Buy Sell Agreements

If you have entered into a business Partnership, you were likely thoughtful and cautious about selecting your business partner.  The assignment of your partner’s interest in the business in the unlikely and unfortunate situation that they pass away or leave the business, can be accomplished in  a Buy Sell Agreement.

What is a Buy Sell Agreement?

Also known as a Buyout Agreement, this agreement is commonly used by sole proprietors, partnerships, and closed corporations to ensure a smooth transition of ownership when a partner leaves the business.  The agreement will require that the departing partner’s shares of the business be handled in one of two ways:

  • Cross-Purchase Agreement: This requires that the shares be purchased by the remaining owners; and
  • Redemption Agreement: This requires that the business entity bused back the shares.

Either of the above formations of a Buy Sell Agreement ensures that the business interests will not end up in the hands of an outsider to the business.

Assessing Value

In addition to determining how shares are distributed, the Buy Sell Agreement details how the value of the departing partner’s shares will be assessed.  Having a valuation method spelled out can be helpful if the partners ever face a dispute about the value of the company or a particular party’s interest.  If the partners do not feel comfortable detailing a formula, the agreement can also specify that a business valuation expert will be responsible for the determination.

As you work to structure your business, reach out to us for assistance in creation of a Buy Sell Agreement.

Partnership Agreements

Owning and operating your own business can be exhausting. With only one person at the helm, you are ultimately responsible for every aspect of your business. One way to lighten the load and gain some assistance is to bring on a partner through a partnership agreement.

What is a Partnership Agreement?

A partnership agreement is a legal business operation between two or more individuals who share the management and profits of the business.  Any business that will be owned and operated by more than one individual can consider structuring the business as a partnership.

Types of Partnership Agreements

There are two main types of partnerships.

  • General Partnerships
    In this type of partnership, all partners are responsible for managing the company and taking responsibility for business debts and obligations.
  • Limited Partnerships
    In this type of partnership, there are individuals who run the business and have responsibility for debts and obligations (general partners) but there are also limited partners whose only stake in the business is monetary. Limited partners do not have control over how the business is operated and managed.  For this reason, the scope of their liabilities are different.

General partnerships are more straightforward.  Limited partnerships come with additional filing requirements and administrative demands.

Do You Need a Partnership Agreement?

There are many benefits to forming a partnership agreement. Consider the following pros and cons to see if your business could benefit from a partnership agreement.


One of the primary benefits to forming a partnership agreement is the tax treatment of the business. A partnership agreement is not subject to federal income tax. After partners calculate their partnership’s profits, each partner will file taxes for their share of the profit.


One concern for the partners in a partnership agreement is that their personal assets may be less protected from business liabilities. Generally, each partner has unlimited personal liability, and any debts incurred by the business are the responsibility of all partners.

For individuals who are concerned about the liability structure of general and limited partnerships, they could consider LLC formation. LLCs have similar tax benefits to partnerships but do not allow creditors to reach out to the pocketbooks of individual partners to satisfy debts.

How to Write a Partnership Agreement

A partnership agreement should include the following:

  • Name: The formal name of your partnership.
  • Contributions: What assets each partner brings to the business. 
  • Authority: States if partners can act without consulting other partners.
  • Management: During day to day operation, who is doing what?
  • Monetary Divisions: How profits, draws, and losses are distributed between partners.
  • Decision Making Process: How are business decisions made? Is there voting and if so, does it need to be unanimous?
  • Conflict Resolution: When partners disagree, what is the process for resolving and moving past disputes?
  • Additional Partners: The process for bringing on additional partners.
  • Removing Partners: The process for removing partners who want to leave or who have passed on.

Does a Partnership Agreement have to be in Writing?

A partnership agreement does not have to be in writing, but having a formal written version of the agreement is useful for navigating disputes or conflicts between partners. A written agreement does not require that you accurately remember all aspects of the agreement. 

What is a Strategic Partnership Agreement?

A strategic partnership agreement is a partnership formed between two businesses instead of two individuals. It’s important to note that the partnership is mutually beneficial, and may include the sharing of resources for the betterment of both parties.

Forming a partnership agreement requires preparing and filing appropriate documents. Contact us today to find out how we can help.


