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Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I know if I have a personal injury case?
    If you sustained a serious injury or harm and it was someone else's fault, then you may have a personal injury case. One exception however is workplace injuries which often fall in the realm of workers' compensation laws and are not your standard "personal injury case" unless a third party (another person or company) caused your injuries.
  • What do I do first after I am injured?
    If you were injured in an auto accident and you are able, exchange information (driver's license, registration, proof of insurance) and call the police to the scene. Be sure to notify them that you are injured. Then seek the appropriate medical attention (urgent care, emergency room, etc.). Do not speak to insurance adjusters until after you have consulted with a lawyer.
  • Will the insurance adjuster help me settle my claim?
    No. The insurance adjuser (whether it's yours or the at-fault party) won't help you settle your claim. The at-fault party's insurance adjuster will pay you the least amount possible. They are trying to save their company money. Even in cases where liability is clear (rear-end accident) they will deny liability. Don't let the adjuster take advantage of you. Hire the Law Offices of Daniel An to help you get the compensation you deserve.
  • Should I give the insurance adjuster a recorded statement?
    In most cases, no. In very few cases, maybe if your lawyer has prepared you properly. The insurance adjuster isn’t your friend. That interview is designed to create a basis for denying your claim. Sometimes, the adjuster also asks you questions about your injuries and medical treatment. Those questions might seem harmless; however, if you don’t answer them correctly, the insurance adjuster will use your responses to diminish your claim.
  • Do I need an attorney?
    If you have been injured as a result of the negligence of another, whether it be a car, motorcycle, truck, or bike accident, or any other type of accident, to increase your chances of maximizing your recovery, you should seek the assistance of a personal injury attorney. A skilled personal injury attorney knows how much your claim is worth, how to negotiate a settlement, the legal process, maximize compensation, how to handle paperwork, negotiate a fair settlement, attend court hearings, and deal with insurance companies so you can be stress-free and focus on your medical treatment and recovery.
  • How do I hire the right lawyer for me?
    Most personal injury law firms purchase billboard and bus ads, or falsely advertise how big they are or their huge verdicts and/or settlements. What they won't share is how many losses they have or how much their clients spent on medical treatment to obtain those settlements or verdicts. Personal injury law firms often settle cases as quickly as possible for less than their clients deserve. This is what is often referred to as a "PI mill." You should hire a law firm that: Only accepts a sensible number of cases. Invests the time and money to maximize each client’s settlement. Has actual, licensed attorneys that negotiate the settlements. Has attorneys that know how to litigate cases. Many personal injury law firms are also set up so that you’ll never be able to speak with a lawyer. In fact, they will assign a "case manager" to handle your case from intake to settlement. A lawyer may never even look at your case. At the Law Offices of Daniel An, Daniel manages every single case from intake to settlement.
  • Will the information I share with my attorney remain confidential?
    Yes. The information you share with us is protected by attorney-client privilege and will remain confidential. This protection will apply even when our legal representation terminates or if you do not retain our firm. Since your communications with us are privileged, it is important that you make full disclosure of all pertinent facts with respect to your personal injury claim (such as prior injuries) so that we can fully access your case. This is also important so that the defense does not catch us by surprise in the middle of representation, which could be detrimental to your case.
  • Is my case big enough for an attorney to handle?
    Daniel An and his team handle small, medium, large, and very large damage cases. Our injury cases range from soft tissue injury auto accident cases to catestrophic injury and wrongful death cases. We are equipped to handle all personal injury cases resulting from negligence.
  • What should I bring with me when I consult with a lawyer?
    You should bring your driver's license, registration, any photos (including photos of your vehicle and injuries), proof of insurance, insurance policy if you have it, witness information, police reports, medical reports and bills, receipts for out of pocket expenses, information about the person that caused your injuries, health insurance (medi-cal, medicare, healthnet, etc.) cards, collision repair estimate, and any other documents that are relevant to your case. The more information you are able to give your lawyer, the easier it will be for him or her to determine if your claim will be successful. If you haven't collected any documents at the time of your first meeting, however, don't worry; your lawyer will be able to obtain them in his investigation of your claim.
  • How do I pay my attorney?
