets to be sold.

Probate provides a stage for disgruntled heirs to contest the last will. When family members are disinherited or do not receive assets they believe are rightfully theirs, they can file a petition through the court.

The plaintiff is responsible for legal fees. The estate must reimburse legal fees if the court rules in favor of the plaintiff. When Wills are contested probate can drag on for years and potentially bankrupt the estate. In most instances when Wills are the contested, the only people who win are the attorneys.
Estate assets can be exempted from probate by establishing a trust. A variety of types exist and most can be customized to suit the needs of the estate. Trusts are typically reserved for estates valued over $100,000.

Smaller estate can utilize various techniques to keep assets out of probate. These include establishing transfer on death (TOD) and payable on death (POD) beneficiaries. TOD is used with investment and retirement accounts, while POD is used for checking and savings accounts.

TOD and POD assignments can be made by filling out a simple form through the financial institution where accounts are held. Financial assets avoid probate through the assignment of beneficiaries.
Real estate can avoid undergoing the process of probate by titling the property as 'Tenants in Common' or 'Joint Tenancy'.

Titled property such as automobiles, motorcycles, boats and airplanes can be jointly titled and transferred to the name beneficiary upon death without passing through probate.

Another option to avoid probate is to give assets to loved ones while you are still alive. The IRS allows cash gifts of up to $10,000 per person or $20,000 per married couple, per year. This option is oftentimes attractive to individuals with chronic or terminal illness.

Probate can be an overwhelming and time-consuming task. By taking time now to execute a last will and testament and taking action to keep assets out of probate, you can rest assured knowing your loved ones will receive the inheritance you wish to leave them.

Simon Volkov is a real estate investor and probate liquidator who helps heirs understand what is probate and how to avoid it. Simon engages in buying inheritance assets to ease financial burdens of estates with limited finances. If you need to sell estate assets or need additional information about probate, visit
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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

By The People Would Like to Wish You and Your Family a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What Is Limited Liability and Why It Is Important?

The best way to explain limited liability is this - you risk what you put in. In other words, limited liability is a way to make sure that a person who is engaging in business does not risk his or her personal possessions in case the business fails. Any investor, partner, or member of the company that by law has limited liability cannot be made responsible for any unfulfilled company obligations and debts that are more than the amount that the person has invested.

Here is a simple comparison. Jack and Jill are friends. Jack is a handy guy and Jill is a great cook. To earn money from their talents, both start their own business. Jack earns his living by doing renovations. He bought his own equipment and simply advertises his services under his own name. Jack is a sole proprietor.

Jill decided to open a bakeshop. Before going into business, however, Jill has formed a small corporation (an S-Corporation), called Jill's Cakes, Inc. Jill invested her savings into Jill's Cakes, Inc. as a starting capital and then bought her baking equipment and leased her shop on behalf of her corporation. So long as things go well for Jack and Jill there are almost no differences between the two ways of doing business.

As soon as things turn sour though, the differences become apparent. One day, Jack mopped the floor right before leaving the apartment he just painted, but forgot to put up a sign. The owner walked in, slid on the wet floor and broke an ankle. He is suing Jack for medical expenses and lost wages. Jill accidentally dropped a peanut in a wrong batch of batter and caused a severe allergy attack in one of her customer. That customer is suing her for medical bills and pain and suffering.

What is at risk for Jack and Jill? Jack is risking everything he owns - his work equipment, his truck, his house, his personal belongings. So long as there is a judgment against him, Jack must sell anything he owns to pay it. Jill is risking only her business assets - her cooking equipment, her cash reserves, and anything else owned by Jill's Cakes, Inc. But her personal things, such as her car and her apartment, are safe. Her business may become bankrupt, but her life will not be destroyed.

Of course, this story describes a worst case scenario. Many businesses prosper without many troubles. But many also fail, and it is so easy for a business owner to take advantage of limited liability that everyone should do it.

Several types of business entities offer their owners the protection of limited liability. The most popular are corporation and limited liability company (LLC). Each of these entities has its own advantages and drawbacks, but both offer their owners limited liability protection.

