Monday, February 29, 2016

Over 100 Legal Document Services at By the People

Rene of By the People in Fairfield CA gives a short overview of their services and the number of legal documents they can help with. For questions, call Rene or Tammy at 707-428-9871 and you can visit their website at

Sunday, February 28, 2016

What is a Living Will, and Why You Should Inquire about One Today

Modern advancements in medicine have made it possible for us to live longer than ever before. While these advancements have substantially extended our lives, such an extension may not be desirable because it may lower our quality of life and result in a loss of our dignity. Since all competent adults have the right to make their own medical decisions, you may want to tell your doctor now not to take heroic or extraordinary means to prolong your life in the future if you become ill and there is no hope for your eventual recovery. You can do this by preparing a living will.

"What is a living will?"

A living will is a legal document in which you direct your doctor to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment, whose only purpose is to prolong your dying process, if you are in a terminal condition or a state of permanent unconsciousness.

"Who can prepare a living will?"

You can prepare a living will if you are of sound mind and are at least 18 years of age, or have graduated from high school, or are married. You must sign your living will in the presence of two witnesses who are both at least 18 years of age.

"What medical treatment can I refuse in my living will?"

You can refuse all medical treatment including but not limited to cardiac resuscitation, artificial feeding, blood, kidney dialysis, antibiotics, surgery, diagnostic tests, and mechanical respiration. You can, however, direct your doctor to administer only treatment that will keep you comfortable and alleviate your pain.

Also in your living will, you can designate another individual, known as your surrogate, to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself.

"When does my living will become operative?"

Your living will becomes operative when you or another individual provides a copy of it to your doctor, and your doctor determines you to be incompetent and in a terminal condition or state of permanent unconsciousness. At that time, your doctor has to act in accordance with the instructions outlined in your living will. If your doctor cannot in good conscience follow the instructions in your living will, your doctor must inform you or your surrogate of this fact. At that time, your doctor is required to assist you in finding another doctor who will comply with the instructions in your living will.

"Can I revoke my living will?"

Yes. You may revoke your living will at any time and in any way without regard to your mental or physical condition. Revocation is effective at the time it is communicated to your doctor by you or by a witness to the revocation.

"If I do not have a living will, will my doctor continue to order treatment to prolong my dying process?"

Not necessarily. Your failure to prepare a living will will not raise any presumption as to your intent to consent to or refuse life-sustaining medical treatment. In fact, in one Pennsylvania case, the court permitted a close relative with the consent of two physicians to remove life-sustaining treatment from the patient who had no living will and was in a persistent vegetative state.

"Can my doctor refuse to treat me if I do not have a living will?"

No. Your doctor cannot require you to have a living will as a condition to provide treatment to you. Also, your doctor cannot charge you a different fee for providing treatment to you if you do not have a living will.

"If I have a living will and am involved in a serious accident, will emergency medical personnel refuse to treat me?"

No. Emergency medical personnel will provide any and all treatment necessary to save your life. Your living will does not apply until it becomes operative, i.e., your doctor determines you to be incompetent and in a terminal condition or in a state of permanent unconsciousness.

In summary, a living will lets you decide now what medical treatment you want in the future if you become incompetent and are in a terminal condition or a state of permanent unconsciousness. It helps to eliminate uncertainty regarding your desire for specific medical treatment, and provides guidance to your doctors and family members. Failure to prepare a living will may cause increased stress on your loved ones who are left to decide the proper medical treatment for you.

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Criminal Records: Do You Qualify for Expungement?

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

Friday, February 26, 2016

Deeds - Some Ways To Make Changes - By the People

Rene at By the People talks about Deeds of trust and how they can help people make the necessary changes to their title for a number of different reasons. Call 707-428-9871 with any questions, and visit the website at

Thursday, February 25, 2016

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.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Power of Attorney

Rene at By the People in Fairfield CA talks about just some of the reasons for a need for a Power of Attorney. These documents can be really important aids in helping loved ones. For any questions about the types of Power of Attorney, and what may be beneficial for your individual needs, call Rene or Tammy at 707-428-9871 and visit the website at

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Four Reasons Why Business Owners Should Make A Will

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Giving Someone the Power of Attorney

Power of attorney is a legal term in fact. This is a form or a document that is basically legal because it will be notarize by someone in the right position like the lawyers. Power of attorney allows some to have the authority to handle some other person's business affairs. There are two individuals involve in the process. The first is the principal which will authorize someone to act on his or her behalf. The second person is the agent or the attorney in fact who is appointed to carry out the task of its principal. In the United States, attorney in fact is the common term used; this person must be loyal and most importantly honest in carrying out his or her tasks. The attorney in fact may or may not be paid but for the record most principal would choose someone close to them to act as his or her agent. Usually the principal chooses individuals close to them as the agent because this individual acts as a confidant to the principal.

