Monday, June 30, 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

Sunday, June 29, 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

Saturday, June 28, 2014

LLC FAQs - What Is an LLC?

When in the process of creating a new company, the business organizers have several options to choose from. The decision will impact tax status, liability and how the profits are shared. Although the options depend on the type of business that is being formed, owners can choose from corporation, sole proprietorship, partnership or the relatively new limited liability company (LLC).

The LLC is a flexible option for organizing the owners of a company. The LLC partners are called associates. Individuals, partnerships or any other business entity can all be associates in an LLC. The main benefit for choosing this method is that all owners are protected from any losses that the LLC might incur. The company is an entity on its own. Associates are not personally responsible for taxes, and if it is sued, only the company itself will bear any responsibility from damages. The main benefit to forming an LLC for the associates is the ease in which it is possible to get the profits. The losses stay on the books of the company.

This form of a company has been on the law books for over 30 years. In 1977, it began in Wyoming, but adoption was slow until Florida followed suit in 1982. It was in the 1990's that forming a company as an LLC really took off and started becoming a popular option that took the place of the other business ownership formats. Since then, it has remained on of the most popular options when creating a new business.

The structure of an LLC is simple. There can be an infinite number of partners in the entity, or there can be just one. Although corporations require bylaws and annual meetings for shareholders, these are not required by an LLC. The only requirement is to record the formation of the company with the secretary of state and pay the proper filing fees.

Among the many benefits of forming an LLC, there are a few disadvantages to associates who choose to structure their company this way. Since each state has its own laws governing LLCs, your company will be treated differently state to state. The earnings of the members of an LLC are also subjected to a self employment tax. This is not the case for corporations where profits are passed on as distributions and are not taxed this way. The final disadvantage only applies in certain states. Some states will apply a tax to an LLC but not to a business formed as a partnership. In those states, it may make more financial sense to form a partnership instead of an LLC. offers information regarding forming an LLC. For more on LLC's, please visit our Small Business portal at
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Friday, June 27, 2014

LLC Vs S Corp

If you're just starting a business or you're ready to take your business to the next level, you have a lot of decisions to make, and one of the most important decisions you'll face is how to structure your business for legal protection and taxation. For many small businesses, the two most popular types of business entities are the LLC and the Subchapter S Corporation, or S Corp. In the LLC vs S Corp debate, there are a lot of factors to consider when you're considering which is best for you and your business. Here are a few things to consider:

LLC vs S Corp

LLC Pros:

* An LLC is relatively easy to maintain. LLCs require fewer forms than S Corps and taxes only need to be filed once a year.

* Formal meetings are not required, which means there's also no need to keep minutes.

* Start-up costs are lower than those associated with an S Corp.

* LLC members are not bound by profit-sharing regulations -- they decide how profits (and losses) are distributed.
LLC Cons:

* If a member declared bankruptcy or dies, the LLC will be dissolved and you will have to reform your LLC.

* For tax purposes, owners are considered self-employed, which means they have to pay roughly 15% in self-employment taxes on the company's entire net income.

S Corp Pros:

* S Corps offer considerably greater tax savings than LLCs; rather than paying a self-employment tax, only the wages of the business' employees are subject to employment tax. The rest of the company's profits are paid out as a distribution, which is subject to a much lower tax. (However, when S Corp owners pay themselves low salaries in order to receive larger distributions, the IRS may reclassify the distribution as wages.)

* S Corps are considered as being independent of their owners, which means if an owner dies, retires or sells their shares, the S Corp will maintain its status.

S Corp Cons:

* S Corps require significantly more paperwork and recordkeeping than LLCs; regular meetings must be held, minutes must be kept and bylaws must be established.

* S Corps have a much more complicated taxing procedure, and many more tax forms are required. What's more, forms must be submitted throughout the year, not just on April 15.

* Not all states recognize S Corps, and the way an S Corp is treated can vary considerably among states, so spend time learning how an S Corp is treated in your state.

