Monday, February 27, 2017

Tax Benefits of an LLC Business - Why you NEED a LLC

Tax Deduction rules on what you can and can't write off.

Tax Benefits of an LLC Business - Why you NEED a LLC

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Which Business Entity Is Right for You?

Entrepreneur Network partner Brittney Castro talks business types with attorney Jessica Olmon.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Probate Process - What Is Probate? The Steps to Administering an Estate

Most people have heard the word probate before, but they might be wondering 'what is probate?' The probate process can refer to several things. The probate court determines whether or not a will is valid. If an executor is not named in the will, the court will assign an executor to perform those duties. However, the entire process of administering the estate of the deceased according to the will's instructions can also be referred to as probate. Many people think that an executor simply reads the will and hands out the bequests to the heirs. There is so much more involved in the duties of an executor during probate.

The actual court probate process is only a part of the responsibilities of the will's executor. The first duty is to file a petition to start probate in each of the states where the deceased owned property. Because each state has slightly varying probate laws, the answer to the 'what is probate?' question will change a little depending on a specific state's legal code. However, there are some common events between states when it comes to processing wills and other estate administration. Before the executor of the will can even be formally appointed or approved, a petition has to be filed, a notice of petition must be published with a certain amount of lead time (usually at least 15 days), the legal documents must be given to the judge for approval, and the concerned parties (such as beneficiaries) must be notified.

Following these notifications, the court hearing will formally begin the probate process and approve the named executor of the will. After the court hearing, the executor needs to inventory all of the deceased's assets. This information has to be filed with the probate court. Next, all creditor's claims are addressed and paid off. The IRS also has to be paid. It is the executor's responsibility to file all taxes, including income, estate, and others, by their respective deadlines. The timelines are not adjusted due to the death of the taxee. What is probate? It's probably a lot more than most people realize.

Once all debts and taxes are paid, the executor of the will files a petition for the judge's approval of the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries. The concerned parties are notified, and there is a court hearing where the judge approves the distribution of assets. Finally in the probate process, the executor transfers those assets to the beneficiaries. These steps are the main answer to the 'what is probate?' question.

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Tips on How to Get Your Criminal Record Expunged

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

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

Find out if your record can be dropped.

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

Give the judge a reason to allow the expungement.

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

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

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

Begin the process early.

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

Be mindful of pretend lawyers and scams.

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

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Wednesday, February 22, 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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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Advance Directives and Why You Need One

You've probably heard of advance directives, but are unsure of what they actually do and how they can help you. The truth is that these are a great way to plan ahead for your future, but they do require a bit of work upfront first. This is a good thing though, since it will save you time and energy later. It's better to have the work done before you actually need to do it so in a time of emergency everything is already sorted out beforehand.

The first thing to be aware of is the medical power of attorney, also called a healthcare proxy. This person is lawfully able to make medical decisions for you in the event that you are unable to. This includes when you are suffering from dementia and when you are not conscious. This is a big shoe to fit into, so to speak, so it is important that you select someone that you trust completely. Sometimes, you may want to select a backup healthcare proxy in the event that something happens to your original choice for POA. This doesn't happen often, but when it does you will want to be prepared. So having another person you trust on deck allows you to not worry about constantly updating your POA paperwork.

You also need to know that your POA will not be able to make decisions that override your decisions. This is to benefit you, of course. If you were to wake up out of a coma, you would then be able to once again make your own decisions and not have to worry about your POA making a decision that you do not want them to.

Some states do not actually honor other states' advance directives. Some do. So it will require a little research, either on your own or with your attorney, to make sure that if you are moving from New York to California, for example, that your advance directive will hold up under the scrutiny of the legal system. The easiest solution to this problem is to have an advance directive made up for each state that you will be residing in. So if you do move into a California retirement home, make sure that you set up an advance directive as soon as possible once you are a resident there.

A final consideration for the State of California is that if you are in a skilled nursing facility and want to set up an advance directive, you must have a patient advocate sign the paperwork as a witness. Again, this is to protect you and your rights.

Basically, the State of California wants to ensure that the patient is of sound mind and that they are not being taken advantage of. This is why an advocate must sign-they look out for their patients' best interests.

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

4 Reasons Why You Might Need a Trust

Entrepreneur Network partner Mark Kohler discusses the importance of setting up a trust.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

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.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

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 14, 2017

Selecting a Legal Structure for Your Business

Starting a business requires prospective entrepreneurs to make hundreds of different decisions before opening their doors to customers. One of the most important decisions is selecting the right legal structure for your enterprise. The manner in which you choose to organize will impact your taxes, personal liability exposure, and fundraising options.

