Estate Planning: Will or Living Trust?

Surprisingly, Prince didn’t have a will. Unfortunately, about half of all Americans don’t either.

Is dying without a will—called dying intestate—an issue? If you have possessions you wish to give to certain people, or monies you want to donate to a particular cause, it can be a big issue.  When you die intestate, state law determines how your alast will and testamentssets are distributed; your wishes are not taken into account.

To avoid this situation, it’s important as part of your estate plan to have either a will or living trust in place. A will, also called “last will and testament,” is a legal document that details your final wishes, is subject to probate, and takes effect and becomes public after your death.

Unlike a will, a living trust can take effect while you’re still alive, remains private, and doesn’t require probate proceedings. You, as the trustee, can transfer your property into a living trust while alive and continue to manage the property (sell, exchange, invest) in the trust. The trust names successor trustees, who can take over your living trust at the time of your death or if you become incapacitated. However, if you don’t have someone you feel you can trust as the successor trustee, an option is a professional fiduciary. (Visit the California Professional Fiduciaries Bureau website at to learn more about professional fiduciaries and the services they can provide.)

In general, a living trust is more expensive to set up than a will; the cost depends on the complexity and size of your assets and investments, as well as where you live. If your estate is complex, it may be worthwhile to go with a living trust versus a will, and avoid the State’s probate process. However, be aware that California does have a simplified probate process for small estates (under $150,000); in that case, you may want to opt to use a will.

Although estate size and complexity are two important factors to consider when deciding whether to go with a will or a living trust, consult a qualified estate attorney or other qualified and reputable financial and estate planner on the best choice. Visit the State Bar of California (State Bar) website for a list of certified estate planning specialists referral services: or call the State Bar at (888) 460-7364.

Obviously, if you die without an estate plan, you won’t be around to worry about probate and expenses—but think about what your loved ones will have to go through. Spare your family a great deal of stress, time, and money by having one in place that works for everyone.



Thinking About Purchasing a Rebuilt Mattress?  


If you are considering buying a rebuilt mattress, you’ll want to be sure you’re not spending money on a germ and bed-bug infested paradise.

Purchasing a rebuilt mattress can be less expensive than buying a new one, but you want to be sure of what you are getting. Rebuilt mattresses are required to be clean and sanitized and California law prohibits the use of fabrics containing visible soiling or stains in a new or used mattress.

A rebuilt mattress is made by adding filling materials to a used mattress and it is sanitized using an approved method.

Conducting research before you shop for a mattress is the most important way to protect yourself. All mattress retailers must be licensed by the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation.

You can check the license status by visiting License/Registry Search for Home Furnishings Licensees.

When shopping for a rebuilt mattress:

  • Check to be sure the store is licensed with the Bureau.
  • Inspect the piece to make sure that both a red and yellow label are attached.
  • A red label tells you the mattress is a used product.
  • The yellow label tells you the mattress has been sanitized by either dry heat or a chemical disinfectant.
  • A brand new mattress will only have a white label attached.
  • Ask the salesperson if the rebuilt mattress meets the federal flammability standard. If the salesperson cannot give you a definitive answer, you should consider other options.

The store you purchase a rebuilt mattress from should have their Bureau license displayed in a visible location in the store, usually near the front counter, along with other state and local permits.

If you do not spot a posted license, ask the salesperson if the business is licensed by the Bureau and ask to see a copy. If the salesperson is unable to show you a copy of a valid license, make sure to contact the Bureau and consider other options.

If you have any questions about the cleanliness and safety of a rebuilt mattress you’ve already purchased, please call (916) 999-2041 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or email

Western States Cannabis Meeting Held in California

DCALogo_small 2007

SACRAMENTO—Government representatives from seven states met Wednesday to share issues, experiences, and best practices in a working session organized by the California Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation.

To read the full release, click here.

The Philosophy of Real Estate

If you watch Modern Family, you’re familiar with Phil Dunphy, suburban Los Angeles real estate agent and self-proclaimed real estate guru. You may have even caught one of the Real Estate Phil’s-osophies commercials for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) starring Ty Burrell, the actor who plays Dunphy. It’s not part of the show: NAR hired Burell to star in-character in a series of commercials that advise consumers to seek out a REALTOR® when buying or selling property.

A real estate agent talking about the pros of hiring a REALTOR® —are you confused? Is there a difference between the two?

