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Estate Planning

Estate Planning

Estate Planning Attorneys Dedicated to Rocklin

Achieve Peace of Mind by Creating a Proper Estate Plan

There are many legal strategies involved in estate planning, including wills, revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, durable powers of attorney, and health care documents. New clients often say that they do not have an estate plan. Most people are surprised to learn that they actually do have a plan. In the absence of legal planning otherwise, their estate will be distributed after death according to CA’s laws of intestacy. Of course, this may not be the plan they would have chosen. A properly drafted estate plan will replace the terms of the State’s estate plan with your own.

More About Estate Planning Services:

Your Last Will and Testament

Your last will and testament is just one part of a comprehensive estate plan. If a person dies without a Will they are said to have died “intestate” and state laws will determine how and to whom the person’s assets will be distributed. Some things you should know about wills:

  • A will has no legal authority until after death. So, a will does not help manage a person’s affairs when they are incapacitated, whether by illness or injury.
  • A will does not help an estate avoid probate. A will is the legal document submitted to the probate court, so it is basically an “admission ticket” to probate.
  • A will is a good place to nominate the guardians (or back-up parents) of your minor children if they are orphaned. All parents of minor children should document their choice of guardians. If you leave this to chance, you could be setting up a family battle royal, and your children could end up with the wrong guardians.

Trusts: Revocable Living Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Testamentary Trusts, Special Needs Trusts, etc.

Trusts come in many “flavors,” they can be simple or complex, and serve a variety of legal, personal, investment or tax planning purposes. At the most basic level, a trust is a legal entity with at least three parties involved: the trust-maker, the trustee (trust manager), and the trust beneficiary. Oftentimes, all three parties are represented by one person or a married couple. In the case of a revocable living trust, for example, a person may create a trust (the trust-maker) and name themselves the current trustees (trust managers) who manage the trust assets for their own benefit (trust beneficiary).

Depending on the situation, there may be many advantages to establishing a trust, including avoiding probate court. In most cases, assets owned in a revocable living trust will pass to the trust beneficiaries (or heirs) immediately upon the death of the trust-maker(s) with no probate required. Certain trusts also may result in tax advantages both for the trust-maker and the beneficiary. Or they may be used to protect property from creditors, or simply to provide for someone else to manage and invest property for the trust-maker(s) and the named beneficiaries. If well drafted, another advantage of trusts is their continuing effectiveness even if the trust-maker dies or becomes incapacitated.

Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document giving another person (the attorney-in-fact) the legal right (powers) to do certain things for you. What those powers are depends on the terms of the document. A power of attorney may be very broad or very limited and specific. All powers of attorney terminate upon the death of the maker, and may terminate when the maker (principal) becomes incapacitated (unable to make or communicate decisions). When the intent is to designate a back-up decision-maker in the event of incapacity, then a durable power of attorney should be used. Durable Powers of Attorney should be frequently updated because banks and other financial institutions may hesitate to honor a power of attorney that is more than a year old.

Health Care Documents (or Advance Directives)

An advance directive is a document that specifies the type of medical and personal care you would want should you lose the ability to make and communicate your own decisions. Anyone over the age of 18 may execute an advance directive, and this document is legally binding in CA. Your advance directive can specify who will make and communicate decisions for you, and it can set out the circumstances under which you would not like your life to be prolonged if, for example, you were in a coma with no reasonable chance of recovery.

A document that goes hand-in-hand with your advance directive is an authorization to your medical providers to allow specified individuals to access your medical information. Without this authorization, your doctor may refuse to communicate with your hand-picked decision maker.

Asset Protection

Asset Protection for Rocklin & Roseville Business Owners

Protect Yourself, Your Business, and Your Assets from Disaster

Asset protection planning involves making prudent decisions today to protect yourself, your business, and your hard-earned assets from loss due to lawsuits, creditors or bankruptcies. This type of legal planning is especially prudent for professionals and business owners, whose personal assets could be at risk due to the nature of their employment.

Statistically and anecdotally, we all know that the number of divorces, lawsuits, and bankruptcies is staggering. While no one believes lightning will strike them, wealth created through a lifetime of work, saving and investing can be lost overnight if these forms of man-made lightning do strike. To protect your assets from such disaster, proper risk management strategies should be given careful consideration. These strategies include exempting your assets from the claims of creditors, limiting your liability through legal entities, and transferring your risk through insurance.

Exempting Assets in CA

State and federal laws exempt some of your assets from the claims of creditors. Important to note is that while some states allow you to choose either the state or federal exemptions, in others you must use the state exemptions … and federal bankruptcy exemptions are not available.

Once you have identified the protected asset classes available to you under applicable law, it may be prudent to maximize your protection by converting non-exempt assets into exempt assets.

Limiting Liability for Professionals & Business Owners

Many entrepreneurs operate their businesses as sole proprietors rather than through a legal entity, such as a Corporation or a Limited Liability Company. Whether their business is home-based or in the Fortune 500, these business owners are attracted by the informality of sole proprietorship. They also do not want to incur legal fees to create and maintain a legal entity. However, in addition to other advantages, conducting business through a legal entity may offer substantial risk management benefits.

While lawsuits brought against a sole proprietorship are really lawsuits against the owner’s personal assets, lawsuits against a properly created and maintained legal entity are really lawsuits against the entity’s assets. Nevertheless, the selection of an appropriate legal entity is critical for managing your risk.

Transferring Risk with Insurance

When was the last time you reviewed the details of your liability insurance program with your insurance professionals? Are your policies current? Are the coverage limits adequate and are the deductibles reasonable? Have you scrutinized the policies for loopholes? Remember: the fundamental philosophy of any insurance coverage is to pay a premium you can afford to transfer a risk you cannot afford. Take time to understand both the risks you have retained and the risks you have transferred.

Business Succession Planning

Business Succession Planning in Rocklin

Experienced Lawyers Devoted to Small Business Owners

It would be an understatement to say that family businesses are the backbone of the American economy. Some 90 percent of all businesses in this country are either family-owned or family-controlled. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors, representing all sectors of our economy. From agriculture to services, technology and manufacturing, family businesses generate an estimated one-half of the U.S. Gross National Product and pay half of all wages earned in this country.

