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.
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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.
However, estate planning can be even more critical for those in committed relationships who are unmarried.
In the first part of this series, we discussed the estate planning tools all unmarried couples should have in place. Here, we’ll look at the final two must-have planning tools.
Because your relationship with one another is frequently not legally recognized, if one of you becomes incapacitated or when one of you dies, not having any planning can have disastrous consequences. Your age, income level, and marital status makes no difference—every adult needs to have some fundamental planning strategies in place if you want to keep the people you love out of court and out of conflict.
Last week, we discussed wills, trusts, and durable power of attorney. Here, we’ll look at two more must-have estate planning tools, both of which are designed to protect your choices about the type of medical treatment you’d want if tragedy should strike.
3. Medical power of attorney
In addition to naming someone to manage your finances in the event of your incapacity, you also need to name someone who can make health-care decisions for you. If you want your partner to have
any say in how your health care is handled during your incapacity, you should grant your partner medical power of attorney.
But the reality is every adult, regardless of age, income level, or marital status needs to have some fundamental planning strategies in place if you want to keep the people you love out of court and out of conflict.
In fact, estate planning can be even more critical for unmarried couples. Regardless if you’ve been together for decades and act just like a married couple, you likely aren’t viewed as one in the eyes of the law. And in the event one of you becomes incapacitated or when one of you dies, not having any planning in place can have disastrous consequences.
If you’re in a committed relationship and have yet to get—or even have no plans to get—married, the following estate planning documents are an absolute must:
1. Wills and trusts
If you’re unmarried and die without planning, the assets you leave behind will be distributed according to your state’s intestate laws to your family members: parents, siblings, and possibly even other, more distant relatives if you have no living parents or siblings. The state’s laws would provide NO protection for your unmarried partner. Given this, if you want your partner to receive any of your assets upon your death, you need to—at the very least—create a will.
A will details how you want your assets distributed after you die, and you can name your unmarried partner, or even a friend, to inherit some or all of your assets. However, certain assets like life insurance, pensions, and 401(k)s, are not transferred through a will. Instead, those assets will go to the person named in the beneficiary designation, so be sure to name your partner as beneficiary if you’d like him or her to inherit those assets.
However, there could be an even better way.
In fact, earning big money is often even more possible when in your “growing up” years because most people are a lot more willing (and able) to take risks before they get bogged down with the “realities” of life.
While the old adage of “a penny saved is a penny earned” is applicable when you are talking about slowly growing a nest egg, incremental saving is usually an impractical route to millionaire status.
Many self-made millionaires in their 30s maintain that working smart and working hard can bring you from just making ends meet to a 7-figure income in as little as a decade. Focusing on these steps at any age can set you on the path to riches quickly.
Expand Your Earnings
Think big. Working a typical 9-5 schedule likely won’t make you a millionaire. Find ways to boost your income. Get creative and consider ways to make money on the side, start to create passive income streams, and start a business.
Many self-made millionaires have several streams of earned income, “passive” income and investment income. Multiple income streams can get you on the fast track to 7-figure status.
Invest Your Money
Saving is important, but it won’t launch you into millionaire status by your 40s. Elon Musk, famed tech billionaire, invested all his proceeds from his sale of Zip2 (which was the basis for PayPal). Instead of spending the money or putting it in savings, Musk, then just in his late-20s, invested every penny back into his next business ventures and even had to borrow money to pay his rent.
Musk’s strategy of investing rather than spending is tried and tested. Grant Cardone, another self-made millionaire, recalls he was still driving a Toyota Camry when he made his first million because he was putting everything he made back into his businesses.
In the first part of this series, we discussed the importance of including your digital assets in your estate plan. Here, we’ll talk about the best ways to get started with this process.
With so much of our lives now lived online, it’s vital you put the proper estate planning provisions in place to ensure your digital assets are effectively protected and passed on in the event of your incapacity or death.
However, because many types of online assets have only been in existence for a handful of years, there are very few laws governing how they should be dealt with through estate planning. And due to their virtual and often anonymous nature, just locating and accessing some of these assets can be extremely difficult for those you leave behind.
Given these unique challenges, last week we discussed some of the most common types of digital assets and the legal landscape surrounding them. Here, we offer some practical tips to ensure all of your digital property is effectively incorporated into your estate plan.
Best practices for including digital assets in your estate plan
If you’re like most people, you probably own numerous digital assets, some of which likely have significant monetary and/or sentimental value. Other types of online property may have no value for anyone other than yourself or be something you’d prefer your family and friends not access or inherit.