There is. And there isn’t. dunphey

When you enter the world of buying and selling real estate, you are confronted with several different titles: real estate agent (also known as real estate salesperson), REALTOR®, real estate broker.

Let’s start with Real Estate Agents, or Real Estate Salespersons. These professionals are licensed by the California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE), which licenses and regulates the more than 400,000 Mortgage Loan Originators, Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons in California. In order to be licensed in California, you must qualify for and pass a written examination, then submit an application to CalBRE for approval. Anyone who conducts real estate activities in California must be licensed and must conduct business as stated in the California Real Estate Laws and Regulations.

A Real Estate Broker has continued his or her education past that required at the real estate agent or salesperson level and has passed the real estate broker licensing exam. Real estate brokers can work as independent real estate agents or they can have agents working for them. Brokers can work on their own, while agents or salespersons have to work under licensed brokers.

Last but not least, there’s REALTOR®. In order to join this one-million-member national association, you must be a licensed real estate agent in your state, and you must uphold the NAR’s strict code of ethics and standards.

It sounds like a Phil’s-osophy: Not all licensees are REALTORS®, but all REALTORS® must be licensees.

And there you have it—a little information to help you get through the maze of buying and selling—or at least know who’s who.

Don’t forget to check the license before you decide on a real estate agent! To check a license, visit the CalBRE website,, or call (877) 373-4542. To verify that an agent belongs to the National Association of REALTORS®, go to


Men Discovering Pedicures Are “Man-Tastic”

male pediIn case you haven’t noticed, pedicures aren’t just for women anymore. A growing number of men—both young and old and who aren’t even Hollywood celebrities—are taking the pampered plunge. They’re discovering what women have known all along: Getting a spa foot treatment can be a luxurious experience that not only makes you look great, but feel great, too.

Kristy Underwood, Executive Officer for the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, discussed this growing trend and how some traditional women’s salons are stepping up to cater to their male clientele, particularly since barbershops don’t offer these services—not yet, anyway. Underwood also talked about what men should look for when choosing a salon, as well as some of the changes on the horizon for the nail/spa industry.

Q. Kristy, can you talk about the trend of men getting spa pedicures? What do you attribute it to?

A. Yes; this service is growing in popularity for men. Many salons even have side areas with foot spa chairs for men to get the service in a little more privacy. I have heard from men who say they find it relaxing, but also that it’s just good upkeep on their nails.

Q.  As men gravitate toward women’s salons, is it likely we will see barbershops start offering spa pedicures as part of their services?

A. I don’t think so. The barbershop has an image, and I think it’s a long way off from offering nail services. We’re actually seeing barbershops going back to more traditional settings. For example, the traditional shave and a haircut is being marketed to men and is becoming more and more common. But you never know, maybe pedicures have a future in the barbershops.

Q. If barbershops ever do make nail care a part of their services, what sort of guidelines and procedures would need to be established to do so, and would they be similar or the same as those regulations at women’s salons?

A. They would simply have to hire manicurists. Barbers are not licensed to do nails whereas cosmetologists are.

Q. What should men who want to try the whole foot spa experience look for when choosing a salon?

A.  First and foremost, valid licenses and a clean establishment. And they should make sure the establishment doesn’t use illegal tools. For example, some consumers think a razor is needed to remove calluses, but it’s illegal to use in a shop and removing calluses can be done perfectly safely with a proper smoother.

Q. What about people with diabetes who may have feet issues—should they get spa pedicures?

A. We get this question a lot. Licensees should ask their clients if there are any health concerns they need to be aware of. Lots of elderly consumers receive pedicures and are fine, but if they have a compromised immune system, we highly recommend they talk to their doctor before getting a service. I would also suggest that the pedicure be received in a transportable foot tub as opposed to a foot spa chair. And again, they should never allow someone to use a razor on their feet.

Q. There also seems to be a trend, perhaps more in the south and on the East Coast, for nail salons to use plastic liners in the foot spa. Are these used for sanitary/health reasons and is the usage becoming more prevalent in California salons as well?

A. In July of last year, we set regulations that allow for the use of liners. It really cuts down on the amount of chemicals used to clean [the whirlpool spas] and often makes the client feel safer. We will likely see more salons in California using liners as well.

Q. What are some changes and trends you see coming to the manicure/pedicure profession?

A. Green products. There is a lot of talk about trying to make nail services safer not only for the client, but for the licensees as well. I think more manufacturers will be putting out safer products. We also expect to see an increase in the use of liners in the foot spa.

