Delaware Statutory Trusts

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

Proposition 19 Impacts Family Winery Legacy

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

legacy and succession

Legacy & Succession

Thomas A. Haeuser

legacy and successionPartner 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

Business Compliance Top 5 Checklist

Business Compliance 

Our year-end checklist provides useful tips for tax time too.

Top 5 Year-end Business Compliance Checklist

  1. Performance and Operations ‒ I have discussed and mapped out performance and operations with management and legal counsel.  Yes  No
  2. 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
  3. I am up to date on all corporate formalities for California corporations to maintain my personal liability protection.  Yes  No
  4. I have finalized my year-end accounting and closed the books for the calendar or fiscal
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Estate Planning Top 10 Checklist

Estate Planning

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

  1. Personal Status ‒ My health, wealth, and chosen decision-makers are still the same  Yes  No
  2. Legal Guardians ‒ The legal guardians I’ve selected for my minor children are up to date and consistent with my wishes?  Yes  No
  3. 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
real estate and elders

Real Estate and Elders

real estate and eldersIntroduction 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 mary@hvplawoffices.com or call 707.996.2131.… Read More

Proposition 19 & Entities

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

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Firm Announcement

anthony_valluzzoHVP 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

row houses

Changes to California’s Housing

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

HVP’s Tom Haeuser Steps Up to FISH Board of Directors and Sonoma County Library Commission

Tom HaeuserSONOMA, 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 Law Firm Haeuser, Valluzzo & Piasta in Growth Mode – Adds Staff for Concierge Services

HVP Group PhotoSONOMA, 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

HVP femme project

Femme Project

HVP femme projectResults-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

Virtual Fiduciary Presentation

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

AB 5 – Independent Contractors

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
  • music 
  • Journalists
  • Copyeditors
  • All sorts of creatives
  • Appraisers, insurance underwriters
  • Landscape architects
  • Consulting 
  • International exchange programs
  • Animal services
  • Something I need desperately – salon services. . . 
  • “specialized consulting services”

The above are all Read More

3 Step Approach to COVID Notice Requirements 

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
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Buy-Sell Agreements

Buy-Sell Agreements

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

How New Laws Will Affect Sonoma Business

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

Biden Presidency Estate Plan Forecast

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

State of the Economy

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

Buy-Sell Agreements

New Year – Legal Checkup

Buy-Sell Agreements

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

Three Cheers for PPP

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
Prop 19_family home

Hot Estate Planning Issue: CA Prop 19

Prop 19_family home

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

California Cares A Lot
How California Law Helps Seniors Avoid the Scenario in the Netflix movie, I Care A Lot

April 16th 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM PT

In case you missed it…
View Presentation courtesy of Vintage House Sonoma

This complimentary seminar features Anthony Valluzzo, a partner at the Sonoma law firm of Haeuser, Valluzzo & Piasta LLP. Tony draws on a wealth of estate planning experience to craft solid legal strategies that provide peace of mind for life and after. While not as chilling as the movie version, Tony will provide an overview of California law addressing court-appointed … Read More

The Stock Market don’t give a S**t about your Politics – or Does it??

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How California Law Helps Seniors Avoid the Scenario in the Netflix movie, I Care A Lot

An upcoming Seminar on April 16 at Vintage House.

This complimentary seminar features Anthony Valluzzo, a partner at the Sonoma law firm of Haeuser, Valluzzo & Piasta LLP. Tony draws on a wealth of estate planning experience to craft solid legal strategies that provide peace of mind for life and after. While not as chilling as the movie version, Tony will provide an overview of California law addressing court-appointed conservatorships, outlining the estate planning tools that can ensure your welfare stays out of the hands of the courts. He will discuss how to empower those you trust to make decisions … Read More

A Message from Sonoma Brain Trust

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intel-prop

Securing Your Digital Property and Passing it Along

intel-propIn this day and age of websites, blogs, coaching programs and such, if you own a business that has these things, if something were to happen to you, what would happen to these things?

These sort of things are what is referred to as ‘intellectual properties’ and if you have a will or estate plan that includes directives for your business you might think more about protecting these aspects to your business or endeavor.

Under the law, in the broadest sense an intellectual property is an abstract item such a concept, ideas or formula and so on. To protect things … Read More

important-documents-for-college-students

Important Documents for College Students Leaving for College

important-documents-for-college-studentsNo doubt many parents are wishing that colleges these days would decrease tuition as online curriculums for fall classes commence. Yet in this time of COVID-19, here are some important things to reckon with as you prepare to send your 18-to-19 year- old to college.

