Author: Hoffman & Forde

Do I Need a Bankruptcy Attorney?

bankruptcy attorney

Few situations are more stressful than having more debt than you can manage. At those times, declaring bankruptcy might be your best option, but it’s a complicated process. Before you go down that road, you should understand what bankruptcy is and whether or not you need a bankruptcy attorney.

Hiring a bankruptcy attorney might seem 100% counterintuitive—you might say, “I don’t have any money. How am I supposed to pay a lawyer?” While that feeling is understandable, there are a few reasons it’s still a good idea to at least talk to an attorney before making a decision.

Choosing the Right Bankruptcy and Knowing Your Rights

There’s not just one kind of bankruptcy; there are different options that might be better or worse, depending on your situation. The two most common types of bankruptcy for consumers are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. 

Under Chapter 7, also called liquidation, all dischargeable debts will be wiped out at the end of the process, but your assets can be seized and sold off to pay your creditors. 

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is quite different. Called a wage-earners plan, Chapter 13 bankruptcy lets the debtor negotiate a repayment plan. After making the required payments for three to five years, the debts are then discharged, usually without liquidating any assets.

Though bankruptcy is handled exclusively by federal bankruptcy courts, state laws should be considered. Crucially, California bankruptcy laws have generous exemptions that protect many of a

the debtor’s assets from liquidation. If you don’t understand how these exemptions work, you may end up unnecessarily agreeing to sell off assets.

 Proper Filing and Documentation 

Declaring bankruptcy is a fairly complex and document-intensive process. It is easy to file your paperwork incorrectly or forget to include certain documents. Such mistakes can draw things out longer than necessary but also have more serious consequences. There are also filing deadlines that, if missed, can potentially prejudice your case.

It’s possible to navigate the legal and bureaucratic aspects of bankruptcy on your own, but it won’t be a very pleasant experience. An experienced lawyer can greatly cut down the stress of it.

No More Dealing with Creditors

The one thing most people want more than anything when they’ve reached the point of considering bankruptcy is to be done with the endless harassment from creditors. Once a person files for bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect. This means that, in theory, creditors must cease trying to collect any debt from you.

In reality, some debt collectors will not stop harassing you, especially if they don’t think they’ll get much via bankruptcy. They may continue contacting you, trying to get as much money as possible. If you have an attorney, insist that any further communications go through them. If the creditors persist, your lawyer should be able to stop it.

Talk to a California Bankruptcy Expert

You don’t have to go through bankruptcy alone. Our attorneys know the process inside and out and can eliminate much of the stress in what is already a very difficult time. We also know how to work out a fee arrangement that works for you and helps you put you back on your feet. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Resolving Commercial Property Lease Disputes

commercial property lease

When you are renting a commercial property, of course, you want everything to go as smoothly as possible. Operating a business takes all of your attention, and any disruption can be costly. However, as with any contractual relationship, disputes arise between tenants and their landlords. But don’t lose hope! With a little bit of help, resolving commercial property lease disputes without litigation or vacating the property can be possible.

Common Types of Commercial Lease Disputes

Commercial property leases can be complicated, and a wide variety of issues can arise, but here are the kinds of disputes you are most likely to encounter.

Failure to Pay Rent

It should come as no surprise that the relationship between landlord and tenant is ultimately about money. Therefore, the most likely point of contention between them is the tenant’s refusal to pay rent. It may be that the tenant doesn’t have the funds, or they are withholding rent over a larger dispute. Whatever the case, not paying rent will quickly escalate the situation.

Maintenance Issues

Maintenance issues generally fit into one of two categories. Either the renter and landlord can’t agree on who is responsible for certain types of maintenance (if a water pipe breaks, for example), or the parties fail to their responsibilities. Even seemingly small maintenance issues can balloon out of control if left unresolved.

Improvements/Modifications to the Property

It is often the case that a business owner will want to change a property to accommodate their business. These changes can range from painting the walls to installing heavy machinery. Disputes may arise over the tenant’s right to make these changes and who is responsible for paying for them.

Early Termination/Subleasing

If a tenant wants to vacate the property before the lease term is finished, it can lead to serious conflict with the landlord. For example, it may be that each side disputes how much money is owed to the landlord in that situation, or the tenant may wish to sublease someone else, and the landlord disputes their right to do so.