Your business is your livelihood, and if you don't have the right legal and tax structure, you could be leaving yourself open for considerable loss. Use this article as a jumping-off point and then seek the advice of a good attorney who can help you decide whether an LLC or S Corp is better for your business' needs. offers information regarding forming an llc. For more on corporate formation, please visit us at
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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Estate and Retirement Planning - How Can My Estate Avoid Probate?

If you are a retiree, you likely have heard many claims made about probate problems. The word itself may even fill you with dread. If you are planning your estate, there are some things you should consider concerning probate. In this, as in all things, it is important to take a balanced approach. Let's review some of the issues pertaining to probate. Then you can decide if you need to approach your estate planning differently.

What is the purpose of probate?

You have heard this word many times, but may never have considered what it means. In legal terms, probate is the period of time during which a will is proven authentic or valid. The purpose of probate is to distribute an estate according to the decedent's wishes described in his or her will. Typically, the first step of probate is to use the person's probate assets and property to pay all debts. After that, any remaining assets and property are distributed to persons named in the will. There may be costs associated with the probate process.

Probate ensures that your wishes for the distribution of your estate are carried out upon your death. Probate is a public process. If your estate is of any size, your heirs could suddenly have new friends trying to advise them on how to manage their newly inherited assets.
People often assume all assets are subject to probate, which raises the following question.

Are all assets subject to probate?

No. Some assets are excluded from probate. An example would be assets that are held in joint ownership with rights of survivorship, such as your personal home. Other assets not subject to probate are those governed by a beneficiary designation. This would include assets such as your 401(k), IRAs, life insurance policies, and annuities. Additionally, assets held in a trust are not subject to probate. If the majority of your estate assets are held in accounts of this type, you may not have that much to be concerned about.

What about my brokerage and bank accounts?

These types of accounts can be set up to transfer on death (TOD) to a beneficiary. This designation allows you to pass securities and banking accounts directly to another person (your TOD beneficiary) upon your death without having to go through probate. By setting your accounts up this way, the executor or administrator of your estate will not have to take any action to ensure that your accounts transfer to the person you have designated. The TOD beneficiaries will have to take steps to retitle the accounts in their name, but this is not a very cumbersome process.

As you can see, probate may not be as bad as you have heard. There are many things to consider during the estate planning process.  

You should talk to an estate planning attorney who can advise you about your situation.
Radon Stancil is a Certified Financial Planner™, the gold standard among financial planners. For well over a decade, he has helped people create personalized roadmaps to financial retirement success. As an author and a financial column writer, he enjoys simply and clearly explaining to others the financial tools that can offer the greatest benefits. Radon believes there are no cookie-cutter approaches to financial planning. His specialty is helping each individual create a retirement plan that is as unique as they are. His office is located at 4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 122, Raleigh NC. You can call him at 919-787-8866 or visit his website at
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Easily Misused Estate Planning Terms

Wills and Living Wills

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

Advance Directive vs Advanced Directive

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

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

Probate Estate vs Trust Estate vs Taxable Estate

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

Medicare vs Medicaid

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

Experienced estate planning attorneys Dallas TX of the John R. Vermillion & Associates, LLC offers estate planning and business planning resources to residents of Dallas TX. To learn more about these free resources, please visit today.
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Monday, June 23, 2014

A Step-By-Step Guide to Opening LLC

Do you think you have what it takes to strike it out on your own as an entrepreneur? If your answer to this question is yes, and a limited liability company is what you have in mind, here's what you need to know about setting up one.

Step 1: Choose a partner (optional)

Most guides would have "Choose a name" (more on this later) as Step 1, but this article would like to argue that choosing your partner (if you want one) is the most crucial. Two heads may be better than one, but if one head is constantly trying to bite the other off, you're better off with just one head. It doesn't matter if your partner is a relative, a friend, or an acquaintance; what's important is that you complement each other on your entrepreneurial strengths and weaknesses.

