Month: February 2018

Is a Revocable Living Trust Necessary?

A revocable living trust is a legal arrangement to hold ownership of your property throughout the course of your lifetime. The grantor is the creator of the trust and funds his trust with assets. Upon incapacitation or death, the successor trustee and the beneficiaries will receive the benefits of the trust. This living trust avoids probate which is a court-supervised process of dividing a person’s estate. A revocable living trust may be right for you if you would like to avoid probate for your trustee and beneficiaries. There are other scenarios where a revocable trust may be right for you which I will briefly discuss below.

What Does a Revocable Living Trust Do?

A revocable living trust is also sometimes called a living trust and it is a legal document created to hold ownership of an individual’s assets. This trust covers three phases of the trust maker’s  life: his lifetime, possible incapacitation and what happens after death. The person who forms the trust is called the grantor or trust maker but also can serve as the trustee. In most cases, the trustee will form the trust to control and manage the assets he or she placed there until death. Trust makers may also choose to have an attorney or an institution act as a trustee but it is uncommon with this type of trust. A revocable trust is not necessarily permanent so you can change your mind and the trust will be “undone.”

This trust covers three phases of the trust maker’s  life: his lifetime, possible incapacitation and what happens after death.

What Goes Into a Revocable Living Trust?

Thousands of people in California avoid having their estates go through the probate process because they choose to have a revocable living trust. This type of trust is more time and cost effective and it provides people control over their assets. Assets such as stocks, real estate, and bank accounts are all examples of what type of assets go into a revocable living trust. Who you are leaving your assets to should be created with a legal document with your living trust. Not only do you fund this trust with your assets but you also need to name an alternate trustee to manage your assets if you were unable to.

When Is a Revocable Living Trust Needed?

Transferring assets into a living trust can avoid time-consuming and costly court fees by preparing your estate for an easy transition after you die. You do not need to be wealthy to receive the benefits of a revocable living trust, but in some instances, it could be overkill. You can benefit from this type of trust if you own a business because your trustee can manage the business if you incapacitated or die. Also if you are concerned about privacy, a revocable living trust is a private document that doesn’t become a public court record. Only the successor trustees and the beneficiaries you have named may see a copy of your trust. When properly prepared, a living trust can provide for your spouse and children which may be important in second marriages. It saves estate taxes and can protect inheritances for children and grandchildren. If you can relate to any of these factors than you may need a revocable living trust.

Transferring assets into a living trust can avoid time-consuming and costly court fees by preparing your estate for an easy transition after you die.

What Happens to a Revocable Living Trust Upon Death?

Upon death, the successor trustee will step into your role as trustee or grantor of your trust. The beneficiaries you named in your trust documents will inherit from you and they will own the assets you placed in your trust according to the terms you decided when you made it. The assets you placed will not have to go through probate and your successor trustee will disburse your assets. The successor trustee must pay the taxes, debts, and costs of the trust operation from the assets you placed into it. If your successor trustee predeceases you, or if he or she dies before closing your trust, it’s possible your trust could be left unmanaged. States have their own laws on how to address these situations but generally, your heirs would have to have a successor trustee appointed by petitioning the court. Your beneficiaries have the right to suggest themselves or suggest their own choice.

 

 

For low cost, affordable paralegal assistance, call Platinum Paralegals™ at: (818) 839-6879 or send an email to: info@platinumparalegals.com.

Contested Divorce vs Uncontested Divorce

Getting a divorce based on irreconcilable differences doesn’t always mean both parties disagree on how to divide their assets. Fortunately, there is a type of divorce that manages disagreements between spouses so divorce cases are fair for both parties. When both parties disagree on how to divide their assets, this is considered a contested divorce. An uncontested divorce is a divorce where both parties can agree on how to divide their assets. However, even if spouses agree on most things, they may not be suited for an uncontested divorce. Likewise, spouses who disagree on most things way may still be candidates for an uncontested divorce.

What Is a Contested Divorce

In California, spouses should individually be represented in a contested divorce. A contested divorce means neither spouse can agree about getting divorced or the terms of the divorce. The more spouses are unable to agree, the more difficult it is to come to an agreement on how to distribute marital properties and custody of children. This type of divorce can be the most difficult type of divorce and falls into the hands of the court where they will determine the final ruling. In most cases, contested divorce parties will go to mediation to dispute disagreements or go straight to trial. Disagreements can extend the time of the divorce process and create tense relations between the spouses.