Resolving Commercial Property Lease Disputes

Most of the time, when it comes to resolving commercial property lease disputes, both landlord and tenant are keen to avoid litigation. However, the path to resolution can vary greatly depending on the situation. For instance, the landlord may want to take advantage of increased rental prices in the area, or it maybe the global pandemic has caused economic problems for both parties, and they are just trying to keep their heads above water. Whatever the situation, here are some general tips to minimize the fallout.

First, don’t say anything you’ll regret. It’s a lot easier to escalate than to de-escalate a situation. Once emotions come into play, people are less inclined to compromise. Also, you may have an ongoing relationship with the other party for years to come, which can be awkward if you’ve personally offended them.

Having taken a breath, your next step should be to consult an attorney. You need to understand your legal position before negotiating a fair resolution, and you need to be sure you aren’t missing any critical deadlines. Also, an experienced real estate attorney will typically better understand what options are available in a given situation. If you are a business owner strapped for cash, it may sound counter-intuitive to hire a lawyer, but you are much more likely to have a better outcome with professional help.

Southern California Real Estate Experts

If you are a commercial landlord or tenant having a dispute over your property lease, don’t let the problem snowball. Rely on our experienced real estate attorneys to help resolve your commercial property lease dispute. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.


What You Should Know About Cryptocurrency and Estate Planning

What You Should Know About Cryptocurrency and Estate Planning

Estate planning has been thrown for a loop when it comes to figuring out the best way to negotiate crypto-assets alongside traditional assets and holdings. While cryptocurrency can be arranged into estate planning, securing digital assets falls outside of a typical will. 

For those who are just beginning to enter these murky waters, it’s important to find out how to reconcile crypto-assets in the estate planning process and which pitfalls to avoid. 

Understanding the Concerns With Crypto

Like in typical estate planning, digital assets will need to be divided among beneficiaries and distributed by an executor or a trustee. However, the primary stumbling block in the process has become how to locate and transfer the necessary information to access digital accounts. Unlike a will, there is no template for managing cryptocurrency after death, and keeping the digital information private is of utmost importance.

Documenting and Establishing Who Has Access

While there is no unified form to direct crypto allocation in the estate planning process, the options have become more streamlined. The most important aspect is to make sure that any crypto-assets have been clearly documented in the estate plans and that someone, somewhere, will have access to the seed phrases and private keys necessary for access and distribution. 


As it stands, digital-asset custody services are available and equipped to hold seed phrases or private keys necessary to access crypto accounts. Ownership is not easily transferred in self-sovereign assets, and, as such, the custody of the keys for safekeeping relies on specific guidelines for release. 

Placing Crypto in a Trust

Placing crypto in a trust can help shield it from estate taxes while keeping access keys safe and secure. For example, suppose clients are unsure that other family members or executor services are proficient enough to access and evaluate the digital assets. In that case, financial advisors can be named as trustees. 

Naming Beneficiaries

Naming beneficiaries in a traditional will can be risky unless the signer has explicitly communicated plans. Many beneficiaries with access to parts of the seed phrase can make distribution difficult to negotiate if tensions are high. 

Guiding Clients on Wallets 

The current guidance is for users to appoint trustees, advisors, or trusted family members to be two out of a three-part multi-signature wallet rather than the self-sovereign option. Then, when the account holder is no longer available, the two other keyholders will be able to access the necessary information with their signatures alone. 

We Can Help With Cryptocurrency Estate Planning

Cryptocurrency can be a great addition to your legacy strategy, but you must know to ensure it is passed on. Our experienced cryptocurrency estate planning attorneys can help you navigate through the process. Contact us today for a consultation.

Tips for Negotiating a Commercial Real Estate Lease

Two people shaking hands across a desk | Tips For Negotiating a Commercial Lease

Leasing commercial space is quite different from renting an apartment or house. Commercial renters’ needs vary greatly from one business to the next, so commercial leases tend to be much more customizable. Parties to commercial rental agreements are also assumed to be on equal footing, so the legal protections that apply to residential leases do not always apply in the commercial context. When negotiating a commercial lease, these tips can help you navigate the process.