For more information on the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, visit




Psychology_Logo_BannerSACRAMENTO – The California Board of Psychology moved to protect the citizens of California last week by exercising its right to obtain an order in criminal court, against psychologist Michael Dane Ward, preventing him from practicing psychology during the pendency of his criminal case.

Read the entire news release here.

DCA Complaint Resolution Program Comes to an End

DCALogo_small 2007After processing more than 201,395 complaints and recovering $32.4 million for consumers, DCA’s Complaint Resolution Program (CRP) will close its doors on
June 30, 2016.

Established in 1994 and originally called the Complaint Mediation Division, CRP was created to consolidate and streamline consumer complaint processing. CRP staff review complaints and act as a neutral third party between the complainant and the licensee/
business to settle disputes. The CRP representative can propose terms to settle disputes but does not decide how they should be resolved.

CRP processes all consumer complaints filed against California businesses that are regulated by these bureaus: Cemetery and Funeral; Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation; Security and Investigative Services; and Private Postsecondary Education.

Fewer incoming complaints than in years past and fewer bureaus participating in the program led to the closure.

After June 30, consumers who have complaints related to the bureaus that were previously under the CRP’s jurisdiction can contact the bureaus directly or call DCA’s Consumer Information Center at (800) 952-5210.

DCA’s Communications Division Wins Nine Awards!

The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Communications Division brought home three gold, three silver, and one honorable mention at this year’s State Information Officers Council (SiOC) Awards held on June 8, 2016, in downtown Sacramento. The yearly awards recognize the best of the best in State service in the arena of communications. The awards received were as follows:

Bringing home the hardware for DCA (L-R): Carol Stover, Kari Keating, June Vargas, Laura Kujubu, Ryan Jones, and Cesar Altamirano.

Bringing home the hardware for DCA (L-R): Carol Stover, Kari Keating, June Vargas, Laura Kujubu, Ryan Jones, and Cesar Altamirano.

Category: Brochure
A Consumer’s Guide to Auto Repair
Hazel Alig, Designer/Ryan Jones, Editor

Category: Poster
Our Promise: California State Employees Giving at Work Campaign
Cesar Altamirano, Designer

Category: Calendar
2016 DCA Appointment Calendar
Carol Stover, Designer/June Vargas, Writer/Editor

Category:  Magazine
Consumer Connection Fall 2015 (Tenth Anniversary Issue)
Hazel Alig, Designer/Ryan Jones, Laura Kujubu, June Vargas, Writers/Editors/Joyia Emard, Michelle McVay, Cristina Valdivia Aguilar, Lana Wilson-Combs, Writers

Category: Feature
3-D Printing
Ryan Jones, Writer

Category:  Best Bang for your Buck
BPELSG Postcard
Kari Keating, Designer/Ryan Jones, Editor

Category:  Publications-Other
Pocket Travel Guide
Carol Stover, Designer/Ryan Jones, Writer/Editor

Board Appoints New Executive Officer

DCALogo_small 2007The California State Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) announces the appointment of Dr. Joseph Morris as its new Executive Officer, effective July 11, 2016.

Read the news release here.

‘Fight the Bite’: Doing Our Part to Control Spread of Mosquito-Borne Viruses

mosquitoThe Zika virus may be all over the news, but don’t forget that West Nile virus is still a real threat.

“While a lot of attention has been given to Zika virus, West Nile virus killed more Californians in 2015 than any other year before,” said Senator Bob Wieckowski, chair of the Environmental Quality committee and author of Senate Concurrent Resolution 121 in a recent release.

Last year, the California Department of Public Health reported 783 cases of West Nile in California—544 cases developed into the more severe neuroinvasive form of the disease resulting in 53 deaths.

The Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California (MVCAC) reminds Californians to continue to “Fight the Bite,” stressing the importance of protecting themselves against mosquito-borne viruses, especially with summer around the corner. MVCAC’s recommendations include applying insect repellent and dressing in long sleeves and pants when outdoors. Around your home, install or repair broken screens on windows and doors, and be sure to empty any standing water. Standing water is considered any water that stands for a minimum of seven days around your home; for example, water in rain barrels, nonfunctioning swimming pools, flower pots, old tires, and buckets.

Learn more about prevention and protection methods against mosquitoes at the MVCAC’s website,