What Is an Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce means both parties agree to the divorce terms and cooperate with the divorce process. This type of divorce is less time consuming as it avoids multiple court appearances and lawyer times. These cases can typically be handled by mail or by brief contact with the judge or judge’s clerk. The state of California has certain guidelines and restrictions that help guarantee the parties have truly reached an agreement prior to receiving an uncontested divorce.

Cost of Contested Divorce

There is really no way to predict what a contested divorce in California may cost unless your lawyer charges a flat fee. An example of how costly contested divorce can be is in the city of Los Angeles where contested divorces are approximately $20,000 or higher. Much of the cost depends on how contested the divorce gets and your attorney’s hourly rate. If one or both spouses continue to disagree, the divorce will take longer and significantly impact the cost of the divorce. A case may start out contested, but it can become uncontested if both parties go to mediation or another process to find an agreement.

An example of how costly contested divorce can be is in the city of Los Angeles where contested divorces are approximately $20,000 or higher.

Cost of Uncontested Divorce

You and your spouse can save a great deal of money upon agreeing on everything. An uncontested divorce is much less costly than a contested divorce since it can be handled without court hearings. How much it will cost depends on several factors.  An uncontested divorce with no issues or attorneys can be as low as $500.  If you choose to hire an attorney, it could greatly increase the divorce expenses, especially if they charge by the hour. An uncontested divorce may be as less than one-thirtieth of the cost of a contested divorce, making them more desirable.

 

For low cost, affordable paralegal assistance, call Platinum Paralegals™ at: (818) 839-6879 or send an email to: info@platinumparalegals.com.

What Is Required to Get a Divorce in California?

If you are a California resident who has been served divorce papers or contemplating ending your own marriage, it is important to educate yourself about divorce requirements in California.

Understanding the types of divorce may be in understanding the process. In this article, I will be reviewing each type of divorce but reaching out to an experienced lawyer at Platinum Paralegals can explain each option to you in further detail and go over which one is right for you.

What are Grounds for Divorce?

California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that you cannot cite any wrongdoing your spouse has committed as a reason for divorce. Although in some cases fault isn’t entirely relevant if your spouse was violent, committed adultery, or abandoned the family and the courts may consider these facts when awarding alimony and dividing property. Most often, the grounds for divorce are “irreconcilable differences” that caused the marriage to break down. California divorce law also allows grounds for divorce if the marriage is legally invalid or one of the parties has a “permanent legal incapacity to make decisions.”

Although in some cases fault isn’t entirely relevant if your spouse was violent, committed adultery, or abandoned the family and the courts may consider these facts when awarding alimony and dividing property.

What Are the Types of Divorce?

When it comes to divorce options in California, there are four different types that can be chosen: no-fault divorce, uncontested divorce, simplified divorce and limited divorce.

No fault divorce essentially means as long as one spouse wants a divorce, the court will grant it. In this type of divorce, there is no reason to show cause or point blame because all it requires is the spouse to cite “irreconcilable differences” with no hope of resolution.

An uncontested divorce is when both parties can agree on everything such as financials, the division of property, and child support. These types of divorce are normally quick and don’t make it to trial because both parties are normally on the same page. Divorces can also be contested, meaning that both parties don’t quite agree with everything which in return could lead all the way up to a full trial if the spouses can’t agree.

Simplified divorce or summary dissolution is a way of ending short-term and uncomplicated marriages. This is an uncontested no-fault divorce where there is no conflict between the spouses but there is a set of conditions that need to be met before being able to file for this type of divorce.

Limited divorce is a court-supervised divorce process that is similar to legal separation.

This option gives both parties time to divide assets and child custody issues before finalizing the divorce. Spouses must live separately from each other or other people and each person’s status remains the same while the marriage is dissolving.

Do I Need to Be a Resident of California to Get a Divorce?

The short answer to this question is yes, but either you or your spouse must have been a California resident for the past six months and have lived a minimum of three months in the county where you plan to file divorce. If you or your spouse do not have residency in a county for at least three months, you can file a divorce with the previous county you lived in. You and your spouse can live separately in different counties and still file for divorce, as long as one or both of you have been residents of the county for at least three months. As long as residency requirements are met, you may obtain a divorce in the state of California.

What is Legal Separation?

A legal separation allows a couple to remain married but live separately. Couples choose this alternative to divorce so they don’t have to end their marriage by dividing their marital assets, financials, or child custody. Some couples may seek legal separation so their spouse does not lose health insurance coverage, or because of religious beliefs. This opportunity allows couples the time to reflect on their marriage before calling it quits.