Now is the Time

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I have written about this topic for years now because I feel passionate about sharing information on what parents need to do to make sure their kids would be taken care of if the worst were to happen to them.

It’s an awful thought, but better to get it done so you can move on with your life  with peace of mind.  If you haven’t already done this for your family yet, I hope now is the time.

Here is a guest post Darlynn Morgan from Morgan Law Group in Newport Beach wrote about this topic. Darlynn holds free workshops to educate parents on the steps to take to get your legal stuff in order, how to legally name guardians for your kids, etc.

There are two local OC workshops coming up at the end of the month to learn more. Details at the end of the post. Here is what Darlynn had to share about what she speaks on…

Today I’m going to share the secret to FINALLY getting your financial house in order, and I’m going to tell you up front that it has nothing to do with budgets, selling everything on Ebay or working longer hours! This is information you’ve probably never heard before from your financial advisor or CPA, but it’s going to shift your thinking and give you incredible peace of mind.

Before I get into it, if you’re a parent with minor kids at home, the very first thing you should do is visit and register for one of our FREE fall Kids Protection Workshops happening on Saturday, September 29th, 2012.

We’re hosting one at Xpecting at 9:00 am and one at Granola Babies at 2 pm.  These workshops are fast, fun and will teach you everything you need to know about naming legal guardians for your minor kids, leaving a legacy for your loved ones and protecting your family’s wealth if the unthinkable happens.  I’ll touch on why this is so important in just a minute.

But in the meantime…

You’re young and smart —and working hard to build a solid financial foundation for the benefit of your family.  Financial freedom is starting to feel within reach and the future looks promising.

Or is it….?

The “typical” definition of financial freedom means no debt, 6 months savings in the bank, a paid off house and saving towards retirement so you can stop working. The pop culture “teachers” of personal finance tell us that this is when you’ll experience financial freedom …. and so we spend our lives working towards those goals.

But what if we look at it in a different way….

Because maybe you’re just starting out, and have lots of student loan debt, or bought a house that is now upside down. Or maybe you’re just starting a family and are overwhelmed by the reality of the costs of those little mouths to feed. Maybe you’ve even lost your job or your biggest client and you’re wondering where the money is going to come from.

Or, maybe you’ve got millions in the bank, but you’re afraid because you’ve just seen your accounts or your house lose a chunk of their value. Isn’t it funny to realize that sometimes financial freedom has nothing to do at all with the amount of money you have in the bank?

So how can you experience this financial freedom if you don’t have a big savings account, or you have loads of debt, or you’ve not saved enough for retirement, you don’t know how you’re going to pay for college, or if you feel fearful when you think about your financial situation? (Even though by the standards of most of the rest of the world you have plenty.) 

The first step is to get your financial house in order. Do you know with absolute and total certainty what would happen to all your stuff, your business, your kids ….if something happened to you? Or if something happened to your spouse? Do you have a plan in place to make sure that at the end of your life (whenever that may be) you leave the world a better place? That you improve the lot of your family not just financially but emotionally and that you don’t leave behind a big mess?

Now a lot of people think “oh that’s too scary to think about” but it’s not. It’s actually very empowering. Because right now, everything is just fine and you have a clear head and you can start to think about why are you here. How will you leave the world a better place?

You start by knowing that your financial house is in order and that your family, the people who love you and who you love are going to have an easy time of it when you’re gone.

So that is your first step to financial freedom! It’s not about 6 months of savings and getting out of debt and paying off your house, although all those things are great…. but you could do all of those things and still not experience the freedom you’re looking for.

If you’re always waiting to experience freedom until you “arrive” you’ll never get there.

Here’s the good news:

If you don’t have an action plan, then now is the time… you can learn how to create one by joining me for one of our upcoming Fall Kids Protection Workshops

These workshops are fast, fun and offer critical information in a way that’s easy to understand, empowering and broken down into action steps that you can implement right away.   Plus they are FREE to attend and filled with other young families…just like yours!

I know you’ll find it to be an hour well-spent and that you’ll leave with incredible peace of mind about your future.  Here is just a taste of what you’ll learn:

The 9 simple steps you can take immediately to ensure your children are cared for by the people you want, according to your values, should something happen to you.