Step 2: Choose a business name

Limited liability company names are required to be in this format: "(Insert business name here), LLC". Make sure your business name is available by checking with the Secretary of State business name database. Also, choose a name that wouldn't make you feel embarrassed every time you introduce yourself to a potential client or investor.

Step 3: File your articles of organization

The Articles of Organization contains all the basic information about your limited liability company (e.g. business name and address, nature of management, registered agent's name and address, etc.). They must be filed with the Secretary of State via mail for $50 per LLC member.

Step 4: Hire a registered agent

The registered agent is responsible for handling the paperwork in behalf of your LLC. This person must be registered in the same state where you organized your company.

Step 5: Come up with an operating agreement

The Operating Agreement should detail all the rights and responsibilities of all members of the limited liability company. Though this isn't technically required, it is strongly recommended that you prepare this along with the Articles of Organization. That way, any legal disputes between the members can be easily resolved by referring to this document.

Step 6: Comply with other regulatory requirements

Under most circumstances, your LLC must have an IRS Employer Identification Number (EIN). You must also obtain the necessary local and state licenses, as well as pay a membership fee that ranges from $300-$3,000 annually.

Those are the general steps for setting up a LLC. If you need more information, or if you need clarifications on anything, consult with your registered agent.

If you are looking for information on Tennessee LLC, click on the link. Or you can visit
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Sunday, June 22, 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

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Power Of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal instrument used to give someone the authority to act on your behalf. The person who signs the power of attorney is called the principle. The person who is given authority to do something is called the agent or the "attorney in fact." With the power of attorney, you can give someone the power to make certain financial, legal, or other decisions on your behalf.

Friday, June 20, 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.

Thursday, June 19, 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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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What Happens During Probate

Probate is the court process that determines whether your will is legally valid. The probate court is also where your estate is officially distributed to your creditors and the beneficiaries under your will. Depending on the value and complexity of your estate, the probate process can take several months .... or it may be eligible for a simplified process.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Documents to Consider When Doing Estate Planning

There's nothing that can prevent someone from dying, since physical death is an absolute certainty that no one can escape. The fear for some people, though, is not what's going to happen to them after they pass on, but more on who's going to take care of their loved ones, especially if the people he'll be leaving behind are either very young children or are incapacitated, or both.

You can't have control of what's going to happen to you after death, but you sure can decide what's going to happen to your assets once that event transpires. It's called estate planning. This is the process by which a person (or even a family) arranges the transfer of his assets in anticipation of his death. And in estate planning, there are several documents to consider. Here are some of them:

Last will and testament - This document takes front and center in all the planning. This is the document that legally provides for the transfers of assets after one's death. It names a person to settle the estate, a trustee who will administer any trust established, and a guardian if there minor children. For those who die without having executed a will, they are considered to be 'intestate.' Under certain laws, if one is intestate, property goes first (or in major part) to a spouse, and then to children and their descendants.

Trust - Persons preparing a will and testament can execute either 'inter vivos' or testamentary trusts (trusts established through a will). The difference between the two is that with the former, assets are transferred into the living during the trust creator's lifetime, as opposed to testamentary trusts, where the transfer becomes operative at the time of death.

Durable powers of attorney - A power of attorney is the document that authorizes a designated agent to carry out financial and business transactions for the person that's establishing the document. This grants such agent to access bank accounts (and even brokerage accounts), deal with insurance companies, and even sell property. This effectively allows the agent to step into the shoes of the person he is assisting.

Healthcare power of attorney - This document is a form of a living will that is designed, among other things, to: provide instructions for the conditions should life-sustaining procedures be utilized, authorize who will make healthcare decisions, and ensure that the person chosen to make these decisions is given access to the executor's medical records during incapacity.

These are the important documents to take into account so a person can have the opportunity to make personal and financial decisions, both in life and after death, without the need for court orders.