Sole proprietorships are the most common arrangement for people who work alone. This structure is a popular choice because it is the easiest to arrange and does not require any filings with the state. One of the biggest disadvantages of the sole proprietorship, however, is that entity does not exist apart from the owner. Consequently, the owner is personally liable for all financial obligations and damages resulting from lawsuits filed against the company. Another disadvantage is that it can be difficult to raise capital. Banks are reluctant to make loans to sole proprietorships, leaving the owners to rely on home equity loans or borrowing from family.

For enterprises with more than one owner, a partnership might be a good arrangement. Each partner contributes capital, labor, or expertise in order to turn a profit. The partners share in the profits, but like a sole proprietorship, they are also personally liable for debts and damages. One way in which partners can reduce personal exposure is by forming a limited partnership. This form consists of general partners who make decisions and assume the risks and limited partners with no control in the operations in exchange for reduced liability. Tax treatment is one of the main reasons this arrangement is selected. Profits and losses are passed through to the individual partners.

Limited Liability Companies, or LLCs, are a type of structure that is becoming very popular. This structure creates an entity separate from the owners. As a result, the owners are not liable for debts or judgments against the venture. Unlike a limited partnership, all members are free to participate in the management and enjoy protection from personal liability. LLCs also enjoy pass through taxation. However, the tax rules for these structures are complicated. The amount of paperwork is a huge hurdle, and members must file articles of organization with the Secretary of State or sign an operating agreement.

The right structure for your business depends on a number of different factors unique to your enterprise. For example, a small boutique selling handmade cat collars will obviously have less risk and perhaps less revenue than a company that provides window washing services to high-rise office buildings. Prospective entrepreneurs are advised to contact their attorney or accountant in order to discuss the taxation and liability consequences of the different entities. A number of free or low-cost resources to help you make your decision are available from your local chamber of commerce, Small Business Administration, or volunteers with the Service Corps of Retired Executives.

Selecting the organization for your business is one of the most important decisions you and your partners will make. Research all of the available options and seek advice from experienced professionals before making your selection.

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Monday, February 13, 2017

The Benefits of Legal Separation

Legal separation and divorce are very similar and they hold basically the same legal functions except for the fact that with a separation, you do not terminate your marital status. When a couple decides to become legally separated, it is not merely a verbal agreement. They can't simply say that they are not in love anymore and one of them will move out of the family home. Instead, they must go through the same process as couples who wish to undergo a divorce.

In a legal separation, the same issues will be addressed as in the termination of a marriage. The couple will have to sort out issues relating to asset division, property division, child support, child custody, visitation and spousal support payments (if there are any). The couple will also have to decide who will pay which debts as well.

There are a number of reasons why parties choose this rather than divorce, and the reasons are usually personal. People can choose separation for religious reasons, personal beliefs, health insurance concerns, or other financial reasons.

Oftentimes couples will decide to remain married for one of two reasons: either for the sake of their children, or for a financial reason. For example, if a non-employee spouse has a pre-existing medical condition or some other serious medical condition; they may need to stay on their spouse's medical insurance so they can keep getting necessary medical care.

In some cases the couple may need to remain legally wed until they reach the ten-year deadline for certain Social Security benefits. This holds true for the ten-year deadline for military enforcement advantages or, the twenty-year deadline for PX and commissary benefits.

There is another substantial benefit and reason why people choose legal separation and it has nothing to do with health insurance or money. They may be unsure if they really want to end their marriage; therefore, the time apart offers them a "cooling off" period where they can have time to think about what they really want. They may realize that they really do love each other, and later decide that they want to get back together. It's a lot easier to get back together after legally spending time away from one another as opposed to having to go through the process of remarrying.

Religion and culture can play a significant role in why couples decide to separate instead of divorcing altogether. In certain religions, divorce carries a negative stigma that many couples wish to avoid. With legal separation the couples can enjoy all the material benefits of a divorce without having to deal with the negative stigma attached. Separation does not allow for remarriage unless the marriage is terminated through a divorce, but it can be assumed that people who part for religious reasons don't plan to remarry anyway.

In many cases it is more affordable for the spouses, especially when the dependent spouse relies heavily on their spouse for medical insurance. When you factor in the quality of life enjoyed through the marriage, along with how much money it would cost for the dependent spouse to take out their own medical coverage (similar to what their spouse has been carrying), then it can be reflected in the alimony payments. Sometimes it is less expensive and allows the dependent spouse to remain on the health insurance, as opposed to paying them larger alimony payments, thus saving the expense for both parties.

Getting a separation in California does require some legal paperwork and going through the court system. The same as in a divorce, you want to have a qualified attorney representing your best interests when handling important matters such as child custody, child support, asset division, property division and possible spousal support payments. If you would like to enjoy the benefits of a legal separation, contact a skilled and knowledgeable divorce attorney without delay!

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Estate Planning : How are Trusts Taxed?