~ The 9 simple steps you can take immediately to ensure your children are cared for by the people you want, according to your values, should something happen to you.

~ How to help your family by making sure your assets are passed down to the people you want—without interference from courts, creditors, relatives or the IRS.

~ The 6 common mistakes parents make when naming guardians for their young children…. And how to avoid them.

~ How to protect the assets you’ve worked so hard to acquire and how to make sure they are passed down to your children in a way that’s safe, secure and free from the financial dangers of divorce or bankruptcy.

~ Common mistakes parents make that may allow the police the to take their minor children out of the house and into the hands of foster care …even with family members ready and willing to help….if you were temporarily or permanently injured in an accident.

~ How to ensure your money is immediately and privately available to your chosen guardians so your children will have everything they’d need and would be prepared for a life without you in case something happened to you.

~ How to make smart financial choices about things like saving for college, keeping your money safe, and buying life insurance

After attending this workshop, you’ll know without a shadow of a doubt that your legal and financial house is in order—and that you have the tools and resources necessary to keep it that way!  You’ll also confirm that you are making smart financial choices about things like saving for college, keeping your money safe and buying life insurance.

So don’t wait to register for one of our upcoming Fall Kids Protection Seminars at 2 great locations in the OC (Granola Babies and Xpecting!).  Spaces are limited, so reserve your seat now for yourself or a friend at no-charge by visiting !

Darlynn Morgan is an estate planning lawyer at Morgan Law Group, a unique law firm that she created to truly make a difference in the lives of her clients. She’s really good at making it easy for your family to talk about and plan for tough subjects like money, death and taxes. 

[Darlynn is a Tiny Oranges sponsor and I am honored to get to spread the word about her valuable workshops and services!]
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Estate Planning: The Simple Facts for Parents

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I am so happy to introduce a new Tiny Oranges Sponsor, Bettenhausen Law, a local Orange County law firm that specializes in Estate Planning and Family Law.  I am passionate about spreading the word on how important it is to do an estate plan to protect your kids.  We just did ours last year when our daughter was 3,  and after I learned how much is at stake if you don’t have one, it was, well, downright scary.  But it doesn’t have to be!  Getting it done will bring you so much peace of mind and will be one of those things you can CHECK off your list.

Here are the reasons WHY it’s so important and some frequently asked questions in a fabulous article written by Baron Bettenhausen to easily break it down for parents.

Estate Planning: The Simple Facts for Parents

by Baron J. Bettenhausen
Bettenhausen Law

“In today’s fast-paced society we spend so much time running to and from work, school, swim lessons, soccer practice, etc, we hardly take a break to catch our breath. We beat ourselves up over all those things we ‘need’ to do – clean the house, pay the bills, get the groceries… and we yearn for those things we ‘hope’ to do – read a book, take a vacation, start a new hobby… We rarely find the time for those ‘hope to-do’s’, so we constantly put them off, telling ourselves “I’ll do that when the work is done and the time is right.”

As an Orange County attorney, I have worked in and around estate planning for some time, but it wasn’t until the birth of my own daughter that I came to see how important it was for parents to have a plan in place should the worst happen. This was one of those things on our family’s ‘hope to do’ list but soon realized that it’s a ‘need to do now’ to protect my most precious asset, my daughter.

Nobody likes to think about their own mortality but when you have children it no longer is a choice, but a necessity.

With that in mind I decided to compile this list of FAQ. I have found that just about everyone knows they need some type of estate planning but hardly understand why you need it and why it is so important to do now. As a parent, here are a few questions you may be asking yourself about estate planning:

What is the difference between a Will and Trust?

This is the most frequently asked question I receive about estate planning. Probate is the legal process for determining how to distribute the estate of a deceased individual.   A will is a legal document that instructs the court on how to distribute your assets after death. Without a will, the court will make the major decisions regardless of what you or your loved ones may have wanted. In California, probate is typically expensive and lengthy, especially without a will. In probate, your estate (assets and debts) becomes public and is subject to an overburdened court system. A will eases the process of probate by making your wishes known. However, the most important function of a will for parents is the designation of who will be the guardians for your minor children. Who will raise your children if you are no longer around and is that the person you would choose?