Your car insurance policy might have your daughter or son listed as a dependent. Even so, currently in the eyes of the law your 18 to 19-year-old college bound student is considered an adult.

What that means is that you as parent must be extra prepared to manage through a potentially difficult bureaucratic labyrinth of … Read More

Uber_logo_2018

AB5 and UBER

Uber_logo_2018This past summer the State Supreme Court drummed in again to Uber & Lyft that ride-share companies like themselves must be in compliance of CA State Law AB 5, meaning that they must classify their drivers as employees.

Uber and Lyft are the largest ride-share companies that use app-platform technologies to conduct business. In fact, as noted by the San Francisco Chronicle, Uber is proceeding to buy Postmates, a food delivery app that is similar to DoorDash and GrubHub for over $2 billion in stocks.

Some experts note that Uber and such companies have been able to operate and be … Read More

name change

Name Changes & Legality

Recently as marriage equality and identity classifications have been critiqued more closely by the LGBTQ community, here’s some info about name changes.

Basically it’s not that difficult.

Anybody can change their name legally. Just make sure it is not to commit fraud or make a false identity.

The simplest and most common is when people marry.

Today’s customs and attitudes about marriage lets women keep a “maiden name” or allows for a hyphenated name.

Hyphenated names are used in England. Historically, it has been part of the class or caste-system in English society. Hyphenated names were passed down as a … Read More

bankruptcy

Beginner’s Guide to Bankruptcy

by Mary Piasta

bankruptcyWhen we talk of asset protection, many think of bankruptcy.  But there is a social norm with this type of word preventing many from considering it seriously.  The truth is that many very wealthy individuals in our country are not so dissuaded and utilize filing for bankruptcy as a means to preserve wealth.

For example, one entrepreneur went through bankruptcy four times in his life and left a legacy including a private foundation.  For others it means wiping the slate clean to rebuild their wealth.

Historically speaking bankruptcy was a way to depart from the English precedent … Read More

Collecting on A Letter of Credit to Circumvent Bankruptcy

bankruptcyBusinesses should be wary of language in contracts. Attempting to promise that amounts of money borrowed in particular could read in a phrase such as… “shall be payable without regard to the existence or notice of existence of any dispute, litigation, bankruptcy, or arbitration. Unless, the issuer is prevented from doing so by a court of competent jurisdiction.”  These types of clauses run directly afoul of the automatic bankruptcy stay.

Referred to simply as an LC, this is something that is typically furnished by a bank. Often companies will obtain a letter of credit that by their nature states it … Read More

Blended Families

by Mary Piasta

people on the beach watching sunsetLegal Strategies for Blended Families

Estate planning can be a simple, positive experience or a tedious, complex one.  Much of whether it is one versus the other involves whether the client has been married or had a domestic partner that they separated from.  It becomes even more of the latter when the client remarries, especially more than once.

The first series of questions needed from such a client pertain to the terms of their dissolution agreement, and if a prenuptial agreement was entered into for the prior relationship, as well as the latest.  Conditions such as alimony, … Read More

Why Relying on Another to “Take Care of You” Is Garbage, Especially for Women

grandmother and grandchildby Mary Piasta

While estate planning benefits all individuals regardless of gender, there are reasons why estate planning has different importance to women.

Factors both economic and cultural play a part in this discriminatory unequal treatment of women according to Haeuser, Valluzzo & Piasta LLP, Partner Mary Piasta who heard from Betsy Butler, the current Executive Director of the California Women’s Law Center. A former state Assembly member, Ms. Butler explained that statistics paint a picture of why women need estate planning.

In general, women are more likely to be poor in old age than men. Nearly two-thirds of people … Read More

Business Strategies During Changing Times

playing chessBy Mary Piasta

As states and municipalities are taking initiatives on their own, regardless of Federal intervention, business closure orders are nothing new right now. But as this is the second time this has happened in our county, there are now many examples of how businesses have pivoted to modify their operations to stay open during this time.

Before we get to that, the recent closure order requires high-risk businesses to close.  The lists of businesses included are salons, theaters, wineries and indoor-dining.

Indoor service is the theme here.  If businesses are able to offer services outside, then there are … Read More