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! 

xo
Carmen

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!

What would happen to your children if you died?

Kids-Show-2014When you don’t appoint a guardian, your children will have to wait until a judge determines who they should reside with. Sometimes the children must go to foster care temporarily until this is decided- essentially the state becomes your child’s guardian.

If you don’t want that to happen, appoint a guardian!

Here are some tips to consider when appointing a guardian:

  • Is your child comfortable with the individual?
  • Does the individual have the same moral values as you?
  • Is religion important? Does the individual practice the same religion?
  • Are the individual’s parenting style the same as yours?
  • Do you trust the individual to raise your child as you would want your child to be raised?

There are lots of other things to consider when appointing a guardian, however they are not the same for everyone. Consider what is important to you- the legacy and life you’re living- and appoint someone who would do their best to raise your child as you would.

Our office offers FREE GUARDIANSHIP WORKSHOPS- call or email to schedule yours today!

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!

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!

 

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)!

Don’t let your child’s guardian be an embezzler!

Over the weekend, I came across an article about a guardian who was sentenced to serve 30 years in prison for embezzling hundreds of dollars from an account he was a guardian of.

Attorney Michael Brown was sentenced to 40 years, with 10 suspended, on two counts of embezzlement related to the estate left to the grandson of late civil rights leader Aaron Henry. Henry led the NAACP until he passed away in 1997 and left his estate to his only daughter, who died in 2000. One of Henry’s grandsons was a minor at the time and Brown was appointed by the court to be a guardian of the estate. Rather than keeping the funds in a separate trust, and placed it in an escrow account.

You can read more here, but the moral of sharing this story is: “Select a Guardian YOU can trust!” 

Don’t leave assets in your minor child’s name. Doing so subjects those assets to be dealt with in court and possibly in the hands of an individual who may embezzle from your child.

As mentioned in our previous posts, selecting a guardian is one of the BARE MINIMUM things you can do as a parent.

If you haven’t already selected a guardian, you can do a few things to get started:

1) Request our 12 Tips for Selecting a Guardian (which is free- just shoot us an e-mail);

2) Keep an eye out for our Guardianship Workshop to learn how to appoint a guardian; or

3) Schedule your own workshop with friends/families/parent groups to teach you how to appoint a guardian.

Appointing a Guardian After Divorce

All families need to appoint a guardian if there are minor children involved.

However, in cases of divorce, when one parent dies the other parent will get custody of the child, even if they did not previously have primary custody. In cases like this, it is VERY important that parents create a plan especially where the other parent may be deemed “unfit,” negligent, or in cases of abandonment.

In a guardianship proceeding after the death of a child’s parents, California court typically looks first to the desires of the parents as expressed in their wills.

SPECIAL ISSUES FOR DIVORCED OR REMARRIED COUPLES

After a divorce, if either parent dies, then the surviving parent normally will have full custody of the children (even if the deceased parent had primary custody) unless a court finds that the survivor is not a “fit and proper person” to have custody. If one parent believes that the other should not have sole custody, he should plan in advance.

Other family members might need to be prepared to petition the court for a third-party guardianship in the event of the custodial parent’s death.

In addition, if a deceased parent fails to name a Trustee or “Guardian of the estate” for any property inherited by a child, the surviving parent will normally be appointed to manage and control the money. Since many marriages fail because spouses do not agree about financial matters, divorced parents often prefer to leave a child’s property to him in a trust managed by a third person, working with an institutional trustee.

INTESTACY AND DIVORCE

Like intestacy for married or single people, where there is no will, your assets can potentially fall into the hands of your ex.

If you were to die intestate, leaving one or more children who are not also your surviving spouse’s descendants (most commonly, children from your prior marriage – whether or not they live with you, and whether or not they are adults or minors), under California law your children (and grandchildren whose parents have died) would split two-thirds of your estate at death, while your surviving spouse would take only one-third. Moreover, your surviving spouse would be required to apply to the court to be appointed as a guardian of any property left to any minor children of you and your spouse.

Without appointing a guardian of the estate (for the “stuff”) your ex will be in charge of handling your child’s inheritance.

For more info, check out our previous blog posts on estate planning and divorce- HERE and HERE.