Creating a Partnership Agreement by Bethanky K. Laurence for Nolo
Which terms should be included in a partnership agreement? By Melissa Horton for Investopedia



When someone dies, the money and property which make up their estate will be distributed to their heirs.  Usually, for those assets to be properly distributed, the estate must go through the probate process.  This involves several steps, including proving the existence of a valid will (if applicable), identifying and inventorying the property, appraising the property, paying debts and taxes, and then distributing the remaining property.

California Probate

Before the proceedings can get underway, the court needs to appoint someone to oversee the process.  If there is a will, it typically designates a personal representative to take on this duty.  If not, the court will appoint someone to serve in that role.  The personal representative must be impartial in his or her representation of all parties who have an interest in the estate.  This person will take possession of the estate property and distribute that property accordingly.

How Does Probate Work in California?

Here are the 7 basic steps required in the California probate process.

Step 1: Filing the Petition

The first step in initiating probate proceedings is filing a petition with the California Superior Court in the county where the deceased resided at the time of her death.  This petition will trigger the court to schedule a hearing in approximately thirty (30) days.

Step 2: Handling of Notices

After the petition is filed with the court, the notice of hearing will be published a minimum of three times in the local newspaper.  It is also necessary to mail the notice to everyone named in the will (if there was one), along with all legal heirs of the deceased.  Notice must also be provided to potential creditors.

Step 3: Proving the Will

If there is a will, it is necessary to “prove” the will unless it qualifies as a “self-proving” will.  In some cases, the will contains specific language and/or an affidavit from everyone signing the will, which makes it unnecessary to prove the validity of the will.    Each state has its own rules regarding whether or not self-proving wills are valid and, if so, how they must be created.

Step 4: Asset Collection

One of the primary duties of the personal representative is to take possession of all of the deceased’s assets, but only those that are subject to probate.  There are some types of estate planning instruments that are not required to go through probate.  If the title of an asset needs to be transferred into someone else’s name, the personal representative must take care of that.  Some types of assets that may require a title change include:

  • Stocks and Bonds
  • Mutual Funds
  • Brokerage Accounts
  • Bank and Credit Union Accounts
  • Physical assets such as real property, motor vehicles, boats, and planes

The court usually requires an inventory of the estate property.  Sometimes an appraisal of certain property may be required.

Step 5: Payments to Creditors

Once the personal representative has provided notice of the death to creditors, those with debts payable by the estate must submit a claim.  If those claims are determined to be valid, they will be paid from the estate.  All valid debts must be paid before other distributions can be made.  This includes all bills, as well as funeral expenses.  California requires creditors to submit their claims within four months of the appointment of the personal representative.

Step 6: Estate Tax Payments

The personal representative is also responsible for making sure all estate taxes are paid, that includes federal estate taxes and state taxes, which the state of California imposes.  In most cases, a personal representative would not be held personally liable for estate taxes, but if the estate has been distributed before the taxes are paid and there isn’t sufficient property left to pay those taxes, personal liability may be imposed.

Step 7: Conclusion of the Estate

The final step is closing the estate.  This final step involves providing an accounting of all actions taken by the personal representative with regard to the estate.  A petition, which summarizes the estate and reports all actions taken on behalf of the state, will be filed with the court. The petition also includes the fees to be paid to the personal representative and the estate attorney, if applicable.  If there are no objections and the court approves the accounting, then an order will be entered by the court concluding the estate.  Once this happens, the personal representative can then distribute the remaining assets to heirs and pay any necessary fees.

How Long Does Probate Take in California?

California law says that the executor of a will or other representative of the deceased must complete the probate process within one year of the day they are appointed (usually months after the date of death), or they must formally explain to the court why they cannot. In practice, however, the process often ends up taking 18-24 months, especially when courts are backed up, or if an error is made along the way.

Do I Really Have to Go Through Probate? What If the Will Is Straightforward?

It’s a common and dangerous myth that a Will is all the legal documentation you need to claim an inheritance. In California, a “Last Will & Testament” does NOT prevent you from having to go through probate. Instead, think of a Will as a kind of letter written to a probate judge, expressing the desires of the deceased. During probate, you present the Will to a judge, and the judge decides what actually happens.

Does the Probate Process Vary Based on Real Property Value?