When making a power of attorney form, you should decide on what type you will use. This form may be limited or special and general. The effectiveness of its power ends when the principal becomes incapacitated or incapable or even before she or he dies. In this case, the principal will be unable to grant the power needed unless the grantor or principal will state and specify that the power of attorney still have its effectiveness even if he or she becomes debilitated. In case when the principal dies, so the effectiveness of the power of attorney ends as well.

There is also the durable power of attorney which encompasses an advance directive that sanctions the attorney in fact. In this position, the agent makes decisions regarding health care of the principal which now happens to be the patient. The decisions would include terminating care; consent to give or not to give any medication or procedure or treatment. An advance directive is very much different with a living will. A living will is a written document stating the patient's wishes regarding the health condition but this does not allow the agent to make any medical decisions.

In the end, it is really very important to understand power of attorney because giving or assigning this to another individual requires a lot of understanding. Yes, it is very easy to acquire such but then it will all end up when the agent would act upon the power of attorney.

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Saturday, February 20, 2016

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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Friday, February 19, 2016

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.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

What Is A Limited Power of Attorney?

A limited power of attorney is used for a very specific purpose that can be clearly defined when a power of attorney is needed. The agent or attorney-in-fact that is appointed does not have control over the person's entire life, only the specified authority granted to them in the form. In these cases, these types of attorneys are usually used for financial transactions and the sales of real estate or personal property such as motor vehicles. Again, this appointment has no control or influence over any other aspect of the person's life. They can only make decisions in a limited area and within limited parameters.

With a limited attorney, it can be given to a person or organization for a specific dealing. The person or organization has the authority to do what is specified in the power of attorney until it expires or it is revoked. The authority granted to the agent or attorney-in-fact can lasts as long as needed or includes a specific date that it will expire. Most anything a person can do themselves can also be done through an agent or attorney-in-fact appointed in a limited power of attorney.

There are a number of reasons that a limited attorney may be used. However, these are not the only reasons and there are many more, as long as they are not disallowed by state law. Some of the power or authority granted to an agent or attorney-in-fact can include:

* Any and all banking transactions

* Safety deposit box entry

* US security transactions

* Debt collections

* Real estate sales

* Real estate management

* Real estate purchases

* Borrowing money

* Management of a business

* Government issues

* Financial decision making

* Gift giving and real estate planning

* Buying and selling vehicles

* Buying and selling of other property, such as jewelry, furniture or electronics

* The signing of paychecks

* Moving dealings

* Shipping and storing items and goods

* Custodial care of children

* Child medical care

A limited power of attorney is used when a person can not take care of the business themselves. For example, when the person will be out of the country, or there are other commitments or health reasons that stop them from being able to complete the task themselves.

Giving someone power of attorney status is different from state to state, however it usually entails filling out a form and signing off on the document. The limited power of attorney form can also be revoked at any time and for any reason as well. The person still has complete control over their life and the status of the limited power of attorney appointment.

Choosing an agent or attorney-in-fact for a limited power of attorney should still be considered carefully to make sure that they will carry out the person's wishes correctly and will act in the best interest of the person.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Advantages of an LLC | What is an LLC?

Are you wondering what the advantages of an LLC are? Wondering what is an LLC, an S-Corp, Partnership or Sole Proprietorship? Learn why you might consider the advantages of an LLC as your choice for choosing the entity of your company structure.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

4 Reasons to Form an LLC or Incorporate Your Business

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

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

1. You are sending a bad message to your customers

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

2. You can protect your assets

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

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

3. There are important tax benefits

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

4. It will be easier to raise capital

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

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

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Living Trust and Wills - By the People

Living Trust or a will? Rene talks about some of the differences and what sets one apart from the other to help you make the best decision for your needs. Call Rene or Tammy at 707-428-9871 with any questions you may have, and see the website at

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Why You Need a Durable Power of Attorney Now!

