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

Do’s and Don’ts of Estate Planning During a Divorce

Written by Silicon Valley Estate Planning Attorney Carmen Rosas
 
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Over the past few weeks, I have had a few client’s contact me regarding making changes to their estate plans while they are going through the divorce process. Some things can be changed, while others can’t.

For example wills and powers of attorneys can be changed to reflect someone other than your spouse as the agent or executor. You might not want your soon-to-be ex making decisions regarding life support or important medical decisions while the divorce is pending!

Below is a list of common assets that get overlooked after a final divorce decree is signed (i.e. “loose ends” that are never tied up):

  1. Beneficiary designations on life insurance policies
  2. Beneficiary designations on retirement accounts (IRA, 401(K), etc)
  3. Payable on Death or Transferrable on Death designations on bank accounts and investment accounts (meaning this account transfers immediately upon death to the person named)
  4. Title to real estate — did you execute a new deed for property you received or that your former spouse was to receive pursuant to a divorce decree?
  5. Title to vehicles
  6. Owners and signers of safety deposit boxes
  7. Beneficiary and Executor designations under a Last Will and Testament
  8. Trustee and Beneficiary designations under Trust agreement
  9. Agent designations under a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney (financial power of attorney) or Medical Power of Attorney

If you would like to update your estate planning documents or have questions about what you can change while your divorce is pending, give our office a call at 650-503-3770 or send me an email at carmen at carmenrosaslaw dot com.

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 is a Trust?

A trust is simply a contractual arrangement between three parties – the Trustor (aka the Grantor or the Settlor), the Trustee and the Beneficiary – which specifies the rights, responsibilities and obligations with respect to assets that the Trustor has transferred to the trust and that should be distributed to the Beneficiary.

Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable. A revocable trust means that it can be changed/amended during the Trustor’s lifetime. An irrevocable trust cannot be changed. A revocable trust, depending on the language can become irrevocable immediately upon death.

Trusts help to avoid Probate upon death and Conservatorship during the lifetime. In addition, trusts can accomplish a variety of objectives when planning an estate:

  • Minimize estate taxes
  • Hold assets for minor, disabled, or financially irresponsible beneficiaries.
  • Create flexibility in estate planning for couples in a second marriage.
  • Living TrustProvide asset protection and divorce protection for beneficiaries of the deceased.

The next question is DO I NEED A TRUST?

Well if you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you should consult an attorney to figure out whether or not a trust is the right move for you.

  • Do I have minor children who I wish to provide for at my death, but yet delay distributing money to them until they are older so that they are better able to handle the money responsibly?
  • Do I have an adult child who is disabled or incapable of handling his finances?
  • Do I have a child with a drinking, drug or gambling problem?
  • Do I have an adult child with an untrustworthy spouse?
  • Do I have a child who is so successful that he will be subject to his own estate taxes?
  • Do I have a child who is in a business or profession potentially subject to personal liability?
  • Am I divorced and do I have minor children?
  • Am I re-married and have children from a prior marriage?
  • Am I concerned about the privacy of my affairs and the affairs of my heirs after my death?
  • Am I concerned about the costs and timeliness of concluding my affairs after my death?
  • Do I own real estate located in a state other than the state in which I reside?
  • Do I trust the federal government to continue to allow a couple to transfer $10.5 million of assets at death without paying federal estate taxes?

If you want to know more about the Top Estate Planning Documents check out our old post here.

Want to know more or set up a plan? Give us a call.

Tight Budgets Need Quality Representation

You want a divorce but don’t know how to manage with an already tight budget. Or maybe you need help with a custody issue but are worries about the cost of hiring a lawyer. To be honest, hiring an attorney is just simply more than you can afford right now. Well, good news- there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Whether Limited Scope Representation is right for you, depends on how complicated your issue is. Often times clients don’t need to hire on an attorney for the full range of services. At the Law Office of Carmen M. Rosas we work with our clients to package services that not only fit the needs of the client, but their wallet too.

Some examples of matters we handle under a limited scope representation include:

  • Drafting of Marital Settlement Agreements
  • Custody/parenting plan requests, hearings, and negotiations
  • Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) hearings
  • Settlement Conference
  • Non-DCSS support modification requests and hearings- Request for Orders

When representing our clients in limited scope, we prepare a fee agreement stating exactly what services are included in the cost. This avoids any confusion as to what is included and what is additional to the cost quoted. And, if there is a hearing in which an attorney will be present, we prepare the Notice of Limited Scope for the Court so they know our attorney is representing you at that hearing only.

“Does hiring an attorney in limited scope mean I can’t hire the attorney for full services?”- No! The limited scope representation is usually a starting point for many clients. Sometimes, if their budget permits or legal issue requires, clients will hire on our attorneys for the full range of services our office provides.

If a client does decide to hire our attorney for more comprehensive representation, we simply draft a new fee agreement stating such.

Getting Help– at the Law Office of Carmen M. Rosas we have a compassionate and experienced attorney in Redwood City and San Jose. Contact Carmen Rosas today for knowledgeable and trustworthy representation. Call us at (650) 503-3770 or e-mail us at carmenrosaslaw@gmail.com

In the middle of getting a divorce? You’re limited in regards to changing your Estate Plan.

Did you know that while you are going through a divorce, there are some things you are limited to doing in regards to your estate plan.

decree Aside from the ATROS (Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders) in the Summons of your divorce paperwork, you are limited in what you can change in your estate plan.

Here is what you can do:

  • Create, modify, or revoke a will.
  • Create, but not fund, a new single settlor revocable or irrevocable trust.
  • If in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life, transfer, encumber, hypothecate, conceal, or in any way dispose of any property, real or personal, whether community, quasi-community, or separate.
  • Execute and file a disclaimer.

Here is what you can do as long as your Spouse/RDP had notice:

  • Revoke a revocable trust. Follow revocation terms of trust exactly
  • Revoke a transfer to the beneficiary of a “non probate transfer.” A “non probate transfer” includes primarily individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and life insurance. You can only revoke life insurance if child support or spousal support is not at issue.
  • Eliminate a right of survivorship for property (joint tenancy or community property with right of survivorship).

In all of these cases, notice must be filed and served on the other party before the change takes effect.

If what you want to do doesn’t fall within these two categories you will either need to get your Spouse’s/RDP’s consent or a court order depending on the circumstances.

Sesame Street says…..D is for Divorce

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I came cross this article published by the Huffington Post today about Sesame Street’s new workshop geared toward explaining divorce to children.  It was also discussed here in the Times.

Divorce is always a tricky situation and its even worse where children are involved. It is important that children know they aren’t the reason for your divorce and that no matter what happens the child is still loved by both parents.

I think this new initiative is amazing and will allow children to see that just because their parents are divorced, doesn’t mean that they are “different” or “weird” or that they have parents that don’t love them- it just means their parents have “grown up problems”.

Encourage your children to talk about their feelings about your divorce and don’t speak negatively about the other parent in the child’s presence. And remember don’t make the child feel like they have to choose a parent- it’s ok for them to love both parents and want to spend time with each of them.