Fall 2019 Edition Newsletter

Laura K. Meier
Creating estate, business, and life plans that ensure a family’s complete protection and well-being.

Fall 2019 Edition

Fall 2019 edition includes:

  • Fall Into What Matters Most & Character Over Accomplishments
  • Check out Josh and Laura on Instagram at #meetthemeiers
  • 35 Halloween Activities that are Wicked Fun and Witches' Fingers!
  • 5 Ways to Take the 'Spook' out of Estate Planning
  • Josh and Laura on CBS News Sacramento Discussing the College M.U.S.T List
  • Check out Season 2 of our If Life Were Perfect Podcast!
  • 10 Major Mistakes With Your Parents' Estate Plan (and How to Fix Them)
  • Fall 2019 Workshop Calendar
  • Thank You For Your Referrals
  • Just Call Bonnie

Fall Into What Matters Most & Character Over Accomplishments

Dear Jonathan,

I hope you are doing great! It's hard to believe it's already Fall and Halloween is just around the corner. And while our house is fully decked out like a graveyard with zombies, I'm personally using this Fall to try and "fall' back into what matters most.

I don't know about you, but I am one of those people who feels a constant self-pressure to achieve more. Maybe it was the middle child thing growing up, or my A type personality, or living in an area where everyone seems like a superhuman to me. Who knows! But I can see how the "race to nowhere" as some call it can truly rob us of enjoying all that we have. I recently heard a message conveying that what matters most in life is not our accomplishments, but our character. And while I admit that perspective can be a bit demotivating for the daily hustle, I know it's the better one to have.

This new perspective made me really think about if we wanted to do a second season of our If Life Were Perfect Podcast—but we really felt it was important to continue to use this platform to help other people. Topics this season include home buying, blending beliefs, healthy competition, day dates, nailing the job interview, and more. Our podcast was recently featured on Apple Podcasts on their New and Noteworthy and Top Shows, and we have over 460 reviews with a 5 star overall rating. We hope you can check it out on Apple Podcasts or at iflifewereperfect.com and share it with your friends who love podcasts.

Enjoy Halloween and all the blessings this Fall Season has to offer. Thanks for your trust.

All the Best,

Laura and Josh


Hey Instagram Users! Check out Josh and Laura at #meetthemeiers


35 Best Halloween Activities That Are Wicked Fun and Witches' Fingers Recipe!

We are always looking for fun ideas for celebrating Halloween beyond just the candy binge! Click here for 35 great activity ideas for Halloween beyond trick or treating! My kids already did the slime one and loved it.

The photo above with the amazing decorated pumpkins is from our friends at Newport Center Women's Health. Their staff has a competition every year for best pumpkin and the winner gets a gift card. I could not believe how creative they were. (Our law firm is totally going to steal this idea!) The coolest part is that their staff will soon donate these pumpkins to CHOC so the children in the hospital can enjoy them for Halloween.

Also, Halloween is the perfect time to put a fun twist on traditional baking recipes. My kids always look forward to when Nana makes her amazing witches' fingers cookies! You can check out this tasty and creative cookie recipe by clicking here.


5 Ways to Take the 'Spook' Out of Estate Planning

By Laura K. Meier, Esq.

As a mom of four kids, most of my children went through a stage when they were terrified of Halloween—the darkness, the spook, the costumes, the houses, and anything with blood or masks. Even the draw of candy could not always motivate them to suffer through the ordeal.

I think that's how many people feel about setting up an estate plan. The idea of it can be just plain spooky, even if you know you'll get something good at the end. No one wants to think about their death, or having to meet with a lawyer, or spend money on something that's not fun.

Here are 5 tips to help you take the 'spook' out of estate planning, so you too can experience the 'candy' at the end of knowing your loved ones and assets are completely protected:

1. Change Your Mindset. Many people put off estate planning because they would rather not think about dying and feel that estate planning is actually a personal consent to their death. We get it! But the opposite result actually occurs when people set up their estate plan. Not only does it make them worry less about dying, it also provides them tremendous peace of mind so they can carry on with their daily lives knowing that everything is taken care of "just in case." So consider setting up an estate plan as consenting to peace of mind.

