Category: Lawyers

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.

 

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.

Should You Get an Advance Health Care Directive

Should You Get an Advance Health Care Directive?

When serious illness or emergencies strike, it’s important to feel that you have a trusted friend or acquaintance who has your back in these situations. If you’re in an accident or suffer a medical emergency that leaves you unable to make vital health care decisions for yourself, you can consider placing someone else in charge of this important task.

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Having a California advance health care directive in place before an emergency can provide you with a great deal of peace of mind and preparedness. CA advance directives are recognized as a legally binding document by doctors, emergency medical personnel, attorneys, and anyone else who may be involved in your care.

What is an Advance Health Care Directive?

A California advance health care directive is a legally valid document that allows you to appoint someone you trust to handle important medical decisions involving your care should you become incapacitated in some form. The individual you place in charge of your care could be a close friend, family member, clergy member at your church, or any other individual you would trust to make these decisions on your behalf.

Why You Should Get an Advance Health Care Directive

No one likes to think about being in a vulnerable position where they cannot speak up for themselves and the protection of their rights and wishes. However difficult it is to think about, these types of emergencies do sometimes occur. The best thing that any individual can do is to be prepared for such an event before it happens.

The best thing that any individual can do is to be prepared for such an event before it happens.

Medical directives can provide the level of protection that can give you much-needed peace of mind that your wishes will always be carried out.

Benefits of Getting an Advance Health Care Directive

Attempting to make emergency medical or end of life decisions for a loved one or family member is a very stressful event. Wondering if you’re fulfilling this person’s wishes in the way he or she would have wanted can cause heart-wrenching pain and stress. Medical directives can provide several benefits that protect everyone involved in the situation. The three main benefits are listed below.

Reduce Conflict among Family Members

Sometimes in the stress of a medical emergency, family members can disagree on how certain decisions are handled. If the individual has made his wishes crystal clear in writing with a medical directive, there can be no doubt about the way things should be taken care of. This can reduce friction between friends and family members who may see things differently than you do.

Provide Peace of Mind

There’s no greater peace of mind than knowing a trusted person is in charge of your care should you become incapacitated in some manner. Thinking of being left in a vulnerable state is enough to strike fear into the hearts of the toughest individuals.

Thinking of being left in a vulnerable state is enough to strike fear into the hearts of the toughest individuals.

We have specific values and beliefs that we hold dear, and it’s important that our health care is carried out in a way that corresponds to these personal values. A medical directive can provide the reassurance that will allow you to take this burden off your mind.

Keep Stress to a Minimum

There is already enough stress surrounding emergency situations. No one needs the added stress of wondering if they’re making the right choices concerning another individual’s care. Planning for emergencies before they occur can help keep an already stressful time from becoming too much to bear.

How to Get an Advance Health Care Directive

None of us know when we may be in an accident or suffer a medical emergency that leaves us unable to make important decisions regarding our health care on our own. It makes sense, therefore, to obtain a California advance directive before an emergency situation arises.

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California advance directives are recognized by medical professionals, attorneys, and hospice officials as a legally binding document that affords you the peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out even if you are not in a physical or mental state to voice them. A qualified legal professional can help you finalize your CA advance directive so that you have the peace of mind that you’re prepared for any medical emergencies that may arise in the future.

Find this information useful? Take a look at Advance Directives vs. Living Wills.