Your estate plan must safeguard your children, who are counting on you to ensure that they will always be taken care of by the people you want, in a way you want, no matter what happens.
At Sky Unlimited Legal Advisory, we are very passionate about planning for the well-being and care of the children you love. Over the years, we have developed an expertise for advance planning for the care of children in the event of the death of one or both parents. Without this advance legal planning, unthinkable events can (and do) take place:
Ø Your children could be placed into the care of the California Department of Social Services ... even if you have a will in place ... and even if you have a living trust! (Likely this circumstance would be temporary, but you never want your children in the care of strangers - not even for a minute.)
Ø Your children could be put into the custody and care of someone you would never choose, like the one family member who may have good intentions, but you don't want raising your kids!
Ø A judge, who doesn't know you or your family, will decide who will raise your kids, even if it is the last person you would ever want.
Ø A long and nasty custody fight could ensure or there might be a challenge to the guardians you have designated.
Ø Up to 5% of the value of your gross assets could be lost to court costs and other unnecessary fees through the probate process that can tie up your assets for years and deprive your kids of the resources they need.
Ø Unscrupulous people can take advantage of children when they turn 18 and get a check for whatever assets are left.
With advance legal planning, these problems and more can be avoided. A majority of estate planning attorneys do not address these issues. They do not plan from a parent's perspective and they do not have the expertise to do a comprehensive job.
Yes, these occurrences scare us, too! That is why we offer a Kids Protection Plan® with every estate plan we do for families with minor children.
Our Kids Protection Plan® includes a specific set of instructions, legal documents, and an ID card for your wallet. If you are in an accident, your Kids Protection Plan will help to make sure your children are never taken into the custody of Child Protective Services or anyone else you would not want. These clear instructions inform the Police and ensure your children will be raised by people you have selected.
To get started with your Kids Protection Plan®, please call us at (650) 761-0992 today or book a Family Wealth Planning Session® online now.
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We regularly meet with clients who ask us to review an estate plan that they created online or with an attorney who isn’t experienced with estate planning. You see, these clients usually think they found a faster and cheaper solution to estate planning, but once the plan is signed and done, they’re often left wondering whether this “cheap” plan will actually accomplish their goals, or if it will leave their family with a big mess instead.
And what I see time and again when I review these estate plans are poorly designed plans with simple but devastating mistakes. What’s more, these clients wouldn’t even realize their plan had these mistakes if they hadn’t met with us!
While it might seem simple enough to put together a trust online or have your tax attorney prepare your will, it can be very difficult to create an estate plan that works without the proper training and experience. What might seem like minor details to the inexperienced eye can often have major effects on your plan’s final outcome.
More often than not, clients who meet with us to review a DIY plan find out that instead of saving money on their estate plan, they’ve actually cost themselves much more by buying a plan that has mistakes. And if these mistakes aren’t caught by you while you’re alive and well, your loved ones will be the ones paying the price to resolve them after you’re gone.
Here are the three biggest mistakes I see when reviewing DIY and low-cost estate plans:
Hiring a lawyer to help you make wise decisions for life and death can be the most empowering choice you ever make for yourself and your loved ones. The way I explain it to my friends and family is, “estate planning isnt about planning for your death, it’s about planning for your life.” So, with that frame in mind, let’s talk about how to choose an estate planning attorney, because we aren’t all cut from the same cloth.
The right lawyer will be there for your family when you can’t be, so you want to understand who the lawyer is as a person, not just an attorney. Of course, you’ll also want to discover the services your lawyer offers and how they run their business.
Here are five questions to ensure you don’t end up paying for legal services you don’t need, expect, or want. Once you know exactly what you should be looking for when choosing an estate planning lawyer, you’ll be much better positioned to hire an attorney that will provide the kind of love, attention, care, and trust your family deserves.
An estate plan ensures any medical decisions needed while away from home will be handled according to your wishes, and with as much ease as possible, no matter what the rules are where something happens. If you fall ill or become injured and can’t make medical decisions for yourself, your estate plan will ensure that decisions will be made by the person you choose, and with your indicated desires for your care at the forefront.
Without an estate plan in place, your family or friends could have a heavy lift to get you back home, locate your assets, keep your bills paid, and even ensure your children get taken care of by the right people in the right way.
Lastly, an estate plan ensures that any debts or liabilities are taken care of properly in case something happens while on vacation. This can help prevent creditors from trying to collect from surviving family members after the fact — something no one wants to deal with during such a difficult time.
ENSURE YOUR WISHES ARE RESPECTED
The primary reason to update an estate plan is to ensure that an individual's wishes are respected upon death. For example, suppose an individual has recently acquired valuable property or has had changes in family structure (such as marriage or children). In that case, updating the documents that outline how assets should be distributed is important.
If the documents are not updated, this could lead to disputes between family members and legal complications when probate occurs. Additionally, if laws change at the state or federal level, those changes need to be incorporated into the existing estate plan to remain valid and effective.
ENSURE YOUR LOVED ONES ARE PROTECTED FROM TAX IMPLICATIONS
Another reason for updating an estate plan is for future tax planning purposes. Without proper planning and asset allocation, taxes can significantly reduce the amount that beneficiaries receive after one's death. Additionally, some states have transfer taxes on certain assets (such as real estate), which must be factored into one’s estate planning decisions. In addition, changes in Federal tax law may affect whether other taxes, such as capital gains tax, applies at the time of death or while transferring assets during life – thus providing additional incentive for individuals to review their plans regularly with their advisors and make necessary updates when necessary.
The simple fact is that the day your child turns 18, he or she becomes an adult and has the legal rights of an adult. This means that you lose your prior held rights to make medical and financial decisions for your child unless your child executes legal documents giving you those rights back. Without the proper legal documents, accessing medical information and even being informed about your adult child’s medical condition can be difficult and in some cases, impossible.
When sending kids off to college, it is crucial to consider the legal implications of an accident or medical emergency on your ability to stay informed and participate in important decision-making for your young adult child. Medical professionals are responsible for following the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which ensures medical privacy protection for all adults. Once your child turns 18, they are (from a legal perspective) no more attached to you than a stranger, making communication about medical issues is tricky if your child is incapacitated and not able to grant permission on their own.