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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: Kids

    Make a Contract With Your Teen Driver This Summer

    Before you know it summer will be here and that means more teen drivers on the road.  Statistics show teens have twice as many accidents during the summer as any other time of the year, and alcohol is often a contributing factor.  teen driver

    Researchers say teen drivers do not think about risk the same way adults do, leading them to take bigger chances when they’re behind the wheel – leading one teen safety advocate to say “there’s no such thing” as a safe teen driver.

    A study by insurance company State Farm and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that 75 percent of fatal accidents caused by teen drivers were because of three mistakes:

    • Driving too fast for road or weather conditions.
    • Not paying attention to the road and what may have been coming ahead or from the side.
    • Being distracted by something – or someone – inside or outside the vehicle.

    More than half of all fatal teen accidents are one-car crashes, and the main factor is excessive speed.  Driving too fast coupled with inexperienced teen drivers’ tendency to misjudge a curve or bump in the road results in thousands of fatal accidents every year.

    To make sure this kind of tragedy doesn’t befall your family, sit down with your teen and make a contract specifying they are not to drink or use a cell phone for talking or texting while driving.

    You may also want to send your teen to a safe driving school.  The American Automobile Association (AAA) is just one of several organizations that offer classes in safe driving for teens.

    Our focus is the well-being and care of your family, no matter what.  If you would like to have a talk about protecting your family through legal planning, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. We normally charge $750 for a Family Wealth Planning Session, but because this planning is so important, I’ve made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at no charge. Call today and mention this article.

    How To Leave Your Home To Your Kids

    Many parents want to know the best way to leave a home to their children. Before you make a plan, you should first be sure that your children actually want the property. We have seen too many parents take on unnecessary financial hardship in order to keep a home as an inheritance their children do not truly want.home

    That said, here are some of the most common ways to leave your home to your kids:

    Will. You can leave real estate to anyone in your will. Once the will has been probated, your children will receive title to the property.

    Trust. Using a trust is a convenient way to transfer property without having to go through probate. Title is transferred automatically upon a triggering event — in this case, the death of the original property owner.

    Joint tenancy with right of survivorship. This method allows you to add your children to the property title while you are still alive. When you pass, the children become owners of the property as surviving joint owners.

    Transfer on death deed. This allows you to name a beneficiary for your property without giving a present interest in it to the beneficiary. Upon your passing, the beneficiary takes title.

    Life estate. You can transfer title to the property while you are still living, and retain the right to live there during your lifetime. After your death, the beneficiary owns the entire interest in the property.

    There are pros and cons to each of these options.  Deciding on the best option for you and your family should be done with the assistance of a Personal Family Lawyer®.

    If you’d like to learn more about estate planning, 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.

    The Conversation You Must Have With Your Kids and Your Parents

    Every single adult needs to have an advance health care directive written, signed and in place. This includes your children, as soon as they turn 18.  This includes you. This includes your parents.

    Without an advance health care directive in place, you would not be able to access your child’s medical records, if they are unable to communicate permission. You would not be able to ensure your health care decisions will be made the way you choose. And your parents lose the ability to communicate their wishes and remain in control as long as care decisions

    Here is what you can do to have the conversation you need to have about advance healthcare planning:

    1.  Look inward.  Before executing an advance healthcare directive with the help of your Personal Family Lawyer®, think about what you do – or don’t – want to happen if you were unable to make your own decisions.  Think about the people you would want to carry out those decisions and if the person you have in mind will follow your wishes.

    2.  Talk to your family.  One of the most tormenting things for families is having to make healthcare decisions for a loved one by having to guess what they would want.  Communicate your wishes to your family so you don’t put them in this stressful position.

    3.  Talk to your healthcare providers.  Let your primary physician and any other healthcare provider know about your decisions about your healthcare.  Ask any questions to alleviate any concerns you or your family may have.

    4.  Execute your advance healthcare directive.  Once you have decided upon your healthcare options and have chosen an agent, meet with your Personal Family Lawyer® to complete your official advance healthcare directive.  Have copies made for your family and your primary healthcare provider.

    Call 949.718.0420 to schedule a time to prepare a health care directive for your parent(s) or your adult child(ren).

