It’s Not So Simple: Why You May Need More than a Will

A Last Will and Testament is a wonderful estate planning tool that works well for people with straightforward, uncomplicated assets. For many people, however, a basic will is inadequate to address all their estate planning needs.

Here are several reasons why you may need more than a simple will to protect your family, your assets, and your future.

Minor Children

If you have young children, you care about their financial and personal well-being. In the event something happens to you and your spouse, who will care for your children? Who will oversee their money? What happens when your kids become adults? Do you want them having full access to their inheritance? You probably have definite ideas about your children’s education, environment, and access to funds. Although a will can address these issues, a more comprehensive estate plan is generally more effective for setting reasonable conditions on an adult child’s access to an inheritance.

Blended Family

If you and your spouse have children from previous relationships, a more comprehensive estate plan can help you make sure all your loved ones are protected and financially secure after you pass away.

Privacy

Wills are accessible to the public. If you prefer to keep your estate private, a trust or other arrangements can help you shield your assets from the public.
Unmarried, But Committed – There are many reasons why committed couples in an intimate relationship choose not to marry. If you are unmarried but nevertheless in a committed relationship with a long-term partner of the same or opposite gender, it is important to ensure your assets go to the person you intend, which may be different than what the law says.

Health Care Decisions – Many people have strong preferences when it comes to end of life decisions and other health care issues. There are certain documents that allow you to appoint a trusted, responsible person to handle these decisions on your behalf if you are unable.

Selling Your Business

You have worked hard to build your business. Whether you are looking to retire, want to free up some cash, or simply wish to move on to another venture, selling a business is a big step that requires due diligence and careful planning.

If you are considering selling your business, it is critical to work with an experienced business lawyer. There are myriad issues involved in the sale of a business, including potential tax liability, employee concerns, and transactional issues. With this in mind, here are three considerations when preparing to sell your business.

Set (Realistic) Goals

For most business owners, a primary goal in selling a business is generating a profit. If your business is struggling, however, you may be selling to reduce liability. Also, some business owners wish to remain involved after the sale – something more common in family-owned companies. In other situations, an owner is content to cut ties. By determining your goals in advance, you are much more likely to approach the sale strategy and negotiations with clear expectations and a cool head.

Know Your Value

Just as people are sometimes unable to recognize their own faults, so too do business owners occasionally overlook problem areas in their own companies. For this reason, it is important to obtain a comprehensive business valuation. Identifying weak spots early can help you improve or correct them prior to your business hitting the market.

Don’t Go It Alone

As a business owner, you are likely an expert in your particular field. Whether you are in manufacturing, sales, or the service industry, you have a tremendous knowledge base. On the other hand, you are probably not an expert in selling a commercial property or preparing the documents required in a complicated business transaction. If you attempt to handle the sale of your business without professional help and experienced legal counsel, you could end up getting far less than the true value of your business. Worse, you could make a costly and time-consuming error.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late: Mental Health and Estate Planning

As estate planning attorneys, it is difficult to see families struggling to interact with an elderly parent or other loved one whose personality has shifted dramatically in a relatively short period of time. Whereas the person used to be outgoing, warm, and friendly, now the same individual is irritable, secretive, and quick to anger. Sadly, some people assume the family member simply doesn’t want to see them anymore and break off contact as a result.

What many people fail to realize is that sudden personality shifts can be a sign of serious mental health distress. Learning to recognize the signs of deteriorating mental health can help you address your loved one’s needs early, which can potentially minimize dangers to their safety and well-being. It can also help you take care of critical estate planning issues before the person becomes incapacitated.

Most people don’t like to confront the possibility of no longer being able to look after their own finances and personal matters. If you delay planning your estate, however, you risk leaving your financial concerns and health care decisions in the hands of the court. The following are among the most common forms of mental health problems in older adults.

Dementia

Dementia takes many forms, although Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Dementia can also be accompanied by other symptoms, such as depression, delusions, and delirium. Early signs of dementia include memory loss, difficulty with speech (such as struggling to find a common word), inability to plan, and poor motor function. Dementia is sometimes overlooked when adult children and caregivers naturally step in to offer assistance to an aging family member. Thus, the senior’s difficulties go unnoticed by others who might not spend as much time around the person.

It’s also important to be aware that Alzheimer’s disease is not limited to the elderly. The Alzheimer’s Associations reports that up to five percent of individuals with the disease are in their 40s or 50s.

Delirium

Delirium is usually induced by medication or a reaction to anesthesia used during a surgical procedure. It can be subtle, making it easy to miss. Many health professionals mistake it for dementia because they assume an elderly patient is just confused. If you notice your loved one struggling with an inability to focus his or her attention on a task or experiencing hallucinations or paranoia, medication might be the culprit. Fortunately, medication-induced delirium is usually reversible, but catching it early is key to your loved one making a full recovery.

Depression

Depression is a largely silent mental health epidemic among our nation’s elderly population, with women more likely to suffer from it. According to WebMD, late-life depression affects 6 million Americans over the age of 65. In some cases, depression can cause a person to make poor decisions or experience rapidly declining health.
Older generations who were raised not to speak of mental health concerns are often reluctant to seek help for depression. You can help increase the chances of your loved one getting necessary treatment by maintaining an ongoing dialogue about his or her feelings and daily attitude. If you sense your loved one withdrawing, don’t wait to address it.

Wear and Tear? Beware of Boilerplate Commercial Leases

Running a business takes time and money, and many business owners attempt to save by using boilerplate legal documents, such as off-the-shelf commercial leases. This approach can cause problems for both tenants and commercial landlords, as so-called “standard” leases typically use general language that doesn’t address the particular needs and concerns of the parties.

“Wear and tear” clauses are a good example of how boilerplate language can lead to disputes down the road.

Standard Wear and Tear Clauses

Most commercial lease agreements include a clause whereby the tenant promises at termination of the lease to return the premises to the landlord in a condition similar to that at the time the tenant took possession, excepting “ordinary wear and tear.”

At first, this seems like a straightforward concept. Upon closer inspection, however, this language says nothing about what constitutes “ordinary wear and tear.” For example, it’s unreasonable to think that a tenant who leases a retail space to sell clothing should be able to return the space with oil stains all over the floor. This is not ordinary wear and tear for a space that is likely carpeted and used for selling soft goods.

In another example, however, oil stains on the floor seem reasonable if the tenant is a mechanic who performed automotive maintenance and repairs in an industrial space with concrete floors. In these examples, the differences are critical because they dictate what qualifies as “ordinary wear and tear.”

Building a Better Commercial Lease

Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, it’s important to have a carefully drafted commercial lease that clearly specifies the obligations and liabilities of both sides. Clearly defined terms and provisions can prevent disputes and save all parties money and time down the road.

When drafting your commercial lease – and specifically a wear and tear provision – consider the following:

  • The lease should state the reasonable life expectancy of any items that require maintenance and replacement, as well as which party is responsible for maintenance and replacement.
  • Specify which items require repair and replacement at the termination of the lease. For example, does the tenant have an obligation to clean the carpet, or does the lease require the tenant to install new carpet at the end of the lease?
  • Each party should have the opportunity to inspect the premises and record its condition. This way, both parties start off on the same page, both literally and figuratively.

Roseville, California Business Lawyers

The business lawyers at Yee Law Group, PC, PC assist businesses throughout the greater Sacramento, California area. Call today at (916) 599-7297 to speak to an experienced business attorney about your goals.

This website has been prepared by Yee Law Group, PC, PC for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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