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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Surprisingly, this is especially true when it comes to affluent parents. And, we hope to change it because one of the most important things you can do is talk to your kids (and your parents) about money.
According to the Spectrem Millionaire Corner, a market research group, only 17% of affluent parents said they would disclose their income or net worth to their kids by the time they turned 18. A nearly equal amount, 18% said they would never disclose these numbers to their kids. 32% of the rich parents surveyed by Spectrem said “it’s none of their business” when asked why they would not talk to their kids about money.
But, that’s just faulty thinking, wouldn’t you agree?! We hope so! But, if not, read on …
The amount of money generated by your family, and what will happen to it when you or your parents become incapacitated or die is definitely your business. In fact, we believe it may be the most important business you have. And whether your parents talk with you about it now, or you figure it all out after they die, your parent’s money has a huge impact on you.
And, maybe you can. But, if you do, you need to know the potential pitfalls. Online estate planning could be a big trap for the unwary and actually leave your family worse off than if you had done nothing at all.
First and foremost, before you do any of your own online estate planning, it’s critical to understand your family dynamics, the nature of your assets, and what the state would say should happen to your assets if something happens to you. You see, whether or not you do estate planning, the state does have a plan for your assets if you become incapacitated or when you die. You need to know what that plan is, so you know whether or not you want to change it.
A good start on getting educated is this one hour training with my mentor, financial and legal expert Ali Katz, which clarifies what you can and should do yourself, for free, online. The easy-to-watch training gives you access to a free online tool that you can use to create the one thing that would be most important for your family: a “treasure map” listing everything you own, where it is, and how your loved ones can access it. This tool is free to use, and creating your own personal resource map will be a true gift for the people you love.
Right now, huge numbers of people are coming face to face with their own mortality, and realizing they need to plan for the worst. This goes not just for those of us in the “senior” category, but for all of us, no matter our age. We are facing the reality of our mortality, and many of us are doing it courageously by taking this as an opportunity to learn what we need to do for the people we love.
Recently I heard a tragic story from a colleague whose client recently lost her fiancé to COVID-19. Because she wasn’t listed on her fiancé’s health directive and HIPAA waiver, she could not get anyone to update her on his condition once he entered the hospital.
Naturally, she didn’t give up trying to get in touch, and eventually someone told her that he wasn’t in the ICU anymore. She was enormously relieved, but when she hadn’t heard anything else by the next day, she called again for news. Finally, after being transferred several times, she learned that the reason her fiancé wasn’t in the ICU was because he was in the morgue. He’d passed away the day before, and no one had told her. Heartbreaking.
Nobody expects something like this to happen, especially people who are healthy and making plans for their own futures. But sometimes the worst does happen, and if it does, you want the people you love to be able to grieve properly, without leaving them with a mess of confusion on top of it all.
In a natural disaster, food and water will keep you alive, but how will you rebuild your life if your home and community are devastated?
Here are some simple tips that will help you get back on your feet should disaster strike.
Make sure you have enough insurance! Basic homeowner's insurance typically won't cover damage caused by natural disasters like floods or earthquakes. You might need to purchase additional insurance to cover these types of events. If you'd like an objective review of these types and amounts of insurance you have, contact us, we can help.
Keep a thorough inventory of what you own. Having up-to-date information on your personal belongings - especially valuables - will make getting them replaced using your insurance claim easier. Pictures of your belongings stored in the cloud is one great way to handle this in advance of any natural disasters.
Create a financial plan. Natural disasters can be financially disastrous as well. You may not be able to return to work and could face the expense of repairing - or rebuilding - your home.
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.