Friday, July 31, 2015

Living Wills Review: Five Reasons Why You Must Have A Living Will

Living wills and advance directives have lately become the hot topic of discussion with the case of the brain-dead pregnant women in Texas going to the courts to decide. While her individual rights versus Texas state law makes for a heated debate, the real question for most Americans and Canadians should be 'What happens if you don't have a living will and the unthinkable happens?'

Every year, thousands of people have an unfortunate accident that leaves them in an incapacitated state. This is where a living will comes into play. A living will, which can also be known as an advance health care directive or advance directive, is a set of instructions given by you, allowing for what types of medical intervention and treatment you would like to receive, if you are in a state of mind where you cannot make decisions for yourself. If you don't have a living will, you leave these decisions to someone else. So, there by itself, is the number one reason for having a living will. Now let's break down the other 4 major reasons why you should have a living will:

2. Avoid Family Fighting. Imagine what not having a living will could do to your family. If you haven't made the medical decisions that are usually addressed in a living will, depending on your state or province, often times it is left up to your family to make these pain staking decisions for you. Imagine your spouse having to decide whether or not to keep you on life support. Now imagine your mother, or brother, disagreeing with their decision. The emotional toll this can take on a family could be devastating. The case of Terri Schvaio often comes to mind. Back in 1990 she collapsed and fell into a coma for more than two months, and then was declared to be in a vegetative state. Years later, her husband made the decision, against her parents' wishes, to have her removed from a feeding tube. The argument went on for seven years. You can imagine the emotional toll your family would suffer in a similar situation.

3. The Medical Costs. In some cases when a person is incapacitated, the prolonged period of keeping a patient alive can outlast the medical insurance, leaving the extra costs to be paid by the patient's estate. Many times, when the decision is made by the spouse, or other family member, to artificially extend one's life, the medical costs involved can cause an extreme financial burden. It is not unheard of for families to end up losing everything because of this. If you were incapacitated, could you imagine your family losing their home, or possibly facing medical bankruptcy?

4. The Legal Costs. All it takes is for two family members to disagree and here comes the lawyers. This happens in many cases, like Terri Schvaio's, where lawyers for the disagreeing parties spend weeks, months, and even years, arguing for their side, all the while the costs are adding up. And eventually someone will have to pay those bills. Imagine the life insurance you left to protect your family, ending up in the hands of attorneys, all because no one knew what your wishes were. These situations happen all too often. You having a living will can avoid a catastrophe like this.

5. Peace of Mind. Simply put, when you have a living will, you are more likely to have the peace of mind of knowing that your wishes will be known, and that family members won't have to fret over whether or not they made the right decision. It is perhaps one of the most responsible, unselfish acts you can take by keeping the heart wrenching decisions out of the hands of your loved ones. If the unthinkable were to happen to you, there would be no reason to compound your family's suffering.

Now that you have the five major reasons to get your living will, you have to decide what to include in it. There are many points to consider, like if you should appoint a medical power of attorney (POA), where you would designate someone you trust to make decisions that may not have been covered in your living will, or adding a 'do not resuscitate' directive. These are some of the many items you will want to discuss with your family. Also consult your attorney for advice on your state's laws when drafting a living will.

I heard it said that having a will is like writing a final love letter to your loved ones to assure they get everything you want them to have. When you think of it in these terms, a living will would be an extension of that love letter, preventing unnecessary pain and hardships for your family, just in case you were to experience an incapacitated state for any length of time.

Gerard Cassagnol is a professional writer and has written several articles on legal issues of the day. He is an advocate for affordable legal representation and coverage in the USA and Canada. He has had a legal plan membership for over 15 years, and is now a marketer of legal plans and identity theft plans for individuals, families, and small businesses.
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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Estate Planning : What Is Made Public in a Probate?

Many probate courts place entire wills and asset lists in public record or make them available online. Learn about what goes public in probate from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

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.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

4 Things You Need To Know About Advanced Directives

It is a sad truth that death is an inevitable part of life. And, even though many of us are reluctant to face this fact, it is no excuse to fail to plan for your end-of-life healthcare, particularly if you are past retirement age. Although it may be scary to think about your end-of-life decisions, it can greatly improve the quality of life for your family after you are gone, and will reduce the chance your passing is a burden on your family. Advanced directives offer you the assurance that your last wishes will be fulfilled. Here are four things to know about them.