Planning for unfortunate events such as serious illness or injury is rarely on anyone's list of favorite pastimes. Sometimes, though, enduring the small discomfort that may accompany preparing for the unexpected will avoid untold anguish on the part of your family and friends. This is certainly the case with the Durable Power of Attorney, an often simple document that becomes so very important if sickness or injury renders you unable to take care of your own affairs.

Power of Attorney Defined

A Power of Attorney is a document in which you (as the "Principal") allow someone else (the "Agent" or "Attorney-in-fact") to act legally on your behalf. The Power of Attorney may be limited to very specific actions that the Agent is authorized to take on your behalf. On the other hand it may give the Agent very broad powers. In either event, the Agent you appoint in the Power of Attorney should be someone that you trust without reservation. That could be a family member, an advisor, a trustworthy friend or a bank or similar institution.

The "Durable" Power of Attorney

The significance of having a "Durable" Power of Attorney is best understood if you know what can happen with the plain old garden variety of Power of Attorney.

If you sign a Power of Attorney that is not "durable," the document remains effective only while you are alive and competent to handle your own affairs. If you become incompetent or die, the Power of Attorney is automatically revoked by law and your Agent is no longer able to act on your behalf. This prevents a Power of Attorney from becoming irrevocable inadvertently, and, until recent times, it was the only way a Power of Attorney could be prepared.

The non-durable Power of Attorney has limited usefulness for family and estate planning purposes, though, because the Power of Attorney is often most needed when you have become incapacitated! That is when you really need someone else that is able to make legal decisions or take other actions on your behalf.

All fifty states now permit the use of a "durable" Power of Attorney that is not revoked simply because the Principal becomes incapacitated or mentally incompetent. This makes the Durable Power of Attorney a far more reliable document, particularly for family and estate planning purposes, since you may now authorize your Agent to act on your behalf even after illness, injury or other cause has rendered you unable to manage your own affairs. Even with a Durable Power of Attorney, however, the Principal's death causes an immediate revocation of the document and termination of the powers that are given to the Agent.

A Matter of Convenience

The Durable Power of Attorney is often used as a matter of convenience.

Suppose, for example, you have your home listed for sale. You have also planned a long awaited trip to visit Aunt Trixie in Deadwood, South Dakota, and you are concerned that an interested buyer may come along while you are on the road. A Durable Power of Attorney would be handy here to appoint someone you trust to act in your absence to negotiate the sale and sign any documents that are needed to make the deal binding.

The Durable Power of Attorney could be prepared so that it is effective only until the date you plan to return from your trip, and it might describe specific terms that your Agent must include in the sale, such as the minimum sale price that is acceptable to you.

A Matter of Protecting Loved Ones

What happens if, from illness, injury or another cause, you become physically or mentally incapacitated to the point that you are no longer able to handle your own legal affairs?

Let's suppose again that while you are incapacitated it becomes necessary to mortgage your home to pay your medical bills. Who will sign the mortgage? Even if your home is jointly owned with your spouse, he cannot obtain a mortgage without your signature.

In those circumstances it would be necessary to request the local probate court to appoint a guardian for you that has the power to handle your legal affairs. In many states, this type of guardian is referred to as a "conservator". Included in the conservator's powers might be the power to borrow money and sign a mortgage on your behalf making it possible to obtain the funds needed to pay the medical bills.

However, you may have heard that it is advantageous to avoid probate whenever possible, particularly if there is a good alternative available. The delay and expense associated with probate proceedings and the fact that they are conducted in the probate court, a public forum, make that good advice in most circumstances. And there is a better alternative than probate, but it requires you to act before the incapacity arises - you need to sign a Durable Power of Attorney.

When used in this estate planning context, the Durable Power of Attorney is generally worded very broadly to give your Agent the power to step into your legal shoes in almost any circumstance. In effect, you tell your Agent "You can do anything I can do."

Now, if you have prepared the Durable Power of Attorney and then become incapacitated, no one has to go through a probate proceeding to appoint a guardian or conservator to act for you - you have already given your Agent the power to do so. As you can see, the Durable Power of Attorney can save precious time and expense in critical situations and avoid having your personal affairs become the subject of a public proceeding.

Appointing a Successor Agent

It is often a good idea to appoint one or more successor Agents. The Agent you appoint in your Durable Power of Attorney may die or for some other reason become unable or unwilling to act as your Agent. In that case, you may be left without someone to act for you when you most need that assistance.

Appointing successors to your first choice of Agent helps insure that someone is always available to handle your affairs. Of course, each successor that you appoint should be someone that has your complete trust.

