Thursday, July 31, 2014

Estate Planning : The Probate Process Explained

The probate process can be a headache when estates are not planned well. Uncover the probate process with an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Estate Planning : Do You Always Have to Probate a Will?

If the deceased has assets with deeds, a will most likely will not avoid probate. Strengthen your understanding of probate court with an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Estate Planning : Have You Been Named in the Will?

If you are a beneficiary in a will, you will most likely receive notice after the will is entered in probate court. Learn what to do if you have been named in a will from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

What Is a Living Will? | Financial Terms

Learn about Living Wills in this Howcast finance video with expert Gregory McGraime.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Uncontested Divorce - Definition, Terms and Conditions

An Uncontested Divorce is a legal procedure in which the spouses mutually agree on certain terms and conditions, in order to adjourn their marriage. An uncontested divorce can be executed successfully if the spouses comply to a shared agreement in the matters related to the property partition, financial matters, any kind of support activities related to their children, and other litigious affairs.

A major benefit of consenting with an uncontested divorce is that unlike contested divorce, it doesn't have to deal with emotional and financial issues, is relatively inexpensive and quick, since most of the times the spouses may not find any need of an attorney or a court case for the divorce, if they are in good terms with each other, and plan to go with proper understanding. This is quite helpful essentially when the couple has much less assets to deal with and no children.

There are many "Do it yourself" forms available at concerned regulatory agencies, which can assist you in going ahead with the uncontested divorce activity yourself, without the need of any outside legal authority or attorney.But, in case of the issues for child support or the partition of community property, one must follow up with attorney related to divorce, before they proceed with signing off any legal documents.

Divorce is a quite tedious and sometimes displeasing procedure.Despite having mutual consent on many of the terms, there still exist loads of matters that need to be taken care of, before ending up the marriage. The couple needs to be capable enough to distinguish these issues and resolve them as soon as they can. To decide whether it is appropriate for a couple to go ahead with an uncontested divorce rather than a contested one, there are certain points that can be used as reference:

1) Are both the spouses agreeing to go for a divorce, or one of them still wants to re-establish the relationship?

2) Are all the financial issues, modes of income and other related assets properly understood by both the spouses, so that they can divide and decide on them accordingly?

3) In case, there are children, are all the issues regarding the child care and support,custody, periodic meetings and visits decided yet?

4) Are all the issues getting settled with mutual consent, and are devoid of any hard feelings?

5) Are both the partners in accord with the honesty or authenticity of the other partner's notions,regarding the resolution of these issues?

If either of the above mentioned questions, has an answer as "yes", then it is appropriate to go for an uncontested divorce.

Uncontested divorce can be carried on easily and without much hassles, but they can be derogatory to certain individuals in case the people involved in the divorce, do not know much about their appropriate rights with respect to the alimony amount, partition of pension, earnings from real estate, and other modes of income.

Hence, it is always advisable to consult an attorney or other legal authorities related to divorce, even while going on with the uncontested divorce, where you and your partner mutually agree to all the terms.
Uncontested Divorce.
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Friday, July 25, 2014

An Overview of a Quit Claim Deed

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

An Overview of a Quit Claim Deed

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

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

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

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

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

Raynor James is with the site - - FSBO homes for sale by owner.
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Limited Liability Company LLC

A relatively recent form of business allowed by state statute, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are popular because, as in a corporation, owners have limited personal liability for LLC debts and actions. In addition, LLCs offer the benefits of partnerships, namely management flexibility and pass-through taxation.

In most states, LLC business owners - called members - may include individuals, corporations, other LLCs and foreign entities, with no maximum number of members. Most states also permit "single member" LLCs. An LLC can be managed by either by the members or by managers. Members can be compensated using distributions of profit or guaranteed payments. In addition, because LLC profits are considered earned income, managing members can deduct 100 percent of the health insurance premiums paid--up to their pro-rata share of LLC' net profit.

