Definitions

Divorce With or Without Children

Your divorce petition will specify the issues to be resolved in your particular situation. This will mean if you have children, the issues of custody, visitation and child support will be determined in your case as well as property division, spousal support and the termination of the marriage. If there are no children, the case would resolve issues as to property division, spousal support and termination of the marriage.

Let Help-U-Law help you with your divorce and all the related forms. If you can reach an agreement, only your paperwork goes to court. The parties won’t have to step one foot in the courthouse door.

Uncontested Divorces

An “uncontested divorce” is when the issues to be resolved in your divorce are either agreed to between the parties or that the petition won’t be opposed by the other party.

Let Help-U-Law help you with your divorce and all the related forms. If you can reach an agreement, only your paperwork goes to court. The parties won’t have to step one foot in the courthouse door.

Contested Divorce

A “contested divorce” is when the parties have not agreed to the division of their property, child custody issues or support issues and that the court will have to make orders concerning these issues under California law and in the best interests of the children. This will mean there will be a minimum of two, but maybe more, hearings or at trial before the divorce will be finalized.

Many people filing for divorce in California do so by self-help. We can make the process simpler for you and less aggravating. Just give us the information and we’ll put it together the way the court requires.

Let Help-U-Law help you with your divorce and all the related forms.

Calculate California Guidelines Child Support

California has established guidelines for the amount of support of children. These guidelines are based upon the net income of both parents (after allowable deductions), each parent’s tax filing status and the time period each parent has the child living in their home. Even if the parents agree to a child support amount–which they can as long as no public benefits are being received for the support of the child–guideline calculations still must be run. This is so the parties are fully aware of what the child support could be based upon the guidelines. Once the guidelines have been calculated, the parties can then agree on any amount that will meet the needs of the child.

You can get our help at Help-U-Law to calculate child support payments or go yourself to the California Department of Child Support Services and use their support calculator .

Calculate Spousal Support

Spousal support is when one spouse assists the other to maintain his or her lifestyle as close to the marital standard as is practicable with a specified amount for a predetermined adjustment period. The parties can agree on the terms and conditions for the amount and length of time that one party may pay to the other. California courts define a marriage of 10 years as being of long duration. Less than 10 years, the courts award support generally for half the length of marriage. For marriages of long duration, the courts don’t usually set a termination date unless the parties agree to one or circumstances warrant a termination date. A spouse receiving support will be required to make efforts to become self-supporting as soon as possible.

For calculating temporary support, courts use formulas such as the Santa Clara County formula, which arrives at a figure by subtracting 50% of the net income of the lower-earner from 40% of the net income of the higher earner, with adjustments for tax consequences and child support payments, if any.

For parents of dependent children, you can get our help at Help-U-Law for an estimation of temporary spousal support payments and child support payments or go yourself to the support calculator at the California Department of Child Support Services.

Modification of Court Orders by Agreement or Hearing

If changes in the family’s situation have occurred, the parties can agree on new orders to reflect the changes in circumstances and submit their agreement to the court to become a revised order. If there is a change in circumstance which has occurred but the parties cannot agree to revising the previous order, it will require a court hearing by submitting a request for new orders and explaining to the court why these orders are needed. The court will want a detailed declaration that explains what has transpired to cause the change and what–at least in your mind–a possible solution would be. At the hearing, after reviewing the evidence and hearing testimony, the court will make the decision either granting the request, making different orders based upon a review of the case or information submitted by the opposing party, or denying the request outright.

The supporting declaration is essential to convincing the court to see things your way. Be prepared ahead of time: keep notes or a diary of incidents, dates, witnesses, photos, text messages or emails that you will use to compile your declaration.

You can get our experienced help at Help-U-Law in preparing stipulations if you have reached an agreement or for help in preparing the family law forms to go to a hearing and your most important supporting declaration.

Support Paid by Wage Assignment

Child or spousal support can be ordered to be paid out of the payor’s paycheck. This gives a steady, dependable way to pay or receive support which is pretty effortless on the part of either party. It also is a convenient way to show how much and how long support has been paid. If support changes at some point or is set to terminate, a new wage assignment order will be needed as the employer must continue to deduct support based on the old order until a new order is received.

