Friday nights with Steel Magnolias

Steel MagnoliasI spent my Friday night at home relaxing with my miniature poodle, Lucy, and watching an all time classic- “Steel Magnolias”. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it. Here’s the wikipedia link to find out more about it.

So as I was crying my eyes out watching the beautiful Shelby (played by Julia Roberts), M’Lynn (Sally Fields) and Jackson (Dylan McDermott) in the hospital scene, the attorney in me jumped up and thought “I hope she had a health care directive! What if she doesn’t want to be on life support!”

Well, Shelby was on life support and her loving husband had to sign off to remove the machines. Now, I know if the love of my life was on life support it would be very difficult for me to “pull the plug.”

Have you thought about what would happen if you were all of a sudden in a coma? If you were in an accident and couldn’t make decisions for yourself? If you suddenly had a stroke and were deemed incapacitated?

I’m sure this has crossed your mind at one point or another but you quickly disregarded it because it’s not something ANYONE wants to deal with!

Would your spouse or loved ones know what to do? Would you want to be on life support?

Well, in California, in order to authorize an agent to have access to medical records and make decisions on your behalf, you need a health care directive and a HIPPAA release (if the language isn’t in your HCD).

Letting go is hard to do and although becoming incapacitated is not a glamorous topic, reality is, it happens.

When selecting someone to be your agent- whether it is your spouse, parent, sibling, or friend- be sure that the individual understands your wants and needs.

Have you thought about who you want as your agent? What qualities do you think are important for the agent to possess?

If you want more info about creating a health care directive, contact our Redwood City Estate Planning office today!

Your Nest Egg vs. Your Children’s Education

As many of you know, I am a HUGE (did I mention HUGE?) advocate of proper planning- whether it’s estate planning, financial planning, party planning or vacation planning. Yes, I am that person who creates an itinerary for a family vacation!

Recently, I was asked by a client about how she should start saving for her retirement while also saving for her children’s education. The conflict usually arises from the lack of financial resources to do both all while still funding daily living expenses. This client isn’t alone.

Parents become stuck between priorities and usually wind up doing nothing at all. Now, I am not a financial planner (I can refer you to one!), but I do assist my clients with sorting out their priorities to they can come up with a plan to support their family in the future.

Here are some tips to how to find a balance between saving for your retirement, having an emergency fund and saving for your children’s education.

BUILD AN EMERGENCY FUND FIRST

An emergency fund is that money you have saved for a “rainy day.” This fund should be about 3-6 months worth of expenses and used for emergencies. If you don’t have this saved, you may be required to take a loan from your 401(k) or take a personal loan. These options may subject you to penalties and taxes, which end up costing more.

SAVE FOR YOUR RETIREMENT

Once you have your emergency fund, you should begin saving for your retirement. Parents are often concerned about being selfish because by saving for retirement, they are not saving for their children’s education. This is actually the opposite. If you don’t have a retirement savings, when it is time for you to retire and your children have their own families, you won’t have any money to take care of yourself. You will then become dependent on your children to take care of you and add to their own expenses. There are student loans, scholarships and grants available for your children’s education. There are NO loans for retirement!

SAVE FOR YOU CHILDREN’S EDUCATION

This is the LAST step. Once you have your emergency stash and a growing retirement fund, THEN you can start funneling some money into your children’s education fund. If you invest in a 529 college savings plan, the earnings grow tax-free. AND, other people in your child’s life — like grandparents, godparents and generous aunts and uncles — can contribute as much as $14,000 per year (annual gift tax exclusion for 2013) to a child’s 529 plan.

If you would like to set up  a time to meet with us to discuss your plans for the future, feel free to call us at 650-503-3770  so we can sit down and chat. And because we know how important this planning is for our clients, for the first two people to call our Redwood City Estate Planning Attorney, we will give away a FREE consultation (valued at $400)! Call now and schedule your appointment- When scheduling your appointment, don’t forget to mention this post!