A living trust is a document that places some, or all, of your assets into a trust. The assets are controlled by the trust, and as the name suggests, the assets are under the control of the trust – while you live. One of the benefits of a living trust is that you can continue to use the assets, while living. For example, if your home is a part of the trust – you can continue to live in the home. After your death, the assets in your California living trust are passed to the people who are listed as beneficiaries of the California living trust. Because the assets can be accessed and utilized while the individual is still alive – California living trusts are a very popular estate planning tool.
When you create a living trust in California, you can maintain control of your trust, the entire time you are alive. As the grantor of California living trust, you get to select whose the trustee(the person who manages the assets of the California living trust, during your life and who distributes your assets after your death). If you’d like, you can be the trustee of your California living trust, but will need to select a successor trustee who will manage the trust after you die. The point of the trustee is to manage the trust, and consequently manage the assets – based on your intentions, after you die.
One of the benefits of a California living trust, is that you can choose the assets you place in the trust, and can put as little, or as many, as you’d like. You can name the beneficiaries, and state when and how they should receive the assets. In addition, you can create a revocable living trust – which is a trust that can be altered or canceled at any time during your life. An irrevocable trust, is a trust that is permanent. This means that if you ever change your mind, you cannot cancel the trust.
Bypass Probate With a California Living Trust
One of the great benefits of a California living trust, is that you can bypass probate – when it comes to your assets. California does not have a Uniform Probate Code, which means that the probate laws aren’t simple. If an asset is not in your trust, it ends up going through the probate process – which can take months to finish. California has a simplified probate process for estates that have assets less than $100,000 – however if you own a home, or have assets more than that – you’ll have a very tough time passing on those assets. If you die and don’t have a will, or a trust, your assets are distributed according to California’s intestacy statutes – which determine how your relatives will divide up your assets.
Should I have a living trust in California
By creating a living trust in California, you are putting yourself in control of your assets, and what happens to them. When you create a living trust, you decide how, and when, your assets should be distributed to your beneficiaries. For example, you can give certain assets from your California living trust, to members of our family at will. In contrast, if you had a will – all of your assets would only be passed after the will goes through the probate process. When you create a will – it covers all of your assets. In contrast, with a living trust – you have the freedom to choose which assets should go into the trust. Bottom line, a California living trust gives you immense freedoms.
Living Trusts Give You Privacy
Living trusts are private, in contrast to the probate process. The probate process, is a matter of public record. In contrast, a living trust, or any trust at all, does not enter the legal system. That means that the assets in the living trust, and the beneficiaries – are never made public. In addition, a living trust provides protection to you during your lifetime. If you become incapacitated, the trust is in place – and your assets are in it – with a trustee to manage it. Management of your assets becomes seamless.
Living Trust Tax Implications
There is no estate tax levied by the state of California, even though the federal government does apply an estate tax, to estates that are excess of $5.4 million. Living trusts can help you avoid taxes, if your estate is larger than $5.4 – if it is setup as an AB trust, also known as a QTIP or marital trust. In this type of living trusts, assets go from one spouse to another directly – which avoids any estate taxes on the transfer.
How Can You Create a Living Trust in California
California living trusts are created through a trust document. This is a legal contract, which setups the trust, the operating protocols, organizes the assets, and determines how the trust will be run, and how the assets will be distributed. In order for the document to become official – you, the guarantor, have to sign it in front of a notary. After the document is signed by yourself, you proceed with transferring ownership of the assets you’d like into the trust.
Make a Living Trust with Zogby
Zogby connects people like yourself, with California living trust lawyers who can help. We’ve manually pre-vetted the top lawyers in every major city, all over the state of California. If you need a California living trust made, fill out a “task request,” on Zogby. The top lawyers in your area will respond to it, and tell you upfront what they’ll charge to set it up for you. It’s always free to you.
In 2009, the US government created the Making Home Affordable program, which helps homeowners stay in their homes and help them avoid foreclosures. The goal of this program was to incentivize lenders, and brokers, to modify homeowner loans in order to make payment more affordable.
