Estate Planning

For Everyone You Love and Everything You've Built

If something unexpected happens to you and you haven't planned for everyone you love and everything you have, the State of California has a default plan for you.

 

Sound scary?  Well, it can be. Those you love would have to deal with the red tape and bureaucracy of government procedures and regulations.

 

We at Sky Unlimited Legal Advisory help you understand the legal and financial consequences of not having a comprehensive Estate Plan to protect your loved ones ... and more.

 

Before meeting, we'll ask you to complete a Family Wealth Worksheet, which will help you understand what you own and what needs to be decided for the well-being and care of your loved ones and cherished belongings.  We'll meet for a Family Wealth Planning Session™, where we spend some time together reviewing this document.  You'll learn about our Planning for Life process and we will both decide if it makes sense to work together to design an estate plan that will best suit the needs of your family.

 

The foundation of your estate plan will often include a revocable living trust, which when done properly and maintained over time, should help your family to avoid the cost and delay of probate and minimize or eliminate estate taxes. 

 

At Sky Unlimited Legal Advisory, we do not offer a "one size fits all" estate plan.  We form a working relationship with our clients.  We educate you, take the time to get to know you and your family.  We will discuss your concerns, your goals, and will gladly and patiently answer all of your questions.  Our goal is to create an estate plan that is exactly right for you.

 

Our services include a no-charge three-year review to ensure that as your lives change, so will your estate plan to safeguard your assets for maximum protection.

 

If this sounds like the kind of relationship you're looking for, please call us at (650) 761-0992 to schedule your personal Family Wealth Planning Session™ today or schedule online now.


Having a will simply is not enough.  It doesn't guarantee the care of your children if the unthinkable happens!  See how we do it differently...

The strategies that are appropriate for protecting your assets are different for every family.  Check out our proven process that gives you peace of mind...

Our unique legacy process gives your loved ones a precious gift - a lasting expression of your love.  Find out what we offer with every plan... 



Estates Weekly

Articles from the Chief Counsel's desk.  Sign up for our newsletter to receive these in your email with additional discounts, offers and rewards.

Creditors And Your Estate Plan

What Happens To Your Debt When You Die?

In some cases, you could inadvertently leave a reality in which your surviving heirs—your kids, parents, or others—are responsible for your debt. Alternatively, if you structure your affairs properly, your debt could die right along with you.

 

According to the Federal Trade Commission, an individual’s debt does not disappear once that person dies. Rather, the debt must either be paid out of the deceased’s estate or by a co-creditor. And that could be bad news for you or the people you love.

 

What exactly happens to this debt can vary. One of the purposes of the court process known as probate is to provide a time period for creditors to make a claim against the deceased’s estate, in which case debts would be paid before beneficiaries receive their inheritance. But if there is nothing in the probate estate and all assets are held outside of the probate estate, then what?

 

Well, that’s where we come in, and why it’s so important to get your affairs in order, even if you have a lot more debt than assets. Your “estate” isn’t just what you own, it includes what you owe, too. And with good planning, we can help you align it all in exactly the way you want.

 

DEBT AFTER DEATH

When an individual dies, someone will handle his or her affairs, and this person is known as an executor. The executor can either be someone of the individual’s choice, if he or she planned in advance, or someone appointed by the court in the absence of planning. The executor opens the probate process, during which the court recognizes any will that’s in place and formally appoints the executor to administer the deceased’s estate and distribute any outstanding assets to their loved ones.

 

During this process, the estate’s assets are used to pay any outstanding debt. This usually includes all of an individual’s assets, although it does not include assets with beneficiary designations, such as 401(k) plans and insurance policies. The estate does not own these assets, and they pass directly to the named beneficiaries. Given these factors, if an individual’s assets are subject to probate and the person has outstanding debt, their beneficiaries will receive a smaller share of anything left to them in the estate plan.

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3 Essential Questions To Ask Before Creating Your Will Online

If you are looking to create your last will and testament, or will, online, you’ll find dozens of websites that let you prepare a variety of estate planning documents for very little money, and even for free. With so many do-it-yourself online document services out there, you might believe you can create your will online, all on your own, without paying a lawyer to help.  And in some cases, you can create your will online.