A few things are important to remember in the context of limited liability. First, a company must be properly maintained in order to offer full liability protection that it is designed to offer. In short, if a company is only a company in name, but is run as if it is one and the same with the person running it, the courts will consider it a sham, and will not afford the owners limited liability protection.

Second, even in a limited liability business an owner may be responsible for amounts beyond his or her investment. This is the case when an owner has personally co-signed a debt agreement (such as a credit card application). This signature gives the lenders a personal guarantee of repayment of that debt and in the case of default they can go after the owner's personal assets. Other owners of the company (or investors) would not be liable if complete repayment is beyond the resources of the business, but the owner who had done the co-signing would be responsible for that amount.

Further, in some professions it is impossible to reap the benefit of limited liability. Professionals like lawyers, doctors, accountants, chiropractors, engineers, or architects are prevented by law and ethics from limiting their liability. We want these professionals to be personally responsible for their decisions so that they always make the decisions carefully.

The bottom line is, anyone doing business should consider taking advantage of a limited liability entity, if at all possible. Consider it an insurance against your worst case scenario.

Alex Zehnbacht is an entrepreneur with over 8 years of experience in start-ups and business consulting and one of the founders of, an online business dedicated to help entrepreneurs with all their business filing needs. He has helped thousands of clients to incorporate their businesses, register an LLC, obtain various business licenses, and much more. Alex has a personal blog where he shares his view on variety of topics.
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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Do You Need a Registered Agent When You Form an LLC or Corporation?

When you're busy planning the formation of an LLC or corporation, its easy to overlook some details, even the important ones. Every corporation or LLC must have an agent who is designated to receive official correspondence and notice in case of lawsuit.

Registered agents are also known as resident agents or statutory agents, and they serve an important role in your company.

In most states, the resident agent must be either an adult living in the state of formation with a street address, or a corporation or LLC with a business office in the state that provides registered agent services. If you form an LLC or incorporate in your home state, any officer or director, or manager or member in the case of an LLC, may act as the resident agent. Having a third party act as the statutory agent comes with some advantages, however, including increased privacy and reducing the risk that you will be surprised at home with court papers for a lawsuit.

Doing Business in Another State

So, what happens after you incorporate in Delaware, for example, and then decide to start doing business in New Jersey? At this point, you will need registered agent service in the new state. The agent's address can also be where the state send annual reports, tax notices and notices for yearly renewals of the business's charter.

You will be required to maintain a resident agent in any state where your company does business, and the agent's office address and name must be included in the articles of incorporation giving public notice.

Finding a Statutory Agent

Most corporate service companies provide registered agent service, which includes forwarding any tax notices or official documents from the Secretary of State and the acceptance of legal service of process to forward to your company. Basic levels of service include a legitimate working office, compliance management, information shielding and document organization as well.

Agents, or statutory agents, serve an important role. After all, you will lose by default if you can't be served or the paperwork isn't passed to you properly, so a reliable registered agent is your first line of defense against opportunistic lawyers. It's usually best to choose someone else as your registered agent, as you don't want to be served in front of employees or customers in a working office, and a good agent will protect your personal information from appearing online.

Christine Layton writes for USA Corporate Services, a business service company specializing in helping business owners incorporate or form an LLC and decide which of the types of companies is best for their business.
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Saturday, November 22, 2014

What Is the Difference Between a Living Trust and a Life Estate in Real Estate Investing?

Both a living trust and a life trust are legal documents that are designed to facilitate financial planning for a homeowner. They are also both designed to aid in the seamless transfer of a property after the death of a beneficiary of these trusts.

A living trust is a document that is designed to avoid probate and allow the beneficiary(s) to control the destiny of the assets in the trust even after the death of the beneficiary. Essentially, the beneficiary, who is usually also the trustee, can determine the distribution of the assets or their liquidation and the proceeds distributed figuratively from the "grave".

By avoiding probate, the beneficiary can save a lot of money and probate battles between wannabe heirs. These probates can be very lengthy and even take many years to resolve. Between estate taxes and attorneys' fees, many estates lose 30% - 60% of their value before the liquidated assets are disbursed to the proper heirs as determined by the court.

