A living trust lets you manage your assets such as money, property, and business interests, with you as the one in charge as trustee. It also provides for how you want your assets managed if you are unable to do so. In those situations, a successor trustee named by you will manage your assets to your benefit during your lifetime and then distribute those assets to your beneficiaries as named in your trust without going through and paying a court.
Trusts can be set up to be revocable in case you want to change your mind at a future date. … Read More
We want to help every family to have an estate plan. Our new Trust series will explore the basics of estate planning, show you how to navigate the trust process, determine if and when you need legal help, and assist you as needed.
When you know, you know. Everyone has an estate. And no matter how modest, almost everyone can benefit from setting up a living trust. As estate planners, we create living trusts for our clients all the time. From modest to sophisticated, we know the ropes. As part of our ‘law for everyone’ concept, we want to give … Read More
A very cool robot graced our Halloween open house this year. We are lucky enough to work with a start-up company focused on robotics, hence the visit. Their robots use artificial intelligence to interact with humans or other robots. While not frequent visitors to the Plaza, these robots provide emotional support in healthcare, learning, and other environments, including a special Halloween visit to Sonoma.… Read More
We are excited to host an Art Walk showcasing Fred Parker on Thursday, December 7, 2023, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the HVP offices on the Plaza (address below).
This is your chance to explore Parker’s Northern California landscapes. We hope you can join us.
Haeuser, Valluzzo & Piasta LLP
466 First Street East, Sonoma CA… Read More
At its core, gratitude lets us appreciate the here and now instead of always looking for something new to make us feel happier or more fulfilled. As a recent Harvard study notes “Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack.”
Here at HVP, we are grateful for the rewards of lawyering north of the bustling SF Bay Area. Here we get to practice law, raise our families, and provide civic engagement and service. Our lives are enriched because we get to offer legal advice and services to our friends and neighbors throughout the Wine Country … Read More
SONOMA, CA – November 20, 2023 Haeuser, Valluzzo & Piasta LLP is pleased to announce that Megan Garner has joined the firm as an associate. Megan’s experience in estate planning, estate administration, and business law supplements HVP’s strengths in these areas of practice. Megan’s addition to the firm continues the growth spurt precipitated by Whipple & Supple joining the firm as of counsel earlier this year to provide employment law advice and counsel to the firm’s clients. Cumulatively, these moves expand HVP’s long-time foundation in Sonoma. Combining Megan’s experience in Napa with Wright & Supple’s clientele in the North Bay, … Read More
Megan Garner recently joined us as an associate of the firm. Megan adds a new layer of financial experience to the concierge legal services our clients have come to expect from us.
Our continued expansion allows to HVP offer significant legal coverage to the entire region as we continue to forge a new approach to legal services.… Read More
The back-to-school special and the property tax blog post are part of our law for everyone initiative.
It’s that time of year when property owners look towards paying that tax bill. Your property tax bill includes payments for various things, other than property tax. In addition to property tax, the bill includes charges for voter-approved taxes and direct charges from taxing agencies. These charges are all specifically identified on one’s bill for property taxes.
A little-known fact is that these additional amounts sometimes will include various exemptions. The most common is for senior citizens, defined as age sixty-five (65) or … Read More
Legal documents you need when your kid goes off to college
Parents of college-bound children need to have critical legal documents in place before their kids leave the nest. These legal considerations, like having kids in the first place, are a package deal. Don’t make the mistake of being unprepared in the face of a situation that could affect your child’s health and well-being.
Even though your child is legally considered to be an adult, there may be times when you will want to step in to help. You will not be able to do so unless you have the … Read More
As our world becomes increasingly digitized, when we die, we leave an expansive digital footprint. For many, this footprint includes assets, intellectual property and other information such as copyrights, photos, pictures, messages, digital currenc(ies), passwords and more. An ever increasing question is who has access to these things after we leave the planet.
In this situation as in many others, the law often lags behind the issues of the day. This leaves individuals, including estate planners and professional fiduciaries with the question of how to counsel clients as to assets both now and in the future. Presently, the California Probate … Read More
It’s that time of year when property owners look towards paying that tax bill. Your property tax bill includes payments for various things, other than property tax. In addition to property tax, the bill includes charges for voter approved taxes and direct charges from taxing agencies. These charges are all specifically identified on one’s bill for property taxes. A little-known fact is that these additional amounts sometimes will include various exemptions. The most common is for senior citizens, defined as age sixty-five (65) or older. Luckily for folks reaching this category, they can go through this list of charges and … Read More
Here are some of the ideas we’re working on to enhance our legal counsel for the families and small businesses upon which Sonoma is based, and for those among us who need our help.