You may be eligible for HAMP if all of the following criteria are true
- Your mortgage is unpaid, equal to or less than ~$730,000
- Your mortgage originated before 2009
- Your property hasn’t been condemned
- The mortgage is on your primary residence and you’re at risk of immediate default on your mortgage
- Your experiencing financial hardship
- You can show that if you are granted a modified loan, you have enough income to make payments under this new loan
- You haven’t been convicted of any mortgage or real estate fraud within the past 10 years.
HAMP Was Extended in June of 2012
In 2012, the Obama administration expanded the HAMP program. During this expansion, the government eliminated some of the qualifications, making it easier. For example, during the 2012 reforms made – the government made it so that HAMP modifications could be done for a property that is not your primary residence. In addition, the government completely eliminated at the debt to income ratio. One important change was that the program was extended to include people who had default on previous HAMP program modifications.
You should consider reapplying, even if you were previously denied if any of the following are true:
- you want to modify the mortgage on a property which is being rented / you have the intent to rent
- you didn’t qualify for HAMP in the past
- you got a HAMP loan but defaulted on it
3 Month Trial
If your lender agrees to a HAMP loan modification, you are given a 3 month trial. If you are able to successfully make payments, and show you are capable of abiding by the terms – then loan becomes final.
Banks are inundated with loan applications. They simply don’t have the time to give each application the time it deserves. This means that the best way of ensuring your modification is approved is to consistently follow up on your application.
- send the application by certified mail with a return receipt. send a follow up email – send the confirmation as well, in order to prove they got the application
- the lender is legally required to confirm receipt of the application within 10 days. they have to evaluate it within 30 days. if you don’t hear from the lender, then MAKE SURE to follow up.
Pause Your Foreclosure With HAMP
If you file for a HAMP modification, while your foreclosure is in progress – the lender is legally required to freeze the foreclosure proceedings until the application is evaluated. You have to prove the lender received the application, in order to force the lender to pause the foreclosure.
HAMP Ends Soon
HAMP is going to expire on December 31, of 2016. That gives homeowners 1.5 years as of today, to file for it.
It’s rare to find a tenant whose never had problems paying rent on time, every single month – without any errors. Sometimes, tenants are unable to pay at all, or cannot pay the full amount. If you’re a tenant of ethics and who has a reputation for being a good tenant, most of the time the landlord won’t evict you – even if you’re a month, or two, late. Most landlords would rather solve the situation without evicting you. If they evict you, it can cause all sorts of headaches they’d rather NOT face.
If you’re a tenant, you should read the advice being given below. It might help!
Negotiate a partial payment – or a future date
If your goal is to avoid eviction, it’s a good idea to be up front about your situation and ask for an extension. Honesty does pay, and by showing good faith of honesty – your landlord may help you! If the landlord values you, and considers you a good tenant – they won’t want to lose you. It’s difficult to evict someone – and more difficult to find a good tenant. Here’s the exact procedure to follow.
- Ask your landlord in writing for a few days. Do it as soon as possible.
- Explain difficulties your facing, and emphasize this is temporary and will be rectified (make sure it is apparent that this is simply a bad time, and will be fine soon).
- Offer to pay some of the rent, or as much as possible
- Set a date. Give your landlord a realistic day when they can expect it.
- Offer to pay a late fee if needed.
By doing the steps above, you show the landlord you’re serious, and are looking to take responsibility for your actions. Above all – don’t ignore the problem at hand, and hope it will go away – it won’t! Very often, we hear of tenants who ignore the problem – thinking their landlord will simply not notice. Depending on the amount of tenants, you may be right – but soon enough when they start doing their own accounting they’ll know your check is missing. It’s better to get ahead of the problem.
Don’t Send Checks Which Will Bounce
The worst thing possible is sending a check that bounces. Not only is it unprofessional, it can cause your money landlord extra fees and fines from his bank. Now that’ll mean you have to pay more money – and also, you’ll suffer the landlords anger. Some tenants sometimes play games, like sending a check this isn’t signed. If you bounce your check, or constantly play games like sending unsigned checks – it’ll often trigger a late fee. If your check bounces, the landlord has the right to charge a late fee + bank fee.
