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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

You, Your Family, and Living Trusts: It’s Time for a Reality Check


 Just 42% of Americans have created a Will or Living Trust. It’s easy to put this off–it’s an unpleasant reminder of our own mortality. But Covid-19 has become a reality check, and there’s a new urgency to create a Living Trust. This is especially important for aging family members.

As your parents grow more frail, it’s time to talk about a Living Trust

Your parents may have created a Living Trust 20 or more years ago, but there’s a likelihood that it hasn’t been updated since then. This was the case with my own parents. They were in their early 90s, with a growing number of health problems. When my brother asked them about their Trust, my stepfather opened up a cabinet and 20 years’ worth of documents literally flew out it.


This was a very tentative time, because we were now flirting with the possibility of testamentary capacity–a growing legal concern. Fortunately, we were able to uncover their 20-year old Living Trust. A lot had changed in 20+ years, including a death and some sizeable investments. We all breathed a sigh of relief when we got this legal document updated, signed and notarized. After they died, my brother stayed involved, and it was much easier for him to manage their estate than to assume the role of administrator if we’d had to Probate it.

 

Does anyone else know where their Living Trust is?

If that Trust is updated and in order, someone in the family needs to know where the Trust is located. Unlike a Divorce or Deed, a Trust is not filed with the courts or county. If you can’t find it, it doesn’t exist. At Guideway, we organize and carefully prepare a hard copy of your Trust. We also give you a soft copy as a pdf file. It’s a good idea to share the pdf file with a trusted family member. When you want to make a change to your Trust, it’s easy for us to amend this.

 

What about your extended family?

Here in the Bay Area, many of us live with and/or are caring for extended families. Do you have an elderly aunt, uncle or grandparent, a close family friend? Are you the go-to person, the one everyone turns to with questions about business or financial matters? How likely is it that you’re going to be stuck with executor duty when your loved ones die? Now is the time to talk to your elderly relatives about creating a Living Trust and getting other life-planning documents in order.

 

We make creating a Living Trust easy

Our Living Trust package includes a Power of Attorney, an Advance Healthcare Directive and a Will. If you have children under 18, it means that you can select their Guardian rather than having the court appoint one for you. We guide you through it and we prepare the legal documents. We’re now working virtually via Zoom and phone. Schedule an appointment at Guideway today.

 

We service the entire East Bay and North Bay areas

Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond, Pinole, Alameda, San Leandro, Castro Valley Newark, San Lorenzo, Concord, Alamo, Danville, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Livermore, Tracy and Fremont. Our clients also live in the Napa Valley, Benicia, Vallejo, Martinez, Fairfield.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Remembering AB5: The Pandemic and Gig Workers



It was just a year ago that California’s independent contractors, or gig workers, kicked off the year wondering how to either leverage or circumvent AB5, the law intended to give them workplace benefits. Lawmakers assumed that companies would comply with this new law and convert those gig jobs into full-time positions. While pure in its intent, those who framed this law may have underestimated the scale and reach of the gig economy. Many gig workers are seasonal, others are temporary and/or work part-time in the evenings or weekends. Others are retired seniors who work part time to supplement their social security. The bottom line: Millions of Americans have been working as c
ontractors for years because they need or want the flexibility these jobs provide.

AB5 reconfigured the employment landscape

AB5 intended to fundamentally alter the working conditions for professionals as diverse as musicians and journalists, construction workers, truck drivers and ride-share providers. It includes physical therapists and massage therapists, all of those who work backstage in our theaters and concert halls. It’s the person who cleans your home or office and the great tech guy who responds to your computer meltdowns. The handyperson who’s a whiz at home repair projects is self-employed and not on anyone’s payroll to receive benefits. The people who cut and color your hair, do your nails, walk and groom your dog and deliver your takeout. They’re all gig workers. They’re often doing work they love, but there are no vacation benefits, no sick leave or 401k.

What happened to AB5 when the Coronavirus struck?

By Mid-March, AB5 took a backseat to the looming coronavirus crisis. Here in California, we began a lockdown order that extended through May. This is when nothing was open but grocery stores and pharmacies. We fought over the last roll of toilet paper and there wasn’t a bottle of bleach to be found on grocery-store shelves.

It was gig workers who moved to the front lines of the crisis

Delivery workers, truck drivers and other independent contractors were and still are the essential workers who are keeping the world moving. Since gig workers are classified as independent contractors, these essential worked long hours without benefits.

