Sunday, December 31, 2017

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Reasons Why Making a Will Is Important

Most people tend to procrastinate about making their last will and testament, primarily because it is a harsh reminder of our mortality and as such, we prefer not to have anything to do with it until the time comes when it is too late to do something about it. In most funerals you attend, you often hear people ask if the deceased left any will and the most common answer being "no" or "none."

While making a will is certainly no one's favorite thing to do, what many people don't realize is that it can alleviate your fears of death because once you decide to make it, you will be assured that the loved ones you leave behind will be taken care of properly and that your estate won't be spent on legal expenses from contests initiated by your heirs.

However, that's not to say you can't die without ever making a will. In fact, there are two ways by which you can die without a will, the first being because you never wrote one and the second being, the will you wrote was declared invalid by probate court. In both cases, this is referred to as dying intestate or dying without a valid will.

When you die intestate, that means the control of your property and the distribution of your assets will be done under the laws of intestacy. If for example you co-owned a property with two other people, the laws of intestacy dictate that the ownership will not transfer to the other co-owners but your heirs, which is one situation that the remaining co-owners may contest.

There are four types of assets where these laws don't apply and they are as follows:

  • Life insurance and retirement plan proceeds
  • Properties that are jointly owned with a right of survivorship
  • Properties held in a living trust
  • Properties under the community property system

The entire purpose of making a will is to make sure your property and assets are distributed to people and organizations as you intended. To make sure this happens you can elect an executor of your will to make sure every condition in your will is fulfilled. Choosing an executor means you should choose someone you trust like a relative or a close friend. If you don't have neither to choose from, then it should be someone who is dependable, trustworthy, well-organized, good with paperwork and diligent about meeting deadlines.

And lastly, making a will doesn't have to follow a strict guideline because what will matter is not how the will was written but the conditions written within. There are many ways these days to write your own will, such as software that you can use just by asking you a few questions where your answers will be inserted into a ready-made will. Having a will ready will also save you from having to hire a lawyer to help you write one - not only is it time-consuming to find a good lawyer, it is also quite expensive to have one draft your will for you.

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Friday, December 29, 2017

What You Should Know About Annulment

An annulment is a declaration by the circuit court that there is a defect int he marriage such that the marriage is void. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot have your marriage annulled because you did not consummate the union or because you changed your mind shortly after the ceremony. To qualify for an annulment there must be a defect which goes to the heart of the marriage. If the marriage is valid, the only recourse is to file for divorce. A divorce dissolves a valid marriage, whereas an annulment recognizes and declares a marriage to be so defective as to be non-existent.

A marriage may be void or voidable. The grounds for the annulment determine whether the marriage is void or voidable.

Void Marriages~The following marriages are void from the start and consequently not recognized at law: 1) a marriage to someone who is already married and 2) marriage to a close relative. Under these circumstances, the marriage is void from the start. Either party may petition the court for an annulment. There is no limitation as to when the suit may be filed. It is important to note that if one party was married to someone else at the time of the marriage, the subsequent death of the other spouse or the subsequent divorce from that spouse will not validate the marriage. The only way to validate the marriage in such a case is to remarry after the problem has been resolved.

Voidable Marriages~A voidable marriage is legally valid unless one of the spouses files for an annulment. Marriages are voidable, if one of the spouses: 1) was physically or mentally incompetent at the time of the marriage, 2) consented to the marriage under fraud or duress, 3) was a felon or prostitute without the other's knowledge, 4) was impotent, 5) was pregnant by another man without the other spouse's knowledge, or 6) fathered a child by another woman within 10 months of the marriage without the other spouse's knowledge. Please note that it is the "wronged" spouse who has the grounds for annulment and not the spouse who perpetrated the fraud.

Unlike void marriage, courts will not grant an annulment of a voidable marriage if the spouses continue to cohabit or live together as husband and wife after discovery and knowledge of the circumstances constituting grounds for the annulment. If there is cohabitation with knowledge of the circumstances or if you have lived with your spouse for two years or more before filing a petition for annulment, you will be required to file for a divorce instead of an annulment. We had the unpleasant task of telling a man who had been married five years that although he had grounds to annul his voidable marriage, he waited too long to file for annulment. He had to file for divorce.

The Procedure~The procedure for an annulment is the same as for a divorce. The only procedural difference is the grounds for the law suit. However, the relief available in an annulment is different tan in a divorce.

The Relief~While the court may make a temproary order for spousal support and attorney's fees, curing the pendency of the annulment suit, the court has no authority to grant post-annulment "spousal support" or equitable division of property and debts. If there are children, the court may rule on custody and child support, even if the marriage is void.

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

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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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

What Are the Different Business Legal Structures?

There are several common legal structures that you can set your business up under. Which one you chose is going to depend on what kind of business you are setting up, who else is involved in this plan with you, your own personal preferences, among several other factors.

Here is a quick overview of your options.

