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

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!

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)!

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? 

Prepare for the unexpected

As many of you have heard, actor James Gandolfini passed away Wednesday, unexpectedly. CNN reports that the cause of death is unknown but his managers say it may have been the result of a heart attack. Gandolfini was a great actor and his loss is shocking to people everywhere.

When someone passes unexpectedly, it can be a very traumatic experience. There is no real chance to say your “goodbyes” or even “prepare yourself.” For this reason, it is important that you and your family have an estate plan that prepares you for the unexpected.

Some points to consider:

  1. Gandolfini left behind a wife, young child and a son from a previous relationship. Without an estate plan, Gandolfini’s property will likely go to his wife and could ultimately leave his teenage son with nothing. If you are part of a blended family, this is something you should consider.
  2. Death or incapacity can happen at any time. Be sure you plan and prepare your family to handle your affairs when you no longer can.
  3. Create a plan that ensures your wishes and desires regarding your property and your remains are followed.

If you would like more information on how to create an estate plan, contact our Redwood City Estate Planning Attorney for assistance.

Keeping Gandolfini’s family in our thoughts and prayers as they mourn their loss.

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!

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).