After you are gone, your loved ones will miss you deeply. They will long for your words of encouragement and concern. Hearing your voice again is a tremendous gift. At Sky Unlimited Legal Advisory, we guide you to leave a legacy that includes much more than just your money.
Through our unique legacy process, you can give your loved ones a most precious gift - a lasting expression of your love. Is there anything more priceless?
We believe estate planning is not just about transferring your financial assets and personal belongings, it's also about capturing and transferring your valuable intangible gifts: who you are and what's important to you - your values, insights, stories and experiences.
"It's too often I hear from colleagues how so few people ever leave their loved ones some lasting legacy of themselves. They even tell their clients to record a message and put it in a safe place or simply write notes to their children letting them know how they felt about them. But we all get caught up with our day-to-day that focusing in on leaving a legacy falls behind."
At Sky Unlimited Legal Advisory, preparing a Family Legacy is part of how we help you capture and pass on more than just your money: your intellectual, spiritual and human assets - who you are and what's important to you.
"I love hearing from many how the thoughts, feelings, memories, and advice they share - especially parents - is the real gift that they give to their families. It's the point of pride that I take in my practice to be able to help clients create their true, lasting legacy. That is so much more important than the paper documents in their binder. "
For more information about creating a Family Legacy, please contact us at (650) 761-0992, today.
Estate planning is not a one-and-done type of deal: It should continuously evolve along with your life circumstances.
No matter who you are, your life will inevitably change: families change, laws change, assets change, and goals change. In the absence of any major life events, we recommend reviewing your plan annually to make sure its terms are up to date.
Yet there are several common life events that require you to immediately update your plan—that is, if you want it to actually work and keep your loved ones out of court and out of conflict. To this end, if any of the following seven events occur, contact us right away.
1) You get married: Marriage not only changes your relationship status, it changes your legal status. Regardless of whether it’s your first marriage or fifth, you must take the proper steps to ensure your plan properly reflects your current wishes and needs.
After getting hitched, some of your most pressing concerns include: naming your new spouse as a beneficiary on your insurance policies and retirement accounts, granting him or her medical power of attorney and/or durable power of attorney (if that’s your wish), and adding him or her to your will and/or trust.
2) You get divorced: Since divorce can be so overwhelming, estate planning often gets overshadowed by the other dramatic new changes happening. But failing to update your plan for divorce can have devastating consequences.
Once divorce proceedings start, you’ll need to ensure your future ex is no longer eligible to receive any of your assets or make financial and medical decisions on your behalf—unless that’s your wish. Once the divorce is finalized and your property is divided, you’ll need to adjust your planning to match your new asset profile and living situation.
But one thing many people forget to do is plan for the worst. Traveling, especially in foreign destinations, means you’ll likely be at greater risk than usual for illness, injury, and even death.
In light of this reality, you must have a legally sound and updated estate plan in place before taking your next trip. If not, your loved ones can face a legal nightmare if something should happen to you while you’re away. The following are 4 critical estate planning tasks to take care of before departing.
1. Make sure your beneficiary designations are up-to-date
Some of your most valuable assets, like life insurance policies and retirement accounts, do not transfer via a will or trust. Instead, they have beneficiary designations that allow you to name the person (or persons) you’d like to inherit the asset upon your death. It’s vital you name a primary beneficiary and at least one alternate beneficiary in case the primary dies before you. Moreover, these designations must be regularly reviewed and updated, especially following major life events like marriage, divorce, and having children.
2. Create power of attorney documents
Outside of death, unforseen illness and injury can leave you incapacitated and unable to make critical decisions about your own well-being. Given this, you must grant someone the legal authority to make those decisions on your behalf through power of attorney. You need two such documents: medical power of attorney and financial durable power of attorney. Medical power of attorney gives the person of your choice the authority to make your healthcare decisions for you, while durable financial power of attorney gives someone the authority to manage your finances. As with beneficiary designations, these decision makers can change over time, so before you leave for vacation, be sure both documents are up to date.
In light of this, it’s critically important to have the appropriate safeguards in place to reduce the risk of fraud and identity theft, especially for your senior parents. Because your parents are probably not as savvy about digital technology and may be losing some of their powers of discernment as they age, it’s quite likely up to you to help them protect themselves—and ultimately your inheritance.
Along with traditional estate planning strategies to ensure your parents’ planning is handled in the event of their incapacity or death, you should take the following four precautions to ensure the safety of their identity and finances while they’re still alive and well.
1) Secure their computer: Your first step should be to make sure all computers they use are protected by robust security software bundled with anti-virus, anti-spam, and spyware detection features. Always go with the latest version of software, and make sure it’s configured to provide automatic updates, including security patches.
2) Use strong passwords and PINs: Create strong passwords and PINs that contain numbers, letters, and symbols, and change them regularly (once every six months). Don’t use the
same password for multiple accounts—each account should have its own unique password. Never share passwords, don’t store them on a computer, and keep them in a secure location.
There are many different kinds of power of attorney. The scope of the authority the principal grants to the agent can be very broad or quite specific. The power of attorney document specifies exactly what that authority looks like. For example, it is customary to give someone the power to make decisions about your:
The agent can be granted authority to make only financial decisions or just health care decisions. Every situation is different and calls for a customized document reflecting the wishes of the principal.
Back in the day, when the estate tax exemption was $675,000 to $1,000,000, most living trusts were drafted to provide for a mandatory split of trust assets upon the death of the first spouse.
This was done to ensure that the full estate tax exemption was used and unnecessary estate taxes were avoided.
A split of the trust assets is still appropriate in certain circumstances, but not for the same reasons, and currently, it would not be handled in the same way.
For example, if you are in a second marriage, with children from a prior marriage, you are likely to want a split of trust assets at the first death. This ensures that the surviving spouse can use the assets of the first spouse to die during his or her life, but that the remaining assets after the death of the surviving spouse return to the children of the deceased spouse and are not diverted to a new spouse or children from a new marriage.
However, if you are in a first marriage situation, all children are from the current marriage and no additional children are likely, splitting the assets at the death of the first spouse adds significant cost and unnecessary complexity.