Sole Proprietorship

This is still the most common type of business structure, particularly for small businesses that are just starting out. This means that one person owns and is responsible for the business. They make all the decisions, but they also hold all the financial responsibility. The profits or losses from the business are reported on the proprietor's personal taxes.

General Partnership

This is very similar to a sole proprietorship, except that there is more than one person involved in owning and operating the business. The business is still connected to you, but also to your partners. This means you all share in the management and financial responsibilities of the business.

Corporation (LTD or INC)

A corporation is an entity that is formed and does business on its own, separate from anyone personally. This means that the financial situation of the business does not roll over onto the person who owns the business.

While this may seem like the better option to avoid personal liability if something happens within the business, it can be extremely tedious and expensive to set up and maintain. This is not a viable option for most small business owners because most of them cannot afford the set up fees or maintenance of records required.

Limited Liability Company/Corporation (LLC)

This is a newer and very popular type of business structure because it offers the benefits of a corporation, does not require a lot of the same hassle. Unlike a limited liability partnership, you can set up this type of company with only one person. It provides a lot of the financial protection of a corporation, but does not require as extensive measures to upkeep.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

This is a different type of partnership, but it also provides some of the financial protection of a corporation. Unlike an LLC, you must have at least two partners. However, it is easier to maintain and keep your structure than an LLC. This business structure is also much more common in the UK, which LLCs are more popular in the US.

How you set up your business is an important decision. The structure you choose could make a big financial and legal difference. It will depend on many factors, including local laws. Take the time to research your options and talk to an accountant or other business professional and anyone else involved in your business before making your decision.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Becoming Incapacitated Without A Healthcare Power Of Attorney

A Healthcare Power of Attorney is meant to be in place to allow you to make healthcare decisions for yourself when you are no longer able to speak for yourself. You are considered to be legally incapacitated when you can no longer speak for yourself. What happens when you become incapacitated without having a healthcare power of attorney in place?

If you become incapacitated or no longer able to speak for yourself concerning medical decisions without a Healthcare Power Of Attorney in place for yourself then family members in most states might be able to step in to make decisions for you. This is put into place by the power under the Adult Health Care Consent Act of most states. The Adult Health Care Consent Act states an order of succession of who will be able to step in to speak for you in case of your incapacity. The Spouse is given priority in the order of those that can step in and speak for you. The next in line is the children.
The next in line is parents. After that are siblings. In the order of succession after the spouse each group of children or parents if there is more than one must come to an agreement on a decision to be made. This situation puts an undue stress and difficult decision in the hands of family members that have within their choice the power to keep alive or let a family member die. This can lead to unnecessary fights or disagreements among family members at a difficult and stressful time.

When there are differing opinions on whether you should be allowed to stay alive or pass among family members the situation can quickly and literally become life and death. Unnecessary stress and arguments can be prevented by simply putting in writing your healthcare wishes in your advance directives. Take the choice and doubt over what you would have wanted to happen to you away from everyone else. This is a simple and selfless act that could potentially keep a family together by having a plan in place. Having a plan in place allows for everything to flow smoothly at a time when tensions and grief can be high and get even higher.

It is best to have a Healthcare Power Of Attorney in place to make your wishes clear and appoint one agent to make decisions on your behalf.

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Monday, December 25, 2017

Happy Holidays From Enoven

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a new year filled with peace and happiness

Sunday, December 24, 2017

How Thinking About An Uncontested Divorce Figures Into Your Decision About Divorce

An uncontested divorce is the most common type of divorce. An uncontested divorce is a divorce that occurs when there are no disagreements between spouses over divorce related issues like custody, finances, living arrangements, spousal support, child support, etc. An uncontested divorce can be an easy way for people to get divorced without the hassles of a legal struggle and undue wear and tear on emotions.

But, you may not be ready to seriously consider uncontested divorce if you're just thinking about it.

Thinking about an uncontested divorce can mean a variety of things from a psychological could mean that you are really on the brink of divorce.

It could also mean that you're feeling frustrated and just want to end things as fast and quietly as possible. If this is the case, you may want to make sure that you aren't just being lazy and you should examine your reasons for divorce first before you go any further.

"Does it mean I am really ready for divorce just because I am starting to think about an uncontested divorce?"

Maybe, maybe not.

Here's a few things you might want to think about before going onto next steps with regards to an uncontested divorce, just to make sure that you're really ready to go through with it.

Uncontested divorce situation 1:
You're thinking about an uncontested divorce because you want out but you aren't sure if your spouse is ready to call it quits.

This can be tough if you aren't careful. The main point of an uncontested divorce is to have both parties agree on things. If your spouse doesn't even know that you're thinking about getting a divorce, mentioning an uncontested divorce may result in an explosive discussion.

Uncontested divorce situation 2:
You've both agreed that you'd like a divorce, but haven't really clearly defined why, you just know you both feel ending the marriage is best.

Maybe there's a chance to make your marriage work! Don't be too hasty. If you can't clearly define why you and your spouse want to end your marriage, you're acting on emotion rather than a healthy combination of emotion and logic. Sit down, think it through and have a detailed discussion around all of the details.