But if you do, you need to understand how these services can backfire on you and your family. Online estate planning can be a catastrophe for those who aren’t aware of the risks. And as you’ll see, creating your will online without a lawyer’s guidance can even be worse for your family than if you’d done nothing at all.

 

KNOW WHAT’S POSSIBLE—AND WHAT’S NOT 

A great way to start educating yourself is by watching this training video by family financial and legal expert Ali Katz. This free, one-hour training clarifies what you can do yourself online, and when you really need a lawyer’s support. The training also gives you access to an online tool you can use to create an inventory of all your assets, which is critically important to leave to your loved ones, no matter how much or little you have to pass on.  Meanwhile, if you are looking  to create your own will online, first ask yourself the following 3 questions.

 

After considering these 3 questions, if you determine you can create your own will online, you should seriously consider having us review it for you once you complete the document to be certain you’ve properly covered everything and everyone you care about. 

 

01 - WILL YOUR ONLINE WILL KEEP YOUR FAMILY OUT OF COURT?

When considering creating your own will online, the first question you need to ask yourself is: “Should I become incapacitated or when I die, do I want to keep my family out of court?” If your answer is “Yes, I 100% want to keep my family out of court,” then creating your own will online may not be the best idea.

 

While a will is a necessary element of most estate plans, it’s typically just one small part of an integrated plan. And a will by itself won’t keep your family out of court. In order for assets covered by your will to be transferred to your beneficiaries, your will must first pass through the court process known as probate. 

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Green Funerals: 6 Eco-Friendly Options For Your Remains

The environmental costs of death are significant and constantly rising. With 8 billion people on the planet right now—all of whom have bodies that die and must be disposed of—we need to start seriously considering alternatives to traditional options for burial and cremation. Fortunately, more and more “green” options are being developed to reduce these costs, and this article looks at some of the latest innovations.

In most conventional burials, the body is pumped with toxic embalming fluid, placed in a steel casket, and buried within a cement-lined vault six-feet underground. According to the Green Burial Council, burials in the U.S. go through roughly 77,000 trees, 100,000 tons of steel, 1.5 million tons of concrete, and 4.3 million gallons of embalming fluid each year. 

 

Although cremation is touted as more eco-friendly than burial, it still comes with serious environmental risks. In fact, cremating a single body uses about the same amount of gas as a 500-mile road trip, according to the Natural Death Center.

 

Cremation also releases some 250 lbs. of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, roughly the same amount an average American home produces in a week. With the death rate expected to spike as Baby Boomers age, the funeral industry is poised to cause even more damage. While green funerals are a recent trend, natural burials were the norm until the Civil War, which coincided with the rise of the industrial age, embalming, and the modern funeral director business.

 

Today, natural burials are making a comeback. Green funerals are designed to not only be more environmentally friendly, but also less expensive overall than conventional burial or cremation. If you want to make your last act on this planet less harmful to the ecosystem, here are 6 green funeral options, along with the best way to include your final wishes in your estate plan.

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Will The Coming Wealth Transfer Be A Blessing Or A Curse For Your Family?

Whether it’s called “The Great Wealth Transfer,” “The Silver Tsunami,” or some other catchy sounding name, it’s a fact that a tremendous amount of wealth will pass from Baby Boomers to younger generations in the next few decades. In fact, it’s said to be the largest transfer of intergenerational wealth in history.

Because no one knows exactly how long aging Boomers will live or how much money they’ll spend before they pass on, it’s impossible to accurately predict just how much wealth will be transferred. However, studies suggest it’s somewhere between $30 and $90 trillion. Yes, that’s “trillion” with a “t.”

 

A BLESSING OR A CURSE?

While most are talking about the many benefits the wealth transfer might have for younger generations and the economy, fewer are talking about the potential negative ramifications. Yet there’s plenty of evidence suggesting that many people, especially younger generations, are woefully unprepared to handle such an inheritance.

