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Thursday
Feb232012

Charitable Trusts + Low Interest Rates = Tax Savings

Trusts & Estate Planning

 

by Kira S. Masteller
818.907.3244

 

Some people don't like to talk about death and because of that fear, distaste or superstition; they put off planning for the future. But think about it this way: 

When you pass away, your money and assets will go to one of two places. They will either go to (1) People you care about, or (2) Institutions who have already received your money throughout your lifetime – the State and Federal Governments. 

Those are very broad categories, but it's essentially true. When we talk about the people you care about, we mean more than just those individuals who make up your immediate family. 

In estate planning, “what” you care about may include people, such as yourself, your children, your siblings and your friends – but might also include your alma mater, a national animal rights group, your favorite church or the local Elks Lodge, among many, other organizations. 

The CLAT – Smart Moves in Tax Savings

 

One way to make sure you provide for all of the people and charities you care about is through a CLAT, or Charitable Lead Annuity Trust. The benefit of the CLAT is that you can take advantage of some huge tax breaks right now, while interest rates remain low. In fact, the lower the interest rate, the bigger the tax savings through CLAT. 

These charitable trusts will pay your favorite charity or charities a pre-determined amount of money for a pre-determined time frame, leaving whatever funds or assets that are left at the end to revert back to you, your heirs, or even to another trust. 

If using a CLAT to pass along assets to beneficiaries, your heirs wind up with whatever funds or assets you used to fund the CLAT, and the possibility of very little or no gift tax liability at the end of the term.  For example: 

You own stock that yields dividends (income) you do not need.  You put $100,000 of that stock into a 10 year CLAT that gives $5,000 annually to a program that benefits at-risk teens. The income from the stock increases the value of your CLAT, and at the end of the term, your children get the principal stock, plus the profits it generated. The gift tax your children will owe is based on what the IRS projected the charitable trust to be worth when you first set up the CLAT. 

If employing a CLAT for yourself, you will get the original assets back, and an income tax break. 

Charitable Trusts can be a convenient way to make sure both your heirs and your favorite organizations receive gifts during your lifetime, while you gain an ever-important tax break. 

Kira S. Masteller is a Shareholder in our Trusts & Estate Planning Practice Group. If you have questions about tax planning, business succession planning, or shifting your assets, please call her at 818.990.2120.

 

 
Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

 

Tuesday
Feb212012

Hiring the "Nice" Attorney a Smart Move for Most

Injury AttorneyInjury Attorney San Fernando Valley 

 

by David B. Bobrosky
(818) 907-3254

A friend of mine says that if he ever hears someone say that his attorney is a nice guy, he or she is fired. He says he doesn’t hire his attorney to be “nice.” If his attorney is nice when interacting with the other side, he or she is not doing their job. 

Mark Hermann published an article recently (“Is Our Lawyer Aggressive Enough”)  on the popular legal website “Above the Law” regarding a similar comment from one of his in-house lawyer colleagues. The comment focused on a concern of whether their outside counsel was “aggressive enough” during a meeting with other attorneys.   Mark described how an attorney can be just as successful, or more successful, being quietly confident as opposed to being a “blowhard.” He also stated another downside to being the type of attorney my friend looks for: 

[B]eing a blowhard can in fact undermine a lawyer’s effectiveness. As a client, I really don’t need to spend money on tangential discovery disputes caused by lawyers with too much testosterone being unable to get along. Being civilized can reduce costs and help speed a case to resolution. 

I completely agree with Mark. In fact, I think the negative effect of being a “blowhard” is magnified in the area of personal injury litigation. 

A personal injury attorney can, and should, be a “nice guy (or gal)”. Comparing two equally skilled lawyers, being  “nice ” helps at every stage of personal injury litigation. 

  • As a client, you want your attorney to be “nice” to you. You want the attorney to truly care about you and your case. This is more important in personal injury litigation than in any other area. If you have suffered a serious injury, or have lost a loved one, you are very vulnerable. You need to feel as though you can trust the attorney and that he or she is working your case as if you are a member of his or her own family. 

  • Statistics show that most cases settle prior to going to trial. Therefore, attorneys must present your case to defense counsel and insurance adjusters. In other words they need to sell your case. Your attorney needs to convince them to ask their superiors for authority to pay money on your case.  Being an attorney the other side likes and respects goes a long way in obtaining maximum value on your case. 