Tax Treatment

Referred to by the IRS as "pass-through entities," unlike corporations, LLCs are not separate tax entities and do not pay federal income taxes. Some states impose an annual tax on LLCs, but the number of members in an LLC makes a difference at tax time:

* Single-Owner LLCs - One-member LLCs are treated as sole proprietorships for tax purposes, which means the LLC itself does not pay taxes and does not have to file a return with the IRS Single-owner LLCs report profits or losses on Schedule C and submit it with their 1040 tax returns.

* Multi-Owner LLC - Multi-owner LLCs are treated as partnerships for tax purposes, which means co-owned LLCs do not pay taxes on business income; the owners each pay taxes on their respective shares of profits on their personal income tax returns (Schedule E).

Advantages of LLCs:

* Pass-through taxation.

* Avoids drawbacks of forming a corporation, such as double taxation.

* Limited personally responsibility for LLC debts and liabilities.

* Few ownership restrictions.

* Management flexibility.

 * Minimal annual paperwork and fewer formalities than corporations.

* Members must agree in writing to authorize increased ownership in an LLC.

* Customers may view LLCs as a more professional business entity than sole proprietorships or partnerships

Though some types of businesses (banks, insurance companies, and nonprofits, for example) usually cannot be LLCs, and special rules apply to foreign LLCs, most other businesses can become LLCs.

If you're interested, check your state's requirements and the federal tax regulations for further information. For information on filing LLC tax returns, dealing with employment taxes and possible pitfalls, refer to IRS Publication 3402, Tax Issues for Limited Liability Companies. Forming an LLC requires filing proper documentation (or "articles of incorporation" or "certificate of incorporation") with the appropriate state agency, and payment of state filing fees.

Bill Willard has been cranking out high-impact writing for over 30 years. In addition to his byline pieces, Bill’s beat includes freelance copyrighting, ghostwriting and editing jobs that allow him to use his experience and skills as a writer and editor. Sources: Internal Revenue Service,
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Wednesday, July 23, 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.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Things to Keep in Mind When Running an LLC Business

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

- Be committed

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

- Be frugal

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

- Set goals

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

- Learn to manage risks

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

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

If you are looking for information on LLC business in Tennessee, click on the link. Or you can visit
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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Probate Problems

When a person dies, the property that is owned at the time of death goes into a legal process called probate. The probate court is responsible for distributing all of the property in the estate. If the person had a legally valid and complete will then the property distribution is usually straightforward and few problems arise.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Advance Medical Directive: The Basics

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

Advanced directives typically fall into three categories:

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

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

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

When Should a Directive be Created?

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

How to Obtain an Advance Medical Directive

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

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

This article was written by Roger Brent Hatcher, an attorney at Smith, Gilliam, Williams & Miles, a leading Atlanta Law Firm since 1928.
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Friday, July 18, 2014

Making A Living Will Impacts End Of Life Care

New research by Lauren Nicholas at University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research shows that making a living will impacts the end of life care of individuals. This is the first national study involving sample from across the US.

Wednesday, July 16, 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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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What Is An Executor Of An Estate

You can start planning your estate at any time. Typically, though, most people don't begin to draft their Will, or establish a trust to hold property, until the "big" things in life happen -- like getting married, buying a home, having children, or starting a business.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Probate and Administrative Process, Know Your Rights

Probate is the system in which the court's system's method of processing the estates of a dead person. It is a legal document that enables the administration of the estate of the deceased. It allows for the resolving of claims and distribution of the deceased's will. Any grievances surrounding a deceased person's estate are filed in the probate court also known as the surrogate court. Once probated, the will becomes a legal instrument that can be enforced by the executor.

Administration process

Administration process of an estate on the other hand is the process by which the deceased person's assets are collected, maintained and distributed. An estate administrator sees to the proper administration of the will.