Not all family businesses are traditional small businesses either. In fact, roughly one-third of all businesses included in the Fortune 500 are family businesses. But not all of the family business statistics are rosy.

Family businesses tend not to outlive their founders. At any given moment, 40 percent of family businesses are in the process of transferring their ownership. Unfortunately, two-thirds of all initial transfers fail. Of the one-third that survives an initial transfer, only one-half will survive a second transfer. It is estimated that by 2040 about $10.4 trillion in family business owner net worth will be transferred.

Why Family Businesses Do Not Survive

Why such a dismal success rate? The reasons are as varied and unique as the businesses and business owners themselves. Nevertheless, many of the failed transfers can be traced to three causes: people, taxes and cash.

Family Business Owners and Estate Planning for the Family

The family element in every family business can mean the difference between its success or failure during the transfer process. The retirement, disability or death of the business owner are all common events that can trigger a business transfer.

Tough questions must be asked and answered. Otherwise, a business that took decades to build can be destroyed overnight.

For example, who will run the business after you? Will it be your spouse, one of your children or a non-family member key employee? If your spouse will not run the business, will he or she still be financially dependent on it… or can you make arrangements to ensure they are financially independent of it?

What arrangements have you made for the inheritance of your children who are not active in the business? Have you in-law proofed your estate?

Thinking ahead to the second-generation transfer of your business, what provisions have you made to encourage thrift and industry among your grandchildren?

Estate Tax Uncertainty

The only certainty about the federal estate tax is its uncertainty with each change in Congress and the White House. Additionally, some states now impose their own estate taxes, independent of any federal estate taxes.

Accordingly, careful monitoring of the economic, political and legal climate is required. Why? Without proper estate-liquidity planning, your family may have to sell the business just to meet an estate tax cash call.

Coordinating Financial and Estate Plans

If your financial and estate plans are not carefully coordinated, there may not be enough cash to fund your objectives. An appropriately-funded estate plan can meet all of your people-planning objectives and provide liquidity for estate taxes (and business debts). Life insurance, owned in the proper amount, type and manner, may be effectively used to fund such money matters.

The Business Buy-Sell Agreement (BSA)

A BSA is a lifetime contract providing for the transfer of a business interest upon the occurrence of one or more triggering events as defined in the contract itself. For example, common triggering events include the retirement, disability or death of the business owner. An interest in any form of business entity can be transferred under a BSA, to include a corporation, a partnership or a limited liability company. Also, a BSA is effective whether the business has one owner or multiple owners. As a contract, a BSA is binding on third parties such as the estate representatives and heirs of the business owner. This feature can be invaluable when the business owner wants to ensure a smooth transition of complete control and ownership to the party that will keep the business going. Subject to certain Family Attribution Rules under Internal Revenue Code § 318, a BSA can help establish a value for the business that is binding on the IRS for federal estate tax purposes as provided under Internal Revenue Code § 2703.

Entity Buy-Sell, Cross-Purchase Buy-Sell and Wait-and-See Buy-Sell Agreements

A BSA is commonly structured in one of three general formats: An Entity BSA, a Cross-Purchase BSA or a Wait-And-See BSA. Under an Entity BSA, the business entity itself agrees to purchase the interest of a business owner. Conversely, under a Cross-Purchase BSA, the business owners agree to purchase one another’s interests. The Wait-And-See BSA gives the entity a first option to purchase the interest before the remaining business owner(s).

In addition to these three general formats, a One-Way BSA may be used when there is one business owner and the purchaser is a third party. The selection of the appropriate BSA format is critical for a variety of tax and non-tax reasons beyond the scope of this discussion. However, no BSA is complete without a proper funding plan. Like a beautiful automobile without fuel in the tank, a BSA without cash to fund the purchase is going nowhere.

Funding a Buy-Sell Agreement

Some common options to fund the purchase obligation under a BSA include the use of personal funds, creating a sinking fund in the business itself, borrowing funds, installment payments and insurance. Of these options, only the insured option can guarantee complete financing of the purchase from the beginning. Accordingly, a proper BSA will include both disability buy-out insurance and life insurance. Since the health of the business owner determines their insurability, any delay in acquiring appropriate coverage could be fatal to the success of the BSA and, with it, the survival of the business itself.

Sources

Charitable Planning

Charitable Planning in Rocklin, California

Support Charities in the Most Tax-Efficient Manner

At Goff Legal, PC, we encourage and assist the tradition of giving to charitable causes. In addition to the many personal rewards inherent in making a charitable gift, most gifts also provide a current charitable income tax deduction. Some charitable giving strategies also save capital gains taxes, increase income, and provide you, or whomever you designate, with an income for life. Additionally, these types of gifts may provide an estate tax deduction — an important consideration in planning your estate.

Making the Most of Your Charitable Giving in CA

If given the choice between paying taxes (involuntary philanthropy), or making a charitable gift (voluntary philanthropy), most people would choose the latter, because it gives them the benefit of knowing who the money will benefit and how it will be used. The same cannot be said for money paid to the U.S. Treasury. We help clients make charitable gifts and practice good stewardship in the most tax-efficient manner.

There are many different ways to make charitable gifts:

  • A charitable remainder trust or a charitable gift annuity will give you an immediate income tax deduction, a lifetime stream of income, and a waiver of capital gains taxes owed on contributed property.
  • A charitable lead trust creates an income stream to charity for a term of years with the remainder of the trust going to your children without any estate or gift tax consequences.
  • A private foundation offers you the considerable freedom to control amounts given by placing restrictions on how your gifts are used by charities.
  • A donor advised fund allows you to maximize your income tax savings on your regular monthly or weekly contributions to church or charities.

This has been a very general overview of a very complex subject matter. If there are causes or organizations you would like to support, while also maximizing your tax-saving strategies, please contact us to explore your options.

Estate Tax Planning

Estate Tax Planning

California & Federal Estate Tax Planning

Historically speaking, the federal estate tax is an excise tax levied on the transfer of a person’s assets after death. In actuality, it is neither a death tax nor an inheritance tax, but more accurately a transfer tax. There are three distinct aspects to federal wealth transfer taxes that comprise what is called the Unified Transfer Tax: Estate Taxes, Gift Taxes, and Generation-Skipping Transfer Taxes. Legal planning to avoid or minimize these transfer taxes is both a prudent and an important aspect of comprehensive estate planning.