2. Do Your Research. Most big meetings, especially one as important as formalizing your wishes if something should happen to you, can bring a normal feeling of stress. One of the best things you can do to reduce anxiety is to feel prepared. There are a lot of great resources out there on estate planning and what you should consider. We personally provide our prospective clients with many helpful materials, including a copy of my book, Good Parent's Worry Great Parent's Plan, an overview of our estate planning process, things to consider in advance, and an attorney checklist they can use when interviewing estate planning attorneys to ensure they are asking the right questions. A little bit of research goes a whole long way in feeling confident about your planning.

3. Know Your Options. Estate planning can feel highly personal, which is why some people are reluctant to bring it up with friends when looking for a referral to a reputable estate planning attorney. Thankfully, with independent online review sites like YELPGoogle, or AVVO, you can find out who your community trusts, and what the experiences have been with that attorney.

4. Don't Project. You don't need to decide now whether your hyper 7-year-old will eventually mellow out, or if your brother and sister-in-law's marriage will make it. A good estate plan builds in flexibility and should be adjusted as time goes on. Personally, we like the "3-year" rule when making important decisions like who would raise your kids or manage your money. The 3-year rule helps you evaluate your choices based on what makes the most sense now and for the next 3 years, knowing what you know now, with the idea you will adjust later on as needed. It helps take the pressure off in making long term decisions.

5. Have a Relationship. You should only get an estate plan from a law firm if you feel confident they will not just be there for you now, but for the years to come. Estate planning is typically not a one and done process, and you will need and want to continually turn to your trusted advisor as your life continues to change. It's critical to ask the law firm what their ongoing charges are, ongoing access to the attorney will be, and what happens if the lawyer retires, etc. Make sure you can count on your attorney for the years to come.

If you want to truly enjoy the process of setting up an estate plan without the 'spook', knowing you'll have the best state of the art legal protections for your family, with a warm and compassionate team at your side, now and for the years to come, we invite you to call Bonnie Johnson at the Meier Law Firm today at (949) 718-0420 and schedule a time for us to meet. We warmly welcome you to the firm and are here to support you now and always.


In the Community- Watch Josh and Laura Discuss "The College M.U.S.T. List" on CBS News Sac.

Josh and I had a great trip up to CBS in Sacramento to talk about what college students must have beyond the backpack and dorm decor. From legal documents, to credit cards, to budgeting, to dealing with contracts, find out what your college student needs to be fully prepared.


Hey Podcast Listeners!

Check out Josh and Laura's New Season of If Life Were Perfect


10 Major Mistakes With Your Parents' Estate Plan (And How to Fix Them).

Our parents have spent a lifetime worrying about us (and now the grandkids), but do they know how much we worry about them? No one wants to see their parents in a vulnerable situation where their medical decisions can't be properly made, where they don't have enough money during retirement, or their wishes aren't honored.

Too many families face courtrooms, loss of inheritance, uncertainty, and turmoil, even when their parents had some level of estate planning in place. This usually occurs when too much time has passed since the plan was set up, or the plan was not robust enough to begin with.

Make sure your parents' estate plan avoids these top 10 common major mistakes:

  1. No Incapacity and Long-Term Care Provisions. Estate plans must protect your parents not just in the case of death, but also in the case of incapacity. Otherwise, family members may be forced to go into court to get certain powers necessary to help their parents during an incapacity or dementia diagnosis.
  2. Using a Will instead of a Trust to pass assets. While a Will can direct a judge how assets should be distributed upon a death, it does not avoid your family still having to go through a long and expensive court process known as probate. Only a trust (or transfer on death designations for certain accounts) can avoid a probate process.
  3. Trust not fully funded. Many parents set up an estate plan but fail to re-title their assets into the name of their trust. This usually results in a mini probate having to be opened upon a parent's death that is still costly and time consuming.
  4. Incorrect beneficiary designation. Your parents may have life insurance policies or retirement accounts where they designated a beneficiary to receive the funds upon a parent's death, so it's important that the named beneficiary reflects who the parent wants and specifies what happens if the designated beneficiary predeceases the parent.
  5. Plan does not reflect your current wishes. Relationships change, people move, children are born, loved ones pass away—such is the circle of life. It's important to make sure that your parents' estate plan reflects the current times, and that their current wishes are reflected in the plan.
  6. Plan is using old laws: Capital Gains Issues. Many of our parents' estate plans were created using an outdated tax structure that can result in unnecessary costs. With a simple plan restructure, your parents can avoid massive tax consequences caused by outdated methods and old laws.
  7. Assets are left unprotected from creditors, predators, divorce & most importantly LONG-TERM CARE SPENDING. Parents have the option of protecting the money they leave behind for family members from any ill-intentioned third parties. With potential divorces, creditors, predators, and health challenges, it's important to evaluate if asset protection makes sense for your family.
  8. Illiquid Estate. This happens when families are forced to sell businesses or real properties to pay off debts or taxes or make distributions. This can be avoided by having enough cash on hand, life insurance, or giving the successor trustee power to create liquidity.
  9. Paperwork not organized or easily located. Nothing is more frustrating than knowing your parents have an estate plan, but not being able to locate it during an emergency. Make sure your parents' estate plan includes all the necessary documents and directives and is easily accessible by you when it's needed.
  10. Lost Legacy & Memories. Your parents are incredibly special to you and your family, and we know how much you would long to hear their voice or hear special families if they were no longer there. Ask you parents to record a legacy interview where they can talk on audio or video about what matters most.