The Probate process

The probate process begins after the death of a person. An interested person files an application to administer the estate; a fiduciary is then appointed who is to administer the estate and at times may be required to pay a bond to safeguard and to insure the estate. Creditors are notified and legal notices published. There may be filed a petition to appoint a personal representative may need to be filed and letters of administration obtained. All these processes must be done in accordance with the limitation clause.

Property that avoids probate

Property that passes to another person contractually upon the death of a person does not enter probate for example a jointly owned property with rights of survivorship. Property held in a revocable or irrevocable trust that was created when the grantor's was still alive does not also enter probate. In most of these cases the property is distributed privately and without many issues thus no court action is required.

What happens in the probate and administrative process?

After a probate case has been filed in court, an inventory is entered and the deceased's property collected. The debts and taxes are paid first then the remaining property distributed to the beneficiaries. The probate and administrative process may be challenged at any time as a whole or part of it. The issues that arise during such hearings include will contests and paternity issues and these have to be solved before the matter is decided.

The need for the appointment of an administrator arises where the deceased left no will, some assets are not disposed of by the will, in cases where there is a will however, the case goes to probate directly. The estate administrators act like will executors but where the will does not state how to distribute of property, they follow the laid down laws.

Visit the Law Offices Roman Aminov Brooklyn to learn more on Probate Attorney Brooklyn law processes.
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Friday, July 11, 2014

Choosing Between an LLC and Corporation

When you choose to make the next step in your business and incorporate, you are faced with a big decision: should you form an LLC or a corporation? With either choice, you gain limited liability protection to shield your personal assets from the debts and liabilities of your business, as well as several tax advantages. Still, there are big differences between these two types of business entities and your choice will have a big impact on your business. Here is some information to help you choose between the two.

Limited Liability Company

What is an LLC? An LLC, or limited liability company, is one of the most popular choices for small businesses and it is basically a pass-through entity, but it can be taxed as a corporation as well. Many business owners choose to form an LLC because this entity is very flexible; the company income can be passed through to individual members, who pay their share on their tax return, or it can be taxed as a C corporation or S corporation.

LLCs have no specific structure or management that must be met. While most people choose to manage their LLC with members, or owners, they can also choose to form an LLC with a Board of Managers. With an LLC, you gain limited liability protection, which protects your personal assets if your business is sued or cannot pay its debts.


A corporation is usually a better fit for a larger company as there are strict requirements to meet. A corporation must have a central management structure with a Board of Directors. Ownership is also very different as a corporation issues stock, which is all the same. A corporation is also required to have regular meetings, maintain and file documents, and maintain minutes.

An LLC can choose how it will be taxed, but a corporation will be subject to something called double taxation. This means that business income is taxed at a corporate level and then taxed again when it is distributed to the shareholders.

Choosing Between an LLC and Corporation

There is no choice that will be right for every business. As a general rule of thumb, however, an LLC is a better fit for small businesses and start-ups, as LLCs have less requirements and it costs less to maintain and form an LLC while enjoying limited liability. Corporations are usually a better fit for large companies.

The best way to choose between these two entities is with the help of a lawyer, accountants, or a corporate services company, as the decision is based on many factors related to your business, including your risk level, business income, and long-term goals.

Christine writes for USA Corporate Services, Inc, a corporate service company that helps non-residents and residents form an LLC or incorporate in any state in the U.S.
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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Annulment Versus Divorce

There are various ground upon which an annulment or a divorce could be granted by a court. The legal consequences could be very important, since an annulment basically erases a marriage, whereas a divorce simply terminates it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Uncontested Divorce - Do You Know How It Works?

An uncontested divorce is a divorce in which both parties can agree to the terms of the divorce. With an uncontested divorce, both parties negotiate the terms of the divorce without court proceedings. One lawyer represents one of the parties and prepares the divorce documents. Generally speaking, the lawyer will meet with the party they are representing and start the divorce proceedings. The parties negotiate the terms until both parties are satisfied. There are advantages and disadvantages to an uncontested divorce.