Landlords Hate Losing Good Tenants
Remember this, and keep this in the back of your head. If you’ve been paying making payment consistently, it’s best to ask the landlord for some courtesy and flexibility. Evicting is a very difficult process, and finding new and better tenants is even more difficult. This means that if you talk to the landlord, he’ll very often be more than happy to work with you.
Putting aside the religious and semantic connotation of marriage – theres no denying the fact that marriage grants many benefits, including certain rights and benefits – legally. These benefits can vary state to state. Below are some of the benefits.
- You can file a joint income tax return with the IRS
- You can create a family partnership, under federal tax laws. This makes it so you can divide your income along the lines of your family members.
- You can inherit your spouse’s estate if they die.
- You can receive an exemption from estate and gift taxes, from property your spouse gives, or leaves, you.
- You can create life estate trusts, which are restricted solely to marriage couples.
- If your spouse doesn’t leave a will, you are given priority as the executor. That means you can make financial and medical decisions for your spouse.
Government Program Benefits
- You can receive benefits like social security, medicare, and disability benefits which are owed to your spouse.
- You receive public benefits for assistance.
- You can receive the military benefits owed to your spouse.
- You can obtain insurance benefits from your spouses job
- You are allowed to take family leave, in order to care for your spouse if he/she is sick
- You can receive the wages, worker’s compensation, and other retirement benefits owed to your deceased spouse
- If your spouse is in the hospital, you are allowed leave to visit him/her.
- You can make medical decisions for your spouse if she/he is incapacitated and can’t make their wishes known.
- You can make burial choices for your spouse.
- You can file for joint adoption, as a married couples
- You can apply for foster care rights
- If you divorce your spouse, you can receive a portion of the property
- If you are divorced, your spouse may give you spousal support, child support.
- You can live in neighborhoods that are zoned for families, exclusively.
- If a lease was signed by your spouse, it automatically renews even if the spouse no longer lives there.
- Certain insurance companies offer great rates to families, for things like health insurance and car insurance. You are eligible, if you’re married.
- You can get tuition discount at colleges.
- If your spouse dies due to someone else negligence, you can sue that person on behalf of your spouse, for wrongful death.
- If your spouse is sued, you cannot be forced to testify against him/her, citing marital communications privilege.
- You can file immigration papers for your spouse.
- You can visit your spouse in places such as jails, where only family members are allowed to visit.
Same Sex Marriages
Under the U.S. Supreme court case, US vs Windsor, federal benefits are now given to those in a same-sex marriage. The rules vary, depending on the federal agency. Right now, most federal agencies look at the place where the marriage was performed, in order to understand whether the same-sex married couple is eligible for benefits at all. If you are in a valid marriage, then you are given the same federal legal protection given to heterosexual couples — regardless of whether your state recognizes the marriage. The same rules apply for the IRS and things like federal tax benefits. In 2013, the US Department of Treasury ruled that same-sex couples married in any state, will be recognized as married for the purposes of federal tax rules. This federal recognition for tax reasons, applies regardless of where the same-sex married couple lives. This rule, however, does not apply to same-sex couples who are in a domestic partnership or civil union.
Social Security Administration
The Social Security Administration only recognizes marriage which are recognized in the state that the couple live. If you are a same-sex married couple, and live in a state that does not recognize the marriage, then you will not be eligible for social security benefit’s for your spouse. This rule applies to things such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income, Bankruptcy, and Medicare.
Today we’re doing a FAQ session with the law offices of Greg Baumgartner, a personal injury law firm based in Texas that specializes in truck accident claims.
-Auto accidents involved trucks, can result in major injuries, and often result in death. Out of all the different types of auto accidents, those involving trucks are often the worst. Due to the fact commercial trucks are heavier than passenger cars, they often cause more significant injuries. In addition, trucks often are carrying hazardous or flammable materials, which can further aggravate the accident, once it’s occurred.
Commercial vehicle manufacturers, and those driving the vehicle, are held to a higher standard of safety than most other drivers. If you’ve been involved in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Continue reading our FAQ session in order to learn more about accidents involving trucks.