But, be careful...this can be a volatile situation if you haven't talked everything through and mutually agreed on how you'll actually implement your divorce decision to have an uncontested divorce.

If one of you is more demonstrative than the other or is usually the person who drives the decisions, that sense of control may carry over into the discussion of the terms of the uncontested divorce.

Uncontested divorce situation 3:
You both agreed that you'd like a divorce (and you both know why), and you've successfully talked about and agreed on all of the details regarding the uncontested divorce.

Although it can be a sad situation most of the time, sometimes a divorce is actually a good thing unfortunately. If you and your spouse have amicably decided to part ways and can continue on as responsible happy adults, then an uncontested divorce can be an easy way to sever the relationship and all legal obligations. This is the best situation to be in if you're looking for an uncontested should be simple to finish from this point.

Lots of people think about uncontested divorces and never go through with getting one because they actually work things out...and that's a great thing! And, some people think they want an uncontested divorce but haven't agreed on the details and terms, they're just looking for the fastest way to end the marriage. If this is the case, the relationship can turn from being amicable (and each party thinking they want a divorce) to being nasty and a resulting tug of war ensues with each person striving to get what they feel they deserve out of the divorce...and this can lead to a drawn out negotiation which certainly is not an uncontested divorce.

Be smart when you're considering an uncontested divorce...make sure that you're really ready to go through with it. Don't let the term 'uncontested' fool you, an attorney can ethically and legally on represent one of the married parties. But, if you and your spouse can truly be amicable and truthful, an uncontested divorce can be easy.

Karl Augustine

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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Friday, December 22, 2017

What Is a Deed of Trust and What Is It Used For?

A deed of trust is a term for a document which has a specific legal meaning in the United States not shared in other parts of the world. It means that the value of land or so called real estate is transferred to a trustee who holds the land or real estate as security in relation to a loan. The usual language used to describe the person borrowing the money is that of trustor whilst 'beneficiary' is the word used to describe the person that benefits from the deed, or in plain English the person or institution that lent the money.

This type of legal document is only relevant in a few states. The states which usually use this type of deed are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia,Idaho, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. The other states in the United States tend to prefer the use of mortgages to secure the interests of lenders in relation to real estate transactions. Theoretically, the loan to which this type of deed relates is created in such a manner that lending institution or person transfers money to the trustor so that they may purchase the property so that the purchaser may then transfer this money to the person selling the property and the seller then executes a grant deed followed by an accompanying trust deed executed by the purchaser to create the trust deed. However, the usual practice is that the property is put into the hand of an escrow holder until the funds are available and the grant deed and deed of trust are in the possession of the escrow holder to enable the reversal of the purchase if all of the necessary elements do not fall into place.

A trust of this type is certainly distinguished from the nature of a mortgage because this type of property document revolves around three parties. A mortgage is only ever between two parties. Also, a trust of this nature does not actually involve a transfer of title from the mortgagor to the mortgagee in the way that a mortgage does. Usually, the method of documenting a deed of this nature is with the county clerk near the location of the property. This enables the searching and registration of encumbrances and interests in the relevant property such that it is possible to have an open system of property registration.

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

By The People FAQs

  • Are BY THE PEOPLE Personnel attorneys? No, we are not attorneys. We are Legal Document Assistants. In California, we are a licensed and bonded profession.

  • What if I need legal advise? You can always consult with an attorney of your choice. We can provide you with a referral for an excellent local attorney who specializes in cases similar to yours if you have questions we cannot answer for you, or your situation is more complicated than our services are meant to help with.

  • Do you have a Notary Public? Yes, whenever we are open we have a Notary Public on staff. If you are a BY THE PEOPLE customer, all Notarizations of your documents are included in our fees. If you have documents not prepared by BY THE PEOPLE, we charge $10.00 per signature you need notarized, in Cash Only. You must sign the document in our presence and provide valid photo identification.

  • Does BY THE PEOPLE handle Criminal Matters? No, we only handle uncontested civil matters. However, if you would like to contact us, we may be able to refer an excellent local attorney to you.

  • I need to have my documents prepared immediately. Do you have Rush or Same-Day document preparation services? Yes, we can prepare certain documents within a few hours, if necessary. Rush and Same-Day services are available for the following documents: Wills, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives, Deeds, LLC and Incorporation Articles. A modest Rush Fees will apply to these services.

  • How long will it take to prepare my documents? The documents we prepare at BY THE PEOPLE are typed specifically at your direction. All documents are then rigorously proofed to ensure you receive the highest quality legal documents available anywhere. Most of our documents are prepared and ready for you to sign within one week, depending on your situation. 

For more information please visit

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

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.

