Friday, June 30, 2017

What Are the Tax Benefits for LLCs?

If you form a limited liability company (LLC) from your business, this is an excellent way to protect your personal assets from the liabilities of your company. Incorporation protects your own property, if a judgment is rendered against your business. In addition, forming an LLC gives you an advantage, since your business isn't responsible for the taxation of its profits.

The owner of an LLC reports the profits and losses of the business on his personal tax return. This operates in a way that is similar to general partnerships or sole proprietorships. These are called "pass-through" taxes, and you will not have to file a corporate return if you own an LLC. Your share of the profits or losses is reported on your individual tax return.

No Residency Requirements

When you form an LLC, you do not have to live in the state in which it is formed. You don't even need to be a permanent US resident or a US citizen. For this reason and others, businesses owned by immigrants are usually formed as LLCs.

LLCs give your company more credibility with prospective customers, suppliers, partners and lenders. The LLC is often favorably looked upon by other businesses.

LLCs have flexible management structure. Your LLC can establish any type of organizational structure upon which the owners agree. It can be managed by the owners, known as members, or by managers. This differs from corporations, which must have a set board of directors who will oversee all major business decisions for the company. They will also manage all the affairs on a day-to-day basis.

LLCs encounter fewer ongoing formalities and annual requirements imposed by states than corporations do. In addition, there are fewer restrictions on who can own an LLC, unlike the rules found with S Corporations.

You may also be considering how to incorporate a business as an S-Corp or C-Corp, if you plan to incorporate rather than pursue registration as an LLC.

What is an S-Corporation?

An S Corp has similarities to LLCs, because its federal tax status also allows pass-through of taxable income or losses to the investors or owners. Your company will not be double-taxed as it is with a C corporation. S Corp status offers you pass through taxation, limited liability protection, investment opportunities and the elimination of double taxation on business income. An S Corp can also continue to function even if the original owner dies.

What about a C-Corporation?

If you prefer to incorporate, as opposed to becoming a Delaware LLC or an LLC in your home state, the C-Corp is the most common type found in the US. When you form a C-Corp, you will create a separate structure that shields personal assets from any judgments against your company. C-Corp structure includes officers, shareholders and directors.

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Legal Questions : How Does a Living Trust Work?

The idea of a living trust is that, while a person is still alive, they transfer their assets into a trust document that administers the assets. Avoid probate through a living trust with help from a certified civil mediator in this free video on law and legal questions.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

5 Reasons an LLC Is Right For You

As a business owner, you can run your business as a sole proprietorship, or it can be operated as a formal structure, for example an LLC. Forming LLC as the business structure is an exceedingly good choice for the average entrepreneur. Managing your company as an LLC brings many benefits.

Following are just a few of many reasons to contemplate having an LLC, if you are a small business owner:

1. Protection of personal assets - As a business owner, you are more apt to be sued. You need to protect your personal assets from those of your company, so your personal monies are protected in case a lawsuit is brought against your company. By starting LLC that is correctly setup, you are usually protected.

2. Have a professional image - Nothing says professional company like a legitimate business structure. Just about anybody can start a company, but it is the people that go the extra distance by setting up a business structure show how serious they are about their company, and people take notice of this.

3. Trust - If your business is an LLC, you are making it particularly easy to discover suppliers in which to do business with you, and particularly easy to get a business loan. Operating your business as a profession, and not a hobby, is a wonderful way to gain trust with those companies that you need to work with.

4. Low audit risk - Sole proprietorships are more at risk to facing an IRS audit than LLCs. This most likely has something to do with the fact that a person might be using the business as an excuse to get some tax benefits, though they would get more if they actually had an LLC and the IRS is onto these people. However, if a person has taken the effort of LLC formation, it is likely they are in business for all of the right reasons.

5. Business flexibility - When operating as an LLC, you have greater choices in how to handle operating your business. Adding additional owners is a simple process, which is not possible as a sole proprietor. A limited liability company is a very flexible business structure that gives a variety of options on how you wish to manage your company.

If you are going to run a business, then you should do what you can to run it as effectively as possible. Making use of an LLC as your business structure has many virtues, even more than those listed in this article. Treat your business right and make it an LLC.

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Estate Planning 101 - Wills, Living Wills, Power of Attorney, Trusts

Estate planning sounds so overwhelming: Wills, Living Wills, Power of Attorney, Trusts, Guardianships, etc., etc., etc.

What does it all mean and what do you really, really need to ensure that your family will be cared for when you pass away?