Revoking a Power of Attorney

As long as you are competent, you have the power to revoke your Durable Power of Attorney. To do so, send written notice to your Agent notifying him or her that the document has been revoked. Once the Agent has notice of your revocation, the Agent may take no further action under the Durable Power of Attorney. However, your revocation will not undo any permissible actions that the Agent has taken prior to being notified that the Power of Attorney has been terminated.

You must also notify third parties with whom your Agent has been dealing that the Durable Power of Attorney has been revoked. For example, if the Agent has been dealing with a stockbroker, you must notify the stockbroker as soon as possible. Do this in writing, as well, and do it immediately. Third parties who do not receive notice of the revocation are entitled to, and probably will, continue to rely on the Durable Power of Attorney.

Making the Durable Power of Attorney Effective upon Incapacity.

It is possible to have a Durable Power of Attorney that only becomes effective if and when you become incapacitated. This document is referred as a "springing" Durable Power of Attorney because it "springs to life" on the occurrence of a future event - your incapacity. The document should include a detailed definition of "disability" to make clear the circumstances in which your Agent may act on your behalf.

Knowing that your Agent is unable to exercise his or her powers until you are actually unable to do so yourself may make using the Durable Power of Attorney more comfortable for you. Unfortunately, even with a good definition of incapacity in the springing Durable Power of Attorney, your Agent may find that third parties are simply not willing to make the judgment that you are indeed disabled. If they are wrong, they may be held liable to you for any damages that you sustain as a result of the error in judgment. You may therefore find the springing document cannot be relied upon in all circumstances.

Don't Procrastinate!

Estate planning is easy to put off. But don't! Advance planning, such as executing a Durable Power of Attorney, may make a horrible circumstance for you and your family just a bit more bearable.

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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Durable Powers of Attorney in Wills and Estate Planning

Planning how your estate shall be divided, distributed and disposed of doesn't only mean creating a last will and testament or putting up a trust for someone. Estate planning also means preparing for the unexpected, such as falling ill to an incurable disease or becoming incapacitated later in life. In this regard, you'll need the help of someone you completely trust to put your affairs in order even when you're no longer able to make those important decisions or even communicate your wishes. Drafting durable powers of attorney gives this person you appointed the legal means to sign documents, make decisions, and represent you in court.

The Medical Power of Attorney and The Living Will

Actually, the functions of a medical power of attorney play in tandem to the directives of a living will. They're both health care directives, but the durable power of attorney for health care focuses solely on assigning someone the legal duty to make decisions related to your illness or health condition. It needs a living will, which contains your instructions and wishes, including end-of-life decisions. Once you've lost the capacity to think or act on your own, such as when you've fallen into a coma, this durable power of attorney takes effect and hands over the responsibility for your personal health and well-being to your agent or attorney-in-fact.

You'll have tighter control over managing your living will, estate planning, and health care directives when you specify that these shall only take effect after a physician has confirmed that you lacked the mental and physical capacity. In this case, you have a springing durable power attorney in hand. The term capacity here legally pertains to a person's lack of understanding of the nature of his medical condition, the health care options open to him, and the possible consequences from making these choices. In addition, that person also loses the ability to speak out or make hand gestures to relay his personal preferences for medical care. This is where a health care declaration becomes an invaluable document in your estate planning.

The Financial Power of Attorney

Through a durable financial power attorney, you give another person - someone you fully trust to act in your best interests - the legal authority to act on your behalf. However, this power attorney for finances doesn't hand over absolute authority to your proxy. You may limit or extend your agent's legal access to your financial accounts. Generally, your financial surrogate can file and pay your taxes, manage your business, handle financial transactions in your name, access your bank accounts, claim an inheritance, collect Social Security and other benefits, and make use of your assets and properties to pay off debts and provide for your family's daily expenses.

These two powers of attorney must be specified as durable when filed. Otherwise, they won't take effect once you were found lacking capacity to think and act for your well-being. A divorce ends both documents when the agent is also the spouse. The court may revoke an agent's authority under a power of attorney for health care when it finds that the agent has acted improperly. A second person named in the document takes over as an alternate agent.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

How Do I Set Up an LLC Without a Lawyer?

Limited Liability Companies (LLC) are business entities that got their start in 1977 and are considered to fit somewhere between sole proprietors/partnerships, and fully incorporated companies. Existing to fill the gap between corporations and sole proprietors LLCs can help to segment personal and business assets and liabilities while at the same time maintaining a simplified tax structure. An LLC is not corporations but is a company structure to operate like a corporation.