The most recent iteration of the federal estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax was signed into law by President Trump on December 22, 2017, as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA 2017). There are a few things you ought to know about this law which took effect on January 1, 2018. Specifically, you should know the “numbers” governing transfers subject to estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxation.

Federal Estate Tax Exemption

A $5 million exemption, as indexed for inflation, was signed into law on December 17, 2010, under the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Authorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (TRA 2010). By 2017, the federal estate tax exemption had risen to $5.49 million per individual due to the inflation feature (and a nearly “automatic”* $10.98 million for married couples who follow very specific requirements at the death of the first spouse). With the stroke of his pen on December 22, 2017, President Donald Trump increased this exemption to $11,200,000 per individual (and $22,400,000 for married couples). The tax rate for amounts above what can be exempted remains at 40%.

*See “Portability” below for more on this.

Lifetime Gift Tax Exemption and Annual Gift Tax Exclusion

The TCJA 2017 continues the concept of a unified exemption that ties together the gift tax and the estate tax. This means that to the extent you utilize your lifetime gift tax exemption while living, your federal estate tax exemption at death will be reduced accordingly. Your unified lifetime gift and estate tax exemption in 2017 was $5.49 million and is now the same as the federal estate tax exemption of $11,200,000 per individual (and $22,400,000 for married couples). Likewise, the top tax rate is 40%. Note: Gifts made within your annual gift exclusion amount do not count against your unified lifetime gift and estate tax exemption.

So, how much is this annual gift exclusion?

The annual gift exclusion has increased to $15,000 due to its inflation adjustment. This is up from $14,000 for 2017. Married couples can combine their annual gift exclusion amounts to make tax-exempt gifts totaling $30,000 to as many individuals as they choose each year, whether both spouses contribute equally, or if the entire gift comes from one spouse. In the latter instance, the couple must file an IRS Form 709 Gift Tax return and elect “gift-splitting” for the tax year in which such gift was made.

Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Exemption

So, what is this GSTT? Basically, it is a transfer tax on property passing from one generation to another generation that is two or more generational levels below the transferring generation. For instance, a transfer from a grandparent to a grandchild or from an individual to another unrelated individual who is more than 37.5 years younger than the transferor.

Properly done, this can transfer significant wealth between generations.

The amount that can escape federal estate taxation between generations, otherwise known as the Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Exemption (GSTT) is unified with the federal estate tax exemption and the lifetime gift tax exemption at $11,200,000 per individual (and $22,400,000 for married couples, subject to certain specific requirements). As with estate and gift taxes, the top GSTT tax rate is 40%.

*“Portability”

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA 2012), made “permanent” a new concept in estate planning for married couples, ostensibly rendering traditional estate tax planning unnecessary. This concept, called “portability,” means that a surviving spouse can essentially inherit the estate tax exemption of the deceased spouse without the use of “A-B Trust” planning. As with most tax laws, however, the devil is in the details. For example, unless the surviving spouse files a timely (within nine months of death) Form 709 Estate Tax Return and complies with other requirements, the portability may be unavailable.

In addition, married couples will not be able to use the GSTT exemptions of both spouses if they elect to use “portability” as the means to secure their respective estate tax exemptions. Furthermore, reliance on “portability” in the context of blended families may result in unintentional disinheritances and other unpleasant consequences.

If you are concerned about how your current estate and gift planning may function in light of ATRA 2012, and after that, then we encourage you to schedule a consultation.

California Estate Taxes

California’s estate tax system is commonly referred to as a “pick up” tax. This is because California picks up all or a portion of the credit for state death taxes allowed on the federal estate tax return (federal form 706 or 706NA). Since there is no longer a federal credit for state estate taxes on the federal estate tax return, there is no longer basis for the California estate tax. California has neither an estate tax (a tax paid by the estate), nor an inheritance tax (a tax paid by a recipient of a gift from an estate).

Probate & Estate Administration

California Probate, Estate and Trust Administration

We Offer Skilled Guidance for Rocklin Individuals & Families

How does probate work?

There can be terrific grief and pain at the loss of a loved one. Beyond grief and pain, when you add external stresses to the equation, you can have a disaster on your hands in very short order.

Part of the responsibilities or duties of an executor or administrator of an estate can be to reduce the level of stress during the probate process.

The fundamental duties of a personal representative (also known as an “executor,” if male, or an “executrix,” if female) of an estate are the same as those of a trustee–protecting the assets and interests of the beneficiaries. One way to protect those assets and interests and, at the same time, help the probate process go smoothly, is to have all of your ducks in a row and prepare for court as best you can.

Read on for some essential reminders about the probate process and how representatives can assist with the process.

What should I know about the probate process?

A personal representative is required to prepare and file an inventory and a list of claims after the representative is approved by the court. The timeframe for this important chore is set by statute. This inventory should detail all of the assets subject to probate (i.e., that did not pass outside of probate by operation of law or otherwise). The property must be valued and even appraised as necessary. The claims include debts due and owing to the estate (not debts the estate owes to another party). The inventory provides both potential beneficiaries and creditors of the estate an idea of the estate’s assets and claims. Beneficiaries want to know what they might get, and creditors want to know if there is enough money to get paid. If the inventory is filed late, the representative could be fined and removed, which would slow down the process (and raise tempers).

One thing to realize if you are a beneficiary is that the will may be “read” a few days after the funeral, but the gifts and bequests are not given out at that time. Yes, you may be entitled to the assets, but the inheritance is subject to the estate’s administration. The representative must settle the decedent’s debts and claims before he or she can make any distribution of the assets. So, beneficiaries, do not go to Grandma’s house with a moving truck and start taking whatever you want. Most likely, the representative is doing his or her job and making sure everything stays where it is until probate is closed.

As noted above, the representative must also keep the administration process moving along by settling all of the decedent’s debts. He or she must give proper notices to creditors, to include making publication in the appropriate newspaper and sending written notice to known secured creditors by certified mail. Also, some representatives are under the mistaken impression that all debts must be paid. He or she begins paying the decedent’s bills immediately, which is not necessarily good. Some states provide “permissive notice” to unsecured creditors, and this may avoid paying some unsecured claims.

