Intangible Estate Planning

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OK mamas, Christmas is now officially behind us (and I hope it was your best ever!) so now we can focus on the new year and all the things we want to do in 2011!

If you have not done an estate plan for your family and named legal guardians for your children, I hope it is one of things you will commit to accomplishing in the new year. Peter from South County Law Group is a local OC estate planning attorney and makes the process painless. I know from experience because he did our family’s plan a couple years ago. His firm made it so easy, he was NOT pushy, and genuinely cared about our family.

Incidentally, my husband and I took a vacation in November and flew together for the first time in a long time just the two of us. I was having some flying anxiety with all those “oh God what if the plane goes down” sort of thoughts and my husband reassured me, everything would be fine because we met with Peter and our kids would be taken care of. Then my husband also reminded me that flying is statistically safer than driving on a date night.

I sort of gulped. But it’s true. And knowing we have our paperwork in place and everything done the right way legally brings me so much peace of mind.

Not only that, but Peter KNOWS us, and if something should happen our family would have someone to call that knows our guardians, plans, wishes, accounts, etc. etc. etc. It would make it easy for them in a difficult time.

Peter also does something really special in addition to the traditional estate plan. He recorded us, my husband and I, discussing the “intangible” things we would want passed on to our kids. We have a copy of this recording, and I feel so blessed we do. It is an amazing thing to have, so I asked him to write a little more about it and why he does it.

Here is what he said…

“Intangible” Estate Planning – Thinking Beyond the Paperwork
by Peter Sahin, South County Law Group

When you finally make the decision to plan your estate, you’ll hear the same words over and over again…

Wills…Trusts…Revocable Trusts…Power of Attorney…

Those words are the stock and trade of estate planning specialists.

You take your material possessions and compartmentalize who should receive what and how much. And you’ll use those wills, trusts and powers of attorney to take care of the legalities of passing on what you’ve accumulated over the span of your life.

But what about the intangible things you accumulate during your lifetime? What documents or words do you use to pass those on?

Here are a few words we challenge you to think about when you sit down to plan your “intangible” estate:

Values

Most of us have values and principles that we hold dear and want to pass on to our children. If something happened to you and you were not around to see your children reach adulthood, what values would you want to ensure were passed on to your children, or even your grandchildren? For instance, which is more important to you – money or health? Who do you consider to be your hero or role model? Of all the things you accomplished in your lifetime, which gave you the deepest satisfaction? These are all things that should be written down or recorded and preserved for your loved ones.

Personality

Who are your children? Yes, they’re your offspring, but who are they as individuals? What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? What type of person would be best suited to help raise them if you weren’t around? We recommend you think about the personalities and emotional needs of your children when deciding who would be best suited to raise them in your place.

Passion

What issue or issues are you most passionate about? Why do you care so deeply about these particular issues? How do you see your dedication to these issues furthering the greater good? Would you expect your children to pursue a career they were passionate about or choose one that paid them well regardless of their personal interest or commitment?

Community

Are you involved in your community? Do you foster a strong tradition of community involvement in your family? Is this something you would want or expect your children to carry on?

Education

Do you consider education a priority in raising your children? Do you have a strong family tradition of emphasizing education?

Wisdom

Are there any words of wisdom that you would want to share with your loved ones? Have you learned any important lessons? Do you live by any guiding principles your family should pass on?

Spirituality

You may or may not be a religious person but you probably have some spiritual beliefs or traditions that you want to preserve for future generations. Do you practice particular religious traditions that were passed to you from your parents? Are there specific tenets of your faith that you want to ensure your children follow?

Legacy

How much do you know about your family history? Do you know where your parents or grandparents came from originally? Have you taken the time to write this information down for your children so they have a sense of tradition and family history? What do you want your children to remember most about you? Have you thought about your legacy and what you want to leave behind for your loved ones and future generations, beyond the material things you’ve acquired?

When we think of estate planning, most of us never consider our “intangible” estate. We think of who should get what, where the money should go, how we want it to be used, but we never think of the things that we leave behind that are specific to us and our families.

Traditions, beliefs, stories…none of these are part of a will or a trust. But they are a part of your heritage and should be passed on as surely as your financial assets.

Give these items some thought and call us to schedule your Family Wealth Planning Session today.