Depending on the value of the Real Property in question, the probate process may vary slightly. For example, the Petition to Determine for Real Property deals with values over $55,000 but under $166,250  and requires fewer hearings and time investment. An Affidavit RE Real Property of Small Value deals with amounts under $55,000 and does not require a hearing.

Remember that the Personal Representative has Personal Liability

If you accept the job of Personal Representative, keep in mind that failing to perform your duty can lead to catastrophic consequences. You may even have to pay for any damages out of your own pocket for problems you caused. You may, for example, be held liable for improperly managing the assets of the estate, overpaying creditors; failing to collect monies due to the estate; selling an asset without the authority to do so, or at an inappropriate price; not filing tax returns on time; distributing assets to the wrong people; distributing assets before creditors and taxes have been paid; and etc.

Need help with the Probate process? Contact us today.

HOW TO DO PROBATE IN CALIFORNIA: ON YOUR OWN OR WITH LEGAL HELP by James Cunningham Jr., Esq. Founder, CunninghamLegal


Copyright Transfer Agreement

Copyright is the group of rights that are automatically granted to an author of an original work. 

What is Protected?

There are three requirements for a work to be protected by copyright:

  • Original: The work must be independently created and cannot be copied from any other work.
  • Creative: Only a small amount of creativity is required. An example of a work not creative enough for protection would be a phone book.
  • Fixed: The work must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression.  In order to be considered fixed, the expression must be sufficiently permanent to allow it to be perceived, reproduced, or communicated.

Assuming a particular work meets the above requirements, the types of work generally protected include literary works, musical works, dramatic works, choreography, pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works, motion pictures, other audiovisual works, sound recordings, and architectural works.

Ownership of Copyright in a work grants the owner the following exclusive rights with respect to the work:

  • Make copies
  • Create derivatives
  • Distribute copies
  • Public display
  • Performance
  • Perform publicly via digital audio transmission of sound recordings

Why Register for Copyright Registration?

While copyright automatically vests in a work that is sufficiently original, creative, and fixed, securing copyright registration brings many benefits, including:

  • Bringing an Infringement Action: A copyright application allows you to enforce your rights against a third party in federal court.
  • Validity: Registration is evidence that the copyright is valid, which provides valuable strength to any arguments of prior rights in a courtroom.
  • Statutory Damages and Attorney’s Fees: A registration is required to collect statutory damages and attorney’s fees.  The availability of statutory damages is important because damages can be difficult to prove in an infringement case.
  • Notice: Registration creates notice that your work is protected.

We Can Help With Copyright Registration and Copyright Transfer Agreements
The numerous benefits that accompany Copyright Registration make it important to accomplish registration quickly and thoroughly. And if you are considering a Copyright Transfer Agreement, it is important that your rights are properly transferred and protected. Contact us for help with your Copyright Registration or Copyright Transfer Agreement.

Eviction Notice

Eviction describes the action of a landlord or other property owner removing someone, normally a tenant from a property.  Evictions are also referred to as an unlawful detainer.

What is an Eviction Notice?

In order for a landlord to evict a tenant, they must first provide notice to the tenant.  The required amount and form of notice will vary depending on the state the property is located. The eviction notice informs the tenant that they are being evicted. If there is a method to prevent the eviction, such as paying rent in full, the eviction notice will specify how to stop the eviction.

What Does an Eviction Notice Look Like?

The four most common eviction notices are:

  • Pay Rent or Quit Notices: Used when a tenant has not paid rent and provides a set number of days in which they must move out.
  • Cure or Quit Notices: Used when a tenant violates a condition of the lease or rental agreement (ex. no pets clause). The tenant has a set amount of time to cure the violated condition or move out.
  • Unconditional Quit Notices: Used when there is no option to solve the situation. The tenant is not given an opportunity to pay or cure.  State requirements dictate when these notices may be used.
  • Month-to-Month Termination: If the tenant is in a month-to-month occupancy, the landlord must provide the statutorily mandated notice before terminating the tenancy.

If the tenant fails to vacate after the eviction notice is provided, the landlord must file a lawsuit to evict, called an unlawful detainer lawsuit.

If the unlawful detainer lawsuit is successful, the court will issue a judgment for possession of the property.  The judgment must be tendered to a local law enforcement officer who will inform the tenant that they must vacate.  If the tenant fails to do so, the officer must return to remove the tenant.

