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Los Angeles, CA Estate & Business Planning Blog

Monday, March 25, 2013

Family Business: Preserving Your Legacy for Generations to Come

Your family-owned business is not just one of your most significant assets, it is also your legacy. Both must be protected by implementing a transition plan to arrange for transfer to your children or other loved ones upon your retirement or death.

More than 70 percent of family businesses do not survive the transition to the next generation. Ensuring your family does not fall victim to the same fate requires a unique combination of proper estate and tax planning, business acumen and common-sense communication with those closest to you. Below are some steps you can take today to make sure your family business continues from generation to generation.

  • Meet with an estate planning attorney to develop a comprehensive plan that includes a will and/or living trust. Your estate plan should account for issues related to both the transfer of your assets, including the family business and estate taxes.
  • Communicate with all family members about their wishes concerning the business. Enlist their involvement in establishing a business succession plan to transfer ownership and control to the younger generation. Include in-laws or other non-blood relatives in these discussions. They offer a fresh perspective and may have talents and skills that will help the company.
  • Make sure your succession plan includes:  preserving and enhancing “institutional memory”, who will own the company, advisors who can aid the transition team and ensure continuity, who will oversee day-to-day operations, provisions for heirs who are not directly involved in the business, tax saving strategies, education and training of family members who will take over the company and key employees.
  • Discuss your estate plan and business succession plan with your family members and key employees. Make sure everyone shares the same basic understanding.
  • Plan for liquidity. Establish measures to ensure the business has enough cash flow to pay taxes or buy out a deceased owner’s share of the company. Estate taxes are based on the full value of your estate. If your estate is asset-rich and cash-poor, your heirs may be forced to liquidate assets in order to cover the taxes, thus removing your “family” from the business.
  • Implement a family employment plan to establish policies and procedures regarding when and how family members will be hired, who will supervise them, and how compensation will be determined.
  • Have a buy-sell agreement in place to govern the future sale or transfer of shares of stock held by employees or family members.
  • Add independent professionals to your board of directors.

You’ve worked very hard over your lifetime to build your family-owned enterprise. However, you should resist the temptation to retain total control of your business well into your golden years. There comes a time to retire and focus your priorities on ensuring a smooth transition that preserves your legacy – and your investment – for generations to come.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Immigration Process When Marrying a U.S. Citizen

Immigration Process When Marrying a U.S. Citizen

When an American citizen is engaged to a non-citizen who resides outside of the United States, the citizen must apply for a K-1 “Fiancé Visa”.  The Fiancé Visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows an alien to enter the U.S. to marry an American citizen. The visa is issued in the country where the fiancé resides. After the marriage takes place, an application is made for an adjustment to permanent U.S. resident status, an immigrant visa.

To obtain a Fiancé Visa, the citizen must file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for his or her foreign fiancé, known as the “beneficiary.” Supplemental information will be required throughout the process. Once USCIS approves the petition, it is forwarded to the National Visa Center, which conducts a preliminary background check on the beneficiary.

Upon the conclusion of that process, the approved petition is forwarded on to the beneficiary’s embassy, which then obtains additional information from the foreign fiancé, in order to complete the process. The beneficiary must provide additional documentation to his or her local U.S. Embassy, and must undergo a medical examination and attend a visa interview. Foreign fiancés are urged to get the vaccinations required of immigrant visa applicants; although they are not required for issuance of the Fiancé Visa, the vaccinations will be required when the status is adjusted to that of permanent legal resident following the marriage.

Once the petition is approved, the local U.S. Embassy will issue the Fiancé Visa, which can take up to a week, depending on the Embassy. To activate the Fiancé Visa, the beneficiary must travel to the U.S. within six months of the date the visa was issued.

Upon arrival in the United States, the holder of the Fiancé Visa should apply for a Social Security number. After that has been completed the couple can apply for a marriage license, which is issued pursuant to state law and may vary across jurisdictions. States have different requirements for obtaining a marriage license, and some may impose deadlines or waiting periods between issuance of the license and when the ceremony may take place. Couples should carefully monitor the timelines following issuance of the visa.

The marriage ceremony must occur within 90 days of the date the Fiancé Visa was activated. If the foreign spouse is changing his or her name after marriage, he or she must take the newly-issued Social Security card and the marriage certificate to the Social Security Administration to change the name on the card.

After the marriage takes place, the foreign spouse must apply for an Adjustment of Status (AOS) to become a permanent U.S. resident. The AOS application must be submitted prior to the expiration date on the Fiancé Visa. If the foreign spouse wishes to travel outside of the U.S., or to work within the U.S., before permanent resident status is granted, an Advance Parole (AP) or an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) must be filed along with the AOS.

The Fiancé Visa application process is lengthy, involving many steps and various forms of documentation. A qualified immigration attorney can help couples navigate the process and ensure all requirements are met.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Do I Really Need Advance Directives for Health Care?

Many people are confused by advance directives. They are unsure what type of directives are out there, and whether they even need directives at all, especially if they are young. There are several types of advance directives. One is a living will, which communicates what type of life support and medical treatments, such as ventilators or a feeding tube, you wish to receive. Another type is called a health care power of attorney. In a health care power of attorney, you give someone the power to make health care decisions for you in the event are unable to do so for yourself. A third type of advance directive for health care is a do not resuscitate order. A DNR order is a request that you not receive CPR if your heart stops beating or you stop breathing. Depending on the laws in your state, the health care form you execute could include all three types of health care directives, or you may do each individually.

If you are 18 or over, it’s time to establish your health care directives. Although no one thinks they will be in a medical situation requiring a directive at such a young age, it happens every day in the United States. People of all ages are involved in tragic accidents that couldn’t be foreseen and could result in life support being used. If you plan in advance, you can make sure you receive the type of medical care you wish, and you can avoid a lot of heartache to your family, who may be forced to guess what you would want done.

Many people do not want to do health care directives because they may believe some of the common misperceptions that exist about them. People are often frightened to name someone to make health care decisions for them, because they fear they will give up the right to make decisions for themselves. However, an individual always has the right, if he or she is competent, to revoke the directive or make his or her own decisions.  Some also fear they will not be treated if they have a health care directive. This is also a common myth – the directive simply informs caregivers of the person you designate to make health care decisions and the type of treatment you’d like to receive in various situations.  Planning ahead can ensure that your treatment preferences are carried out while providing some peace of mind to your loved ones who are in a position to direct them.


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