While important, a will is only operative in the event of your death and is meaningless in the face of incapacity. It can be extremely difficult for your loved ones to get access to your assets if you are in a hospital and unable to communicate. With a trust, your successor trustee can manage your affairs until your recovery or in the event of death, a correctly titled trust will not be subject to the very public, time consuming, and expensive probate process. It is important to consult with someone who understands how a will and trust work together to protect you and your children.

It is also important to note that an estate plan should include much more than just a will and a trust. A knowledgeable attorney will also help you prepare a Living Will or health care proxy designating your medical power of attorney and outlining your health care decisions in the event of your incapacitation.

I don’t own a home or I don’t have much money so do I really need a will and trust?

It is impossible to know if you need a trust without a competent evaluation of your estate, but in general, if your estate is valued over $100,000 or you own real estate valued over $20,000 then it will be subject to the expensive and lengthy probate process unless a trust is in place.

Everybody needs a will. However, if you have minor children then it is especially vital that you have a will appointing a guardian for them in the event of your death. Who will raise your children if you are not around or who will manage their inheritance if they are too young? Previously cooperative families can become bitter antagonists over these questions if left unanswered by you, and if you do not have any other family or your choice of guardian is not family then you absolutely must have a legal document designating someone as guardian.

What if I don’t have a guardian yet or cannot agree with my significant other about a choice?

Appointing a guardian for your minor children is one of the most important yet most difficult steps in an estate plan. This is especially true for those who don’t have any immediate family members. I believe your children are your most valuable asset and it is not sufficient to just have one guardian. I always request my clients provide two alternate choices in the event the first or second is unavailable or incapable at the time one is needed. If you cannot prioritize your options or are struggling with your partner in finding a mutually agreeable appointment, remember that even the person you consider your last option is infinitely better than having the state decide in your place or in the worst case deciding to put your children into the state system.

Can’t I just go to Staples and pick up a “Do it Yourself Kit” without paying for an attorney?

I would much rather you have a will using a do-it-yourself kit than to not have one at all. However, a will is an important document communicating your desires after you are gone. It may happen that you get everything right when you do it yourself, but you will never know if you made a critical mistake because the problem will not become apparent until you are gone and unable to fix it. You should get the most competent advice you can regarding your estate. You should also remember that a will does not become operative unless you die. An estate planning attorney can help you plan in the event you are incapacitated and unable to communicate.

The Most important unasked question….

Can’t I just take care of an estate plan later? I’m young and healthy and have plenty of time.

This actually is not a question I receive but is the most common reason I see for people to procrastinate in creating an estate plan. Life is fragile and I can not tell you how much grief and stress I have witnessed because of procrastination in creating or updating an estate plan. It is difficult for loved ones to deal with the requirements of Probate while grieving a loss and if there are children left behind, families can fight over who will take them. All this can be avoided with a little preparation and advice from a competent attorney.

I encourage you, as a parent, to consider providing a will and/or trust for your family on your ‘need to do now’ list and protect what is most important to you.

Contact us today for a one-on-one estate planning consultation (California residents only).

All Tiny Oranges readers will receive a complimentary consultation and 10% off document services (Will, Trust, Health Care Directive, and Power of Attorney) at The Law Office of Baron J. Bettenhausen.

Click HERE for contact information on Bettenhausen Law.

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Morgan Law Group Upcoming Events

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The Morgan Law Group is holding two upcoming free events on legal planning for your kids protection and I wanted to pass the information on!  Darylnn Morgan wrote me a little synopsis on the event below.  As a side note,  I would like to congratulate Darylnn on the birth of her baby boy!  So very exciting!  Here is what she writes…

“My name is Darlynn Morgan and I’m an attorney and a mom.  I just had my first child in January – Britton, a beautiful baby boy.  I knew I wanted to be a mom for a long time and it was a long and hard road of infertility for us…  As you can imagine, we are elated! It’s been quite a journey, but I’m excited to be back to work and helping parents like you.