An LLC is in itself its own legal entity so long as it is treated as one. The LLC can assume obligations of debt. In other words the LLC, not the members, hold a loan and the liabilities that go along with it. If however the members of an LLC use the entity as their personal bank or for personal matters it is possible that the LLC will not be recognized as a separate entity if a lawsuit is filed.


As far as taxes go LLCs are considered by the IRS as pass-through entities. This means income passes through the business and goes straight to the LLC members just as they would with a sole proprietorship or partnership. These profits or losses are filed on each individual's tax return. A caveat to this is that LLCs can be taxed as a corporation if the members elect to do so. So, if treated appropriately an LLC can shield its members from the liabilities of a corporation without assuming the tax overhead a true incorporation must maintain.

How to File

If you are thinking about forming an LLC for your business, spend the next 20 minutes educating yourself on the difference between Sole proprietorships, LLCs, and S corporations. My guess is that for most people starting out as a sole proprietorship will be sufficient for current needs and much cheaper than filing for an LLC.

If you have done your homework and have decided that an LLC is the way to go, what next? The steps to filing an LLC are not complex and although requirements vary from state to state, setting up an LLC is a simple process that can usually be done in an hour.

  1. Articles of Organization

    The first step is to contact your secretary of state and obtain the required form for filing a LLC. In some cases this will be a simple fill in the blank form. The state of Washington for example has an online application. The processes guides you through establishing a legal name, completing the certificate of formation, establishing the registered agent, defining the members, and guides you through the initial annual report. The fee for WA is roughly $200.00, additional costs may apply depending on how you file. Google your secretary of state to find out more of the specifics.

  2. Registered Agent

    As you fill out your articles of organization you will be required to define the registered agent for the LLC. In most cases this will be you. The registered agent is the person or business that is designated to receive important documents on behalf of the LLC. The most appropriate individual for this is generally the one spear heading the business.

  3. Operating Agreement

    The operating agreement is the internal agreement between the members of the LLC. It is not required to form the LLC but it should be drafted to state the rights and responsibilities of the members. The operating agreement should contain but is not limited to the following;

    • Capital Contributions. How are the members expected to make capital contributions if the business needs additional capital?
    • Management Decisions.When the members are faced with important management decisions, does each get one vote, or do they vote according to their percentage interests in the LLC? Majority shareholders may feel they deserve a larger say.
    • Financial Withdraws. How do owners go about draws from the profits of the business?
    • Buy Out/Cash out. How do members leave the LLC? Will they receive an immediate payout of their capital contributions?
    • Compensation. If a member does leave how much should they be paid?
    • Share. While there are not actual shares within a LLC it should be defined how or if a departing owner is allowed to sell an interest to an outsider?

Publish a Notice

Some states require a notice of intent to be published. This can be as simple as running a classified ad in your local paper. Specifics on this will vary and your secretary of state can provide you with the steps required.


The last bit to think about is obtaining other appropriate insurance, permits, and licenses for your new LLC. Each industry had its own unique set of requirements so be mindful of this once your business is established.


LLCs are considered by many to be a great way to establish a small business. There is little required to get one started and protection they provide could be priceless. That said an LLC may not be needed for everyone. Only you know the entity type most appropriate for your business.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

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

Monday, February 8, 2016

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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Sunday, February 7, 2016

DIVORCE !!! Easier than you think? - By The People Fairfield CA

Rene goes over how a divorce does not always need to involve a full legal team. He explains the process of how By The People can help file the paperwork necessary for the courts. See more at

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Do Not Wait Until It Is Too Late! Set Up A Durable Power Of Attorney While You Still Can

Many things in life need to be decided in advance, but none more so than durable power of attorney. Why is this legal document so important? Because in it you indicate who will handle your finances and make decisions for you while you are of sound mind and body, or should you become mentally or physically incapacitated. This trusted individual is known as your agent.

Once you have decided to arrange for a durable power of attorney, how do you choose your agent? Since this individual will be stepping into your shoes to undertake as many or as few of your financial and property matters as you decide, you must choose someone whom you trust absolutely, who has the ability to manage money, and is at least 18 years of age.

Moreover, you must set up a durable power of attorney while you still have the mental capacity to sign a legal document and to make decisions for yourself. Once you can no longer do this, it is too late to give anyone else the authority to do so. Your wishes regarding bank accounts, financial transactions or real estate dealings could be largely ignored or unknown.