The representative must keep the beneficiaries in the loop, to include providing each with notice via certified mail that the will has been admitted to probate and a copy of the will. In addition, the representative must inform the beneficiaries regarding any information that might affect their rights. For instance, beneficiaries have the right to ask for a formal accounting by the independent executor.

The representative is responsible for the care and maintenance of estate property, treating it with even greater care than his or her own property. The representative is able to sell any property that is perishable or would deteriorate in value during the probate process.

As you can see, being a representative is a big, big job. Consequently, he or she can be removed if proven to have been guilty of any gross misconduct or mismanagement in the role of representative. The representative may be subject to a suit for breach of fiduciary duty. Along the way, there are taxes to be paid and returns to be filed, along with many other details.

It’s okay to ask for help.

So you see, there is more than a little pressure on the personal representative. As a result, it is essential that the representative work in concert with Alexandria Goff, an experienced estate planning attorney to guide the representative or beneficiaries during this process … and avoid all of the hidden landmines.

Pet Planning

Serving Clients in Rocklin And The Surrounding Area

Pet Planning Attorney

Owning pets is a wonderful thing (some would say it’s the only way to live!) But there are many legal and financial hurdles that accompany pet ownership, specifically regarding your estate plan. A pet focused estate planning attorney can provide you with the guidance you need to make the right decisions for you and the pets in your life and upon your passing.

Alexandria Goff, Esq.

I am Alexandria Goff, an attorney and pet lover in Loomis, California. My clients include pet owners and operators of farms and pet-related businesses in Placer County, Nevada County, El Dorado Hills and throughout the surrounding areas.

I have had various pets since I was five years old including horses, goats, chickens, cats, dogs, and rats. My legal knowledge and pet sense can help you navigate some of the legal issues that accompany pet ownership when it comes to your estate plan, including:

Establishing a trust for the care of your pet

Gifts of pets upon your passing

Coordinating with fiduciaries who can manage funds for the future care of your pets

I am not a civil litigator so I cannot help if you have an issue that is regarding a dispute of pet ownership or other civil disputes relating to pets. I may be able to provide you with a referral if you contact the office.

How can I help you? Reach out to me by telephone at 916-260-2621 or contact me online by filling out a brief contact form. I will work with you personally to help you to incorporate your pets into your plan so that you know they will be taken care of if something happens to you. I can also represent you in estate and probate matters, and am well-versed in the many ways in which these legal issues intersect with pet planning.

Why couldn’t the pony sing? Because he was a little hoarse!

Special Needs

Special Needs

Estate Planning for Special Needs

Special Needs Estate Planning focuses on providing for the special needs of our loved ones with disabilities when we are no longer there to organize and advocate on their behalf. Parents of children with special needs must make careful estate planning choices to coordinate all of the legal, financial, and special care needs of their children – both now and in the future.

An Overview of Special Needs Estate Planning

There are several types of trusts to assist with these special planning challenges. The most common types are Support Trusts and Special Needs Trusts.

  • Support Trusts:  Support Trusts require the Trustee to make distributions for the child’s support in areas like food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and educational services. Beneficiaries of Support Trusts are not eligible to receive financial assistance through Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. If your child will require SSI or Medicaid, you should avoid a Support Trust.
  • Special Needs Trusts:  For many parents, a Special Needs Trust is the most effective way to help their child with a disability. A Special Needs Trust manages resources while also maintaining the child’s eligibility for public assistance benefits.

There are two types of Special Needs Trusts:

  • Third-Party Special Needs Trust: Created using the assets of the parent(s) as part of an estate plan; distributed by a Will or Living Trust.
  • Self-Settled Special Needs Trust: Generally created by a parent, grandparent or legal guardian using the child’s assets to fund the Trust (e.g., when the child receives a settlement from a personal injury lawsuit and will require lifelong care). If assets remain in the Trust after the child’s death, a payback to the state is required, but only to the extent the child receives public assistance benefits.

Special Needs Trusts are a critical component of your estate planning if you have loved ones with disabilities for whom you wish to provide after your passing. Generally, Special Needs Trusts are either stand-alone trusts funded with separate assets (like life insurance) or they can be sub-trusts in existing living trusts.

Special Needs Estate Planning Online Resource Center

Planning for your loved one with special needs requires extensive research to become a well-educated advocate. You will want to keep up-to-date on the latest medical, educational, financial, and legal changes. Goff Legal, PC provides assistance to you and your family in addressing your unique concerns. We hope this Special Needs Resource Center provides you with a quick reference to find the additional resources you may need.

  • Social Security Resources:
    Benefits for Children with Special Needs
    Social Security Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool
  • Handbook for Trustees: A special needs trust can be a very powerful aid in managing care for a family member with a disability. It can provide supplemental items like therapy, respite care, dental work, companions, entertainment, education — all without interfering with the beneficiary’s SSI, Medicaid or other government programs. The special needs trust can be a flexible tool. It can also be very difficult and confusing to administer.
  • Exceptional Parent online: Online resource for the special needs community, including families, caregivers, physicians, allied health care professionals, and teachers.
  • The Arc: The Arc is a national organization of and for people with mental disabilities and related developmental disabilities and their families. The Arc works to promote and improve support and services for people with mental disabilities and their families and also fosters research into and education about the prevention of these disabilities in infants and young children.
  • National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys: The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys is a non-profit association that assists lawyers, bar organizations and others who work with older clients and their families. The Academy provides information, education, networking and assistance to those who deal with the many specialized issues involved with legal services to the elderly and people with special needs.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness: The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is dedicated to improving the lives of persons living with serious mental illness and their families. There are NAMI organizations in every state and in over 1,100 local communities across the country.
  • Center for Parent Information and Resources: The Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) serves as a central resource of information and products to the community of Parent Training Information (PTI) Centers and the Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs), so that they can focus their efforts on serving families of children with disabilities. Use this interactive map to find the PTI or CPRC that serves your State or territory.
  • Annual Disability Statistics Compendium: This publication, the first Compendium, focuses on state-level statistics published by Federal agencies.

Calculating Your Loved One’s Future Financial Needs

This calculator can help you project the future expenses of an individual with special needs.

