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.


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!

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!

I just want to be a millionaire! (Doesn’t everyone?)

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, estate planning and financial planning have a lot more in common than you think. See my blog post here.

Many young professionals are hesitant to create an estate plan because “they don’t have anything.” (I can relate because I WAS one of THOSE people!) So your little estate, thats a little bit of a problem, right? WRONG!

Although your “estate” or “stuff” isn’t millionaire status, it’s still worth protecting. I mean you have your health (do you want to be on life support or have your organs donated?); you have your “stuff” (your grandmother’s flask and your grandfather’s sewing kit, your pet, and all those clothes!); and you have a bank account (even if it is EMPTY, oh and that 401(k) thing your employer matches). It’s worth having a plan for all of these important things, even if it does get donated to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

An estate plan is like a cool treasure box- you throw all your stuff and money into it and when you die or hit the looney bin, all your stuff is in one place for your loved ones to access.

Any how, why wouldn’t you want to create a plan NOW when things aren’t so complicated? You create an estate plan with your basics mentioned above and as you get older and get more things of value (i.e. more MONEY!), you will have a place for them.

I bet your next question is “HOW can I make more money?!”- well, I don’t have THE answer, but I do have some tips on how to take control of your personal finances so you can try to get to millionaire status. Read it here!

Since it’s Friday. I’m going to go enjoy the weekend and if I have more cool tips for you, I’ll post them Monday. Either way, you should join my e-mail list so you never miss a beat and you’ll get all the fun extra goodies I send out just go here or here!

P.S. September 1st is our BIRTHDAY! The law office will be 1!! Keep an eye out for a special edition of our newsletter and the offers we have to celebrate our birthday!! Have a great weekend!

“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??

You Don’t Have to Be Elizabeth Taylor….

Liz and her husbands

Liz and her husbands

You don’t need to be Elizabeth Taylor to be on your second, third, or even fourth or fifth marriage. If you have had more than one spouse, you have special estate planning needs, especially if you have children with each spouse. If you avoid these issues, it is almost certainly a way to create a less-than-desired result in the event of illness, incapacity, or death. The best way to have a smooth transition upon disability or death is to create a comprehensive strategy before you aren’t here to execute the papers.

Remarriage may result in cordial, but often not close, step relations. Frequently, such people thrown together by marriage simply tolerate each other until the biological parent dies or becomes disabled, or divorce occurs.

On the death of the biological parent, what happens? If proper estate planning isn’t done, the surviving spouse and step-parent has the option to take all that you intended to leave to your biological child.

By working with an estate planning attorney, you can ensure that both your new spouse and your children receive what you want them to. This can be done through either a prenuptial agreement and/or a fully funded trust (new post coming soon regarding “funding”).

Contact our San Jose, Fremont, or Redwood City Estate Planning Attorney. We will be more than happy to help you create the plan that best suits your needs or update the one you currently have.

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Its never too early or too late to start a new goal or challenge. Want to know the key to success?? It’s to DO- take steps that will move you forward. Hope helps, but it’s not enough.

As this year ends and a new one begins, be sure to take action steps to be successful. Each day is a new day, do something different.

If financial freedom is your goal- create a budget. If a healthier lifestyle is your goal- get walking, throw out the junk food. If a  happier life is your goal- take steps to be stress free, schedule time to get away from work and spend time with loved ones. Whatever goal or challenge you set for the new year, work at it, breathe it- be successful.

Thank you all for following this blog and the continued support I have had in hanging my own shingle. I hope that what we write helps you and makes life a little easier- not only during times of divorce or financial/estate planning- but overall. I can promise that in the coming year, our office will continue to provide information you can use.

Wishing you all a prosperous and happy new year! See you all in 2013!

New Year, New You! Make this year YOUR year.

new_years_eve_getaways_600x450Someone once told me that the definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
(My younger brother, apparently quoting Albert Einstein)

Each year, we all make resolutions- lose weight, save more, eat better, spend less time working, etc., etc. And each year many of us break those resolutions within a month (or two if we’re lucky).

Here are some tips to help get a jump start to 2013 and make some changes that aren’t so dramatic:

Make a New Year’s Resolution: Even if you break it, at least you had the intent, right?! This year, make it your New Year’s Resolution to reduce stress and anxiety over the economy and get your finances in order. Start by turning off the evening news and spending quality time with loved ones. Taking a step back will help you gain long-term perspective and focus on the people who matter most in your life.

Focus on Your Health: The relationship between physical health and mental health is important. Focus on finding the right balance in your diet, through exercise and getting a good night’s sleep.

Don’t Make Rash Decisions: Making any decision on the spur of the moment is never a good idea. Try not to react immediately to bad news. Take some deep breaths and meditate for a minute or so.

Don’t Stress Over the Things You Can’t Control: I am a control freak. I cannot deny it, but even I know there are somethings in life we cannot control. So, focus less on the things you can’t control, like the stock market and the cost of living, loss, and more on the things you can. Review your expenses and see where you can make cuts. Postpone that vacation or eat out a little less. Use the opportunity to find things to do with your loved ones that bring you closer and cost less, such as a family game night or handmade gifts. In thinking about what you can control, this does include estate planning. (Keep an eye out for our post on Finances and Estate Planning in the next few days!)

Don’t be afraid to seek help: We can’t do EVERYTHING without feeling a little stressed! If anxiety or stress becomes too much, find someone you can talk to about what you’re going through. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family members, friends, and a professional, if necessary.

We hope this helps jumpstart your resolution setting (even if it is broken by Valentine’s Day!) and helps you take back your life- wishing you lots of Peace and Joy in the coming year!