Before the pandemic, tentative court rulings related to AB5 began to trickle through the superior courts of California. California v. Maplebear Inc., decided in February, a case in which the city of San Diego alleged that a same-day grocery delivery company maintained “an unfair competitive advantage” by misclassifying its shoppers as independent contractors and evading the worker protections under California law.

In April, Judge Vince Chhabria of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California heard an emergency injunction filed by Lyft drivers.

So what’s next for AB5?

As unemployment numbers continue to grow and unemployment claims hit historic levels in California, many are turning to gig work to make ends meet. This may or may not be the time to either suspend or enforce this law. Some criticize AB5 for standing in the way of helping the state’s economy scratch back from the impacts of the pandemic. Here are two sides of this highly controversial topic:

  • Graham Walker, the executive director of the Independent Institute in Oakland: “Just when they need the flexibility, AB5 has come along and stifled them. I don’t think Californians who are hurting can afford the limitations forced on them by AB5.”
  • According to AB5’s author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego): “I think it would be the worst time to suspend it. These are billion-dollar companies who are publicly traded, they have enough money to treat their employees correctly.“

The coronavirus will take priority—at least for now

Our legislators and medical experts all tell us that we can’t do anything until we “crush the virus”. Many of our clients are dealing with the pandemic’s uncertainty by creating Living Trusts. Knowing that your family will inherit your estate as you have planned is providing some peace of mind for many of our clients.

Our Living Trust package includes a Power of Attorney, an Advance Healthcare Directive and a Will. If you have children under 18, it means that you can select their Guardian rather than having the court appoint one for you. Schedule an appointment at Guideway today. We guide you through it and we prepare the legal documents.

We service the entire East Bay and North Bay areas

Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond, Pinole, Alameda, San Leandro, Castro Valley Newark, San Lorenzo, Concord, Alamo, Danville, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Livermore, Tracy and Fremont. Our clients also live in the Napa Valley, Benicia, Vallejo, Martinez, Fairfield.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Mighty Market: Small Steps Lead to Mighty Changes!


There’s a small shop making a big difference in Martinez. Two sisters opened their bulk refill apothecary + low-waste shop last April—just in time for Covid-19. This store is filled with an amazing array of organic, earth-friendly items that the owners have carefully curated.

Bring your own containers and buy in bulk

An important part of the Mighty Market ethos is buying in bulk—which translates to less waste and fewer containers discarded into landfills. Take your own containers or buy them at the Market. At the filling station, you’ll find household cleaners and a wide selection of soothing lotions and cleansers for face and body. You’ll be charged by the ounce.

A wide variety of soaps, lotions, moisturizers and cleansers

There’s an emphasis on high quality, reusable products made with natural ingredients—including product containers. Look for:

  • Esoteric brushes for your drinking straws
  • A collapsible water bottle for travel
  • Sets of bamboo utensils—stop throwing away plastic utensils
  • Conditioner for cast-iron cookware
  • Soap for washing your dog
  • Grooming products for men, including beard oils that cleanse and moisturize
  • Tooth tabs for when you want to brush but don’t have water

Each of us can play a role in conserving our resources

Scientists trace the escalation of extreme weather conditions to rising temperatures. The catastrophic fire season that seems to last longer each year, extended hurricane seasons and flooding across the Midwest. Each of us can play a role in conserving resources by reducing our own carbon footprints. Mighty Market’s commitment to earth-friendly products makes it easy to live more sustainably.

Mighty Market, located at 739 Ferry Street in Martinez, is owned by Claire Martinez and Bronwyn Kopcek. They’re working moms, and many of their suppliers are women. They offer nationwide shipping and curbside pickup. Something else you’re going to like—they have a rewards program that’s an incentive to keep going back.

This is the season for taking charge and making commitments

Buying in bulk and supporting local businesses are good places to start. Many of our clients are also scheduling appointments to create Living Trusts. Covid-19 is still very much a reality, and a Trust, with a Power of Attorney and Advance Healthcare Directive are providing peace of mind to many. Best of all, we guide you through it and we prepare the legal documents. Schedule an appointment with Guidewaytoday.

We service the entire East Bay and North Bay areas

Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond, Pinole, Alameda, San Leandro, Castro Valley Newark, San Lorenzo, Concord, Alamo, Danville, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Livermore, Tracy and Fremont. Our clients also live in the Napa Valley, Benicia, Vallejo, Martinez, Fairfield.