Medi-Cal

Serving Clients in Rocklin and the Surrounding Area

Medi-Cal Crisis Planning

Sudden Changes and Big Decisions

Change is life’s only constant. Sometimes these changes strike without warning. If you or a loved one has experienced a sudden illness or serious accident, you understand how abruptly everything can change. Are you or a loved one suddenly in need of nursing home care? Finding and affording quality care on short notice can be stressful and draining. We can help you determine the best options for care and how to qualify for Medi-Cal to help finance them.

Long-term Care: Counting the Cost

Long-term care is expensive, and these costs only continue to increase as baby boomers age. Although the range varies depending on where you live, according to the Genworth Cost of Care Study for 2019 the national median annual cost of a private nursing home room is $102,200 with a 3% annual increase projected. With improved medical care, the average life span of adults also is increasing; this translates into more years of care at increasingly higher rates. Without some sort of financial assistance, these costs could be financially devastating. In fact, your entire life savings could be quickly depleted within a few years of needing long-term care. This is where Medicaid can help.

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program to assist those with low income and limited resources. While Medicare provides very limited long-term care coverage, Medicaid is much more extensive. In California, this program is called Medi-Cal. However, because of its restrictions, qualifying for Medicaid can be extremely difficult. But paying for a nursing home without it could be all but impossible.

The Medi-Cal Maze

Although Medicaid requirements vary from state to state, they all share one common element: complexity. Each state, including California, specifies a maximum allowed income for individuals and couples in order to qualify for the program’s assistance. Also, the applicant’s total assets cannot exceed a specified amount called the Individual Resource Allowance, which is consistently very low, often as low as $2,000*. Although certain possessions, like your home and automobile, are “exempted” for purposes of determining Medi-Cal eligibility, this figure is still alarming. If the applicant is married, the process becomes more complicated. For the recipient to qualify for Medi-Cal, the applicant’s spouse can keep only up to a Maximum Community Spouse Resource Allowance of $128,640.

What can you do if the value of your “non-exempt” assets exceeds the $128,640* Maximum Community Spouse Resource Allowance? If you give your extra assets away, which seems like an obvious choice, you will encounter greater problems. Violating this “Transfer Penalty Rule” could disqualify you from receiving Medi-Cal for months or years, depending on how much you gave away.

In order to even know if you qualify for Medi-Cal, not only do you have to know and keep track of the amount of assets and income that your loved one has at any given time, but you must also know how to keep track of the convoluted rules that California

The Medi-Cal Qualification Process = Legally Protecting the Maximum Amount the Law Allows

This is only a brief and oversimplified review of a few Medicaid rules, of which there are many more. Navigating them on your own could be a nightmare at best and subject you to penalties at worst. Fortunately, though, our experienced professionals can guide you through the Medi-Cal maze. Our legal team can advise you throughout the application process, ensuring that you retain the maximum income and total assets allowed by law.

Conclusion

Seek appropriate counsel before you apply for and seek to qualify for Medi-Cal. We can give you – and your family – peace of mind during a difficult and uncertain time. When dealing with Medi-Cal, legal advice is something you cannot afford to go without.

* The Individual Resource Amount varies from state to state.

** Since these amounts (e.g., the “Community Spouse Resource Allowance,” etc.) are adjusted annually, these numbers may vary slightly depending on when the most recent figures are released.

Singles

Serving Individuals throughout Rocklin, CA and the Surrounding Areas

Estate Planning for Singles

If you are single, then you are in good company. According to the most recent U.S. Census, more than half of all adult Americans are single, too. Whether you just turned 18 or are 118 one thing you share with your married counterparts is the need for essential estate planning.

Even if you do not have two dimes to rub together, you are your estate. Did you know the law requires every adult American to make his or her own personal, financial and health care decisions? Who would make your basic decisions if you are legally incapacitated due to a serious injury or illness?

Unless you legally appoint the decision-maker of your own selection in advance through proper estate planning, then a probate judge will select one for you. The probate court process to accomplish this is expensive (it employs at least three attorneys), discloses your private personal and financial information to the public record and is a real hassle for your loved ones.

Did you know that in the absence of proper estate planning, your assets may be distributed after death based on “one-size-fits-all” state laws written for people who do not have their own estate plan? Of course, this impersonal estate plan written by state lawmakers may not reflect your own unique circumstances and objectives for your loved ones and assets.

Fortunately, we can help you avoid the probate and replace that impersonal, state-written, one-size-fits-all estate plan with one we design together for your unique circumstances and objectives. We even help you coordinate the beneficiary designations on your life insurance and retirement plans with your estate plan to avoid unpleasant, unintended consequences.

Married Couples

Serving Families and Individuals throughout Rocklin, CA and the Surrounding Areas

Estate Planning for Married Couples

With each marriage come new rights and new responsibilities. If you already have an estate plan created when you were single, then you must bring your estate plan up-to-code to reflect your wedding vows.

Unfortunately, many married couples mistakenly believe that they can make personal, health care and financial decisions for one another should either spouse become legally incapacitated due to a serious injury or illness. Nothing could be further from reality!

Without proper estate planning in advance to appoint your spouse as the incapacity decision-maker, he or she will not have the legal authority to make even fundamental decisions for you (or affecting both of you). For example, medical privacy laws will bar access to your medical records and the ability to consult with your attending physician, financial laws limit control over your finances, and IRS regulations will prohibit filing a “legal” joint income tax return … for starters.

Unless you legally appoint the decision-maker of your own selection in advance through proper estate planning, then a probate judge will select one for you. While the judge will likely appoint your spouse, the probate court process to accomplish this is expensive (it employs at least three attorneys), discloses your private personal and financial information to the public record and is a real hassle for your spouse.

Did you know that in the absence of proper estate planning, your assets may be distributed after death based on “one-size-fits-all” state laws written for people who do not have their own estate plan? Of course, this impersonal estate plan written by state lawmakers may not reflect your own unique circumstances and objectives for your spouse and assets. In fact, depending on how you titled your premarital assets and how your beneficiary designations are arranged, you may disinherit your spouse and force your spouse to sue your estate!