How to Write an Eviction Notice

In the event that a renter has violated some term of their lease, a landlord is entitled to serve them an eviction notice. An eviction notice needs to state several pieces of information

  1. Tenant’s Name and Address
    Used when a tenant has not paid rent and provides a set number of days in which they must move out.
  2. Original Date of Signed Lease
    The lease date acts as proof that the tenant was aware of the conditions of their tenancy as well as the causes or lease termination. This removes plausible deniability from the tenant’s side.
  3. Date the Notice is Served
    By including the date the notice is served, you establish the timeline of the eviction process if the situation ever goes to court. Likewise, tenant’s cannot claim they were given the eviction notice on a later date to buy more time.
  4. Reason for Eviction
    There are several accepted reasons for eviction.
    Pay Rent or Quit Notices
    This eviction notice is issued when a tenant fails to pay rent. In order to continue the lease, the tenant must pay rent by the time period specified or they will be evicted.
    Cure or Quit Notices
    If a tenant violates part of their lease agreement, such as keeping a pet against lease regulations, the tenant must “cure” or remedy the issue or face eviction in the specified time frame.
    Unconditional Quit Notices
    These eviction notices do not give tenants the opportunity to remedy the situation. They are used in extenuating circumstances, such as a tenant performing illegal activity in the property or by threatening other tenants. The specifics for unconditional quit notices vary from state to state.
    Month-to-Month Termination
    If a tenant is living on a month-to-month basis, a landlord must issue a formal notice of the termination of the lease. Unlike the previous eviction notices, month-to-month termination is merely a landlord choosing not to extend the lease and does not have legal cause. Tenants are entitled to at least 30 days before they are evicted to find alternative lodging.
    Fixed Term Termination
    Like month-to-month termination, fixed term termination does not require a violation of the tenant’s lease. The landlord is simply not extending their contract for another year. Again, tenant’s will have a time period in which they are expected to find alternative lodging before they must vacate.
  5. Time Period to Fix Violations
    An eviction notice must include a period of time that gives the tenant the opportunity to fix their violation. In many cases, this time period is 3 days, but this can vary. This proves the tenant knew about their violation and was given a chance to fix the issue before they were evicted.
  6. Lease Termination Date
    If a tenant does not comply and refuses to pay rent or address violations, the eviction notice must include the formal date they will be evicted. Again, having a formal eviction date leaves no room for error on the tenant’s part.
  7. Landlord’s Signature
    The landlord’s signature is imperative because it proves to the tenant that the eviction notice is legitimate and it proves for the landlord’s records that the notice was filed.

Evicting a Family Member

While very similar to a standard eviction notice, evicting a family member requires a few more pieces of information. A family member in a household can be classified as a tenant or as a licensee. 

A family member classified as a tenant is privy to all the rights granted to tenants in a rental lease. To be classified as a tenant, there does not need to be a formal lease, simply the payment of rent. Rent can be considered a monthly payment or contributing to the costs of the household. If your family member pays for utilities or groceries but does not pay formal rent, they are still classified as a tenant, and tenants’ must be served a legal eviction notice. 

Certain states do not require legal filing of eviction if a family member has not paid rent. Other states qualify these family members as a licensee. A licensee is considered more than a house guest and is granted more rights. Licensee’s require a legal eviction notice.

Do I Pay Rent After an Eviction Notice?

Whether or not you have to pay rent after receiving an eviction notice depends on the terms of your lease. Carefully read over the section of your lease that deals with eviction to determine what is required of you as a tenant. In some cases, renters have to pay the first and last month of their lease up front. If you fall under this category, your last 30 days have been paid for. 

Whatever your situation, be prepared to have your leasing agreement on handed so you can reference it throughout the eviction process. Many renters are unaware of their rights, and will pay more than the landlord is entitled for.

Ensuring Eviction Is Handled Appropriately
If you need help with eviction documents and filing requirements, contact us now.

Notary Public

If you’re planning to sign important documents, you may need them to be notarized by a notary public.

Do You Need a Notary Public?

A Notary Public is a public official appointed by the state government to witness the signing of common documents such as:

  • Property deeds.
  • Some loan documents.
  • Wills, trusts, advanced directives and executorships.
  • Marital Settlement Agreements
  • Powers of attorney.
  • Employment contracts.
  • Commercial leases.