I thought I understood before just how important it is for you to take care of the legal planning necessary to make sure your child would be cared for by who you want, in the way you want, no matter what.  But now that I am a parent myself I have a completely new perspective!

Not only do I want the very best for my boy, I also realize that it is my responsibility to ensure his well being, every minute of the day.  And that means taking great care to plan ahead for all kinds of things that will likely never happen… but could.

The easy, peace-of-mind solution?  Attend our fun, fast, friendly and *free* Kids Protection Planning Workshop on May 1st, 2010  held at two kid-friendly locations:

Bears, Buddies & Toys in Laguna Niguel
Saturday, May 1st
10:45am – 12:00pm

The Little Gym in Tustin

Saturday, May 1st
4:15pm – 5:30pm

The kids enjoy supervised play and pizza while you learn.  And the hour that you spend at this workshop will be the best investment you could possibly make to ensure the well-being and care of your children and your family, no matter what happens in the future.

Now more than ever, it’s important that you make smart legal and financial decisions for yourself and your family…. Chances are, you’ve either you’ve been putting it off, think you’ve got it all taken care of or think it doesn’t apply to you.  Why not be sure… for the sake of your family.

During this informative workshop, you’ll discover how to:

· Be sure your children never spend even one moment in the care of strangers (or anyone you wouldn’t want) if anything happens to you.

· Avoid the expenses and delays of a long, drawn-out court process that would make life difficult for your loved ones if you were in an accident.

· Make sure your hard-earned money is immediately and privately available to your chosen guardians.

· Spot the 6 common mistakes most parents (and their lawyers!) make when naming guardians…. and how to avoid them.

·  Get your legal and financial house in order and take control of your finances…. And much more!

Space is limited, so Register Now!

Tiny Oranges would also like to congratulate the winners of my recent giveaways!

Lindsay is the lucky winner of the Safety 1st Squad in-home childproofing consultation and Eric is the winner of the 4 tickets to Mother’s Day Brunch at the Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa!

Happy weekend!  See you back next week with two giveaways you don’t want to miss! xo Jen

{Disclosure: The Morgan Law Group is a Tiny Oranges Sponsor}

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Free Virtual Seminar For Parents

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Peter from South County Law Group is holding a FREE virtual seminar for parents this Thursday night, 4/22/10 at 8pm PST.  There is no obligation, just an opportunity to get totally free legal advice.  The best part is you don’t even have to leave your house!  Just get the kids down for bed and hop on the call to listen about the things you can do to make sure your kids are protected.

In the call, he will cover:

The 9 simple steps you can take immediately to ensure your kids are cared for by the people you want, in a way you want, should something happen to you or your spouse.

Common mistakes parents make that allow the police the to take their minor kids out of the house and into the hands of foster care even with family members ready and willing to help if you were temporarily or permanently injured in an accident.

How to keep your kids from the expenses and delays of the court system and out of the hands of a judge assigned to make painful custody or financial decisions on your family’s behalf.

The six common mistakes parents make when naming guardians for their minor children..and how to undo those mistakes if you’ve made one.

How to ensure your money is immediately available to your chosen guardians so your kids won’t need hand-outs or state-aid should something happen to you and why this must be PRIVATE to keep every con-artist in town away from your family’s inheritance.

How to ensure your current will, trust or other estate planning documents won’t FAIL (which they do 99% of the time, even when drafted by lawyers) when your family needs them the most.

Peter did my family’s estate planning last year, and based on my PERSONAL experience, I can’t more highly recommend him or his firm.  We had the most positive experience working with him and the peace-of-mind it brings from knowing all your affairs are in order if the unthinkable should happen is priceless.

Click HERE to sign up online.  You will then get a special number to call in at 8pm on Thursday night (PST.)  You have nothing to lose & lots of valuable information to gain!

{Disclosure: South County Law Group is a Tiny Oranges Sponsor. I received a discounted rate on our legal fees when my husband and I did our estate planning. Discount or not,  I would personally  Peter with great enthusiasm to my readers, family and friends!}

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