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The estate planning process is highly customizable, which is one of its greatest benefits. One California estate owner might be focused on asset protection or business succession when executing an estate plan, while another is more concerned about advance directives and powers of attorney. For the latter, one important document is a living will, which is typically comprised of several key components and is covered under the state’s Natural Death Act.

MEDICAL CARE IN LIFE-THREATENING OR END-OF-LIFE SITUATIONS

A living will is a legal document that often contains a person’s instructions or wishes concerning certain types of medical care, particularly such care that would be intended to extend or preserve life by extraneous measures, such as life support devices or feeding tubes. The following key issues that are usually addressed in a living will:

  • “Do not resuscitate” order
  • Durable power of attorney
  • Instructions for burial
  • Type of life support care the patient wants or does not want

There is additional information that may be included in a living will, such as a list of names and contact numbers for doctors, in case of emergency. If a living will is signed in sound mind, in accordance with state laws, then it is enforceable by law.

SPECIAL RULES APPLY IN CALIFORNIA

In this state, a person wishing to sign a living will must have two valid witnesses. Also, if the person in question is pregnant, the advance directive is invalid, meaning, the doctor may not withhold care that could result in a pregnant woman‘s death, even if she has instructed in a living will for such treatment to be withheld. Anyone with questions or concerns regarding the validity of a living will may seek answers by requesting a meeting with an estate law attorney.

Baby bonding may be a topic with which you are not familiar, especially if you are a new parent. It refers to the time after birth when you and your baby develop a relationship.

Biological mothers often have an easier time bonding with their babies because they have just carried them inside their bodies. But either parent may need more time to bond, which can be difficult if you have to return to work soon after the birth. Still, you should take advantage of any time off you can get to form this bond.

IMPORTANCE

UC Davis Health explains creating a relationship with your child is essential to a healthy and happy long-term family unit. The baby is born ready to bond. It will cry and move in ways that alert you to its needs. Providing for those needs is part of the bonding experience. Having both parents involved in this process is essential to ensuring a strong bond with the baby. It also will help your child as he or she grows and learns to form relationships with others.

TIME

While right after birth is the optimal time to bond, it can happen at any time in a child’s life. The most important thing is that it happens. Adoptive parents may not even know their children until they are older. They still have that opportunity to bond, but they need time in which to do it. This is where employers come in. They must offer leave options for new parents regardless of whether the parents gave birth or adopted. Employers should cultivate good family bonds because this will help make happier and more well-adjusted employees.

When an estate plan is executed in California, it is helpful to take time to think about the ultimate goals involved. There are no requirements as to which documents an estate owner must use. The system is designed so that each person can customize a plan to fit individual needs. A particular document that is commonly used for estate planning is a “living will.” 

When people think of wills, they typically think of a document known as a last will and testament. It takes effect upon a person’s death. A living will and a last will and testament are two separate documents that serve specific yet different needs. It is possible to have an estate plan that includes both documents.  

A BASIC OVERVIEW OF A LIVING WILL 

It is important to understand what a living will is for someone to determine if it should be included in the estate planning process. There are several goals that can be accomplished with a living will: 

  • Lists types of medical treatments or end-of-life care that a person wants or does not want 
  • Grants another person power of attorney to make health care decisions on the estate owner’s behalf 
  • Issues a DNR advanced directive, which stands for: Do Not Resuscitate 
  • Includes a POLST (in some states, including California), which means “Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment.” 

A living will may or may not include all of these things. It is often referred to as an “advanced directive” because it is a means for a person to make known his or her wishes ahead of time, in case he or she becomes incapacitated or is receiving end-of-life care.  

CAN A LIVING WILL BE CHANGED? 

Yes, a living will may be adapted or updated, providing that the person signing the document is of sound mind and not under duress. It is helpful to discuss one’s goals with an estate planning attorney, who can then make recommendations as to which documents are best suited to help achieve the plan. 

Sexual harassment has served as a constant problem in workplaces across the country for as long as workplaces have existed. However, the way sexual harassment takes place often changes with generations and time.

What does sexual harassment look at a modern workplace? How can workers identify it if it happened to them?

PHYSICAL VS. NON-PHYSICAL HARASSMENT

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discusses sexual harassment in the workplace. Of course, many cases of sexual harassment that see a lot of news and media coverage involve sexual assault or even rape. These physical cases garner a lot of attention, but actually make up a smaller percentage of overall sexual harassment cases than one may expect.