Notaries are trained to be impartial, avoiding any conflicts of interest, and are not allowed to discriminate. They can only work within the state in which they are commissioned, which includes notarizing a document in one state for use in the other.

How Much Do Notary Publics Make?

The exact amount a notary public earns depends on a few factors, such as state, experience, and working status. Many full time notaries report earning anywhere from $50 to $200 per signing appointment.

Where Can I Find a Notary Public?

Notary publics can be found virtually anywhere. Most businesses that provide legal services also provide notary services. If you want to work exclusively with a notary only business, or want a notary public with experience in a certain area, use your search engine to find local notaries that fit your qualifications.

How to Become a Notary Public

The process for becoming a notary public varies from state to state, but here is the general process for becoming a notary.

  1. Meet State Requirements
  2. Submit an Application and Pay Filing Fee
  3. Take a State Approved Course
  4. Pass a State Approved Exam
  5. File Commission Paperwork
  6. Purchase Any Needed Supplies

How to Become a Notary Public in California

To become  a notary public in the state of California, follow these steps.

  1. Meet State Requirements
  2. Take a 6 Hour State Approved Class
  3. Complete an Application
  4. Pass a State Administered Exam
  5. Provide Fingerprints for Background Check
  6. Receive Your Commission Certificate
  7. Obtain a Surety Bond
  8. File Your Bond and Oath
  9. Purchase a Notary Stamp and Journal

What are the California State Requirements for Becoming a Notary?

In the state of California, a notary must be at least 18 years old, a  legal resident of California, and without a criminal record. 

Do You Need a Notary Public?

Have your important documents notarized helps reduce fraud by verifying the identity of the signer, usually by checking a government issued photo ID.

If you need a Notary Public to witness a document, contact us today.

What is Probate?

Probate is the process of determining the legal validity of a person’s inheritance and to authorize an executor or administrator. Probate can take anywhere from a few months to several years.

Some states have simple Probate for small estates, which can shorten the process significantly or even avoid the Probate process altogether. You can also avoid Probate with living trusts and joint tenant ownership.

What is the Probate Process?

There are various legal documents associated with the process. These are standardized in most states by the Uniform Probate Code (UPC), which is designed to make things simple. The documents include:

  • A petition or application for Probate which should be accompanied by a death certificate and the will.
  • Proof that you have posted notice of Probate, which should be published in local newspapers and mailed to creditors and beneficiaries.

Probate can be a complicated process, if you are in doubt, Legal Docs by Me can help make it simpler. For help with Probate, contact us today.

Prenuptial Agreement

When you hear the phrase “prenuptial agreement,” you may immediately think of Hollywood weddings gone wrong. The idea that prenuptial agreements (or “prenups”) are only important for high net worth individuals is, however, a common misconception. Prenuptial agreements can serve an important role for any couple preparing for marriage.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a written contract between a future married couple that defines each of their property assets and how these rights will change after the marriage. Prenups are most commonly associated with divorce, but there are a number of reasons to consider drafting a prenuptial agreement before marriage.

When to Consider a Prenuptial Agreement

While contemplating a future divorce may not feel natural to two individuals preparing for marriage, it is an important consideration. A prenup can be a valuable tool for any couple, regardless of the value of their assets. When a couple is deciding whether a prenup makes sense, the following should be taken into consideration:

  • Future Legal Complications
    In the unfortunate situation of a divorce, fighting over assets can be avoided with a well-drafted prenup. A prenup allows a couple to think through financial implications with a clear head rather than fighting about them down the road when emotions may be more charged.
  • Separate Assets
    Do you or your fiancé have assets you would like to carve out from your community property? One common example is if one person has children from a prior marriage. A prenup can specify which assets are earmarked for these children.
  • Debt Protection
    Couples may enter a marriage with vastly different financial pictures, including varying amounts of debt. A prenup allows you to allocate debt as separate or marital, ensuring that the more financially stable party won’t be responsible for certain debt in case of divorce.

