My Expertise

For the past thirteen years, I have been actively practicing in the following areas of law:

Estate planning entails managing your property during your lifetime and insuring its proper disposition after your death.  No estate is too small for careful planning.



Mr. Bridges has extensive experience in the preparation of estate plans, including:

- Revocable Living Trusts
- Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts
- Special Needs Trusts
- Wills
- Durable Powers of Attorney for Finance
- Advanced Health Care Directives
- HIPAA Authorizations
- Nominations of Guardians for Minor Children
- Assignment of Assets



Once Mr. Bridges determines what type of estate plan is needed for you, he will prepare a first draft of the documents for you to review and discuss with your family members.  He will then discuss with you any changes you may wish to make.  After making the requested revisions, if any, he will then prepare the final documents for your signature.

These days, the most common estate plan includes a Revocable Living Trust, which provides the following benefits:

- Avoids probate, including multiple probates if
  you own property in other states
- Reduces or eliminates estate taxes
- Brings all your assets together under one plan
  which is difficult to contest
- Provides maximum privacy and a quicker
  distribution of assets to your beneficiaries
- Can be changed or cancelled at any time
- Prevents court control of assets at incapacity
- Protects dependents with special needs
- Prevents court control of minors' inheritances
- Prevents unintentional disinheriting and other
  problems with joint ownership
- Provides peace of mind
- Are inexpensive, easy to set up and maintain

Probate is the legal process through which the court sees that, when you die, your debts are paid and your assets are distributed according to your will.  If you don't have a will, your assets are distributed according to state law.



Mr. Bridges represents personal representatives in all aspects of the probate proceeding, including collecting the deceased’s assets, paying bills, preparing the necessary tax returns, filing required legal documents, and distributing property to heirs.



Trust Administration:    If a decedent had a Living Trust, probate is generally not required.  Unlike a Will, a Trust is a private document and need not be filed with the Probate Court.  Nonetheless, the successor Trustee must still take steps to administer the Trust, including but not limited to:

- Notifying beneficiaries and keeping them
  informed
- The trust-maker's assets must be gathered and
  invested
- Debts may need to be paid
- Assets and/or income distributed to the
  beneficiaries in conformity with the provisions of
  the Trust
- Preparation and recordation of affidavits for the
  real property
- Notifying the county assessor of the changes in
  real estate ownership resulting from the

  Trustor's death
- Filing documents required to avoid real property
  tax reassessment
- Sub-trust Allocation
- Obtaining Federal Tax Identification Number(s)
  for the Trust(s)



The importance of proper Trust Administration cannot be overstated.  The failure to properly fund Sub-trusts, prepare fiduciary tax returns, and properly allocate assets, make prudent investments, or make Trust distributions can have disastrous consequences.



Successor Trustee's often lack the time, resources or knowledge to personally fulfill these duties, and therefore, will likely need professional assistance in properly administering the Trust.  Mr. Bridges can help successor Trustee(s) deal with the complexities of Trust Administration.



Litigation:     Mr. Bridges also represents and protects the interests of beneficiaries in the event that the provisions of the Will or Trust are disputed.  He is proficient in handling either litigation or alternative dispute resolutions related to all aspects of contested estates, including beneficiary disputes, creditor's claims, and Trustee or Executor issues (such as breach of fiduciary duties).

​Mr. Bridges represents owners of commercial and/or residential real estate, real estate operating companies and developers throughout the entire Bay area, and specializes in the following:

Leases:   Negotiating and/or drafting of leases for commercial, industrial and residential properties, including, leases with options to purchase, licenses, lease assignments, amendments, extensions and renewals.



Purchase and Sales Transactions:   Legal review, negotiation and/or drafting of commercial and residential purchase agreements (including "for-sale-by-owner" transactions), co-owner buy-outs, loan agreements and related loan documentation.



Contracts:   Other real estate contracts for various real estate needs, including easement and boundary agreements, tenants-in-common ("TIC") agreements and other co-ownership agreements, as well as, parking, storage and pet agreements.

Landlord-Tenant Matters:    Representing landlords and tenants in disputes relating to their ownership and/or tenancy of real property located in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the following:

- Unlawful Detainer (eviction) proceedings
- Rent Board hearings
- Mediations and Arbitrations
- Wrongful Eviction cases
- Negotiated move-out's
- Security deposit disputes
- Master-tenant/Sub-tenant disputes

Estate Planning

 

Probate & Trust Administration and Litigation

 

Real Estate Law

 

Conservators and Guardians are appointed by the court to care for individuals who have lost the ability to care for themselves.



If you have a loved-one who cannot care for him or herself, Mr. Bridges can advise you on the legal remedies available to assist in this situation. In a conservatorship, the court appoints an individual to manage the financial affairs of another person who is found to be unable to handle his or her own affairs. In a guardianship, the court appoints a guardian to make decisions about the personal care of a minor, such as where the individual will live and what kind of care they will receive. A person may have a conservator or guardian for their finances, but still be able to make their own personal decisions.

The decision to petition the court for a guardianship or conservatorship is never easy. You will likely have many questions and concerns. Mr. Bridges will be able to provide you with straight forward responses to those questions, and aid you through this difficult process.

 

When purchasing your home or other property, you don’t want to make the wrong decision about how to hold title on the property. There are pros and cons to the various types of ownership, and the way you hold title is invaluable as an estate planning tool.



Mr. Bridges can help you choose the type of ownership that is best for you, your family, and your loved ones. He can also review the way you currently hold title on your property to ensure that your estate planning needs are met.

The basic forms of ownership include sole ownership, tenancy in common, joint tenancy, community property with right of survorship, and community without right of survorship. There is also a valuable estate planning tool called a revocable living trust. A revocable living trust can be used to ensure that your wishes regarding your property are met and that your assets are protected.

 

Property Agreements

 

Conservatorship and Guardianships

 

If you are starting a business, Mr. Bridges can help you choose the best form of business entity (partnership, limited liability company, or corporation) to minimize taxes, liabilities, and to execute your business strategy. While operating your business, he will help you form the most advantageous contracts and relationships with customers, clients, vendors, and alliance partners.

Because Mr. Bridges is also an estate planner, he can assist you with your business succession planning so that you are prepared for the future in terms of who will operate or own the business when you leave or retire.

The following is a list of his business services:

- Business Formation
- Corporate Compliance
- Director, Shareholder & Indemnity Agreements
- Buy-Sell, Cross-Purchase & Operating
  Agreements
- Contract Disputes
- Real estate transactions: lease, sale or purchase
  agreements
- Dissolutions
- Business succession planning
- Purchase or sale of a business or practice
- Tax strategies
- Civil Litigation, Arbitration and Mediation involving
  business disputes, including breach of contract,
  interference with prospective economic advantage
  breach of fiduciary duties, and disputes arising
  out of the purchase and sale of a business

Business Law

 

© Copyright 2012  Mark S. Bridges Law