Many people like to read our FAQ section so that they learn more about Legal Action Workshop.Take the time to read through some of the questions and answers so that you will understand the L.A.W. system of Low Flat Fees.

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General

No, there are many legal matters that do not require a court appearance. Wills, trusts and powers of attorney are documents that do not require a court appearance. When family law matters are resolved by way of an agreement a court appearance is usually not necessary. Further, in areas such as divorce, in which there are no issues to address and a response is not filed, a court appearance is usually not necessary.

We have Attorneys who can go to court for you for flat fees in Southern California. These ‘limited scope’ Attorneys will fully represent you while in court. After the hearing or trial the Attorney will no longer represent you. This is a great method for people who need an Attorney to represent them in court, where it is most important, but do not require full representation once the court session is over. Limited scope Attorneys save you money.

We can help with divorce, legal separation, annulment, paternity actions and responses as well as changes to existing court orders throughout California. This means that child support, child custody as well as spousal support issues can be addressed throughout California from our office in Glendale. We also handle step-parent and adult adoptions in Los Angeles County. Typically, we arrange a consultation with the Attorney over the phone so that clients can get sound legal advice from their home or office. Remember, all counties in California operate under the same CA laws so we can advise and process paperwork throughout the state.

We can schedule a consultation with the Attorney the same business day or next business day. Your first step is to either sign up online or call us so that we can determine what is needed. We will then make a time for you to speak with the Attorney either by phone or face-to-face in our Glendale CA location.

Legal Action Workshop has devised an ‘attorney-assisted’ method for divorce, legal separation, annulment, paternity actions, adoption, guardianship, changes to court orders and name changes. The method includes Attorney consultations, Attorney oversight, preparation of legal documents and filing and serving of documents. The client’s name appears on the paperwork as ‘Attorney of record’. This means that the Attorney is not ‘fully representing’ the client and as such does not charge a retainer or hourly rates. By using this method, the client gets Attorney advice and oversight as well as paperwork completed for a low flat fee. If you feel that your legal matter is more complicated and requires ‘full representation’ we can usually help with this as well at our reasonable hourly rate.

We help people with divorce and family law which includes legal separation, annulment, paternity actions, orders to modify spousal support or child support, custody and/ or visitation as well as adoptions, guardianships and name changes. In addition we also help with probate and estate planning. Call us for more information on our services.

Yes, you will begin each legal matter with a private consultation with the Attorney. When you become a divorce client you can speak with the Attorney as needed at no extra cost. Your Attorney will advise you and oversee your case for a low flat fee.

Legal Action Workshop is a law firm and as such can legally advise clients and give Attorney oversight to all legal matters. A document service cannot give you legal advice and simply gives you documents or fills them out for you. In addition, most document services do not help with the process in the courts which is difficult. L.A.W. offers legal advice & options as well as prepares paperwork and handles the process.

Legal Action Workshop is a flat fee law firm. In contrast, most other law firms charge a retainer fee that is based on an hourly rate of anywhere between $250 per hour to $500+ per hour. These Attorneys cannot tell you what your legal matter will ultimately cost. They charge you each time they speak with you or review your file. The ‘hourly fee method’ results in a much higher cost for divorce & family law matters. However, with Legal Action Workshop you know what you will be spending. Our experienced Lawyers offer low flat fees and counsel you throughout the process.

Legal Action Workshop is a law firm with over 35 years’ experience. L.A.W. has developed an Attorney-assisted method for divorce and family law that allows you to save money while having Attorney oversight. With our low flat fee option, you do not have to guess what you will be paying for your legal matter and most importantly you get legal advice and legal oversight throughout. We offer low flat fees in the area of divorce and family law and estate planning.

Our flat fee system gives you a great deal of flexibility. You can sign up online and we call you to schedule your consultation with the Attorney or you can call us to schedule a consultation and ask any questions you may have. Our physical office is in Glendale, California in Los Angeles County. Our phone consultations with the Attorney allow you to handle your legal matter throughout CA without the need to come into our office.

Estate Planning

Once a Probate is complete, can the administrator rent the property and refuse to sell?

The administrator has to distribute all monies equally among the heirs. If any of the heirs want the property to be sold, then the administrator must sell. If he/she refuses, then the heirs could remove the administrator or petition the court to force the sale of the property. A consultation with an attorney would help to determine the best options for the heirs.

