What’s a vision board and does it work?

Hey Mama!

Our second vision board party is underway and if you still need tickets, there are a few more days to purchase. visualize-flyer-1

I’ve been getting lots of questions about vision boards and whether or not they work- they do!

What’s a Vision Board? 
A vision board is just that- a board with your vision. It’s a board where your highest priorities and intentions are planted.

It’s what you want your life to be. Where you want to go. Who you want to meet.

{Note: The image in the background of the VISUALIZE flyer is a digital vision board I did in early 2016. I had healthy eating, a growing family, travel, love, spiritual awareness.}

You flip through magazines, draw pictures, print items, and/or attach mementos to a board that has the highest vision for your life.

The only rule to creating a vision board is THERE IS NO RULE. It can be whatever you want it to be.

But does it really work? Visualization is one of the most powerful exercises you can do. What you think you become. Not only does your vision board focus on the things you want, more importantly it focuses on the things you want to FEEL!  Do you want to be happy, peaceful, empowered, loved?

One thing you have to remember though, is a vision board is simply a tool.

It works if you work. In the process of creating the vision board, you get clarity on what you want to happen in your life and how you want to feel. By creating the board, you are setting the intention to manifest those things with the help of God and/or the Universe and of course taking action.

Want to know more, come join me in the first VISUALIZE vision board party happening THIS SATURDAY JANUARY 14th at 1:00pm! 

I will walk you through some exercises to get clear on where you want your life to go. What you want your legacy to be. What not to do. And of course the best steps to take to get you there.

You can buy tickets here. Space is limited so you won’t want to wait until the last minute!


What’s the ROI of You?!

Hey There! 

Is it just me, or does there really need to be a day in between Saturday and Sunday?! The weekend always seems a little too short.

This past Friday I went to something called an “unconference”- no agenda, no set speakers. The attendees were all in charge of creating what was discussed. Oh, and did I also mention it was made up of 80 women lawyers?! Dope, right?

It was amazing and motivating to see so many individuals dealing with similar issues- work/life balance, being a perfect mom and being a great employee/er, wanting career growth, etc. Absolutely EMPOWERING and I made some really awesome new friends!

Obviously, it got me thinking about you and how much energy you spend on things you can change but don’t. Double standards, pay inequality, and lack of women in certain careers are all issues that are being addressed within society…..slowly but surely. But your personal issues and concerns- well those you can deal with head on and RIGHT NOW.

As your business and your family grow, it’s important to make sure you take some time to step back and re-evalute how you’re spending your time. Where are you investing your energy and whats the return on investment (ROI) of that energy?

Not only is caring for the kiddos, the house and the business important, but so is self-care. You don’t want to burn out. So, take steps to tackle things that have been lingering and taking up too much of your energy.

Whether its creating your estate plan, incorporating a new business, or deciding how your business will run when you’re gone- you have items on your mind that could have been checked off a loooooong time ago. Let’s be honest, if you would stop being afraid of the uncertainty and stop procrastinating, you could deal with some of the energy-suckers.

Stop spending your time on the “WHAT-IFs” and put some plans in place so you can spend more time snuggling with those babies and building your squad.

Moral of this story: Stop with the excuses already! Invest in yourself, your business, and your family. Meet new people. Get out of your comfort zone.

And I can promise you that the ROI on getting your ducks in a row and taking care of yourself outweighs the stress, time and financial impact of dealing with the clean up after a storm.

So, cheers to new beginnings- a new week and new month- and to getting sh!t done!



P.S. There’s still time! Have burning questions? Want us to discuss something in our Newsletter? Send us an email and let us know what’s on your mind!


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Estate Planning Tips for a 2nd Marriage

What does QTIP mean? It stands for “Qualified Terminable Interest Property.” But that doesn’t explain what it is. So what is the purpose of the QTIP trust?

The QTIP Trust can help you put specifications on your property. For example, if you are in a 2nd marriage but want to divide your property between your current spouse and any children from a previous marriage, the QTIP trust would help in such a situation.

Essentially, with a QTIP trust, when the first spouse dies the surviving spouse would become the “life beneficiary.” When the second spouse passes away, the trust assets would be automatically passed to the children of the first spouse, the “final beneficiaries.”

In the current times of continual change and uncertainty about estate taxes, QTIP trusts are very useful. For example, if one spouse were to die, the QTIP trust would allow the survivor to decide how much of the property should be placed in a trust to maximize the estate tax savings.

Although a QTIP trust doesn’t eliminate estate tax, having one can postpone the estate tax until the death of the second spouse. If a QTIP trust is in place, then at death, there will be no estate tax placed on the assets within the trust. Instead, the assets would qualify for “unlimited marital deduction” which allows for all property to pass to the surviving spouse, regardless of estate tax.