1. What is an Advanced Health Care Directive?

An advanced directive is a generic term for a legal document that describes to and instructs others about your medical care, in the event you are unable to make your decisions known. A directive only becomes effective under circumstances described in the document, but in general allow you to do two things. The first is to appoint a health care agent or power of attorney. This person will make decisions on your behalf. Secondly, the directive will provide instructions about exactly what forms of health care you want and do not want.

2. Why Are Advanced Directives Important?

According to recent surveys, the majority of people would prefer to die in their own homes. However, many terminally-ill patients meet the end of their life while in the hospital, typically while receiving ineffective treatments that they may or may not really want. Occasionally, this confusion can cause conflict between the surviving members of the family, leading to fights and arguments. Meanwhile, the dying person's thoughts and wishes remain unexpressed. An advanced care directive prevents all of this. From documenting the treatments you want, to describing your wishes for your remains and personal effects, advanced care planning is highly beneficial.

3. Creating an Advanced Care Directive

An advanced care directive and living will does not have to be complicated, however the content may be complex and should be considered carefully. In general, it will consist of short, simple statements about what types of treatments you would accept or deny, given particular circumstances where you are unable to speak for yourself. It is important to create this document with the help and guidance of your family, legal, health, and financial professionals for maximum effectiveness.

4. Talking With Your Loved Ones About Your Choices

A vital step in advanced care planning is to clearly communicate your wishes to your loved ones and family about your decisions, and why you are making them. For most of us, this conversation can seem like a daunting task. You may be uncomfortable bringing up your own death with your loved ones, or it may seem like poor timing to have that conversation, but it is much better to have this conversation now, before there's a problem, so that everyone can remain calm and relaxed.

For more information on how you can best prepare for the last stages of life with an advanced directives, then head over to now!
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Monday, July 27, 2015

Estate Planning : Purpose of a Living Will

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

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Tips on How to Get Your Criminal Record Expunged

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

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

Find out if your record can be dropped.

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

Give the judge a reason to allow the expungement.

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

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

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

Begin the process early.

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

Be mindful of pretend lawyers and scams.

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

Looking for a duilawyer in Virginia Beach? At Swango Law, we aim to provide aggressive DUI defense in Virginia Beach and Surrounding Areas.
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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Why Advance Health Care Directives Are Important

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Conservatorship Information

A conservatorship is a court proceeding that grants one or more people the authority to make financial or health care decisions for another because of a mental or physical incapacity that renders a person unable to make informed and sound decisions.

A conservatorship can be over the person, the estate, or both. The person appointed by the court to make decisions is called the conservator, and the person about whom decisions will be made is called the conservatee.

Conservators are generally family members or a professional conservatorship company and in some cases, the Public Guardian's office may be appointed. Regardless of who the conservator is, their duty is to act solely in the best interests of the conservatee. To insure this, court evaluation, supervision and monitoring of the conservatorship is established.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Living Wills and Healthcare Power of Attorneys Help to Make Sure Your Wishes are Met

No one can foresee problems that may arise should he become incapacitated. Yet, you can avoid negative consequences of unforeseen problems by creating Living Wills and Healthcare Power of Attorneys (HCPOA).

Setting up a Living Will or HCPOA is a relatively simple task. The first step it to consult with an attorney that specializes in estate planning to ensure that your documents are clear. Here's an overview of what you can expect from your Living Will and HCPOA.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

The HCPOA, otherwise known as a "healthcare proxy" is a legal document that enables an individual that you appoint (your "agent") to act as your healthcare representative if you become incapacitated. The agent becomes your acting representative at the moment you become incapacitated, thus eliminating the need for your loved ones to argue over your rights and wishes in court.

Your agent has the authority to request or deny any medical treatment that he determines to be appropriate. Therefore, it is a good idea to choose someone that you trust as your agent. Please note: In most states, your spouse will be your default agent. If you are not married but are in a lifelong relationship your partner, he does not automatically become your agent. Make sure that you appoint your partner as your agent to ensure that he or she has control over your medical decisions if you are unable to make them.

