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 Happens If I Don’t Pick A Guardian

Well, the simple answer is this – the court decides.

It’s not like the movies. It’s not as easy as someone simply taking custody of the child.

No, there’s a process. And that process could mean the foster care system gets involved, family and friends fighting over who will step up, a court system that is overflowing with cases, and lots of uncertainty, especially for your child…

When you don’t pick a guardian ahead of time, your child will have to wait until a judge determines who they should stay with. This process is called a guardianship proceeding.

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Sometimes the child goes to foster care temporarily until this is decided and the state basically becomes your child’s guardian. Now, not only is your child now confused about where their parents are, they are in the care of strangers. This can be really scary!

By picking a guardian, you have a voice in deciding who will raise your child. You maintain your power to make a choice that will protect your child from any additional uncertainty.

I get it. Thinking about mortality or not being around to actually raise your child is not fun. I know you’d much rather think about anything else than dying.

As a parent, you know it’s your responsibility to take protect your baby (or babies) – no matter how old they get. Thinking about their security doesn’t just mean college, financial savings, etc. because what happens when you can’t be around to guide them or to make decisions about education or investments?

So it all comes down to this – If you don’t make the decision, you leave the courts to decide for you. You are essentially allowing a judge – who you probably do not know, who does not know you and who does not know your child – decide who your child will live with.

Trust me when I say, it won’t just fall into place. Like I said, that’s for the movies. You need to make a decision.

Having a hard time deciding who to pick? Bad news here. There isn’t one straight answer. There are lots of things to consider when appointing a guardian, however they aren’t the same for everyone. You have to look at your lifestyle, expectations, hopes and dreams for your child.

Consider what is important to you – the legacy and life you’re living – and appoint someone who would do their best to fulfill your legacy and any goals you have for your children. And go with your gut – you know – Mother’s intuition.

Spring Cleaning and Estate Planning

Now that tax season is over and Easter has passed, it’s time to finish up that Spring Cleaning!

Colorful_spring_gardenSpringtime is a great time to review your estate plan documents to ensure it is up to date and reflects exactly what you want to have done and the individuals on the receiving end are still supposed to receive!

Some other times when reviewing your estate plan is a good idea, are:

Getting Married or Divorced – if you are getting married or getting a divorce, give us a call.

Children – if you have a new child or a grandchild, or if one of your children predeceases you, call us.

Financial status – if your financial status has changed significantly, for the better or the worse, call us so we can update.

Business – if you own a business and are thinking about selling it, call on us before you take any action.

Relocation – if you are moving to another state or buying new property, call us to restructure. The estate laws may have changed based on your new location.

Death of a Loved One – call us when a spouse or someone else you have named as a beneficiary in your will or trust passes on.

Aging – when you are approaching the age of 70½, when required minimum distributions kick in for retirement accounts, time to give us a call.

Health – if you have been diagnosed with a serious illness (or if a parent has) it’s time to review and update your estate plan, even though it may be the last thing you want to do. We promise it’ll make you feel better than you think.

Inheritance – if you are coming into a large inheritance or even just anticipating one, give us a ring so we can help you plan for it properly.

Gifting – if you want to make a sizeable gift to a charitable organization, talk to us before you do.

If you’re in need of a review of your estate plan, call and schedule an appointment today! The next two individuals who schedule a meeting will receive a FREE planning consultation (valued at $450).

So, call us 650-503-3770 or send an email to carmen@carmenrosaslaw.com

World Autism Awareness Day + Special Needs Planning

written by Silicon Valley Estate Planning Attorney Carmen Rosas

World-autism-awareness-day

 

April 2 is celebrated as World Autism Awareness Day. With the growing prevalence of autism, more and more parents are learning what it’s like to care for a special needs child.

However, with that additional care requires additional planning to ensure the child is properly cared for long term.

Special needs planning through your estate plan allows you to appoint a caretaker and manage finances in a way that will not inhibit any government benefits your child may receive.

If you have questions about estate planning and creating a special needs trust for your adult or infant child, give us a call. For more information on autism, visit www.autismspeaks.org.

Happy 110th Birthday Dr. Seuss!

written by Silicon Valley Estate Planning Attorney, Carmen Rosas

 

happybdayseuss

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!

College Cost and Your Child’s Inheritance

College Fund

written by Bay Area estate planning attorney Carmen Rosas.