Contact Help-U-Law for help with preparing the wage assignment papers to start, modify or terminate a wage assignment.

Preliminary Change in Ownership Report

Under California state law, a Preliminary Change of Ownership Report is required when recording certain real property deeds. This form provides information to the assessor’s office as to whom and where to send property tax statements, and to determine if there are applicable exclusions from real property tax reassessment and for appraisal purposes.

Let Help-U-Law help you with the “PCOR”.

Riverside County Documentary Transfer Tax Affidavit

Riverside County requires the DocumentaryTransfer Tax Affidavit form to be submitted specifying the amount of the tax or the exemption from it when real property has been granted, assigned, transferred, or otherwise conveyed to, or vested in, a purchaser or purchasers, or any other person or persons. An explanation of the Documentary Transfer Tax in Riverside County can be found here.

Contact Help-U-Law for help with the Riverside County Documentary Transfer Tax Affidavit.

Change in Ownership Statement Death of Real Property Owner

Under California state law, a Change in Ownership Statement–Death of Real Property Owner is required when a death of the real property owner has occurred. This form provides information to the assessor’s office as to the decedent, date of death, his or her heirs and where and to whom to send new property tax statements.

Let Help-U-Law help you with the Change in Ownership Statement Death of Real PropertyOwner”.

Claim for Reassessment for Transfer Between Parent and Child

When real property has transferred between a parent and child, this form claims the transfer to be exempt from real property tax reassessment. Certain requirements apply as well as a deadline of submitting the claim within 3 years after the date of purchase or transfer or prior to the transfer to a third party, whichever is earlier.

Contact Help-U-Law for help with the Claim for Reassessment for Transfer Between Parent and Child.

Grant Deed

In California, a grant deed is used when a person who owns real property sells or transfers ownership to a new owner. A grant deed releases all rights to the property and implies that the conveyance is free from encumbrances of the grantor or any person claiming under him or her.

Let Help-U-Law help you with the Grant Deed and related documents.

Quitclaim Deed

In California, a quitclaim deed is used to transfer whatever present right or interest the grantor has in the real property at the time of the deed–legal, equitable or inchoate (imperfectly formed). A quitclaim deed may be used to add or remove someone from title. Quitclaim deeds are also commonly used when real property is gifted as between parents and children. However, IRS considers adding a joint tenant to be a gift, with a gift tax return required and any tax based upon the value of the gift is due from the donor. (Talk to your tax person before signing a quitclaim deed.) In some circumstances a person signing a quitclaim deed may or may not be named as a title owner, but by signing, that person releases all interest he or she may have or potentially have in the real property. This is often used in a marriage or divorce when one spouse gives up rights to his or her community property interest.

Contact Help-U-Law for help with the Quitclaim Deed and related documents.

Trust Transfer Deed

When a person sets up a living trust, the trust must be funded by assets. Most people set up trusts to transfer their interest in their home through the medium of a trust. This then paves the way for the successor trustee to execute a quitclaim deed transferring interest in the real property either directly to the trust beneficiaries or to sell it to a new owner on the death of the original trustee. This type of real property transfer is done outside of probate following the instructions of the trust which is a probate avoidance method.

Let Help-U-Law help you with the Trust Transfer Deed and related documents.

Joint Tenancy Deeds

A joint tenant deed avoids probate by holding title “with the right of survivorship”. This means the person who outlives a joint owner, automatically retains ownership without a probate proceeding. Often title held in this manner is between spouses, but it can also be held by anyone: parents and children, siblings or between friends and associates. Caution should be taken, however, as this type of joint ownership can cause problems of its own. The joint owner will now legally own part of the home which opens the possibility of creditors of the joint tenant attaching a lien to the house. It will also mean that the added owner’s permission is needed to sell or refinance. It could also trigger real estate property reassessment when a joint owner is added to the title and it may mean filing a gift tax return for the year in which the joint owner was added as IRS sees this as a gift. When recorded, for some of these repercussions, you can’t undo it once it is done. This is just a short list of what can affect your home under this type of deed. Talk to a lawyer and/or your accountant before making a decision to add someone to the title of your home as a joint tenant.

Contact Help-U-Law for help with the Joint Tenancy Deed and related documents.