    We only work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that if we do not win, we do not get paid. We also take care of all case-related “costs,” such as hospital charges for duplicating medical records, investigation fees, postage, policy searches, asset searches, court filing fees, etc., until the end of your case where we are reimbursed for all fees and costs out of any settlement or judgment. We know that injury victims cannot afford to pay an attorney by the hour, so there are no up-front costs or fees to you.
  • Will I have to participate in a lawsuit?
    In most cases, your injury claim can be settled without a lawsuit through careful negotiation. However, if the at-fault party's insurance adjuster low-balls your attorney, a lawsuit is sometimes necessary in order to obtain full value for your case.
  • How do I get medical attention without health insurance?
    If you do not have health insurance, we can refer you to a doctor who can work on a lien basis. The doctor or medical facility will treat you for your injuries and assert a lien against any recovery from the case. When your case settles or we obtain a judgment in your favor, we will do our best to negotiate your lien so that you pay the minimum amount possible to reimburse your medical providers.
  • What am I entitled to recover?
    This will depend largely on the type of case and the damages sustained. Our clients have suffered an injury and require medical treatment. Thus, past and future medical treatment are recoverable. As are all past and future lost wages. Also recoverable are “general damages,” which include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, and inconveniences associated with the injury. In some cases, our clients are entitled to “punitive damages;” these damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer when the wrongdoer’s actions are intentional or reckless.
  • Is it a good idea to pay more for an attorney to draft a trust or can I just use Legal Zoom?
    An attorney drafted trust has many advantages. First, attorney drafted trusts often come in packages (estate plan) with other essential documents such as a pour over will, financial power of attorney, health care directive, general assignment, written agreements regarding community and separate property, and more. An attorney can also ensure that all documents are properly executed and notarized and that your trust is properly "funded." Only an experienced estate planning attorney can accomplish this.
  • What is a trust?
    A trust can be used as a probate avoidance tool. When you pass away, your assets must be transferred to someone. The default process for this transfer is probate. Probate in California is a complicated legal procedure led by a probate attorney under the demanding scrutiny of a probate court judge. However, if you transfer your assets to a revocable living trust, your assets will be distributed according to your wishes as spelled out in your trust. Instead of requiring a judge and the probate court system to oversee the distribution of your assets to your loved ones, the successor trustee of your trust can take care of it without court involvement. To save costs however, you must properly fund your trust prior to death in order to avoid any court involvement. When you have a funded revocable living trust, then when you pass away, your family will take your assets through trust administration rather than probate. Trust administration is much less complicated, faster and much less expensive than probate.
  • What is a trustee?
    The Trustee is the person or people, or the institution or business, that manages the trust assets or property for the beneficiaries of the trust. Most people name themselves as the trustee during their lifetime. This way, even though your assets have been put into the trust, you can remain in control of your assets. You can also name a successor trustee (a person or a business or institution) who will manage the trust’s assets if you ever become unable to manage your property, or when you die. Your trustee stands in a special relationship to the trust beneficiaries as a fiduciary. This means that he or she holds a position of trust and confidence. Your trustee is subject to strict responsibilities and very high standards in carrying out your specific wishes in your trust.
  • What is "funding" my trust?
    Funding your trust is the process of transferring your assets from you to your trust. To do this, you physically change the titles of your assets from your individual name to the name of your trust. If you are married, you and your spouse might change the titles of your jointly owned assets to your joint trust or to each of your individual trusts, whether in equal or unequal portions. In the case of real property, you would record a new deed transferring the property from you (or you and your spouse) to you (or you and your spouse) as trustees of your trust.
  • Who controls assets in my trust?
    The trustee you name will control the assets in your trust. Most likely, you have named yourself as trustee initially, so you will still have complete control during your life. One of the key benefits of an revocable living trust is that, as trustee, you can continue to use, invest, buy, and sell trust assets just as you do now. You can also remove assets from your revocable living trust should you ever decide to do so.
  • Why is it important to fund my trust?
    If you have signed your trust agreement but have not changed titles and beneficiary designations, you are unlikely to avoid probate. Your trust agreement and trustee can only immediately control the assets you have put into the trust. You may have a great trust, but until you fund it (transfer your assets to it by changing titles or provide for transfer by beneficiary designation), it does not control anything. If your goal in having an revocable living trust is to avoid probate at death and court involvement at incapacity, then you must fund it now, while you are able to do so.