1. TechForward Sonoma—stay tuned for video featuring an online Sonoma History
2. CarePartners Initiative—elevating elder care and support
3. Sonoma History and Local Artist Retrospective—open-door office visits for a glimpse of Sonoma history past and present coming soon
4. Celebrate Diversity—collaborating with community members to highlight different cultures and ways of life, starting with Ana Escobar’s family recipe below.
Cumulatively, these ideas forge a new … Read More
Six Common Legal Issues Caregivers May Face
In her upcoming keynote address, Mary combines her
estate planning experience with a passion for
protecting what matters most to provide a
comprehensive overview of the most common legal
issues that caregivers caring for older adults with
dementia need to consider:
1. Power of Attorney
2. Advance Directives
3. Estate Planning
4. Putting Together a Care Team
5. Thoughts on Skilled Nursing and Hospital Stays
CarePartners Initiative Forum
Help for Caregivers with Legal and Insurance Issues
Saturday, May 6, 2023, 1-3:00 PM
First Congregational Church, 252 W. Spain St., Sonoma
You may pre-submit … Read More
Taking a quick look back, long-time partner Thomas Haeuser put our own succession plan into action. He switched from the day-to-day practice of law to a more strategic role which allows him to guide HVP and local community efforts too, including serving on the boards of FISH and the Sonoma Library Commission. We bid farewell to Robert Parmelee, the third successor
in our trifecta of founders. We enhanced the lives of local youth through our support of the Sonoma Valley Little League and the Sonoma Conservatory of Dance & Theatre. Our office expanded to include more paralegal and administrative support, … Read More
A Time for Gratitude
As we pause to embrace a national holiday to give thanks, we want to express our gratitude for all of our wonderful, creative, smart, and hard-working clients. Your dreams of family and legacy are inspirational. Thank you for entrusting them to us.
For quite some time now, Thomas Haeuser, Anthony Valluzzo, and Mary Piasta, known throughout Sonoma county as Haeuser, Valluzzo & Piasta LLP (HVP), have provided the
legal guidance you need to chart a steady course through life’s complexities and help you and your families grow and succeed.
HVP will always provide the … Read More
We are proud and pleased to announce that our longtime partner Thomas Haeuser took on a new role at the firm in the new year. Effective January 1, 2022, Tom continues to serve in an advisory capacity, taking a step back from active practice to focus on community activities. Those around town already know Tom for his presence on the Plaza and his unflagging efforts to make our town and the surrounding community a special place for businesses and families to thrive across multiple generations.
Everyone Needs a Good Succession Plan
Tom’s transition, already several years in the planning, is … Read More
This year we are focused on some new ideas to be more present in your lives, combining roots in the community with our deep-seated understanding of how real live translates into your legal needs.
Here are some of the ideas we’re working on to enhance our legal counsel for the families and small businesses upon which Sonoma is based, and for those among us who need our help.
- TechForward Sonoma—stay tuned for video featuring an online Sonoma History Tour
- CarePartners Initiative—elevating elder care and support
- Sonoma History and Local Artist Retrospective—open-door office visits for a glimpse of Sonoma history
… Read More
As a practice serving the legacies of families and their businesses, numerous tools need to be at-the-ready to fit the situation. When it comes to an intimate family business owned by two individuals, there is a particular corporate structure that may be considered: the Close Corporation.
