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    Joshua and Laura Meier Newport Beach Trust and Estate Planning Attorneys Focused on Helping Families with Young Kids
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    Monthly Archives: May 2014

    Why Your College Kid Needs Medical Directives

    When your child headed off to college or turned 18, you probably were so busy helping them prepare for their new life that you didn’t realize the law says you are no longer automatically entitled to make medical decisions for them in an emergency.

    GraduationYour young adult child needs to complete their own legal health care directives to make their medical wishes known. This allows them to express their wishes for their medical care in an emergency, and authorizes you or whoever they have chosen to make medical decisions on their behalf if they cannot.

    There are three main legal health care directives your young adult child will need:

    Living Will

    A living will is a legal declaration where your young adult child states their end of life wishes.

    Advanced Health Care Directive

    An Advanced Health Care Directive (also known as a Health Care Power of Attorney) works in conjunction with your young adult child’s living will, and allows you (or someone else they’ve designated) to make medical decisions for them if they are temporarily or permanently incapacitated.

    HIPAA Authorization

    HIPAA is a federal law that says your young adult child’s medical information is private and cannot be released to anyone, including you, without their authorization.

    Your young adult child can execute a HIPAA Authorization that authorizes you and other people they have chosen to receive information about their medical condition if they are incapacitated or have died.

    If you have a young adult child who needs help completely their legal health care directives, call your Newport Beach Estate Planning Law Firm. Meier Law firm focuses on helping parents plan for their kids, through childhood and beyond, and can help you make sure your entire family would be taken care of in an emergency. We invite you to talk with us by scheduling a Planning Session online or by calling us at 949.718.0420.

    Unconditional Love Doesn’t Have to Mean Unconditional Inheritance

    Most parents love their children unconditionally and want to do whatever they can to smooth life’s rough road for them. But that unconditional love doesn’t necessarily mean that unconditional trust exists when it comes to leaving children with a hefty inheritance.

    A recent Forbes article looked at smart ways that parents can pass the love along while still protecting the wealth they have spent their lifetimes working hard to accumulate:

    Annual exclusion gift test. A parent can gift up to $14,000 every year to each child without incurring gift taxes; both parents together can give a total of $28,000 to each child. You can use this annual exclusion gift to test the waters on how your children will handle a financial windfall. Do they pay off debt, save it or place it on the ponies? Their actions can give you insight into how they might handle their inheritance.

    Incentive trust. Parents that have worked hard to accumulate their wealth often worry that a large inheritance may harm a child’s ambition to succeed on their own. If that is a worry for you, an incentive trust allows you to set goals or milestones for your children to achieve before distributions are made.

    Staged distributions. Parents can create a trust with the distributions tied to different age stages or events (graduating college, starting a business) so the inheritance is doled out over time.

    Leave a legacy. Creating a personal foundation to support the causes you believe in, and involving your children early on in that foundation, will help them learn about the responsibilities that come with wealth and create empathy for a world outside their own.

    Hold the cash. Instead of giving cash directly to your children, consider alternative giving strategies, like paying down their college or home loan mortgage debt. This will make a big difference to their financial future without tempting them with large amounts of cash.

    Wealth creation trust. As mentioned in a previous post, one of the best ways your unconditional love can be expressed to a child or grandchild is through the establishment of a wealth creation trust to commemorate a birth or a milestone birthday or event, and then directing monetary gifts to the trust over time.

    When your child gets to be an age specified in the Trust, he or she can step into the role of Co-Trustee of the Trust, learning how to operate the trust and best utilize the funds in the Trust.  He or she will be trained on the best types of investment for the Trust, learn the purpose of the Trust (to encourage the creation of wealth from one generation to the next, rather than the squandering or wasting of assets); how to protect it (keep the investments in the name of the Trust, regardless of how funds are used, so always title investments properly and sign on behalf of the Trust); and how to create more wealth in the future using the Trust assets.