An uncontested divorce is considerably cheaper than going to court. If you can negotiate the terms of the divorce agreement before contacting a lawyer to begin the divorce proceedings, the cost is minimal. It saves time for everyone involved. When facing a divorce, saving money is a huge benefit. This is money that can be used for making necessary changes and for living expenses.

An uncontested divorce can also help maintain a level of civility between the parties. If the parties to the divorce have an amiable relationship, it is best to try to protect that mutual respect, especially if there are children involved. Another advantage is the privacy that an uncontested divorce offers in contrast to court proceedings. The divorce will be a matter of public record, but the visibility of the negotiations and the actions taken is potentially private and limited by what the parties disclose in the documents.

Just because the parties do not immediately agree to terms of the divorce doesn't mean that they should put the decisions in the hands of a judge. It may just mean that more negotiations are needed. However, there are times when an uncontested divorce is not necessarily the best route. There are some disadvantages to uncontested divorces.

If one party is exerting power and control over the negotiations or if there is a history of domestic violence, then an uncontested divorce is usually a bad idea. The victimized party is not in a position to look out for their own best interest. An uncontested divorce does not ensure that the agreement will be fair and just. Therefore, if one party is unable to do this for themselves, an uncontested divorce is not for them.

An uncontested divorce will not work if the parties cannot tolerate each other enough to negotiate the terms of the divorce. If they can't have reasonably civil discussions and come to an agreement, then attempting an uncontested divorce is a waste of time. Sometimes, this hostility will lessen with time and an uncontested divorce will become a viable option.

Moses Wright is the founder of More information on Divorce Papers, Selecting Divorce Attorney and Divorce Settlements - Assets & Liabilities can be found on his website. You are welcome to reprint this article if you keep the content and live link intact.
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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Don't "Lose" Your Living Will - Storage Places to Avoid

Question: I just came back from my attorney with my estate planning documents.  One of my documents is a "living will," but I have no idea where to put it.  How about putting it where it will be safe, like in my bank's safe deposit box?

Answer: Remember that a living will is only useful if it is found!  You should store your living will (also called an "advance healthcare directive") where it will be found when it is truly needed.

If your family has no idea where your living will is, the document is useless.  If it is never found, it is a legal document without any effect.  It will never serve any function.  The purpose of having a living will in the first place is to grant authority to your agent: Through that document your agent is given the legal authority to make essential healthcare decisions on your behalf.  But if your agent cannot find the document, he or she may never be able to make the decisions that you intend.

Where should you never store your living will?  Here are some places to avoid, the first being exactly where you are thinking of putting it:

Your safe deposit box.  Sorry, but think again!  If your agent does not have access to your bank safe deposit box, obviously he or she may never be able to get the living will in time so that it can be used.

Your home safe.  This is like placing your healthcare directives in the bank's vault.  If only you have the combination to the safe, then your agent will probably never find it.

Giving it to someone unknown to your agent.  This is another way to "lose" your directives -- giving the living will to someone other than your agent, without your agent's knowledge.  Again: If your agent has no idea where the living will is, then how can he or she get it?

Giving the original to someone at odds with your agent.  Some of you may have intra-family turmoil.  Obviously, never give your living will with someone who often fights with or is at odds with your designated agent.  Remember: The purpose of the living will is to ensure that your wishes are carried out.  PERIOD.  Your directives are not to be used in a way to be "fair" to another family member, or for any purpose other than ensuring that your wishes are followed.

Putting it where nobody would ever look.  This is a general category.  Never place your living will in a secret place, or in the middle of a "mess."  It should be kept in a place known to your agent, or otherwise where important papers are kept.

So many people go to the expense of preparing a living will, but give little thought as to where it should be kept.  Even more important, they place their living wills in entirely inappropriate places.  Make sure that your agent knows where you have stored your living will.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not legal advice, and the use of it does not create an attorney-client relationship. Any liability that might arise from your use or reliance on this article or any links from this article is expressly disclaimed. This article is not to be acted upon as if it were legal advice, and is subject to change without notice, or may include obsolete or dated information, or information not relevant to your jurisdiction. If you require legal services, you should consult with an attorney.