Get Professional Help

Commercial real estate leases have many moving parts, and you’ll be better off consulting with a real estate attorney throughout the negotiation. First, a lawyer can help you understand the lease and the implications of all of its clauses, so at the very least, you know what you’re getting into. Just as importantly, a lawyer can propose alternatives that you might not know and help you put together a counter-offer that is more advantageous to your business.

Identify Your Business’s Real Estate Needs

It may sound obvious, but knowing in advance what your business requires in a physical location is immensely helpful for finding the right space and negotiating specific components of the lease. Ask yourself, what zoning requirements apply to your business? Do you need parking spaces for customers? Do you have any specialized utility requirements? Negotiating Specific Items in the Lease

Keep some of these key concepts in mind as you evaluate the lease.

  • Duration – Landlords typically (but not always) favor longer leases and are willing to give you a discount for adding time to the lease. This may work in your favor, for instance, to help you lock down a prime retail location. However, if your business grows quickly, you may be stuck in an inadequate space.
  • Additional Costs – Does the monthly rent cover everything, or will you be responsible for other costs? These can include common-area maintenance, property taxes, insurance, and more.
  • Building Improvements – You may want to make changes to the premises to accommodate your business. You should identify what is permitted and who will pay for the work.
  • Competitor Clause – If you are leasing space in a shopping center, can the landlord rent one of the other spaces to a competitor?
  • Subleasing – If you want to leave the space before the end of the lease, can you sublease the space to another tenant?
  • Termination Clause – Under what conditions may you or the landlord terminate the agreement? Can they kick you out for missing just one payment? If you leave early, are you required to pay the remaining time on the lease? 

Real Estate Expertise

With the future of your business on the line, the best course of action is to hire an attorney to help you negotiate your commercial lease. Our real estate team has years of experience in this field and is ready to advise you from start to finish. Contact us today to schedule a meeting.

Who Regulates Escrow Laws in California?

Person reviewing legal documents | Who Regulates Escrow Laws in California?

A home sale or purchase may be the largest financial transaction we will ever make. With all the work it takes to find the right home, negotiate the price, and procure a mortgage (or find a buyer if selling your home), the actual transfer of funds and title seems like a mundane affair. The orderly exchange of property and large amounts of money cannot be taken for granted, however, especially between two parties who barely know each other. Escrow services exist to make this transfer more secure, but who regulates escrow laws in California?

What Is Escrow?

You may have heard of escrow before without giving it much thought, but if you plan to buy or sell a home, you should familiarize yourself with the term. The legal definition of “escrow” is a transaction in which the buyer and seller transfer funds, evidence of title, or other items of value to a third party until the happening of a specified event or performance of a prescribed condition. At this point, the property is transferred to the respective parties as agreed. What does that mean? Let’s take a common example:

A buyer makes an offer on a house, which the seller accepts. Since the title transfer process is not instantaneous or free, the seller requires “earnest money” from the buyer to ensure they are serious. Similarly, the buyer wants to be sure the title transfer is legitimate and does not want to simply hand over a check to the seller. So, they agree to use an escrow service.

The escrow service holds the earnest money and the written instruments needed to transfer the title to the buyer. Once the various requirements have been completed (the title has been verified, the buyer’s mortgage lender has provided the remaining funds, etc.), the escrow service transfers the money to the seller and registers the property title in the buyer’s name. The transaction is finished, and both parties walk away.

Escrow works as a specialized form of trust in which the escrow agent acts as a trustee of the parties’ property for the duration of a complex transaction.

Licensing of Escrow Agents

Because of their critical role in real estate transactions and because they routinely hold large amounts of other people’s money, escrow agents must usually be licensed by the state. In California, the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) handles the licensing and regulation of escrow agents. While the applications for an escrow license are complex and involve extensive documentation, here are some of the main requirements:

  • Only a corporation may receive an escrow license, not an individual
  • At the main office, there must be at least one person with a minimum of five years of escrow experience and at each branch office, a person with at least four years of escrow experience
  • The corporation must deposit a surety bond with the state of up to $50,000, depending on its financial obligations
  • It must maintain a tangible net worth of at least $50,000, including at least $25,000 in liquid assets

While “independent” escrow agents must be licensed in this way, there are numerous other persons and institutions who may perform escrow services without a license. The reasoning is that so-called “non-independent” escrow agents are already regulated in other ways. The four categories of non-independent escrow agents are:

  • Banks, trust companies, building and loan or savings and loan associations, credit unions, or insurance companies doing business under California or federal law
  • A licensed attorney who has a bona fide client relationship with one of the principal parties and who is not engaged in the business of an escrow agent
  • Any person whose principal business is preparing abstracts or making searches of titles that are used as a basis for the issuance of a title insurance policy
  • Any broker licensed by the Real Estate Commissioner working as an agent or party to the transaction and performing work that requires a real estate license

Real Estate Law Experts

If you are buying or selling real estate and plan to use an escrow service (which is recommended), be sure to use only a qualified escrow agent, such as a licensed attorney. Our escrow lawyers have years of experience facilitating real estate transactions, helping to resolve disputes, and making sure the process goes as smoothly as possible. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

What To Know About Estate Planning: It’s Not Just for the Wealthy

Piggy Bank: What To Know About Estate Planning: It’s Not Just for the Wealthy

Professional estate planning is a clear necessity for those with millions of dollars in assets. It reduces the tax burden on their estate, minimizes conflict and confusion among heirs, and helps ensure that the estate is distributed according to their wishes.

But what about the rest of us? Most people don’t have estates worth millions, so they naturally have doubts that they need to worry too much about what happens to their property after they die. However, it’s important to understand that estate planning is not just for the wealthy; it can provide the same benefits for people with more modestly sized estates and is generally worth the investment.

The best way to understand how estate planning can work for you is to run a “fire drill.” This means playing out what would happen if you were to die right now. While it may seem a bit morbid, it helps people understand that they do have assets (often more than they realized) and that if they don’t make decisions about what happens to those assets after they die, then someone else will.

A proper estate planning fire drill requires the assistance of a professional, as most people are not familiar enough with things like probate and estate taxes to simulate the legal consequences. However, we can still run through a few common considerations.

Minor Children

If you have children under the age of 18, it’s important to consider what will happen to them if both parents die. Unfortunately, this can happen, and when it does happen, it is usually unexpected. In that case, someone must be appointed as the child’s legal guardian until they reach adulthood. If you don’t make that decision yourself, a court will have to make it for you. Given the obvious importance of this issue, it’s best that you make your wishes clear and discuss them with the person or persons you want to take on that responsibility.

It’s also good to create a trust that will care for your estate until your children are old enough to do so themselves. This helps ensure that the children are cared for and gives you some control over the terms of the trust. For example, you can decide who will be the trustee and what age the children should reach before taking full control of the property.

Spouses & Partners

If a married person dies without a will, their property generally goes to the surviving spouse through the laws of intestacy. While this usually makes sense, there are a few issues to keep in mind.

First, if there is property you want to go to someone else—a child or a friend, for example—then you will need to make that clear in writing.
Second, even if all the property ultimately goes to the surviving spouse, a lack of estate planning can create unnecessary headaches. For example, a common issue is when property such as a house is only in one person’s name; the surviving spouse may get the house eventually, but the process will be more complicated and expensive.

Unmarried couples have significantly greater estate planning needs precisely because of the laws of intestacy mentioned above. Courts will usually not recognize the legal significance of these relationships, leaving the surviving partner with little recourse and potentially in conflict with other family members.

Specific Circumstances of Family Members

You may be well acquainted with the lives of the people who could inherit your estate—their economic circumstances, personal abilities, etc.—but courts are not. Without a will, the probate judge will distribute your estate according to the laws of intestacy, which do not consider those people’s specific circumstances. For example, maybe one of your children helped you build your house, and you want them to have it after you die. Unless this wish is recorded in a will, all the siblings could jointly inherit the house.

Create the Right Estate Plan

These and most other issues can usually be resolved without much effort if you take the time to sit down with an estate planning attorney. They could help you figure out what would happen to your estate if you were to die today and then improve on those results. With just a little investment, you can make things much easier for those that survive you and see that your wishes are respected.

Contact our office today to schedule a consultation and get the process started.

5 Critical Mistakes People Make With Personal Injury Claims

Gavel and Stethoscope: 5 Critical Mistakes People Make With Personal Injury Claims

Bad things happen to everyone. We’re involved in car accidents, get hurt at work, or are injured in some other way—often through no fault of our own—and then we’re left wondering how to pick up the pieces. A personal injury claim is something that many people end up filing in such instances.

