Want to know HOW to appoint a guardian?!

Hey Mama! 

Hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving! I don’t know about you, but I have A TON OF LEFTOVERS…I’m pretty turkey’d out! 🙂

Oh and happy cyber Monday! In case you missed it, I launched a pre-sale of an amazing new product coming out early January 2017. It’s call KEYPER and its a DIY Guardianship appointment product that allows you to actually name a guardian for your kiddos. 

You can get all the details here! 

And if you know someone who could use it, please feel free to share! The more children protected, the better! 

So back to my post for today- want to know how you decide on a guardian? 

Well, I like to take my clients through a little process. You’ll need at least one sheet of paper. checklist

Take that sheet of paper. One one side, list out some of the most important people- the ones you love and trust. The ones you confide in. The ones you trust with your life. 

On the other side of the paper write down your top 3 parenting values. Some examples are: temper, relationship with your child, religion, values, viewpoint on education, relationship with you, honesty, marital status, age, etc.

Then check to see if there is someone who matches or almost matches all 3 of your top values. 

Now, remember, you might not find a “perfect match” but the idea is to find someone who would care for your child and who has the parenting style most similar or “close to a perfect match.”

So, go ahead and get started. Pick your best match AND then appoint your guardian with KEYPER


Why do people procrastinate in appointing a guardian?

You get that you need an estate plan. You know the importance of appointing a guardian. You know you don’t want your child to be left in the foster care system.

So, let me ask you a question….. WHY ARE YOU PROCRASTINATING?

photo-1476703993599-0035a21b17a9I mean is it better for you to stay in your comfort zone, not deal with the feelings of discomfort and allow your babe to get stuck in a court battle or with strangers they don’t know?

Didn’t think so. But, so you don’t feel like you’re alone, I’ll tell you what the top excuses people use:

  1. You just don’t want to talk about it: It’s very common for parents to not want to think about. But the problem is that just hoping someone will step up and actually take charge on their own is a huge mistake. You need to talk about it. Talk about it with the other parent. With the person you’d want to be guardian.
  2. Haven’t been able to decide on a person: You haven’t been able to decide on a person. This is probably because you’re trying too hard to find the “perfect person”- the person who will be just like you. Guess what? That person doesn’t exist. There is someone that is really close, so don’t dismiss them. No one, and I mean no one, will parent YOUR child just like you. Go with the next best option.
  3. You don’t understand how it works: Good news! That’s what I’m here for. I’m here to help you get it all on paper. Help you figure out the best options for you and either do it for you or walk you through it. Just know that appointing a guardian is actually easy to document and there are lots of resources out there to assist you.
  4. It’s too expensive: Is there really a price tag for the safety and protection of your child? There are a lot of different resources in varying price ranges to nominate a guardian. There is something out there to suit everyone’s needs.

If you’re serious about protecting your munchkins, STOP PROCRASTINATING. I already know you know and I’m calling you out on it!

Are you a “Successor Trustee”? Here’s a checklist of responsibilities to help!

When the Successor Trustee takes over the role of Trustee – whether due to the death or incapacity of the original Trustee – generally speaking the initial work is outlined below:

checklist21Determine what the assets are.

Determine the liabilities.

Change title to reflect the new trustee.

At that point – if the change in the office of Trustee is due to incapacity, then the ongoing duties of the Successor Trustee are to manage everything for the incapacitated person.

If the change is due to death, then once the assets have been marshaled and liquidated if necessary, and all final expenses and debts have been paid, and potential liabilities have been calculated, the Successor Trustee will distribute the remaining assets according to the terms of the trust for the remainder beneficiaries.

Additionally upon a death, review the following actions as a guide to help you in the first few weeks of administration of the estate.