  • For the cases that do go to trial, it will benefit you if your attorney is able to cooperate with the attorney on the other side. Cooperation makes the trial much smoother. Judges and jurors also like “nice” and cooperative attorneys.  They do not appreciate attorneys who are always fighting with each other and making their time in jury duty even longer. An unhappy jury is generally not good for a Plaintiff’s case. 

Now, don’t confuse being “nice” for being a push over. An attorney should extend professional courtesies to the other side when possible, and when it does not hurt your case. Regardless, your attorney can, and must, vigorously pursue your case. However, your attorney should do this with the utmost professionalism and respect for the other side and the Court. It will get your attorney and YOUR case much farther.


David B. Bobrosky is a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney at our Firm. Contact him at dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com, 818.990.2120.

 
Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

Thursday
Feb162012

Intellectual Property Law - The Madrid Protocol Promotes Global Trademark Protections

 

Franchise Agreement LawyerState Bar Certified Specialist, Franchise & Distribution Lawby Tal Grinblat
818.907.3284

 

American based companies wanting to protect their trademarks internationally have been able to do so fairly easily since 2003, when the United States adopted the Madrid Protocol.

The Madrid Protocol is an international treaty currently recognized by 84 countries. It allows a U.S. based business that has a pending trademark application or registration in the U.S. Trademark Office apply to register the identical mark in other member countries of the Protocol, using a fairly simplified procedure.

The benefits of using the Protocol are fairly extensive. Instead of applying to register a mark separately in various countries, the applicant can file one application with the US Trademark Office which then automatically gets sent to the countries designated.

You no longer need to hire local trademark counsel in individual territories (unless objections are raised to the application at any stage). You also pay for the applications in US currency, thereby eliminating the need for wire transfers. Once an international registration is issued, there is also a simplified process to renew the trademark and a simplified manner to record address changes and other information, such as a sale of the mark to other parties. In addition, after an international registration issues, it’s possible to request an extension of protection to other member countries without having to start the process again.

Which countries are members of the Madrid Protocol? They range from Albania, Bhutan and China, to Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia – but you can access the complete Madrid Protocol List of Countries here. Application fees vary by country.

 

Your Trademark: Meeting International Requirements

 

Your international application must be based on a U.S. (or local) application or registration, called a "basic application" — you cannot file internationally without it.

  1. The mark and the owner of the international application must be the same as the mark and the owner of the basic application.
  2. The international application must include a list of goods and services identical to or more narrow than the list on the basic application.
  3. The applicant must pay the U.S. certification fees at the time of submission as well as the application filing fees for all countries to which protection is sought.
  4. The applicant must identify at least one Contracting Party for an extension of protection.

If the application meets these requirements, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) located in Geneva, Switzerland, will register your mark, publish it in the WIPO Gazette of International Marks, and send you a certificate as the "holder of the international registration."

The International Bureau will then notify the Contracting Parties you designated in the international application. The designated countries will then review the application (as they would review any other application filed directly with them). And if no impediments or objections are raised, a registration ultimately is issued and forwarded to the applicant.

Due to the pitfalls involved in this multi-step process, trademark owners are encouraged to consult with experienced trademark counsel to provide guidance on, explain the process and assist with filing the international application. And if any objections or impediments are raised during the prosecution, trademark counsel can also direct the applicant to local counsel in the countries involved for assistance.

Tal Grinblat is an Intellectual Property Attorney, and a Certified Specialist in Franchise and Distribution Law, as designated by the State Bar of California's Board of Legal Specialization. If you have questions regarding intellectual property, trademark protection or franchising a business, call him at 818.990.2120.

 

 

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Tuesday
Feb142012

Damages and Compensation in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Injury AttorneyInjury Attorney Los Angeles 

 

by David B. Bobrosky
(818) 907-3254

 

I speak to many potential clients on a weekly basis, many of whom have suffered a car accident injury. The most common questions I hear are “what am I entitled to if I have been injured in an accident?” or “what is the driver responsible to pay after a car accident?”  

In this post, I am going to explain the compensatory damages available to you if you have been involved in a car accident.  