As part of planning packages, we will sit down with you and ask you some of these questions and record your answers, in your voice, to add to your estate planning portfolio as a living legacy for your loved ones. Their ability to hear your voice after you are no longer here will be nothing short of priceless.

In January, I’ve made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete initial planning session with me at no charge. If during our session, we both feel that we can help you with your planning I will offer 20% off our normal planning fees. Just give us a call and mention this article!

www.southcountylg.com
949-940-8887

{Disclosure: South County Law Group is a Tiny Oranges Sponsor}

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4 Easy Steps to Naming Guardians for Your Kids

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This is a great post with some really, really great information on one of the most important things we need to do for our kids:  clearly state who we would want to be their guardians, you know, just in case.  Darlynn Morgan is a local OC estate planning attorney (and OC mommy – that’s her with her little tiny orange!) who specializes in helping you get everything you need to in order so your kids are protected.

If you want to learn more, her next free teleseminar (=call in for free from home in your jammies!) will be held on November 17th at 8PM.  Click HERE for more info and to register online.   Here is what she wrote…

4 Easy Steps to Name Guardians for Your Kids If Something Happens To You

By Darlynn Morgan

As an estate planning lawyer, I know one of the most important decisions a parent can make is determining who will care for their kids if something tragic happened to them. I also know it’s very easy for parents to get stuck during this critical decision making process.  Do you choose this person for financial reasons? Religion? A certain parenting philosophy? Do you care if the couple you chose stays married or eventually gets a divorce? Then what?

While it’s great to put a lot of thought into who you would want to raise your kids, indecision and ultimately inaction is a very dangerous place to be, especially with young children at home. It’s important to remember that SOMEONE will determine what happens to your kids….so it might as well be you!  The alternative is a judge who knows nothing about you, your family or what truly is in the best interest of your children.

So to avoid having a judge make life-changing decisions on your child’s behalf if something unexpectedly happens to you, I would like to share four easy steps that will help you finally take action and choose the right guardians for your kids:

1. Sit down and brainstorm all the people who could possibly raise your kids if you were killed or incapacitated in an accident. Don’t limit your choices to family either. Think outside the box and write down everyone who even remotely fits the bill.

2. Determine who you would NEVER want to raise your kids in your absence. You’ll need to tell the court who you DON’T want raising your kids so they can protect your family should that named individual (s) contest your wishes and seek custody of your kids following your death or incapacity. (This can be kept private and only revealed if the need arises).

3. Weigh your values. Make another column and write down what is important to you and/or your spouse.  Do you value education?  Religious or spiritual training? The ability to live in a certain community?  Being raised in a two-parent family?  Whatever your values may be, be honest about them, write them down, prioritize them and eventually rank the top three.

Match your top choices to your top values. This will give you a clear picture of who you can trust to raise your children with the values you hold near and dear to your heart.

And of course, the last (and arguably the most important step) is to legally document your choice of guardians so there’s no question as to who you want to raise your kids if something happens to you!

This part can be tricky, but you can do it with a bit of education and know-how on the subject.  To help make this step easier for you, I’d like to invite you to a FREE teleseminar I’m hosting where I will personally hold your hand and teach you how to name guardians for your minor children.  On this call you will also discover:

·      The 9 simple steps you can take immediately to ensure the safety and care of your children …and why the police could take your minor kids out of your house if you are in an accident and don’t plan the right way.

·      And why these 9 simple steps aren’t something you “do” once and then never look at again…and the rock bottom bare minimum your plan must be reviewed to ensure the safety and security of your kids.

·      You’ll learn how to 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.

·      How to avoid the 6 common mistakes parents make when choosing a Guardian for their minor children.

·      You’ll discover how to make sure your hard-earned money is immediately and privately available to your chosen guardians……and much more!

The information you learn on this call will literally save you thousands of dollars in legal fees (not to mention years of headaches if something happens), so get the details and register at www.kidsprotectioncall.com.

Remember, an hour invested in learning how to protect your kids could result in a lifetime of security for them if the unthinkable happens.  So I encourage you to join us at on one of the dates and times available to ensure your kids are protected and cared for by the people you want, in a way you want….no matter what!

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

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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.

www.bettenhausenlaw.com

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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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