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If you have been looking into estate planning in California, you may have come across a revocable trust. Many financial advisors and attorneys suggest that this is one of the most powerful tools you need whether or not you have assets and beneficiaries. Read on to know more about revocable trusts and if they are right for you.

What is a revocable trust?

A revocable trust (also known as a living trust) is a separate legal entity that you sign, naming a third party entity to hold and administer your assets. The third-party entity is known as a trustee, and you—the creator of the trust— is the grantor. And, of course, the people that will receive your assets when you pass are your beneficiaries.

It is termed “revocable” because you can change the terms of the trust whenever and however you want or revoke it when you are alive. But, once dead, it becomes irrevocable or unchangeable. The trustee you named will carry out your wishes exactly as you dictated on the trust.

Furthermore, the assets in the revocable trusts are owned by the grantor. You will still file tax returns, report capital gains, and answer to creditors. This makes it different from the irrevocable trust because the trustee becomes the new owner, and the grantor is set free from legal and financial ties to their property.

Is a revocable trust right for you?

As long as you are alive in California, you could use a revocable trust. It doesn’t matter whether you have multiple estates or businesses; you can use it for features such as Durable Power of Attorney or Advanced Healthcare Directive.

With Durable Power of Attorney (POA), you can name someone that will handle your legal or financial issues on your behalf when you become incapacitated. Advanced Healthcare Directive enables you to direct medical practitioners on how you want to be treated when you can’t make such decisions for yourself. And if you have assets, a revocable trust makes it easier for your beneficiaries to get your assets.

You should note, however, that revocable trusts do not save taxes. You will still pay income and estate taxes. Fortunately, California has no inheritance tax.

California residents who work in Hayward and its surrounding areas can benefit from knowing how labor law works. Employees are protected by various regulations. It’s helpful to have this information in case of a hostile working environment or unfair practices by employers.

You have the right to work free of discrimination

As part of anti-discrimination laws, diversity and inclusion in the workplace are encouraged. Discrimination is illegal against employees and applicants based on their race, color, sex, sexual orientation, disability status, age, and more. People have certain protections per the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other anti-discrimination laws.

Workers who have disabilities are also entitled to reasonable accommodations by their employers to ensure that they are able to perform their jobs.

You have the right to fair pay

Per the Fair Labor Standards Act, most employees are required to receive at least the federal minimum wage. Employers must pay everyone the same regardless of diversity and inclusion.

Women are entitled to fair pay per the Equal Pay Act.

You have the right to work in a safe and healthy environment

The Occupational Safety and Health Act exists to ensure that all workers are able to remain safe and healthy while in their working environment. Employers are required to keep hazards out of the workplace to prevent employees from getting injured or ill while they work.

The Family and Medical Leave Act is a law that allows employees to take time off for a serious personal medical issue or to care for a sick family member who has a serious medical issue.

Employees who have been laid off or terminated also have access to COBRA, which allows them to continue using the health insurance they got from their jobs for a period of time.

While these laws exist to protect employees, some employers still violate them. If this situation personally affects you, fight back to protect your rights.

Estate planning with a revocable trust gives you tremendous benefits in California. The revocable trust, however, shouldn’t be confused with an irrevocable trust. In some cases, it’s best to have a trust that no one, not even the creator of it, can change once the trust is binding. For estate owners who need more flexibility, revoking their trust might be the best solution at some point in their lives. A revocable trust gives you freedom in areas an irrevocable one does not.

Sheltering from uncertainty

Tax is a type of uncertainty for estate owners. Assets that grow in value or produce separate income are exposed to future taxes. Even without knowing now how much assets will appreciate, a trust can keep you from paying taxes. A revocable trust can even be a temporary shelter from creditors, but you need to confirm that the trust has a beneficiary.

Management from a trustee

Trusts are convenient because their creators entrust their assets to an asset manager. This manager is called a trustee and, when assigned correctly, will manage how assets appreciate, are taxed and transferred to your beneficiaries. The convenience that a trustee’s work creates gives you time to enjoy life now while having hope in how your estate is managed after death.

Self-assigned beneficiaries

With a revocable trust, you can make withdrawals and not be penalized for spending your trust’s funds. To give yourself even more authority over a revocable trust, you can name yourself as the trust’s beneficiary. This gives you the right to inherit the trust, direct the trustee and even be subject to the trustee’s advice. Even more, as the owner of the trust, you can revoke it at any time.

Estate planning in California

In some cases, a revocable trust won’t have the legal support your strategy needs. An irrevocable trust, for example, being that its status is somewhat immovable, offers more security for your assets. Trusts are secure in general, but you can’t hedge your assets in a revocable trust in the same way you can with an irrevocable trust.

Mediation is a popular workplace dispute resolution technique in which a neutral third party, called a mediator, facilitates communication between two or more parties to help them resolve conflict. If you’re expecting to participate in workplace mediation, preparing yourself can put you ahead of the rest when the process begins.