If you have property, or valuable assets, then having a will is highly suggested. Having a will, is a way to ensure that you get to decide who gets your assets and property – when you die. Without a will, the government may be the party responsible for deciding who gets your property and assets. Most wills are written in the form of a legal document.
Wills Must Meet Certain Requirements
Will are structured as formal documents which provide guidance to others, on how your money, property, and assets, are to be distributed. The people to whom they are distributed, are called heirs. In order for a will to be valid, there have to be witnesses who sign they will – and see you sign it. In some states, wills can be enforceable verbally or if written down. One of the recent trends in creating wills is doing them through a video format. The rules on what is accepted as a will vary, state to state.
The main reason you want to have a will is because it allows you to allocate your assets in any way you like. Through your will, you can dictate how your affairs are to be handled. For example, you can pick how you’d like to be cremated/buried, and anything else. In addition, you can dictate legal guardians for your children, and who should serve as the executor of the will.
In the event you die without a will, state laws known as intestate succession laws come into play – which decide who family members will inherit your estate. In most states in the USA, the spouse and children take priority for inheritance purposes. If you want to split up your estate in a manner that is not typical, such as donating a % to charity, or other family members – then it’s important to have a will which will help you ensure this will happen. If left to the state, this would never happen!
One of the biggest reasons people create wills, is because they eliminate family conflicts. Division of estate and assets, after a death, can be an emotional period. When you have a will in place, it makes it so that there are no conflicts and fights, because YOU dictated who would get what. With no will in place, division of assets can be a tricky game.
Before you decide on creating a business – it’s best to learn about all the various business structures available to you. You need to know what the options are – available to you, and the pros and cons of each of these structures. Below is a basic summary of all the different ways you can organize your business, in terms of the different legal structure. Each has it’s advantages, and disadvantages.
- sole proprietorship
- limited partnership
- limited liability company (LLC)
- nonprofit corporation
Sole Proprietorship and Partnership
For new businesses, it’s smart if the legal structure is a sole proprietorship or partnership.
This business structure is great for one-person businesses. This business structure doesn’t need to be registered with the state, unlike an LLC or corporation. You don’t need to file any paperwork, or do anything specific. It’s quite simple, and helps you open up shop immediately.
Cons: Legally speaking, the business and the owner are one entity. This means the person is liable for any business related debts, like a court judgement or debts. It also means, that the business owners personal assets can be taken in exchange for the debt.
Partnerships are a type of business which is owned by two or more people. No paperwork is needed, similar to a sole proprietorship. Just like the sole proprietorship, the individuals behind the business are legally responsible for any legal actions, or debts, taken against the company. That means that the partners personal assets are at risk. These types of legal structures make sense if you aren’t concerned about your personal liabilities. If you are in a business where you don’t need to worry about being sued, then this might be a smart way of organizing your business.
These are costly and complicated to setup. Most small business owners should not consider them as a legal structure. Limited partnerships are created a person or company, who will be asking for investments from other limited partners. In this partnership structure, the managing/general partner, controls the day to day operations, and is personally liable for any and all business debts. The only exception to the liability rule, is if the general partner is a corporation or llc. Partners who are limited partners have very minimal control over the daily business decisions. In return for this – the limited partners aren’t liable for any of the business debts.
Corporations / LLCs
Corporations and LLC’s are formed, and operated, on a much more complicated scale. These legal structures are costly to setup – and worth the trouble. This is due to the fact, they provide great legal immunity. When you setup an LLC or Corporation, it limits your personal liability for business debts and court judgements, made against the corporation or LLC.
Corporations are different from other legal structures because they separate a business from the people who control it. The corporation has it’s own legal structure and is it’s own tax entity. As a result, an owner is only responsible for paying taxes on the money they draw from the corporation in the form of a salary, bonus, etc.
LLC’s, like corporations, provide limited liability for business debts + claims. When it comes time to do taxes, LLC’s are like partnerships. Owners of the LLC pay taxes on their share of the income on their personal tax returns.
