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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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    Category Archives: Family Law

    No More Reasons for Delay in Implementing These 5 Estate Planning Essentials

    Last year’s uncertainty about the future of the estate and gift tax caused many people to put their estate planning on hold, even though estate and gift tax planning is only a teeny tiny piece of estate planning.  Now that the clouds have lifted and Congress has given us clarity, there is simply no reason for anyone to delay in implementing these five estate planning essentials:family on beach

    Will.  Look around you right now.  Everything you see has to be distributed in the event of your death.  Your Will names the person you want to handle it all and can also indicate who you want to receive it all.  If you don’t have a Will, a Judge decides who is in charge of your affairs and State law provides who receives everything you own.  Take control now by getting your Will in place today.

    Kids ICE Plan.  If you have minor children at home, you need a comprehensive set of documents to ensure they are taken care of by the people you want, in the way you want, no matter what.  Not just for the long-term, but also in the immediate term if and when something happens to you.  A Kids Protection Plan® does just that.  Only a licensed Personal Family Lawyer has the skills, training, and resources to create a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan for your family, so call us today if you do not have one in place already.

    Advance Medical Directive.  Also known as a health care proxy, durable power of attorney for healthcare or living will, this document provides the legal right for the person of your choice (your representative) to make healthcare decisions for you in case you become incapacitated and unable to make those decisions for yourself.  Plus, it also lets that person know HOW you want decisions to be made if you cannot make them for yourself.  Without an Advance Medical Directive in place, your family could have their hands tied when it comes to ensuring you get the best care possible, in the way you would want.

    Power of Attorney.  In the event you cannot communicate, your Power of Attorney will allow your family to gain access to your financial accounts so they can pay your bills and manage your financial affairs. Without this in place, they’ll face an expensive, long and public court process to take matters into their hands.  Don’t leave your family in that position, handle this today.

    Trust.  If you own any property that would go through the probate process (a home, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, business assets, investment real estate, and other investment assets), you’ll want to make sure to have a Trust set up as soon as possible so your family isn’t stuck dealing with an expensive, unnecessary, long, and totally public Court process in the event of your death.  A revocable living trust puts the people you know, love and trust in control without having to go to Court.

    If you’re ready to do the right thing by your family, call our office today at 949.718.0420 to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about an Achieve Your Dreams Planning Session!

    How to Create a Lifetime of Care for a Special Needs Child

    Parents of children with special needs usually share one overriding concern: what will happen to my child after I’m gone? They also struggle with guilt for what they envision as an eventual destiny for their other children who might assume care of their special needs sibling.family halloween

    This is what estate planning was made for. You can do something right now to ensure your special needs child has the proper care for the rest of his or her life. As you consult with your attorney to create a special needs trust or other estate planning tools, take into consideration the following:

    The amount of financial support your special needs child will require over his or her life. You should start by calculating how much support you are providing now and then think about the support they will need as they reach adulthood and into their senior years. Consider if he or she will be able to provide any of their own support, or will rely on government benefits. Of course, you also need to estimate how much you are able to give.

    Governmental benefits protection. If your child already receives government benefits from Medicare or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), your plan will need to take this into consideration and not provide your child with too much income to disqualify them from these benefits. Usually this can be avoided through the creation of a special needs trust.

    How your other children fit into your estate plan. A vast majority of parents want to ensure equal treatment for all their children when it comes to an inheritance. Sometimes, with a special needs child, this is not possible if parents have limited financial resources. If this will be true for you, be sure you talk with your other children about your plan and discuss how distribution of other assets might even this up a little for them.

    Who will manage your special needs child’s finances. When you create a special needs trust, you will need to name a trustee or trustees to manage the trust assets for the benefit of your child. Choose someone you know who cares about your child and who is willing to assume the responsibilities of caring for him or her.

    Beyond just the financial, how do you want your child cared for after you are gone?  How can you use your financial resources to ensure that actually happens? Call your Newport Beach Estate Planning Attorneys today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about an Achieve Your Dreams Planning Session, where we build provisions into trusts that make it more likely that your child’s care will continue in alignment with your desires, hopes and dreams for their future.

