Protecting Your Children

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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When it's all for the Kids

 

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7 Events That Necessitate a Review of Your Estate Plan

Even if you put a totally solid estate plan in place, it can end up proving worthless if it’s not properly updated.

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. 

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Appoint a Guardian to Keep Your Kids In Safe Hands At All Times

Probably every parent who has watched the news has felt the heartbreak over what had happened to immigrant families at the border due to the Trump administration’s immigration regulations.

 As you likely know, the administration's “zero-tolerance” policy had led to the separation of more than 2,300 children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border between May and June 2018 alone.

 

Putting politics aside, with horror stories of toddlers being ripped from their mothers’ arms and audio recordings of children crying and begging for their parents, we imagine it would be hard for anyone with their own kids not to be disturbed.

 

What’s more, perhaps these events have got you thinking about how it would be for your children to be taken into custody of strangers. And if not, let this be the moment you willingly feel the fear and decide to use your privilege of being able to make choices on behalf of your children to ensure their well-being and care by the people you want no matter what happens.

 

It can happen to your family

Even though most people think that something like that could never happen to their family, they’re totally wrong. While your kids almost certainly won’t be taken into custody by U.S. border agents, your children could be taken into the care of strangers if something happens to you—even if your family or friends are on the scene.

 

But you can do something to protect your children and ensure they’re always in the care of people you know, love, and trust. If you use this atrocity against families to take action on behalf of your own kids—instead of merely feeling numbness and paralysis over not knowing what to do—these events can inspire you to do the things you know you must in order to properly take care of your family.

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4 Critical Estate Planning Tasks to Complete Before Going on Vacation

Going on vacation entails lots of planning: packing luggage, buying plane tickets, making hotel reservations, and confirming rental vehicles.

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.

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Ensure the Security of Your Senior Parents' Identity and Financial Assets

Today, we live in an uber-connected world, where nearly every type of financial transaction—shopping, banking, investment management—can be made online using a computer or mobile device.

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.

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Power of Attorney - What is it and Is it Enough?

Power of attorney (POA) is a document that grants a specific person, called an agent, the authority to make important decisions on behalf of another person, called the principal.

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:

  • Finances
  • Health care
  • Personal property
  • Real estate
  • Business
  • Personal and family matters
  • Lawsuits
  • Insurances and annuities
  • Taxes
  • Government benefits

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.

 

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