If you are in a business where you may run a risk of getting sued, or if you have personal assets you need shielded – you should consider setting up a corporation or LLC
Just because you have a great idea for an invention, or product – doesn’t mean anything. In order to capitalize on it, you need to patent the idea. Most of the time, you’ll hear that you need to hire a lawyer to apply for a patent. In most cases, the answer is typically no. You CAN do it yourself, thereby saving thousands in fees.
There are thousands of inventors who have navigated the USPTO on their own, without a lawyer. Federal law requires the patent examiners to help individual inventors who apply for patents that don’t have a lawyer’s assistance. This levels the playing field for you!
In order to get a patent, you need to make sure your invention qualifies, and that you can describe all the different aspects of the invention. Due to the general nature of these tasks, you don’t need legal skills simply to be able to identify the authenticity and novel nature of your patent.
In order to file a patent, without a lawyer, you should do the following steps
1. Keep a record of your invention – it’s important to note every step of the invention process in clear notebooks. Furthermore, you should diagram and describe all the aspects of your invention, and modifications you made. Sign and date all of the different entries your notebooks.
2. Does your patent qualify – You can’t get a patent on an idea. You have to be able to show the invention works and that it’s new. It means that it has to be different from other inventions.
3. Assess commercial value – Applying for a patent is the first step in a business plan. If the patent has no business value, then there’s no point in preparing for it, and filing for it. Even without an attorney, filing a patent can cost easily $1,000 to $2,000 in fees. Before you spend time going through this process, do research that outlines the necessity of doing this.
4. Do research – Before you go through the hassle of filing your patent, make sure the invention is new and real. In order to do this, you need to for earlier developments in the field you’re filing the patent in. This means searching through all forms of patents.
If you’re an independent inventor, you may face issues when trying to protect your invention – without the risk of it being stolen. Luckily, there is a law that can protect you: the provisional patent application.
One of the things that most inventors don’t know i that in September, 2011 – as a part of The America Invents Act, inventors who do public sales of their invention, or do a disclosure, before filing a patent application – may jeopardize their ability to get patent protection.
Filing a provisional patent is a great idea – because it allows you to protect your invention, with an immediate “stake in the ground,” – while buying you time to file a regular application later.
Inventors are at risk due to the First-To-File System
In March 2013, the USA adopted the first-to-file system. Under this filing system, the first person to file an application (not necessarily invent), get’s the patent. Before this change, inventors could prove they were the original inventor by providing documentation which showed their invention was earlier. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.
Due to the first-to-file system, its important that inventors immediately file a provisional patent. This puts the inventor at the “front of line,” in terms of staking claim to an invention. Filing a formal patent can take a long time, requires a substantial more information than a provisional patent, and can require the services of a lawyer as well.
Filing a PPA gives an inventor room to breath. With a PPA, an inventor can claim “patent pending,” for up to 12 months.
This patent requires a small amount of work, and can be done extremely quickly.
Provisional patent applications consist of simple drawings, that describe how the invention works. It doesn’t have to be long, it can be short, with none of the jargon required in a formal patent application. Once it’s filed, you can write patent pending, and can prove your invention came before other similar inventions!
Cheaper. Provisional patents are cheaper. It can range from $65 to $260, rather than the thousands of dollars needed for a full patent application.
Easier. Filing a provisional patent application is very simple, and requires little effort. You can skip all of the complications involved in standard patent applications. This type of application is designed to be fillable by just about anyone.
There is no patent. Provisional patents, on their own, are not patents. They are simply a procedural methodology, that puts you at the front of the line when filing a patent, and gives you time to file a formal patent.
Wondering how patents differ from copyrights?
Patents are related to things and inventions, that are innovative, unique, and useful. When you file a patent, you are given a 20 year period of protection, on your invention. It includes all aspects of the invention, manufacturing, sales, marketing, distribution, etc.
Copyrights, on the other hand, protect forms of art, such as books, graphics, arts, music, and other expressions. Copyrights are what prevent an individual from stealing another individuals creative work.
The only exception to the rule above, is as it pertains to design patents.