Question: Our younger son attended a state college  and our older daughter, an ivy league school that cost far more. We want to take into account the difference in the expense as we decide what to leave our sons in their inheritance. How do we do this?

Answer: It’s your decision on how you distribute, and your will or trust can be structured accordingly. However, have you thought through your approach?

Most parents raise children out of a common pot, providing for each one’s unique needs from the same account. Comparing the costs of raising them is a slippery slope.

Does one get more because she did not require braces? The other less because he failed math, took a summer course and could not work a summer job?

I question the wisdom of adjusting inheritances based on uncontrollable childhood circumstances and youthful choices. Also, it could create animosity between siblings.

It’s another matter to base unequal inheritances on what you’ve given them in their adult years. Children tend to understand and respect that approach. For example, if you gave one a sizable down payment to purchase a home, you may want to deduct that from his inheritance.

Whatever you decide, make sure you consider the impact on the relationship of your children and grandchildren after you pass away.

How do you explain death to a child?

As an estate planner, I often help clients deal with the steps in planning for death. I also face the spouses or children of those clients once their loved one has passed.

 A client, whose mother passed away and was in my office to administer her mother’s trust, asked, “how do I help my child deal with the death of their grandmother?”

 When a loved one dies it’s difficult to know how to help kids cope with the loss, more so while you deal with your own grief.

How much a child understands about death varies greatly depending on their age, life experience, and personality. Not all children cope with grief the same way.  There are however, a few important things to remember.

BE HONEST

Explain the best way you know how and encourage questions. Although you may not have all the answers, it’s important to create a comfortable atmosphere that allows for openness and allows the child to understand there is no right or wrong way to feel.

As children get older, they begin to understand that death is final and may “wish” that someone would not die. Children ages 6-10 tend to deal best with death when given accurate, simple, clear, and honest explanations about what happened.

As kids mature into teens, they start to understand that every human being eventually dies, regardless of grades, behavior, wishes, or anything they try to do.

EXPLAIN WHAT DEATH IS

You may need to explain to a child what “death” or “dying” means. For example, you can explain that a person’s body stopped working. If the deceased is elderly, you could explain that the body became old and the doctor’s couldn’t fix it. Or in cases of a sudden accident, you could explain that the event was so sad the body just stopped working.

Young children often have a hard time understanding that all people and living things eventually die, and that it’s final and they won’t come back. They may continue to ask where the loved one is and although it may be frustrating, you may have to explain that the person has died and won’t be returning.

Avoid using euphemisms, such as telling kids that the loved one “went away” or “went to sleep” or even that your family “lost” the person. Because young kids think so literally, such phrases might inadvertently make them afraid to go to sleep or fearful whenever someone goes away.

REMEMBER CHILDREN’S QUESTIONS MAY NOT BE AS DEEP AS YOU THINK

Remember that kids’ questions may sound much deeper than they really are. For example, a 5-year-old who asks where someone who died is now probably isn’t asking whether there’s an afterlife. Kids might be satisfied hearing that someone who died is now in the cemetery. This could be a good time to share your beliefs about an afterlife or heaven if that is part of your belief system.

However as teens, children may begin to question mortality or vulnerability and the meaning of life. A teen may ask “why” it happened, not in the literal sense, but as a way for them to understand life. If a 16-year-old has a friend who died in a car accident, they may be less inclined to want to get behind the wheel or ride in the car. Your best approach is to empathize with the your teen and explain that you understand how frightened and scared they must be. This will also be a good time to review safe driving habits- no texting or talking on the phone while driving, always wear a seatbelt, or not to get into a car with someone who has been drinking.

MOURNING THE LOSS

A question often asked is whether or not it is appropriate to take a child to a funeral. There is no right or wrong answer- it depends on you and your child. It is best to explain what the funeral or memorial is and let them decide.

It’s important to prepare the child for what may occur- the open casket, individuals speaking, others crying, as well as other mourning processes. Explain your spiritual beliefs and the meaning behind the mourning rituals.

If you think your grief may interfere with explaining the death to your child, ask a friend or a family member to care for and focus on your child during the service.

Many parents worry about letting their kids witness their own grief, pain, and tears about a death. Don’t — allowing your child to see your pain shows that crying is a natural reaction to emotional pain and loss. And it can make kids more comfortable sharing their feelings. But it’s also important to convey that no matter how sad you may feel, you’ll still be able to care for your family and make your child feel safe.