Affidavit Death of Trustee

When property is owned in a trust, upon the death of the trustee, a certified copy of the death certificate of the deceased trustee is recorded linking the information in the Affidavit to the original deed. This essentially clears the title of the decedent’s name.

Contact Help-U-Law for help with the Affidavit Death of Trustee and other related forms.

Affidavit Death of Spouse

When property is owned between husband and wife as community property with the right of survivorship, upon the death of the first spouse, a certified copy of the death certificate of the deceased spouse is recorded which links information to the original deed. This essentially clears the title of the decedent’s name.

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Affidavit Death of Joint Tenant

Upon the death of a real property owner when the title is held as joint tenants with the right of survivorship, a certified copy of the death certificate of the deceased co-owner is recorded with an affidavit which links information to the original Joint Tenancy Deed. This Affidavit clears the title of the decedent’s name.

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A New Way to Avoid Probate: Simple Revocable Transfer on Death Deeds

On Jan. 1, 2016, a new type of deed took effect in California, the Simple Revocable Transfer on Death (TOD) Deed, or also called a beneficiary deed. This type of deed names beneficiaries who will receive the real property on the property owner’s death without probate. The beauty of the TOD deed, is that it overcomes many of the negatives of a joint tenancy grant deed:

  • It can be revoked at any time during a person’s lifetime by recording a “Revocation of Revocable Transfer on Death Deed”.
  • The heirs do not own any rights to the real property during the grantor’s life.
  • Upon death of the grantor, the transfer is treated as an inheritance, not a gift, with more favorable tax treatments given.
  • The deed has no effect until the grantor has died when the beneficiaries record an Affidavit of Death of Transferor under TOD Deed.

Let Help-U-Law help you with the Simple Revocable Transfer on Death Deed and related documents.

Successor Trustee’s Quitclaim Deed

During the administration of a trust, the successor trustee executes a Quitclaim Deed transferring interest in the real property to either the trust beneficiaries or to a new owner. This is done outside of a probate petition with the successor trustee following the instructions of the trust declaration as the trust is a probate avoidance method.

Let Help-U-Law help you with the SuccessorTrustee’s Quitclaim Deed and other trust related forms.

Corrections to Deeds

If a mistake has been made in a previously recorded deed, such as an incorrect name spelling, or incorrect legal description, a correction deed can be recorded to correct the error. The deed is written as it should have originally been written, but also specifies the error being corrected and adds information linking the new deed to the originally recorded deed being corrected.

Let Help-U-Law help you with the correction deeds and other related forms.

Deed of Trust with Note Secured by Real Property

A Deed of Trust Secured by Real Property is a voluntary lien against real property signed by the real property owner for the amount stated in the note granting the lien to a lender. It gives the lender the right to foreclose if payment of the loan is not made as specified under the note. Once the loan has been repaid in full, a Reconveyance is needed to clear the title. If no Reconveyance is recorded, the lien will remain against the real property until cleared.

Let Help-U-Law help you with a Deed of Trust secured by real property, the note, and calculating interest and installment payments.

Wills

A Will (or your “Last Will and Testament”)is your final written wishes and instructions on what you want to happen to your property after you die. You also name an executor, or an alternate, specify how to pay debts and taxes, name guardians for children, and possibly provide for pets. Depending on the value of your estate, if it is over $150,000, the court will see that your wishes are carried out through a probate petition proceeding. For less than $150K, your personal representative may be able to manage your estate using California’s small estate transfer methods.

Let Help-U-Law help you with your Will and other estate planning related forms.

Codicil to Will (Supplement)

A Codicil to a Will is a supplement to your Last Will and Testament which changes a provision or two, such as changing the name of an executor, or changing a beneficiary. It is kept with the Will so that both documents, combined, are your final written wishes.

Let Help-U-Law help you with your Codicil to your Will and other estate planning related forms.

Living Trust

A living trust is much like a will. It is a written document which specifies how you want your assets which are placed into your trust to be distributed upon your death. In it, you name your successor trustee–the person who will take over for you when you cannot act–and has specific instructions on the manner of administration and distribution of the trust assets. Living trusts can be revocable (can be changed) or irrevocable (cannot be amended) depending upon the trust purposes.