Because your agent has whatever powers you give him or her, make sure that he or she understands your desires. Some of the decisions he or she may need to make include but are not limited to:

  • Deciding whether or not you will receive medical treatment
  • Withdrawing life-support
Living Will
A Living Will and HCPOA should be used in tandem, since one document complements the other. Your Living Will is a document that clearly expresses your desires. In short, your Living Will provides your medical team with instructions for how to carry out your wishes should you become incapacitated. For example, if you become brain dead, you can state in your Living Will that you wish to receive or not to receive life support.

By creating a Living Will, you ensure that your desires will be carried out without court involvement that can be costly and stressful for your family. Criteria for enacting a Living Will vary by state; so make sure that you consult with an attorney to ensure that your Living Will complies with the rules in your state.

Thomas McNally is the staff writer at the National Directory of Estate Planning, Probate & Elder Law Attorneys. McNally stresses the importance of finding a qualified estate planning attorney to ensure that your estate passes to whom you want, when you want, and is carried out in the manner you've chosen.
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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

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.

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Power of Attorney - 6 Factors You Should Consider When Nominating the Best Agent

Ever wondered how your modest finances or properties are handled, in case something occurs to you or you will have to go away somewhere? In that case consider the power of attorney. What is power of attorney? This is a legal document that would facilitate you to allow an organization or a person manages your business matters and your finances.

The principal is person who is creating or signing the power of attorney, while the agent or the attorney-in-fact is the person who would be granted with authority. Because the power of attorney will give the agent the control over banking, credit and other financial concerns, it is important to be made with care that's why legal assistance is important.

Power of attorney can be divided into 2 types, the general and the specific. The general power of attorney can handle different personal and business transactions while the specific power of attorney identifies specific transaction when the document would take effect.

Here are some factors you should consider when choosing the best agent for your power of attorney:

• Capability. It is much recommended to think about the capability of agent in managing legal matters and principal's property. You should not entrust your own finances to the agent who has problems in controlling over their own finances.

• Age. In case you are thinking about your child as the attorney-in-fact, you should consider the age. There are differences on every state of laws on creating the power of attorney. However approximately all of the laws accept that no agent must be under 18 or 21 years old.

• Work experience. It's good idea to award authority to agent who is competent and expertise in legal matters or in finances.

• Time. While deciding on the perfect agent to stand for you, at that time it is very vital to think about how much time they can provide in handling legal matters and financial.

• Location. It's advisable to consider agent who is not far from the property and the principal.

• Organization and documentation skills. The principal may perhaps require the attorney-in-fact to trace and correctly document the several transactions made whether it will be for personal, business or government purposes.

Other factor you should pay attention is how to decide the spouse as the attorney-in-fact. Nearly all military personnel will give the power of attorney to their spouses in case they are in battle. Other option is a close relative.

You do not always have to opt for a family member, you can decide on a non-relative attorney-in-fact. If the principal is slightly worried on giving many duties on one agent, then he or she may well find other co-agents. However you could do that only if the power attorney specifies the information or the limitation of the capabilities. Previous to making decision on agent in the power of attorney, the principal ought to talk to the agents first and ask them if they are keen to be agents.

When carrying out the task, no organizations will control the agent. It will just depend on the principal as well as principal's relatives to supervise if the agent is carrying out what is predetermined in the power of attorney.

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

QDRO Forms to Divide Pension Benefits in Divorce - "Shared Interest" Or "Separate Interest" Approach

Many people facing the prospect of divorce are surprised to learn that pension benefits accrued during the course of a marriage are considered marital property (or, in some states such as California, community property) that is divided between the spouses upon divorce. A pension plan falls under the category of retirement plans known as defined benefit plans. These types of retirement plans generally provide that upon retirement, the participant (employee) is entitled to a monthly annuity that is payable over his or her lifetime.

Because of certain provisions contained a Federal law known as the Employment Retirement Security Act, a divorce judgment or matrimonial settlement agreement, standing alone, is not a legally sufficient mechanism for dividing a pension plan. It is essential that a further order, known as a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) be entered by the court and approved by the pension plan administrator.