  • What is the difference between a trust and a will?
    The main advantage to using a trust is that a trust helps to avoid probate. Probate is the court process that oversees the transfer of your property and payment of any debts after you die. The process can be expensive and time-consuming for your loved ones. There are some other advantages to a trust as well. They include: Privacy. A will becomes public after the property owner dies, but a trust stays private. Only the beneficiaries and the trustee are informed of the trust and its contents. Flexibility. A trust can be more flexible than a will, which can be especially useful to those who have complicated relationships or estate planning needs. For example, a husband in a second marriage might want his current wife to be able to live in their house before the house passes to his children from his first marriage. Timed distributions. A trust doesn't have to transfer all the property at once, and can instead transfer property over time. A parent could set up a trust to take care of the bills of an adult child with special needs rather than giving their child a lump payment. Similarly, parents of young children or young adults may want to provide payments monthly or yearly until the children become mature enough to handle their own money. Tax avoidance. Some trusts can be designed to reduce estate taxes. However, most estate taxes affect only the very rich.
  • Is there a way to contest a trust?
    A trust can be contested just like a will. A trust contest could be successful if the trust maker was mentally incompetent, forced, unduly influenced, or deceived when setting up the trust.
  • Does my trust need an EIN or tax identification number?
    No. While the grantor is still alive a revocable living trust does not need its separate EIN or tax identification number. During the grantor's life, the trust is revocable and taxes are paid by the grantor as an individual, using the grantor's SSN (Social Security Number). In other words, when an institution requests an SSN or EIN (Employer Identification Number) for trust property, the grantor just uses his or her own SSN. When the grantor dies, the living trust becomes irrevocable and the successor trustee will get an EIN from the IRS to pay the trust's taxes. For shared property in shared living trusts, the grantors can use either person's SSN. When choosing which SSN to use, keep in mind that income on trust property will be reported through the SSN you select. This won't matter to couples who file taxes jointly, but it could make a difference to couples who file taxes with separate returns. For individually owned property in a shared living trust, use the owner's SSN.
  • If I make a living trust, do I still need a will?
    Yes, you do—and here's why: A will is an essential back-up device for property that you don't transfer to yourself as trustee. For example, if you acquire property shortly before you die, you may not think to transfer ownership of it to your trust—which means that it won't pass under the terms of the trust document. But in your will, you can include a clause that names someone to get all of the property that you haven't left to a specific beneficiary. If you don't have a will, any property that isn't transferred by your living trust or other probate-avoidance device (such as joint tenancy) will go to your closest relatives in an order determined by state law. These laws may not distribute property in the way you would have chosen.
  • Does a living trust protect property from creditors?
    No. A creditor who wins a lawsuit against you can go after the trust property just as if you still owned it in your own name. Generally, after your death, all property you owned—including assets held in a living trust—is subject to your lawful debts. For example, if your house is held in trust and passes to your children at your death, a creditor could demand that they pay the debt, up to the value of the house. Ownership of real estate is always a matter of public record, so creditors can always find out who inherited real estate. It can be more difficult for creditors to know who inherits other property, however (because a trust document, unlike a will, is not a matter of public record), and they may not bother tracking it down. On the other hand, probate can also offer a kind of protection from creditors. During probate, known creditors must be notified of the death and given a chance to file claims. If they miss the deadline to file, they're out of luck forever.
  • What is probate?
    Probate is a Court process required to manage a Decedent’s estate and distribute his or her assets when someone dies without a trust. Probate is regulated by primarily by statutes, meaning that much of the process is governed by the California Probate Code. Since probate is often expensive and time consuming, we highly recommend our estate plan package which avoids probate. ​ Steps in a Probate: ​ 1. The Decedent’s assets are identified and marshaled by the Executor/Administrator; 2. The Decedent’s heirs/beneficiaries are determined; 3. The Decedent’s creditors are identified and his/her debts paid; 4. The Decedent’s taxes (and the estate’s taxes) are paid; 5. The estate’s assets may be liquidated; 6. The Decedent’s Executor/Administrator is paid; 7. The Executor/Administrator’s attorney is paid; and 8. The Decedent’s assets (or net liquidation proceeds) are distributed to his/her heirs/beneficiaries. ​ At a minimum, a “formal” probate may last 9 to 12 months. In addition, the cost of a “formal” probate is based on a percentage of the fair market value of the Decedent’s probate.
