What do Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s Have in Common?

What do Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s have in common? No. They are not making an ice cream, which might be interesting and possibly delicious.

Travels to China

When I was in law school I was fortunate enough to participate in a study abroad program in China at the Zhejiang University Guanghua College of Law.

My first impression of China was getting of a plane in Beijing. I am not sure if you have ever been there but the airport is huge. In fact, our connection that was leaving in forty-five minutes to Hangzhou, was across town on a bus in a different terminal. As the panic set in, a flight attendant from China, ran with us all the way to the connection, as we hopped on different buses, and we made our flight. She did not have to do this and her kindness astonished me. While I think that there are kind people everywhere, similar experiences kept happening so then I knew that it was not a coincidence and the Chinese people were some of the kindest and most hospitable people. Just like home. In fact so many people welcomed us into their home and my experience was one that I look back upon with appreciation.

Once we arrived in Hangzhou, I realized that most of this region was old, in fact Zhejiang University was founded in 1897, and the green tea was delicious. In fact, at the University, instead of cold water fountains there were hot water spouts for everyone to make their tea. Did I mention I am a little obsessed with green tea? It was definitely a highlight for me. But my favorite city was Shanghai.

Have you ever been to China? What was your favorite thing? If you are an United States company that is expanding into China then we want to help.  Coastal Pacific Law attorneys are experienced in business planning, and can help with your incorporation, contracts, trademarks or expansion issues.

If you are a Chinese company expanding to the United States or Canada then Coastal Pacific Law would love to assist you as acting as of counsel or as advisory board to your company. To schedule a complimentary consultation, call (619)786-6563, or fill out a Contact Request Form. 谢谢

This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.

 

Is a Small Estate Probate Right for You?

Generally, there are three types of probate petitions.

1. Petition for Probate

A Petition for Probate is filed in an estate when the title of assets in the name of the decedent are $150,000 or more in California. You will determine value of the assets based upon the current market value – date of death valuation. There are exceptions for certain assets. The assets can be real property, bank accounts, etc. Normally, the decedent had a will or no will, i.e. intestacy, but may have had a trust and did not properly transfer the assets. There is another procedure if there was a trust to try if the items left out of the estate was $150,000 or less called a Heggstad Petition. There is normally one or more Petitioner selected to administer the estate and will collect the assets and distribute them to the beneficiaries.

2. Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property (Estates of $150,000 or Less)

You would file a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property (Estates of $150,000 or Less) if the assets, including bank accounts and real property totaled together are less than $150,000. This is a shorter procedure, time wise, but there are some considerations.

        Amount of Beneficiaries

In a proceeding for a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property (Estates of $150,000 or Less) all the beneficiaries are Petitioners before the court so if there are 10 beneficiaries of the estate then there will be 10 petitioners. All petitioners will need to sign for the sale of property and all court documents. This could be very challenging and should be considered before choosing this procedure.

          Incapacity

In addition, if any of the beneficiaries are incapacitated then the court will need to see that the incapacitated person either has a conservatorship over there person and estate or there is a Durable Power of Attorney. Then the court will deal with the conservator or agent and this will get complicated. If you have either of theses issues this petition may not be the best choice for the estate.

3. Affidavit re Real Property of Small Value ($50,000 or less)

You would file a Affidavit re Real Property of Small Value ($50,000 or less) when there was only real property in the estate that was worth less than $50,000. This is not very common in San Diego County but usually occurs when the decedent owned a share of total interest in the real property. For example, if John, the decedent owned 25 percent of the total real property interest and his percentage was worth less than $50,000 based upon a date of death current market value then this could be an appropriate petition to file.

4. 13100 Affidavit

You might need a 13100 Affidavit if the decedent left a bank account or multiple accounts in their name and the total value of every asset left in the decedent’s name was less than $150,000. If there was real property r multiple accounts, etc. you would add those together to make sure that the total is less than $150,000. You can only collect bank accounts with this Affidavit. If you want to read more about 13100 Affidavits then read my post here.

Coastal Pacific Law attorneys are experienced in estate planning, and can help with your trust administration, probate administration, wills and trusts. To schedule a complimentary consultation, call (619)786-6563, or fill out a Contact Request Form.

This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.

Photo by Michał Grosicki

Can a Bank Account Avoid Probate?

