L+G Newsletter - May 2017
Welcome Kendra Clark!
On March 13th, L+G, LLP, Attorneys at Law welcomed Kendra Clark to our Agricultural Business and Litigation teams in Monterey. 

“We are excited to welcome Kendra Clark to L+G,” said Jeff Gilles. “She is an accomplished attorney with extensive experience in agribusiness, litigation, contract law, regulatory and environmental compliance, mergers and acquisitions, real estate and much more. We are fortunate to have an attorney with her credentials on our team.”

Clark received her bachelor’s degree in 1997 from Washington State University, where she was a Magna Cum Laude graduate of the Honors Program and graduated with a Juris Doctor’s degree in 2000 from Santa Clara University, where she was an editor of the Santa Clara Law Review.

She has been a member of the Washington State Bar since August 2000 and passed the California State Bar in November 2016.

Her career highlights include being vice president and associate general counsel for Chiquita Brands International, Inc. from May 2008 to December 2015 and she was corporate counsel for leading chemical distributor Univar USA Inc., of Redmond, Washington. Clark has 16 total years of in-house legal practice with hands-on experience involving every aspect of private and public company operations.

Clark is local to the Hollister community where she and her family run a horse and walnut ranch. Clark’s community involvement includes being a board member and Public Relations Committee Chair for Girls Inc. of the Central Coast; former board member of Sun Street Centers in Salinas; and a former board member of the Washington State Chapter of the American Association of Corporate Counsel.

She studied abroad in Mexico while at Santa Clara University and in France while at Washington State University. She is also an avid polo player and was a member of Washington State University’s NCAA Horse Polo Team as well as a member of the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California and Central Valley Polo Club in Hilmar, California.

An avid runner, she completed the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon, and came in second place at the Healthy Planet 10 Mile in Palm Springs and the San Juan Bautista 14k Double Double in 2016.

“Our mission is to exceed our clients’ expectations, participate in the communities in which we live, and provide each of us with opportunities individually and collectively to improve ourselves,” said Gilles. “Kendra exemplifies the people who share our mission at L+G. We look forward to her contributions to our legal and community goals.”

Kendra Clark
Good Estate Planning
By Ron Parravano

In my last article I discussed the importance of business succession planning. Let’s address another important subject – why every business owner needs a comprehensive estate plan.

In my 41 years of practice I have often represented clients forming new businesses and those who recently purchased an existing one.  Invariably the discussion begins with the subject of the best form of ownership – sole proprietorship, a general or limited partnership, a corporation or a limited liability company.  In most situations the clients chose one of the latter two entities- wishing to insulate themselves from personal liability to the extent legally possible. The process of business planning should include estate planning.  For example in forming a corporation or an LLC one of the preliminary questions asked is in what name is the stock or membership interest to be issued.  My next question is “do you have a trust – and if not why not”?

The simple premise is married couples or individuals often create trusts for ownership of important personal assets and the family residence. By having a trust take title to these assets upon death of the owner(s), property will pass to the heirs without probate. Why not then take the same approach with business assets? 

Such assets include corporate stock, interests in LLC’s, partnerships, favorable long term commercial leases, furniture, fixtures and equipment and other going concern assets. Generally, if a legal entity is formed it is the owner of all tangible and intangible assets. Even if the goal is not primarily business succession to children or second generation heirs, these assets are part of one’s estate and would be subject to probate administration if not properly funded to a trust.

Good estate planning, and thus good business planning, requires that those assets be transferred to a trust.  Stock, LLC and partnership interests are held in the name of the trustee of the trust – the business owner.  Business real estate would be held in the same manner for a sole proprietor or otherwise by the trust’s business entity. In the case of sole proprietors commercial property leases can be held by the trustee if the landlord agrees so long as the business owner is a guarantor.  Business personal property can transferred to the trust by a simple written assignment and transfer.
A fully funded trust – including both personal and business assets- will allow for transfers on death of the trustor(s), i.e. the owner and creator of the trust, to the intended beneficiaries. During post death trust administration a successor trustee (hopefully, carefully selected) named in the trust will operate and manage the business until transferred to the heirs. Also to be considered is in the event the owner becomes disabled a designated agent appointed with a “durable powers of attorney” can operate and manage the business during that period.

While this article is not comprehensive these are fundamental planning decisions that every business owner should consider. 

Ron Parravano is a business and estate planning attorney and Monterey office branch manager for L+G, LLP, 270 El Dorado Street, Monterey, CA 93940. He can be reached at (831) 269-7082 or ron@lg-attorneys.com

Listen to “Legal Briefs’ at Our Website
L+G Attorneys has now done 11 legal advice segments on KRML, called "Legal Briefs." You can listen to all of them at our website, covering such topics as:
  • What to Do When You Are Sued?  
  • How Do You Go About Appealing a Decision?
  • How to Collect on a Money Judgement?

Listen to "Legal Briefs" Archive

The Do It Yourself Divorce

By Nevin Miller

California courts have made efforts to make family law (divorce, custody, support) more accessible and affordable to self-represented litigants. Monterey County has established a “self-help center”, where litigants can make appointments or drop in to see a staff member to review their paperwork and answer general questions, but not provide legal advice. Monterey County also provides workshops were a family law staff attorney will discuss general issues related to family law to a large number of litigants. However, due to budget cuts, the hours for the “self-help center” have been drastically reduced and appointments are not available for several months.  The workshops are focused on general issues and the process of filing and serving paperwork, but do not provide advice on a litigant’s specific case.

For many low income litigants, these resources are great. However, for litigants who own real estate, retirement accounts, stocks, business or partnership interests, or any other valuable assets, many questions still remain. Often litigants will go to the internet to find the answers that were not provided through one of the court’s resources. This is problematic for several reasons. First, California family law is different from most other states, and a general search of an issue may bring up laws of other states which do not apply to California. Second, even if the search does show California law, the information may be outdated and no longer accurate due to a change in the statutes or case law. Third, the information could simply be wrong. Fourth, the information could be overly technical and incomprehensible to a non-lawyer.

One powerful tool that litigants and attorneys have, which is under-utilized, is limited scope representation. California has established a procedure where family law litigants can hire an attorney to represent them on one or more issues, and the litigant represents themselves on all other issues. For example, if a case involves issues of characterization and division of real estate, child custody, child support, and spousal support, the litigant could hire an attorney to represent them just on the characterization and division of the real estate and no other issue. This saves the litigant substantial attorney’s fees and gives them proper legal advice on a complicated issue.

My advice is to utilize the court’s resources, but be aware of the shortcomings. Do not hesitate to consult with an attorney and ask if they offer limited scope representation. This can save money and avoid a mistake that can be costly down the road.
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