    5 Things We Should Learn From Our Parents About Retirement

    When we talk about retirement, most of us are still thinking about our parents’ retirement and how they did – or did not – plan properly for it.  It’s no big stretch to think that our retirement will differ significantly from that of our parents, but there are still lessons to be learned from them in preparing:retirement

    1.  Seek out a pension plan.  If you are considering a career change or job move, look for companies that offer traditional pension plans.  Having a pension can make an incredible difference in retirement security.

    2.  If you don’t have a pension plan, compensate.  Start investing now in a 401(k), an IRA or other defined contribution plan early and keep investing in it throughout your working life.  Figure out what you could have made if you had a pension plan, and contribute that amount to your own plan.

    3.  Save for a long life.  None of us lives forever, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t save as if you would live forever.  Running out of money in your 80s or 90s should you live that long is a frightening prospect; medical advances are extending life spans and you need to save for a long life.

    4.  Plan for health care expenses.  It is estimated that most Americans will spend at least $240,000 on health care in retirement, and you will either need to save that amount or have a health coverage plan in place to cover your retirement medical costs.

    5.  Start early and stay the course.  As soon as you start working, aim to save at least 10 percent of your income every year – 15 percent is even better if doable.  And keep saving throughout your working years.  As your salary increases, try to set aside even more so the comfortable retirement you envision can become a reality.

    If you’d like to learn more about retirement planning strategies for 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.

    The Last Important Gift to Give Your Family

    As hard as it is for all of us to “plan” for our deaths, doing so is one of the best things you can do for your family.  Adding to their grief and pain by giving them no clue as to where to find your personal and business paperwork should not be a memory you leave behind.Family washing dog

    Gather the following information in a folder and let your family know where they can find it in case you die unexpectedly or have a health crisis:

    Advisors – Provide the name and contact information of any financial advisors, including attorneys, estate planners, CPAs, accountants, etc.

    Bank Accounts and Safety Deposit Boxes  – Bank name and account numbers for each bank where you have an account.  Include PIN numbers for online banking.  If you have a personal banker, include his or her name as well, with contact information.  If you have a safety deposit box, record the name of the bank, the box number as well as contents of the box and location of the key.

    Investment And Retirement Accounts – For investment accounts, provide the name of the brokerage, your personal broker, the location of your statement file, account and PIN numbers.  For retirement accounts, provide contact information for plan administrators as well as account and PIN numbers.

    Insurance  – For all your policies – health, home, car, life, long-term care – provide the name and contact information for the agents as well as account numbers.

    Health care – For your health care providers, give contact information for physicians, Medicare information and any other gap coverage you may have.

    House – If you still have a mortgage on your home, provide information on your lender and payment due dates.  Also provide the location of deeds and property titles.  Include contact information for any home service providers – cleaning help, lawn care, etc.

    Credit Cards – Make a photocopy of both sides of each credit card and provide balance and payment information.

    Vehicles – Provide information on where titles and registration information are kept. Make a photocopy of your driver’s license as well.

    Personal – Include a list of your friends and neighbors with email and phone contact information as well as all your email account log-ins and passwords.

    This last bit of planning on your part will go a long way toward helping your family cope in the immediate aftermath of your death or incapacitation.

    One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of your wealth to the next generation.  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 can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security.

    Congratulations! It’s an Estate Plan! Protecting Your Newborn From Birth

    Congratulations! It’s an Estate Plan!  Protecting Your Newborn From Birth

    In the process of becoming new parents, many couples become experts at planning – scheduling the birthing classes, planning the new nursery, even picking out a preschool. There is so much to think about before you welcome your new

    Unfortunately, one of the most important things you can do to protect your child is often overlooked:  an estate plan.  Here are five important considerations you need to discuss with your Personal Family Lawyer® when setting up an estate plan once your new baby is born:

    Guardians and trustees.  Parents who delay choosing a guardian for their children usually do so because they cannot agree on that “perfect” choice.  Get comfortable with the fact that there is no perfect choice – and if you don’t choose, a court will choose for you.  You can always amend your choice if you change your mind.  When choosing a guardian or trustee, you need to think about choosing someone who shares your beliefs and who will naturally be a part of your child’s life.  And you need to make sure whomever you choose is willing to take on the responsibility of raising your child if you are unable to do so.

    As your neighborhood Personal Family Lawyer, I offer a unique process for families with young children at home. Contact me to discuss how a Kids Protection Plan® can ensure your children are always cared for by people you know, love and trust if anything at all happens to you.

