A will is a legal document that describes how you want your assets distributed when you die. How things get distributed is actually controlled by a legal process called probate -- that’s when the court controls and supervises the allocation, instead of your family members. You’ll want to avoid probate because it’s time-consuming and expensive owing to lawyer and court costs. You can stop the probate process by having an estate plan in place.

With a living (revocable) trust, you maintain control and can change the trust, or even dissolve it, for as long as you’re alive.

A key difference between a will and a living trust is that a will doesn’t take effect until you die, meaning it can’t offer you protection if you can’t make decisions because you’re in a coma or have a debilitating illness. With a living trust, someone you designate will take care of your affairs, not the court -- it’s not part of public record. It’s not protected from creditors (so if you owe money, creditors can take it out of your trust), and you’ll have to pay taxes on the income earned by the trust. You also can’t avoid estate taxes with a living trust.

Another option is an irrevocable trust, which can’t be changed or dissolved once it’s been created. You may have to pay gift taxes on the value of the property transferred into the trust, but all of the property in the trust is out of your taxable estate. Property transferred to your beneficiaries through an irrevocable trust will protect you from probate. Also, property in an irrevocable trust may be protected from your creditors.

To avoid probate, create a comprehensive estate plan. A comprehensive estate plan is more than just a will and a trust. Typically, it will contain a living trust, a pourover will (where all of your property goes to the trustee of your trust), an advanced health care directive (this is a power of attorney for health care), durable power of attorney and guardianship (if you have children who are minors).
Posted
AuthorLaw Offices of Hasti Daneshvar
Employers may often not realize it, but inconsistency in small-business activities is obvious to employees and others working with the business. Human resources departments need to handle situations professionally with similar treatment for all employees to avoid discrimination under civil rights and other federal discrimination laws covering disabilities and age. A wrongful termination lawsuit and disparate treatment or disparate impact arguments are of concern any time a small business discharges an employee.

To avoid these lawsuits, employers should follow a specific procedure with documentation and a checklist to avoid discrimination complaints in their business.

Treating employees less favorably based on age, religious views, race, sex, disability or national origin is disparate treatment, a form of discrimination under the law in the United States. Actions leading to a wrongful termination lawsuit may give the courts a reason to find for the employee on disparate treatment discrimination. If an employer warns some of its employees before termination and do not warn others, the business shows vulnerability under disparate treatment and discrimination laws. Discrimination applies to race, sex, age, disability or religious beliefs, and Caucasians can allege discrimination and wrongful termination when the employer favors other races. Disparate treatment is the most frequent proof for discrimination claims, reports the Introlaw website.

Disparate Impact occurs when an employer fails to follow the same procedure for all employees, the employee may win a discrimination lawsuit without proving disparate treatment. Disparate impact relates to the hardship created by the discrimination and is often used in age discrimination lawsuits. Disparate impact relates to disparate treatment, and a wrongful termination lawsuit may claim that the impact or hardship created plays a role in the discrimination. A greater impact proven to a specific group such as women or older employees may impact the business as well.

To avoid Wrongful Termination Claims, an employer should do the following:

1. Review state laws on termination, including any payday laws applicable, so that it complies with all dates and rules.

2. It should develop office procedures and a checklist for termination of employees.

3. Use fair dealing with all employees, even if the state is an employment-at-will state.

4. Give notification of infractions and make a record in the personnel file. Have the employee acknowledge receipt of a copy of each notification with a signature and date.
Termination. Give the employee a warning before termination, and record the warning date and information. Have the employee sign documents acknowledging receipt of the warning. Provide the employee with the real reason for termination, based in fact. Do not use excuses trying to make it easy for you or the employee. Make a case for misconduct if it exists. Pay your employee as required by law and offer any help you can. If you intend to oppose an unemployment compensation claim, document the file with dates and actions to take after termination. You have limited time to respond to an unemployment benefits claim.
Posted
AuthorLaw Offices of Hasti Daneshvar
Of course, it’s important to choose your guardian carefully, but also keep in mind that you can change your decision as often as and whenever you’d like. When designating a guardian for your child, you can create a checks-and-balances system by choosing someone to support your children as their guardian, while designating a different person to manage their financial affairs.

When choosing a guardian, it’s advisable to choose someone who’s a trusted family member or friend. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a family member, but what matters is that the person you choose is not only willing to serve as your child’s guardian, but also is able to raise your child in the same way that you would.