In situations where the participant spouse is not yet retired, the QDRO form can utilize two different methods for dividing pension benefits. These include the "shared interest approach" and "separate interest approach."

If a QDRO form uses the Shared Interest Approach, payments to the Alternate Payee cannot begin until the Participant chooses to retire and begins to receive a retirement allowance. Furthermore, payments to the Alternate Payee must end upon the Participant's death unless the Alternate Payee was designated in the QDRO as the surviving spouse of the Participant for the purpose of electing a Qualified Joint and Survivor Annuity and such election was elected by the Participant at the time of the Participant's retirement.

If a QDRO form applies the Separate Interest Approach, a "separate interest" is carved out for the Alternate Payee and adjusted to his or her actuarial life expectancy. In addition, the Alternate Payee controls the timing and manner of his or her receipt of the benefit payments. The Alternate Payee can commence receiving benefits at the Participant's earliest retirement date, rather than wait for the Participant to begin to receive a retirement allowance.

In most instances, it is highly beneficial for the non-participant spouse that the QDRO form utilize a separate interest approach. Sample QDRO forms are available for download. Upon completion of a proposed QDRO form, the document must be submitted to the pension plan administrator for approval, and, thereafter, to the divorce court adjudicating the matter.

QDRO forms using both the Shared Interest Approach and Separate Interest Approach are available for download from Marc A. Rapaport is a divorce attorney with 15 years of experience, and he regularly appears in the national media, including NBC News, the National Law Journal, New York Magazine, New York Law Journal, and more. Mr. Rapaport is the founder of, an online provider of QDRO forms and information for dividing pensions, 401k's and other retirement assets in divorce matters.
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Friday, July 17, 2015

Suspension, Termination and Conflicts Relating to Advance Directives and Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney are commonly used instruments, but few people spend the time to really understand how they actually operate. This includes attorneys and lay persons. Depending on whether a power of attorney is considered durable, there are certain events, such as a principal's subsequent incapacity, which may limit, or restrain an agent from exercising his or her enumerated powers pursuant to the power of attorney instrument.

Let's take a look at just some of the events which can result in a suspension or termination of a power of attorney. Firstly, if a power of attorney is not durable, meaning it does not contain certain language referenced by law, the following events will terminate a power of attorney. 1) principal dies, 2) becomes incapacitated. Of course a subsequently executed "poa" that explicitly revokes all previous ones, will also result in its termination.

If a poa is durable, the scenario mentioned above is a little different. While the death of the principal still results in termination, subsequent incapacity of the principal could lead to a multitude of scenarios. If a petition to determine the incapacity of the principle is filed, the authorities granted in the power of attorney are suspended until the petition is dismissed or the court enters an order authorizing the agent to carry out powers granted to him. Certain powers, like the authority to make health care decisions for the principal, remain effective until the Court orders otherwise.

In emergency situations, if the agent feels he needs to act on the principal's behalf the agent may ask or "petition" the court to allow him to use powers which are otherwise suspended, after a petition to determine incapacity has been filed.

Other issues arise when powers of attorney conflict with advance directives which the principal may have executed and which may have given different individuals authority to act on his or her behalf. These disputes sometimes involve family members, who have different opinions on what is best for the principal. The law provides that if an advance directive and a poa conflict, the advance directive controls, unless a poa is later executed, and expressly states otherwise.

While do-it your self forms for powers of attorney and other documents such as a living will and advance directive are easily obtainable, understanding how these instruments interact and often conflict, requires a little bit of patience, and in many instances some attorney advice.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

California Estate Planning Basics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simon Volkov is a California probate liquidator and real estate investor who specializes in buying and selling probate properties. He shares insights about California estate planning and shares resources for learning how to avoid probate and protect inheritance assets at
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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

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. 

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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Understanding Probate in California

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

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

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

The Probate Process

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

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

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

Luis Pezzini
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Saturday, July 11, 2015

What is Probate? Should Probate be Avoided?

- What is Probate?

- Should I try to avoid Probate with my Estate Plan?

- How can i avoid Probate?