Many think of them as a partnership dressed as a corporation. A close corporation refers to a corporation under Corporations Codes Section 158 and 300(b). In general, this type of corporation involves situations with few shareholders. It is ideal for situations where the owners prefer flexibility, preferring to streamline the usual formalities of … Read More
Mary Piasta Keynotes Upcoming CarePartners Initiative Program
Five Common Legal Issues Caregivers May Face
In her upcoming keynote address at the CarePartners Initiative Forum on May 6, 2023, HVP partner Mary Piasta combines her estate planning experience with a passion for protecting what matters most to provide a comprehensive overview of the most common legal issues that caregivers caring for older adults with dementia need to consider:
- Power of Attorney
- Advance Directives
- Estate Planning
- Putting Together a Care Team
- Thoughts on Skilled Nursing and Hospital Stays
Caregivers traverse an unknown terrain of new responsibilities. Come learn how foundational legal documents … Read More
SONOMA, CA – February 6, 2023 – The combination of two local law firms, Haeuser, Valluzzo & Piasta (HVP) and Wright & Supple (W&S) expands HVP’s services to include employment law counsel through a joint effort that redefines collaboration. HVP partners Mary Piasta and Tony Valluzzo continue to reinvent the law firm business model, working with W&S, a women-owned employment law firm led by Mary Wright and Oriet Cohen-Supple. As transformational change continues to rock the legal industry, this innovative approach offers clients the legal services they need across the full spectrum of business and employment law, while controlling costs … Read More
Sometimes an estate goal is to effectively omit someone from the parade of beneficiaries. This type of disinheritance must be done properly to minimize the risk of litigation and maximize distributions to intended beneficiaries.
In 2010, California law added hoops to make disinheritance more difficult to withstand a contest. This law does require specific language in a bequest. California law presumes that direct heirs (children and spouses) will be provided for in one’s estate planning. That said, California, unlike Napoleonic countries does not require this type of gift.
In California, one cannot simply omit them from their Will and/or Trust. … Read More
Wine Country has its beauty, including the many people who flock here to live. It is becoming more common for non-citizens to take up abodes here. This goes back to the founding of Sonoma heavily influenced by international residents. For those interested in a delightful historic recap consider viewing the documentary the Call of the Valley.
The question arises, how does living in the US impact the ability and strategies with estate planning? This is not an easy answer. Often factors relating to citizenship goals can drive a response. These couple with the laws of the citizenship country. For … Read More
Living in a tourist mecca attracts a worldwide community of residents. Often parents relocate from another area to be near their family here in wine country. How they do it has implications for many things, including their estates.
In the realm of estate planning, this means that issues abound relating to the interplay of domestic and international inheritance laws. To the re-locatee, these questions seem simple. To the planner, they are anything but often requiring in depth consideration of the client’s goals, assets, location and legal parameters.
Generally speaking, there are two types of succession law structures, civil and common … Read More
Thomas A. Haeuser
Partner Thomas A. Haeuser takes on new role as HVP advisor and community leader
We are proud and pleased to announce that our long-time partner Thomas Haeuser will be taking on a new role at the firm in the new year. Effective January 1 2022, Tom will continue to serve in an advisory capacity, taking a step back from active practice to focus on community activities. Those around town already know Tom for his presence on the Plaza and his unflagging efforts to make our town and the surrounding community a special place for businesses and families … Read More
Our year-end checklist provides useful tips for year-round check-ups.
Top 5 Year-end Business Compliance Checklist
- Performance and Operations ‒ I have discussed and mapped out performance and operations with management and legal counsel. Yes No
- Entity Structure/Governing Instruments ‒ I have reviewed my business entity structure and updated articles of organization/incorporation, operating agreement, bylaws, partnership, or other agreements as needed. Yes No
- I am up to date on all corporate formalities for California corporations to maintain my personal liability protection. Yes No
- I have finalized my year-end accounting and closed the books for the calendar or fiscal year
… Read More
A tool in California that asset protection lawyers use is a Delaware Statutory Trust, otherwise known as a DST. The mechanics are rather simple and set forth in the Delaware Statutory Trust Act. One erects the business structure with the appropriate documentary filings including the naming of non-California agents to act on behalf of the trust. These things together act to limit liability by having the official actors out of state. The out-of-state defendant is harder to involve in a California lawsuit.
The benefits include circumventing the standard California business tax and asset protection. In addition, a DST may be … Read More
A recent legacy case illustrates how Proposition 19 impacts grandparents wishing to leave their family vineyard property to their granddaughter.
Change in the Law
Effective February 16, 2021, Prop. 19 modified the reassessment exclusion for parents and grandparents wishing to pass down their property to their children or grandchildren who were not going to live there, leaving certain estates vulnerable.
What About the Exclusion Limits?
Prior to Prop. 19, primary residences of unlimited value could be transferred avoiding reassessment up to an additional $1 million of assessed value. This also had zero requirement that the child lives at that property. … Read More
We can work with you to review your business, real estate, and family holdings for tax issues to craft and maintain your succession plan for life, and what comes after.