In estate law, trusts are taxed differently depending on whether they are revocable or irrevocable trusts. Learn how a trust is taxed from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

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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Friday, February 10, 2017

The Tax Benefits of a Limited Liability Company

A limited liability company, or LLC, is one of the most popular business entities today but also one of the newest. An LLC is unique in that it's a pass-through entity. The IRS does not consider an LLC a legal separate entity in terms of taxation, so all business income, losses, and expenses are "passed through" to individual owners to report on their personal income tax returns.

By default, a single member (or single owner) LLC is taxed as a sole proprietorship. An LLC with more than one member is taxed as a partnership by default. There are many tax advantages (as well as drawbacks) to forming an LLC instead of a corporation.

Flexible Taxation

One of the biggest benefits to forming an LLC is you can choose how you are taxed. This is one of the lesser understood advantages of a limited liability company. When you file your taxes, you can choose to file as a "disregarded entity" and get the default tax treatment or you can choose corporate tax treatment. If you choose the corporation taxation structure, your business will be taxed at a much lower corporate rate on the first $75,000 in income. Keep in mind an LLC's tax rate is completely dependent on the owner's income. If you have higher income, you will likely pay lower tax rates by choosing corporate treatment.

Lease Assets

With a limited liability company, you can lease your personal assets to the company. This means you can run your LLC from your home office and have the LLC leasing the office from you. Doing so means you are creating a business expense that you may be able to write off while improving your personal financial situation. This is a tricky area, however, as the expenses must be legitimate business expenses and you will need a formal lease agreement in place.

No Double Taxation

Corporations are subject to something known as double taxation, which means a corporation first pays taxes at the corporate level then again on income from dividends that are distributed to owners. LLC owners are not subject to double taxation; business income is reported on your personal income tax return and taxed once.

Tax Disadvantages

While there are certainly tax benefits to an LLC, there are drawbacks as well. LLC owners are required to pay taxes on their distributive share of the company's profit, even if they do not receive the distribution because the money stays with the business. Corporate owners are not required to pay taxes on business profits unless the profits are distributed (usually as dividends).

Finally, as an LLC owner, you will also be required to pay self-employment taxes, even if you are a single member LLC. Corporate owners who work as employees of the company, meanwhile, only pay half of this tax amount on their salaries while the corporation pays the rest.

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Wednesday, February 8, 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, February 7, 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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Sunday, February 5, 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, February 4, 2017

Is A QDRO Always Required In A Divorce?

For many divorcing couples, retirement plans make up the majority of the marital estate. While some couples can agree to simply "each keep their own" in the asset division, for many other spouses a division of one of the accounts is necessary to ensure a fair distribution of marital assets.
When division of a retirement asset is required in a divorce, many people are unsure how to proceed. They may have heard the term Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), but have no idea if or how it applies to their situation. This lack of knowledge often leads to errors that can end up costing them more money in the long run.
This is why it is important to understand early on what type of retirement accounts exist. Once you know what type of accounts are in play, you can assess whether a QDRO - or a different, similar order - is required. You will also better understand the most effective way to distribute the assets in the final property division settlement.
Individual Retirement Account (IRA) - Since IRAs are not subject to ERISA, a QDRO is not required to divide this type of account. Pursuant to 26 U.S.C.A. §408(d)(6), a transfer from an IRA can be made to a spouse or former pursuant to a decree of divorce or a written instrument incident to a divorce. This written instrument can be either a separation agreement or divorce decree. In most cases, a letter of instruction and copy of the Final Judgment/Settlement Agreement should be enough to transfer money from the IRA.
Non-Qualified Plans - There are numerous types of retirement assets that cannot be divided in a divorce. Non-qualified plans fall outside the purview of ERISA and are not subject to division via QDRO (or usually any other means). These plans usually have names that include words like Supplemental, Excess Benefit, SERP or even Non-Qualified, and are offered to key, high-ranking employees as a means of providing additional retirement benefits beyond those allowed under ERISA. The language of many of these plans specifically preclude payments to anyone other than the employee, and no court order can change this.
Non-ERISA and Government Retirement Plans - ERISA specifically excludes any federal government retirement plans. While these accounts are divisible, it is done with a document other than a true QDRO. While the name QDRO may be used generically to refer to any order related to retirement account division, government plans each have their own mechanisms for division and it is important to understand each. You can learn more about these plans at and Rules governing state and local government plans vary by state, so it is important to familiarize yourself with the rules specific to your jurisdiction.

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Friday, February 3, 2017

Partnerships, LLCs, Corporations What’s Best for Your Business

Don't know if you should choose an LLC or a Corporation? Learn some tips here on what's best for you business.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

What is Guardianship and Power of Attorney?

Learn what the difference is between guardianship and power of attorney.

Wednesday, February 1, 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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