Compensation for InjuryWe commonly group the types of damages into two classes: 

  1. Economic Damages
  2. Non-Economic Damages

 

Economic Damage Compensation

 

These damages are what we typically call “out of pocket” expenses. The most common types of personal injury damages in this class include: 

  • Property Damage - This category includes those to your vehicle, and any personal items in the vehicle that were damaged or destroyed in the accident. 

  • Loss of Use Damages - These are damages for not being able to use your property because of the accident. The most common item in this category is the amount you spend on renting a car. 

  • Medical Expenses, Past and Future - If you have health insurance, this is more than your co-pay. It includes the full amount of your bill. In some states, such as California, this is limited to the amount paid by your health insurance company.

    This category, if you have health insurance, is essentially recovered to pay back your health insurance company since the bills were incurred due to the negligence of another. Although your attorney can usually negotiate a discount off of the reimbursement since you are essentially collecting the funds for the health insurance company. 

  • Loss or Earnings - If you missed time from work and/or will miss time in the future, you are able to recover for that lost time. If you own your own business and can prove that you lost profits, or will lose profits in the future from the accident, then you can recover for these as well.

Pain and Suffering: Non-Economic Damage Claims

 

Wrongful Death LawyerThese damages are what we typically call “general damages.”  They are known by most people as damages for “pain and suffering.” 

Non-economic damages most often include compensation for: 

  • Physical pain, impairment and disfigurement from physical injuries sustained in the accident. 

  • Mental suffering and emotional distress related to the accident and physical injuries. 

  • Loss of enjoyment of life due to the injuries suffered. 

  • Grief, anxiety, humiliation and inconvenience from the accident. 

Non-economic damages are often the biggest damages in a case. If you’ve been burned by a defective product or attacked by a dog, the medical expenses may not be astronomical because such injuries do not typically require future medical care. 

However, the general damages for the disfigurement and emotional distress from the permanent scarring for the rest of your life will be significant. 

Likewise, if you are catastrophically injured or if a loved one is killed in an accident, the non-economic damages for your loss of enjoyment of life and grief over your loss will be the major part of your personal injury settlement, or claim at trial. 

The claims discussed above are not an exhaustive list of the damages available in every case, but they are the most typical. And certainly, not all of these damages apply to every personal injury case. But this should give you a good idea of what’s available to recover if you are unfortunately injured by the negligence of someone else. 

David B. Bobrosky is an Accident Injury Attorney in our Personal Injury Practice Group. You can reach him via e-mail: dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com, or by calling 818.990.2120.

 

 
Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

Thursday
Feb092012

Gay Marriage | Proposition 8 Serves No Purpose, Says 9th Circuit

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerFamily Law Attorney

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

San Fernando Valley Custody Lawyer Los Angeles

 

It's an election year. As though the economy isn't enough for candidates to fight about, California's 9th Circuit Court added another topic to the political frenzy: Proposition 8, the 2008 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage

On Tuesday the federal appeals court decided 2-1 that California's Prop 8 is unconstitutional. Though the opponents of Prop 8 enjoyed a small victory this week, the battle is far from over. Because, first and foremost, it's an election year. 

But aside from that fact, there are other questions involved around whether or not Prop 8 should be deemed valid. Justice Stephen Reinhardt wrote, "Broader issues have been urged for our consideration, but we adhere to the principle of deciding constitutional questions only…" 

The constitutional question on the docket? Whether or not Prop 8 violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. According to Judge Reinhardt's written statement, it does: 

All that Proposition 8 accomplished was to take away from same-sex couples the right to be granted marriage licenses and thus legally to use the designation of 'marriage,' which symbolizes state legitimization and societal recognition of their committed relationships. Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California. . . 

Keep in mind that Prop 8 was approved by just over 52 percent of California voters in 2008. 

The gay marriage issue in California is unique because it was a right that previously existed, and California has domestic partner laws. Because of this, some doubt that the U.S. Supreme Court will review the case. 

Regardless, we can expect those running for President to weigh in until November, which should make for some interesting commentary. 

 

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Los Angeles Divorce Attorney and Shareholder in our Family Law Practice Group. You can reach her by calling 818.990.2120.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
LEWITT HACKMAN | 16633 Ventura Boulevard, Eleventh Floor, Encino, California 91436-1865 | 818.990.2120