Top 10 Year-end Estate Planning Checklist
- Personal Status ‒ My health, wealth, and chosen decision-makers are still the same Yes No
- Legal Guardians ‒ The legal guardians I’ve selected for my minor children are up to date and consistent with my wishes? Yes No
- Legal Documents ‒ I have my legal documents in place including a power of attorney, health care directive, will and (when needed) trust Yes
… Read More
Introduction to Elder Abuse, Capacity and Undue Influence
In a recent presentation to realtors, Real Estate and Elders, HVP partner Mary Piasta provided a introduction to elder abuse, capacity and undue influence. Offering a roadmap for understanding and navigating issues of elder abuse in real estate, Mary focused her presentation on the applicable laws, rules and concerns for real estate professionals concerning capacity, financial exposure, warning signs, and resources.
For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 707.996.2131.… Read More
Prop 19 & Entities: Legal Update and Estate Planning Strategy
One of the major exclusions from property reassessment is the exclusion of real property that is owned by a legal entity, such as a corporation, partnership, or LLC, as provided in Revenue & Taxation Code section 64. In a nutshell, it provides that when realty is owned by a legal entity, certain changes in the ownership of the entity do not constate sale of the realty itself, unless a new person or entity gains control of the entity. For example, if real property is owned by a corporation, shares of … Read More
HVP Partner Tony Valluzzo Named to 2021 “Lawyers of Distinction” List by Sonoma Magazine
Haeuser, Valluzzo & Piasta LLP is pleased to announce that Sonoma Magazine has named partner Anthony R. Valluzzo for inclusion in its list of 2021 “Lawyers of Distinction” in the category of business law.
Sonoma Magazine’s inaugural “Lawyers of Distinction” list recognizes the county’s top legal practitioners. Candidates who live or work in the greater Sonoma five-county region were peer-recommended. A third-party research firm conducted the peer nominating and vetting process, ensuring its independence and authenticity. Inclusion in the list is based on the opinions of … Read More
Described as a critical piece of housing legislation, SB 9 which was signed into law by Governor Newsom this September will no doubt change the future of housing investments and opportunities. The ripples will also extend into property tax issues at a local level.
According to U.S. Census records there are over 6 million detached single-family dwellings in the State of California. Allowing units to be built adjacent to or within existing single family homes might resolve the housing crisis. “The intent of SB 9 is clear – to streamline the process so homeowners can create a duplex or … Read More
SONOMA, CA – July 26, 2021 – Prominent business and estate planning law firm Haeuser, Valluzzo & Piasta LLP is pleased to announce that Tom Haeuser, name partner and Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law, has stepped up his roles in two vital community service organizations, Friends Helping Friends (FISH) and the Sonoma County Library Commission. Tom was recently selected President of the FISH Board of Directors, continuing his longstanding affiliation with an organization that has been lending a helping hand to neighbors in need for 50 years. Tom also accepted an appointment to serve a … Read More
SONOMA, Calif. – May, 2021 – Reinventing the law firm business model, HVP lawyers return to the basics of legal services with an emphasis on lawyers and staff working together to offer a concierge service experience. The addition of staffers Lori Beth Merrill and Penny Martin underscores HVP’s long-standing reputation for working seamlessly with clients. Committed to providing the ‘white glove’ treatment . Penny’s adept management of client-attorney interactions and communications and Lori Beth’s background as a real estate appraiser complement the legal services offered by HVP’s three partners, Thomas A. Haeuser, Anthony R. Valluzzo, and Mary Piasta.
The firm … Read More
Results-driven representation in key areas of law including issues impacting women
There has never been a better time in history to be a woman, yet women still face a daunting array of challenges, especially when it comes to legal issues. We work hard to make our services accessible to those who need us most.
The Femme Project draws together professionals committed to exceptional client service, focused on those who serve the unique needs of women or those who identify as them. Collectively, we leverage our deep trench of resources for women whether it is in finance, tax, real estate, banking, … Read More
Fiduciary originates from Latin fidere, which means “to trust.”
Join the discussion between lawyer Mary Piasta and Lori Beth Merrill of Haeuser, Valluzzo & Piasta LLP as they discuss the things you want to know about fiduciaries, what they are, how they are regulated, and how they can help loved ones.