Fortunately, we can help you avoid probate and replace that impersonal, state-written, one-size-fits-all estate plan with one we design together for your unique circumstances and objectives. We even help you coordinate the beneficiary designations on your life insurance and retirement plans with your estate plan to avoid unpleasant, unintended consequences.

Serving Families and Individuals throughout Rocklin, CA and the Surrounding Areas

Estate Planning for Married Couples

Blended Families

Serving Families throughout Rocklin, CA and the Surrounding Areas

Estate Planning for Blended Families

Times have changed. In the new millennium, whether due to the death of a spouse or through divorce, blended families now outnumber traditional nuclear families. And the number is likely to grow, based on current statistics and trends.

Many blended families face unique social, psychological and economic challenges. As a result, over 60% of second marriages end in divorce. Fortunately, there are numerous organizations and support groups dedicated to helping blended families with these challenges.

If you already have an estate plan created when you were “previously” married, then we can help bring it up-to-code to reflect your new wedding vows. Unfortunately, little attention has been paid to the critical estate planning challenges confronting blended families. These challenges include disinheriting your ex-spouse and protecting your children.

Without proper legal planning, your ex-spouse (as surviving parent/guardian) would likely be appointed by the probate court to manage the inheritance you leave to your minor children. To make matters worse, what if your children later predecease your ex-spouse, and are single and childless at that time? Who would inherit your assets then? That is right … your ex-spouse, as the next-of-kin of your children.

Chances are you made a few solemn promises to your new spouse on your wedding day. Among them were promises to be there through thick and thin, personally and financially. In the absence of a premarital agreement to maintain separate assets, most spouses in blended families tend to blend their wealth. For example, they title their respective assets in the names of both spouses and also designate one another as the primary beneficiary of their respective retirement plans and life insurance policies.

Warning: If you predecease your new spouse, then you may forever disinherit your own children from your share of such blended wealth! Thereafter, upon the death of your new spouse, your assets may be inherited by your stepchildren, or even by your new spouse’s next spouse and their children. Yes, things can get complicated – and fast!

Regardless of whether children are reared in a traditional nuclear family or in a blended family, great care should be given to protect any inheritance both for them and from them. For starters, wealth representing a lifetime of your hard work and thrift can be squandered in very short order. Dollars earned just spend differently than dollars inherited. In addition to good old-fashioned squandering, an inheritance can quickly vanish through divorces, lawsuits, and bankruptcies.

Fortunately, with proper (and very careful) estate planning, you can both honor your vows to your new spouse and provide an inheritance that is protected for and even from your own children.

Minor Children

Serving Families and Individuals throughout Rocklin, CA and the Surrounding Areas

Estate Planning for Minor Children

 

Are you the parent of minor children? If yes, then they are your most valuable treasure. So, what arrangements have you made for their care should something happen to you and their other parent?

As with your own personal, health care and financial decisions, would you rather select the guardians (i.e., back-up parents) yourself, or let a probate judge make the selection without your input? Only through proper legal planning can you select the guardians.

There are two critical choices commonly faced by parents of minor children. First, who will take care of my minor children, if orphaned, and, second, who will manage their inheritance?

If you are separated, divorced or never married to the surviving biological parent of your shared minor children, then that parent will continue to be their guardian, absent a court-proven case of unfitness. Nevertheless, you will want to make prudent choices regarding guardianship should your minor children be orphaned.

While every family situation is unique, here are some general practical pointers to consider when selecting guardians for your minor children:

  • Select guardians who share your faith, values and life priorities; and already have an established positive relationship with your minor children;
  • Consider, when selecting a married family member, appointing the family member only, in case your family member predeceases or they divorce;
  • Make sure your legal plans provide for the compensation of the guardians, or at least that the inheritance is available to cover all legitimate expenses incurred when rearing your minor children; and
  • Obtain permission of the selected guardians before appointing them in your legal instruments. That is only meet and right.

Great care must be taken when selecting a financial fiduciary to administer and distribute the inheritance. Simply put, a fiduciary is a person or institution legally responsible for the financial affairs of another. Fiduciaries are held to the highest standards of care and loyalty in this role.

So, who will manage any inheritance left upon your death? What if you and the other biological parent are divorced or were never married? Even though he or she may rear your minor child or children to adulthood, would you also want them to control the inheritance you leave behind, too?

There are three basic options when it comes to financial fiduciaries, each with its unique advantages and disadvantages.

Option 1 is the most common option. Here, you appoint trusted family members or friends. On the upside, they likely know the strengths and weaknesses of your loved ones, plus they may not charge much, if anything, to oversee the inheritance. On the downside, they may be busy with and distracted by their own life and financial responsibilities. Also, they may find it difficult to say “no” to an irresponsible heir.

Option 2 finds you appointed a professional fiduciary, such as an institution (e.g., a trust company) or an individual (e.g., your CPA). Interestingly, the upsides and downsides are the opposite of Option 1.

Door #3 is what I call the Pro-Am approach. You combine Option 1 and Option 2 for the best of both worlds. In short, the family appointee knows the strengths and weakness, has an “abominable no-man” to help preserve family relationships when the minor child asks for a Ferrari, and is not bogged down with investments, accounting, tax and legal details. Instead, the professional fiduciary shoulders (and is rightfully compensated for) the day-to-day management of the inheritance, playing the heavy when necessary.

As you can see, selecting guardians and fiduciaries is essential for the physical and financial well-being of your minor children. Few decisions in life are more important. Only you can make these decisions through proper estate planning.

Peak Earning Years

Serving Families and Individuals throughout Rocklin, CA and the Surrounding Areas

Planning for Peak Earning Years

Are you between age 40 and 55? If yes, then congratulations. Research has shown that you are in your peak earning years. And that is a very good thing.

Chances are good that you have some expensive life events going on right now, unlike when you were among the Married Couples without children. Do you have children who are college-bound or already there? Do you have a wedding scheduled (or one or more down the road)? Perhaps you are beginning to help aging parents with personal, health care and financial responsibilities.

Can you say Sandwich Generation?

I know you may be busy and are likely tired, very tired. Nevertheless, this would be a good time to create (or revisit) your estate plan, make sure your adult children and parents have their legal ducks-in-a-row, too.

Unfortunately, many married couples mistakenly believe that they can make personal, health care and financial decisions for one another should either spouse become legally incapacitated due to a serious injury or illness. Nothing could be further from reality!