Important Prenup Considerations

Some considerations when drafting a prenup include:

  • Any real property owned by either party;
  • Consideration of all assets;
  • Analysis of any debts, including possible future debts;
  • Ownership interests in any businesses;
  • Retirement accounts and benefits; and
  • Any other possible beneficiaries of certain property

How to Nullify a Prenuptial Agreement

  • Duress/Coercion
    A prenuptial agreement can be nullified if one party signed the agreement under significant duress or coercion. Some examples include signing the prenuptial agreement without adequate time to review the document (such as hours before the wedding).
  • Failure to Disclose
    If a prenuptial agreement fails to mention assets or debts of one of the intended spouses, there is grounds for nullifying the prenup. Spouses who sign a prenuptial agreement without knowing the entirety of their partner’s financial situation don’t have all the information necessary to agree to the listed terms.
  • Unfair Division
    In the case that a prenuptial agreement is vastly in favor of one party over the other, the agreement can be nullified. It’s important to note that an uneven division of assets is not enough to nullify the prenup; the disparity between the two parties must be extreme.

All three of these methods simply provide grounds to challenge the prenuptial agreement in court; the document is not automatically null for any of these reasons. In some cases, spouses are willing to settle outside of court, in which you should have a legal representative present to oversee the process.

Does a Prenuptial Agreement Survive Death?

In the case of the death of a spouse, there may be some conflict between the terms stated in a prenuptial agreement and the terms stated in the deceased party’s will. Because a prenuptial agreement is considered a contract and the other spouse is still living, in many cases a prenuptial agreement supersedes the contents of a will. 
Making sure your prenup is comprehensive can be stressful. Contact us today for assistance.

Stepparent Adoption

One of the most common forms of adoption is when a stepparent decides to adopt a stepchild. This important action means that the stepparent is agreeing to take on legal and financial responsibility for their spouse’s child. It also means that the child’s noncustodial parent releases their parental responsibilities.

A stepparent adoption is likely an exciting time for the stepparent and the child, but there are important considerations to ensure it is appropriately and efficiently executed.

How Does a Stepparent Adoption Work?

Essentially, once the adoption process is complete the stepparent is now legally considered a parent of the child, meaning they have all of the same rights and responsibilities a biological parent would have. 

If a stepparent is actively involved in a child’s life, it may not seem necessary to formally adopt the child. Adoption, however, brings a variety of benefits not available without this official process, including:

  • A sense of permanency for the stepparent and the child;
  • The rights and responsibilities of guardianship if the birth parent spouse dies;
  • Rights of inheritance and insurance coverage for the stepchild; and
  • The ability for the stepparent to provide medical consent for the child.

Once you have decided adoption is the right step for your family, you will need to make it formal through an official court adoption process.

Prepare for the Process

Each state has specific process requirements for all adoptions, including stepparent adoption. As you prepare for this milestone, you should prepare for the following:

  • State Laws
    You will need to understand your state’s adoption laws and legal precedents that may be unique to your situation. For example, as of 2013 the state of California now allows children to have three legal parents.
  • Court Assignment
    The court handling a stepparent adoption may be different from state to state. Some states may handle these matters in a juvenile court while others may have specific family courts familiar with adoptions.
  • Needed Documents
    As with most legal proceedings, a stepparent adoption requires accurate completion of a number of forms. In states where children can only have two legal parents, one critical form is consent of the non-custodial birth parent. This may be one of the most contentious aspects of the proceeding, as the birth parent will be required to give up all parental responsibilities.
  • Hearing Appearances
    Attend a hearing. The hearing will allow a judge to hear your particular facts and circumstances and will set a date for finalization of the adoption.

When finalized, you will receive adoption certifications that will allow you to apply for amended birth certificates.

What Documents Do I Need for a Stepparent Adoption?

In order to adopt a stepchild, a stepparent must fill out several forms directed to the adoption process and provide supporting documentation.

  • Adoption Request
    The adoption request form provides all the basic information about the stepparent and child.
  • Adoption Agreement
    This agreement provides the consent of the stepparent to the adoption. Depending on the state, the child may also need to provide consent based on their age. For example, children over 12 in California must also provide consent to the adoption.
  • Birth Certificate
    You will need a valid copy of the child’s birth certificate.
  • Marriage License
    Proof of your marriage to one of the child’s current legal parents.
  • Consent of Non-Custodial Parent
    In states that only allow two legal parents, you will be required to provide documented consent of the non-custodial parent forfeiting their rights as a parent. If the previous parent is dead, you will need to provide a copy of their death certificate.
  • Consent of Custodial Parent
    This document provides proof that your spouse or partner (and the child’s biological parent) consents to the adoption.
  • Custody Documents
    In the case divorce or other unique living situations, you should provide copies of all custody documents involving the child.