If you’ve been injured and think you may have a claim against someone else, it’s important to understand that how you handle things (from the point of injury onwards) can have huge consequences for your case.

Here are five of the most common mistakes people make concerning personal injury claims.

1. Not Hiring an Attorney for a Personal Injury Claim

You may read this and think, “Of course, an attorney will say that,” but this is absolutely the most common and critical mistake. People who are injured and have a potential legal claim are unlikely to understand the real value or the full extent of that claim. They are also much more likely to make a huge mistake that can undercut their case.

Think of it from the defendant’s side. Insurance companies and other business entities will definitely have lawyers on their side. The standard playbook for those lawyers is to get a potential plaintiff to settle the case for little or no money before talking to an attorney.

If the defendant can’t settle the case, the next best thing is to convince the plaintiff to delay hiring an attorney as long as possible in hopes that they will trip themselves up and spoil their own case. They do this because it is in their best interest, and their interests are directly opposed to yours.

Most plaintiff’s attorneys who handle personal injury cases do so on a contingency basis. This means the client does not pay any upfront fees, and the attorney instead receives a percentage of any compensation the client collects. There is no downside to consulting with an attorney in this scenario, so don’t delay.

2. Failure to Document Evidence

A personal injury claim only has value if it can be proven, so it’s important to collect and retain evidence. The more objective the evidence, the more helpful it is (as opposed to relying solely on your own testimony).

For example, if you are in a traffic accident, call the police. They will investigate the scene and create a report. If there are witnesses, talk to them and get their contact information. Take photos of everything and if other people take photos, ask for copies. Anything that documents the event and its consequences has the potential to be helpful.

3. Making Unnecessary Statements

As a general rule, starting from the moment of the injury, it is best to make as few statements about the incident as possible. This includes statements to family, friends, and especially to potential defendants. Don’t post anything on social media. Everything you say can be used as evidence, and defendants will be searching intently for anything that weakens your case. One common issue is that some people are naturally very polite, and they end up apologizing for something that isn’t even their fault—that apology can be used as evidence of their guilt.

This rule goes hand in hand with having an attorney. If anyone wants to talk about the incident, you can (and should) simply refer them to your attorney and politely end the conversation.

4. Not Documenting the Full Extent of Your Injuries

If you don’t document your injuries, it will be more difficult to receive compensation for them later. Some people are accustomed to suffering in silence; they receive treatment for broken bones after an accident but never mention that they’ve started to have migraines or nightmares every day. If you tell a healthcare provider about any issues you are having as they arise, other people are more likely to believe they are real.

5. Settling Too Quickly

It’s natural to want to settle a case quickly. Lawsuits can take a long time to resolve, and people often just want to move on with their lives. They may also really need the money that is being offered just to pay for basic necessities or medical care. Defense attorneys know this, and they will try to take advantage of it. They will drag out the case and offer $100,000 to settle a claim that is worth a million dollars or more.

If it is at all possible, avoid falling into this trap. Holding on a little longer is usually worth the trouble.

Speak to a Personal Injury Claim Attorney

If you’ve suffered an injury and think you might have a legal claim, don’t make one of these mistakes. Contact our office to speak to an experienced personal injury claim attorney as soon as possible.

Unpaid Wages in California: What Are The Most Common Claims?

Unpaid Wages in California: The Most Common Claims

California has some of the most progressive labor laws in the United States and one of the highest minimum wages. Despite this, or perhaps partly because of it, some employers will still underpay their employees or deny them their rights under the law. Workers may suspect they have a claim against their bosses but still hold off on any legal action because they don’t have all the information they need or don’t know how to go about collecting what’s owed to them. Here’s what you need to know about unpaid wages in California.

Common Unpaid Wage Claims

An unpaid wage claim arises when an employer violates an employee’s statutory or contractual rights, resulting in the employee being paid less than they are owed. Here are some of the most common unpaid wage claims in California.

Minimum Wage

The current minimum wage in California is $15/hour or $14/hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees. If you are being paid less than that rate, you may be entitled to the difference in pay. Remember that some local minimum wages are actually higher than the state’s requirements. In San Francisco, for example, the current minimum wage is $16.32/hour.