Without proper estate planning in advance to appoint your spouse as the incapacity decision-maker, he or she will not have legal authority to make even fundamental decisions for you (or affecting both of you). For example, medical privacy laws will bar access to your medical records and the ability to consult with your attending physician, financial laws limit control over your finances, and IRS regulations will prohibit filing a “legal” joint income tax return … for starters.

Unless you legally appoint the decision-maker of your own selection in advance through proper estate planning, then a probate judge will select one for you. While the judge will likely appoint your spouse, the probate court process to accomplish this is expensive (it employs at least three attorneys), discloses your private personal and financial information to the public record and is a real hassle for your spouse.

Did you know that in the absence of proper estate planning, your assets may be distributed after death based on “one-size-fits-all” state laws written for people who do not have their own estate plan? Of course, this impersonal estate plan written by state lawmakers may not reflect your own unique circumstances and objectives for your spouse and assets.

In fact, depending on how you titled your assets and how your beneficiary designations are arranged, you may disinherit your own spouse and force your spouse to sue your estate!

When it comes to your children, great care should be given to protect any inheritance both for them and from them. For starters, wealth representing a lifetime of your hard work and thrift can be squandered in very short order. Dollars earned just spend differently than dollars inherited. In addition to good, old-fashioned squandering, an inheritance can quickly vanish through divorces, lawsuits and bankruptcies.
Fortunately, with proper (and very careful) estate planning, you can provide an inheritance that is protected for and even from your own children. Remember, two things you cannot choose in life are your own folks and the spouses of your children.

Are your parents already in or considering a transition to some form of long-term care? If yes, have you noticed how expensive the continuum of care is? From in-home assistance to assisted living to skilled nursing the expenses can destroy savings and investments created over a lifetime of hard work and thrift.

Your peak earning years are the perfect time to lock-in a long-term care insurance policy while you are still able to qualify physically and mentally. Some versions of coverage only pay if you need long-term care assistance, but others can now do double-duty and turn into life insurance if you do not need such assistance. That is a popular alternative to traditional long-term care insurance.

There is a 70% risk of needing long-term care once you reach age 65. Curiously, 70% of people think they will not be among those 70% needing care (i.e., denial) and 70% of people think Medicare will pay for it (i.e., ignorance)! You do not want to be in that 70% who are in denial, ignorant or both.

If you need assistance with the activities of daily living (e.g., eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and transferring), then you may want to hire a professional to take care of them instead of your children.

When you are ready for help with your long-term care planning through appropriate insurance, then we can help you find that, as well.

Fortunately, we can help you avoid probate and replace that impersonal, state-written, one-size-fits-all estate plan with one we design together for your unique circumstances and objectives. We even help you coordinate the beneficiary designations on your life insurance and retirement plans with your estate plan to avoid unpleasant, unintended consequences.

Planning when Nearing Retirement

Serving Families and Individuals throughout Rocklin, CA and the Surrounding Areas

Estate Planning when Nearing Retirement

Just a moment ago you were in the thick of your busy, busy Peak Earning Years. Now, you can see a new adventure is rapidly approaching your front windshield. What is it?

Retirement.

Are you getting ready?

Chances are good that your children have left the nest. Perhaps you are assisting your aging parents with their personal, health care and financial responsibilities.

As in your Peak Earning Years, this would be a good time to create (or revisit) your estate plan, and make sure your adult children and parents have their legal ducks-in-a-row, too.

Unfortunately, many married couples mistakenly believe that they can make personal, health care and financial decisions for one another should either spouse become legally incapacitated due to a serious injury or illness. Nothing could be further from reality!

Without proper estate planning in advance to appoint your spouse as the incapacity decision-maker, he or she will not have legal authority to make even fundamental decisions for you (or affecting both of you). For example, medical privacy laws will bar access to your medical records and the ability to consult with your attending physician, financial laws limit control over your finances, and IRS regulations will prohibit filing a “legal” joint income tax return … for starters.

Unless you legally appoint the decision-maker of your own selection in advance through proper estate planning, then a probate judge will select one for you. While the judge will likely appoint your spouse, the probate court process to accomplish this is expensive (it employs at least three attorneys), discloses your private personal and financial information to the public record and is a real hassle for your spouse.

Did you know that in the absence of proper estate planning, your assets may be distributed after death based on “one-size-fits-all” state laws written for people who do not have their own estate plan? Of course, this impersonal estate plan written by state lawmakers may not reflect your own unique circumstances and objectives for your spouse and assets.

In fact, depending on how you titled your assets and how your beneficiary designations are arranged, you may disinherit your own spouse and force your spouse to sue your estate!

Now, let’s consider something no married couple wants to think about.

What if one spouse dies and the other remarries?

Well, if you want to risk losing about half of what you have should the remarriage not work out or disinheriting your own children and grandchildren, then do nothing. On the other hand, it is best to go into a new relationship with both eyes open.

In short, the surviving spouse will need to have a legally enforceable premarital agreement inked before saying “I do” on his or her wedding day.

In a recent University of California study, researchers found that 60% of widowers are involved in a new relationship within two years after losing their wives, while only 20% of widows have a new relationship.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, men are 10 times more likely to remarry after age 65. And the average time before they are remarried is just 2.5 years. When dad remarries a new wife some 20 years his junior, that can trigger all kinds of drama in the family, to say the least.

As you can see, planning for being single again includes planning for any new relationships on the future, while preserving (and protecting) the relationships you already have.

When it comes to your children, great care should be given to protect any inheritance both for them and from them. For starters, wealth representing a lifetime of your hard work and thrift can be squandered in very short order. Dollars earned just spend differently than dollars inherited. In addition to good, old-fashioned squandering, an inheritance can quickly vanish through divorces, lawsuits and bankruptcies.

Fortunately, with proper (and very careful) estate planning, you can provide an inheritance that is protected for and even from your own children. Remember, two things you cannot choose in life are your own folks and the spouses of your children.

What is your plan to pay for long-term care, if you need it?

Have you noticed how expensive the continuum of care is? From in-home assistance to assisted living to skilled nursing the expenses can destroy savings and investments created over a lifetime of hard work and thrift.