 

In fact, an Ohio State University study found that one third of people who received an inheritance had a negative savings within two years of getting the money. Another study by The Williams Group found that intergenerational wealth transfers often become a source of tension and conflict among family members, and 70% of such transfers fail by the time they reach the second generation. Regardless of whether you’ll be the one passing on wealth or inheriting it, you must have a well-prepared estate plan in place to prevent the potentially disastrous losses and other negative outcomes such transfers can lead to. Without proper planning, the money and other assets that get passed on can easily become more of a curse than a blessing for you and your loved ones.

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4 Year-End Tax-Saving Strategies For 2022

Although the end of the year can be a hectic time, it’s also the deadline for your family to implement a number of key tax-savings strategies. By taking action now, you can significantly reduce your tax bill due in April, but with just a few weeks left in 2022, you better act fast.

While there are dozens of potential tax breaks you may qualify for, here are 4 of the leading moves you can make to save big on your 2022 tax return. However, there may be other opportunities for saving, so meet with us, your Personal Family Lawyer® to make certain you haven’t missed a single one.

 

01 - MAXIMIZE RETIREMENT ACCOUNT CONTRIBUTIONS

By maximizing your contributions to tax-deferred retirement accounts, such as IRAs and 401(k)s, you can not only save for retirement, but also reduce your taxable income for 2022.

 

In 2022, you can contribute up to $6,000 to an IRA and up to $20,500 to a 401(k) if you're under 50, and up to $7,000 to an IRA and $27,000 to a 401(k) for those 50 and older. If you don’t have the cash available to fund the maximum amount, try to contribute at least any amount that will be matched by your employer, since that’s basically free money, and you lose it if you don’t use it. That said, the ability to deduct your traditional IRA contributions from your taxes comes with certain limitations.

 

These limitations are based on factors, such as whether or not you or your spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work and your adjusted gross income (AGI), so make sure you know how your family is affected by these limits when taking deductions. On the other hand, Roth IRA contributions are not tax deductible, since they are made after taxes are taken out, but withdrawals from a Roth in retirement are tax-free.

Additionally, consider maxing out contributions to your Health Savings Account (HSA). Contributions to HSAs for 2022 are capped at $3,650 for individuals and $7,300 for families, with an additional catch-up contribution of $1,000 allowed for those age 55 and older. You have until December 31, 2022 to contribute to a 401(k) plan and until April 18, 2023 to contribute to an IRA or HSA for the 2022 tax year.

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How Will A Recession Affect Your Family

As you’ve surely heard by now, we’re in the midst of great economic shifts. The collapse of the crypto market, the roller coaster that is the stock market, rising interest rates, dropping home values, and inflation through the roof—it’s enough to make you sick. And it can make you sick, unless you take the actions we are sharing here.

During every economic shift, whether it’s the Great Depression, the last Great Recession, or even during the pandemic, some people get rich, while others lose everything.

 

Whether your family got rich, lost it all, or just hung on by their toes, you can learn from what happened and create the exact future reality you want for yourself and the people you love.

But to do that, you need to get into action now.

 

In service to that, here are 4 steps you can take right away to change your family’s future and ensure you have the stability you need to sail through the economic shifts in the best way possible.

 

On that note, whether you’ll be passing on wealth or inheriting it, it’s crucial to have a plan in place to reduce the massive loss that will occur if you wait to start the estate planning conversation. Whether you have a little or a lot, not getting clear on what you do have (or will receive) can cause major upsets that can cost you far more than just money.

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7 Issues To Consider When Purchasing Disability Insurance

If you earn a good living now, but you worry about not having enough money for a future time when you cannot work due to illness or injury, disability insurance is your answer. However, you need to make sure you are getting an insurance policy that will meet your needs and not waste your money. This article covers 7 issues to consider when purchasing disability insurance.

DISABILITY INSURANCE: ISSUES TO CONSIDER 

The answers to these 7 questions can give you the best chance of finding a policy that is well-suited for your particular situation.

 

01 - WHAT IS DISABILITY INSURANCE?

Disability insurance pays benefits when you are unable to work because you are sick or injured. Most policies pay a benefit that replaces a percentage of your income. But disability insurance is not the same as health insurance—it will not cover your medical bills. 

