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
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
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
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
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
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 email@example.com 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
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
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
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
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
In 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
No 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
This 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
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
by Mary Piasta
When 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
Businesses 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
by Mary Piasta
Legal 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
by 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
By 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
by 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
by 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
COVID-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
There 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
Since the onset of the Coronavirus wineries have been operating at a slower rate than normal, by at least more than 60 percent according to Wine America – the national association of wineries.
This based upon a recent survey also indicated that wineries anticipate a decrease in the purchase of grapes from growers for wine production somewhere between 9 to 22 percent. With layoffs of workers and canceled events numbering in the thousands, some estimates tally that financial loss just for the month of March (when the virus went into “Secure In Place” ordinance mode) reached $40,439,764.
While by that … Read More
In response to the pandemic, various governmental bodies have acted to provide protections for residential and commercial tenants. There is a broad eviction moratorium in effect throughout the state as the Judicial Council of California issued an emergency rule effectively prohibiting evictions for 90 days after the lifting of the Shelter in Place requirements.
By way of background, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a COVID-19 Eviction Defense Ordinance formally referred to as Executive Order N-28-20. While the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors agreed with Gov. Newsom’s executive order last month to limit residential tenants from evictions due to economic impact … Read More
My team is fielding numerous calls from panicked landowners who have been served with notices. “How can I reduce this $7,000 fine?” They ask. “We paid our Transient Occupancy Tax – through Airbnb?” “And, what about Penalties?” The list from clients goes on and on.
For years folks have benefited from renting parts of their dwellings or ancillary buildings without the benefit of permits. Technology platforms like Airbnb play into this by allowing an individual to list a property as available as a short-term rental without requiring any permit or verification of such. The result? Many entrepreneurial folks were able … Read More
A solid estate plan in its simplest sense is a roadmap. It sets the decision-makers for when you cannot make them before you die and then after you do so. Specialized planning can also minimize your long term care expenses or eliminate them all together. Of course, a solid estate plan documents your wishes with respect to your worldly belongings to be distributed according to your stated desires.
A solid estate plan also can provide peace of mind in moments of uncertainty, a light in the dark, or the clarity in the fog. It’s a rather simple process. According to … Read More
With more than 30 new laws on the books affecting business in California, many businesses are now facing increased regulation and mounting expenses.
The implementation of AB 5 by the State of California labor code will no doubt cause confusion. It states as follows…a person providing labor or services for remuneration shall be considered an employee rather than an independent contractor unless the hiring entity demonstrates that all of the following conditions are satisfied: (This is being referred to as the ‘ABC Test’ or ‘Three-part test.’)
(A) The person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity … Read More
As we move away from the local fires of 2017, we may think less and less about certain emergency orders that were put in place. Those orders are still in effect. One is of particular importance for businesses or individuals offering goods, services or rentals: the price gouging statute.
In short – for clients or potential clients looking at renting real estate, the safe value of the property should be linked to the pre-fires value plus an additional 10 percent. This hopefully will change in a few months as an extended ban on raising rents to fair market values places … Read More
One of the greatest challenges family businesses face is how to hand over the reins to the next generation.
Even faceless corporate entities struggle to ensure their long-term survival; add the potential for interpersonal drama and hurt feelings among parents and children, and it’s no surprise that the odds are stacked against family businesses enduring the transition. Just 30 percent of family-owned businesses make it to a second generation, 10-15 percent make it to the third, and 3-5 percent make it to the fourth generation, according to a Harvard Business Review study.
We need look no further than our own … Read More
If your company relies on independent contractors to do business, you may want to reevaluate your relationship with those workers in the wake of a recent California Supreme Court decision changing the way their employment status should be determined.
The April 30 ruling sent shockwaves through the state’s so-called “gig economy” – created by customer service providers such as Lyft, Uber and GrubHub who use independent contractors to avoid the higher costs that come with hiring employees.
It’s not just these tech-centric startups, however, who may now need to restructure their businesses to avoid the risks of fines, restitution of … Read More
1. Clarify the parties contracting, is it a business or an individual? Make sure it’s the correct name, etc.
2. Nail down essential terms
3. Memorialize them in a way that they’re easily understood. Think of it being understandable to a regular person.
4. Include all essential terms to make the contract the only reflection of the agreement.
5. Consider termination provisions
6. How do you want to be given notice of things? The antiquated fax, email. regular mail?
7. Dispute Handling – long process of court, expedited arbitration, or want to try an informal resolution first?
8. Attorney fees … Read More
(1) Know your rights. You are entitled to be treated in good faith
(2) An insurer cannot present an unreasonably low settlement
(3) An insurer must perform reasonable investigation and taken into account things you’ve provided (think photos, lists, etc.)
(4) An insurer cannot misrepresent policy provisions
(5) Discrimination laws apply
(6) You are entitled to prompt and honest communications
(7) You have a duty to cooperate with your insurer
(1) Calling about your claim even if you don’t have all the info is helpful;
(2) You don’t have to agree to initial amounts, … Read More