How Much is a Stepparent Adoption?

Stepparent adoption costs vary from state to state. In cases where the stepparent doesn’t hire legal representation and no one contests the adoption, expenses can be limited to the cost of filing documents, the cost of obtaining copies of documents, and the cost of a court investigator. For stepparents who want or need legal representation during the adoption process, fees can range anywhere from $1,500 or more.
As you approach stepparent adoption, it is important to navigate the state law nuances to ensure smooth completion. For assistance, contact us today.


What is a Conservatorship?

A conservator is an individual appointed by a court to make financial and/or health care decisions on behalf of someone who has been deemed unable to make those decisions for themselves. A conservator will play a critical role in the affairs of the incapacitated individual, called a conservatee. Ensuring a conservator is appropriately appointed is very important.

Considerations for Conservatorship

If the individual in need of assistance has previously executed a power of attorney for health and medical matters, they will most likely not need a court appointed conservator. A conservator is likely to be appointed if an individual is deemed by a court to be incapacitated, which could be the case in a number of scenarios, including when an individual:

  • Is in a coma;
  • Is mentally challenged;
  • Has suffered a brain injury;
  • Suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia; or
  • Has had a stroke.

A Conservatorship can be complete, meaning the conservator has the right to make all/or health and financial decisions on behalf of the individual. A doctor is required to provide evidence that the individual requires conservatorship.

Establishing Conservatorship

Conservatorship must be granted by a court. To instigate the process, the requestor must file appropriate forms with the probate court in the county where the proposed conservatee resides. The court will then hear evidence of the individual’s mental incapacity and decide whether a Conservatorship is appropriate. There is an opportunity for anyone to object to the Conservatorship or the proposed conservator. If no friend or family member is suitable to act as the conservator, a public conservator may be appointed.

Given the scope of the work, conservators may be compensated. They are reimbursed for expenses and, if compensation is requested, are paid for their services from the estate of the conservatee. The Conservatorship does not end unless the conservatee dies or it is found they are no longer incapacitated.

How to Get Conservatorship in California

In order to get a conservatorship in the state of California, interested parties will the following documents:

  1. Petition of Conservatorship
    Essentially, a petition of conservatorship provides an overview of the situation. It includes information about the intended conservator, as well as the proposed conservatee, and the petitioner if they differ from the conservator. Additionally, the petition will describe why conservatorship is necessary and why it is the only solution in this circumstance.
  2. Confidential Supplemental Information Form
    The confidential supplemental information form describes why the proposed conservatee is not suited to take care of their own needs. This document will go into more detail about the petition of conservatorship to protect the privacy of the conservatee and further illustrate why conservatorship is necessary.
  3. Confidential Conservatorship Screening Form
    The confidential conservatorship screen form provides more detail about the proposed conservator such as their relationship with the conservatee and any personal information that could impact their ability to act as a conservator such as a criminal record. This form must be filled out by the intended conservator.
  4. Duties of Conservator Form
    The duties of conservator form lists the duties and responsibilities of the conservator. Essentially, it’s a formal record of everything that the conservator is authorized to handle on behalf of the conservatee as well as how this information will be reported and/or recorded.
  5. Notices Regarding the Conservatorship
    Once these documents have been filed, the conservatee must be served a copy of the petition as well as a citation about the proposed conservatorship. It should be noted that the intended conservator cannot serve this notice. Likewise, a copy of the written petition and the court hearing notice must be mailed to the conservatee, the conservatee’s partner, and close relatives. The petitioner is not able to mail these documents.

How to Fight Conservatorship

The basis of a conservatorship is that the conservatee is incapable of managing their personal and financial affairs. If a conservatee can prove that this is false, or is no longer true, the conservatorship can be nullified. While simple in theory, this can be difficult for conservatee’s that have limited access to resources that can prove their competency and in situations where a conservator wants to maintain the conservatorship regardless of the conservatee’s wishes.

If a friend or family member is suffering from incapacitation, it can be a stressful time. Contact us today for assistance in securing a Conservatorship.