Possibly more important to the beneficiaries of these living trusts, is the assets of the trust are not shown in the public record as with simple probated wills. The trust must pay income taxes and estates taxes and the trust does not save the beneficiaries any money in these areas.

Finally, in the event the trustee (beneficiary) is incapacitated, the trust contains language so a new trustee can be installed without a court order and this new trustee can take appropriate action with regard to the medical condition of a beneficiary. This avoids having to get a court order for a medical procedure which could take so long that the patient could die - or live an unreasonable time.

The life estate is also a legal document that is actually a special deed to a property that titles the property in such a manner that when the owner of the property dies, the additionally named individual on the deed automatically becomes the new owner as soon as the former primary owner's death certificate is filed in the public record. This instrument also bypasses the probate process but does not avoid any Federal estate taxes due.

The difference in the living trusts and the life estate is that the living trust is a document that contains specific instructions for a trustee in the manner and disbursement of many assets owned by the beneficiary of the trust. The property remains in the trust with a different trustee until the terms of the trust instrument are carried out by the trustee.

The life state is simply a special deed that conveys a single property from a primary owner to a second person when the primary owner is deceased and the death certificate is filed in the Clerk of the Court's public records. Both instruments bypass the probate process.

Dave Dinkel has over 40 years experience in Real Estate Investing which has given him a unique perspective into the Real Estate Market. Learn the "No Money, No Credit, No Risk" proven methods of today's successful Real Estate Investors. Visit America's Online Real Estate Investing Association created by Dave Dinkel to get you started as a Real Estate Investor today! Click the link Now
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Friday, November 21, 2014

Estate Planning 101 - Wills, Living Wills, Power of Attorney, Trusts

Estate planning sounds so overwhelming: Wills, Living Wills, Power of Attorney, Trusts, Guardianships, etc., etc., etc.

What does it all mean and what do you really, really need to ensure that your family will be cared for when you pass away?

While the following definitions are by no means intended to be all-encompassing, or cover all of the variations of each document, they are helpful for the estate planning novice in determining what documents are right and necessary for them.

What is a will?

A will is a written legal declaration by which a person makes known how their property will be disposed of upon their death. Property includes not only real property (land, house, condominium, business storefront, etc.), but also personal property such as jewelry, art, sports memorabilia, even pets.

What is a living will?

A living will is a legal document, by which a person makes known his or her wishes regarding life-sustaining or life-prolonging medical procedures, such as resuscitation. A living will can also be called an advance directive, health care directive, advance medical directive, or physician's directive.

What is power of attorney?

Power of attorney is a legal document by which Person A gives Person B the power to make decisions about their legal and/or financial affairs upon Person A's incapacitation. Powers of Attorney expire upon your death.

What is a trust?

Trusts come in all forms and can be straightforward or extremely complex. Simple stated, trusts are a financial arrangement that allows a third party (the trustee) to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary. How and when the assets pass to the beneficiary can be controlled by establishing a trust.

The sooner you get started, the sooner you'll have the peace of mind in knowing that your family will be cared for when the inevitable happens.

Even if you have completed estate planning, it's never really 'done.' Life is going to come along and make you re-do it.

Following are a few examples of life circumstances that necessitate your updating your estate planning documents:

  • IF you had a baby
  • IF you got married
  • IF you got divorced
  • IF you adopted a child
  • IF you have a new grandbaby
  • IF a relationship within your family has changed
  • IF tax laws have changed
  • IF your estate value has dramatically increased (or decreased)
  • IF you moved to a new state
  • IF you retired
  • IF you changed your investments
These are just a few reasons that you might need to review your will with an attorney.
The Law Office of Nancy L. Holm, LLC, a New Jersey Limited Liability Company, is a full-service, general practice law firm located in Monmouth County, N.J., and serving clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. You can trust our integrity and commitment to your best interests when you have a legal problem. We offer a free consultation and reasonable rates, so that legal representation is available to everyone.
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