What to expect when working with me!

This is what Our First Year Together will look like.

Remember most of our estate plans are created based on a flat fee, so you will get all of our services for one low cost- no surprise bills!

To schedule a meeting or chat with a client specialist, visit the contact page or call us at 650-503-3770.

Talk to you soon!

The Trouble with DIY Estate Planning

vacation-estate-plan-review Everyone is always looking to save money! (I know I am). But, there are some things you shouldn’t do yourself, like estate planning. Work with a professional to ensure your peace of mind!

Although having a DIY estate plan is better than having nothing at all, unless you are single and have no assets, you shouldn’t be going at it alone.

People tend to make mistakes when filling out the forms and sometimes don’t understand the language or terms involved in the legal documents. Add “trust funding” to the mix and it could spell a recipe for disaster.

Another risk is that when it comes to transferring your money to family members after you pass away, a self-written will might contain holes that lead to errors. Without the help of a lawyer—or sometimes even with the help of a lawyer—a person might not prepare for contingencies such as being pre-deceased by children, divorce, or the births of new children. (Think the King of Pop or Anna Nicole Smith.)

And, if you think estate planning is expensive, probate costs about $12,000-$20,000 in attorneys fees  and correcting mistakes in DIY plans could cost the same amount, if not more in order to litigate.

My office offers a variety of payment plans and workshops to help you create an estate plan that fits within your budget. For peace of mind, contact the office today 650-503-3770 or visit our contact page to set up a 15 minute telephone consultation.


Casey Kasem + End-of-Life + Step-Children

Casey KasemAfter two weeks of being in a hospital in Washington, Casey Kasem has passed at the age of 82.

His passing did not come without notoriety. The pubic battle over his health care began in October 2013 when his oldest children protested in front of their father’s home after their step-mother would not allow the children to visit with Kasem.

In 2007, when Kasem found out he had Parkinson’s, he signed a Health Care Directive granting authorization to his two oldest daughters to make decisions for him.

This document, which snubbed Kasem’s wife, set the stage for the legal battle that would erupt six years later as his health deteriorated and his children accused the stepmother of shutting them out of their father’s life. It would serve as a legal basis for his daughter to have doctors discontinue infusions of water, food and medicine.

So, what can we take from this public and emotional battle:

  1. A health care directive is helpful to give instructions and appoint an agent to act on your behalf.
  2. A health care directive does not however, guarantee that no one will contest it.
  3. A health care directive allows you to pass on your wishes regarding life support so a judge can use it to make determinations in court if the issue arises.
  4. A situation like this is one reason why blended families (especially) should have a comprehensive estate plan.

May Mr. Casem rest in peace.


When is Probate Triggered?


Do you know what PROBATE is?

Do you know how it is triggered?

Well, if you are over the age of 18, have more than $150,000 in assets, and die without a trust, probate begins.

That also means if you only have a will, your estate must still be probated. A will simply gives instruction as to how you want your estate distributed.

A trust is the only instrument that can keep you out of probate when you estate is over $150,000.

So, if you own a home or have other assets that exceed $150,000- be sure you create a trust!

April Showers Bring May Flowers!

May is known for flowers, Mother’s Day, Cinco De Mayo and many other celebrations. But, did you know, it’s also NATIONAL STROKE AWARENESS MONTH?

Stroke affects people of all ages, is steadily increasing in children, and causes the death of more women than breast cancer each year! My father suffered a stroke a few years ago, but lucky for us it wasn’t debilitating.

If you or someone you know has had a stroke, take some time to educate yourself a little bit.

Get prevention tips and learn how to recognize warning signs at www.stroke.org/SYMP


Reduce the Risk of Identity Theft When a Loved One Dies

written by Bay Area estate planning attorney Carmen Rosas.

Don't let your loved ones be the victim's of identity theft.
Don’t let your loved ones be the victim’s of identity theft.

A common trend among identity thief’s?

Afterlife identity theft. And unlike, the recent comedy released, it’s not a funny topic. Identity thief’s are using obituaries to obtain information about deceased individuals.

Upon the passing of a loved one, be sure to contact all financial and government institutions, including:

  • Banks
  • Social Security Office
  • Credit Bureaus


You can leave a legacy like César Chávez

written by California Estate Planning Attorney Carmen Rosas. 

Live a life you're proud of

Live a life you’re proud of!

I spent Sunday afternoon watching the new César Chávez movie. As a granddaughter of an immigrant who initially came to the states as a farm worker, this story hit home and in honor of César Chávez day in California (March 31st), I thought today would be a good time to discuss how you too can leave a legacy.

Mr. Chávez worked tirelessly to improve the working conditions of migrant laborers.  He has left a legacy that includes recognition from U.S. Presidents, and parks, streets, university buildings, public schools, a college and a Navy ship named for him.  His greatest legacy is in the eyes and hearts of the many people whose lives he helped elevate.

Not many of us reading this blog will be as well known as César Chávez.  And not everyone who has followed his activities has agreed with every one of his positions.  However, there is no question that he has left a legacy.

In our own lives, most of us want to leave a legacy.  We might not aspire to have a postage stamp in our image, or to win the Presidential Medal of Freedom, or to have great structures named after us, but we hope that the fruits of our labors will be recognized, appreciated and well used by those who succeed us.

The organizing efforts of César Chávez that became effective and that had a lasting effect took careful planning and execution.  To leave our own legacy, we must also engage in effective planning.  One great opportunity we have is in creating and carefully maintaining a proper estate plan.  The worldly means and the principles we stand for can be left in an effective manner to bless generations to come.

If you have questions or would like to feel free to give our office a call at 650-503-3770 or send me an e-mail via our contact page.

