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.
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...
It is nice to know that because of health care advances, we can expect to live longer, but there are no included guarantees on the quality of life in the later years.
Many people eventually face a period in life when they can no longer do for themselves. Daily living tasks such as walking, bathing, cooking, and managing household affairs are beyond their physical and perhaps even mental capabilities. Frequently, that period has not been planned for by the person or family members. And sometimes, this period in life comes suddenly, such as when a debilitating fall takes place.
One thing which people and their families should consider before this difficult period is the purchase of long-term care insurance. This type of insurance provides coverage for the expense of daily living assistance. It can cover in-home assistance as well as assisted living or nursing home costs. Most people, however, buy it to cover in-home living expenses so as to avoid a nursing home.
Often, an elderly person will suffer intermediate health issues before needing permanent assisted daily living. Health insurance and Medicare cover costs of treatment for injuries and illness and typically pay for some daily living assistance as the person recovers or levels off at a permanent degree of recovery. When that recovery occurs, though, those services no longer pay, and the person is on their own.
A long-term care insurance policy will pick up the ball at this point and, depending on its terms, pay for daily living assistance for a period of time or for the life of the policyholder.
Of course, that encompasses both positives and negatives. When it comes to money, the first exposure we have to its management is in our families. That makes good money management practices a real gift that parents can pass on to their children.
Don’t Buy Your Kid a Car
The greatest motivator there is for a teenager is freedom and their path to that freedom is a car. When you buy your kid a car, rather than supporting him or her to learn to earn money to buy the car him/herself, you are overlooking one of the greatest opportunities you have to support your child to learn to be self-sufficient.
If you have an extra car available for your child, at least require your child to pay for the gas and insurance, which will support him or her to begin to be prepared for the requirement of life in the future, when you aren’t there to provide for all the needs they have.
Kids Playing the Stock Market?
Introducing children to the stock market is not a far-fetched idea. There is plenty of information available that can be understood by kids. First off, children are very aware of products -- toys and games like the CashFlow Board Game, for example. They can be introduced to the fact that the companies that make these toys are owned by people like their parents, who hold shares of stock. From there, they can be shown the daily stock prices and how they change. As they grow older, your children can begin making small stock purchases and become comfortable with investing.
Family Vacation Saving
Family vacations are usually looked back on fondly and may even be considered family traditions. Saving during the year, by children as well as parents, for an annual vacation can also be part of that tradition and help teach good money management techniques. Whether it be from jobs kids have like grass cutting or babysitting, or just from allowance savings, it will serve children well later in life to have learned the value of setting money aside for a deferred pleasure.
The fire is advancing at the rate of a football field every second, so the actions you take in the next few moments will determine whether you and your family live or die.
While this may sound like a scene from a blockbuster disaster movie, it’s actually the very scenario Judy Shannon faced in December 2017. And it’s something we can expect to see more and more as the impact of climate change sets in.
Judy was at home with her two young children, her elderly mother, and a puppy, when an out-of-control wildfire threatened to engulf her Ventura County home in Southern California.
Fortunately, she and her family escaped without injury. But her home, her neighborhood, and hundreds of other buildings in the area were burned to the ground. Shopping for supplies in the aftermath, Judy reflected on whether or not she could have done more to ensure her family’s safety in those last moments before evacuating.
“As I look back, I wonder, ‘Did I do enough?’” Judy recalled. “I can honestly say I didn’t have much choice in those 20 minutes. I responded without much thought and felt a sense of being carried, or moved about, with each step.”
Judy highlights a critical aspect of facing such life-threatening emergencies: You won’t have time to think; you must be prepared to act and act fast. Your life and the lives of those in your
family absolutely depend on it.
You get a call in the middle of the night from your college-aged granddaughter. She’s frantic and crying, telling you she was mistakenly arrested while vacationing in Cancun.
She says she needs you to pay her $1,800 bond, or she’ll be transferred to a dangerous Mexican prison. The Mexican police told her she only has a few hours before she’s transferred, so she needs you to wire the money immediately.
She’s petrified about her parents finding out she was arrested and begs you not to tell them. Because she only has a couple of minutes to use the police station phone, the call ends abruptly before you can get any further details.
What do you do?
If you’re like the thousands of others who’ve gotten just such a call, you’d probably wire the money in a heartbeat. It is your grandchild’s life after all. However, just like the others, you’d soon find out that your granddaughter hasn’t been arrested and was never in Mexico.
The Grandparent Scam
Known as the Grandparent Scam, this con has been around for years, and while it may seem far fetched, it has tricked many caring seniors. And in recent months, there has been an uptick in the number of people falling prey to the deception.
The details can vary, but the scam typically works like this:
While established families may be concerned about what will happen to their family when they pass on, young, growing families can be more focused on what is happening to their family in the present. And you even may find it hard to justify planning for an “estate” you haven’t yet established!
But here’s the thing … if you have children or anyone else you care about, you may not have an “estate”, but you do need estate planning if you want to ensure your loved ones wouldn’t be stuck in Court and/or conflict if anything happens to you.