 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

When Improving Quality of Life Means Ending an Unhappy Marriage


The pandemic has been hard on relationships—the stress of working from home, worrying about health and job security while homeschooling kids has pushed many relationships to the brink. Many of us start the year with a promise to improve the quality of our lives. For some couples, ending an unhealthy marriage is the best way to do this.

What to think about if you and your spouse are planning to Divorce in 2021

“Ben” and “Amy” are a good example of a couple who are getting divorced in the new year. For their Amicable Divorce—no children, neither party is contesting the Divorce–they don’t need an attorney. Because they will be able to work out an equitable division of property themselves, Guideway can save them a lot of money. Best of all, we guide them through it. We prepare the legal documents and file them with the court. In California, a Divorce can be finalized in a minimum of six months.

Ben and Amy have been married for eight years

Ben and Amy got married soon after Amy graduated from college–Amy admits that it was probably too soon. She began working for a nonprofit, and Ben was a fireman with the Oakland Fire Department. Ben is 15 years older than Amy and doesn’t want children, and this has created a growing rift. Amy agreed to this condition when they got married, but it turns out that she wants children after all—she wants to be a family. The couple’s assets include their Oakland home, two cars, Amy’s 401k and Ben’s retirement account.

Our initial session was a Zoom call to review the Divorce process

Ben would serve a petition to Amy, which was the beginning of the Divorce process. From this point, they would need to identify the shared assets and debts that they have acquired over the course of their marriage and reach agreement on how they would divide them.

Creating a financial landscape

Divorcing couples need to provide the financial documents that will create a comprehensive financial landscape. These should show both assets and liabilities. You’ll need to gather:

  • A list of your financial accounts–checking, savings, money market, life insurance, investment, 401k, credit cards, retirement accounts, etc.
  • Account statements, deeds, copies of insurance policies, and other such supporting documentation.
  • Tax returns for the past two years, paystubs or other proof of income.
  • Information regarding any business interests in which you are involved.

We’ve been assisting couples with divorce since 2003

Divorce can seem overwhelming because it is often accompanied with upheaval—especially if there are children. Yet it is a methodical process, and we guide you through it. If you are considering Divorce or want more information, contact Guideway today.

We service the entire East Bay and North Bay areas

Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond, Pinole, Alameda, San Leandro, Castro Valley Newark, San Lorenzo, Concord, Alamo, Danville, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Livermore, Tracy and Fremont. Our clients also live in the Napa Valley, Benicia, Vallejo, Martinez, Fairfield.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Guideway: CDP Has Rebranded! New Name; Same Great Service


After more than 15 years, we decided it was time for a change. We did some research, and we learned that what our clients valued most was that we guided them through the legal process—whether Divorce, Mediation, Probate, Living Trust or Business Formation—we were there to guide them. Best of all, we prepare the legal documents. Where appropriate, we also file the documents with the courts.

With Covid, we’re still playing it safe

With vaccines now in production, we are all starting to fantasize about a life beyond the coronavirus. But here at Guideway, we’re still playing it safe, as we have from the beginning. The changes we made have kept our team and our clients safe. We’re still masking and sanitizing. No walk-ins. Our intake process is via Zoom or phone. It’s easy, efficient and safe.

So look for us in 2021 as Guideway

We have a new name, but our high level of customer service hasn’t changed. We’re helping many of our clients create and update their Living Trusts. The coronavirus has created a sense of urgency. Naming your heirs and identifying how you want your estate to be distributed ensures that your family will avoid the Probate process if something happens to you. Our Trust package includes a Power of Attorney and an Advance Healthcare Directive. It also includes a Pour Over Will, and for those families with children under 18, this means that they can name a Guardian rather than having the court appoint one for them.

Best of all, we guide you through it and we prepare the legal documents. For most of our services, we charge one flat fee. Safety is important to us, so we work virtually via Zoom or phone.

We service the entire East Bay and North Bay areas

Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond, Pinole, Alameda, San Leandro, Castro Valley Newark, San Lorenzo, Concord, Alamo, Danville, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Livermore, Tracy and Fremont. Our clients also live in the Napa Valley, Benicia, Vallejo, Martinez, Fairfield.

Schedule an appointment with Guideway today. We’ll guide you through it.

 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

How Will We Eat in 2021?


Here in the Bay Area, our conversations always seem to get around to a discussion of food. What we’ve been eating, what we’re cooking. With the pandemic, it’s about what we’re picking up or taking out. This is our annual review of food trends for the year, based on A New York Timesarticle, How Will We Eat in 2021? Expect these trends to continue into the new year.