Estate planning deals with certain legal issues, which makes it important for an individual to get the services of a lawyer while doing it. You can get attorneys estate planning at ClinchLongLetherbarrow.
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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Benefits of an LLC For Rental Property Owners

Rental property owners are entrepreneurs. And as entrepreneurs, their primary goal is to maximize profit. One of the most basic steps in maximizing profit is to minimize costs and other liabilities. Recently, the up and coming trend of protecting one's personal assets from the liabilities of a rental business is to set up an LLC over the rental properties. With this LLC, the rental property owner's personal property, like home, car and other assets, are protected from the unpredictable demands of owning rental property. There are also other benefits of an LLC for rental property owners.

Personal property protection

First of, what is an LLC? LLC stands for Limited Liability Company. Without the LLC, business owners are liable for damages and other losses from their business even with their own personal assets.

To illustrate, a sole-proprietor will have to pay for anything and everything that deals with his business out of his own pockets. He can never interpose that his business is bankrupt when he still maintains a personal bank account, his own car and his own home. His personal assets will have to answer for the deficiency. Corporate shareholders do not have this problem because they are protected by the law on corporations that shareholders are only liable for losses out of their corporate shares, hence, their personal property is protected and remains untouched by any corporate liability. The downside of forming a corporation though is that the process itself is meticulous and profits will have to be shared with a handful of shareholders.

LLC combines the ease of being a sole-proprietor with the potential of earning huge profits all by yourself and the protection to personal assets that corporations offer. Personal property protection is the most basic and primary of the benefits of an LLC for rental property owners.

Tax advantages

Another of the benefits of an LLC for rental property owners is the tax advantages. Has even better tax treatment than when in a corporation. A corporate shareholder in essence will have to pay taxes twice. First, when the corporation itself pays its taxes, and second when the shareholder has to pay his own tax from the income derived from the corporation. An LLC is not taxed as a separate entity. The property owner will only have to pay his taxes once, upon his receipt of the income from the rental property. Also, the net loss in the LLC can be declared as a personal deduction for the property owner!

Be a professional by name

Real estate laws require one to spend a certain number of hours in real estate activities to be called as professionals in the real estate industry. But being in an LLC, these requirements are cut in as much as half!

An LLC may be obtained for separate properties

Another of the great benefits of an LLC for rental property owners is that a different or separate LLC may be obtained for each and every property. Why is this beneficial? Because when an investment is sued covered by an LLC, all the properties belonging to that LLC will stand liable for the suit. Covering separate properties with separate LLCs will only make the specific property or investment liable for the claim it is sued for.

These are only the basic benefits of an LLC for rental property owners. And these are already enough to convince any serious business-minded property owner, what would a more detailed study of the benefits do? Start protecting your own personal property and increasing your profits all in the same time. Get an LLC now!

North New England [] Homes Blog and North New England Homes can offer you a whole deal of information about the real estate market. Whether you want to sell your house, buy a property or rent one, getting all the information that you need will give you a great advantage.
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Friday, June 13, 2014

LLC Tips - Converting a General Partnership to a Limited Liability Company

You and your business partner have been running your business as general partnership for the past several years. You have been reading about limited liability companies (LLCs) and have decided that your business should really be operated as an LLC. Is it too late? Can you still convert your business from a general partnership to an LLC? Yes, you can!

Why would a business want convert to a limited liability company from a partnership? The reason that a business would want to convert from a general partnership to an LLC is to allow the partners to shield themselves personal liability for obligations of the business. Every partner in a general partnership is liability for all of the debts of the business. A member of an LLC, on the other hand is can generally only lose his contribution to the LLC, nothing more. He is not responsible for the debts of the LLC.

The limitation typically only applies to liabilities arising after the conversion. It is unlikely that a general partner will be released from personal liability to the partnership's creditors for the business's debts existing before the conversion. A member will avoid personal liability for debts incurred by the LLC but will remain personally liable for debts of the general partnership which are transferred to and assumed by the LLC in the conversion.

