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Fresno County Probate and Estate Planning Law Blog

Strings to consider attaching to your trust

If you plan to leave parts of your estate to loved ones in the form of a trust, you may very well have an interest in maintaining control over the distribution of those assets. After all, setting up a trust is one way to control the administration and privacy of your estate by avoiding probate.

However, you might also have an interest in controlling how the assets in a trust are used after you are gone. This can be the case if you plan to leave large sums of money to kids who may blow through an inheritance or if you don’t want the money spent in certain ways. In order to do these things, you may want to attach some strings to your trusts.

What can I expect during probate?

If your loved one has recently passed away, then you will likely need to prepare yourself for the process of probate.

Most people are unfamiliar with probate, which can make it seem intimidating, confusing and overwhelming. It can be even more upsetting when you are trying to navigate the complicated legal system in light of a devastating loss, too. However, understanding some of the basic aspects of probate can help prepare you for the road ahead.

What should your employee handbook include?

A handbook for employees is a vital tool for employers and employees alike. This document can set expectations, answer frequently asked questions and provide workers with important resources to help them navigate any challenges that may arise through the course of their job.

If you are an employer who is creating or updating your company's handbook, though, it can be difficult to assess what specifically you should put in your manual. To help you get started, below are some of the more standard, basic pieces that can be particularly important to include.

3 challenges that any new business owner can face

Starting a business is no easy task, but studies show that millennials are not discouraged by the challenges every entrepreneur faces. In fact, according to a recent report, people born between 1980 and 2000 have a greater desire to start a business than previous generations. Further, millennials are more likely than other generations to have already started a business.

What this means is that young people are not just entering the workforce; they are contributing to its growth and development to a significant degree. With this in mind, we want to remind readers -- both young and old -- of some challenges that most first-time business owners will face.

Does your estate plan really express your wishes?

Surveys and studies continue to confirm that fewer than half of Americans over the age of 55 have created an estate plan. This means many people must deal with the stress and frustration of taking their loved one's estates through probate and trying to guess their loved one's intentions for the end of life.

Congratulations to you for saving your family this heartache by establishing an estate plan. Your plan may be as simple as a will or contain the complexities of trusts, powers of attorney and final instructions. Just one question: How long ago did you make your plans?

How will my estate be distributed if I don't have a will?

If you pass away without a will in place, you are leaving the distribution of your estate and assets in the hands of the court. If this happens, the courts will follow specific rules for who receives your assets and which assets they will receive. 

However, this is a complex situation. It's not necessarily as easy as giving all your assets to your spouse or your kids. The distribution of your assets will hinge on factors including whether you were married and what type of assets you own. Below is a very broad explanation of this process.

Too young to create an estate plan? Probably not.

The idea of estate planning might bring to mind a stuffy conference room with lawyers and a retirement-aged couple planning for the end of life. Creating something like a will, however, is not a stuffy and grim legal experience. It is a planning tool that can provide motivation, clarity and a sense of confidence among men and women of any age. 

Honestly, if there is a retirement-aged couple creating an estate plan for the first time, that couple is really behind. And they might want to count themselves as lucky if they haven't run into needing what an estate plan can provide. Don't let yourself and/or your family fall behind and get caught in a tricky situation you could have avoided.

3 types of disputes that can jeopardize your trust

Trusts can be essential tools in any estate plan. They can help people minimize taxes, avoid probate, secure funds for specific people and shield assets from unwanted parties. Considering how beneficial they can be, it is not surprising that people all across California have trusts as part of their estate plan.

However, it is important to understand that trusts are not bulletproof or immune to challenges. Disputes can and do arise that can affect your trust. Knowing what some of the more common disputes are could help you avoid them when you are creating or revising trusts.

Could agreement not to compete violate anti-trust laws?

Mergers and acquisitions are regulated by federal and state laws. These laws are in place to protect the market and prevent anticompetitive transactions, like those that would result in monopolies. Without these measures, one or a few companies could acquire all their competitors, drive up prices and lower the quality of their products and services.

However, companies don’t have to merge with or acquire one another to engage in behaviors that violate antitrust laws. In fact, two companies could remain completely separate and still be accused of predatory business practices that hurt consumers. One example of this is a recent agreement between Comcast and Charter, according to a consumer advocacy spokesperson.

Recognizing the challenges small business owners face this week

Did you know that this week is recognized across the country as National Small Business Week? For more than 50 years, this week has provided people in Fresno and all across the U.S. with the opportunity to stop and appreciate all that small businesses contribute to jobs, the economy and competition in the marketplace.

With all this in mind, it can be a good time to highlight some of the unique challenges small business owners must face and overcome in order to find success.

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