Are you too comfortable?

Hey There, Mama!
Have you gotten too comfortable? Just taking it day by day?
When you get comfortable, you’re less likely to make improvements in your life.
Why?
Because you’ve settled.
You’ve become complacent.
nevergettoocomfortable
I’ll tell you right now that you won’t be able to achieve your dreams if you’re cozy in your comfort zone.
 
I won’t sugar coat it. I’m going to keep it REAL AF. Only because I’ve been there.
 
Wanting to achieve big dreams and move mountains only to realize I was comfortable in my little bubble.
 
Success and dreams require you to get up and out of that zone. They don’t sit around and come knocking on your bubble’s door.
 
They only come around when you’re off your butt and taking big, bold, action.
Want to find out if you’re too comfort comfortable?
 
I have a free worksheet for you to complete. No email required. No strings attached. Get it here.
 
Once you realize where you are settling, then you can take the steps to make the changes you want, live your life with purpose, on purpose and leave a legacy you want.
 
P.P.S. Stay tuned for my 7 Day Challenge on Wholistic Life Planning

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!

Don’t be a Fool this April- Plan ahead!

1300137640fZ1a4THappy April Folks!  We hope everyone enjoyed their Easter holiday (if it was celebrated)! Our office has been busy assisting clients with estate planning issues, probate hearings, child visitation modifications, writing a new e-book, working on an “Estate Planning 101” Basics seminar, working on our Vlog  and podcast series, and revamping our website! So we have been just a little bit busy!

How have you been? Have you been busy and completing your Estate Planning Homework Assignments? Have you made an appointment with an estate planning attorney in your area? (We have experienced estate planning attorneys in California, specifically Redwood City and San Jose AND we have a virtual law office to serve the rest of California 🙂 ) Are you just starting assignment #1? Don’t wait too much longer- you don’t want to be the April Fool who waited too long to create an estate plan (insert fake laugh here!).

So as promised here is some discussion about one of the Must Have Documents– a will. This scenario can apply to individuals either in their first, second or third marriage, or just have children from previous relationships; It can also be considered where there are issues of separate property and inheritance.

WHAT WILL YOU PICKReciprocal and Non-Reciprocal Wills

When thinking about your will, decide whether you and your spouse will execute reciprocal wills. Reciprocal wills are wills executed by husband and wife, which are exactly alike. This means that each will leaves the same asset(s) to the same person(s) in the same proportion. For example, Jane and John, each on their second marriage are married to one another, and each has one child from a previous marriage. They both execute wills, which leave everything to the other, and in case the other is deceased, one-half of the estate to Jane’s child and one-half to John’s child. Some things to keep in mind when deciding whether to execute reciprocal wills.

When executing RECIPROCAL wills, your spouse is free to change his or her will at any time. For example, John and Jane, each on their second marriage are married to one another, and each has one child from a previous marriage. They both execute wills, which leave everything to the other, and in case the other is deceased, one-half of the estate to Jane’s child and one-half to John’s child. Jane dies, and John inherits the entire estate. He then may change his Will to leave the entire estate to his child, and disinherit Jane’s child.

When executing NON-RECIPROCAL wills, you will need to determine what assets belong to each of you so that there is no confusion about what property each party may leave to his or her heirs. If you experience any difficulty reaching an agreement concerning ownership of your property, a pre-nuptial agreement or your state’s marital property, laws may dictate ownership of some or all of your property for you.

Your spouse is not required to inform you of changes made to his or her will.

Whether executing reciprocal wills or not, your spouse is free to change his or her will at any time and is under no obligation to inform you of the change. This means that he or she may remove your children as beneficiaries and leave their entire estate to their own children, without your permission or knowledge.

Feel free to contact our office if you have any additional questions! Enjoy this beautiful Spring weather!

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.

Want to know what NOT to do when it comes to Estate Planning? Here are 5 Common Mistakes!

Here are 5 Common Estate Planning Mistakes you want to AVOID:

You don’t have an estate plan: If you own assets exceeding $150,000 (thats owning one house!), a will is not going to protect your assets or the loved ones you leave behind. Not creating an estate plan means you are leaving your family with a lot more work after you’re gone. This means that you not only have no say in how your assets get distributed, but you will also be leaving your family with a large expense. Probate fees are statutorily set and could exceed $12,000.