In a California Probate situation, how does an heir proceed when he lives in another state other than California?

The heir should locate an attorney in California to file the Probate. The attorney should also be close to the city in which the assets are located. The attorney can take the property through the Probate system and generally the heir or beneficiary does not need to go to court or come to California. However, if the heir or beneficiary lives in another country other than the United States (when the decedent lived and had a property in California) then he/she would need to nominate another relative who resides in the United States to be the administrator of the Probate. If a relative does not exist then the Public Administrator’s office would administer the Probate and, once complete, the heir would receive the inheritance. The typical time frame for a Probate is 6 months to one year. Probates can take longer if complications occur as in other heirs coming forward.

If the deceased had real estate in California and it was valued at more than $20,000 but less than $150,000 then a Probate would be necessary. However, this is called a Succession of Real Property which is a shorter Probate and less costly. If the value of the property (that is not real estate)is under $150,000 in California, it is not considered an estate. In this case, a Probate Code Declaration would need to be prepared by an attorney so that assets could be transferred to the heirs or beneficiaries. A Probate Code Declaration is not used for real estate. If there is real estate or land that is valued at under $20,000 then an affidavit would be needed to transfer ownership to heirs or beneficiaries. An heir is the person who receives assets when there is no will or trust. A beneficiary is someone who is named in a will or a trust or has been named to receive assets in a bank account or brokerage account etc. Many elderly people have ‘reverse mortgages’ which requires a sale of the property upon death. Equity is determined by the sale price minus what is owed on the property. If the value of the property in a reverse mortgage is over $150,000 then a Probate may be necessary when there is no trust.

A contested probate is a probate in which someone challenges the distribution of estate assets or the appointment of a personal representative of the estate. There are many variables to contested probate matters. Someone may falsify documents with the intent to prevent other heirs from inheriting all or part of an estate; someone may challenge a will stating that it is not accurate or that certain heirs were left out; someone may allege that documents such as a will or trust were destroyed or seem to have disappeared. No matter what the particulars of the contested matter, an Attorney needs to get a firm understanding of the value of the estate and then validate the legal documents such as a will or trust, if these documents exist. At times expert witnesses are called upon to validate the documents. Verification of heirs also has to be investigated so that only verifiable heirs are part of the estate division.

Not all attorneys who handle probate matters also handle contested probate matters. In an uncontested probate matter, the client can expect to pay for the attorney fees at the close of the probate. However, in a contested probate matter, the attorney fees are based on an hourly fee and a retainer if the client is the contesting party. Sometimes, in a contested matter, depending on the value of the estate and the strength of the case, an attorney may opt for payment once the estate closes. Legal Action Workshop does not handle contested probates. However, due to the complexities of contested probates, it may be best to give us a call to determine if, in fact, the case is contested.

Every state has different laws with regard to Probate. In California, a Probate usually occurs when the value of the estate is over $150,000 and there is no Trust (also called Living Trust). The most common way to avoid Probate in California is to create a Living Trust. This means that if a person had a Will, but no Trust, their estate would still go through Probate if the value of the estate was over $150,000. A Probate is not only for physical property such as a house or condominium, it may also include bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts etc. However, if these accounts have beneficiaries who are alive, then these accounts would not be part of the Probate. If there is real estate or assets under $150,000 a Probate may still be needed. In this case, the courts allow for a shorter version of a Probate. The Attorney will discuss your options based on the type of asset and the value of the asset.

In California, an Advanced Healthcare Directive is a document that specifies the kind of healthcare treatment desired if one were to become incapacitated and unable to make these decisions for his or herself. One of the questions that needs to be addressed is whether the person would want to be kept alive by life support. In this directive, a person or persons would be nominated to carry out the wishes of the incapacitated person.

The need for a Healthcare Power of Attorney got nationwide attention in 2005 due to the court battle over Terri Schiavo who was in a persistent vegetative state and did not have a healthcare directive. Her husband wanted to disconnect her feeding tube, while her parents refused to allow it. In a seven year court battle, the case was heard in the Federal District Court, Supreme Court of Florida as well as the Supreme Court of the United States. Ultimately Terri Schiavo’s husband was successful and the courts determined that the feeding tube should be removed which ended her life. The media attention surrounding this issue highlights the importance of having an Advanced Healthcare Directive in place so that there would not be any question as to the wishes of an incapacitated person.

