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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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    Congratulations on graduating! What an exciting time. Before you head off to college with all the love, words of wisdom, and memories your family and friends have provided you, make sure you know when to hit the “pause” button to ensure your very best start to adulthood.

    1. Pause Before Signing Any Legal Agreement.
      When I was 18, I stopped off at a car dealership with a sorority sister and test drove a Jeep Rangler. The salesman told me he could get me the best deal, and even ran some numbers on paper for me to review. The first red flag was when I said the monthly payment seemed too high, and he instantly crossed it out and wrote in a lower number. Then he began pressuring me to sign, reminding me it was my dream car. Long story short, I remembered my dad warning me about people who become “upside down” on their car payments, where they owe more than a car is worth. I got up and left. Remember, before you sign any legal agreement, whether for a car, an apartment, or a new job, run it by someone first, like your mom or dad, or an attorney, who has had a lot of experience and can spot traps you might not see yet. The smartest people in the world use advisors and experts all the time to guide them, and you should too. This will save you a lot of heartache and money in the long run!
    2. Pause Before Taking out Student Loans or Choosing a Major
      The other day I was talking with a father of a high school junior. They are touring our country’s top universities, including Yale and Harvard, which is very exciting. I mentioned how Forbes Magazine recently named Harvey Mudd as the #1 college with the best return on investment, meaning their graduates were actually coming out of there with high paying jobs awaiting them. Many of us parents have not yet shifted our thinking when it comes to evaluating universities. We are still caught up in prestige, rather than return on investment. Similarly, many college students don’t research whether their major will actually help them obtain a high paying job when they graduate. This leads to astronomical student loans with little ability to pay them off. Many young adults now have to live at home with their parents and significantly delay buying a home and starting a family because of this. Make sure before you choose a major, or take out student loans, that you hit the pause button and make sure it will set you up for the life you want.
    3. Pause Before Moving In With a Partner or Getting Married
      It’s tempting to want to move in with a partner or get married, especially when it may save you money or entitle you to health insurance or other benefits. Plus, it’s natural to want to be around the person you love. The good news is there will be the right time and the right season for all of this. The bad news is that statistics show that when you cohabitate or marry before you have hit other important milestones, like finishing your education, beginning a career, and the ability to distinguish one’s immaturity from permanent character flaws, you can end up with heartache, misery, and financial ruin that can impact your entire life, or even worse, the life of a child born from that relationship. Take time to talk with couples ahead of you who have solid partnerships, and find out from them their successes and regrets, and definitely hit the pause button before making any major relationship commitment too soon.
    4. Pause Before Leaving Home Without a Medical Directive and Financial Power of Attorney
      Up until now, your parents have probably handled most of your financial and medical decisions. Now that you are an adult, they can no longer do this for you unless you legally authorize them to. I heard of one mom who received a call that her college aged daughter was hospitalized. Because the daughter had not filled out a medical power of attorney authorizing her mom to talk with her doctors in an emergency, the hospital could not tell the mother anything about her daughter’s condition. This mother had to fly three thousand miles in sheer panic to get to her daughter, not knowing if she was dead or alive. Make sure you complete a medical power of attorney so your parents can help you in an emergency and talk with your doctors if you’re seriously hurt. You may also want to complete a financial power of attorney so your parents can continue to help you with your finances until you gain more experience and are ready to give it a go alone.
    5. Pause Before Talking With the Police or School Officials If Something Bad Has Happened
      School officials and police officers are here to help you and protect you. However, if you become involved or connect to something bad that has happened, even if you know you did nothing wrong, you need to remember these very important words and say them to the authorities: “I want to talk with my attorney.” Those magic words can help protect you from consequences that could jeopardize your entire future. Be a broken record if you must. Keep saying it until you have a lawyer with you and advising you.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 If you ever need help, or find yourself in a tough situation, we are here to help! Call your Newport Beach Family Trust Attorneys and we can help you make sure you are safe and protected. We are a family estate planning law firm, and can help you obtain a will, medical power of attorney, financial power of attorney, and other important legal documents you should have now that you are an adult. We can also help you if you need life insurance, start your own business, or need a contract reviewed. Save our number in your contacts and remember to call us if you ever need to talk to an attorney: Meier Law Firm 949-718-0420.

    You probably remember being asked how you want to take title to your home when you were finalizing the escrow process. Making sure you properly hold title to your home is critical to preserving favorable tax treatment and avoiding a long and expensive court-process when you pass away.

    Here are the options for taking title to your home, and the pros and cons for each option:

    Sole Ownership. This means only you would own the home and be on title, so that won’t work if you want to make sure the home automatically passes to someone else upon your death.

    Tenants in Common. This means you and another person would each own one-half of the home, and either of you could give your half away to someone else without the others permission. Plus, if one of you passes away, the other person would have to go through a long and expensive court process known as probate to get rights to the other half of the home.

    Joint Tenancy. This means you and another person would each own one-half of the home, and if one of you passes away, the other person automatically has all rights to the home. The downside is that owning the home this way can trigger negative tax consequences following a death, plus the home still ends up in probate after the survivor of you passes away.