    Education.  The cost of college is already sky-high; can you imagine what it will be like in another 18 years?  You probably want to start saving right away, either through a 529 plan or an educational trust so you can realize some tax benefits while you save.

    Passing on your assets.  Assets cannot pass directly to children under the age of 18, so you will need to think about setting up a trust and naming a trustee to manage the assets you would leave your children.  You also need to examine your beneficiary forms for retirement accounts and insurance policies to be sure your new child is included as a beneficiary.  Even if you name them in a will, a beneficiary form for these accounts will determine who inherits.

    Avoiding probate.  Talk to your attorney about setting up a living trust so your heirs can avoid probate and assets can pass directly to them.

    Asset protection.  If you have an estate of more than $10.5 million, you will want to discuss asset protection strategies that will help you minimize taxes and protect assets for your heirs.

    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, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security.

    Choosing Guardianship

    Father-SonChoosing someone to raise your children if something happens to you is hard to even think about. However, naming guardians is a must. 

    Newport Beach Family Trust Attorney Laura Meier tells ParentingOC Magazine that if parents don’t legally name permanent guardians, a judge would have to choose who would raise their children.

    Luckily, there are three easy steps for you to follow for choosing guardians.

    • STEP ONE: Write down all of the potential people (individuals or couples) who could potentially serve as guardians.
    • STEP TWO: Then write down the top three qualities that you would want them to have (i.e. age, religion, lifestyle, etc.).
    • STEP THREE: Compare both sheets of paper. Rank in order the “potential people” you listed from your first choice down to the last choice, based on your top three priorities.

    This won’t be a seamless process, but to avoid prolonging it, here are the six most common mistakes people make when naming guardians.

    • Naming a couple to act as guardians, (when you really don’t want both people,) and you haven’t said what should happen if the couple divorced or one of the partners in the couple died.
    • Only naming one possible guardian.
    • Considered financial resources when deciding who should raise your children.
    • Only having a Will, which means the court will distribute your money—it’s totally public and doesn’t protect your money from divorce or lawsuits.
    • Not excluding anyone who might challenge your guardian decisions.
    • Only naming guardians for the long-term and not making any arrangements for the short-term if you were in an accident. Your children could end up in temporary foster care until your permanent guardians arrive.

    After you have made your decision, the next step is to make your guardianship legal. You have to legally document your wishes. This should be done in your family estate plan that ensures your family’s complete financial, medical, physical and emotional care and protection. Contact your Newport Beach Estate Planning Lawyers today and discover how estate planning can help you protect your children.

    [Webinar Invite] What would happen to your kids if something happened to you?

    Have you ever wondered what would really happen to your little ones if something happened to you? Have you or your clients, family, or friends asked this difficult question? The scary reality is that if you have not named permanent guardians for your kids, then your kids could end up in temporary foster care until a judge decided who would raise them!

    No parent ever wants their child in foster care or to have a court battle over who should raise them!  You can make sure your kids would be raised by the people that you love and want to raise your kids by naming permanent guardians for them NOW.

    Join local attorney and dad, Joshua Meier, for a FREE 20 minute online Kids Guardian Workshop on Tuesday July 31, 2012 at 11:30am where you can name permanent guardians for FREE, right from the comfort of your own home!

    Plus, I will show you an easy three-step process for choosing guardians for your kids, and how to avoid the six common mistakes parents (and their lawyers) make when naming guardians.


    Register now on the Meier Law Firm Events Page.

    "Meier Law Firm's Kids Guardian Workshop was wonderful! It was personal and easy to understand." Mom, Norwalk, CA

    "I had been thinking about all of the topics discussed, but now after attending the workshop, I am finally taking a step toward getting the process started." Mom, Lakewood, CA

    "Meier Law Firm's Kids Guardian Workshop was a huge eye-opener for me. As difficult as it is for me to trust someone and choose a permanent guardian, I know it is better now to have one, than not." Mom, Long Beach, CA

    "Excellent workshop with simple advice to name guardians." Mom, Cerritos, CA


    Visit our events Testimonial Page to read what other great parents have to say about the workshop.


    Take 20 minutes to have the peace of mind of knowing that your kids will be safe and with people they love if anything happened to you.

    We’ll see you and other great local parents on Tuesday!


    p.s. Be sure to forward this e-mail to your friends and family who have minor kids—everyone in California is invited to attend!

    Register Today!

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