And if you haven’t RSVP’d for our workshop on HOW TO APPOINT A GUARDIAN, click here to join us!

Always Wear Clean Underwear

underwearMy grandma used to tell me to always wear clean underwear. Not, that I had a problem changing them. 🙂

I’m sure you’ve heard this saying once before in your life! She would always ask, “What if you’re in an accident and you need assistance? What will the paramedics or life savers say if they go to help you and you have dirty underwear?!” I never understood because if I was in an accident, well I’m sure they wouldn’t be concerned with what my underpants look like. (That’s for another blog!)

My reason for bringing this up is this: what happens if you are in an accident? If you’re incapacitated? What happens to your kids?!

Imagine being out on a date with your significant other. Your children (ages 7 and 4) are home with a sitter. You leave the emergency contact for the sitter- should anything happen she is to call you or your spouse, call grandparents, or call 911 if its an emergency.

On your way home from dinner, both you and your spouse are in a horrible car accident. Your spouse doesn’t survive and you’re in a coma. What happens now?

Its time for the babysitter to go home. No one can get a hold of you. The sitter calls the grandparents but they just so happen to be out of town tonight. She tries to reach the neighbor but no ones there. She waits, and waits, and waits.

She gets worried and calls 911. The police arrive and they contact local hospitals only to find out about what happened. Again, what happens now??

The police call Child Protective Services to come get the kids. The babysitter offers to stay with them, but the police state that she doesn’t have the authority to care for them. Your children go with the stranger from CPS. They are frightened and scared.

Now they wait until someone comes to get them- this could take a long time as there is a process to have a guardian appointed.

This is what happens if you don’t have a will. This is what happens if you’re not wearing clean underwear.

What would happen if you had a will and had appointed a guardian? If you had prepared for the “What Ifs?”

The babysitter would have had a copy of that will with the emergency information you gave her. The will would state that your neighbors, whose children are the same age as yours and whom your children know and care for, are your children’s guardians should anything happens to you or your spouse. It would have their contact information. The police would have called them and explained what happened. Your children would have gone with your neighbors- to a safe place with people they know and with people who care about them.

I can’t explain how important it is to have a will and appoint a guardian. Even if you feel like you don’t own a lot of assets or have any property, your biggest asset is your children! If you do only the bare minimum, throw on clean underwear and create a will appointing a guardian for your minor children.

If you want assistance creating a will or working with our Redwood City estate planning attorney to create a Child Protection Plan, send us a note or browse our blog some more, follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

And if you shoot us an email at carmenrosaslaw@gmail.com, we will be happy to send you our FREE “Top 10 Points to Selecting a Guardian.” (Don’t worry we won’t sell or give out your information. Promise.)

“My parents aren’t getting any younger. How do I talk to them about Estate Planning?”

It’s Monday! That means its the start of a new “work” week and time to get things done!

I was talking to a client last week (let’s call her Cristina), a wife and mother of two young children. We were getting her estate plan executed. At the end of our meeting she said, “My parents aren’t getting any younger. How do I talk to them about Estate Planning?” Cristina continued on to tell me how she knew it was important, but couldn’t find a way to begin the discussion with her parents.

Aging-Parents

Cristina isn’t alone. There are thousands, possibly millions, of people who have reached retirement age and still don’t have estate plans. As a young professional, starting a family of your own, it’s important for you to create an estate plan for your family but it is also very important to make sure your parents have one.

I came across this article this morning from the Guardian Fiduciary Services on the 25 Best Questions to Ask Your Aging Parents. Although this isn’t a full and complete list, its a starting to point to get your parents discussing their plans in regards to estate planning.

When discussing estate plan options with your parents and their plans, it’s important to emphasize the importance of THEIR wants and desires- you and your siblings (if any) want to know how to distribute their hard earned assets in whatever way they want.

It may be hard at first, but GET TALKING! Use the questions above to open up a dialogue. You know your family’s dynamics best, but be sure that everyone that needs to be included in the conversation is present, or at least knows whats going on.

Do you have any suggestions on how to begin this conversation? What has worked for you? We look forward to your feedback!

And if you want to have a one-on-one chat with our San Mateo County, Alameda County or Santa Clara County attorney, feel free to send us a note.