Good as Gold Law - Jenna Maack & Susan J. Hibbs
Our office is located at 596 Mountain Ranch Road, San Andreas, California. Please call or email us with your legal needs. We are a small, friendly office with the legal expertise and experience you need.
Serving Calaveras, Amador, Tuolumne, and San Joaquin Counties.
Phone: (209) 754-5291
Fax: (209) 754-5293
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 920, Mountain Ranch, California 95246
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Wills & Trusts
What is an Estate Plan?
Your Estate consists of everything you own both now and at your death. Your current estate is available for your care. A significant part of your Estate plan is therefore a Care Plan. This part of your plan looks at the problems that will arise if you are living, but unable to care for yourself, either mentally, physically, or both. Upon your death, your estate may be increased by things such as life insurance. At that point, your estate is everything you are passing on to friends and family.
Your Probate Estate is that part of the estate you leave at your death where the successor owner is not already defined. For example, if a life insurance policy states the proceeds go to your estate, the life insurance is
part of your probate estate. If the policy leaves the proceeds to a named individual, then it bypasses probate.
In California, a simple estate plan will generally consist of a will, a durable power of attorney for finances, an advanced health care directive, and probably a revocable living trust. An estate plan will also take into consideration retirement benefits expected, and may make use of both life insurance and long term care insurance. Because of the wide variability of estate plans, it is recommended that an attorney be retained for proper document preparation.
CAUTION: THE CREATION OF A WILL DOES NOT NECESSARILY AVOID PROBATE.
What is a Trust?
A trust is a legally enforceable arrangement whereby the settlor/trustor names a trustee (initially usually yourself) who exercises control over the assets in the Trust.
Use of a Trust
A Trust can accomplish both care planning goals and estate planning goals. A typical trust will provide
for a successor trustee in the event of your incapacity. By so doing, it insures that someone has access to your assets to provide needed care for you if you are unable to do it yourself. The same trust would avoid probate on your death, allow your trustee to insure your spouse's care during his or her life, and then leave any remaining assets upon your spouse's death to your named beneficiaries. In the process, the trust could also give you and your spouse tax advantages. A well written trust can fill many needs.
Because a trust survives the death of a settlor/trustor, and the trust assets automatically become the property of your successor trustee, a trust can be used as a vehicle to avoid probate. Rather than making a will, the
settlor puts all his property into a trust. He may choose to be the initial trustee or not. Usually, the same person who becomes the trustee after death is the same person who would otherwise have been named as executor. With a trust, the property will automatically become the property of this trustee, and the trust gives instructions to the trustee as to how, when and to whom the property is distributed. No probate is necessary because ownership of the assets has already been determined. Note that the result of avoiding the probate court is that you are putting total trust in your trustee.
Definition - Probate is a court-administered procedure for distributing the estate of a deceased individual.
Goals - Insure that all creditors get paid. Determine legal ownership of all titled assets. Distribute the decedent's property according to the terms of the will, or if no will, under the laws of the State of California.
Benefits - Supervised by the court to insure proper management of the estate and appropriate distribution.
Disadvantages - Costly and slow.
Probate is necessary when the decedent owned more than $150,000 in assets at death, or real property valued at over $25,000. The making of a Will does not avoid probate if these limits are exceeded. There is an exception to this when the decedent was married and everything is left to the surviving spouse.
It is important to note that Probate does NOT handle any assets where the ownership automatically passes to
someone else at death. As an example, the proceeds of a life insurance policy with a specified beneficiary are not subject to probate. Neither are assets in a trust with a named successor trustee, nor any assets having any
form of payable on death provision. All of these assets ARE still subject to estate tax.
Conservatorships & Guardianships
Definition - A conservatorship is a court-supervised relationship in which an appointed conservator assumes authority over an adult person and/or property of the conserved individual in order to provide for their care. A conserved person loses the right to make legally binding agreements for himself, and loses the right to choose his own living arrangements. Because a conservatorship is a serious loss of individual rights, the court prefers a less onerous solution if possible.