Monday, December 18, 2017

What Happens If You Become Incapacitated Without A Durable Power Of Attorney

A General Durable Power Of Attorney is an estate planning document that is meant to be in place for if you become incapacitated or disabled and are no longer able to speak for yourself or carry on your financial affairs. The durable nature of the power of the attorney comes into play when a trusted person that you name in the document steps into place for you to manage your assets and handle your affairs for you until you recover or for the rest of your life. What happens if you do not have this important document in place and you become disabled or incapacitated and are no longer able to act on your own behalf?

If you become incapacitated in most states without a General Durable Power Of Attorney in place for yourself then the Probate Court in your county steps in and decides who would be the person to handle your affairs that would have named in your power of attorney if would have properly made one. The probate court in your county of residence most likely must appoint both a Guardian and Conservator for you. A Guardian is appointed to look after your health and well-being and make decisions that are in your best interest of your person. A Conservator is appointed by the Probate Court to look after your money and make sure that you are not being taken advantage of financially. The conservator must file strict accounting reports with the Probate Court and will most likely have to post a bond in case any money is mishandled. This process can be extremely costly and drain your assets before you get to enjoy them again after you regain capacity or pass them on to your loved ones.

A General Durable Power Of Attorney eliminates the need to appoint a Guardian and Conservator as a trusted person is named and given the powers to carry out your needs if you become incapacitated. This document allows you to be in control of your own affairs through anther instead of the choice being out of your hands and made by a government agency at a much greater cost of time and money. While it is not pleasant to think of yourself being incapacitated at any point in your life, it is a reality that most people do not die right away and go through some period of disability. Protect yourself by planning ahead.

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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Legal Document Preparation - By The People

Rene talks about how By The People Document Preparation Service in Fairfield CA can help people with uncontested legal matters in an inexpensive way. See more at, or call 707-428-9871

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Setting Up an LLC - The Benefits and Steps of a Limited Liability Company

A limited liability company (which is commonly abbreviated as LLC) offers limited liability to its owners as a legal form of business company in the United States. Many small business owners are drawn to this type of business formation because it offers limited liability for the actions and debts of the company. This type of business formation excludes personal liability from the general debts and other obligations of the company and limits the liability of the owners to the extent of their equity. An LLC has characteristics of both a partnership and corporation; the primary partnership characteristic is the availability of pass-through income taxation while the primary corporate characteristic is limited liability.

Many entrepreneurs choose to setup an LLC for tax reasons. LLCs avoid "double taxation" because the income of the LLC itself is not taxed at the company level. Instead, taxes on profits and deductions of losses are computed at the individual level on the personal tax return of each LLC member (owner). LLC owners can elect for the IRS to tax the LLC as a sole proprietorship, partnership, C Corporation, or S Corporation. Owners make this election through the IRS after the company forms with the state.

After setting up an LLC, the bottom-line profit of the business is not considered to be earned income to the members, and therefore is not subject to self-employment tax. But it is still important to consider that the managing member's share of the overall profit of the LLC is considered earned income, and is subject to self-employment tax.

Members of an LLC are compensated using either guaranteed payments or distributions of profit. Guaranteed payments represent earned income to the members, which qualifies them to enjoy the benefits of tax-favored fringe benefits. A distribution of profit allows each member to pay themselves by merely writing checks. However, as a member of an LLC, you are not allowed to pay yourself wages.

Another important perk of setting up an LLC is that the managing member of an LLC can deduct 100 percent of the health insurance premiums he pays, up to the extent of their pro-rata share of the LLC's net profit.

The basic steps to setting up an LLC are fairly simple:

Step 1: Find a copy of the LLC Articles of Organization Form for your state. This is usually located at the Secretary of State's office. It is also a good idea to check there are any rules concerning business names in your state.

Step 2: Choose a name for your business. Almost any name will work so long as it is not the same or deceptively similar to a name being used by another entity that is filed with the State Filing Office which is usually the Secretary of State's Office. The name must end with the words Limited Liability Company or an abbreviation such as LLC or L.L.C. The ending such as LLC or Inc is not considered part of the name when searching for availability.

Step 3: Complete and File the Articles of Organization form with the State Filing Office. The State Filing Office where you turn in the form is usually the Secretary of State where you are required to pay a filing fee. The Articles of Organization form is a relatively simple document that includes the name of your business, its purpose, office address, the registered agent who will receive legal documents, and the names of each initial member of your proposed LLC. A registered agent is simply a person or incorporated company who can accept service of legal papers if your company is sued or the person who can receive mail from the State Filing Office. You can act as your own registered agent, however, the address you use must be a street address and not a P.O. Box. The address is important to make sure you receive papers that are served or sent to your company.

Step 4: Submit a notice to your local newspaper for publishing. This step is sometimes required by your state, you may want to check to make sure. Some states even require this step to be done before filing your Articles of Organization form. This notice should detail your intention to setup an LLC.

Step 5: Prepare and Sign an Operating Agreement. This is not required by the state but is a very important step in maintaining your liability protection and preventing disagreements between the members. The Operating Agreement is an essential document which sets forth the rights, duties and obligations of each member of the LLC. It also usually sets the ownership percentages between the members, the division of profits and the distribution of income. This document can also strengthen your liability protection by demonstrating that you have completed the organization of the company and are in compliance with the process.