Not funding the trust: So, you have an estate plan?! Great news! Did you transfer everything to the trust ? This step is important. If you never transfer your assets into the trust name, well, the trust never gets funded and is basically no use. An experienced estate planning attorney can help your family if the attorney has the proper tricks and tools, but it’s going to cost the beneficiaries an additional $3,000-$4,000 to “fix it”.

The wrong guardian is listed for your children:  By having a will, you can name a guardian for your minor child. However, if its been a while since you’ve reviewed the guardian selected, make sure that guardian is still valid. For example if you want your child to stay in the state and close to family members, but the guardian listed in your will was recently transferred to a job in Dubai, well maybe its time to update that will. If you don’t have a will, the state decides who will care for them at a hearing. Sometimes the judge will consider the child’s preference (if they are old enough) and use that to make a decision.

You have the wrong beneficiary listed for your 401k or life insurance: You named your mom as the beneficiary of your 401k or life insurance policy. Now you want your daughter to be the beneficiary. If you don’t update it, your mom will be the recipient. Its a quick and easy fix- just contact the company holding your policy and request the make a change in the beneficiary.

Not using a qualified attorney: Although there are lots of online or DIY estate planning tools, estate planning is not something that should be attempted without consulting an attorney. A simple mistake or omission can have a huge impact long after you are gone. A local, experienced estate planning attorney understands the terms and legal requirements in your state. Most have counseled many families and have seen the results of proper and improper planning. An experienced estate planning attorney can advise you on important issues such as whether or not a special needs trust need to be created for a parent or a child who has creditors after them.

If you need help with estate planning, please contact our 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. 

Estate Planning For Young Adults

young adults

As the first half of the school year comes to an end and decisions about what college to attend are being made, what happens once your teen turns 18??

Well, once a child turns 18, parents lose the legal ability to make decisions for their child or even to find out basic information. Being able to receive information about your child’s academic records will be impossible without their permission. A medical emergency takes frustration to a whole other level!

I highly suggest that on your child’s 18th birthday you meet with an attorney to help draft a couple of documents to make the transition into “adulthood” easier for you as a parent.

In the Event of Incapacity

  • A Durable Power of Attorney for Heath Care gives another person legal authority to make health care decisions (including life and death decisions) if you are unable to make them for yourself.
  • A Durable Financial Power of Attorney gives another person legal authority to manage your assets without court interference. (A “regular” power of attorney ends at incapacity; a “durable” power of attorney remains valid through incapacity.) Your attorney can write it in such a way that it does not go into effect until you become incapacitated.
  • HIPPA Authorizations give your doctors permission to discuss your medical situation with others, including family members and other loved ones.

In the Event of Death
Usually a trust and a will would be created where there are substantial assets. However, because most young adults do not have substantial assets, a simple will is probably all that is needed at this time. It allows the child/young adult to designate who should receive his/her assets and belongings in the event of death. Otherwise, the laws of the state in which the young adult lives will determine this, and that may not be what anyone would want.

After the Documents Have Been Signed- Tips for the Young Adult
Once the documents have been signed, it is important that the designated person knows where to find all financial records and passwords if needed. Tidy up your computer’s desktop. Make a list of accounts and passwords (including your computer’s password), print the list and put it in a safe place; a hard copy is important in case your computer is lost or stolen. If you use an online back-up system, be sure to include it. Don’t forget online accounts and social media. If there is anything you don’t want someone (think, parents) to see, either get rid of it now or ask a friend to delete files or remove things if something happens to you. Finally, update your documents as your life changes.

What is your New Year’s Resolution? I know you’ve thought about it.

As many of you prepare for the new year and begin thinking of resolutions, you will all think about the FUTURE.

The future consists of a second from now, a minute, a year, even ten years.

Many of you will have financial and health goals- in those goals, it is important to remember that part of planning for the future is planning for unexpected occurrences and even death.

Is your family prepared if something happens to you or someone you love? What will happen to your home? Your children? Where will you be buried? Or will you be cremated? Would there be a memorial service in a church, temple, synagogue, or home? The holidays are a time for celebration, love and joy.

Enter the new year knowing you are better prepared- not for yourself, but for your child(ren) and family- create an estate plan. Find out more about estate planning and how to prepare your family for the future by contacting our office to schedule a consultation.

 

 

Note: Carmen Rosas is an attorney in California. She practices family law (divorce, custody, and support) and estate planning (wills, trusts, advance health care directive).