A large portion of these cases involves non-physical sexual harassment. What is this, though? In short, any form of coercion or threat to get one person to perform a sexual act counts as sexual harassment, even if the act never takes place. In short, nothing physical needs to happen for a person to file a report on sexual harassment.

TOXIC WORK ENVIRONMENTS

Another example involves creating a toxic work environment through gossip and rumors. Specifically creating rumors that center around or target a person’s sexuality, gender or sex life can count as sexual harassment, especially if it creates an environment that disallows a person from working normally.

Finally, even derogatory comments based on gender can count as sexual harassment. This goes for both genders and can include classic sexist remarks that also contribute to toxic environments.

If a worker experiences any of these situations, they should consider what steps they can take next to combat it.

Breastfeeding provides many important benefits for both babies and their mothers.⁠ Both UNICEF and the World Health Organization recommend that mothers breastfeed their babies.⁠

California has important laws in place to protect and support mothers who wish to pump breastmilk for their babies during their working hours.

WHAT ARE LACTATION BREAKS?

The law requires employers in California to provide lactation breaks, periods of time during the work day for nursing mothers to pump breastmilk. Employers must provide a private area where you can pump. It must shield you from view and be relatively free from intrusion; the private area cannot be a toilet stall.

HOW LONG WILL YOUR BREAK BE?

Your employer must allow a reasonable amount of time to pump, but this vague standard does not have a strict time limit. An appropriate break will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • The number and frequency of breaks you need
  • Time to walk back and forth to the space, wait if necessary, pump and refrigerate the expressed milk
  • Time to retrieve your pump, set it up, and clean and store it when you finish
  • Time for you to wash up and return to work

WHAT IF YOUR EMPLOYER DOESN’T WANT YOU TO TAKE A LACTATION BREAK?

If you wish to pump breastmilk when you return to work, you should let your employer know in writing. Employers cannot legally retaliate against you by punishing, firing, or treating you unfairly for exercising your legal right.

California supports breastfeeding mothers who wish to return to work by providing legally required lactation breaks. Taking advantage of this opportunity can help you take care of your baby while you successfully transition back to work.

Many California parents think about the possibility of a time when they will no longer be here to care for their loved ones, especially children who are minors. When a child has special needs, such worries are often intensified. One of the biggest mistakes a parent can make, however, is to designate a specific person for a particular role when executing estate plans without first discussing the issue with the person in question.

A parent might reasonably assume that sons and daughters who have no disabilities or special needs will automatically step up to care for a sibling who does if both parents are deceased or have become incapacitated. One mother, in particular, assumed that this would be the case with her son and daughter regarding care of their brother who is autistic and has ADHD. A family dispute arose when the son and daughter both informed the mother that they do not wish to be designated as their brother’s caretakers.

ESTATE PLANS CAN BE CUSTOMIZED TO FIT PERSONAL NEEDS AND GOALS

Multiple estate planning documents can help a parent provide for a child with special needs, such as certain types of trusts. Another document that a parent might consider signing is one that designates legal guardianship over a minor child, especially if that child has special needs. To avoid problems as the mother mentioned earlier experienced, it is always best to ask the person one has in mind for guardianship if he or she is willing to take on the role, should the need arise.

FAMILY DISCUSSIONS AHEAD OF TIME CAN HELP PREVENT PROBLEMS DOWN THE LINE

It would be disastrous if a person who was designated as a legal guardian or caretaker for a special needs family member were to state that he or she was unaware of the designation and does not wish to assume the role of guardian or caretaker. A person who is preparing his or her California estate plans will want to discuss such issues with any and all people who will be mentioned in the will or other documents. If a legal problem arises, it is helpful to seek support from an experienced estate law attorney.

Employment laws govern all the members of a business, including the boss or supervisor. While employees must follow certain rules in the workplace, employer actions cannot violate local or federal laws, or the employer may get into legal trouble.

It is ultimately up to your employer to ensure they are compliant with the relevant laws. However, you should also be aware of these laws in case your supervisor violates them. Here are a few key points to remember.

EMPLOYERS CANNOT PROHIBIT YOU FROM DISCUSSING SALARY

Employers can discourage workers from discussing salaries, but they cannot take steps to stop you from having these conversations according to the National Labor Relations Act. You and your co-workers are free to discuss salary at work, when meeting socially, or online. Salary comparisons are often an issue of work equality, so they must take place to ensure the staff receives fair treatment.

