Legal Document Resource Center

Do you need a trust?


If you have a net worth of at least $100,000 and have a substantial amount of assets in real estate, or have very specific instructions on how and when you want your estate to be distributed among your heirs after you die, then a trust could be for you. The primary advantage of a revocable trust is to avoid probate. Probate is the legal process for reviewing the assets of a deceased person and determining inheritors. The probate process is something that can be long and costly, and so by having a revocable trust you can avoid the probate process in its entirety.

Who needs an advance directive?


An advance directive is a legal document that lets you spell out your wishes with regard to future health care. An advance directive typically consists of a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. There’s no hard and fast rule for determining whether or not you need an advance health care directive. In the event that you don’t have a directive in place, it’s up to your spouse or next closest relative to make decisions related to your care. If they’re not supportive of your wishes, then an advance directive can ensure that your wishes are upheld.

What is a general power of attorney?

A general power of attorney allows the agent to act on behalf of the principal in any matters, as allowed by state laws. The agent under such an agreement may be authorized to handle bank accounts, sign checks, sell property, manage assets, and file taxes for the principal. Unless the principal chooses to make a power of attorney durable, the authority granted to an agent ends in the event of incompetency or incapacitation of the principal. When a power of attorney is durable, that means there’s language within the document which states an agent’s authority continues to apply even after the principal becomes mentally incapacitated.

What is a "no fault" divorce?

A "no-fault" divorce is when one of the parties to a marriage files for divorce based on their inability to get along. Legally, this is called “irreconcilable differences.” With "no fault” divorce, spouse or domestic partner that is asking for the divorce does not have to prove that the other spouse or domestic partner did something wrong. In California, as long as 1 person wants to end the marriage or domestic partnership, the court can end it, even if the other spouse or domestic partner does not agree or want to get divorced or legally separated.

How long does it take to get a divorce in California if both parties agree?

The divorce process will take at least six months. California divorce law requires a mandatory waiting period of 6 months. What this means is that you cannot get a divorce decree after filing a divorce petition until this time has passed.

There is nothing you can do to avoid this six month wait. It applies even if your legal separation date predates you filing the petition by decades. 

When can you get an annulment?

California limits the time in which a spouse may petition the court for an annulment. If you are considering annulling your marriage, it is important that you understand the grounds for annulment and statute of limitations for filing a petition. The specific statute of limitation depends on the grounds for which the spouse is seeking the annulment. See below:

1. Pre-existing marriage: at any time the married spouse is alive;

2. Incest: at any time when they are discovered, even if all parties consented to the marriage;

3. Fraud: within four years of discovering the fraud;

4. Age: within four years of turning 18;

5. Force: within four years of the date of marriage;

6. Unsound mind: at any time before death*; and

7. Physical incapacity: within four years of the date of marriage.

*A family member or advocate of spouse suffering from a mental condition which prohibited them from understanding the full effect of the marriage may petition the court for an annulment on their behalf.

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