  • Do I need to hire an attorney?
    It is not mandatory to hire an attorney to go through the probate process in California; however, probate is complex, time-consuming, and can be emotionally draining when done on behalf of a beloved family member. Navigating the California state court system is never simple, but it can feel especially difficult while grieving the loss of a loved one.
  • How much does probate cost?
    California law allows both a Personal Representative and the attorney for the Personal Representative to take a fee (referred to as a statutory fee) for ordinary services, calculated as a percentage of the appraised value of the estate property. The formula for calculating the fee is as follows: 4% of the first one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), plus 3% of the next one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), plus 2% of the next eight hundred thousand dollars ($800,000), plus 1% of the next nine million dollars ($9,000,000), plus ½ of 1% of the next fifteen million dollars ($15,000,000). For all amounts above twenty-five million dollars ($25,000,000), a reasonable amount to be determined by the court. Costs can include the filing fee and any supplements to the initial or final petition that is filed - approximately $450-600. Bond - depends on the size of the estate.
  • What happens when someone dies without a will?
    If the decedent died without a will and there is no trust, a petition to the court to administer the estate is needed. The court will appoint an administrator to manage the estate during the probate process.
  • Are all assets subject to probate?
    Not all assets pass through probate. Essentially, those assets that pass through a will are probated. Those assets that don't pass through probate include assets held in a trust, life insurance policies with beneficiary designations, payable on death bank accounts, transfer on death securities, retirement accounts, and real estate held jointly with right of survivorship. Since all of these assets pass automatically to the beneficiary, probate is not necessary.
  • Where is the probate petition filed?
    A probate petition is usually filed in the county where the decedent lived at the time of death. If the decedent had a will, the will may indicate where the decedent was living when it was drafted, although a decedent may have subsequently moved. If it is unclear where the decedent lived at the time of death, a petitioner may consider evidence such as where the decedent owned property, where they kept bank accounts, where they were registered to vote, where they held a driver’s license, or the address on their last tax return. If a decedent owned property in more than one state, ancillary probate may be necessary.
  • Who is notified when a probate begins?
    Under California law, all heirs, beneficiaries, and executors named in a decedent's will shall be informed that probate is to begin. This notice will include the date, time, and location of the case's hearing.
  • Do all estates require probate?
    No, not all estates have to be probated. You may or may not need to go to probate court to transfer title of the property of the deceased. Determining if an estate will require probate depends on many issues such as the amount of money involved, the type of property involved, and who is claiming the property.
  • Who serves as the executor or administrator of the probate?
    The priority list for appointing administrators in California intestate probate is: Surviving spouse or domestic partner Children Grandchildren Other issues, like great-grandchildren Parents Brothers and sisters Issue of brothers and sisters Grandparents Issue of grandparents, like uncles, aunts, first cousins Children of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner Other issues of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner Other next of kin Parents of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner Issue of parents of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner Conservator or guardian of the estate of the decedent, acting as such at the time of death Public administrator Creditors Any other person.
  • Are executor / administrator fees taxable?
    Yes. Executors / administrators who are also beneficiaries often waive executor fees to avoid this tax.
  • What is a probate bond?
    Although they are not the same, a probate bond works similarly to an insurance policy. A personal representative of an estate is often required to purchase a probate bond before they can be appointed by the court as the executor or administrator. Because of this, they must purchase the bond from a surety bond using their personal funds. However, because it is a legitimate estate expense, they can typically reimburse themselves as soon as the estate is opened. At this junction, anyone can make a claim against this bond. For instance, if an heir feels suspicious that the executor is misappropriating estate funds, they can file a claim with the surety company. The company will then launch an investigation to determine whether the claim is valid or invalid. If they believe that the claim is valid, the surety company will resolve the claim. They will step in and require reimbursement in full from the bond holder if they do not resolve the claim on their own. Unlike insurance policies, the bond is not designed to protect the individual who purchased it. The probate bond is designed to protect the estate, its heirs, and creditors.
  • How long does a probate take?
    Probates can be as fast as 9 months to 12 months but in most cases, it can take over a year. If there are many assets and issues involved, then it can take as long as several years.
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