If you are the successor trustee, executor or administrator of the estate then there might be a bank account that was in the name of the decedent and not in the name of the trust, or joint tenancy, etc. If the bank account was under one-hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150,000.00), as of the date of this post, then there might be an option besides probate court. Under the California Probate Code Section 13100 states that you can create an Affidavit for the account if all of the property in the estate does not exceed one-hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150,000.00). Thus, if there was one account in the estate and it was worth fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00) then you could use this Affidavit, an example can be found here. If there are multiple accounts that exceed one-hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150,000.00) then it could be probate time.

The requirements are:

  1. That 40 days have elapsed since the date of death
  2. That you are the trustee, executor, administrator or entitled by the probate code to a role to administer the estate.
  3. That the probate estate does not exceed one-hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150,000.00), i.e. all accounts and property in the decedent’s name.
  4. Names and addresses of all beneficiaries.
  5. Death certificate and other documents as required by the institution. Every institution is different.

Then you will notarize the document and submit it to the bank. After they process the paperwork. They will contact you to transfer the account or write a check so that you can distribute it to beneficiaries. This money is not yours but belongs to all entitle beneficiaries and if you have any questions about who that is then please contact me.

Coastal Pacific Law attorneys are experienced in estate planning, and can help with your trust administration, probate administration, wills and trusts. To schedule a complimentary consultation, call (619)786-6563, or fill out a Contact Request Form.

This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Should I Create a Trust for my Family?

Generally, there are three ways you can go when creating your estate plan for your family. You can create a Trust, Will or you can do nothing.

Intestacy

I will talk about the third option first. You might say, ʺnot doing anything is not planning my estate,ʺ but it is. By not doing anything you are planning for your estate to go by the laws of intestacy under the California Probate Code. This means that the Judge will use the Probate Code to decide how your estate to be distributed.  This is not necessarily a bad thing but it might not be what you wanted. I am not going into the laws of intestacy here but will do so in another post. Sometimes what plays out is sad and could have easily been prevented by doing a simple will or trust.

Trusts

Normally, when planning your estate you will consider doing a trust. some of the considerations are the following:

  • if you own a house
  • if you have bank accounts
  • if you have children
  • if you have rental properties
  • if you own a business

If you have any of the above items, regardless of debt, then you are a good candidate for a trust and you might want to look into one. The reason I say that this is regardless of debt is because the probate court considers assets in their gross amount for fees, etc. and while a mortgage will be listed it is not the main consideration unless there will be a foreclosure.

A trust is states your intent, re-titles certain assets to bypass the probate court, i.e., your home, certain bank accounts, etc. A trustee will be appointed to collect and distribute the trust to your beneficiaries at your time of death. A trust does not change how you deal with your property and does not change your taxes during your lifetime, unless it was your decision to create an irrevocable trust, etc. at the time or your incapacity for your benefit.

Generally, an estate plan includes other documents like: guardianship nominations, pour-over wills, durable power of attorney, advanced health care directive, HIPAA Agreement, memorial services memorandum, pet trusts, continuing trusts, personal property memorandum, tangible personal property memorandum, community property agreement, trust deed and preliminary change of ownership report. While a trust is the best thing you can do for your family there is one more way as listed below.

Wills

A Will is a document that states your intent but does not re-title any of your assets. Your family will still go to probate court but the Judge looks at your stated intent versus using the probate code to determine the division of your estate. If you cannot create a trust, do to finances, etc. then at least create a will. This will save your family grief, suffering and surprise. This has been my experience.

A will can come with other documents, such as, an advanced health care directive and durable power of attorney. if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

Coastal Pacific Law attorneys are experienced in estate planning, and can help with your estate plan, wills, trust, trust administration, or probate administration. To schedule a complimentary consultation, call (619)786-6563, or fill out a Contact Request Form.

This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.

Photo by Kendall Lane

Who Won the CrossFit Games?

If you do CrossFit then you probably already know who won the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games. If you do not do CrossFit then you might want to know that the CrossFit Games are the culmination of three events. It all starts with the CrossFit Open in February. Anyone can sign up and do the workouts for a small expense. If you did the CrossFit Open in 2017 then you would have competed against 304,327 individuals in 127 countries. Then if you are the best in your Region, as defined by CrossFit, you can go to the Regionals Competition. There are 17 Regional Competitions or Regions and the following people can qualify for Regionals:

The following will qualify from 10 Regions in USA and 2 Regions in Canada:

  • 20 men
  • 20 women
  • 15 teams qualify

The following will qualify from Australia and Europe Regions:

  • 30 men
  • 30 women
  • 20 teams

The following will qualify from Latin America, Asia, and Africa Regions:

  • 10 men
  • 10 women
  • 10 teams

If you were to compete in Regionals then you would need to be one of the top 5 once the competition is over to continue to the Reebok CrossFit Games, i.e., five males and five females from each of the 17 Regions will compete in the Games, which is the final event. The winners of the Crossfit Games are titled ʺthe Fittest on Earth™.ʺ CrossFit claims this title because, ʺ[the games] are world-renowned as a grueling test for the toughest athletes on Earth as well as a thrilling experience for spectators. The Games were created to fill a void—no other true test of fitness existed. From Ironman triathlons to the NFL, all other athletic events neglected to accurately test fitness. Even decathlons, while testing a relatively wide range of abilities, missed vital components of physical fitness.ʺ

This year, an Australian female named Tia Claire Toomey won the individual female division and an American male Matthew Fraser won the individual male division of the 2017 Games. It was fun to watch. You should try it sometime.

Final top 10 standings for the women:

1. Tia-Clair Toomey
2. Kara Webb
3. Annie Thorisdottir
4. Ragnheidur Sara Sigmundsdottir
5. Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir
6. Tennil Reed-Beuerlein
7. Kristin Holte
8. Jamie Greene
9. Samantha Briggs
10. Kari Pearce

Final top 10 standings for the men:

1. Mathew Fraser
2. Brent Fikowski
3. Ricky Garard
4. Patrick Vellner
5. Noah Ohlsen
6. Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson
7. Scott Panchik
8. Ben Smith
9. Alex Anderson
10. Jonne Koski

Coastal Pacific Law attorneys are experienced in business planning, and can help with your incorporation, contracts, trademarks or other issues. To schedule a complimentary consultation, call (619)786-6563, or fill out a Contact Request Form.

This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.

Photo Credit: CrossFit

My Not-To-Do List

Many of You have heard Tim Ferriss and his book, The Four Hour Work WeekFerriss is not advocating only working for four hours a week but wants you to be as efficient as possible to make time for the things that matter. I laughed many times while *listening* to this book. For example, if you have a time and money wasting client sometimes, you have to fire them, which is funny because I have learned this the hard way. See the Pareto Principle.

Then there was a certain part of the book that made me stop and rewind, which was the “Not-To-Do List.” This list is as important as a To-Do List. As a business owner your most precious resource is time and possibly money depending on what stage of development your company is now. However, money is a renewable resource while time is not. There are nine items on the No To-Do List, which are the following. Thou shalt not: “answer calls from unrecognized phone numbers; e-mail first thing in the morning or last thing at night; agree to meetings or calls with no clear agenda or end time; let people ramble; check e-mail constantly; over-communicate with low-profit, high-maintenance customers; work more to fix overwhelm; carry a cellphone 24/7; and do not expect work to fill a void that non-work relationships and activities should.”

I am guilty of all nine. Some more than others but every day my goal is just to be better than the day before. One of the items on the Not-To-Do List that made the most change in my business was defining the purpose of meetings in advance, making clear end times and enforcing them. My life improved. But an unexpected side effect was that because my life improved so did my client’s because I now have more time for them and improving their experience with my firm. What would you add to your Not-To-Do List?

Coastal Pacific Law attorneys are experienced in business planning, and can help with your incorporation, contracts, trademarks or other issues. To schedule a complimentary consultation, call (619)786-6563, or fill out a Contact Request Form.

This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters

Do I Need to Provide an Accounting?

As the successor trustee of a trust, you have many duties. One of them is to provide an accounting to the beneficiaries of the trust annually. If you are not sure what a trustee or beneficiary is then read this article.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. If the trust states that the accounting for beneficiaries is waived then it could be waived. However, I would be careful with this because there are circumstances that waiving an accounting can be considered against public policy even if it is waived in the trust and especially if there are strained relationships. Also, you could have all beneficiaries sign a waiver of accounting so that no accounting is required by you, the trustee. Additionally, If you are the trustee and only beneficiary then you do not have a duty to account to yourself.

What is required for a proper trust accounting? The California Probate Code Section 16063 tells us that a trust accounting should contain the following information:

“(1) A statement of receipts and disbursements of principal and income that have occurred during the last complete fiscal year of the trust or since the last account.

(2) A statement of the assets and liabilities of the trust as of the end of the last complete fiscal year of the trust or as of the end of the period covered by the account.

(3) The trustee’s compensation for the last complete fiscal year of the trust or since the last account.

(4) The agents hired by the trustee, their relationship to the trustee, if any, and their compensation, for the last complete fiscal year of the trust or since the last account.

(5) A statement that the recipient of the account may petition the court pursuant to Section 17200 to obtain a court review of the account and of the acts of the trustee.