As a licensed attorney located in the Los Angeles San Gabriel Valley, Larry Stratton is in a position to coach and advise you, and to help you plan for your future. The Law Offices of Larry D. Stratton [] specializes in estate planning, business formation and appellate practice. Larry Stratton also blogs on estate and financial planning issues at Planner's Thoughts.
Larry Stratton is a graduate of Whittier College School of Law, which is a member school of the ABA and the AALS. He has represented numerous clients in the California Court of Appeal, and is admitted to practice in all California courts, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. Tax Court, and also the United States Supreme Court. From 1983 to 1984, he was a member of the Whittier Law Review. Larry Stratton is also a Registered Investment Advisor, and currently speaks on estate and financial planning topics in Southern California.
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Monday, July 7, 2014

The Probate Process in California - What to Expect!

Probate Process in California?

The probate process in California begins with a legal request or petition that opens the estate and names a PR or personal representative who takes care of the deceased's property. An official Notice for Creditors is published in newspaper and a notice of same is sent to all the involved parties. Creditors are then given a set amount of time to file their claims depending upon the estimated time published in the notice. The PR then clears all the debts and dues remained in the name of deceased person and distribute the remaining estate to his close relative. Finally, the petition for discharge is filed and the estate is closed.

This is the normal process of probate in California. The process involves many smaller steps which had to taken care of during the whole legal process. In many cases when the property balance is more than speculated or has some tax liability to it then a tax consultant or a CPA is to be hired who estimates the overall pricing of the estate.

Below we show you how the legal procedure of Probate in California runs:

Probate - First Phase

- Original Will and Codicils are filed
- Legal Notice of Petition is published to the Administer Estate
- Notice of Petition is filed and published in the local newspaper
- Proof of Will and Codicils are filed for further enquiry
- A letter is issued to all interested parties.

Probate - Second Phase

- Application for Employer Identification Number
- Income tax return and other legal taxes are filed
- Opening estate bank account and arrange for tax returns
- A mail with legal notice is sent to debtors and claims are cleared
- Approval or refusal of claims are made
- Property is listed for sale
- A petition is filed for Confirmation of Property Sale
- Court hearings are made and any final federal taxes are cleared

Probate Third Phase

- Final petition is filed for distribution
- A notice is sent to heirs and beneficiaries
- Proof of mail is filed with court
- Final order of petition is filed
- Transfer of assets and properties is cleared

If in case there are any living spouse or relatives of the deceased the property is distributed in a legal way among them without giving benefit to a single person. The California state law has the rules according to which the reaming estate is distributed. The court has the final verdict on the sale or distribution of property. If a bid is overbid by any person during the hearing then the property is transferred to the highest bidder.

This is a simple explanation of probate process in California. We are only describing the legal process. It is advised to contact an attorney for proper legal procedure. You can find more detailed information in Sections 6400-6413 of the California Probate Code.
If you are in need of an attorney please feel free to e-mail me, I will send you a list of attorneys in Los Angeles. Luis Pezzini []
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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Estate Planning Glossary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brett Howell, the founder of the Elder and Estate Planning Law Firm, specializes in helping Michigan families protect their estates. Contact our office for a confidential consultation to discuss your concerns with Brett - you will be glad (and relieved) you did. Contact Brett by calling the Elder and Estate Planning Law Firm at (810) 953-3846 or visit his website for more information.
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Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

Wishing You and Your Family a Safe and Happy 4th of July!!

Thursday, July 3, 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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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Adult Guardianship

Many families struggle with how to manage the finances, health care and other personal matters of adults who are unable to care for themselves. You may decide to pursue an adult guardianship if an adult is mentally or physically unable to make his or her own decisions and does not have a living will and power of attorney that provide a competent person to make those judgments.