Know your key interests

You first need to know what you want out of the mediation process. Be sure to be as specific as possible about your claims and what outcomes you’re hoping to achieve. This will help the mediator better understand your case and develop a strategy to help resolve the dispute.

Do your research on the rules and the process

Knowing the basics of workplace mediation will help you understand what to expect and how the process works. Familiarize yourself with things, like confidentiality, the role of the mediator, and whether or not there are time limits on the process. Doing your homework ahead of time can save you from any surprises down the road.

Understand the other party’s position

In order to effectively negotiate, you need to understand where the other party is coming from. What are their key interests? What do they see as a resolution to the conflict? Understanding the other side’s perspective can help you find common ground and come up with compromises that both parties can agree on.

Prepare for any outcome

It’s important to prepare yourself for the possibility of workplace mediation ending with an unfavorable outcome. Have a backup plan in place, just in case things don’t go your way. This could mean, for instance, having another job lined up or getting legal counsel to help you protect your rights if the mediation process doesn’t result in a settlement.

Mediation is an important tool that usually helps people resolve workplace disputes without having to go to court. However, it’s important to put yourself in a better position to achieve a favorable outcome by preparing yourself.

A study has confirmed what many people have known for a while: The older you are, the higher the likelihood that you’ll deal with age discrimination at work. Researchers for the study created fictional resumes for applicants in three age groups: 29-31, 49-51, and 64-66.

The researchers applied to more than 40,000 jobs and found that people in the 64-66 age group received 35% fewer callbacks than those in the 29-31 age group. As a California business owner, here are some things you can do to fight age discrimination and promote diversity and inclusion in your company.

How does age discrimination affect your company?

Over the last 15 years, ageism cases made up 20-25% of all EEOC cases. Age discrimination cases usually garner the highest payouts as well. In 2013 alone, people who filed ageism cases received $93.9 million in compensation.

Diversity and inclusion are essential for businesses because it keeps companies from risking a huge settlement. When your company excludes older individuals, you’ll also miss out on the talent and expertise they can bring to your team. Fortunately, change is imminent. Businesses are actively looking for ways to avoid ageism.

Diversity and discrimination training

To protect your business from age discrimination claims, your managers and team members should attend training on diversity and inclusion. The training will give your employees a clearer understanding of the benefits of age diversity as well as the penalties for discriminating against individuals based on age.

It is also important for you to establish and enforce policies discouraging discrimination. Don’t assume that your employees will understand that ageism is not permitted in your workplace.

You need to clarify the policies and be sure that everyone who works for your company is aware of the policies. Make it clear that your business will not tolerate discrimination of any kind. This helps you create a better working environment for employees of all ages.

Most employers in California understand that employment discrimination is illegal. If an employer intentionally denies jobs and opportunities to people from a certain race, gender or age group, the employer could get into big trouble. However, even when employers are aware of anti-discrimination laws, they may not have a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Diversity and inclusion: What they mean

Diversity and inclusion are two distinct concepts that work together to create a happier work environment for everyone. By understanding and implementing these two concepts, employers can avoid “tokenism,” or the practice of hiring people from a certain group just so that a company can appear diverse.

In a work setting, diversity refers to the representation of all different groups. This could mean having workers of different ages, religions, races and genders working in the various departments.

Inclusion refers to how valued a diverse staff is and how much it is allowed to contribute. When an employer engages in tokenism, it may do something like hire a lot of disabled workers for one department but not offer those workers any opportunities for advancement. An inclusive workplace provides equal opportunities to a diverse staff.

Why are diversity and inclusion important?

A diverse and inclusive workplace has other benefits to an employer besides avoiding discrimination complaints. There is research showing that diverse and inclusive workplaces have more highly motivated employees, better employee retention and more innovation.

Individuals who work for a diverse and inclusive company feel more job stability, and they are happier going to work. Implementing the concepts of diversity and inclusion can also help employers attract future workers from a larger talent pool.

Diversity is becoming a hot topic these days in California. The idea that a workforce of people from different backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities is good for business has people talking about how best to integrate it into the workplace. Even so, one question still remains: How exactly would a culture of diversity impact productivity?

Higher job satisfaction

One of the reasons diversity can have a positive impact on productivity is because it leads to higher job satisfaction. It’s no secret that people are more motivated to do their best at work when they feel like the company values them and allows them to be who they really are.

It attracts better talent and creativity

Advertising yourself as a company that appreciates diversity is also a great way to attract better talent, increasing your chances of being productive. Of course, if you want the best employees, then it’s important that your employment practices are consistent with employment law, which means that they’re fair and inclusive of all kinds of people from different backgrounds. This will help ensure a diverse workforce which can lead to more creativity in the office because there will be a variety of perspectives on projects.