(6) A statement that claims against the trustee for breach of trust may not be made after the expiration of three years from the date the beneficiary receives an account or report disclosing facts giving rise to the claim.”

As trustee, you may be wondering, what defines a beneficiary and who gets a copy of this accounting? The Probate Code states, “each beneficiary to whom income or principal is required or authorized in the trustee’s discretion to be currently distributed” is entitled to an accounting. This means anyone named in the trust but can also mean people that are not specifically named in the trust.

If you are a beneficiary that has not received an accounting then you must make a demand to the trustee.

Coastal Pacific Law attorneys are experienced in estate planning, and can help with your trust administration, probate administration, wills and trusts. To schedule a complimentary consultation, call (619)786-6563, or fill out a Contact Request Form.

This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.

Photo by Fabian Blank 

What if There is a Handwritten Will?

Normally, in order to create a will, you would go see an attorney, have them draft it and then have it witnessed by two people. This must be done with the understanding that it was your will, i.e. you must have capacity. This is considered to be a “valid will” in the state of California as long as all provisions in the California Probate Code Section 6110 are met, as mentioned above.

A Probate Code Section 6110 “valid will” can be handwritten, it is just not as common and normally is not done properly since it is unlikely an attorney was involved. If a will does not meet the requirements of a valid will under Section 6110 then it could be considered to be a holographic will. The goal of creating a will is not to create a holographic will but to create a valid will, however; in absence of satisfying the requirements of a valid will you hope that you have a holographic one. 

What are the requirements for a holographic will? The Probate Code Section 6111, states that, a holographic will is legal if its “material provisions” are in the testator’s own handwriting and the will is signed by the testator. The testator is the person that creates the will.

When is it understandable to not meet all of the requirements for a valid will and make a holographic will? I would say only in extreme circumstances, such as the following: you are in imminent danger of death, and you have not already made a will or wish to change a will;  you are a soldier that has been injured on the battlefield, you are going into a serious surgery, you are lost in the wilderness and do not expect to survive, you are on an airplane about to crash, etc. I am sure that you can think of a few more.

Now you could be thinking, well I am not giving any attorneys my money and I am going to hand-write my will but there are some good reasons to see an attorney. In the end, the determination if a holographic will meets the requirements of Probate Code Section 6111, is up to the Judge and may not have the outcome that you intended.

A holographic will, as explained above, should not be your first plan of attack because there are common errors with them, such as lack of guardianship provisions, failure to dispose of all of the property, ademption, i.e. addressing special gifts to specific persons that are no longer part of the estate, as well as the following:

Failure to Include Material Provisions. First, you make have left something out such as contingent beneficiaries or executors. Contingent beneficiaries are the people that get your stuff if your primary beneficiaries, most likely your children are not around. If you fail to name the contingent beneficiaries then people that you did not want to get anything could get it or heirs that you have never met.

Executors are people that are in charge of collecting your assets and distributing them to beneficiaries in court. If you do not name any the first person that files a Petition for Probate that meets the requirements could be approved to be the executor of the estate by the Judge.

Ambiguity of the Will. Second, another common problem with holographic wills is ambiguity. You as creator of the will, i.e. the testator may have created a will that is clear to you but it may not be clear to to your children, other beneficiaries or the Judge what your exact intent was regarding certain clauses, etc. When there is confusion with the will it is up to the Judge how the will is interpreted and if extrinsic evidence could be allowed to make this determination. In the end you may be better off not having a will if everyone ends up fighting over what they thought you meant.

Handwritten wills do have their place but it is still a good idea to have a valid witnessed will or trust.

Coastal Pacific Law attorneys are experienced in estate and business planning, and can help with your will, trust, estate plan, trust administration, or probate administration. To schedule a complimentary consultation, call (619)786-6563, or fill out a Contact Request Form.

This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.

 

 

Photo by Álvaro Serrano

What Do You Want to Happen With Your Remains?

Thinking about your demise can be morbid but it also can give you a peace of mind. In most cases people want to be buried, cremated or put to rest in some other way according to their religious beliefs. But if you love the ocean the you should check out, Eternal Reefs. The founders of Eternal Reefs created their company in response to significant deterioration and degradation of the reefs they witnessed while diving. They came up with a plan to create a “material and system that would replicate the natural marine environment that supports coral and microorganism development,” which are pictured above.