  • You need to secure the assets and personal belongings consider removing valuables from the residence and place of business and store safely.
  • Consider changing locks if any property is not occupied by the spouse or a primary beneficiary.
  • Determine immediate cash needs for any beneficiary, never give a beneficiary money without first getting advice from an attorney; identify accounts where cash is immediately available; determine if any immediate expense must be paid (Hint: there are not many).
  • Request Postmaster to forward mail.
  • Inquire and determine about utilities (gas, electricity, telephone).  Don’t have these shut off yet.
  • Cancel charge accounts, credit cards, and newspaper, magazine subscriptions, internet, cable tv etc. and ask for refunds, if applicable.  Also inquire as to possible insurance benefits.
  • Make certain that property and casualty insurance coverage continues on personal effects, automobiles, real estate and any goods in storage.  NEVER say that a home is VACANT.  It is simply UNOCCUPIED, if in fact there is no other person currently living there.
  • If you have personal access to a safe deposit box with the deceased, do not remove the contents; the box should be inventoried in the presence of a bank officer and only then should the contents be removed.
  • Gather personal records, including checkbooks and statements for the last three years; obtain copies of income tax returns for the last three years.
  • Contact individuals who owe money to the deceased and arrange for continued collection.
  • Gather all life insurance and accident insurance policies; don’t forget to check travel clubs, alumni associations, trade associations, and any other organization that might make life insurance available to its members.
  • Contact Social Security and VA if applicable.
  • Hold any Social Security received after the date of death.  Don’t close a bank account into which automatic deposits may have been paid for awhile.
  • Check fire insurance on dwelling (does it cover if dwelling is vacant/UNOCCUPIED?

Have questions or want some help dealing with these responsibilities? Contact my office and we can assist you! 650-503-3770

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.


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!

Happy 110th Birthday Dr. Seuss!

written by Silicon Valley Estate Planning Attorney, Carmen Rosas



One fish, Two fish, Red fish, Blue fish

Yup, a childhood favorite, Dr. Seuss is 110 years old!

While we won’t likely live to be 110, its important to create a plan for the life we live and the life and loved ones we leave behind.  So, in celebration of good ol’ Dr. Seuss, do something that will protect your children.

Some options are:

  • Appoint a Guardian
  • Create a Will
  • Set up a comprehensive Estate Plan (Will, Trust, Guardian Appointment, Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney)

And…. Don’t forget to have a little cake!

Time flies……

….when you’re having fun!

Hi and Happy February!   february

I cannot believe how quickly time has flown. It’s been almost a month since my last post and I promise to keep in touch more! We have been busy with new estate plans and planning tricks and tips for our clients. On top of that we have been busy out in the community.

Not sure if I mentioned it, but I was elected president of the Santa Clara County La Raza Lawyer’s Association. I was so honored to be nominated and know I have some big heels to fill. If you don’t know much about the organization, visit our website www.scclarazalawyers.com and see what new and exciting events we have going on.

In addition to that, two of my estate planning articles were published in an online magazine and I am in the process of writing a third article for another online magazine! The articles are here– take a look and please let me know your thoughts!

Well, just wanted to check in with you and give you an update. I will also be sending out my Valentine’s Day Newsletter this week so stay tuned!

If you do not yet have an estate plan, have questions or need help with a trust administration or probate proceeding, schedule your  30 minute complimentary strategy session. Simply schedule your call on our website contact page or simply click this link!


What’s a Letter of Instruction & Do I need one?

written by California living trust attorney Carmen Rosas.

I had a client ask me the other day about whether or not he needed to have a Letter of Instruction (LOI) in addition to his estate plan. The answer to his question- it depends. (of course, right?)

A LOI is a letter that you leave behind for your heirs, the executor of your will or trustees, giving guidance and instructions for settling your estate. Its purpose is to add detail about your wishes that isn’t included in your will or in other parts of your estate plan – and to address assets and belongings that aren’t addressed in your will or trust, which usually deals only with items of substantial value, such as real estate and other significant assets.

In our estate plans, we include all the essential documents as well as personal property declarations, burial/cremation instructions, and sample letters that you can write to your children (these are different from the LOI).

So, what it comes down to is whether or not your estate plan includes sufficient detail for your loved ones.

A letter of instruction can include:

  • the location of house, car, safe keys
  • burial/cremation arrangements
  • personal property assignments
  • where your pending bills are located
  • contact info for your attorney, financial advisors, tax people, etc.
  • location of your estate plan, important documents, financial statements
  • your wishes regarding how your heirs/beneficiaries should use their inheritance
  • location of your social media and online accounts login

Just like your estate plan, this document should be updated regularly to reflect your wishes. However, unlike an estate plan, a LOI does not have the same legal authority, so be sure that the LOI is simply a supplement to your estate plan.