The procedures for converting a general partnership into an LLC differs from state to state. Originally, most state laws contained no provision allowing one type of business entity to change into an LLC. At that time, if you had a partnership, you had to first dissolve the partnership and distribute its properties and liabilities to all of the partners. At that point, the partners would contribute those assets and liabilities to a newly-formed LLC and become members in the new LLC.

Today, most states have statutory provisions that allow a partnership to be converted into an LLC in one simple step. For example, in Illinois, once the partners approve the conversion, a Statement of Conversion is filed along with Articles of Organization for the new LLC. It is as simple as that.
The conversion is also simple from a tax standpoint. In several private letter rulings the IRS has addressed the conversion of a general partnership into an LLC. The rulings have clarified that neither the partners nor the partnership recognize any gain or loss on the conversion. Also, the partnership continues to exist uninterrupted for tax purposes and, for computing capital gain if he later disposes of his LLC membership interest, the length of time that the partner owned his partnership interest carries over to his LLC interest.

An LLC is by far the most popular choice for new businesses being formed today. If you chose to start your business as a general partnership, the good news is that it is not too late to make the change!

David K. Staub is a business attorney who writes and lectures frequently on various business, legal and tax topics. He is the author of the Limited Liability Company Center, a free resource of information on how to organize an LLC.
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Thursday, June 12, 2014

4 Reasons to Form an LLC or Incorporate Your Business

Are you operating your business under a fictitious name, your own name or as a sole proprietorship or general partnership? Are you at risk because your assets are not protected from legal issues? If you are operating your business without the protection an LLC or corporate offers, it's time to make it official.

Here are four very good reasons to incorporate or form an LLC as soon as possible.

1. You are sending a bad message to your customers

When you operate as a sole proprietorship or a general partnership, you are sending the message that you are still inexperienced, testing the waters or unsure if you are serious about your business. Maybe you have been told that incorporating or forming an LLC is just another expense and it won't save you anything on taxes. This is not the only thing you should consider, however, as you also want to consider how you are marketing your business and what you are telling your customers.

2. You can protect your assets

If you hold all of your assets in your name and you have not formed a corporation or LLC, you are doing something very risky. What happens if a customer sues you after they get hurt by a product? What if a vendor comes after you for non-payment? All it takes is one lawsuit -- which you will probably not see coming -- to ruin your personal credit and put your belongings and home at risk. Even if you do your best to play by the rules and treat everyone fairly, you cannot be fully covered while operating as a sole proprietorship or partnership.

When your corporation or LLC borrows money, signs a lease, or buys anything on credit, you will not be personally liable.

3. There are important tax benefits

Operating as a sole proprietorship can cost you significantly in self employment taxes, which tax your income at the highest possible tax rate for your situation. The decision to form an LLC or incorporate can turn otherwise non-deductible personal expenses into legitimate business expenses that may be deducted. In many cases, the corporate tax rate is much lower than the individual tax rate. A corporation or limited liability company can often qualify for additional tax deductions and benefits unavailable to individuals. This is because incorporating creates a separate legal entity.

4. It will be easier to raise capital

When you want to raise money for your business, having a corporation will make it easier to find the money you need. You can take on investors by selling shares, or you can borrow from banks and lending institutions. If a third party investors wants to invest in your business, there must be an entity set up to accept the money. Most venture capitalists prefer to work with corporations.

You have put it off long enough. If you want your business to be taken seriously and gain protection for yourself and your family, it's time to consult with a corporation service company or an attorney to go over your options.

Christine writes for USA Corporate Services, Inc., a corporation service company that helps business owners form an LLC and learn how to incorporate a business in any state of the country. Click here to learn more.
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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How to Avoid a Guardianship

Are you aware that you could become mentally disabled at any time during life? If you do become disabled without a proper plan in place, a judge will create a guardianship. A guardianship occurs when a court of law decides you are mentally incapacitated and names a person to make legal decisions for you.

Disadvantages of a Guardianship

If a court of law appoints someone to make court-supervised decisions for you, you will have no say in which person that may be. What if the person chosen is not someone you would wish to control your assets and medical care? Your guardian will most likely be a family member, but wouldn't it be nice if you had a say in the decision and could choose the loved one you feel would do the best job?