Overtime Compensation

Most workers are entitled to overtime compensation if they work more than eight hours a day, 40 hours a week, or six days per week. Work that exceeds those limits should be compensated at 150% of the regular rate. In some cases, such as for work that exceeds 12 hours in a day, workers must be compensated at 200% of their regular rate.

Off-the-Clock Work

Employers may pressure or force employees to work before or after they’ve clocked in as a way to reduce expenses. This is often connected to overtime compensation, as employers seek to avoid going over the limits stated above.

Meal Breaks

Employees who work at least 5 hours a day are entitled to a meal break of at least 30 minutes. If the workday exceeds 10 hours, they are generally entitled to a second break.

Exempt/Contractor Classification – Some types of employees, such as white-collar workers, are exempt from many of these requirements, as are independent contractors. There may still be an unpaid wage claim, however, if the worker was improperly considered exempt or treated as a contractor.

Though these are the most common claims, this is by no means an exhaustive list. You may be owed unpaid wages if you were not paid for vacation days, reimbursed for business expenses, and more. If you suspect you are owed unpaid wages, you should contact an attorney.

Pursuing an Unpaid Wage Claim

One of the first priorities in successfully pursuing an unpaid wage claim is to ensure the case is filed before the statute of limitations expires. The statute of limitations is the maximum time allowed between when a violation occurs and when a claim can be filed. If the statute of limitation expires, you cannot collect on your claim.

The statute of limitations in unpaid wage cases depends on the type of claim involved. In most cases, such as claims arising from minimum wage, overtime, and meal break violations, the statute of limitations is three years. If the behavior is part of a regular pattern of underpayment, the statute of limitation usually starts running at the most recent violation. However, it’s very important to know that the statute of limitations may be shorter in some cases. For example, the statute of limitations for claims involving a bounced paycheck is just one year.

Because of this time limit, it’s crucial not to wait. If the statute of limitations is close to expiring, some employers may try to delay you through bad-faith negotiations. If the time limit passes, they win.

If you are still working for the employer against whom you have a claim, it’s understandable to be worried about retaliation. State law prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who file an unpaid wage claim against them. Such retaliation can take many forms, from firing the employee to reducing their hours. If your employer does something like this, you may have another legal claim against them.

Get Help with Your Unpaid Wage Claim

If you are considering pursuing an unpaid wage claim, it is highly advisable to do so with the help of an attorney. Your employer will almost certainly have a legal team, and they may try to intimidate you and make a lowball offer. Our experienced labor attorneys can evaluate your case, identify your potential claims, and help you get fair compensation. Contact us today to get started.

New California Laws Now in Effect for 2022

New California Laws Now in Effect for 2022

The California State Legislature was busy last year, passing dozens of new laws, which were in turn signed by Governor Gavin Newsom and are now in effect. Here are just a few of the new laws in California for 2022 that may impact your life or business.


With the state continuing to face a chronic housing shortage, the legislature passed several laws seeking to alleviate the crisis.

SB 8

SB 8 extends the Housing Crisis Act to 2030 and makes a few adjustments to that law. It is meant, among other things, to speed up approval of housing developments and prevent local authorities from passing laws after an application has been submitted that would prevent the development from going forward.

SB 9

This act aims to simplify the process of subdividing a lot or creating or splitting a home into a duplex. If the proposed development meets certain requirements (including a minimum of 800 sq. feet per dwelling), local agencies must approve the project with minimal review and are restricted in their power to discourage such developments through zoning regulations.

SB 10

This law makes it easier for local governments to voluntarily upzone districts for increased housing density.

Workers’ Rights

These new laws are meant to improve pay and working conditions for California’s workers.

SB 62

California has a large garment production industry; SB 62 prohibits the practice of piece-rate compensation to garment workers. Instead of being paid per unit of work completed, these workers must now be paid an hourly wage. Employers who violate this law face fines, which are then paid to the workers themselves.

AB 1003

Employers who intentionally steal wages in large amounts (at least $950 from one employee or $2350 from two or more in a 12-month period) can be criminally charged with grand theft. Those convicted could face up to 3 years in jail.