The State Filing Office usually does not provide Operating Agreements, this will be something that you have to come up with. Many people use online services such as, and other people go further and hire attorneys which can be much more expensive.

Step 6: Obtain an Employer ID Number (EIN) from the IRS. As a separate legal entity, your LLC requires its own federal tax identification number from the IRS. This can sometimes be avoided if an LLC is owned by only one person, in which case the person has the option of reporting taxes on his own social security number. To get the Employer ID Number you can acquire from SS-4 from most post offices and then file it with the IRS.

Step 7: Setup a Separate Bank Account for the LLC. A separate legal entity requires a separate bank account. It is important that you do not co-mingle your funds between business and personal bank accounts. The courts will look at this if you were to ever get sued.

Step 8: Document Ownership Interest Percentages of the LLC. To avoid disputes and ownership conflicts in the future, it is important to assign ownership percentages when the company is first formed. This step is not necessarily required, but it would be very wise.

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Friday, December 15, 2017

Should You Include Your Spouse When Forming a Small Business LLC?

In this video it talks about a couple of reasons why you may not want to have your spouse included in your LLC. But every situation is different.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

DUI Expungement Process - Steps to Clear Your DUI Record

If you are convicted of DUI, you may want to expunge your DUI record in order to get a job, loan, house, etc. Expungement refers to the process of removing or erasing your DUI records. You are required to petition the court in order to get your records expunged. This article discusses steps to clear your DUI record by covering the whole process from petitioning to obtaining expungement. Each state's expungement laws vary; therefore, this article gives you a basic idea on the process.

DUI expungement process:

1. Where to file a petition for expungement?

You need to file a petition for expungement in the superior court in the county where your DUI arrest occurred.

2. What are the grounds for denial of expungement?

You can be denied for expungement:

- if you haven't completed probation.

- if you didn't show a good reason to expunge your DUI record.

- if you are convicted of severe felony.

- if a great deal of time has passed since your arrest or conviction.

3. What are the grounds for acceptance of expungement?

You are allowed to expunge:

- if this is the only conviction on your record.

- if you didn't spend any time in state prison.

- if you have rehabilitated yourself.

4. How to file for an expungement?

- Do you need a lawyer?

You don't necessarily need a lawyer for expunging your records. It's just that this process involves a lot of paperwork and if you have a lawyer by your side, he can give you advice regarding that. If you don't wish to hire a lawyer, you should learn all the procedures that are required to get this process done.

- How long does it take?

The entire expungement process could take anywhere from 4 to 6 months.

- What is the filing fee? 

The filing fee may vary from $50 to $400 depending on your case and your state.

- What forms do you need to fill and where to get them?

You need to go to your county courthouse and ask the clerk for the expungement forms. As mentioned above the forms may cost around $50 to $400. The clerk may give you the following forms: 1. Expungement petition, 2. Affidavit or proof of service form.

5. What happens after you file the petition for expungement?

After you file the petition for expungement, a copy will be sent to all agencies that have your records like arresting agency, the county attorney, the city police department etc. They may accept or refuse your request. If they accept, the court will grant your petition without hearing. If they refuse, a hearing will be held and you are required to attend. (This law can vary from state to state). You will be notified of hearing date through the mail. In some states, though, the court sets the hearing date, while in others you have to pick the date. You must ask your clerk beforehand regarding how your state's county court hearing date is set.

6. The Court hearing and decision:

Your petition for expungement may or may not be granted. If you won the expungement hearing, you must check after 60 days to see for yourself whether your records show up during a criminal record check. The 60 days period is when the court orders all the agencies to seal your record. However, if you lose your hearing, you may need to ask for an expungement once again.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Features of a Revocable Living Trust

Financial advisor Ric Edelman discusses why a revocable living trust is a key part in the estate planning process.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Aging, Communication, and Preparation

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Legal Separation Vs Divorce - Understanding How to Choose

Happily ever after is not always the case when it comes to being married. Often times married couples have a hard time and need to have a break from each other for one reason or the other. It is amazing how many marriages actually end in divorce. However, before you make the decision to get a divorce it is important to know all the facts and options before making a choice. You need to look at legal separation vs divorce when choosing the right one to fit your needs. First let us look at and distinguish the differences.

Legal separation is similar to a legal divorce however there are notable differences that need to be taken into account. A legal separation does not permanently dissolve a marriage, it is something that can be temporary if so desired. There are some couples that just need time apart from one another and living separately is the answer.

A legal separation occurs when the two parties are living separately and it has been filed through the court system. Do not mistake a legal separation for a separation. A separation is not filed with the courts and does not carry the same provisions as a legal separation. Much like a divorce, a couples assets, property and child custody are addressed via a legal separation agreement which is filed with the courts. A separation does not provide provisions and is based solely on verbal agreements. Living separately is mainly used to determine if separating is really what a couple wants to do. There is not paperwork or filing with the courts in the case of a separation.