Three Legal Documents to Use

The best way to avoid a guardianship is to have a disability plan in place to cover your medical and financial needs. An Advanced Medical Directive or Medical Power of Attorney allow you to name a person that you feel can make sound medical decisions for you.

A Durable Financial Power of Attorney (POA) allows you to plan for your financial needs. You can use this document even when you are not incapacitated. For example, a durable power of attorney may be used by your spouse to sign on your behalf anytime you are unavailable. If you wish to retain full control of your financial decisions, you can use a "springing" power of attorney instead. This type of POA will only allow your chosen financial agent to act if you become mentally disabled.

Another popular disability planning document is a Revocable Living Trust, which is also used for estate planning. With a Trust, you retain full control of your belongings while you are healthy and of sound mind. When you create your Trust agreement, you will name a successor trustee to take over if you become mentally disabled or die. While you are disabled, your successor trustee will manage your assets. When you die he or she will use your Trust to settle your estate. If you choose to use a Trust for disability planning, check with your attorney to ensure that it contains the proper wording to allow for a medical agent to step in if needed.

Augulis Law Firm is a leading provider of expert estate planning guidance in Warren, NJ. For more information on guardianship and other estate planning services, visit our website.
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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Advance Healthcare Directives - Be Sure to Write Your Living Will

With modern medical technology advancements, it is becoming more and more important to consider writing an advanced healthcare directive. There are several kinds of advanced healthcare directives. A living will is one form of an advanced healthcare directive. It is a document that specifies what you want done medically if you are no longer capable of making decisions for yourself. A medical power of attorney or healthcare proxy is another form that appoints a specific person to make decisions for you if you are incapacitated. It is advised that a person have both documents prepared and in place long before they will ever be needed.

With today's advancement in medical care many people are left confined to nursing homes. Many elderly are in a vegetative state, fed through feeding tubes while their bodies slowly die. The emotional and financial burden the families of these patients experience is overwhelming. Lives are prolonged but there is no real quality of life. An advanced directive can prevent this from happening to those you love.

The living will was first proposed by Luis Kutner in 1969. His purpose was to make sure the living were able to make their wishes known when they were no longer able to speak for themselves. The living will gives direction to medical professionals about what procedures a person wants and doesn't want. It can forbid the use of medical equipment used to sustain life or direct it be discontinued when it only prolongs death. It can be general or specific depending on the wishes of the person writing it.

Advanced directives should be regularly updated to make sure they cover current medical technology. As advancements are made, changes need to be made to reflect that advancement. A living will that is current is more likely to be acknowledged and followed.

It is advised that a living will be combined with a healthcare proxy to assure your wishes are followed. No document can fully cover all the circumstances that might occur. Having a person on the scene making immediate decisions is important. By designating a person in advance to make decisions, you can be reassured that no decisions are made that might conflict with your desires.

The comfort and peace of mind an advanced healthcare directive gives is invaluable. Knowing you will not be a burden to your family allows you to calmly live knowing any necessary medical decisions will be made by someone you trust.

Bryan Sims writes about various topics including health issues and product information for the online audience. Find information about the newest website at which helps people find super saver deals on Peerless TV mounts and more information about various types of wall mounts for televisions.
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Monday, June 9, 2014

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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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Criminal Records: Do You Qualify for Expungement?

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

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Reasons Why It Is Important to Assign Someone Power of Attorney

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

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

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

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

Deke Foxhoven works to provide consultation on a variety of legal affairs. Foxhoven is an experienced and friendly Austin lawyer, and he can provide legal services pertaining to estate planning,business law and family law. Foxhoven builds relationships with his clients; listens to their goals, needs and concerns; and develops a plan to help them, their businesses, and/or their families flourish. Call his office at (512) 333-2004 for no charge to discuss your situation.
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Friday, June 6, 2014

California Estate Planning Basics

California estate planning is essential for residents of the Golden State. Basic strategies should encompass executing a last will and testament; establishing a healthcare proxy; and designating power of attorney rights. Dependent on estate value, establishing a trust can further protect inheritance assets.