    Casey Kasem’s Estate Planning Not in Anyone’s Top 40

    Casey Kasem, the celebrity radio host who counted down America’s Top 40 popular songs for years, died on June 15 at the age of 82 and left behind an estimated $80 million fortune.  He also left a family feud of biblical proportions between his surviving spouse and his three children from a prior marriage.  This is why we do what we do — to keep your family out of court and connected in love, not conflict.

    Kasem married his second wife, Jean, who is 22 years his junior, in 1980.  Together, they had one child, Liberty Kasem.  Casey also had three children from a prior marriage: Kerri, Mike and Julie.  The family was apparently in discord prior to Casey’s death; in mid-May, Mike and Julie filed a missing persons case with the Santa Monica police department saying they could not locate their father.  At that time, Kerri was fighting with Jean over control of his care.

    After Kasem died, news broke that his body had been taken from the Washington state funeral home and a judge awarded Kerri a temporary restraining order preventing Jean from removing his remains or having him cremated before an autopsy had been performed.  Kerri hired a private investigator who says the body has been moved to Montreal, the hometown of a man that Jean has allegedly been involved with for the past two years.

    A mess, right?  And they haven’t even gotten to the money yet!                lawyer confused

    A little advance estate planning could have helped prevent this scenario, which is not uncommon when an older man takes a second wife who is significantly younger and has children from a prior marriage.

    A recent WSJ Marketwatch.com article outlined four estate planning tools that could have helped to head off this disaster:

    Revocable trust.  Placing assets in a revocable trust can help protect the trust owner’s wealth transfer wishes, and provides the flexibility to make changes as long as the trust owner has the legal capacity to make those decisions.  Upon the owner’s death, the assets are dispersed as outlined in the trust without having to go through probate.  A trust is also more difficult to contest than a will.

    Life insurance.   A life insurance policy can be a good way to provide for a surviving spouse while leaving the rest of the estate to children from a previous marriage, or vice versa.

    QTIP trust.  A qualified terminal interest property (QTIP) trust is used to set aside assets for a surviving spouse’s benefit while that spouse is alive.  After the surviving spouse passes, the remaining assets in the trust are passed on according to the trust terms.

    Family meeting.  Having a family meeting so that everyone knows their beneficiary status and what will happen to the estate after the estate owner dies is a good way to head off conflict.  An estate planning attorney can mediate these meetings, which is usually advisable when there is a potential for conflict.

    One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation without conflict or concern.  Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security.

    Are Prenuptial Agreements in Vogue?

    More people are getting married later in life, or for a second or third time. As a result, they have more income, assets, and obligations when they arrive at the altar. So it is no surprise that prenuptial or premarital agreements are becoming a more frequent topic of discussion among to-be-weds.

    Regardless of who you are, what you do, who your loved ones are, and what you own, planning for your family and for your assets is a necessary and ongoing activity. Estate planning is a process, not an event.

    This is especially true when you and your family situation happens to be a little more complicated than most. In that case, proper planning is absolutely vital. What may be a trend for a new generation of complexities and one that is making headlines anew, believe it or not, is the prenuptial agreement.

    The recent murmurs about prenuptial agreements come like most financial news these days, by way of Facebook’s newlywed Mark Zuckerberg. A recent article in CBS MoneyWatch titled, “Why Mark Zuckerberg needs a prenup,” makes the case for his need for a prenuptial agreement.

    Zuckerberg and his millions (or whatever his net worth) aside, the prenuptial agreement has its place in an era of mixed families, divorces, remarriages, and all the other increasingly common family structures today. In addition, as pointed out in the original article, people are getting married later, or otherwise remarried, when they already have complicated assets. Divorces aside, complicated assets often necessitate complicated planning.

    Contact your Laguna Beach Estate Planning Attorney at Meier Law Firm for additional information.

    Reference: CBS MoneyWatch (May 19, 2012) “Why Mark Zuckerberg needs a prenup




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    Meier Law Firm | 2103 Vista Entrada, Newport Beach, CA 92660
    phone: 949.718.0420 e-mail: office@meierfirm.com