While the following definitions are by no means intended to be all-encompassing, or cover all of the variations of each document, they are helpful for the estate planning novice in determining what documents are right and necessary for them.

What is a will?

A will is a written legal declaration by which a person makes known how their property will be disposed of upon their death. Property includes not only real property (land, house, condominium, business storefront, etc.), but also personal property such as jewelry, art, sports memorabilia, even pets.

What is a living will?

A living will is a legal document, by which a person makes known his or her wishes regarding life-sustaining or life-prolonging medical procedures, such as resuscitation. A living will can also be called an advance directive, health care directive, advance medical directive, or physician's directive.

What is power of attorney?

Power of attorney is a legal document by which Person A gives Person B the power to make decisions about their legal and/or financial affairs upon Person A's incapacitation. Powers of Attorney expire upon your death.

What is a trust?

Trusts come in all forms and can be straightforward or extremely complex. Simple stated, trusts are a financial arrangement that allows a third party (the trustee) to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary. How and when the assets pass to the beneficiary can be controlled by establishing a trust.

The sooner you get started, the sooner you'll have the peace of mind in knowing that your family will be cared for when the inevitable happens.

Even if you have completed estate planning, it's never really 'done.' Life is going to come along and make you re-do it.

Following are a few examples of life circumstances that necessitate your updating your estate planning documents:

  • IF you had a baby
  • IF you got married
  • IF you got divorced
  • IF you adopted a child
  • IF you have a new grandbaby
  • IF a relationship within your family has changed
  • IF tax laws have changed
  • IF your estate value has dramatically increased (or decreased)
  • IF you moved to a new state
  • IF you retired
  • IF you changed your investments

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Estate Planning - More Than Just A Legal Will

When people think of Estate Planning, they generally think of legal wills. Estate planning is not just a will, although it does involve writing one. Rather, it's a series of legal steps that involves allowing your beneficiaries to avoid probate and minimize the taxes incurred, and for you to write a living will in which you nominate trusted associates who would assume power of attorney and executor status should you be incapacitated or die. Estate planning also allows you more direct control over how your assets will be treated when you're gone.

One of the most important parts of any estate plan are measures to avoid too much of the estate's worth being lost to taxes. In the United State and abroad, dying can attract a number of specific taxes from both State and Federal governments, like death tax and estate tax. The simplest way to minimize estate tax is to name recipients of funds or assets from your estate in your legal will, specifying that a certain amount should be given as a gift. Provided your lifetime tax-free gift threshold of $1 million is not exceeded, these portions cannot attract any taxation.

An important part of any estate plan is the inclusion of a living will. A living will is not usually considered a legally binding document, however, it is given consideration if you are ever incapacitated and left unable to carry out your legal rights, or make decisions. While the living will itself may not carry much weight, you can nominate someone to assume your enduring power of attorney (EPA). If you are unable to exercise the living will as a legally binding decision, your enduring power of attorney can only be challenged by a court.

The will itself is the most important part of any estate plan. If you should die without writing a will, the specific laws of your state will determine how your assets will be divided following probate. Additionally, with no prior planning of where the assets should go on the event of your death, your estate is likely to be taxed the maximum possible amount. Where no will is present, the spouse is likely to keep one third of the value of the estate with the remainder to be distributed evenly among children.

An estate plan enables you to stipulate, for instance, that if your children receive an inheritance, the property is given to them personally and not, for example, to the child's spouse. Should your child ever divorce, then the value of any inheritance received would not have to be shared in any divorce settlement, as it would not be a shared asset of that marriage.

One of the more important aspects of estate planning is the protection it can provide your assets. Typically, after a person passes away their family sells the assets that were left to them and divides the proceeds among themselves. If, however, you have a company or significant property holdings, you may wish to prevent the breakup of any of these assets, judging them to have more value whole compared with their value after being broken up.

Estate planning allows very specific instructions for how such assets should be treated if you wish to prevent this asset division from happening. For example, you can specify in your will that you require that your business be run by a family trust whose members and membership requirements you specify. It is not uncommon for people to wish to leave behind some legacy when they've gone, and the establishment of a family trust to ensure your assets are managed properly by a family member is a good way of ensuring it.

Another common request made is for a trust fund to be established as a scholarship fund or similar. Again, with a proper estate plan, it is possible for a benefactor to specify who a scholarship fund is for, and who is allowed to sit on any board or committee it relies on to pick a recipient.