    Community Property with Right of Survivorship. This means you and your spouse own the home together, and if one of you passes away the surviving spouse automatically has all rights to the home. Plus, you would have very favorable tax treatment following a death. The downside though is the home still ends up in probate after the second spouse passes away.

    Revocable Living Trust. Having Josh or Laura Meier prepare this legal document for you, or amend and restate your outdated trust, allows you to own your home in trust and have it automatically pass to a surviving spouse or whoever you choose. Tax treatment is favorable following your death, and the trust allows you to completely avoid a long and expensive court process known as probate, saving tens of thousands of dollars and avoiding unnecessary turmoil for your loved ones.

    Keep in mind that even if you originally took title in the same of your trust, sometimes it can inadvertently come out of trust during a refinance.

    If you would like a free copy of your deed for your California Property, call our friendly Meier Law Firm Client Services Director, Bonnie Johnson at (949) 718-0420 and mention this article. You must contact us before June 1, 2017 for this free service.

    Or, to set up a revocable living trust for your family, and hold title to your home the best way, call your Newport Beach estate planning attorneys, Josh and Laura Meier at (949) 718-0420 and request a planning session to get started.

    Last week, I was talking with a couple at my son’s baseball game, when the wife mentioned that they had set up their revocable living trust up back in worried couple2005. The couple said they were concerned it needed to be updated.

    Aside from the major life changes they’d had since then, including having more children, and moving out of state, there was a larger red flag that went up for me when I heard the date of the trust.

    Basically, for many years, including 2005, the common structure for trusts for married couples was called the A/B Trust. This meant that upon the death of the first spouse, the trust was divided into two sub-trusts: Trust A for the surviving spouse, and Trust B for the late spouse.

    The main reason for this mandatory split structure was to mitigate estate taxes, a likely problem for couples back then because the amount of money the government would allow you to pass at a death without triggering estate tax was significantly less than it is today. Due to changes in law and changes in the tax exemption, the need for the A/B Trust as a tax avoidance strategy became less necessary.

    The other problem is that for the assets and real property put in Trust B, the family will not receive a “step-up” in basis for capital gains tax purposes upon the death of the surviving spouse. This means the beneficiaries of a Trust B can be stuck with significant capital gains tax on assets or real property if there was significant appreciation between the death of the first spouse and the death of the surviving spouse.

    There are however some benefits of having an A/B Trust, such as asset protection for the late spouse’s assets and real property in Trust B, and a guarantee those assets and real property will only pass upon the surviving spouse’s death to the beneficiaries the couple had chosen together.

    New laws and planning techniques such as the Clayton Election Trust, now afford couples many benefits of the A/B Trust without the negative tax consequences, or at least provides them a choice between realizing tax advantages versus asset protection depending on what’s right at the time. Talk to your Newport Beach Family Estate Planning Lawyers about replacing your old A/B trust with a Clayton or Disclaimer trust today. It literally may save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run!

    Meier Law Firm is now offering a free trust review of any trust as long as you contact our office by May 1, 2017 to schedule your appointment.   Be sure to mention this article to receive the free review.  Call (949) 718-0420.

    Article written by Melissa Amster, Esq.

    1. The district must provide your child with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) FAPE means that all special education and related services must be free, meet the child’s unique needs, are at an appropriate setting, and provided in connection with the Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
    2. The district must educate your child in the most Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) that is possible.
    3. The district must assess your child in all areas of disability.
    4. The district must provide an assessment plan within 15 days of parents’ request for an assessment. District must conduct assessment and hold an IEP meeting within 60 days of receiving the signed assessment plan.
    5. The parents should request a copy of the assessments to be provided to them 5 days before the IEP. Parents should notify the school if they plan to bring an advocate or attorney to the IEP or if they need an interpreter or other accommodation within a reasonable amount of time prior to the IEP. Parents should the notify school 24 hours prior to the IEP if they wish to record the IEP.
    6. Eligibility does not drive services, needs and goals drive services.
    7. IEPs should happen at least once a year, within 30 days of parent’s request, after an assessment, or when a student is not making progress.
    8. Parents have a right to an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE), if the parents disagree with the district’s evaluation.
    9. The district only has two responses to a parents’ IEE request: either fund the IEE in a reasonable amount of time or file due process against the parents.
    10. If parents have a disagreement with the district, their main recourse is an administrative hearing called Due Process. If the student is successful, then the district pays the attorney’s fees. The vast majority (about 90%) are settled with a settlement agreement in which the district pays the student’s attorney’s fees.

    Article written by Melissa (Meira) Amster, special education attorney and mother to five children, including a daughter with Down syndrome. After her daughter was born, Attorney Amster realized how difficult it is to advocate for a child with a disability. Amster Law Firm seeks to help parents through all aspects of special education process and the regional center system. Learn more at

    Contact your Newport Beach family trust firm for more information on how special needs planning can help your family.  Call Meier Law Firm (949) 718-0420 today.  Visit

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