If you have any questions or want to schedule a FREE 30 minute strategy planning meeting, give us a call at 650-503-3770. We offer services throughout California via in person (San Jose Office or Redwood City Office) or via a virtual Skype meetings.

Be sure to share this post if you know someone who could benefit from this.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

written by California Estate Planning Attorney Carmen Rosas.


I hope everyone is staying warm! It’s been extremely cold here lately in sunny California! I woke up to pictures of thermometer readings on Facebook this morning. That’s when you know the temperature is extreme for the Golden State! Although there isn’t any snow, it’s still pretty close to freezing!

Anyhow, I’m going to take a moment this morning to remind you a little bit about how probate can be just as cold as this 30 degree weather. Now, that’s not to say that for some people, probate may be beneficial, but for most of us out there, probate is frightful subject (nothing delightful there! Horrible, I know!)

Probate is long and lasts at minimum (with budget cuts and what not) one year. That’s one year without access to funds for funeral/cremation expenses. One year without access to money to pay last bills, the inability to transfer homes, and the inability to mourn/celebrate the life of a loved one because of logistical issues with probate.

With the cold, icy weather upon us, and possibility of rain and sleet, accidents are more likely to happen. And no I’m not saying because the weather is crappy, you’re going to get in a car accident, but the chances increase. I just want you and your family to be protected.

If ANYTHING happens to you or your spouse/partner/baby’s parent, and neither of you could care for your minor kid, do you know what happens? No, they don’t get to go to grandma and grandpa or auntie or uncle. They risk going in to foster care until a judge can decide where the minor(s) should go. This is a scary situation, especially for little ones.

So, if the length and annoyances of probate aren’t enough, or your children going to foster care isn’t enough, then how about giving away $10,000 of your hard earned money to an attorney and the state? Didn’t think so.

This is why estate planning is ESSENTIAL. And, unless you have a really complicated estate and are a gazillionaire, your estate plan will be about 1/3 of what probate costs, it will be PRIVATE, and your loved ones will have an easier time dealing with the logistics/technicalities of your incapacitation or passing.

So, on that note, stay warm and get to work- make an appointment with an estate planning attorney (yes, even if it isn’t me)!

Happy {Belated} Thanksgivukkah!

written by California estate planning attorney, Carmen Rosas
Happy Thanksgivukkah

Happy Hanukkah and Happy Thanksgiving- all in one!

I hope all of you who celebrate, either or both holidays, had a wonderful time with your loved ones! I did, hence the belated well wishes 🙂 I’m definitely full of turkey and stuffing and love.

This is actually my favorite time of year. The winter (technically fall) holidays alway seem to bring my family closer together and there is so much to celebrate. On top of that, December is my birthday month. Champagne and cupcakes are welcomed all month!

Anyhow, as we take the time to appreciate our loved ones and the time we spend together, I always encourage clients or future clients to consider either updating or creating their estate plans. At a time of the year, where all the dysfunction that we call family, gets together to appreciate each other in our lives, show your loved ones how truly loved and thankful you are for them.

I always emphasize how estate planning isn’t just for you- its more about the loved ones you will leave behind. Give them instructions, guidance, and love to help them through the tragedies of life. Let them know that the “what-ifs” of life were anticipated and that they are protected.

As you enjoy the beginning of Christmas shopping season with Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, my office is offering 30% off an estate plan (including updates) when the design plan is scheduled in December. It doesn’t have to be a gift for someone else, it can be your own estate plan. As a way to 1) show you how thankful I am for wonderful clients (past, future and present), 2) celebrate my favorite month of the year (because of Christmas and my birthday!) and 3) help you think of the perfect holiday gift, I decided to give 30% off any estate plans or updates. Yes. 30%. So, hurry and send me an email carmen@carmenrosaslaw.com or give the office a call 650-503-3770 to schedule your planning session.

And in case you didn’t know, I offer a FREE 30 minute “get-to-know-me” consultation via telephone.

Happy Holidays!

P.S. don’t forget to share this post with all your loved ones in California! We offer planning throughout the state!