A legal separation is mainly different from a divorce in the fact that the couple is still legally married. There are benefits to living separately instead of immediately filing for a divorce. A divorce terminates the marriage and any and all joint interest the couple may share. A living separately does not terminate the interest however it does divide the interest. Another benefit of a living separately is the couple can still take advantage of the tax advantages of being married, they can also continue with joint insurance coverage.

Once legally separated can be canceled at any time and the marriage returned to its original status. If a couple automatically proceeds with a divorce when there is a chance for reconciliation, the couple would have to get re-married. If there is any possibility of a reconciliation a legal separation is the way to go. It gives you the time to decide if being separated permanently is what you really want.

The statistics show that 50% of first time marriages end in divorce, especially for individuals under the age of 40. This may not be surprising to many of you because it is a sad but true fact. It seems to be a quick fix for many troubled marriages. Maybe if more people know there were other alternatives to divorce, no so many divorces would be happening. There are times when all a troubled marriage needs is a little time and reflection for both parties to see that they truly were meant to be together.

Whether you choose to have a divorce or get legally separated, it is highly recommended that you obtain legal counsel. Both a legal separation and divorce require filings to be made in the courts. A divorce also requires a reason for the divorce whereas a legal separation does not require any reasoning. Do not take for granted the different options afforded to you, sometimes making decisions quickly and while in an irritated or frustrated state is rash. Divorce and separation are not games, they are serious matters and need to be viewed as such.

Divorce is not something anyone wants to experience but there are times when the only alternative to a bad marriage is divorce. Whether you decide to have a full blown divorce or give a legal separation a try, it is important to find out all the details and facts before making a decision. Each state and country have different rules and prerequisites that apply for both legal separations and divorce. This is one of the most important decisions you will make; therefore, make it wisely.

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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Friday, December 8, 2017

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, December 7, 2017

Making a Will - What You Should Know About Creating a Will

A will is an important document for any person to have. This document simply provides directions on how your property will be handled when you pass on. Many times, when people die without a will in place, a lot of misunderstandings can arise within the family and the community at large. It is therefore important to specify how one's property or estate will be handled to avoid these misunderstandings.

A will writing service is important to help you come up with your will. It is possible for you to write your will without any help but if you are not familiar with this process, you need guidance so that you can write a will correctly.

The first thing you need to do is identify a good will writing service that has the requisite experience and reputation to ease the process of making a will. There are a number of benefits that you will get when you work with a will writing service. Some of these benefits include:

• Correct Structure

Certain things are required when you are drawing up your will. You must indicate that you are of the right age and of sound mind. You must also indicate that this is your last will and testament. You still are able to amend your will at any time you wish to.

These services will also help you to understand technical terms used when writing a will. A man writing a will is called a testator while a woman is called a testatrix. The will has to be signed by the testatrix or the testator and signed by two other witnesses.

• Tax Implications

Certain assets or estates can have tax implications. If you leave your estate to someone else other than your spouse, they might be required to pay taxes on it. It is important to know this in advance and plan for it accordingly.

• Will Execution

Another important aspect to consider is the executor of the will. This is the person who will carry out the terms of the will should you pass on. The person who helps you write the will can also be the executor if they have that capacity. If not, you should name the person or company to carry out this function.

Making a will should not be a problem for you. With the right people to help you, this process will be easy. It will allow you to rest well knowing that your estate will be handled correctly when you pass on.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Advantages of an Uncontested Divorce

Many states these days give couples the ability to go through a simple uncontested divorce. In fact, this is the way most couples do divorce. It's relatively simple and inexpensive, and it preserves both parties' dignity and privacy.

Divorce is expensive no matter how you slice it, but if you do need to get a divorce, an uncontested divorce will let you save yourself time and money, and as much heartache as possible. This situation is difficult enough, and you don't have to make it more difficult to making the divorce itself contentious unless it's absolutely necessary to do so.

If there are particularly contentious issues in your marriage still to be resolved (such as child custody), then an uncontested divorce may not be the way to go, since of course you'll need to make sure your rights and those of your children are taken care of. In fact, in some states, if there are children involved, an uncontested divorce may not even be an option for you.

However, if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are on relatively good terms and simply need not to be married anymore, and if issues such as child custody are already worked out between you, then an uncontested divorce is going to be easier for everyone. Yes, the process of getting divorced is still painful, but an uncontested divorce makes it as simple a process as possible, too.

Privacy is also an issue with divorce. The disclosures you make to each other don't have to be a matter of public record unless you each want them to be if the divorce is uncontested. The agreement you make will have to be a matter of public record, but only that. By contrast, contested divorce is likely to have every single little nuance of the divorce a matter of public record simply because spouses in a major battle with each other make such things a matter of public record. So if you want to protect your privacy, work out the details of the divorce between you and simply make the final agreements a matter of public record, not every little discussion you to have had as well. This is easier on your children, too.