Let Help-U-Law help you with your living trust and other estate planning related forms.

Living Trust Amendments

With revocable trusts, any change such as change in the successor trustee or a beneficiary designation, can be rewritten with an amendment so long as the trustor is of sound mind. It must be in writing signed in the presence of a notary public and then kept with the original trust declaration.

Let Help-U-Law help you with your living trust amendment and other estate planning related forms.

Restatement of Living Trust

With revocable trusts, if the original trust has been misplaced, destroyed or the contents need to be completely modified, a restatement of trust can take the place of the original document. It acts like a new version of the original trust declaration, but keeps the original title and original date the original trust was created, thereby avoiding the need to refund any of the trust assets.

Let Help-U-Law help you with your living trust and other estate planning related forms.

Trust Administration Documents

Upon the death of the Trustor, the successor trustee assumes the duties to act as trustee of the trust. This means he or she will gather information of all trust assets, any bills to be paid and trust documents necessary to ultimately transfer over the trust assets to the trust beneficiaries. Usually, most trusts can be administered within six months unless there are children which then require ongoing work from the trustee until the age the trust specifies the children are to receive their trust share. The successor trustee will be tasked with notifying the beneficiaries, inventorying trust assets, reviewing trust investments, getting assets appraised, liquidating assets, paying debts and taxes, distributing assets, and keeping all records and trust activity organized and documented to be able to report to the trust beneficiaries at least annually until the trust is terminated.

Let Help-U-Law help you with your living trust administration and other necessary forms.

Small Estate Affidavits

A small estate affidavit is signed under penalty of perjury at least 40 days after a decedent’s death where no probate is pending and can be used to collect the assets for the beneficiaries or heirs of an estate. No documents are required to be filed with the Superior Court if the affidavit is claiming to succeed to personal property under $150,000 in value as set forth in California Probate Code Sections 13101. The affidavit is signed and notarized by the beneficiaries or heirs succeeding to the asset.

For real property valued at $150,000 or less there are two small estate processes to transfer ownership outside of a probate petition proceeding. These are summary probate proceedings: The first is a Petition for Succession to Real Property for property valued at $150,000 or less and the other is an Affidavit re Real Property of Small Value for property valued at $50,000 or less. These are filed through the probate court, but are summary proceedings which mean a shortened, less expensive way to transfer real property rather than the more costly and time-consuming probate petition. These two processes are filed by the beneficiaries or heirs succeeding to the asset.

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Uniform Statutory form Power of Attorney

This form is provided under California Probate Code section 4400 which allows a person (the “principal”) to appoint someone (the “agent”) to act for the person as his or her agent when the person is unable to do so for him or herself. This can be drawn up to “spring” into effect upon the principal’s incapacity or it can be made to go into effect upon signing. The form is 2 pages in length, but refers to California Probate Code section 4400 where the definitions of the authority granted by the principal to the agent is more broadly defined. The original of this document must be kept in a safe place as the third party must see the original. If the original is missing, lost or destroyed, the third party most likely will not accept a copy. Duplicate originals can be made as a safeguard.

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Advance Health Care Directive

This document allows you to appoint someone to make health care decisions for you when you are not able to do so if you become very sick and can’t make those decisions yourself. It is also called a “living will”, an “advance decision” or “personal directive”. You will want to make a copy for your agent, your doctors and have one placed in your patient chart whenever you are admitted to a hospital. Copies of this document have the same effect as the original.

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Community Property with Right of Survivorship

In California, “Community Property with Right of Survivorship” is very similar to “joint tenancy”, but is strictly between a married couple. All the same rules apply as to joint tenancy, namely, that when the first spouse dies, the surviving spouse retains 100% ownership of the deceased spouse’s share of the community property. Even if the deceased spouse had a Will or other estate document that showed an intent for a different manner of transfer on death, because of the fact that the “right of survivorship” exists with this type of deed, the real property goes directly to the surviving real property owner without the need to probate the estate of the deceased spouse to clear title. The surviving spouse records an Affidavit of Death of Spouse with the County Recorder where the real property is located with a certified copy of the deceased spouse’s death certificate attached.

Let Help-U-law assist you with preparing your Community Property with Right of Survivorship Deed or Affidavit of Death of Spouse.