Normally people choose a trusted family member, spouse, friend or legal advisor for their agent. What is crucial to note here is that if you would like your spouse to manage your affairs in circumstances foreseen and unforeseen, you must arrange in advance for him or her to have a durable power of attorney. Lingering in the mind of the public is the misperception that your spouse can automatically sign documents for you if you are mentally or physically incapacitated, but this is not the case.

One of the great benefits of the durable power of attorney instrument is its flexibility and convenience. When your durable power of attorney takes effect and the powers that you grant your agent can be as broad or as narrow as you choose.

For example, you can be completely competent to manage all your affairs, but choose to give your agent power immediately because you would like him or her to act on your behalf if you are on vacation, out of the country, or sick. For a couple who moves to Florida to retire, it is much more convenient to have their New Jersey-based son, who is their agent, sell their New Jersey home.

By the same token, you can grant your agent power that becomes effective only in the future, whether you remain competent to handle your own affairs, or not. In either case, the powers that you grant your agent are completely up to you and can encompass as many or as few tasks as you designate.
Some of the powers that you can give your agent include the authority to sign checks, make deposits, pay bills, file tax returns, make health decisions (the subject of another article), sell property, or invest money.

You can also empower your agent to hire individuals to manage your business and personal matters, whether it is as simple as lawn mowing or as complex as investment advising. The only restriction is that your agent cannot write and sign a will for you, and his or her powers become void upon your death. Whatever powers you designate, you can also revoke at any time.

How is a durable power of attorney different from a power of attorney that is not durable, and why is appointing a durable power of attorney so much more important to your future? If you were to grant a non-durable power of attorney to your agent, it would only become effective only upon your showing signs of mental incapacitation.This means that if you are physically incapacitated, your agent does not have the authority to act upon your behalf.

As the following example shows, a non-durable power of attorney is not at all flexible.

When an elderly widower was hospitalized and physically incapacitated for several weeks, he was unable to rollover a CD and pay the premium on his life insurance policy in time.

Because he had previously arranged for his daughter to have a non-durable power of attorney only, she could not carry out either of these tasks for him. She was neither able to take advantage of a new CD offer with a better rate, nor was she able to prevent the life insurance policy from lapsing. Had the father arranged for his daughter to have a durable power of attorney, she would have been able to act on his behalf in both of these matters.

Finally, a durable power of attorney is much more affordable than the alternative: setting up a guardianship. If you have already planned for a comprehensive, durable power of attorney, and you become mentally incapacitated, the need for a guardianship is obviated. Establishing up a guardianship can take months of court time and medical testimony, as well as costing thousands of dollars.

Ultimately, it is up to you and your lawyer to decide how to best ensure that your affairs, whether in the present or the future, are managed according to your wishes. A well planned durable power of attorney can do just that.

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Defining Legal Terms - By The People Fairfield CA

Rene goes over what types of questions they can help answer at By The People. A legal document preparation company.

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

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.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

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.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Limited Liability Company (LLC) - Definition and Explanation

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a very flexible form of business structure that combines elements of the typical corporation and partnership structures. By forming an LLC, you create a legal entity that provides limited liability to its owners. Often, these are incorrectly called a Limited Liability Corporation instead of Limited Liability Company. It is truly a hybrid business entity that can contain elements and/or characteristics of corporations, partnerships and even sole proprietorships, depending on how many owners are involved in the Limited Liability Company. An LLC, even though it is a business entity, is actually a type of unincorporated business and is not a corporation. The main characteristic that an LLC shares with a corporation is the limited liability protection that they both offer. The main characteristic that an LLC shares with a partnership is the pass-through income taxation that they both offer. It is, however, much more flexible than a corporation and is very well suited to single owner businesses.

You should understand that neither limited liability companies nor corporations always protect owners from liability. The legal system in the United States does allow a court system to pierce the corporate veil of an LLC if some type of fraud or misrepresentation is involved or in a situation where the owner uses the company as an 'alter ego'.

Flexibility and Default Rules

All LLC legal statutes include a phrase similar to "unless otherwise provided for in the operating agreement" and this allows for the flexibility the members of an LLC have in deciding how their LLC will be governed. Some statutes provide default rules for the governance of an LLC that are in effect unless an operating agreement has been adopted.