WHY DO I NEED A POWER OF ATTORNEY?

The purpose of the Power of Attorney is to nominate someone to handle your affairs when you are alive but incapacitated and unable to make healthcare or financial decisions for yourself. This could occur if you had an illness or accident. A Power of Attorney is only valid when you are alive and ends upon your death. There are 2 Powers of Attorney namely a financial Power of Attorney and one for healthcare (in California this is called a Healthcare Directive).

WHO SHOULD I NOMINATE TO MAKE DECISIONS ON MY BEHALF IF I AM ILL?

If you are married, your spouse would usually make these decisions. However, if you are not married then you could nominate another family member or a trusted friend. It is a good idea to nominate several people so that if one passes away or is unable to handle the Powers of Attorney, there would be another person ready to do so.

DO I NEED TO SEE AN ATTORNEY FOR A POWER OF ATTORNEY?

Yes, you need legal advice when creating a Power of Attorney. Generic Powers of Attorney may not fit your situation and these important documents must be understood in entirety before they are prepared.

IF I AM ONLY 30 YEARS OLD, DO I STILL NEED A FINANCIAL OR HEALTHCARE POWER OF ATTORNEY?

A Financial Power of Attorney and a Healthcare Directive are needed at any age. The reason for this is that an accident or unforeseen circumstance can render anyone in a position where they may not be able to make decisions about their finances or their health care. A person may go into a coma after an accident or may become debilitated after an illness. In a Financial Power of Attorney, you would nominate someone you trust to make financial decisions for you if you are unable to do so. Likewise, in a Healthcare Directive, you would nominate someone to make decisions about your health if you are unable to do so. Many times, people neglect these very important documents and then find themselves in difficult situations. Family members may fight over what they feel would be the decision of the ailing person. Further, if a person is not of ‘sound mind’ he/she would not be able to sign a Power of Attorney and consequently may need a conservatorship.

WHY DO I NEED A TRUST?

If you own real estate in California, then a Trust would avoid Probate for your beneficiaries. A Probate usually takes 6 months to several years to complete. It also can be very costly. A Trust is the instrument that allows you to expedite the transferring of estate assets and reduces legal costs and, in many cases, gives options to the owner of the Trust as to how to distribute the Trust assets.

DO I NEED TO FILE THE TRUST?

People can file the Trust with the courts for safe keeping. Most people do not do this. They instead keep the Trust in a safe place in their home or safety deposit box. A copy of the Trust could be given to your successor Trustee, but it must be signed and notarized in order for the Trust to be valid.

SHOULD I PUT LARGE BANK ACCOUNTS IN THE TRUST?

It is a good idea to put large bank accounts as well as investment accounts in the Trust as it ensures that the monies will be handled as per the terms of the Trust. If beneficiaries are noted on these accounts and if those beneficiaries pass away, then the funds may have to be probated if not in the Trust. If these large accounts are placed in the Trust, then the owner of these accounts would be the Trust.

IS IT LEGAL TO SAY ON A TRUST THAT IF ANYONE DISPUTES THE TRUST THEY WILL GET NOTHING OR $1.00?

Yes, this is legal and is technically called a ‘no contest clause’. The purpose of the clause is to dissuade any beneficiaries from disputing their portion of the Trust and causing delays in the closing of the estate. If a person decides to dispute and is successful, he/she would still inherit. However, if he/she is unsuccessful , then the inheritance would be $1.00 or nothing.

IF I HAVE A HOUSE IN CALIFORNIA, DO I NEED A TRUST?

Yes, if you own a house or a condo in California and wish to leave your property to beneficiaries, then you will need a Trust (or a Living Trust) in order to avoid Probate. In California, a Will does not avoid Probate. Probate is the court process whereby property is transferred, upon death, to either beneficiaries (if you have a will) or heirs (if you don’t have a will or trust). Probate can be costly and take 6 months or more.

A Trust is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to insure that your property will not have to go through the Probate process. Remember, it’s a good idea to give copies of your Trust to your beneficiaries and/or trustee so that there is no confusion as to what your intentions are with your property. You will also want to keep the original in a safe place so it does not get lost. It is also a good idea to update the Trust as needed to make sure that all information is accurate.