Estate planning is the method by which specific instructions may be given in advance on how to manage your affairs should you become incapacitated or die. Estate planning represents the best way of protecting your assets from the whims of financially irresponsible relatives, excessive government taxation, and dissolution of your assets by the normal laws of succession in the state or country concerned.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Why You Need a Durable Power of Attorney Now!

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

Power of Attorney Defined

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

The "Durable" Power of Attorney

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

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

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

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

A Matter of Convenience

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

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

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

A Matter of Protecting Loved Ones

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

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

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

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

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

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

Appointing a Successor Agent

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

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

Revoking a Power of Attorney

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

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

Making the Durable Power of Attorney Effective upon Incapacity.

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

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

Don't Procrastinate!

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

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) vs. Living Will

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order covers two types of emergencies: when your heart stops beating or you stop breathing. Living wills covers almost all types of life-prolonging treatments and procedures.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Probate and Administrative Process, Know Your Rights

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

Administration process

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

The Probate process

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

Property that avoids probate

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

What happens in the probate and administrative process?

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

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

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Monday, June 19, 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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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Why Forming an LLC is a Good Idea

If you are experienced in running your business, you understand the importance of getting the correct corporate form in place. You should seek to have a structure that will not only aid long term expansion but also protect your assets. The good news - there are a lot of potential forms your business can take.

You should consider, if you have a small business, forming an LLC. Think about setting up an LLC if you have a small business. Fortunately, they are simple to create. There is little paperwork with them. Further, in many states, you won't need to file an annual report.

Also, LLC forms a business structure that can protect your personal assets. Just keep you LLC compliant and your personal property is protected.

With an LLC, you can safe guard your business name.Also, LLCs allow unlimited owners. This will help give your business growth room. Also, owners don't need to have US citizenship.

In addition, an LLC doesn't require meetings. It also needs little paperwork. And you can flow your profit and loss to your personal taxes.

Keep in mind that setting up an LLC has fees and paperwork. Also, you need to make sure you are following all city and state laws. Thus, only consider an LLC if you have a clear business plan.

Overall, an LLC is great for small business. So you should at least consider one if you are serious about your business. Remember, it can save you time and money, both of which you can invest in your business!

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Understanding the Difference Between a Will and a Living Trust

When planning for the future of your children as you get older, there are a few options on how to pass on your assets such as property, life insurance, stocks, etc. The two major ways of stating and distributing your assets after your passing is with a living trust or will. When you hear the words trust fund or wills, it refers to estate planning. Although there are different trusts out there, the main one I will focus on is a living trust.


A will is a document that is created to help distribute assets and properties to a beneficiary after one passes away. With a will, it will be submitted through a probate process, which is a court process. In this process, the courts will validate the will and ensure that all the instructions are followed properly while also repaying any creditors. The downfall to a will is that it becomes public so anyone can see the distribution of your assets to your selected beneficiaries. On top of not having privacy, it could take several months to even years for the court to sort everything out!

Living Trust

A living trust is a legal document that states three parties: Grantor/Trustor, Trustee, and Beneficiaries. The grantor/trustor is the individual or couple who establishes/creates the trust. The trustee is the person nominated to be in control of the trusts assets. In many cases, the trustee is the same as the grantor/trustor. Beneficiaries are those at the receiving end who will benefit from the trust. A trust is beneficial to most people who have property worth $100,000+ and/or those who have large amounts of assets. In certain states, properties at $100,000+ can be subject to legal fees in the probate process. With a living trust, it bypasses the whole probate process and all assets can be immediately accessed by the beneficiaries. As opposed to a will, a living trust is private so it does not go through a probate process, therefore it is NOT a public record. Things that can be listed in a living trust include: stocks, bonds, real estate, life insurance, personal property, etc.

A trust is beneficial for estate planning for those who have large amounts of assets. By establishing a specific living trust known as an A-B Trust, an individual can reduce the amount of taxes paid significantly. For example, in 2012, the current estate tax is $5.12M with a cap at 35% over the $5.12M. In an A-B Trust with a couple passing their assets to their one kid, they would designate half the fund to the surviving spouse and the other half to the kid. The surviving spouse and the kid will then each receive a tax break of $5.12M giving a sheltered total of $10.24M from estate taxes. When the surviving spouse passes, then his/her half is giving to the kid who is then subject to another $5.12M tax break. Unlike a trust, a will however will be only have a tax break of $5.12M.