How to Prevent Family Feuds Following Death

How often have you heard about a family feud following a death in the family? Whether it is a personal relation or the story of Anna Nicole Smith or the Koch Brother – everyone has heard a horror story about wills and inheritances. Rather than risking a similar situation occurring in your own family, it’s important to protect your assets and familial relationships before you pass.

How do you do this? Rather than simply dividing an estate into portions, which can lead to estate litigation, designate a specific recipient for your most valuable assets. Put the specific designations into a will, which cannot be refuted.

Don’t think this could apply to you? Here’s an example: Ms. Clark has 2 daughters ages 30 and 26. Upon her death, her will designates that her estate be split 50/50 between her daughters. As her assets and items are being distributed, the younger daughter asks for a pair of earrings that belonged to her mother. However, the older daughter wants to keep the earrings for herself. At this point, the two daughters would have to go through a series of legal proceedings to work this situation out. However, had Ms. Clark designated the earrings to go to a specific daughter, there would be no problem.

Another way around this issue would be for Ms. Clark to have given her earrings away before she passed away. By giving away your prized possessions when you are still living, there is no room for misunderstandings regarding who was to receive what.

There are plenty of ways to assure that your personal effects are taken care of but it is important to be informed.

How Life Insurance is Important to Estate Planning

If you are working on your estate planning documents, and you want to make sure it is included in your financial plans, life insurance is one thing you definitely want to look into.

As the main purpose of life insurance is the protection of your family after you pass away, it is an obvious tool recommended by attorneys, financial planners, life insurance agents, financial reporters and even bloggers whether or not they have any financial incentive to recommend it.

Why?  Because in the majority of cases, your family will receive more than is paid in, they will get it quickly and without any immediate tax burden.  It is a flexible tool that can be bought in many different forms, and is also not limited to the wealthy.

However, it can be a pretty complex topic, and without your full attention, you can get involved with an expensive policy that could behave very differently than you intended.

We have a few trusted life insurance agents we work with (no, we do not receive a commission), so if this is something you are interested in, give the office a call. Also, keep an eye out for our upcoming workshop on life insurance and estate planning.

Start Planning Now!

Are you in your 20’s or 30’s? Recently married? Have young children or a little one on the way?

When it comes to estate planning, the techniques and tools are somewhat different for young couples with or without children or single parents than for older parents with adult children. For example, because you’re still building your estate and saving for your children’s college educations, gifting probably will not be part of your estate planning strategy. But one powerful technique that benefits you as well as older estate planners is the use of trusts. Let’s take a closer look at how trusts can benefit your estate plan.


A living trust can provide for the secure management of the money you leave your children when you die. If your surviving spouse is not confident about managing substantial assets, or if both you and your spouse die, a living trust may name an institutional trustee to invest and distribute the funds according to your instructions. Such a trustee, usually a bank, will use professional money managers and provide the principal to your children for their basic material needs, education, healthcare, reasonable comfort and whatever you deem important for their support.

A trust not only minimizes estate tax and avoids probate, a primary need for older estate planners, but also protects your children when you or your spouse die.

Even if you don’t have children, an estate plan is still a necessity because you do have heirs. Who are your heirs? They could be your parents and siblings, other relatives, or friends. Unless you have an estate plan, those heirs will have to wait months or years for the probate court to approve their inheritance after your death. In addition, they may lose some of their inheritance to estate tax.

Why the New Year is a great time to update your estate planning documents

We are now 12 days into 2015! I hope it’s going well for you and you’re sticking to those resolutions!

Happy-New-Year-with-stars-2015The beginning of the year is the best time to update your estate plan. However, you should not only think about the assets and property involved but also the people involved. Carefully consider your beneficiaries, trustees and agents whom you have entrusted to care for your assets, property and loved ones.

So what exactly should you be looking for as you update your estate planning documents? Following are some possible events and circumstances that might require changes in your will or other estate planning documents:

1.   Marriage. Did you, your child or another family member named in your documents get married?

2.   Divorce. Did you, your child or another family member named in your documents get divorced?

3.   Birth or adoption of a child, grandchild, etc. Did you, your child, or someone else give birth or adopt a child that you would like included in your estate planning? Do you have to name a guardian for your children in case of your death?

4.   Child has reached the age of majority. Has a child named in your estate planning documents turned 18 or otherwise reached a milestone set in your estate plan?

5.   Death or serious illness. Has someone named in your estate plan died or fallen seriously ill, especially if it’s someone who has been named as your executor, power of attorney or trustee?

6.   Changes in relationships with people, pets or organizations. Do you have a new relationship with someone or an organization you would like to include in your planning? Alternately, have you severed any such relationships?