SB 639

Existing law allows employers to obtain a special license to hire employees with mental or physical disabilities and pay them less than minimum wage. The new law phases out this program by 2025.


Among the bills passed were several election and campaign reform laws. Here are a few of them:

AB 37

Lawmakers previously implemented a temporary requirement that election ballots be mailed to every registered voter, which can then be returned by mail. AB 37 makes this a permanent requirement.

SB 35

Current law prohibits electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place. This law extends that protected area to anyone waiting in line to cast a vote. It also prohibits people from blocking access to the polling place and placing fake ballot collection boxes.

AB 686

Limited liability companies engaged in political activities must disclose information about their members and contributors.

Environmental Protection

The environment is always high on the legislature’s list of priorities. As a result, they passed several laws in this area in 2021, including the following:

SB 1

With regard to development within California’s coastal zone, the California Coastal Commission must adopt guidelines and recommendations for the assessment and mitigation of sea-level rise.

AB 652 & 1200

This law prohibits the use of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in products for children as well as disposable food packaging.

SB 343

Among other things, SB 343 prohibits deceptive markings or claims regarding the recyclability of products and packaging.

Navigate an Evolving Legal Landscape 

Laws and regulations are always changing, especially in California. Some of these changes can have significant consequences for your finances, your business, and more. Hiring an attorney who stays on top of these developments helps you stay ahead of the curve and take full advantage of new opportunities. Contact our team today for a consultation.

I Have Cryptocurrency: How Do I Include It in My Estate Planning?

I Have Cryptocurrency: How Do I Include It in My Estate Planning?

Billions of dollars are being poured into cryptocurrency every year, an economic development that may have far-reaching implications. Many believe it is the dawn of a new era of decentralized finance, a world without banks or middlemen. Whether that’s true remains to be seen, but one of the more practical concerns for cryptocurrency is how to ensure it is transferred to the right person after you die, i.e., how to make it part of your estate planning.

The very aspects of cryptocurrency that attract many of its proponents—anonymity and decentralization—create unique concerns that must be specifically addressed in an estate plan.

Make Sure Someone Knows About It!

The biggest problem with cryptocurrency and estate planning is that very often, no one else is aware of its existence. There are no bank statements or W-2s; in some ways, the money invested in cryptocurrency has dropped off the grid, and it can easily be lost there if no one knows to go looking for it.

Therefore, the first step to including cryptocurrency in your estate plan is to list it as an asset. You can leave it to your beneficiaries in a traditional will, though some believe this is less secure because the will becomes public when it goes to probate. 

Another popular option is to transfer your cryptocurrency to a living trust. A will helps ensure the cryptocurrency doesn’t get lost and has the added benefits of being more private and bypassing probate.

Passing Along Your Credentials

Cryptocurrency funds are essentially anonymous, accessible to anyone who has the private key or seed phrase needed to log in to the account or digital wallet. Because there is no centralized institution holding the investment, there is no safeguard or backup plan to retrieve funds if the password is lost. In a well-publicized case, one Bitcoin owner misplaced the password to his digital wallet containing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency, losing access to that fortune forever.

Transferring your key or seed phrase as part of your estate is an essential part of passing along your cryptocurrency assets, but the vulnerability to theft also makes this a little tricky. Here are a few options for keeping track of these passwords and making sure they are available after your death.

Share Your Passwords with Someone You Trust – This is the simplest solution, assuming you can trust someone with access to your funds. You may also share parts of the password with multiple people to keep one person from having access.

Safe Deposit Box – An old-school approach to a 21st-century problem. Simply create a hard copy of the passwords and store them in a safe deposit box which can be accessed in the event of your death. Some may choose to divide the password into two or more pieces and store them in multiple locations.

A Dead-Man’s Switch App – Cryptocurrency owners can configure a system where they are required to log in regularly to confirm they are still alive. If they fail to do so, a predetermined process will transfer ownership to someone else.

Create a Living Trust – If you put your cryptocurrency into a trust, not only does it simplify probate as mentioned above, a trustee can access and disburse funds according to the terms of the trust.

Get Help From an Attorney

Cryptocurrency can form a significant part of the legacy you leave behind, but you must take proactive steps to ensure it is passed on. Our experienced estate planning attorneys can help you find a secure solution that meets your needs. Contact us today for a consultation.