Instead, disability benefits replace a percentage of the income you lose due to your inability to work, so you can cover your basic financial needs, such as paying bills, covering daily living expenses, and providing for your family, until you can return to work. To begin your search for disability insurance, first you need to get clear about your minimum financial needs, or what we call your “minimum to thrive” number, should you become unable to work. If you don’t currently know what your “minimum to thrive” number is, contact us for help calculating this number, and we can refer you to tools or an advisor who can support you.

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How To Manage Your Digital Accounts After Your Death — Part 3

If you have preferences about what happens to your digital footprint after your death, you need to take action. Otherwise, your online legacy will be determined for you—and not by you. If you have any online accounts, such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Apple, or Amazon, you have a digital legacy, and that legacy is yours to preserve or lose.

Following your death, unless you’ve planned ahead, some of your online accounts will survive indefinitely, while others automatically expire after a period of inactivity, and still, others have specific processes that let you give family and friends the ability to access and posthumously manage your accounts.

 

In part one and two of this series, we covered the processes that Facebook,  Google, Instagram, Twitter, and Apple offer to manage your digital accounts following your death. Here in part three, we’ll conclude this series by covering the most effective methods for including digital assets in your estate plan.

 

5 STEPS FOR INCLUDING DIGITAL ASSETS IN YOUR ESTATE PLAN

If you’re like most people, you likely own numerous digital assets, some of which may have significant monetary value, and others which have purely sentimental value. You may even have some digital assets that you’d prefer your family not access at all when you pass away.

To ensure these assets are managed in exactly the way you want, take the following five steps to include this digital property in your estate plan. While many of these tasks you can do yourself, you’ll definitely want to consult with us, your local Personal Family Lawyer® to ensure your estate plan is properly prepared and works exactly as you intend.

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How To Manage Your Digital Accounts After Your Death — Part 2

If you have preferences about what happens to your digital footprint after your death, you need to take action. Otherwise, your online legacy will be determined for you—and not by you. If you have any online accounts, such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Apple, or Amazon, you have a digital legacy, and that legacy is yours to preserve or lose.

Following your death, unless you’ve planned ahead, some of your online accounts will survive indefinitely, while others automatically expire after a period of inactivity, and still, others have specific processes that let you give family and friends the ability to access and posthumously manage your accounts.

 

Last week, in part one of this series, we covered the processes that Facebook and Google have in place to manage your digital accounts following your death. Here in part two, we’ll continue our discussion, covering how Instagram, Twitter, and Apple’s collection of online platforms handle your accounts once you log off for the final time. 

 

INSTAGRAM

Given that Instagram is owned by Facebook, the photo and video-sharing social media platform’s processes for handling your account after your death are similar—but not entirely the same—as Facebook’s. As a reminder, Facebook allows you to name a legacy contact to handle your death, and Instagram gives you two options for managing your account after death: You can either have your account memorialized, or you can have it deleted. 

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How To Manage Your Digital Accounts After Your Death — Part 1

If you have preferences about what happens to your digital footprint after your death, you need to take action. Otherwise, your online legacy will be determined for you—and not by you. If you have any online accounts, such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Apple, or Amazon, you have a digital legacy, and that legacy is yours to preserve or lose.

Following your death, unless you’ve planned ahead, some of your online accounts will survive indefinitely, while others automatically expire after a period of inactivity, and still, others have specific processes that let you give family and friends the ability to access and posthumously manage your accounts.

 

Because social media and other digital platforms are such a ubiquitous part of our daily routine, and they can offer intimate snapshots of your life, these digital assets can serve as a key part of your legacy—one you may want to protect after your death. Alternatively, you may prefer to keep your online history private and have it permanently deleted once you're gone. 

 

Whether you want to preserve your digital footprint or erase it entirely, you need to plan ahead to ensure your wishes are properly carried out. With this in mind, here we’ll discuss how some of the most popular digital platforms handle your account once you log off for the final time. From there, we’ll cover how to include these digital assets in your estate plan to ensure they are properly accounted for, managed, and passed on in the event of your incapacity or death.

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