GETTING MORE HELP

As kids learn how to deal with death, they need space, understanding, and patience to grieve in their own way.

They might not show grief as an adult would. A young child might not cry or might react to the news by acting out or becoming hyperactive. A teen might act annoyed and might feel more comfortable confiding in peers. Whatever their reaction, don’t take it personally. Remember that learning how to deal with grief is like coping with other physical, mental, and emotional tasks — it’s a process.

Nevertheless, watch for any signs that kids need help coping with a loss. If a child’s behavior changes radically — for example, a gregarious and easygoing child becomes angry, withdrawn, or extremely anxious; or goes from having straight A’s to D’s in school — seek help.

Seek out help from a school counselor, doctor, or mental health professional. One of these professionals may be able to suggest books or videos to help manage grief.

Although parents would like to shield their children from the sadness and losses of life, they can’t. Helping them cope with their emotions and building resources that help them understand their feelings will give them tools to manage throughout life.

What tips do you have for explaining death to a child? What has helped you? 

“Screw College! I’m 18 and rich!”

Happy Wednesday folks!

I read an article last night regarding the importance of your children’s age when leaving an inheritance.

When I speak to my clients, I often explain to them that although at 18 an individual is legally an adult, many 18 year olds are just entering college and aren’t thinking about long term financial stability.

They are aren’t thinking about life after retirement or even starting their own families. Very few 18 year olds are mature enough to handle thousands of dollars, or if they’re lucky, millions.

Clients are usually advised to allow the initial distribution at the age of 25, and continue the distributions until about 35. This allows children to go through college, establish their careers, start their families, save and begin thinking about retirement. At 35, the inheritance they receive won’t deter them from the hopes and dreams you have for them or the ones they have for themselves.

But, if you don’t have an estate plan, you don’t have control over this and whatever is left after probate fees, will go directly to your children at the age of 18. Yikes!

What age do you think a child is financially mature enough to receive an inheritance??

“I only own a house, I don’t need a trust!”

Let me tell you a story……

Mike’s daughter Jessica came to him one day after attending a seminar on living trusts, and told her father that he needed a living trust.   “Why do I need a living trust,” Mike replied, “all I have is the house your mother left when she died.”

Here are some of the reasons that Mike should strongly consider having the home put into a living trust:

1.       Mike didn’t realize that ownership of a house or any other real estate in California with a market value of $50,000 or more (as of January 1, 2012) was sufficient to require that a Probate proceeding in the Probate Court would be necessary in order for him to pass the family home on to his daughter at his death.   Because the house is worth $600,000, well over $50,000, Jessica, will have to go through a Probate proceeding that could end up costing court filing fees, publication fee, court appraiser’s fee, and attorney’s fees of thousands of dollars, perhaps as much as $10,000 to $15,000 or more.   Also, because the Probate process has many time delays, it would probably take her at least 1 year to 2 years or more before Jessica would actually own the family home or receive the proceeds from the sale of the home.   Owning the home in a living trust will avoid much of the lost time and expense of Probate;

2.       If Mike becomes disabled and it becomes necessary for Jessica to take over Mike’s finances to help him out, without a living trust owning Mike’s house, Jessica will have to start a Conservatorship proceeding in the same Probate Court, incurring thousands of dollars of additional expense in attorneys fee, filing fees, Court Investigator’s fees, and accountant’s fees.   With a living trust and a document called a Durable Power of Attorney, Jessica can handle things for her father without getting the Probate Court involved;

3.       Additionally, if Mike becomes disabled and needs medical care, Jessica will likely have to use the same Conservatorship proceeding to request authority to make medical and health care decisions for her father, again incurring the lost time and expense noted above.   An additional document called an Advance Health Care Directive can grant Jessica the authority she needs to handle her father’s medical and health care needs without getting the Probate Court involved.

To sum this story up, a comprehensive estate plan involving the use of a well-drafted living trust, pour-over will, Durable Power of Attorney, and Advance Health Care Directive is essential for Mike to make sure that his daughter Jessica does not have to spend thousands of dollars and countless weeks waiting to inherit Mike’s house.

Unfortunately, self-help books and legal websites are inadequate to prepare a good, comprehensive estate plan.  Mike needs the help of a qualified estate planning attorney who can ask the hard questions and craft a plan that is unique and suited to his needs.

If you or your loved ones need more FREE information regarding estate planning design, contact our Redwood City estate planning office to assist you.

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!