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

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

People are People

rainbow flagby Mary Piasta

Our firm stance is that people are people and that in general estate planning is the same for all families.

Dying without a will or trust, or even a poorly written one also means it is subject to attack through consternation rules.  For LGBTQ people, especially this means that someone who does not like where you are leaving property can protest for various reasons. (For example, they were forgotten, they have the right to property, etc.).

An estate planning consultation always in California begins with issues of legality of marriage, parenting rights and property rights.  While the … Read More

Will My Stepchildren Inherit?

will my step children inheritby Mary Piasta

Sometimes folks come in with specific questions about their estate plans. One such question is whether their step-children will inherit? As with any question, the answer depends upon various things and the strategy driven by the desired objectives.

For starters, a stepchild is a child of a partner or spouse that you haven’t adopted. If you have adopted them, they are your children.

The answer then turns on what sort of estate documentation exists, if any. If there is a will and/or a trust, sometimes those documents answer the question.

Often there are no estate documents. In … Read More

peace of mind

Peace of Mind Even in Troubled Times

peace of mindCOVID-19 exacerbates worries and fears for everyone. What steps can you take to stay safe from a financial and legal perspective? Now is the right time to improve your business and estate planning with practical financial steps and legal documents to protect your assets now and in the future. The solutions may vary by circumstance, but the practical tips below will provide you with concrete ideas you can use right away.

Check out our recent update, FACTS over FEAR – Financial, Legal and Real Estate Updates, hosted by The Sonoma Brain Trust. For related discussions of other finance, real … Read More

ppp reform

PPP Reform Questions and Answers

ppp reformThere are lots of questions about the anticipated changes to the PPP loan that is awaiting presidential signature. Assuming the legislation is signed as passed, our lawyers consulted with local tax manager Nate Lamar, CPA of Pisenti & Brinker LLP to shed some light on this complicated interplay of laws, tax and regulations.

Of course, before getting into the nitty gritty, as professionals we need to provide a disclaimer that the answers are based on current and proposed federal law and guidance from the Small Business Administration available as of June 4, 2020. Interpretations of the law and SBA guidance … Read More