FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
What is a Certified Legal Document Preparer?
A Certified Legal Document Preparer (CLDP) is a person who has a certain level of legal education, experience and training that enables them to assist the public with preparation of legal documents without the supervision of a licensed attorney. A CLDP must take a test and be certified by the Arizona Supreme Court before providing legal services to the public. A CLDP may also be a certified paralegal.
What is a Paralegal?
A paralegal is a person with the education and/or experience that enables them to prepare legal documents for an attorney in a law office. Sometimes, but not always, a paralegal is certified by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).
Is a Certified Legal Document Preparer licensed to practice law?
No. A CLDP is not a lawyer, can not give you legal advice, or represent you in a court of law.
What can a CLDP do?
A CLDP can prepare legal documents for the general public based on information the individual provides, and can give general factual information about a variety of legal topics.
Is what I discuss with a CLDP confidential?
Yes. A CLDP must keep all communications with the client confidential, but those communications are not subject to the attorney-client privilege rule. That means if a CLDP is served with a subpoena to give legal testimony about what the CLDP and client discussed, he or she must divulge that information.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the process of establishing legal documents that will dispose of your assets and, if necessary, provide for a guardian for any children who are minors at the time of your death, name an agent to handle your financial matters if your are incapacitated during your lifetime, and give direction to your loved ones under what circumstances you would want life support systems withheld or withdrawn.
Why is estate planning important?
If you die without a will the distribution
of your assets is dictated by state law. A Last Will and Testament executed
by you instructs your Personal Representative to give your assets to the beneficiaries
you designate in your will to receive them.
What documents are part of an Estate Plan?
A Last Will & Testament, a Revocable Living Trust, General Durable Power of Attorney for financial matters, and a Healthcare Power of Attorney with Living Will.
What is a Last Will & Testament?
A document that directs who is to receive your assets when you pass away, may name someone to be the guardian and conservator for your minor children, and names someone to be in charge of administering and distributing your estate.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A General Durable Power of Attorney is a very powerful document that names an agent to handle your financial matters while you are alive if you are incapacitated for any reason. It allows the agent to make all of the same financial decisions you could make if you were able to do so.
What is a Healthcare Power of Attorney with Living Will?
Sometimes referred to as a “Healthcare Directive” a Healthcare Power of Attorney with Living Will is a legal document that names an agent to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to communicate those decisions on your own. The “Living Will” portion of that document gives direction to your agent and loved ones regarding under what circumstances you would want life support systems withheld or withdrawn.
Does a Last Will & Testament avoid Probate?
No. You must take other steps to avoid probate.
How can I avoid probate?
There are several things you can do to avoid probate, such as, holding title to all of your assets as joint tenants with right of survivorship; use of Beneficiary Deeds, use of “POD” or “TOD” on your financial accounts, or by establishing and funding a Revocable Living Trust.
What does POD or TOD mean?
POD means “pay on death”
and TOD means “transfer on death.” You can designate anyone you
want as the POD or TOD beneficiary on most financial accounts to avoid probate.
On your death, the funds are paid or transferred to the named beneficiaries
upon presentation of a death certificate without any court appointment
What is a Beneficiary Deed?
A Beneficiary Deed conveys a real property interest to named beneficiaries upon the property owner's death without probate. It is much like a joint tenancy with right of survivorship deed in that it conveys the property to the owner's beneficiaries without probate, but during the owner’s lifetime he or she retains full ownership interest in the property.
What is a Revocable Living Trust?
A Revocable Living Trust is the most efficient way of avoiding probate. By establishing a Trust you create a separate legal entity that holds title to all of your assets, and gives your Successor Trustee immediate access to all of your assets when you pass away, without any court supervised process for appointment.
Will I loose control of my assets by placing them in a Trust?
No. While you are alive you are both the Trustor and the Trustee, thereby retaining complete ownership control of all of your assets. Thus the term “living trust.” The Trust is effective while you are alive, and provides for the distribution of your assets upon your passing.
What are some other benefits of a Revocable Living Trust?
While you are alive, if you become incapacitated for any reason, your Successor Trustee can step in and manage your assets for your benefit, thereby avoiding the need for a costly and time consuming guardianship or conservatorship proceeding. A Trust provides a pool of funds for your Successor Trustee to use to pay your final expenses, such as, last medical bills, funeral arrangements, and to keep paying the mortgage and other bills until your estate can be settled. It puts one (or sometimes two) people in charge of administering your estate, avoiding conflict about what and how things should be done.
