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Estate Planning/Living Trust/Wills

Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate during a person's life. Estate planning typically attempts to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses. The ultimate goal of estate planning can be determined by the specific goals of the client, and may be as simple or complex as the client's needs dictate. Guardians are often designated for minor children and beneficiaries in incapacity. We are qualified to prepare your Estate package.

Dissolution of Marriage

The divorce process in California is often a difficult, emotional decision. Sometimes, it takes a long time for the court to finalize the divorce. Most people facing a divorce, do not know what to expect from the process. Just as every marriage is different, every divorce is different as well. For some couples, the process is relatively short and smooth, while others face a long, rocky road of court battles and other disputes. If you are looking for insight into how to represent yourself in the divorce process and need assistance with your document preparation, we can help.

Unlawful Detainers

An unlawful detainer is a lawsuit in which a landlord tries to evict a tenant because according to the landlord, the tenant no longer has the right to live on the property. This is also called an eviction. In California, the unlawful detainer process is a summary procedure. Once the appropriate forms are filed, the process moves quickly. The Superior Court normally schedules and holds a trial where the plaintiff (the landlord) and the defendant (the tenant) are given an opportunity to explain their cases. We can assist by preparing your response to your landlord giving you time to prepare for a fair trial and prolonging the eviction process. 

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is a process. It involves people — your family, other individuals and, in many cases, charitable organizations of your choice. It also involves your assets (your property) and the various forms of ownership and title that those assets may take. And it addresses your future needs in case you ever become unable to care for yourself.


What is involved in estate planning?

There are many issues to consider in creating an estate plan. First, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my assets and what is their approximate value?
  • Whom do I want to receive those assets — and when?
  • Who should manage those assets if I cannot — either during my lifetime or after my death?
  • Who should be responsible for taking care of my minor children if I become unable to care for them myself?
  • Who should make decisions on my behalf concerning my care and welfare if I become unable to care for myself?
  • What do I want done with my remains after I die and where would I want them buried, scattered or otherwise laid to rest?

Who needs estate planning?

You do — whether your estate is large or small. Either way, you should designate someone to manage your assets and make health care and personal care decisions for you if you ever become unable to do so for yourself. For many, such “life planning” is the most important aspect of an estate plan.

If your estate is small, your plan may simply focus on who will receive your assets after your death, and who should manage your estate, pay your last debts and handle the distribution of your assets. If your estate is large, your lawyer will also discuss various ways of preserving your assets for your beneficiaries and of reducing or postponing the amount of taxes which otherwise might be payable after your death. 


If you fail to plan ahead, a judge will appoint someone to handle your assets and personal care. And your assets will be distributed to your heirs according to a set of rules known as intestate succession. Contrary to popular myth, everything does not automatically go to the state if you die without a will. Your relatives, no matter how remote, and, in some cases, the relatives of your spouse, have priority in inheritance ahead of the state. Still, they may not be your choice of heirs; an estate plan gives you much greater control over who will inherit your assets after your death.


What is a living trust?

It is a written legal document that partially substitutes for a will. With a living trust, your assets (your home, bank accounts and stocks, for example) are put into the trust, administered for your benefit during your lifetime, and then transferred to your beneficiaries when you die. Most people name themselves as the trustee in charge of managing their trust’s assets. This way, even though your assets have been put into the trust, you can remain in control of your assets during your lifetime. You can also name a successor trustee (a person or an institution) who will manage the trust’s assets if you ever become unable or unwilling to do so yourself. 


Your living trust agreement:

  • Gives the trustee the legal right to manage and control the assets held in your trust.
  • Instructs the trustee to manage the trust’s assets for your benefit during your lifetime.
  • Names the beneficiaries (persons or charitable organizations) who are to receive your trust’s assets when you die.
  • Gives guidance and certain powers and authority to the trustee to manage and distribute your trust’s assets. 
  • The trustee is a fiduciary, which means he or she holds a position of trust and confidence and is subject to strict responsibilities and very high                  standards. For example, the trustee cannot use your trust’s assets for his or her own personal use or benefit without your explicit permission.                  Instead, the trustee must hold and use trust assets solely for the benefit of the trust’s beneficiaries.
  
What can a living trust do for me?   
It can help ensure that your assets will be managed according to your wishes — even if you become unable to manage them yourself. In setting up your living trust, you may serve as its trustee initially or you may choose someone else to do so. You can name a trustee to take over the trust’s management for your benefit if you ever become unable or unwilling to manage it yourself. And at your death, the trustee — similar to the executor of a will — would then gather your assets, pay any debts, claims and taxes, and distribute your assets according to your instructions. Unlike a will, however, this can all be done without court supervision or approval. 

What is a will?

Your will is a legal document in which you give certain instructions to be carried out after your death. For example, you may direct the distribution of your assets (your money and property), and give your choice of guardians for your children. It becomes irrevocable when you die. In your will, you can name: 


Does a will cover everything I own?

No. Generally speaking, your will affects only those assets that are titled in your name at your death and for which there is no designated beneficiary.


What happens if I don’t have a will?

If you die without a will (referred to as intestate), California law will determine the beneficiaries of your estate. Contrary to popular myth, if you die without a will, everything does not automatically go to the state. If you are married or have established a registered domestic partnership, your spouse or domestic partner will receive all of your community property assets. Your spouse or domestic partner also will receive part of your separate property assets, and the rest of your separate property assets will be distributed to your children or grandchildren, parents, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews or other close relatives. 


How can we help you?
A Legal Document Preparer is an individual or business entity certified to prepare or provide legal documents, without the supervision of an attorney, for an entity or a member of the public who is engaging in self representation in any legal matter. We offer a Low-cost alternative to attorneys for preparing legal paperwork for you. Our LDAs are experts at form preparation and procedures. At your convenience we make house calls and hospital visits with the documents prepared and ready for you to sign. We prepare and record Deeds with the County Clerks Office on your behalf and provide professional binders for your records and for providing copies to necessary entities.