When comparing the differences of having a last will versus a living trust, it shows that the trust comes out on top. A trust will help to give privacy, immediate access to assets from beneficiaries, AND tax breaks. For those who are near the age of deciding what to pass on to their children or know someone in that situation, help them understand the difference of the two and sway them toward a living trust if feasible!

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Wednesday, June 14, 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.

Tuesday, June 13, 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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Monday, June 12, 2017

Deeds - Some Ways To Make Changes - By the People

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

Sunday, June 11, 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, June 9, 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, June 8, 2017

How to Form an LLC - A Simple, Straightforward Guide

Forming an LLC (Limited Liability Company) is not as complicated as most people think. While each state has its own unique list of steps and requirements, you'll find that they have the important things in common. So whether you're establishing your LLC in business-friendly Delaware or in rural Wyoming, it's likely that you'll need to go through the following steps if you want to form an LLC:

1. Choose a business name.

It helps to have a short list of possible business names to choose from before you register your LLC. Some of the business names you want may already be taken, or they might violate a trademark. Don't worry too much about this, though. Most states have a searchable database online where you can see if the business name you want is already being used. Also, remember that your business name must be followed with a designator identifying it as an LLC. Some valid ones include "Limited Liability Company", "Limited Company", "Ltd. Liability Co." and the acronym "LLC".

Once you've selected a valid name for your LLC, don't worry about registering it. Usually, it will automatically be registered once you complete the second step.

2. File your Articles of Organization.

Simply put, your LLC's Articles of Organization is a document containing basic business information such as your business name, address, purpose, and the names of the owners. This is often a ready-made form that you can get from your Secretary of State's office. While you're at this step, it also helps to ask them about the fees and requirements involved in setting up an LLC. This will help you plan for the later steps.

As you file your Articles of Organization, you will be required to pay a filing fee. This is usually inexpensive, but if you want the filing to be expedited you will have to pay a few hundred dollars more. Keep in mind that some states have additional fee requirements. For example, LLC owners in California are also asked to pay $800 in business tax on filing, to be repaid annually.

3. Create an Operating Agreement.

Though operating agreements are not required in all states, it's handy to have them from the start - especially if the LLC will be owned by more than one person. Your LLC's operating agreement should contain information about the role of each owner, how profits and losses will be shared, as well as the operating rules and bylaws of the business.

4. Submit other miscellaneous requirements.

Since business laws vary from state to state, there are probably specific requirements you need to submit depending on where you're establishing your LLC and what kind of LLC you have. For example, if you're starting a business that sells and distributes liquor, you'd need a specific liquor license for that. Other requirements may include zoning permits, publishing a classified ad announcing your LLC, and practice permits for specific professions.

As you can see, it's really simple to set up your own LLC. All you need to do is to follow the steps above while being aware of the unique documents and fees required by your state.

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Don't Put Off Getting a Power of Attorney

Do you think you need a Power of Attorney? If you think so then don't put it off and take any chances in the future. You need the time now to think about whom you can truly trust and at this point in your life you may find it hard to eliminate some of your closest family members or dearest friends. Just consider this, you are now mentally stable and it should be more simple to make those decisions now, than it would be in the future when maybe you don't have all of your mental powers with you. Now is the time to safeguard your future financial affairs and secure your assets.

Most of us have the wrong impression of Power of Attorney, we think that only the elderly need one or people with large massive fortunes. Please don't be mislead, we all should consider a Power of Attorney. You will have a form of peace of mind knowing should something happen to you; you will be taken care of legally. You want someone you can trust to look out for your matters.

The vital importance of a Power of Attorney could best be demonstrated by the fact if you should happen to contact a disabling disease which could render you incapable of making your own decisions. Should you have to be hospitalized, you want someone to pay your mortgage and take care of your banking needs; you don't want to loose all that you have worked hard for. A Power of Attorney can protect you legally with the local laws.

The laws are very much in your favor should you ever become incapable of taking care of your affairs. With a Power of Attorney in force, the courts will then step in and use their discretion on who will be in charge of all your affairs. The judge may appoint someone you do not fully trust, so you want to have full control and that is why it is so important to have a Power of Attorney.

So as a good suggestion, the best time for a Power of Attorney is NOW! You want to be protected now, you don't want to wait until it is to late and you don't have the power to help yourself.
So having said that, for your sake, please consider looking into the Power of Attorney aspect for your life.

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

What is Guardianship and Power of Attorney?

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

Monday, June 5, 2017

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

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

What is expungement?

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

Who Is Eligible For expungement in California?