In case you missed it…
Click here to view the video courtesy of Vintage House Sonoma… Read More
In 2020, AB 5 was a big topic of discussion as it narrowed the appropriate use of independent contractors. This year there are two legal actions that loosen the corset of AB5.
AB2257 and PROP 22 exempted app-based delivery and transport companies if certain things are met. AB 2257 recasts and clarifies various exemptions including but not limited to:
- Business to business referral agency
- Professional services
- All sorts of creatives
- Appraisers, insurance underwriters
- Landscape architects
- International exchange programs
- Animal services
- Something I need desperately – salon services. . .
- “specialized consulting services”
The above are all … Read More
Under the new law, AB 685 if an employer receives notice of a “potential exposure to COVID-19” the employer must provide various notices. There is a three-step process for doing so.
Step One – Within one business day, an employer must provide notice to employees, employers of subcontracted employees, and representatives of them that includes all of the following.
- The notice must be given to all of those who were on the premises at the same “worksite” as the “qualifying individual” within the infectious period.
- the Notice must comply with Cal OSHA Form 300 Injury & Illness Log
- Notice to
… Read More
HVP Law has more and more clients looking to transition their businesses whether they are new or even legacy businesses. Other times circumstances dictate the need for a
business transition like death, divorce, or bankruptcy. In either case as it may be understanding the circumstances for the sale is an important driver to dictate various terms. Of course, clarity in dealings of this nature can add to peace of mind. A short list of considerations is as follows:
Goals – consider the end goals of the sale. Is it tax minimization, liability transfer, a life change? Keeping an eye on … Read More
2021 laws impact local business in several key areas. Already challenged by the economic constraints resulting from the pandemic, business owners are now confronted by an increase in minimum wage and additional protocols for COVID-19 reporting. On the flip side, the restrictions on independent contractor relationships imposed by AB-5 have been relaxed, and the California Secretary of State has launched a business portal for routine filings. Finally, the sweeping implications of Proposition 19 concern business owners and individuals seeking to transfer real property to their children.
To learn more:
… Read More
The current 2020 unified federal estate and gift tax lifetime exemption amount is $11.58 million. This amount is scheduled to increase with inflation through December of 2025, at which point it reverts back to the 2017 level of $5 million.
The Biden team is just beginning to look into ways to capture some of the stratospheric increases in wealth during the last few years. As of today they include the elimination of step-up in basis for inherited assets and being even more aggressive than the sun set provisions, lowering the exemption amounts to 2009 of $3.5 million for estates and … Read More
California is facing some interesting hurdles right now, even outside of the recent wave
of COVID-19 and threat of forest fires. Rising commercial office space vacancies, small businesses closing down, and record unemployment and poverty numbers are, however, facing every state in the Union.
The uniqueness of California comes from its position to recover from the economic fallout. As one of the largest economies in the world, California has the tools, population and culture to rebound quickly and thoroughly.
Property values have remained high, even continuing to increase in suburbs and areas outside of the city centers. California’s state government … Read More
The United States Patent and Trademark
Office has released the fee schedule for 2021,
available on its website available at https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/fees-and-payment/uspto-fee-schedule.… Read More
As we enter the new year, it’s a good time to do what HVP Law calls a legal checkup. This is a yearly review of your needs for your life, businesses and estate.
For the estate planning side of things, we like to review the status of things through the year to ensure your wishes are properly recorded in your documents. Have there been any changes in your holdings? Did you move? Are there new family members? Are there any new desires for decision makers? Are your beneficiaries current?
For the business side of things, it is prudent to do … Read More
The December relief package created a second draw for businesses that have exhausted their PPP. This PPP list includes an Expanded List of Expenses Qualifying for Forgiveness. The list of expenses that PPP funds can be used for that qualify for loan forgiveness has been expanded to include:
- “operations expenses” defined as payments for business software and cloud computing services and other human resources and accounting needs that facilitate business operations;
- “supplier costs” defined as payments to a supplier for goods that are essential to the operations of the borrower pursuant to a contract or purchase order in effect before
… Read More
HVP Law Offices
Were you planning to leave your primary residence or other property to your children or grandchildren in your living trust or will? Proposition 19, which recently passed by 51% on the November ballot, is changing the reassessment exclusion between parents and children as we know it.
You need to make some important decisions quickly.. If you act now, you can transfer property to your children without triggering a reassessment. You can transfer a primary residence of any market value as long as the assessed value is … Read More