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Visalia Estate Planning Law Blog

California's Methods of Distributing Property in a Will or Trust

Suppose that Alice wants to create a will or trust that distributes $90,000 to her family after she dies. Alice had three children, Betty, Charlie, and David, all of whom have predeceased Alice. Betty had one daughter, Ethyl who is deceased. Ethyl has three living children: Kim, Liam, and Monte. Charlie had two children Freddie and Greta, who are still living. Freddie has two living children: Nancy and Olivia. Greta has no children. David had three children: Harry, who is deceased, Irene and Jimmy, who are living. Harry had one living child, Pete. Irene and Jimmy do not have children.

Enforceability of Oral Contracts

I have seen situations where clients are concerned about the contracts that they have entered into because they are not in writing. The general rule, however, is that oral contracts are as enforceable as written contracts. Unfortunately, the terms of an oral contract are more easily disputed.


I recently had occasion to help a client with a problem. She had sold her husband's insurance agency to a family member after her husband died. Rather than engage the services of an attorney to draft the contract, my client and her family member got a form contract that was woefully insufficient. They filled out the internet contract, signed it, and the family member began making payments in accordance with the agreement.

Social Media and Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

Family Code section 6320 describes the basis for the issuance of domestic violence restraining orders (DVRO's) against a current spouse or domestic partner, former spouse or domestic partner, family member, cohabitant, boyfriend or girlfriend, former boyfriend or girlfriend, fiancé or former fiancé, or someone with whom the victim shares one or more children. A new version of Family Code section 6320 became operative on July 1, 2014, which includes certain new forms of harassment that have become more prevalent in the age of social media. Now that just about everyone is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or some other kind of social media network, the California Legislature has recognized that these digital platforms can be used for legitimate domestic violence harassment.

Should I Choose an S-Corp. or an LLC?

Limited liability companies (or "LLCs") have become a very popular form of business entity because they combine the limited liability aspect of a corporation with the pass-through tax treatment of a partnership. Unlike a partnership, an LLC does not require that an owner (called a "member") take the risk of being held personally liable for the entity's actions. At the same time, an LLC receives "pass through" tax treatment, meaning that its members claim the LLC's income as their own. This avoids a double taxation situation, where the business pays taxes, but the members must also claim income from the entity on their personal tax returns.

How Often Should You Update Your Estate Plan?

By Gary H. Ruddell

This question is frequently asked by clients. My response is that there is no magic review deadline, but prudence dictates that you take a look at your documents every two or three years. In addition, you should be alert to family, business, and tax circumstances that might trigger a review of your estate program.

Governor Brown Signs Historic Groundwater Legislation

Unlike almost all other states in the arid West, California has never had a comprehensive system for the regulation of groundwater. This came to an end on September 17, 2012, when Governor Brown signed into law the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (the "Act"). The Act will become effective January 1, 2015. It is actually a combination of three bills passed by the California State Legislature on August 29, 2014.

IC-DISC: Potential Tax Savings Vehicle for Farmers

As the world's economies become more and more integrated, an increasingly large portion of the agricultural products produced by California farmers are exported to other countries. In addition to the obvious advantage of expanding the product market, the export of products also creates an opportunity for the farmer to enjoy potentially significant tax savings through the use of an "IC-DISC."

Business Clusters: Why Dividing Your Business Will Not Help You Avoid the Employer Mandate

Under the Affordable Care Act, if an employer has more than 50 full-time employees for more than 120 days of the year, it is required to provide health insurance to its employees.[i] The Obama administration postponed the effective date of this employer mandate, but most business must comply within the next couple of years.[ii] This creates some difficult choices for business that are just over the 50-employee threshold. It also creates an interesting question about whether an employer can split its business into two or more entities to avoid the employer mandate. Unfortunately for most business owners, the answer is no.

This blog is made available by Ruddell, Cochran, Stanton, Smith & Bixler, LLP for educational purposes only, as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law. These materials constitute general information relating to areas of law familiar to our firm attorneys. They do not constitute legal advice or other professional advice and you may not rely on the contents of this website as such. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Ruddell, Cochran, Stanton, Smith & Bixler, LLP, or any of the attorneys submitting posts to this blog. This blog site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your jurisdiction. The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the contributing author(s) only and may not reflect the opinions of the author's law firm. No representations are made as to the accuracy, completeness, or validity of any information in this blog.

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