To help you make the decision, sit down with a pen and paper and list your potential candidates and then answer the following questions about each one of them. If you’re deciding with your partner, answer the questions separately and then compare afterward:

1. What kind of relationship does my child have with this person, and vice versa? Do they get along?
2. Am I comfortable with this person’s lifestyle and values? Can my children get the same moral and religious upbringing that I would’ve provided?
3. Is this person able to care for my child? For example, do they have children of their own? If so, can they handle more children? If they don’t have children, would they be able to raise children?
4. Where does the person live? Would my child have to move to live with this person?
5. If I have more than one child, can this person take care of all of them, or would my children have to live separately?
6. Is the candidate willing to serve as my children’s guardian? The person you’re considering might not be willing to accept the responsibility. Therefore, it’s a good idea to find out ahead of time whether this person is willing to take on the task of being a guardian to your children.
7. How good is the health of the person? Are they physically and mentally able to accept the responsibility?
8. Does the person have time to raise my children? Are they a dual working family, or does one parent stay home? Would they need to place my child in day care? If so, am I comfortable with my child being placed in day care?
9. What are the candidate’s views on education? Do I want my child to be homeschooled or privately educated?
10. Is the candidate financially secure? Although you don’t want money to be the ultimate determining factor in who raises your children, it’s always prudent to pick a candidate who’s financially secure to provide stability for your children.

Once you decide, you should discuss your decision with that person to see if they’re willing to accept the responsibility, and make sure to give them some time to think about it. Many parents are worried about giving the designated person the assigned powers right away. To avoid this, parents can leave the signed documents with their lawyer with instructions on when to turn it over. If you choose to do this, then make sure you tell the guardian whom to contact. Also, one other option you have is to make the power of attorney effective as of a certain date or event, rather than making it effective once you sign the document.

Even if you’re confused, it’s important to name a guardian now -- you can always change the designation later. That’s a better idea than postponing the decision completely, because you never know what could happen!
Posted
AuthorLaw Offices of Hasti Daneshvar
Am I required to pay wages to employees who serve on jury duty?

You are not required to pay wages to non-exempt employees who serve on jury duty. Exempt employees must be paid full salary for any week in which they perform any work. There is a difference in that you must pay an exempt employee who works any part of a week and is on jury duty, versus a non-exempt employee who does not have to be paid. This is just another reason it is so important to properly classify your employees.

The California Labor Commissioner has stated in the Enforcement and Interpretations Manual that federal law, with respect to jury duty, is compatible with state law and will be followed. Any exempt employee who works any part of a week and who serves on jury duty must be paid salary for the full week. Both the U.S. Department of Labor and the state Labor Commissioner, however, will allow employers to offset any amounts received by an employee for jury fees for that particular week.

Exempt employees are subject to certain compensation requirements in order to retain the exempt status. Code of Federal Regulations Section 29 CFR 541.602 provides that an exempt employee must be paid on a salary basis to be considered an exempt employee. The general rule contained in paragraph (a) provides that if an exempt employee performs any work within a week, then that employee must be paid salary for the full week. Under paragraph (b), there are certain exceptions when the exempt employee is absent of his/her own volition. The exception does not apply to jury duty. Paragraph (b)(4) requires that exempt employees who work any part of a week be paid full salary for that week. If not, the exempt status will be lost. An exempt employee who misses a full week of work because of jury duty does not have to be paid salary for that week.

It's crucial that employers recognize that very seldom will an exempt employee perform absolutely no work in a week— even answering e-mail, listening to voicemail, reporting to the office outside of jury duty hours will all constitute work during the week.

Additionally , California Labor Code Section 230(a) provides that an employer may not discriminate against an employee for taking time off to serve as required by law in an inquest jury or trial jury, if the employee,prior to taking time off, gives reasonable notice to the employer that he/she is required to serve.Labor Code Section 230(a) does not require the payment of wages for non-exempt employees nor the payment of salary for exempt employees who miss work because of jury duty. Both classes of employees, however, are protected from being discriminated against.
Posted
AuthorLaw Offices of Hasti Daneshvar
1. An Employee Handbook will establish uniform, clearly defined policies, guidelines, and standards.

2. It helps orient new employees to your policies and culture.

3. It acts as a reference to help prevent or resolve internal disputes.

4. It saves time, by answering frequently asked questions about pay, vacation time, benefits, etc.

5. It will lower your insurance premiums, as your business will be viewed as “lower risk”.

6. Most importantly, it reduces your risk from and during lawsuits.
Posted
AuthorLaw Offices of Hasti Daneshvar
An employer can deduct funds for:

-union dues or tax withholdings;
-any losses caused by your dishonesty; willful misconduct or gross negligence; or
specific deductions that you previously gave written authorization to the employer to make.

In addition, wages could be deducted for food and lodging that, by pre-agreement, are part of the employee's salary. And, under certain conditions, an employer can offset minimum wage payments by providing you with food and lodging. An employer cannot, however, require the employee to pay for meals or housing through your job. And if the employee has to buy tools or a special uniform for his job, the employer usually has to reimburse him.

Finally, even if you the employee does owe money to the employer, he or she cannot deduct the debt from his final paycheck in one lump sum. Instead, the employer could sue the employee in small claims court or superior court for reimbursement.
Posted
AuthorLaw Offices of Hasti Daneshvar
Yes, if the employee is a job applicant. On the other hand, if the person is already an employee, the employer usually must have some legitimate or important interest in requiring drug testing, such as a reasonable suspicion that the employee is using drugs. If the job involves certain safety issues, such as a job driving a passenger bus, the employer has greater rights to drug test the employee, even without giving you advance notice.
Posted
AuthorLaw Offices of Hasti Daneshvar