If you really want to know if your parents' estate plan in up to date, simply ask them this: "Mom, Dad, if something were to happen to you today, are you confident that your estate plan would work just the way it needs to from beginning to end?" If the answer is no, it's time to get your parents' estate plan updated.

We warmly invite you to contact your trusted Orange County Estate Planning Attorney at the Meier Law Firm us at (949) 718-0420 to schedule an estate plan review today. We regularly update outdated or inadequate estate plans for California families and individuals and look forward to helping your family have peace of mind.


Fall 2019 Events

Please join us at an upcoming event! Our schedule is below.

If you would like to see if Josh Meier, Laura Meier, Jessica Kiely, or Jonathan Johnson can speak at your company, university, or group, please contact Bonnie Johnson at (949)718-0420 or email her at [email protected].

We can speak in Orange County, the San Francisco Bay Area, and surrounding areas.

Estate Planning Check-up and Review for National Estate Planning Awareness Week

California State University Fullerton and St. Joseph Hospital

October 23, 2019 | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Bacon Pavilion, Fullerton Arboretum, 1900 Associated Road, Fullerton, CA 92831

RSVP to LaTanya Henderson at 657-278-4975 or [email protected] by 10/18


The Importance of Wills and Trusts

Age Well Senior Center

October 23, 2019 | 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Florence Sylvester Mem Senior, 23721 Moulton Pkwy, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

RSVP to Bonnie Johnson at 949.718.0420 or [email protected]


How to Protect Your Home and Savings from Nursing Home Costs! The Hidden Secrets of Medi-Cal and V.A. Benefit Planning

City of Seal Beach

November 5, 2019 | 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

3131 N Gate Rd, Seal Beach, CA 90740

RSVP to Bonnie Johnson at 949.718.0420 or [email protected]


How to Protect Your Home and Savings from Nursing Home Costs! The Hidden Secrets of Medi-Cal and V.A. Benefit Planning

City of Seal Beach

November 6, 2019 | 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

3131 N Gate Rd, Seal Beach, CA 90740

RSVP to Bonnie Johnson at 949.718.0420 or [email protected]


Estate Planning Check-up and Review

St. Joseph Hospital Foundation

November 7, 2019 | 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

1010 W. La Veta Ave., Suite 300, Orange, CA 92868

Private Event


Thank You for Your Referrals and Hosting our Workshops!

ReferralsDave Wagner, Nina Jafari, Gabriel Retort, Alex Varela, David Bahnsen, Mark Moehlman, Dung Vu, Chris and Jessica Collie, Ed Bolin, Rowland Lohman, Kevin Messenger, Judy Davenport, Tony Bartos, Elena Jacobsen, Gabriel Retort, Barth Caldron Law Firm, Megan Guttmann, Sonia Carvalho, Sandip Budhia, Dung Vu, Jonathan Slosberg, Lonnie Reynolds, Lane Answorth, Shirley Witt, Eric Spraker, Laurie Rowen, Robert Bergman, Gina Mazza, Josh Saunders, Brian Woo, Suzanne Decandido, Marcy Miller, Lori Engelking, Tatavoosian Family, Szurley Family, and Jim Davenport.

WorkshopsMission Viejo Senior Center, Good Shepherd Preschool, Cal State Fullerton, OLLI, Shopkick, Oracle, Camp Nugget, Cal State Long Beach, Age Well Senior Center, CPAD, Fullerton Senior Center, Applied Medical, Microsoft HQ, and Huntington Beach Senior Center.