A Conservator of the Person will be created IF the proposed conservatee is "unable to provide properly for his or her personal needs for physical health, food, clothing, or shelter". The issue here is whether or not the person is safe without the conservatorship. The person proposing the conservatorship has the burden of proving that the standards necessary have been met, and the proof cannot consist of isolated incidents. A person can avoid or delay the necessity of a conservatorship by arranging to have the person cared for. But, the authority to access the person's funds may require a conservatorship, especially in the absence of an existing power of attorney.
If a person has created a valid durable power of attorney while they had legal capacity, the fiduciary requirements placed on the agent by such a document may be sufficient to avoid the need for a conservatorship. Assuming that the legal standards are met, a conservatorship will be appropriate if no power of attorney is in place, or if the person needs to be protected from their own actions even if a power of attorney is in place.
Conservator of the Estate
A Conservator of the Estate will be created IF the proposed conservatee is "substantially unable to manage his or her own financial resources or resist fraud or undue influence". This is not the same as Loss of Legal Capacity. Legal capacity is the capacity to enter into a contract. The standard is contract specific and requires that you understand the bargain you are making and its significance to you, and that you be able to negotiate effectively in your own interest. It is entirely possible to lack legal capacity yet still be able to get along safely on your own.
A conservatorship proceeding is a full blown adversarial legal contest. The proposed conservatee is entitled to their own legal counsel and entitled to court-provided counsel if they are unable to provide their own. Notice of the hearing is sent to all relatives within the second degree. This includes children, grandchildren, siblings, children of siblings, parents, and siblings of parents. The conservatee is also entitled to a jury trial if they so choose.
After the court conducts its own independent investigation and submits a report recommending the conservatorship, a conservator is appointed by the court and answers to the court. While the court gives preference to a family member as the conservator, such a family member will still have to meet the standards of performance that the court requires. A conservator of the estate must be bonded, and must provide the court with an annual accounting of the
assets, income, and expense of the estate.
The court expects a conservator to retain professional assistance as needed, and the costs of such assistance are paid for by the estate. The court also allows the conservator to be reimbursed by the estate for his or her services. There are also private professional fiduciaries specifically trained to perform such a role. The qualifications for such fiduciaries are stringently set by law.
A guardianship is similar to a conservatorship in the court proceedings, but is for a minor child who needs parental-type care.
Veteran's Administration Law
Hiring a Representative for Appeal
Although you are entitled to representation by the representative of your choice throughout the entire claim and appeal process, you can hire an attorney after the Agency of Original Jurisdiction has notified you of a decision denying your claim. Any unfavorable adjudicative decision by the V.A. may be appealed to the Board of Veterans' Appeals. An adjudicative decision is one which establishes or denies eligibility to a V.A. benefit.
Once you have submitted a Notice of Disagreement to the Board of Veterans Appeals, generally within one year, you may hire an attorney on a contingency basis, to be paid out of any retroactive benefits received as a result of a favorable decision.
Divorce is difficult both emotionally and financially. Let our firm assist you through the process. We can help you with your divorce, including child custody issues, child support, spousal support, property and debt division, and marital settlement agreements. Our office can also assist you with a premarital agreement in order to protect both you and your fiancé to avoid potential future conflict. Our office focuses on working with you to help avoid costly litigation in court, and strives to give you honest and trustworthy legal advice in all family law issues.
Getting out from under mountains of debt can be daunting. Our firm is here to help smooth the way and get your life back on track. Whether dealing with creditors, harassing debt collectors, negotiating payment options, or filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, you can count on our firm to provide you with the counsel and best options for moving forward.
We are a debt relief agency and help people file for protection under the United States Bankruptcy Code.
|Address:||596 Mountain Ranch Road|
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 920, Mountain Ranch, CA 95246
San Andreas, CA 95249
|Email:||firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com|