THEY CANNOT ASK YOU TO WORK “OFF THE CLOCK”

If the Fair Labor Standards Act covers you as a worker, your employer cannot ask you to work unpaid hours. You must receive compensation for all work you perform based on your current rate of pay. You are free to refuse unpaid work, and the employer cannot fire you for refusing. Retaliation is also against federal laws and considered a violation of your rights.

THEY CANNOT CHANGE YOUR WORKER CLASSIFICATION

Employers typically save money when hiring independent contractors. Workplaces do not have to provide contractors benefits, nor do they have to pay taxes on their behalf. However, there are some key differences between employees and contractors, and employers cannot classify a worker as a contractor just to save money.

For instance, an employee will work according to their employer’s schedule, while a contractor will work at their own pace. An employee receives their pay on a weekly or monthly schedule, while a contractor is usually paid per assignment.

The average California business owner has worked hard to create a successful company and wants to protect his or her interests now and in the future. It is also natural for business owners to think ahead to map out a plan for how their business assets should be distributed when they die. There are several estate planning tools that can help.  

Planning one’s estate is a highly customizable process. A business owner can incorporate or omit various documents from an estate plan to best fit his or her needs and goals. There are three specific planning tools that are beneficial for protecting business assets.  

Execute a living trust, last will and business succession plan 

Many California business owners create a living trust, which specifies how their business assets are to be distributed after they die. All property, funds or assets placed in a trust are managed by an appointed trustee. A living trust may also help minimize tax burdens on an estate.  

Two other documents that are beneficial for California business owners who are executing estate plans are a last will and testament and a business succession plan. The latter enables a business owner to appoint new ownership of a business upon his or her passing and can include other details, such as who will manage the business, especially if it is a different person from the one who will own it. It is helpful to ask an experienced estate law attorney to review one’s business plan because such an attorney can make recommendations as to which documents would be most beneficial in helping to achieve a particular business owner’s estate planning goals. 

For decades, business owners in California and elsewhere have known that sex sells. For that reason, many entertainment executives, such as bar and club owners, often require members of their staff to wear skin-tight uniforms. Even under ideal circumstances, these skimpy uniforms can be uncomfortable to wear.

Putting on a tight uniform is not likely to harm your unborn baby. According to the Cleveland Clinic, though, wearing tight clothing during your pregnancy can exacerbate your heartburn, make normal swelling more painful and even increase your chances of developing certain infections.

You should not have to worry about losing your job

You certainly have some well-founded reasons for wanting to wear something more comfortable to work during your pregnancy. Your manager may not have much sympathy, however. Still, you should not have to worry about losing your job because you cannot don your normal work attire.

Remember, simply because your body is going through some extreme changes does not mean you cannot perform your job duties. If your employer wants to terminate your employment because of a pregnancy-related reason, you may be a victim of pregnancy discrimination.

California has broad protections for pregnant workers

As you probably know, entertainment industry managers sometimes push the limits of the law as far as they can. Nevertheless, you do not have to stand idly by while your manager or anyone else discriminates against you. Because California affords broad protections to pregnant workers, you likely have some immediate options for recourse.

Ultimately, rather than wondering if your job is in jeopardy at a time when you most need it, you should explore all available opportunities for stopping your boss’s discriminatory actions.

It’s natural, especially as you get older, to think about who you will want to inherit your assets after you die. While you might not particularly like to think about death, it’s an inevitable event for everyone, which is why it’s helpful to understand the importance of preparing a California estate plan. Within your plan, two key documents might be wills and trusts.  

When you execute a last will and testament, you can specify who you want to inherit your property and other assets. If you die without signing a will, your estate is considered intestate. This means that a probate court judge will determine who gets according to state statutes, which may not have the same results as if you yourself had chosen beneficiaries.  

Integral components of a last will and testament 

In addition to listing who you would like to inherit your assets, there are other important issues you can address in a will. For instance, if you have minor children, you can designate a guardian to care for them if you should die or become incapacitated. You can also specify how you want your debts or taxes to be paid.  

Avoid errors by enlisting legal support 

It’s critical to pay attention to detail and to cover all bases when you’re developing an estate plan, particularly regarding your last will and testament. An oversight or error can cause a lot of problems, especially for your loved ones and beneficiaries. At the Law Office of Raoul J. LeClerc, in California, you can seek guidance and support from the start, to ensure that your last will and testament, as well as your whole estate plan, is solid, valid and enforceable.  

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