Less turnover

A diverse workforce can also lead to less turnover. Everyone has their own individual needs, and when they aren’t met in the workplace it can cause people to look for employment elsewhere. When you have a diverse workforce with employees representing different cultures, backgrounds, and ethnicities, there’s more of an opportunity to meet everyone’s unique needs.

It encourages a more positive work environment

Finally, a culture of diversity and inclusiveness can lead to happier employees because it encourages organizations to be respectful and open-minded towards all kinds of people. This leads to an overall healthier company culture which is essential for boosting productivity in the workplace.

Is your business ready to make diversity a priority? As you’ve seen, it can have a positive impact on the company culture, leading to happier, more satisfied, and productive employees.

Over time, California workplaces may have negative energy when employees run into problems. However, there are ways to prevent these issues from becoming bigger. Employers can take measures such as workplace mediation to settle things.

Encourage open communication

Workplace mediation encourages open communication among all parties. If two employees are having a dispute, having them discuss things calmly and civilly can give them a chance to get the situation out in the open. Rational communication with supervisors and with each other can improve things.

Request employee feedback

Employers should also encourage feedback from employees. It can help the workplace as a whole when there’s feedback, regardless of whether it’s negative or positive. The discussion among employees and managers should be done in a way that’s diplomatic and relaxed.

Respond immediately to disputes

Human resources should immediately respond to any disputes among employees. Waiting to engage in workplace mediation can have a negative impact as it can be ineffective, and problems that could have been solved early on may escalate.

HR should carefully review the situation and investigate it. All records should be saved and stored in a safe place. After thoroughly investigating, HR should check with the complaining employee to see whether the problem was solved to their satisfaction.

Create a system

Creating a system for dealing with problems is important. It should also be clearly communicated to all employees. Issuing a bulletin via email or print is one way to do that. Employers can also include a section on the system the company uses for workplace mediation in the employee handbook.

The system should be tested to see if it’s effective. It can give insight into whether there’s still room for improvement or if the system will work to settle problems in the workplace.

Offer therapy sessions if necessary

Workplace mediation can include therapy sessions if it might help settle issues among employees. It might even be possible to bring in an outside mediator to help settle disputes in the workplace. It may benefit employee relationships and make for a better working environment.

Workplace mediation in California is often a good way to resolve legal problems in the workplace without going to trial, saving money and time. Avoiding a court case can be beneficial for everyone involved. In addition, there are strong confidentiality protections for participants in workplace mediation, and courts are very careful about doing anything to compromise that.

Confidentiality protects participants

The proceedings and participants in mediation are not public records. If the case winds up in a settlement, the participants often want the settlement and the case itself to be off the record, so the proceedings that lead to the mediation should also be confidential. This also protects the participants from retaliation and other unethical behavior that might come from the negotiations.

Exceptions

There are only a few special circumstances in which this confidentiality can be breached by the court. For example, if there might be a referral for criminal proceedings, or if there is a possibility that fraud was involved in reaching the terms of the mediated settlement, a judge can potentially remove some of the confidentiality. This is limited power and is only to be used in special conditions because the precedent and rules for protecting the participants in mediation are very strong.

There can sometimes be a careful balance between protecting the confidentiality of all the parties in mediation and serious criminal activity that the confidentiality might cover-up. If you participate in workplace mediation, it is important to know what protections you have and what conditions there are that might potentially erode that protection if the judge winds up pursuing that route for one of the allowed reasons.

Most California employers strive to create open workplaces where all their employees feel comfortable. However, subconscious biases may have a bigger impact on the workplace than employers think.

Employers may be hesitant to make changes to their workplace culture, especially if there are no problems that are being brought to their attention. But there are several benefits that come with improving workplace inclusion.

Diverse companies have more revenue

One of the major benefits comes right down to the revenue. Diverse companies are 35% more likely to have a higher revenue at the end of the year.

There are a lot of reasons for an increase in revenue within diverse companies. For one, customers are seeking out companies with diverse hiring practices and senior leadership.

Companies with diverse employees also incorporate more innovation, which can lead to higher sales numbers and attract even more customers. This can also draw top talent to your company.

Increase in employee retention

In addition to having diverse hiring practices, companies that adopt inclusive practices in their workplaces can expect to keep the talent they hire. This can reduce turnover and lead to long-term employee satisfaction and retention.

When employees feel happy at their workplace, they tend to perform better. That’s why it’s crucial to adopt inclusive practices into your company’s workplace.

How to create an inclusive workplace

There are several steps to creating a more welcoming and inclusive workplace. This includes things like:

  • Having leadership take classes on unconscious bias and active listening
  • Creating a diversity and inclusion council that creates goals in regards to hiring and retaining employees
  • Having spaces in the office that highlight examples of diversity and inclusion, such as a mother’s room or prayer room
  • Implementing employee resource groups in which employees can have a hand in creating inclusive practices for the workplace

It can take a lot of time to develop inclusive hiring practices and create a safe space for employees of all backgrounds in your office. However, the benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workplace are well worth the work that it takes.