If you think you can't negotiate an uncontested divorce with your spouse, that's fine. Perhaps you can't. However, make sure that your spouse and you are both aware of the problems an uncontested divorce can help you avoid. It may very well be that simply faced with the differences in navigating through a contested divorce versus an uncontested one will convince the spouse who doesn't want the uncontested divorce to go through with it.

Now, it should be noted that you don't have to agree as to why the divorce is happening to make it uncontested. You only have to agree on the terms of the divorce to make an uncontested divorce possible. Therefore, at first blush, it may certainly be true that you think you cannot manage an uncontested divorce. However, after a bit of time has gone by and tempers have cooled, you may think that having an uncontested divorce is best for you after all. Think about it, think about the cost both financially and to your children, and then decide whether or not an uncontested divorce is your best bet.

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Monday, December 4, 2017

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

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

Let me ask you two important questions:
  1. Are you operating your business under your own name, a DBA or fictitious firm name, basically as a sole proprietorship or maybe as a general partnership? AND/OR
  2. Are you or your family at risk because of business or personal assets that are unprotected from unexpected losses or legal issues?
If you answered YES to either question please read on for important news about why NOW is the time to form an corporation or LLC for your business.
  1. Make it Official. Operating as a sole proprietorship or general partnership sends a message that you are still "testing" your business, or that you're not sure you'll really make it. Perhaps your accountant told you that incorporating is an unnecessary expense or that it won't help you save on taxes due to an expectation of low profits. This is the WORST marketing message you can send when you want to attract new clients and partners to your business, who want assurance that you're about your business and here to stay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, December 3, 2017

LLC Vs Sole Proprietorship: Which Is Right for You?

Most small business owners in the United States operate as a sole proprietorship, the default business entity. While this may work for some businesses for some time, it does not create any legal separation between your business and your personal assets. You will face both the risk of lawsuits and the potential of business debt that you cannot afford. Operating as a sole proprietorship is a risk that grows with your business.

If you want to protect your business and yourself forming an LLC is one affordable option that offers many benefits.

What is a Limited Liability Company?

If you form an LLC, you will create a separate entity that offers liability protection for owners. Your personal assets like your home and savings will not be at risk if your business is sued or has debts it cannot pay, provided you maintain the LLC and meet legal requirements. A limited liability company provides flexibile management options and it operates as a pass-through entity by default. This means that forming an LLC from a sole proprietorship will not change your taxes at all, if you have one member.

Choosing an LLC may also offer you additional benefits. You will find it easier to raise capital through investors, and you have the ability to deduct health insurance premiums. Self employment tax is based on net income and you can be taxed as a partnership or a corporation, if you choose.
Because it is very affordable to form a limited liability company and offers many important protections, it is the most popular choice for small business owners.

What is a Sole Proprietorship?

Sole proprietorships have one owner and they are not legal entities. This means that operating a sole proprietorship offers no distinction under the law between your business liabilities and assets and personal liabilities and assets. If there are business debts or a lawsuit that you cannot pay through business assets, your home, savings and other assets will then be at risk.

There are benefits to remaining a sole proprietorship, depending on your situation. Taxes are straightforward, you do not need to register with the state or file annual paperwork, and payroll can be much easier to set up. There will be no compliance issues to worry about, either.

Which is Right for You?

The choice between a sole proprietorship and LLC depends on your business. If you have a very low-risk business that does not involve working in people's homes, offering advice or selling products, remaining a sole proprietorship may be your best move. This is especially true if you are very unlikely to incur great liabilities. If you are concerned about keeping your business and personal finances and assets separate, however, or you plan to expand or take on debts, it is worth considering forming a limited liability in your state or in another state.

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Saturday, December 2, 2017

Three Lessons on Durable Powers of Attorney

Durable Powers of attorney are an essential ingredient in a complete estate plan, which allow for continued financial management in the event of incapacity. Under a durable power of attorney, an attorney in fact makes financial decisions on behalf of the principal. The attorney in fact can be given broad and sweeping powers. Conversely, powers granted by a durable power of attorney can be limited to particular assets or powers. Accordingly, the level of control given to the attorney in fact should reflect the particular requirements of the estate as well as the principal's comfort with a broad grant of authority. In this article, the author teaches three lessons on effective execution and implementation of durable powers of attorney.

First Lesson: Why would I Need One Now?

The legality of durable powers of attorney stems from the law of agency. Under agency law principals, an individual with capacity may give an agent powers-to contract, to represent the principal or to revoke or amend a trust, for instance. In the case of a non-durable power, the agency terminates upon the principal's incapacity. Durable powers survive incapacity, but the principal must have capacity at the time of execution in order to effect a valid power. Accordingly, executing a durable power of attorney for financial management should be done prior to incapacity.