A sad consequence of Covid is the demise of our favorite restaurants

This is a heartbreaker. Restaurant owners have been nimble and creative, erecting outdoor seating areas in the summer, plastic pavilions when the weather cooled. When those were closed down, they whipped up takeout meals. But there’s only so much sleight of hand they can manage. A shocking number of restaurants have closed. A neighborhood restaurant, coffee shop or bar is more than just a place to have a drink or a snack. It’s community. It’s millions of jobs and livelihoods, and it’s painful on every level.

The triumph of home cooking

Home cooking experienced a renaissance in 2020. People stayed home and learned to cook or got serious about cooking. My brother is a fabulous cook, and he began focusing on elaborate, time-consuming rituals like roasting bones to make stock, roasting his own coffee beans and creating elaborate Phyllo delicacies and baking bread. There was something about these processes that he found comforting.

Meal kits are back

Diners wearied of the ordinary and were hungry for dishes from their favorite restaurants. Some of these meal kits were elaborate–think a $475 roast-duck package, a $159 mail-order goat shoulder for six and double-stack burgers for $25. On the other hand, fast food thrived. Go figure.

Drinks from cans

It’s not your imagination. Craft brewers have increasingly been putting their beer into aluminum cans. They’re better for the environment than bottles and better for the beer. This trend revved up in 2020 when breweries could no longer sell kegs to restaurants.

You are what you eat

Retailers are reporting a whopping 30% increase in the sale of vegetables. This is, of course, related to the spike in home cooking. Expect to see little-known varieties. There’s some good news here: kale has fallen from favor.

New flavor explosion

Sour and funky, with shades of heat. This is what happens when the fermentation movement unites with the millennial palate, with Hispanic overtones.

Cheese tea, Taiwan inspiration

Cheese tea started in Taiwan and apparently hit the American mainstream. Green or black tea is sipped through a cap of cream cheese blended with cream or condensed milk, which can be either sweet or slightly salty. In San Francisco, they make it with Meyer lemon and mascarpone.

Health craze 2021: Gut flora

Expect more ways to ingest probiotics and prebiotics–foods designed to improve the bacterial health of your intestinal tract. As the obsession with digestive health dovetails with the fascination for fermenting, kimchi, sauerkraut and pickled things will work their way into new territory. Beware! Kefir and kombucha will show up in unexpected places, and kimchi has gone mainstream.

How we’ll diet: Look for “pegan”

Diets emphasizing fat over carbohydrates will dominate. Look for “pegan” — a cross between a paleo and a vegan diet.

Celebrating the new sheet-pan supper!

For someone who doesn’t cook, it’s about time for this trend to resurface! Who remembers camping trips where you tucked these little packets into the coals to cook, or generally overcook? According to Pinterest, searches for “foil-pack dinners” have jumped nearly eightfold in the past six months. Sign me up!

Are Americans sobering up?

Lighter wines, natural wines and drinks with less or no alcohol have become popular. Americans 18 to 34 are more interested in spirit-free cocktails. For those who live in the Napa Valley, this is very bad news, indeed. Vintners with their $100 bottles of cabernet are facing a difficult period as the baby-boomer market fades.

Embracing plant-based meals

Substantial vegetable entrees have become a fixture on restaurant menus. Many diners are now eating less red meat or abandon animal protein altogether, whether for health, economic, environmental or ethical reasons.

Is there hope for dope?

Major food and beverage companies are researching ways to get THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, and cannabidiol, the part of the plant that has therapeutic properties, into more food and drinks.

We’ve continued to work safely with our clients throughout the pandemic

We can’t wait to put the pandemic behind us and reclaim our lives. Yet the vaccine is still months away and we’re left with anxiety and uncertainty. Many of our clients are creating some peace of mind by updating or creating their Living Trusts.

Naming your heirs and identifying how you want your estate to be distributed ensures that your family will avoid the Probateprocess if something happens to you. Our Trust package includes a Power of Attorney and an Advance Healthcare Directive. It also includes a Pour Over Will, and for those families with children under 18, this means that they can name a Guardian rather than having the court appoint one for them.

Best of all, we guide you through it and we prepare the legal documents. For most of our services, we charge one flat fee. Safety is important to us, so we work virtually via Zoom or phone. Schedule an appointment today.

We service the entire East Bay and North Bay areas

Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond, Pinole, Alameda, San Leandro, Castro Valley Newark, San Lorenzo, Concord, Alamo, Danville, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Livermore, Tracy and Fremont. Our clients also live in the Napa Valley, Benicia, Vallejo, Martinez, Fairfield.