Underwater-4

The Eternal Reef is around four feet high and made of a mix or your remains and a special concrete that allows organisms to make their home on it. The packages range from $4000-$8000 and even offer different ocean placement options. Additionally, Eternal Reefs wants your pet to be remembered too. If you would like your pet’s ashes to be part of its own reef or part of yours then they are glad to oblige your request.

Are you ready to plan your estate? Coastal Pacific Law attorneys are experienced in estate and business planning, and can help with your estate plan, trust administration or probate administration. To schedule a complimentary consultation, call (619)786-6563, or fill out a Contact Request Form.

This is not intended to be relied upon as legal advice and does not form the attorney-client privilege. 

Photo Credit: Eternal Reefs

What are the Requirements for a Cannabis Business in California?

Proposition 64 legalized recreational marijuana businesses, right? Well not at the moment. Currently, the only cannabis businesses “allowed” to operate in California are medical marijuana businesses. I remember reading an NPR story that claimed that there were more medical marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks in some neighborhoods in California but recreational use will prove that further growth is possible.

State Level

There are federal, state and local regulations of cannabis. At the state level, Proposition 64 set up a structure to regulate the cannabis industry and delegated responsibilities to state organizations that are going to release laws for the sale, distribution and consumption of recreational cannabis supposedly by January 1, 2018.

Local Level

However, while the state has authorized sale and use for the future, it will still be up to your county whether or not you will be issued a permit to operate your business. For example, San Diego County currently authorizes permits for medical marijuana dispensaries, but there are requirements for its operation, such as being 1000 feet from a school.

Federal Level

If you pay attention to the news then you might be thinking, aren’t things going to get worse for cannabis? Jeff Sessions is cracking down, even on medical marijuana, right? At the moment there might be bigger fish to fry for the federal government. At the end of the day this may come down to tax revenue. However, there are twenty-seven states where medical marijuana is legal and seven that legalized recreational marijuana.

What Do I Need to Do to Start My Business?

Let’s be clear. You can only have a medical marijuana business at the moment until the state and county release new mandates regarding recreational cannabis.

First, you need to incorporate your business.

The purpose of forming an entity, not only gives you limited liability, but also serves the as the intention of the Compassionate Use Act, the Medical Marijuana Plan. According to California Health and Safety Code sections 11362.765(a), “nothing in this section shall authorize any individual or group to cultivate or distribute marijuana for profit.” Many have taken this to mean that medical marijuana dispensaries can only be incorporated as non-profit organizations.

Furthermore, California case precedent has come down suggesting that forming a non-profit organization is the best practice for medical marijuana dispensaries and entity collectives. In the Qualified Patients Association v. City of Anaheim (2010) 187 Cal.App.4th 734, 746 the the Court stated that, “[t]he [Medical Marijuana Program Act] bars individuals and any collective, cooperative, or other group from transforming medical marijuana projects authorized under the MMPA into for-profit enterprises.” Thus, anyone seeking to form a dispensary has several types of entities to choose from when forming the business.

  1. Mutual Benefit Corporation – The most common and most widely used entity for California dispensaries is the mutual benefit corporation, as defined under California Corporations Code Section 7110. Like a traditional corporation, the mutual benefit corporation has members, a board of directors, and officers like the President and Secretary. However, the mutual benefit corporation’s purpose is to provide a benefit to its members and not to make a profit. Therefore, nearly all California dispensaries require patients to join in their membership.
  2. Other Non-Profit Organizations – Some California dispensaries form as other types of non-profit organizations with purposes, such as: public good, education or religion. These types of non-profits can qualify for tax exempt status under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3), and tend to have more rigorous requirements than the mutual benefit corporation because if approved for 501(c)(3) status the organization will be tax exempt.
  3. Collectives – Very few dispensaries form as a cooperative corporation, as defined under California Corporations Code Section 12200.

Second, you need to get the required permits.

You must obtain permits and licenses from your state, county and local authorities. If you are not sure then contact us and we can help get you started. If you are a dispensary, you are going to need to find a space before your local authority will issue you a permit do to the zoning requirements.

Third, it is a good idea to have an attorney.

Today there are many changes in law regarding medical and recreation cannabis use and you, as a cannabis business owner, are expected to be up to date on all of legal changes. Ignorance of the law is not a defense in court. If you retain an attorney, then we can keep you up to date and to make sure that you stay on top of all of the new legal framework so you can focus on running your business. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.

Coastal Pacific Law attorneys are experienced in business planning, and can help with your incorporation, contracts, trademarks or other issues. To schedule a complimentary consultation, call (619)786-6563, or fill out a Contact Request Form.

This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.

Photo by Andy Schneider