Waiting until one becomes unable to coherently express one's wishes with regards to financial management decisions is too late, and a court-appointed conservatorship may become necessary. What about the successor trustee designated in my trust, or the executor of my will? Would they be able to step in? Since the principal does not die at incapacity, only an attorney in fact designated under a properly executed power of attorney may step in to make financial management decisions. A last-minute durable power of attorney executed during incapacity would not survive a court challenge, however expensive or damaging the result.

Second Lesson: Consider making the Power Immediately Effective

Often, unwary estate planners will execute "springing durable powers of attorney," which only become effective upon the incapacity of the principal. Incapacity is determined according to a test set out in the power, such as a determination made by a medical doctor or a court rendered decision. But who wants to go through the expense, difficulty, and uncertainty of initiating a legal procedure to determine incapacity? Isn't one of the goals of estate planning to prevent unnecessary expense and delay? Moreover, doctors frequently hesitate to make determinations of incapacity because of liability they may face.

In most cases, a better strategy would be to execute an immediately effective durable power of attorney, which gives an attorney in fact the power to make decisions on behalf of the principal without any finding of incapacity. Many are fearful of an immediately effective power of attorney, reasoning that no one should be given such power over their financial affairs unless they are totally incompetent. If they have such a lack of trust for the attorney in fact, why are they executing a power of attorney in the first place? One would think that even more trust would be required when the principal is incompetent and has little influence over the attorney in fact. Finally, simple measures can be taken to avoid disasters before incapacity. Consider sealing a copy of the durable power of attorney in an envelope labeled "do not open until my incapacity." In addition to oral instructions, this can help to avoid the scenario of a run-away attorney in fact who uses the power of attorney to access financial accounts before incapacity.

Third Lesson: What powers should the Attorney-in-Fact be given?

The powers given to an attorney in fact depend upon the principal's desires and the particular concerns that stem from the types of assets held. The durable power of attorney should be coordinated with the will, trust and advance health care directive to ensure that they do not contradict each other. Namely, should the attorney in fact have the power to create trusts? To rescind or amend existing trusts? Should the attorney in fact have a power to make gifts to himself or to others? These powers can help ensure that preparation for long term care (medical) or tax planning can take place even after incapacity. Before executing a power of attorney, individuals should be fully informed of the powers that they are granting, and the possible consequences of such sweeping grants of power. In all cases, it's best to consult with an attorney who can advise on specific risks.


Durable Powers of Attorney are one of the five essential documents in estate planning discussed in this article series. Unlike a will or trust, which mostly deals with decisions that are made upon one's death, the durable power of attorney deals with life-time financial management and estate planning questions. Individuals should be aware of the risk in waiting to execute the power of attorney; the hazards of "springing" powers; the range of powers that can be given to the attorney in fact; and the risks associated with a sweeping grant of authority to the attorney in fact. --

This article is intended to provide general information about estate planning strategies and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice from a qualified attorney. Treasury regulations require a disclaimer that to the extent this article concerns tax matters, it is not intended to be used and cannot be used by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law.

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Friday, December 1, 2017

How to Get an Annulment

Divorces are often easier to get than annulments because annulments require proof that the marriage was procured or initiated through fraud. Get a marriage annulment and understand misconceptions about annulments with advice from a certified family mediator in this free video on legal self-help.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Advance Directives: A Special Insurance Policy That Everybody Needs

What is insurance? A thing providing protection against a possible eventuality.

Given the advances in medical technology, there are many possible circumstances in which my body may be kept alive even if my mind may have ceased to function. This could result from accident or disease. It could occur in the near or distant future. Under these circumstances, I have very specific desires of things that I want to be done and others that I want to stop or prevent from occurring. Can I take out an insurance policy that will protect me against institutions or people taking actions that are against my wishes? Yes, it's called an Advance Directive.

This form of insurance can be acquired without an agent or attorney. To get this coverage you must invest some time and energy to get your state's forms and fill them out. This is usually a two-part form with the first section designating who can make health care decisions for you in the event that you are not capable. This is usually called a Medical Power of Attorney designation. The second part, sometimes referred to as a living will, is where you are able to give physicians and family specific instructions regarding your care. The forms can be downloaded on-line from several different sources or can be picked up from any hospital in your area.

The mechanics of the process can be a little difficult and uncomfortable. This small discomfort allows for procrastination to jump in and convince you that this is a good idea and you really should do it someday, but not today. Maybe you'll do it next week or next month. One way to help you get over the hurdle of procrastination is to really look at some of the many benefits that you get from completing this task.

Three benefits of Advance Directives:

  • Peace of mind from knowing that you have insurance in place.
  • A huge gift will be given to your family and loved ones. In the event that it is needed, they will be greatly helped and assured that you are guiding their decisions.
  • Protection of your estate and financial assets. Medical institutions are allowed to utilize their technology to prolong life even when the outcome may be futile. This process can drain your financial resources and possibly impoverish your family.

When you discipline yourself to create an advance directive, set aside adequate time to consider specific details. The more specific you make your wishes, the better the quality of your policy. After completing the process you will enjoy a deep sense of satisfaction. So set a deadline to help you guide the process and make it happen.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

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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