    One of the main goals of our law practice at Meier Law Firm is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation. Call our Irvine Estate Planning Law Firm today at 949.718.0420 to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about an Achieve Your Dreams Planning Session, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security.

    How to Ensure the Complete Protection and Well-Being for Your Child With A Disability

    If you are the parent of a child who has a physical, mental or developmental disability, there are extra considerations you must take into account when setting up a life and estate plan that will ensure your child’s complete protection and well-being.

    1. Your Child’s Physical Care

    If your child is under age 18, your estate plan should name both temporary and permanent guardians who can care for your child if you cannot due to your disability or death. You also should leave your guardians guidance on how to physically care for your child so their services and care are not disrupted or neglected should something happen to you.

    2. Your Child’s Financial Care

    Your child may be entitled to valuable government benefits (SSI and/or Medicaid) now or in the future because of their disability. Unfortunately, most of these benefits are available only to those with very limited means. This leaves you in a difficult position because leaving your child an inheritance could actually disqualify him or her from receiving important government benefits they would have otherwise been entitled to.

    Fortunately, you can establish a special needs trust for your child that allows you to leave your child an inheritance in such a way that does not disqualify him or her from receiving government benefits.  Because special needs trust are established for the purpose of supplementing government benefits, your child can have their basic needs paid for by their government benefits while having their special needs trust pay for their additional needs.

    3. Your Child’s Emotional Care

    You are an integral part of your child’s life and provide them physical, emotional, and financial care. It’s natural to worry about your child’s emotional needs and care, especially if something should happen to you and you could no longer care for them. One great way to express your love for your child and help ensure their emotional needs will continue to be met is to create a Memorandum of Intent. This legal document allows you to outline your child’s emotional needs and provide your insight to future caretakers so they will have guidance on how to meet your child’s emotional needs.

    If you have a child with a disability and need guidance on creating a life and estate plan that ensures their complete protection and well-being, contact a Newport Beach Trust and Estate Planning Attorney at Meier Law Firm. Our family trust attorneys care about your family and can help.  Because this planning is so important, we will provide your family a free Memorandum of Intent when you attend an Achieve Your Dreams Planning Session with us and mention this article.

    7 Reasons Your Family May Need a Trust

    Have you thought that using trusts are only for the wealthy? While it is true that many Americans of means have trusts to protect and pass their wealth, there are a number of reasons why trusts can also be useful for middle-class families. Here are 7 of them:

    1. Control distribution of assets. You wouldn’t hand over your car keys to a child who has had no proper preparation for driving, and chances are you would not want to hand over all your assets to a teenager either. But if both parents die at the same time, the children would inherit all the assets upon their 18th birthdays. A trust allows you to specify how and when you want your children to inherit.

    2. Protect assets from creditors. Placing an inheritance in a trust ensures that those assets are protected from your heir’s — or their spouse’s – creditors. Consider a Lifetime Asset Protection or Wealth Creation Trust.

    3. Protect inheritance from spendthrift heirs. Not everyone is good with money. If your heirs fall into that category, you can use a trust to ensure the assets are not frittered away due to spendthrift behavior.

    4. Protect inheritance for children of prior marriage. You can use a trust to both provide for your current spouse and any children from a previous marriage.

    5. Provide for a special needs heir. Leaving assets outright to an heir with special needs could disqualify them from receiving important government benefits. Leaving those assets in trust bypasses this potential risk.

    6. Avoid probate. Assets can pass to heirs without going through probate by using a trust, saving beneficiaries the time and expense of the probate process. Probate is an expensive, public and unnecessary court process you can keep your family from having to deal with.

    7. Protect privacy. Once a will is entered into probate, it becomes public; a trust is a private document that will protect your family’s privacy.

    If you would like more information about protecting your loved ones, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. We normally charge $750 for an Achieve Your Dreams Planning Session, but because this planning is so important, We’ve made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at no charge. Call your Newport Beach Law Firm today and mention this article.

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