7.   Purchase or sale of major assets. Have you bought or sold a house, opened or closed a business, etc.?

8.   New insurance policies or pension plans. Have you acquired new insurance policies or pension plans that require adjustment of beneficiaries in your estate plan? Have you reached the age at which you are required to take distributions from a pension plan?

9.   Change of your state of residence. Have you moved and inadvertently made part of your estate plan invalid?

10. Tax law changes. Are there new or different provisions in the tax law that affects your estate distribution plan?

And of course if you don’t have any estate plan in place or are missing a few of the essential documents, now is also a great time to set that up. You can read my post on  Top 4 (MUST HAVE) Estate Planning Documents to have on the blog.

Likewise, if you’re ready to schedule an appointment with me, give the office a call at (650) 503-3770 or send me an email at carmen  (at) carmenrosaslaw (dot) com. You can also visit the Contact Page!

Should you hold a family meeting to explain your estate plan?

I received the following question from clients very often: “SHOULD I HOLD A FAMILY MEETING TO EXPLAIN MY ESTATE PLAN?”

Here’s my Answer:

265359183_640Parents are often reluctant to share their estate plans with their adult children. Some feel its a private matter and shouldn’t be revealed until death. Many are afraid of creating relationship problems within the family, for example if one child is chosen to be a trustee or executor over the others or if inheritances are not equal. But explaining your decisions now to your family, in a general way, will avoid surprises later and make it more likely that they will accept them.

Holding a family meeting is a good way to do this. You can ask your estate planning attorney and financial advisor to be there. They will be able to explain how your plan will work and why these decisions were made, as well as answer any questions. This will also introduce your advisors to your family members so they will be more comfortable working together in your absence.

Choose a date and time that is convenient for everyone and a place that is appropriate. Limit the meeting to adults; arrange for childcare if necessary. Have a beginning and ending time.

Make a list of topics you want to cover. No specific financial information or values of assets need to be disclosed at this time. This meeting should be a general explanation of what you have planned and why, in order to prepare family members for what they can expect and may need to do if you become disabled or die. Allow for and encourage questions and discussion.

It is likely that there will be some kind of anxiety when the meeting begins, but will allow your children and family members to ask questions to understand your intent.

Why do we procrastinate about Estate Planning?

now-is-the-time-btnMany people have not participates in meaningful estate planning. Most will admit it is something they need to do, but they keep putting it off and continue to add it to their to-do list. Why put off something so important? Here are some common reasons why we procrastinate about estate planning—and some information that just might get you moving.

  • It’s expensive. Granted, a lot of people don’t have extra money lying around these days. But not doing anything can end up costing your loved ones much more than it would cost you to plan now. If you own assets in your name and you become incapacitated due to illness or injury, you (your assets and your care) will likely be placed in a court guardianship, aka conservatorship. This is not free. All costs (attorney fees, accounting fees, court costs, etc.) will be paid from your assets, and your family will probably have to ask the court for an allowance if they need money for living expenses. This process does not replace probate when you die; your family will have to go through the court system again, and that means more expenses and less for your family. Your assets will be distributed according to your California Intestacy Law, which probably won’t be what you would have wanted. (Check out the Table of Consanguinity for more info!) Estate planning does not have to be expensive. Find a reasonable attorney who can help you get started with some basic documents. Upgrade to a living trust later if you can’t afford it now. You may even be able to pay the attorney over time. My office does offer payment plans.
  • I don’t own enough. Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. In fact, costs for a court guardianship and probate usually take a higher percentage from smaller estates (which can least afford it) than from larger ones. Whatever you do own, you probably would rather see it go to your loved ones than to courts and attorneys.
  • I’m not old enough. Estate planning is not just for “old people.” For some reason, young people think they are going to live forever. The reality is that any of us, at any age, can become incapacitated or die due to an illness, injury, accident or random act of violence. Almost every day we read about someone whose life was cut short or changed dramatically in an instant.
  • It’s confusing; I don’t know what to do. Uncertainty and indecision can be paralyzing. Attorneys are called “counselors at law” for a reason. An experienced estate planning attorney knows what other families have been through, knows what has worked well and what hasn’t.  He or she can also help you understand the process and make challenging decisions easier.

Why do we need to do estate planning? To make sure our assets will go to the people we want to have them with the least amount of delay, hassle and expense; to keep our families from having to deal with the courts if we become incapacitated and when we die; to let our families know that we care about them, that we want to provide for them and protect them. Yes, we do it for those we love. But we get a huge benefit, too—and that’s peace of mind.

Call the office or schedule a meeting via the contact page! Hope to hear from you soon!


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