Friday, July 10, 2015

By The People Fairfield CA

Rene talks about how By The People in Fairfield can help people with legal matters in an inexpensive way. See more at

Thursday, July 9, 2015

LLC Information: The Basics of a Limited Liability Company

You will find a lot of LLC information on the Internet about the limited liability company. This legal entity has become the most common and popular of all other choices because it was specifically created to be the most flexible entity available.

As a result, it can be used for small business, real estate, holding and managing any property, family and estate planning, and joint ventures. One can be really simple such as for a single owner small business or an LLC can be used to handle very large and complex activities. For example, Fidelity Investments is an LLC which is owned by many owners and manages billions of dollars of assets.

This Article covers the basic attributes of this amazing legal vehicle.


A Limited Liability Company is a separate and distinct legal person that is created at the state level. It is only formed once a state has acknowledged its existence.

And, in order for a state to establish one, there must be a document filing made by an organizer. The filing is usually called the Articles of Organization and it must strictly comply with the requirements of a state. Each state has its own set of requirements and disclosures and fees.


Once formed, an LLC provides its owners with legally endorsed personal limited liability protection from the entity's debts and obligations. This feature is similar to the corporation.

If you are worried about personal exposure to law suits arising from your business, you should form a limited liability company. For example, you open a store-front business that deals with the public directly, you may worry that the commercial liability insurance you have might not fully protect your personal assets from potential slip-and-fall lawsuits or even claims by suppliers for unpaid bills. Running your business as a Limited Liability Company will give some protection against and other claims against your business.


If the entity is owned by just one member, then there is no added tax complexity. The income generated by the LLC is passed through to the single owner and reported on his or her personal return. Even if it is owned by multiple members, profits and losses are normally passed through the owners as if it were a partnership. But unlike a general partnership, on owners are subject to personal liability because of ownership.

This tax benefit is a significant one. The corporation, another alternative, offers the same personal asset protection but is subject to what is known as double taxation. While there is an option for elect for a corporation to be taxed as a pass through (single layer), there are quite a few requirements and restrictions. With the LLC, your entity will automatically qualify for the best tax treatment.


Another great feature is that you can tailor the management and ownership structure of a limited liability company to suit your needs. There are very little legal mandates and this makes it easier for anyone to use one to meet their specific purposes.

For more LLC information and to get more details about forming an LLC, governance, operations, taxation and other related subjects, you can click here and search the LLC Answers database, a comprehensive collection of commonly asked questions and answers about the limited liability company: LLC Answers Site
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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Top 6 Most Frequently Asked Questions in Expunging Your DUI Conviction Records in California

Like most states in US, California too allows you to expunge your DUI conviction record. Expunging your DUI conviction record will help you get rid of all the problems resulting from your offense and make you to experience the life like before. Regardless of whether your offense is misdemeanor or felony, they can usually be expunged. Following are the FAQ's which are sure to provide you an insight about expunging your DUI records in California:

What is expungement?

Expungement means sealing your DUI conviction record which practically means giving petition to the court to expunge your record and the court replaces your plea as not guilty and then dismisses your case. So when applying for a job or under any other circumstances you need not have to disclose that you have been convicted.

Who Is Eligible For expungement in California?

You are eligible for expungement:

  • if you are a first DUI offender who has only one charge for either a misdemeanor or felony
  • a year has passed since conviction
  • if you have completed probation successfully and not on probation for another offense
  • have no charges pending
  • have paid all the fines ordered by the court
How much does it cost to file for expungement? 
It costs between $50 and $80 to file for expunging your record. 
Will they need my presence at the court? 
No, your expungement lawyer can do it for you. 
What will I benefit from expunging my DUI conviction record? 
There are a lot you will benefit from expunging your record such as employment, licensing etc,. 
What expungement won't do? 
Your expunged case can still be used for increasing your punishment when you again caught up for a DUI or other criminal cases.
The DUI Process manual provides solution related to expunging your DUI record, getting your driver's license back, saving a lot of money on your auto insurance and even saving money throughout your DUI process no matter what state (US) you are located in. Article Source:

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Monday, July 6, 2015

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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Sunday, July 5, 2015

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.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Friday, July 3, 2015

What Is Probate Law and How Does It Affect You Today?