You are eligible for expungement:

  • if you are a first DUI offender who has only one charge for either a misdemeanor or felony
  • a year has passed since conviction
  • if you have completed probation successfully and not on probation for another offense
  • have no charges pending
  • have paid all the fines ordered by the court
How much does it cost to file for expungement? 

It costs between $50 and $80 to file for expunging your record. 

Will they need my presence at the court? 

No, your expungement lawyer can do it for you. 

What will I benefit from expunging my DUI conviction record? 

There are a lot you will benefit from expunging your record such as employment, licensing etc,. 

What expungement won't do? 

Your expunged case can still be used for increasing your punishment when you again caught up for a DUI or other criminal cases.

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Five Types of Power of Attorney Privileges

Establishing power of attorney privileges is an essential element of estate planning. POA authorizes another person to make decisions related to finances and healthcare for someone else in the event they are unable to make decisions on their own.

Before bestowing power of attorney privileges it is crucial to understand how the process works and the rights the person will be given. The person appointed to this position ought to be capable of making difficult decisions that might go against what other family members want.

Individuals who are granted authority to make decisions must be at least 18 years of age. It's important to choose a person who will remain true to decisions pertaining to medical and financial transactions.

There are five different types of power of attorney rights and responsibilities differ based on powers authorized. Each consists of two individuals that include the 'Principal' and 'Attorney-in-Fact.' The Principal is the person that sets up the contract and the attorney-in-fact is the person who carries out the duties on their behalf.

Durable Power of Attorney is the most common type of contract. This legal document authorizes the attorney-in-fact to make financial and medical decisions based on directives provided by the Principal. Powers remain in effect until the Principal dies or until powers are revoked.

The next most common document is the Non-Durable Power of Attorney which authorizes the attorney-in-fact to make decisions for specific types of transactions. Non-durable POA is generally used when the Principal must undergo surgery or some type of medical treatment that might prevent them from being able to make decisions. Powers are granted for a specific transaction and expire once the transaction is completed.

A Limited Power of Attorney is typically used to grant authorization to the attorney-in-fact to sell or transfer real estate owned by the Principal. This document revokes privileges when the transaction is completed.

A Healthcare Power of Attorney is needed to authorize a person to make medical decisions on behalf of the Principal It is vital to discuss the types of medical procedures wanted or not wanted with the person who will be in charge of making decisions to ensure they will abide by your desires.

People often feel uncomfortable discussing these topics, but it's best to openly talk about what kind of treatments should be given or avoided if the unthinkable happens. If a person is adamant about not being placed on life support if declared brain dead, they need to make their decisions known in a healthcare POA. Otherwise, medical personnel must abide by state laws and provide life saving treatment.

A Springing Power of Attorney is required to authorize release of medical records and information. The attorney-in-fact is required to obtain court authorization before they can make decisions on behalf of the Principal.

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Saturday, June 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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Friday, June 2, 2017

The Advantages of Making a Will Which Can Serve As a Catalyst for Preparing It

Like most legal documents, the importance of a will increases with its acceptance amongst authorities. Making a Will is a complete legal procedure and its advantages are many which make the preparation imperative on the part of the owner. But the legal responsibility for making a Will shouldn't be taken in a negative light and procrastinated about. Instead the very advantages of making a Will could be the single greatest catalyst for the preparation of a Will by the owner of the assets. Below are a few of the major advantages of making a Will that could be the catalyst for the owner to prepare it.

Also we would like to state that people rarely find making a Will to be a pleasant task. Preparing a Will is a metaphor for our own mortality which people don't want to face. But as they say- No one is immortal or escapes death and taxes! Who knows? You could compromise with your own mortal end during the preparation and come out with a better view on life.

The advantages of making a Will are:

No dispute between dependents: There can be no chance of any conflict or dispute between the several dependents of the property if a will is already made. The will perfectly sums up what is left to whom and that itself diffuses any chance of conflict plus the division is also ensured by law of the land. Without a Will, inheritance disputes often run into years and decades which are not a viable option.

Lack of ambiguity: A Will is a legal document that clearly states the division of the property and that in itself clearly puts out the lack of ambiguity.

Property Management: The property can now be easily managed or divided according to the directions given in the Will and that leads to a better sense of property management.

Appointment of Executor/Guardian or Trustee: Will often appoints a responsible person as a Executor or a Trustee who acts as the overseer of the property. This also is important when the beneficiary is a minor or of unsound mind and cannot look after the assets.

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Thursday, June 1, 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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