Income Taxation

For the purposes of the Internal Revenue Service and Federal income tax purposes, LLCs are treated by default as a pass-through entity. If the limited liability company has only one member or owner, it is automatically considered a "disregarded entity" for tax purposes and the owner is allowed to report the income from the LLC on his or her own personal tax return as a Schedule C. If the LLC has multiple owners, it is treated as a partnership and must file IRS form 1065. Partners will then receive a K-1 for their share of losses or income so they can report it on their tax return.

LLCs also have the option of electing to be taxed as a corporation, simply by filing IRS Form 8832. Then, they will be treated the same way as a regular C Corporation or they can elect to be treated as an S-Corporation. If it is treated as a C-Corporation, the entity's income is taxed before any dividends or distributions are given to the members and then taxation of the dividends or distributions will be taxed as income for the members. Some analysts have recommended the LLC taxed as an S-Corp as the best possible small business structure, because it combines the flexibility and simplicity of the LLC with the self-employment tax savings of the S-Corp.


Here are the attributes of a limited liability company that are most widely viewed as advantages:

•Check the box taxation. LLCs have the option of being taxed as a sole proprietor, partnership, S-Corporation or C-Corporation, which provides a great deal of flexibility.

•Limited Liability. The owners of an LLC, who are known as members, are generally protected from some or all liability related to the acts and debts of the LLC, depending on state laws where the LLC formation took place.

•Administrative paperwork and record keeping is significantly simplified compared to a corporation.

•Pass-through taxation is automatic, unless the LLC elects to be taxed as a C-Corporation.

•Profits are taxed at the member's personal level, rather than at the LLC level by simply using the default tax classification given by the IRS.

•In most states, LLCs are generally treated as being a totally separate entity from the LLCs owners.

•LLC's can generally be set up with only one person being involved.

•An LLC can assign its membership interests, and the economic benefits of those interests can then be separated and assigned, which provides the economic benefit of distributing the profit and losses of the company, like in a partnership, without actually transferring the title to the interest.

•Except in cases where the LLC has adopted a corporate taxation structure, the income from the LLC will generally remain in the hands of its members

•By adopting an operating agreement, members can generally establish their own rules for governance and protective provisions for the members.


Here are the attributes of a limited liability company that are most widely viewed as disadvantages:

•Most states do not have a statutory requirement for an LLC to have an operating agreement, however, if you are a member of a multiple member LLC, you may run into problems if you don't have an operating agreement, since most states do not dictate the governance and protective provision for the members of an LLC as they would with a regular corporation.

•If a member decides to sell his interest in a limited liability company, and if the ownership of the LLC is vested in multiple members, it is not as straight forward as with a corporation since the LLC cannot issue and sell stock certificates.

•Some investors are more comfortable with investing in corporations, due to the possibility of an eventual IPO. This can make it harder to raise financial capital.

•Franchise taxes are levied on LLCs in many states. This tax is essentially a fee the LLC pays the state for the benefit of providing limited liability. This tax can be based on revenue, profits, the number of owners, the amount of capital employed in the state, or some combination of these.

•LLCs are considered to be taxable entities in the District of Columbia, which eliminates the benefits associated with pass-through taxation.

•In some states, renewal or annual fees may be higher than corporations.

•Creditors have been known to require members of LLCs to personally sign for and guarantee debts of the LLC, which obviously makes to owners personally responsible for the debt.

•A Series LLC is a special and uncommon type of LLC. It allows a single LLC to segregate its assets into separate series.

•A Professional Limited Liability Company, also known as a PLLC, P.L.L.C., or P.L., is a type of LLC that is specifically organized to perform a professional service. This will usually involve professions where the state requires a license to provide these same services, like a doctor, chiropractor, lawyer, accountant, architect, or engineer. Some states do not allow an LLC to participate in the practice of a licensed professional.

Mark Thomas: Mark has served in various roles in corporate America over the last 25 years, most notably in charge of large organizations with over 1000 employees. During this time, he has also owned several small businesses and has developed a keep awareness of how different the two worlds are and the special challenges faced by entrepreneurs. Because of his background, Mark is able to bring a unique perspective to new business owners and his addition to our team has all of us excited. Look for his posts to cover anything and everything related to business. He has also said that he is looking forward to hearing questions and comments from you, so please leave comments!
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Monday, February 1, 2016

Wills Vs. Trusts: Suze Orman

Finance expert Suze Orman discusses the differences between a will and a trust and why both are important to have.