Month: July 2018

3 Facts About a Power of Attorney

In Los Angeles County, a power of attorney (POA) is a legal agreement that allows one person (the “Principal”) to grant another person (the “Agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) the authority to act on his behalf in legal matters under certain circumstances. The type and extent of the power of an Agent depend on the type of POA requested and executed by the Principal.

A power of attorney is among the most commonly executed real estate planning documents. In fact, it is so commonly used that people often miss to stop and think about the power behind a POA. If you are thinking about signing a POA, it is critical to understand all the essential facts about a power of attorney in California.

When you give someone power of attorney, it is entirely up to you to decide how much authority to give them and what decisions they will be able to make – and when they would be able to make them.

Types of Power of Attorney Agreements in Los Angeles County, California

Power of attorney can take three primary forms in Los Angeles County. They are the following:

Limited Power of Attorney

Limited power of attorney authorizes the attorney-in-fact to act on behalf of the Principal in one instance, on a single subject. It is a beneficial agreement for business transactions that happen in another country or state.

Let’s say you want to buy a new house in another state that’s on the other side of the country, and all you need to do to finish the deal is sign a few papers. You can quickly resolve this by giving a limited power of attorney to a person who lives in that state, which will authorize them to sign the papers and finish the deal. Once the deal is done, the authority you’ve granted them will automatically expire.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney allows the attorney-in-fact to make decisions on behalf of the Principal in specific precisely defined areas of his affairs. Unlike the limited power of attorney, durable power of attorney doesn’t automatically expire. It can last indefinitely, or until the Principal decides to revoke it.

This type of power of attorney is advantageous because it grants the attorney-in-fact to make critical decisions for the principal, but it also allows the principal to revoke the agreement if they happen to regain the capacity to make their own decisions.

Springing Power of Attorney

Springing power of attorney is similar to the durable power of attorney with one significant difference – the power is conditional. It doesn’t take effect unless certain circumstances take place. This agreement can be about anything. Most commonly, it authorizes the attorney-in-fact to make essential decisions on behalf of the Principal, only if the Principal becomes incapacitated.

People may authorize a power of attorney for various reasons, but it is most commonly used to grant the attorney-in-fact to make legal, financial, and medical decisions on the Principal’s behalf if the Principal becomes incapacitated.

It is crucial that you have complete trust in the person to whom you are granting the authority of making decisions on your behalf because any power of attorney is prone to abuse, no matter how limited it is.

Contact us for more information and legal advice.

9 Common Steps to Getting A Divorce

The divorce process in California consists of steps and procedures that carry the case through trial. A divorce is also known as “dissolution of domestic partnership” or “dissolution of marriage.” In California, it is the only way of legally ending a marriage or a domestic relationship.

These are the nine common steps to getting a divorce:

1. Filing and Service of Divorce Petition

The divorce process starts with the filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage and all related forms. Then the court assigns it a case number, and this is the moment where you can say that you officially have an open divorce. It is also the time to serve the petition on your spouse.

2. Responding to the Divorce Petition

The response form is similar to the petition, containing similar requests for the same information. After you complete the response, it is signed and filed with the court of law. Typically, the answer to the petition is mailed to the petitioner or the petitioner’s lawyer.

3. Filing a Request for Temporary Custody and Support Orders

You can submit the request for temporary orders at the same time you file the divorce petition, or afterward. The application for an order can be filed after the response to the petition is filed and served, but it can also happen during the petition procedure. There is no strict timeline for said issues. Depending on circumstances, sometimes it makes more sense to file them at the beginning of the divorce process, and sometimes it is best to do it later.

4. Responding to Requests for Temporary Custody and Managing Attorney Fees

After being served with a request for temporary orders, you need to file a response to the request and provide the court with written declarations that respond to those of your spouse. California law has specific deadlines for submitting your response statement, and it is very dangerous to ignore these deadlines.

In case you don’t have the same ability to pay attorney’s fees as your spouse does, you can use the court to seek contribution from your soon-to-be-ex-spouse.

5. Temporary Custody and Support Hearing

The timeline for the request for order hearing depends on the complexity of the hearing. If you and your spouse are unable to settle the issue before the hearing, spouses are required to testify on the matters where there is no agreement.

6. Declarations of Disclosure

A disclosure consists of necessary forms and other legal documents that disclose to the other spouse all of the property assets, income, expenses, and debts. The preliminary declaration of disclosure has to be served within 60 days of the petition or 60 days from the response to the petition.

7. The Discovery Process

The formal request for information from your spouse is called discovery. It comes in many forms, the most common ones being requests for admissions and deposits, interrogatories, and for the production of documents.

8. Settlements Negotiations

Settlement negotiations typically start after spouses have exchanged their preliminary declaration of disclosure. In most cases, settlement offers are in written forms, from one lawyer to another. Afterward, there are counter offers until the spouses settle.

9. The Trial

The procedure of setting a trial for a divorce case in California varies from each county. Most likely, both sides will have to appear and testify at trial, so it’s best to be prepared by reviewing everything with your attorney.

 

Divorce is never easy, but we can help you ease the experience with the correct paralegal advice. Contact Platinum Paralegals for more information.

Will and Trust: Comprehending the Differences Between Them

The terms “will” and “trust” are familiar and everyone has heard about them; however, not everyone understands the difference between the two.  Both are documents used for transferring assets, but they serve different purposes.

Although these two terms are often confused, wills and trusts are very different in several crucial ways.

When Each Takes Effect

One of the most significant differences between a will and a trust is the trust takes effect as soon as you create it. A will goes into effect only after the death of the individual who wrote it (the testator).  

A will is a document that distinguishes who will receive the testator’s property at his death and it always includes a legal representative to carry out the testator’s wishes. With a trust, however, you can begin distributing wealth before death, at death and afterward.

They Cover Different Properties

A will only govern the disposition of property owned in the testator’s sole name, with interests in property included-for example, tenancy in common. It cannot and does not address assets that pass directly to a beneficiary by operation of law or by contract – such as joint tenancy with survivorship rights, insurance policies, etc.

When it comes to a living trust, it can govern and distribute any property. The person who creates the trust (also known as the grantor) transfers his assets into the trusts after it has been formed. These assets can include life insurance policies and tenancy (in common) interests.

Trusts Provide for Life and Death

A will doesn’t go into effect until the testator dies and does nothing to plan for mental disability because of it. If the testator becomes mentally incapacitated before death, his loved ones have to address the court and ask for a guardian or a conservator to handle his affairs.

You can write provisions of disability into a revocable living trust. It is a common type of trust, and it allows the grantor to act as the trustee during his lifetime, and manage the assets and property funded in the trust. He names someone of his choosing as a successor trustee, and this person takes over when the grantor dies. The successor trustee can either continue to manage the trust or settle it, depending on the terms listed by the grantor in his trust formation documents.

In case the grantor becomes mentally incapacitated, the successor trustee can step in and in this matter, there is no need for a court-appointed guardian or conservator.

Wills Require Probate

Transferring property under the terms of a person’s last will requires probate while passing property and assets under the conditions of a living trust avoids probate.  

The terms of a trust are in fact the mechanism by which the assets held by the trust can transfer to the other person. A trust can continue owning the property for the benefit of individual people, such as minor children who are still unable to take ownership of the property they’ve inherited legally.

A will becomes a matter of public records once it’s submitted for probate, while the terms of living trusts remain private.

Wills and trusts each have their benefits and disadvantages. Contact us to get more information so you can decide on the best way of using a will and a trust in your estate plan.