Month: November 2017

Living Will

What Is the Difference Between a Trust and a Will?

There is a common saying in the legal profession that if you have one dollar and two relatives that you need to consider estate planning. The most common methods involve wills and trusts. The following addresses common questions that we get from clients as they start the estate planning process, such as:

What Is a Will?

A will is a formal legal document that outlines your wishes for how your property should be distributed upon your death. Wills may also address who will be responsible for caring for your minor children in the event of your death. Typically, a will is a formal document that is signed by you in the presence of witnesses. Some jurisdictions will recognize a handwritten will made outside the presence of witnesses; however, the validity of this type of will may not hold up if challenged in court.

What Is a Trust?

A trust differs from a will in that it goes into effect immediately upon its creation and allows you to distribute property before, at, or after your death. A trustee, usually a trusted individual or an institution, holds the legal title to the property on behalf of the named beneficiary. The beneficiary will receive income from the trust during their life or upon meeting certain criteria, such as reaching a specified age. A secondary beneficiary is also normally named to receive any remaining proceeds from the trust upon the death of the primary beneficiary.

When Do I Need a Will?

Virtually everyone needs a will. If you die without a will, the state will determine how your assets are distributed according to a statutory formula. The state would also determine guardianship of any minor children. This can create hardships for surviving family members and open the door for protracted legal battles in the event of a family disagreement.

Virtually everyone needs a will. If you die without a will, the state will determine how your assets are distributed according to a statutory formula. The state would also determine guardianship of any minor children.

When Do I Need a Living Will?

A living will, sometimes referred to as an advanced directive, specifies the type of life-sustaining medical care that you would want to receive in the event that you at not able to communicate your wishes. Through this document, you can let your family know if you wish to have your life prolonged through tube feeding, assisted breathing, or other measures. Although normally considered by individuals facing terminal illnesses, every adult should consider having a living will so that family members and health care providers will know your wishes in the event of an unexpected life-threatening injury or illness.

Should I Get a Living Trust?

Living Trust

A living trust is a good option if you do not want your property to have to go through the probate process when you die. Trusts are also much more difficult to challenge than wills. If you have considerable assets, a revocable living trust may also help you avoid or reduce the estate tax liability for your heirs.

Where Can I Get a Will Notarized?

Most banks, law offices, and courthouses have notaries on site.

How Do I Obtain a Will or Trust?

To ensure that your will or trust meets all of the legal requirements for the jurisdiction where you live, it is best to enlist the services of a legal professional. Contact Platinum Paralegals today to find out more about our estate planning services.

What Is the Difference Between a Legal Separation and Divorce?

Most couples enter into marriage under the assumption that it will be forever. Unfortunately, any number of circumstances can arise that make it impossible for the parties to remain together. When this occurs, the couple typically files for a legal separation or a divorce. Common questions from couples considering either of these options include:

What Is the Difference Between a Legal Separation and a Divorce in California?

Couples typically file for legal separation when they no longer want to live together in the marital home but they are not yet ready to officially dissolve the marriage. A legal separation decree outlines the rights and duties of both parties while living apart; however, they do remain married.

Couples may also consider legal separation if they do not meet California’s six-month residency requirement for filing divorce. Since there is no residency requirement for filing for legal separation, a couple can file as soon as they move to California, which allows them to be considered separate for tax and other financial purposes, and then convert the separation to a divorce after six months.

Divorce Papers

What Are the Requirements for a Legal Seperation?

California is a “no-fault” state, which means that you do not have to prove that your spouse did anything wrong in order to file for a legal separation. The responding spouse must either agree to the separation or default by failing to respond to the petition. The actual process for filing is very similar to a divorce. A petition is filed, the parties disclose their finances and other assets to the court, and the parties either reach a settlement agreement or the court decides financial, property, and custody issues during a trial. The court then enters a decree of separation specifying each spouse’s rights and obligations during the separation.

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Is a Legal Separation Reversible?

A couple can reverse a legal separation by filing a Motion to Vacate Order of Legal Separation. The parties will need to explain that they have never filed or received a divorce and that they have reconciled.

How Does a Legal Separation Protect You?

A decree of legal separation addresses many of the same issues as a divorce decree, including spousal and child support, child custody and visitation arrangements, and the division of any property.

A decree of legal separation addresses many of the same issues as a divorce decree, including spousal and child support, child custody and visitation arrangements, and the division of any property.

How Does a Legal Separation Protect You Financially?

A legal separation may offer financial protection to both spouses. If spousal support is included in the agreement, the spouse who is paying may be able to claim the payments as a tax deduction. The agreement can specify that a spouse who is covered under the other spouse’s health insurance is to remain covered during the separation. The agreement can also outline who is responsible for certain debts and set limits on spending from joint accounts. If you have not been married for 10 years, you can separate and delay divorcing until you reach the 10-year mark in order to draw from your spouse’s social security benefits when you reach 62.

What Is the Cost of a Legal Separation in California?

The actual cost of a legal separation can vary depending on the complexity of the issues to be resolved. Contact Platinum Paralegals today to arrange a consultation.

Why Should You Have a Power of Attorney?

Why Should You Have a Power of Attorney?

Why Should You Have a Power of Attorney?

Along with a will and a health care directive, a power of attorney should be considered when planning for your long-term care. It ensures that someone will be available to carry out your wishes and look after your affairs in the event that you should become physically or mentally incapacitated or unable to act on your own behalf. The following provides a basic overview of the power of attorney process and answers common questions that we get from clients, including:

What Is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney, also known as a POA, is a legal document that gives the person that you designate the authority to make decisions on your behalf. The individual named as your agent may be an actual attorney or a trusted friend or family member. POA can be granted for a specific matter or period of time or can last until your death.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Power of Attorney?

The person that you designate as your power of attorney has the legal obligation to act in your best interest regarding the matters over which they have authority. The authority that you give your agent can be as broad or as limited as you wish. For example, you can grant someone power of attorney to act on your behalf regarding a specific real estate transaction when you are unable to be present yourself. You can also grant general power of attorney giving your agent authority over your property, finances, and medical decisions.

what is a power of attorney

What Are the Benefits of a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a simple and inexpensive way to ensure that the person making decisions for you in the event of your incapacity or unavailability is someone that you trust. POAs can also eliminate potential family discord by clearly outlining who is to act on your behalf.

What are the Disadvantages of a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney gives your agent immense authority over the matters that you designate. You should make sure that the individual has the trustworthiness and competence to handle matters appropriately. It is also possible for the document to be called into question if it is not properly prepared.

Is it Possible to Give Multiple People Power of Attorney?

It is possible to give two, three, or even more people power of attorney. One way to do this is to name multiple agents who are authorized to act individually or jointly in all matters. One drawback of this tactic is that carrying out your wishes can be delayed if the various agents disagree on the appropriate course of action. Another way is to give the various agents authority over different matters.

It is possible to give two, three, or even more people power of attorney. One way to do this is to name multiple agents who are authorized to act individually or jointly in all matters.

For example, you can give your child who is a health care professional POA over health care decisions while giving your child who is an investment banker authority over your bank accounts and other financial matters.

How to Obtain a Power of Attorney:

While it is possible to purchase basic power of attorney forms at an office supply store or to download them from the internet, we recommend that you contact a legal professional to ensure that the document meets all of the necessary legal requirements in your jurisdiction.