What is Probate?
Probate is a court supervised process for administration and distribution of your estate after you pass away. Your Personal Representative must submit an Application for Probate to the Superior Court requesting that he or she be appointed to handle your final affairs. Meanwhile, your assets may be “frozen” until he or she is appointed by the Court. Once appointed the Personal Representative must follow certain other legal requirements before distributing your assets, such as giving notice to heirs and creditors, filing an inventory, making an accounting to the court and your heirs, etc.
I want to start a business. How can I protect myself from personal liability in operating that business.
By forming a corporation or an LLC, you create a separate legal entity that separates your personal assets from the assets of the business.
What is an LLC?
An LLC is an acronym for “Limited Liability Company.” A limited liability company is a business entity somewhat like a corporation.
What are some of the differences between a corporation and an LLC?
A corporation has “Incorporators,”
“Board members” and “Shareholders,” and “Bylaws.”
An LLC has “Members,” and may have a “Manager” or “Managers”, an “Executive Officer,” and an “Operating Agreement.” A corporation is taxed twice, once on its profits and again when the profits, in the form of dividends, are passed to the shareholders. The profits (and losses) of an LLC are taxed only once, when they pass through the company to the Members at their individual income tax rates.
What are “Bylaws” and “Operating Agreements” and why do I need them?
The Bylaws or Operating Agreement sets out how you are going to manage your business affairs, such as, designating ownership interests and responsibilities, voting rights, conduct of meetings, handling profits and losses, assignment of rights, etc. It is important to have these documents because it shows that you are observing corporate formalities, and adds a layer of protection from personal liability.
Do I have to file an Annual Report with the Corporation Commission?
A corporation is required to file an annual report with the Corporation Commission and pay a fee. There are penalties assessed if you forget to file the annual report. An LLC is not required to file an annual report.
Do I have to have an annual meeting and keep minutes?
A corporation is required to have an
annual meeting and keep minutes. Although an LLC is not required to do so,
it is always a good idea for two reasons. First, the annual meeting and recording
of minutes is additional proof that you are following “corporate”
formalities. Second, the minutes will give you a history of the progress of
your business, which might become useful for tax purposes and obtaining financing.
Can I use a certified legal document preparer to prepare my divorce or legal separation papers?
Yes. If the parties have decided issues such as, division of assets and debts, custody, and parenting time, a certified legal document preparer can prepare all the paperwork you need to obtain a divorce or legal separation, based on the information you provide. But at Lloyd Paralegal Services, LLC we always recommend that if one spouse is represented by an attorney, the other spouse should have an attorney as well to protect his or her legal rights.
What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce?
Both a legal separation and a divorce address division of assets and debts, provide for custody, parenting time, and child support, and require the same process and paperwork. However, after a decree of dissolution of marriage is entered you are no longer legally married, you are restored to the status of a single person and can remarry. With a legal separation, you are no longer responsible for the other parties’ debts, and all assets are divided, but you are still legally married to your spouse and can not remarry.
How much will I have to pay my spouse for child support?
The amount of child support the Court will order the non-custodial party to pay is based on the Arizona Child Support Guidelines and is determined by completing a Child Support Worksheet. The worksheet is calculated by combining both parties’ gross (before tax) incomes, adding in daycare costs, costs for medical insurance, and making certain deductions, and parenting time adjustments. The Court has a web site where you can calculate your child support. Go to www.supreme.state.az.us/childsup
Will I have to pay alimony?
Alimony (also known as spousal maintenance)
is not automatic in Arizona. A spouse seeking alimony must meet certain criteria
under A.R.S. 25-319, such as, marriage of long duration, never having worked
outside the home, is of a certain age that precludes the spouse from finding
adequate employment to support him or herself, etc., in order to be awarded
alimony. You can read more about these requirements at www.azleg.state.az.us/arizonarevisedstatutes
What about custody and visitation issues?
Custody and Visitation (now called “parenting time”) is defined under the Arizona Domestic Relations Guidelines. You can obtain a copy of these guidelines from your local Superior Court or the Court’s self-help web site.