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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You’ve also probably given some thought to what you want to happen to your assets and your family if something happens to you.
But what you might not have realized is this: If you don’t create a plan for your assets before you die, the law has its own plan for you that might not reflect your wishes for your assets, especially your retirement assets.
And if you’re in a blended family, this can have a significant financial impact on the ones you love and even create expensive, long-term conflict.
This week, I explain how the law affects retirement distributions for married couples, and why you need to be extra careful with your retirement planning if you’re in a blended family to ensure your retirement account assets go to the right people in the right amounts after you’re gone.
While selecting godparents is a meaningful tradition in many cultures, it's important to understand that naming a godparent is not the same thing as naming a legal guardian for your children.
To put it bluntly, even if you have named godparents, if something happens to you, your children could end up in the care of strangers, child protective services or in the long-term care of someone you would never want raising your children.
In this blog, we’ll explain the roles of a godparent and legal guardian and how to ensure your kids are always cared for by the people you choose - no matter what.
A godparent is traditionally someone you name to watch over your child and help them live according to your morals and values. Godparents are meant to be mentors and role models, guiding your child in matters of faith, morality, and character. The role of a godparent is deeply rooted in religious and cultural traditions, and they often participate in religious ceremonies such as baptisms or confirmations.
If you’ve been meaning to talk to your family about money, inheritance, end-of-life decisions, estate planning, and creating a plan for your whole family’s wealth - now and in the future - having everyone in the same room is ideal.
But asking your relatives how they want their assets handled when they die or if they become incapacitated might not go over well while opening presents or carving a turkey.
To keep your family from feeling blindsided and to make the most of your conversation, consider the following three tips.
01 | Share Your Intention Ahead of Time
Many people feel uncomfortable talking about their finances. They may have grown up in a family where money talk was considered taboo or perhaps they simply don’t want the details of their finances to create family tension. Some people also feel like talking about estate planning and making a plan for their money is plain bad luck (but we’re happy to report that planning for your assets does not increase your chance of dying, as you’ve already got a 100% chance of death, but it does increase your chances of leaving behind a happy, well-adjusted family).
In this week’s blog, we discuss four more tax-saving methods you can use right now to owe fewer taxes come April 2024.
If you missed part 1 of this series, be sure to read it here so you don’t miss out on these money-saving techniques.
5. Make Charitable Gifts
Giving back to your community or supporting causes you care about is not only rewarding, but can also provide tax benefits if your family’s tax deductions are close to exceeding the standard tax deduction.
The standard deduction for 2023 is $12,950 for individuals and $25,900 for married couples filing jointly. Remember that the total of your itemized deductions, including charitable contributions, must exceed the standard deduction for your filing status to provide a tax benefit.
If you’re nearing the top of the standard deduction threshold, this year may be a great time to contribute to a charitable organization that is important to you.
Year-end tax planning isn't something you do at the last minute; it's a series of thoughtful steps you can start taking right now. In this blog series, we’ll explain eight key actions you can take during this last quarter of the year to save money on your 2023 taxes.
Let’s get started.
1. Contribute to Your HSA (Health Savings Account)
A Health Savings Account (HSA) can be a powerful tool for both managing your healthcare costs and reducing your taxable income. HSAs allow you to set aside pre-tax dollars to cover future qualified medical expenses. Contributions to your HSA are tax-deductible, and the earnings grow tax-free. To make the most of this tax-advantaged account, consider maximizing your contributions to your HSA before the year ends.
For the 2023 tax year, you can contribute up to $3,650 if you have self-only health insurance coverage or $7,300 for family coverage. If you are 55 or older, you can also make an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution. By increasing your HSA contributions, you not only reduce your taxable income this year but also build a valuable fund for future healthcare expenses.