Have you made your will official yet? It is not pleasant to talk about, but death will inevitably take us all at some point in our lives. Having an officially recognized will ensures that your estate goes to the people that you want it to when you pass away. The simplest definition of probate is 'the official proving of a will'. The laws of probate can be overwhelming at times, especially when emotions are still raw. It does serve its purpose however as not having a will (in-estate) makes the procedures a lot trickier and the results which can take months may not be what stakeholders deem right.

When a will is filed with the courts, the process for probate varies from country to country, even city to city. However the basic process is someone close to the deceased approaches the courts to act as 'executor', once the executor is established the process starts by collecting all assets and getting a value for the total. Once debts have been paid, the remaining assets can be distributed as per the will before the probate process is formally closed.

The Executioner

The executioner is usually the closest person to the deceased (wife, daughter, father etc.) or a close friend.

Probate affects you today in two ways. As someone who files a will and as a person nominated to be the executioner of a will.

Writing Your Will

Writing a will may seem like a death wish, it is something no one wants to ever think about however there is an incentive. You likely have worked hard for what you have acquired in life and would like your estate to be distributed as you see fit according to your values and wishes. It is also to protect your family, pre nuptial agreements may appear to only be agreed to when a high profile celebrity gets married, or someone wealthy but they are doing it for the same reasons as a will. The subject of money makes people act in irrational ways to protect themselves. Family members may lay claim that they should get everything, while others believe it should be theirs. It is not a nice situation for all involved. By writing your will now, you ensure that these disagreements can be solved by simply reading your official legal will.

As The Executioner

As the writer of the will, you will normally want to tell the person who you are leaving in charge of your estate should tragedy strike. It isn't the easiest conversation to begin, but knowing you have someone you trust can put your mind at ease. When someone brings up the subject with you, there is no set way to react. Simply listening to their requests is best, do not try and influence them either way. If you are unsure of anything though, do ask. Documenting everything possible is the safest option as emotions may get in the way of what was truly requested. In a perfect world there will be many, many years to you put everything in place exactly the way you wish. Make it a common practice to revisit the will every couple of years, to verify that it fits how you feel at that time.

Probate is something most people will deal with from both sides as the executioner and the writer of the will in their lifetime. Having a will ready so that the probate law process can be handled appropriately by all parties is law that should be taken seriously.
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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Which Is Best, A Will Or A Living Trust?

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Do I Need a Will?

You can't take it with you. Unless you plan on living forever, there will eventually be a need to divide your property amongst the relatives and loved ones you leave behind. By having a will, you determine who gets what. Without one, the law will do it for you by the operation of statutes. Many people believe that they are not wealthy enough to need a Will. But if you own property that is titled (a car or house), after your death, those items cannot be transferred without opening an estate. If you don't have a Will, the cost of processing your estate goes up significantly.

When a person dies and leaves property behind, that property is known as an estate. In order to transfer ownership of the property in the estate from the deceased to surviving heirs, the estate must go through the probate process. A Will not only identifies who will inherit the property, but names an executor to administer the estate. Without a Will, not only will statutes determine who gets your property, but the court will have to appoint and administrator to handle the estate. This is a costly process.

The most obvious benefit to having a Will is controlling what property passes to which heir. This is important if there are pieces of personal property that you want to go to a specific loved one for sentimental or other reasons. A Will also allows you to place conditions on the bequest, such as that the heir complete higher education or attain a certain age, before receiving his or her inheritance.

If these benefits of having a Will are not enough to convince you to take action, then consider those who you are leaving behind. A Will invariably makes the probate process smoother and easier for the survivors. In addition to controlling exactly where the property goes, a Will names the person or persons who will "execute" the estate, meaning the person who will gather the property and distribute it to the named heirs. This is often no small undertaking - it can involve selling stock, closing and consolidating bank accounts, liquidating assets, and more. In drafting a will, you should be sure to select an executor who has knowledge of the property in your estate and the competence and willingness to perform the job, all of which makes for a more efficient probate process. Without a Will, the court must appoint an administrator (obviously not of your choosing) to perform these tasks. Unfortunately, this is more costly and can lead to disagreements amongst family members.

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