California estate planning strategies must comply with state and federal laws. California has some of the most complex probate laws in the country, so it is best to work with a qualified estate planner or probate attorney.

Probate is used within the US to settle estates that are not protected by a trust. The process varies depending on if decedents engaged in estate planning procedures prior to death. When individuals die without leaving a Will, the estate settlement process requires additional time and exposes the estate to a higher level of creditor claims or the potential for heirs to contest the Will.

The last will and testament provides directive as to how estate assets should be distributed. It is also used to appoint a personal representative charged with duties required to complete estate settlement process. Without these written directives, the estate must be settled according to California probate code.

The timeliness of estate settlement depends on various factors. One of the most prevalent is estate value. In the state of California, estates appraised with values of less than $100,000 are usually exempt from probate if a legal Will has been executed and filed through court.

The estate must undergo a 40-day waiting period to avoid probate. Afterward, the personal representative must present a legal affidavit to the court before distributing inheritance gifts to designated beneficiaries.

When decedents do not leave a Will the estate is required to undergo a probate proceeding to determine rightful heirs. This is particularly important to understand if California residents do not want to bequeath gifts to direct lineage relatives. In order to disinherit relatives the Will must include a disinheritance clause which states the reason why heirs are not entitled to estate assets.

The purpose of including the disinheritance statement is to minimize risks of heirs contesting the Will. It is not uncommon for disinherited relatives to claim the decedent was under the influence of another person or was of unsound mind.

Contesting a Will can freeze assets in probate for months on end. This act can force personal representatives to sell inheritance assets to cover legal expenses. Defense fees can easily bankrupt small estates and leave nothing for designated beneficiaries.

In addition to protecting assets, California estate planning is the most effective strategy for establishing healthcare proxies. This document allows individuals to document the type of medical treatment they do or do not want to have if they are incapable of making decisions due to illness or injury. Healthcare proxies include 'Do Not Resuscitate' (DNR) orders, as well as providing directives regarding life support and delivery of nutritional intravenous feedings.

Estate planning is also used to grant Power of Attorney rights. POA is an important decision that should not be taken lightly. The person granted with POA powers should be someone who can be trusted to make smart financial decisions, and make difficult decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

Establishing California estate planning strategies is one of the best gifts to leave loved ones. Without written directives, decisions surrounding your estate will be left to the courts and chances are they won't be what you would have wanted. Additionally, putting affairs in order can reduce family discord and allow for efficient distribution of inheritance gifts.

Simon Volkov is a California probate liquidator and real estate investor who specializes in buying and selling probate properties. He shares insights about California estate planning and shares resources for learning how to avoid probate and protect inheritance assets at
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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Getting Your Record Expunged

If you have a criminal record, you're no stranger to the ill effects it can have on your life. Background checks are increasingly common among employers, property owners, and various employment licensing agencies. A new study published by the Office Journal of the American Association of Pediatrics, indicates that around 25% of Americans have been arrested at least once by the age of 23. Even a criminal charge from many years ago can affect your chances of being hired or rented to. For some people, depending on various factors of which we'll discuss here, expungement may be a way to eliminate the hassle that is caused by a criminal record.

What is expungment?

Expungement refers to a process in which a person with a past criminal record petitions the court to have his/her record sealed (expunged). A sealed record is then unsearchable by the state and federal agencies that provide information for background checks. A person who has had their record expunged would proceed as if the criminal charge or conviction never occurred. Therefore for questions on employment or rental applications that ask if you have a past criminal conviction, it would generally be appropriate to answer 'no'. Generally, the FBI and police officers still have access to your criminal record even after it's expunged.

