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August 2022 | Issue
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In the Hot Seat!
Our own Lauren Jones is in the hot seat!

Check out this great article in Southport Neighbors Magazine and find out:

  1. What brought Lauren into the Estate Planning field?
  2. What are some of the issues about Estate Planning that Lauren would like to fix?
  3. Some top misconceptions about Estate Planning.
  4. What is a firm conviction Lauren has about her work?
  5. What are some fun facts about the office environment at Lauren C. Jones Law?
  6. Why is Lauren the Best?
  7. What are some of Lauren's favorite things?
Office Shenanigans and Adventures
Watching Fireworks
Happy Birthday
Estate Planning and Business Law Topics of Discussion
Defining "Spouse" for Intestate
Creating a will and/or trust during your lifetime is the best way to ensure that your assets are allocated in accordance with your preferences and wishes. But if a will does not exist, the state has a detailed body of rules governing the disposal of your property. Known as the laws of intestate succession, these rules generally distribute property in line with the degree of closeness of your living relatives. In most cases, determining who is a spouse or child for the purpose of allocating property is not difficult. But in some contexts, it is important to understand how the state defines certain family members in order to establish their inheritance rights.

A surviving spouse who is eligible to inherit under state law must have been legally married to the deceased at the time of death. If the couple had a divorce decree at the time of death, the surviving individual is no longer considered a spouse. In California, if a couple is legally separated, then the living spouse is not entitled to inherit property. In other states, a court may need to rule on whether the remaining spouse is entitled to an inheritance when there is a separation.   

In cases of same-sex couples, a surviving spouse living in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage has the same inheritance rights under intestate laws as any other spouse. In states that do not permit same-sex marriages, couples that have chosen to enter into a registered domestic partnership or civil union generally have the same inheritance rights as married couples. In California, registered domestic partners are given the same legal treatment in this area as married individuals.   

Inheritance rights for individuals in common-law marriages also present some uncertainty. A common law marriage exists when a couple who did not have a marriage ceremony, but live together and present themselves as married, are considered legally married under certain conditions. Most states, including California, do not recognize common law marriages; thus, the surviving spouse would not inherit under state law. In states that acknowledge common law marriages, a spouse may have inheritance rights if there is no will.   
Negotiating a
Negotiating a commercial lease for your business can be a complex process. Clauses governing the calculation of rental payments and escalations are unique to commercial agreements. Many first time business owners are unfamiliar with such provisions and may be surprised to discover that commercial tenants are generally not afforded the same protections as residential tenants.

Rent calculations. Typically, commercial lease payments are calculated by multiplying the number of square feet by the cost per square foot. Thus, the lessee should ensure that the agreement accurately states the dimensions of the space. This amount is then amortized over a twelve- month span. Sometimes commercial leases also include property taxes, common charges, and a monthly portion of gross sales in calculating rent payments.

Escalation clauses. Most commercial leases provide for rent increases through escalation clauses. An escalation clause allows the landlord to pass on operating expenses that correspond to rising property costs. The compounded operating costs are often unanticipated by tenants who are leasing commercial space for the first time. Nevertheless, tenants can negotiate this provision to avoid unreasonable charges by requesting a rent escalation cap over a specified period of time. Lessees may also demand that the lessor provide an itemized description of costs to explain the rent increase.

Covered services. The lease should explicitly outline the operating expenses that are covered by the agreement. Operating expenses are typically limited to costs incurred for the operation, maintenance and servicing of the building that are reasonable and customary for similar structures. Payment of these expenses should be clearly set forth in the written agreement to avoid potential conflicts over responsibility for such services in the future.

There are several types of commercial leases. In a gross lease, the rent takes into account items such as property taxes, insurance and maintenance. In contrast, in a net lease, the tenant is charged for these items as separate costs. Net leases are classified as either Single Net, Double Net, or Triple Net Leases. The various Net Leases are distinguished by whether the tenant pays for some or all of the “nets,” which includes property taxes, insurance and common area charges.