Happy César Chávez Day!

5 Estate Planning Tips for Women (and the men who love them!)

written by California estate planning attorney Carmen Rosas 

Estate planning is an important issue for everyone, regardless of the size of their estate. For women, however, it is even more important. Did you know, women on average live longer than men and thus have to manage living expenses for a longer period of time. Women also tend to make less money on average than men and may be at a financial disadvantage when their partner dies. Get started now to ensure your financial life is organized in a way to live comfortably and pass on your wealth to beneficiaries you designate.Here are 5 important tips for women to consider:

Women need to have an estate plan!
Women need to have an estate plan!
  1. Everyone Needs a Will– without a will, the court will determine how your estate is split up. This means if you have a life partner or are unmarried, the court will pass your estate on to “your next of kin.” Make sure your intent is on paper and in a legally binding document!
  2. Tax Implications– when assets transfer to a spouse, it may receive certain tax exemptions. However, if your estate exceeds a certain amount it may be subject to an estate tax. Also, if your assets pass to an adult child or another family member, the estate may still be subject to a tax.
  3. Evaluate Your Estate Planning After Your Spouse Dies– Many people do not revisit their estate plan once it is created. However upon the death of your spouse/partner or divorce, it is important that your estate plan is updated to reflect the proper beneficiaries.
  4. Trusts Can Keep Your Assets in the Hands of Those You Choose
    When you think of trusts, you may think that they only apply to the very wealthy. Trusts can help even those with smaller estates to protect the assets and ensure they go where you intend. Trusts can keep money protected from children until they are older, and they can often keep ex-spouses of beneficiaries from gaining access to the funds.
  5. Choose an Executor Wisely- An executor has the task of handling your estate until all taxes are filed and paid and the assets distributed. Many people choose a relative or close friend as executor, but be sure to pick one who has some financial savvy. You are trusting them with all the money you have left in the world. It’s important to ensure it is transferred in the right way to avoid extra taxes and potential lawsuits.

The bottom line here is that you create a plan in case of emergencies. Estate Planning isn’t just planning for death, its planning for life. It teaches you how to manage your accounts and protect your assets- building your financial portfolio. Don’t put it off any longer! If you would like to schedule a free 30 minute consult, visit our contact page and schedule a call or Skype meeting or give us a call and our Client Intake Specialist can help you out!

What is a Trust?

A trust is simply a contractual arrangement between three parties – the Trustor (aka the Grantor or the Settlor), the Trustee and the Beneficiary – which specifies the rights, responsibilities and obligations with respect to assets that the Trustor has transferred to the trust and that should be distributed to the Beneficiary.

Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable. A revocable trust means that it can be changed/amended during the Trustor’s lifetime. An irrevocable trust cannot be changed. A revocable trust, depending on the language can become irrevocable immediately upon death.

Trusts help to avoid Probate upon death and Conservatorship during the lifetime. In addition, trusts can accomplish a variety of objectives when planning an estate:

  • Minimize estate taxes
  • Hold assets for minor, disabled, or financially irresponsible beneficiaries.
  • Create flexibility in estate planning for couples in a second marriage.
  • Living TrustProvide asset protection and divorce protection for beneficiaries of the deceased.

The next question is DO I NEED A TRUST?

Well if you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you should consult an attorney to figure out whether or not a trust is the right move for you.

  • Do I have minor children who I wish to provide for at my death, but yet delay distributing money to them until they are older so that they are better able to handle the money responsibly?
  • Do I have an adult child who is disabled or incapable of handling his finances?
  • Do I have a child with a drinking, drug or gambling problem?
  • Do I have an adult child with an untrustworthy spouse?
  • Do I have a child who is so successful that he will be subject to his own estate taxes?
  • Do I have a child who is in a business or profession potentially subject to personal liability?
  • Am I divorced and do I have minor children?
  • Am I re-married and have children from a prior marriage?
  • Am I concerned about the privacy of my affairs and the affairs of my heirs after my death?
  • Am I concerned about the costs and timeliness of concluding my affairs after my death?
  • Do I own real estate located in a state other than the state in which I reside?
  • Do I trust the federal government to continue to allow a couple to transfer $10.5 million of assets at death without paying federal estate taxes?

If you want to know more about the Top Estate Planning Documents check out our old post here.

Want to know more or set up a plan? Give us a call.

Sherlock Holmes and “Multiple Personalities”

Here is some “celebrity gossip” for you to start the week. The estate belonging to the writer of the infamous Sherlock Holmes is being sued.

Leslie Klinger, an author, editor and Sherlock Holmes expert sued Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s estate and wants an order that enjoins the Doyle estate from further asserting certain rights. Klinger states that the copyright has expired on major story elements of the famous detective.

Throughout the years, there’s been many versions of Sherlock Holmes including Warner Bros.’ two recent films starring Robert Downey Jr. and CBS’ Elementary, which gives a modern take on the character.

Image courtesy of wikipedia

Image courtesy of wikipedia

While working on his book, In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, Klinger was contacted by agents for the Doyle estate who asserted a license was needed to continue his work. Instead of agreeing, Klinger sought a declaratory judgment in Illinois federal court, pointing out that many of Doyle’s stories were published before 1920s, which is argued puts them in the public domain.

Typically, the copyright term is life of the author plus 70 years or 95 years after publication, whichever is earliest. How many of Doyle’s Holmes stories are “in” copyright depends on how you count. Doyle’s estate counts ten stories are still subject to copyright.

Now that the estate has finally responded, the judge presiding over the case can begin hearing evidence and arguments to make a decision.

Happy Monday 🙂

P.S. Dont forget to schedule your consult before the end of the month to receive our birthday discount off your estate plan!