The expungment process

Specific processes for expungement will vary from state to state as each state dictates their own expungment laws. A good first step would be to obtain a copy of your criminal record to make sure you know the exact charge(s) that are on it. Usually you can obtain a copy of your criminal record from your local county courthouse or from your local police department. If this is not true for your area, those agencies should be able to direct you to the appropriate place to obtain that information.

After obtaining a copy of your record, you'll need to do some research on the specific expungement statutes and processes in your area. A quick Google search should provide you with results. Paperwork will have to be filed with the court and then a court date will be scheduled. However, don't be fooled into thinking it's a quick and easy process. It is generally advisable to get a lawyer representation as it will increase your chances of success.

In general it is easier to get an older conviction expunged as opposed to a more recent one. The likelihood that an expungement is granted will also depend on the type and severity of the conviction. You will increase your chances for success if you can show life changes that have occurred since you were charged with the crime. For example, if you were charged with a drug related charge 10 years ago but have since successfully completed treatment and have remained sober since then, you should include that information your petition. Make sure that your petition is thoroughly completed as some states have time limits imposed regarding how long you have to wait to re-petition the court.

If you need to consult a lawyer over a record expungement, please contact.
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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Why You Should Integrate a Family Trust with Your Business

Utilizing a Revocable Living Trust can be an affordable way to ensure your business passes effectively to your family or loved ones upon your death.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Grief - Preparing for Loss Through The Living Will

My wife of 31 years, Lynne, lost her life to glioblastoma in 2010 following a battle lasting almost four years against the deadly disease. Glioblastoma is a stage 4 brain tumor, known for its fast-growth and recurring properties. As her family caregiver, I learned about many topics that surface during the care of someone facing a life-threatening illness. This article covers the topic of grief and how preparing a living will helped with my grief. I hope that the lessons I learned will encourage you to create a living will.

Despite all of the good intentions early in life to prepare a living will, neither Lynne nor I had done so. After her initial brain surgery and recovery, we both prepared a living will and health care power of attorney. Preparing the living will to document Lynne's advanced directives enabled us to discuss Lynne's decisions regarding the end of her life. The health care power of attorney allowed me to represent Lynne when she could not make decisions herself. The discussions we had and documenting them for legal purposes helped me significantly during the final week of her life and the weeks following her death. Knowing that the decisions I made on Lynne's behalf were those that she desired lifted a heavy weight from my heart. The doubts that surfaced in my mind following her death eased slightly, as I knew I was following her desires.

The many discussions that Lynne and I shared about death and dying during her illness were paramount to my grief recovery. Family members, who openly communicate about death, tend fare better than families with less open communication (Black, as cited in Carmon, Western, Miller, Pearson, & Fowler, 2010). One reaction to grief is personal growth. This reaction seems most predominant in those that openly communicate about their grief. Other reactions to grief include such things as anger, blame, despair, and panic (Carmon, et al., 2010). The discussions between Lynne and me helped to reduce the uneasiness we held about the dying process. In the final months of her life, I began to sense Lynne's own internal preparation for that day. My selfish nature desired that she live but she showed signs of exhaustion from the three-year battle. As I reflect on those discussions, they are some of my most treasured and valuable memories.

It is impossible to prepare completely or anticipate all of the emotions and other concerns we face during a loss. I believe that preparing and anticipating the loss causes thinking and actions that help to minimize, if only slightly, the grief of the loss. Reminiscing and expressing emotions with family and friends provide effective coping tools after the death. For me and my hope for you is that the hopelessness turns into hope, and the grief turns into joy, as you learn to push forward and reflect on the positive memories and the legacy of the life that was lost.


Carmon, A. F., Western, K. J., Miller, A. N., Pearson, J. C., & Fowler, M. R. (2010). Grieving Those We've Lost: An Examination of Family Communication Patterns and Grief Reactions. Communication Research Reports, 27(3),

Suddenly a Caregiver Sharing a family's experience and lessons learned to help you through the unexpected responsibility of becoming a family caregiver. Available in eBook and Paperback
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Sunday, June 1, 2014