Here are a few estate-planning issues important for young couples to consider as soon as they start a family:
The Care and Custody of Your Children
If you die or become incapacitated before your children reach 18, they will need a legal guardian. To ensure your children are only ever in the care of people you want and choose, you need to name both temporary and long-term guardians for your children.
Identifying friends or family as the “godparent” of your child isn’t enough. You need to legally document your choice. And, naming just one person or a couple won’t cover it either. Name at least 3 options, in case back-ups are needed.
Also, ensure that you have not just named legal guardians in your Will, for the long-term.
If something happens to you and your child is home with a babysitter, or at school, you want to also name local people, friends or family, who would immediately be able to be called upon by authorities. And, those people need to have legal documentation on hand to step in and make immediate, short-term decisions for your littles.
We recommend a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan® to ensure there are no gaps, for even a minute, in the care of the people you love most.
Financial aid is a valuable resource for students and their families. And sending a child off to college is one of life’s biggest (and often most expensive!) events.
Unfortunately, certain assets may adversely affect student financial aid eligibility. That’s why careful financial planning is particularly important for families with college-age children.
Federal financial aid eligibility is calculated using many variables including parental income and assets and the child’s income and assets, as some of the most significant. Income and assets attributed to the child (rather than you as the parent) will increase the EFC, or Expected Family Contribution.
The EFC is a measure of the family’s ability to pay for college. But strategic financial planning can help you save funds for college without increasing your EFC and reducing your child’s financial aid eligibility. Let’s look at the ways some common assets affect financial aid eligibility.
However, through science, there is now a way to immortalize ourselves or our loved ones by turning cremated ashes into diamonds.
One of the first companies to turn dust into diamonds was profiled recently in The Atlantic. A Swiss company called Algordanza has perfected the process that takes inner earth millenniums, turning the carbon from human remains into a diamond.
The company receives 800 urns every year, and for a cost ranging from $5,000 to $20,000, it turns them into unique diamonds using diamond presses that apply pressure of almost 800,000 pounds per square inch at temperatures of up to 2,500°F. The entire process takes approximately three months before a diamond is produced.
Each diamond is unique in color, resulting from the specific combination of trace elements that are present in every person. Many different things can affect color: the presence of metal in the body, remnants of chemotherapy and other variables all have an impact on the final color. Many diamonds turn out blue because of the presence of boron in the human body; if the decedent had blue eyes, this can be especially meaningful to the family.
Currently, the average age of a first marriage is 27 for women and 29 for men -- an increase of four years for women and three years for men in just the last 25 years.
So it may not be so surprising that more well-established brides and grooms are considering prenuptial agreements to be part of the wedding process. According to a 2013 survey of members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 63% of attorneys surveyed said they have seen an increase in prenups over the past three years.
A recent Wall Street Journal article examined the pros and cons of prenuptial agreements in two differing essays written by female attorneys. Arguing in favor of prenups, Pennsylvania attorney Cheryl Young writes that the realities of marriage -- that many end in divorce and, of those that don’t, all end in death -- dictate the need for prenups, especially for those couples with assets of their own or an expected inheritance.
These are just a few reasons why it is important for you to know the following about estate planning:
Minor children can be legally protected with a Kids Protection Plan, which provides parents with important legal tools to name short- and long-term guardians, provide instructions and guidelines for those guardians and execute medical powers of attorney that allow you to dictate medical care for your minor children in case they are injured and you are not with them.
A will and a living trust are both essential estate planning tools, and although both can be used to transfer assets upon death, they serve separate purposes. A living trust can take effect while you are alive or after death. It allows you to hold assets for your benefit during your life, which may prove useful if you become incapacitated in the future. A living will can also be beneficial if you own real estate in another state. A will only takes effect upon death, and is used to appoint guardians for minor children, cover assets that are not part of a living trust and create trusts that kick in after death.
Women need to execute financial and healthcare durable powers of attorney and consider choosing a member of the family if that person is willing to assume the responsibility of making financial and/or medical decisions on your behalf in case of incapacity. And, if you are married or partnered, make sure your spouse or partner does the same because you’ll be the one who is handling things if anything happens to your spouse/partner and you want it to be as easy as possible.
Last week, we shared the first part of our series on the importance of estate planning for those without children. If you haven’t read it yet, you can do so here. Here in part two, we discuss the other risks involved for those who forego estate planning.
Someone will have power over your health care
Estate planning isn’t just about passing on your assets when you die. In fact, some of the most critical parts of planning have nothing to do with your money at all, but are aimed at protecting you while you’re still very much alive.
Advance planning allows you to name the person you want to make healthcare decisions for you if you’re incapacitated and unable to make decisions yourself.
For example, if you’re temporarily unconscious following a car accident and unable to give doctors permission to perform a potentially risky medical treatment, it’s not always clear who’ll be asked to make that decision for you.
If you have a romantic partner but aren’t married and haven’t granted them medical power of attorney, the court will likely have a family member, not your partner, make that decision. Depending on your family, that person may make decisions contrary to what you or your partner would want.
Indeed, if you don’t want your estranged brother to inherit your property, you probably don’t want him to have the power to make life-and-death decisions about your medical care, either. But that’s exactly what could happen if you don’t proactively plan.