WHY DO I NEED A WILL?

A Will is necessary because it lets your heirs know your wishes in the event of your death. In a Will, you can specify which possessions go to family & friends. If you have minor children you can nominate a guardian for them in a Will. You can also designate a person(s) who will inherit your real estate and/or who will be executor of the estate. However, a Will does not avoid Probate in California–a Trust will do this.

WHAT MAKES A VALID WILL?

In California, a formal Will must be witnessed by 2 people. Their signatures must be on the Will to be valid. If the Will is handwritten it is called a ‘holographic Will’ and does not need to be witnessed. However, it must be in the person’s handwriting and signed and dated by the person who created the Will.

DOES A WILL AVOID PROBATE?

No, a Will does not avoid Probate. If you have real estate in California, then you should consider having a Trust prepared in order to avoid Probate.

IS IT LEGAL TO SAY ON A WILL THAT IF ANYONE DISPUTES THE WILL THEY WILL GET NOTHING OR $1.00?

Yes, it is common practice to put this clause in a Will. A person can still challenge the Will—but if not successful they may lose their entire interest in the estate. However, if the challenger wins, he/she can still inherit. This clause is meant to discourage people from disputing the Will and delaying the closing of the estate.

Divorce & Family

IF I HAVE A CREDIT CARD WITH ONLY MY NAME ON IT—IS MY DEBT STILL CONSIDERED COMMUNITY PROPERTY?

Yes, this debt can still be considered community debt if the debt was acquired during the marriage and when you were not separated. The fact that a credit card has only one name on it does not mean that the debt would not be considered community debt.

Some people may prefer an annulment of their marriage as opposed to a divorce. If an annulment is granted it is as if the marriage never took place. Legal grounds are needed for an annulment to be approved by the courts. The most often used legal ground for annulment is fraud that goes to the heart of the marriage. An example of fraud is when a marriage takes place for immigration reasons only. A Legal Action Workshop Attorney can determine whether or not there are grounds for an annulment. Most courts require a court appearance by the petitioner in order to approve the annulment.

1. Divorce by Agreement
2. Divorce by Default
3. Divorce by Trial

Divorce by Agreement means that the parties agree to cooperate. If there are no issues, the parties cooperate in the divorce process and the divorce is usually finalized without a court appearance. If there are issues, the parties cooperate and are willing to approve a Marital Settlement Agreement or a stipulated judgment. In most cases, the parties do not need to go to court and the divorce is finalized in an easy and efficient manner.

Divorce by Default means that when served with divorce papers, the ‘respondent’ does not respond and does not wish to sign approve an agreement. If the spouse does not respond within 30 days, then default papers can be filed with the court. If there are no issues to address, the default divorce can be finalized by the court without a court appearance. However, if there are issues that need to be addressed then the petitioner (the one who filed for divorce) would simply go to the ‘default’ hearing before the judge. Usually, the petitioner’s reasonable requests are granted.

Divorce by Trial means that when served with divorce papers, the spouse responds within the 30 day period. This usually means that the ‘respondent’ is not in agreement with some or all of the issues involved in the divorce. Note, that this is not always the case. Sometimes the spouse responds to protect his/her legal rights and may still wish to agree on the issues. If, however, both parties cannot come to agreement on their issues then a trial may be the only alternative. In this case, the petitioner (the one who files for divorce) may choose to continue with the Legal Action Workshop ‘a la carte’ system and request a trial setting, prepare a trial brief and go to trial with or without an Attorney all for low flat fees.

You can still live in the same home even if you wish to file for legal separation or divorce. Technically, you are separated when you no longer live together as husband and wife. When both parties agree on the date of separation, the divorce can proceed. However, when the parties do not agree on a date of separation documentation may have to be brought forward so that the judge can make a determination. The date of separation is very important as the laws pertaining to divorce are all based on the time period from the date of marriage to the date of separation.

At Legal Action Workshop, we strive to make divorce as easy and as economical as possible. Most of our clients come to agreements on their issues and do not need to go to court.

The process for divorce with Legal Action Workshop begins with a consultation with the Attorney. The purpose of the consultation is to make sure that the client is aware of their legal rights and options. In addition, the client has the opportunity to ask the Attorney any legal questions that they may have. By the end of the consultation, the client will understand their legal options and what they can reasonably expect.

