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FAQ

Specifics of international private law.

Should I have a will?

A will, in combination with a living trust, is the most effective estate planning tool available to streamline the legal process that happens at the time of death. Anyone who wants to make things easier for their loved ones when they die should have a will and living trust.

What are the main things to address in a will or living trust?

Your living trust needs to contain a list of all the property (cash, stocks, mutual funds, real estate, etc.) which is owned by the person creating the living trust at the time the trust is formed.

What is probate?

Probate is a process which is conducted throughout the court system when someone dies. Lawyers and judges become involved to ensure the decedent’s assets are transferred to the appropriate beneficiaries and/or relatives.

How and why should I avoid probate?

Probate is costly. Expenses associated with probate can use a majority of a decedent’s assets just to pay for the process of going through probate. This can leave beneficiaries with a much smaller amount of the original assets than the decedent desires. The probate process can be avoided by creating a living trust.

What is a living trust?

The living trust is an area of estate law which allows for the transfer of a decedent’s assets outside the probate process.

Why should I get a trust?

Most everyone who has assets they wish to transfer to loved ones upon death should create a living trust. The trust will allow the assets to be transferred without costly probate and save money during a time that is already sad and difficult.

How do trusts save me money?

Because a living trust allows beneficiaries to avoid probate, all the legal fees and possible court costs that can be associated with probate are eliminated. It’s common for probate costs to outweigh the one-time cost of creating an actual living trust.

Restraining orders Q&A

Who can get a restraining order?

Anyone who is concerned or afraid of another person (or people) hurting or attacking them can apply for a restraining order.

How do I get a restraining order?

A restraining order is obtained through a legal process where the individual requesting the restraining order is able to provide sufficient factual information to the Judge showing the fear is justified.

How long do restraining orders last?

Restraining orders can last any amount of time necessary to protect the person requesting the restraining order. Typically, 3-5 years is a time period used by most Judges. The restraining order can be renewed at the end of the expiration period.

Are there different kinds?

Different types of restraining orders exist. Domestic restraining orders involve two or more parties who are connected by relationship or common children. Civil restraining orders involve two or more parties who don’t have “domestic” connections but there is still a concern for protecting one’s safety.

Who approves them?

Judges approve restraining orders and you will be expected to appear in court to make your case.

How long does it take to get a restraining order?

A restraining order can be completed in as little as 1 days’ time. The emergency request is made to the local judicial officer and if the required circumstances exist, the restraining order can be granted immediately.

How are restraining orders enforced?

Restraining orders are enforced by law enforcement in all areas of the United States.

What do I do if my restraining order is violated?

If a restraining order is violated the local authorities (i.e. police) need to be contacted. The person (or persons) violating the order is subject to immediate arrest and incarceration.

Corporate/business law Q&A

What is an S. corporation?

An S. corporation is a special type of corporation created through an IRS tax election. An eligible domestic corporation can avoid double taxation (once to the corporation and again to the shareholders) by electing to be treated as an S. corporation.

What is an LLC?

A limited liability company (LLC) is the United States-specific form of a private limited company. It is a business structure that combines the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorships with the limited liability of corporation.

What is an LLP?

A limited liability partnership (LLP) is a partnership in which some or all partners, depending on the jurisdiction, have limited liabilities. If their firm exhibits elements of partnerships and corporations in an LLP one partner is not responsible or liable for another partners misconduct or negligence.

What is the difference between the different types of corporate structures?

An LLC is a limited liability company, sometimes referred to as a limited liability corporation, and an LLP is a limited liability partnership. Both legal entities are relatively new in the business world, and both share aspects of a corporation and a partnership. However, there are differences between these two business types, some of which are particular to the state the company operates in.

LLCs and LLPs both provide personal asset protection from business debts and liabilities. However, in an LLC the members are not protected from the liability of another member, but an LLP does give this protection. For instance, if an LLC member in an engineering practice makes a client error that is legally actionable, the LLC and all of its members can be held liable. But if a partner in an LLP is legally liable for something, the other partners cannot be held jointly liable.

Both LLCs and LLPs can “pass through” earnings from the business entities to the members or partners to avoid having to file corporate taxes on the earnings and paying personal income taxes on the same earnings, which is known as “double taxation.” The difference is in how an LLC operates and the number of members it comprises.

For instance, a single-member LLC is considered a sole proprietorship, and the IRS taxes the member as self-employed, at 15.3 percent. But LLCs can be formed as S or C corporations and have to pay taxes on the same profits twice. However, LLPs are treated strictly as partnerships, and the partners pay taxes only on the earnings passed to them though the business

Laws vary by state, but in general LLCs can be formed by any business or persons, while LLPs are generally restricted to professionally licensed individuals. For instance, some states like Nevada and California allow only professionals such as attorneys, accountants and architects to form an LLP but do not allow the same professionals to form an LLC.

There are a few differences in the formation of an LLC and LLP. Both are formed through articles of organization or articles of formation, and each usually is run based on an operating agreement. The differences are in how the members or partners buy in, sell out and add or remove members or partners.

Another difference is what percentage of control or voting share each member or partner is given. For example, if a company has two principal members when it forms, each would likely be given a 50 percent share. But if another principal buys in with an equal share, the two existing members would sell a total of 33 percent of the firm to the new principal so all have equitable shares of 33 percent. Or if a principal retires in a three-person company, the existing two members would buy the shares, or the retiring principal would sell his shares to a new incoming member.

While both LLCs and LLPs have distinct tax advantages, only LLPs provide legal protection from the actions of another partner. A newly forming business should first look at state law to determine which entity is allowable in the state in which it is headquartered, and at state laws regarding personal asset protection for each entity.