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    Category Archives: planning

    10 Things Parents of Children With Disabilities Need To Know When They Enter The School System

    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

    Students Aren’t the Only Ones with an Important Assignment This Fall

    Now that the kids are back in school, and families are returning to more structure and routine, there is no time like the present to cross estate planning off of your to-do list. The next time you tell your kids to go and do their homework, you can tell them that you’re even doing yours!

    Below are 5 essential estate planning strategies that your family should implement or update right away.

    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.  It also names guardians for your minor children. 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.

    Emergency 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 ICE Plan does just that.  Only estate planning law firms who focus on families with young children have the skills, training, and resources to create a comprehensive Kids ICE 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 your Newport Beach Estate Planning Attorneys at the Meier Law Firm to schedule a time for an Achieve Your Dreams Planning Session. Our Client Services Director Bonnie Johnson would be happy to help you get scheduled or answer any questions you have. Bonnie can be reached at 949.718.0420 Mondays through Fridays between 9am and 4pm. Just mention this article and your Session will be free with no pressure or obligation whatsoever, as long as you reserve your session by September 18, 2015.

    Or, if you’re the ‘do it yourself’ type and like to do your homework ahead of time, call our Client Services Director Bonnie Johnson at 949.718.0420 today and request a free copy of Laura Meier’s book, Good Parents Worry, Great Parents Plan. It has a lot of information you’ll want to know to prepare the best estate plan possible for your family. We’d be happy to send you your free copy with no obligation whatsoever as long as you reserve your copy by September 18, 2015.

    5 Secrets for Making the Next Holiday Better



    Being a family trust lawyer involves a lot more than just helping people make medical, financial, and legal decisions. It also gives you front row seats to all things family, including the good, bad, and the ugly. Unfortunately, you also see people whose lives are coming to an end, most of whom wish they could go back and get a do-over in one way or another.

    With the holidays officially here again, all of us get a “holiday do-over”, so take advantage by following these 5 secrets for making the next holiday better that I’ve learned from years of being your trusted family lawyer and hearing of life’s greatest joys and regrets:

    1. Avoid heavy topics. Nothing ruins a holiday more than bringing up the status of your dad’s will or asking your sister-in-law if she’s ever going to have a baby. Holidays are meant to be enjoyed and relaxing. There are 365 days a year, so there’s no reason why these discussions can’t be addressed on other days. If holidays really are the only time of year you are all together, try planning a time the day before or after the holiday to address important family matters.
    2. Deal with drama beforehand. Two days before Thanksgiving I overheard a woman screaming, agonizing, and seething as she spoke to a family therapist in our office building. I thought, what is it, an ex-spouse, a boss, a sudden gain in weight? No, it was the thought of having to see her sister-in-law at Thanksgiving dinner. Often times we put off addressing broken family dynamics all year long, only to be forced to deal with them on holidays that were meant to be fun. Address family issues beforehand or try having your family gathering on a different day so you can look forward to the actual holiday.
    3. No more than two rule. Most happy families we know have made it a priority to not over-schedule, meaning they limit their activities to two per day. Rather than drag your kids around to multiple homes on a holiday hoping to make everyone else happy, try limiting the day to one simple activity with your own family unit, and one family gathering with the extended family.
    4. Say yes, mean yes. Anyone else begrudgingly agree to do something, like go to your in-laws on a holiday, only to complain about it the entire week before, the entire drive there, and the entire week after? If you tell your spouse or family “yes”, then you should mean yes. A real yes means you are freely agreeing to do something, and will make the most out of it, rather than sabotage it every change you get. It’s normal to complain but not to the point when it overshadows or ruins the entire experience for others.
    5. Facebook Free. Did you know holidays are a low traffic day for social media sites? That is a good thing! I have never once had a client, when preserving their special memories, or facing the end of their life, say their best life moments were spent surfing the web or liking stuff on Facebook. Special memories are made before they can ever be posted, so focus on making lots of them on the actual holiday, and any day for that matter.

    For more great tips on how to become a more prosperous family, click here to receive weekly tips for becoming a prosperous family.


    Laura K. Meier, Esq. is a family trust attorney and mother of four young children. She is the author of Good Parents Worry, Great Parents Plan. Laura and her husband, Joshua D. Meier, Esq. run a business and estate planning law firm together in Newport Beach, CA.

    Why Estate Planning is for Life, Not Death

    We know that no one likes to think about death, especially their own.  Which is why many people procrastinate when it comes to estate planning.  Because it’s for when you die, right?  Wrong!  When done with a Personal Family Lawyer, creating an estate plan makes your life better.planning

    Here are some of the things that estate planning does for you while you are alive:

    • Gets you thinking about the real meaning of your life, what you want to pass on beyond your life and what’s most important to you to do now;
    • Gets you thinking about how you want to be cared for at the end of your life and lets you name someone to make those good decisions for you;
    • Has you think about your money, who you want it to go to, how you want it handled, what you want it to do in the world after you aren’t here;
    • Names someone to care for your children in case you can’t;
    • Helps you minimize taxes;
    • Lets you provide for a special needs child or other loved one without disrupting their governmental benefits;
    • Protects your assets from divorce – yours or your children’s – as well as lawsuits and creditors;
    • Enables you to gift portions of your estate to your children or charities while you are still alive in a tax-advantaged way that inspires wealth creation instead of depletion;
    • Helps you plan for your own long-term care in a way that won’t deplete your estate

    Of course, having an estate plan also offers you peace of mind that you have done what you could to protect loved ones and pass on your assets efficiently after death.  Having an estate plan in place before you pass guarantees that:

    • Your personal property and assets will pass to the people you want to have them
    • You spare your family the expense and pain of having to go through the probate process
    • Your minor children are provided for in the way you choose, with a guardian named to raise them with your values and a trusted adviser in place to manage their finances until they come of age
    • Your assets are protected for your heirs by setting up a trust with a distribution option for when they reach adulthood (or other milestones of your choice)
    • Beneficiaries have been named for retirement and other financial accounts as well as life insurance policies so the assets in these accounts go to the people you choose
    • The financial privacy of your family is protected

    If you’d like to talk about Estate Planning, call your Newport Beach Trust and Estate Attorney today at 949.718.0420 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, 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.

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