Once the consultation is complete, the client (the petitioner) is given simple and easy to understand questionnaires that can be completed in the office or online. Our staff uses the information in the questionnaires in order to prepare the petition and the divorce is filed. The courts give the divorce a case number and then the spouse is served. Once served, the spouse (the respondent) has 30 days to respond.

In this 30 day period, the petitioner and the respondent can discuss any issues that may pertain to their divorce. Examples of ‘issues’ are division of property and debt, spousal support, or custody, visitation and support of children. If these issues can be resolved by a Marital Settlement Agreement then a court appearance is usually not needed.

This is also a time when the petitioner may request temporary orders for things like spousal support or custody, visitation and support of children. These orders can be made while the divorce is in progress. When the parties are not in agreement, the petitioner may also request restraining orders if needed.

If the respondent does not respond when served and there are no issues to address, the divorce can proceed by default (meaning that the spouse does not respond) and the client is usually granted the divorce without a court appearance. If there are issues that need to be resolved and the spouse does not respond, the petitioner will need to appear in court without the respondent. In this instance, the petitioner can request what they want and the judge makes the final determination.

If the respondent responds when served, then the petitioner is usually in a contested divorce. Most contested divorces also require temporary orders (for child custody & support, spousal support or other issues). In this case a ‘request for order’ would be filed and the parties will go to a hearing. Legal Action Workshop can prepare the necessary paperwork for temporary orders & arrange for an Attorney in court if desired. Once temporary orders are determined, the petitioner or respondent will usually request a trial date. However, the parties can decide to agree on their issues at any time and a trial would not be needed. In this case, one of our Attorneys can prepare a ‘stipulation’ that would address all issues and allow the divorce to be completed without a trial. If agreements cannot be made, both parties will go to court initially for a trial setting conference and then for a trial. Legal Action Workshop can reserve a court date, provide a trial brief for the trial setting conference (if needed) and other documents that may be needed. If desired, we can arrange for an Attorney to appear at the trial for a low flat fee.

Legal Action Workshop, PC, a professional law corporation is a law firm that offers low flat fees for divorce and other family law matters in California. We have been practicing law in California for more than 35 years. We offer an alternative to the ‘full representation’ model that most Attorneys use which involves costly retainers and hourly fees. Our system is designed for anyone who cannot afford the high cost of a ‘full representation’ attorney or who does not wish to spend these high fees.

When you use our Attorney-assisted system, you get legal advice from an experienced Attorney. If it is convenient, you can come into our office located in Los Angeles County. If not, we offer legal advice by phone. With sound legal advice, you will be able to decide which option you wish to pursue. Our Attorney-assisted system offers a number of options for most Divorce and Family Law situations. You pay for what you need so that you are always aware of exactly what you are spending. There are no financial surprises. Our Divorces and Legal Separations start as low as $725. Our Annulments are as low as $799. We also prepare Paternity Actions for a low flat fee of $725. If a trial is necessary for any of these matters, we can prepare a trial brief and provide an Attorney for court, both for additional flat fees.

We also offer help for other Family matters such as Responses, Requests for Order and Restraining Orders. We give you legal advice and prepare the paperwork for a low flat fee. In addition, we can also help with providing an Attorney for these court hearings.

Legal Action Workshop has helped more than 30,000 people with Divorce and Family Law matters. We help you meet the challenges of the legal system with sound legal advice and accurate paperwork.

We provide a reliable alternative to the high cost of full representation by offering our Attorney-assisted method which allows you to complete your legal matter with Attorney oversight and low flat fees.

Low flat fees: We offer low flat fees for most legal matters.
You will always speak with an Attorney: You will get Attorney oversight and valuable legal advice in order to make sound legal decisions.
An Attorney will handle your case: Your legal matter is handled from beginning to end by an experienced Lawyer. We prepare, file and assist with the service of your legal documents.
Our locations: We help clients throughout California and can file in every county. In addition we have physical offices in Los Angeles County, namely Glendale CA. Our office is easy to locate with parking nearby.

Phone consultations: For your convenience, we can schedule a phone consultation and complete your legal matter without the hassle of leaving your home or office. You can easily purchase online or call for a consultation.

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