As you near retirement, lock-in a long-term care insurance policy while you are still able to qualify physically and mentally. Some versions of coverage only pay if you need long-term care assistance, but others can now do double-duty and turn into life insurance if you do not need such assistance. That is a popular alternative to traditional long-term care insurance.

There is a 70% risk of needing long-term care once you reach age 65. Curiously, 70% of people think they will not be among those 70% needing care (i.e., denial) and 70% of people think Medicare will pay for it (i.e., ignorance)! You do not want to be in that 70% who are in denial, ignorant or both.

If you will need assistance with the activities of daily living (e.g., eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and transferring), then you may want to hire a professional to take care of you instead of your children.

When you are ready for help with your long-term care planning through appropriate insurance, then we can help you find that, as well.

Fortunately, we can help you avoid probate and replace that impersonal, state-written, one-size-fits-all estate plan with one we design together for your unique circumstances and objectives. We even help you coordinate the beneficiary designations on your life insurance and retirement plans with your estate plan to avoid unpleasant, unintended consequences.

Planning for Retirement

Serving Families and Individuals throughout Rocklin, CA and the Surrounding Areas

Planning for Retirement

You have arrived. Just a moment ago you were Nearing Retirement. When did you get to this place in life so quickly? Yikes, what do you need to do right now in preparation for that day?

Retirement.

Congratulations!

This is often an exciting, yet bittersweet time of life.

Chances are good that all of your children have left the nest with lives and growing families of their own. If they are living, perhaps you are becoming parents to your parents (or the surviving parent) just like their parents before them. This includes taking care of their personal, health care and financial responsibilities

As when you were Nearing Retirement this would be a good time to create (or revisit) your estate plan, make sure your adult children and parents have their legal ducks-in-a-row, too. After all, you likely have witnessed what can happen when families are not up-to-code with their estate planning.

Unfortunately, many married couples mistakenly believe that they can make personal, health care and financial decisions for one another should either spouse become legally incapacitated due to a serious injury or illness. Nothing could be further from reality!

Without proper estate planning in advance to appoint your spouse as the incapacity decision-maker, he or she will not have the legal authority to make even fundamental decisions for you (or affecting both of you). For example, medical privacy laws will bar access to your medical records and the ability to consult with your attending physician, financial laws limit control over your finances, and IRS regulations will prohibit filing a “legal” joint income tax return … for starters.

Unless you legally appoint the decision-maker of your own selection in advance through proper estate planning, then a probate judge will select one for you. While the judge will likely appoint your spouse, the probate court process to accomplish this is expensive (it employs at least three attorneys), discloses your private personal and financial information to the public record and is a real hassle for your spouse.

Did you know that in the absence of proper estate planning, your assets may be distributed after death based on “one-size-fits-all” state laws written for people who do not have their own estate plan? Of course, this impersonal estate plan written by state lawmakers may not reflect your own unique circumstances and objectives for your spouse and assets.

In fact, depending on how you titled your assets and how your beneficiary designations are arranged, you may disinherit your own spouse and force your spouse to sue your estate!

Now, let’s consider something no married couple wants to think about.

What if one spouse dies and the other remarries?

Well, if you want to risk losing about half of what you have should the remarriage not work out or disinheriting your own children and grandchildren, then do nothing. On the other hand, it is best to go into a new relationship with both eyes open.

In short, the surviving spouse will need to have a legally enforceable premarital agreement inked before saying “I do” on his or her wedding day.

In a recent University of California study, researchers found that 60% of widowers are involved in a new relationship within two years after losing their wives, while only 20% of widows have a new relationship.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, men are 10 times more likely to remarry after age 65. And the average time before they are remarried is just 2.5 years. When dad remarries a new wife some 20 years his junior, that can trigger all kinds of drama in the family, to say the least.

As you can see, planning for being single again includes planning for any new relationships on the future, while preserving (and protecting) the relationships you already have.

When it comes to your children and grandchildren, great care should be given to protect any inheritance both for them and from them. For starters, wealth representing a lifetime of your hard work and thrift can be squandered in very short order. Dollars earned just spend differently than dollars inherited. In addition to good, old-fashioned squandering, an inheritance can quickly vanish through divorces, lawsuits, and bankruptcies.

Fortunately, with proper (and very careful) estate planning, you can provide an inheritance that is protected for and even from your own children and grandchildren. Remember, two things you cannot choose in life are your own folks and the spouses of your children.

What is your plan to pay for long-term care, if you need it?

Have you noticed how expensive the continuum of care is? From in-home assistance to assisted living to skilled nursing the expenses can destroy savings and investments created over a lifetime of hard work and thrift.

Now that you are planning for retirement, do not delay. Lock-in a long-term care insurance policy while you are still able to qualify physically and mentally. Some versions of coverage only pay if you need long-term care assistance, but others can now do double-duty and turn into life insurance if you do not need such assistance. That is a popular alternative to traditional long-term care insurance.

There is a 70% risk of needing long-term care once you reach age 65. Curiously, 70% of people think they will not be among those 70% needing care (i.e., denial) and 70% of people think Medicare will pay for it (i.e., ignorance)! We do not want to be in that 70% who are in denial, ignorant or both.

If you will need assistance with the activities of daily living (e.g., eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and transferring), then you may want to hire a professional to take care of you instead of your children.

When you are ready for help with your long-term care planning through appropriate insurance, then we can help you find that, as well.

Fortunately, we can help you avoid probate and replace that impersonal, state-written, one-size-fits-all estate plan with one we design together for your unique circumstances and objectives.

We even help you coordinate the beneficiary designations on your life insurance and retirement plans with your estate plan to avoid unpleasant, unintended consequences. For example, all beneficiary designations for your retirement plans need to be revisited, especially due to a U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down on June 12, 2014, (See Clark, et ux v. Rameker).

The Clark case sent shock waves through the estate planning community after a unanimous court ruled that inherited IRAs are not “retirement funds” within the meaning of federal bankruptcy law. Accordingly, if your children or grandchildren are “direct” designated beneficiaries of your IRA, then the distributions may be subject to their divorces, lawsuits, and bankruptcies. Careful planning is required to protect these important assets, while at the same time preserving the ability to stretch distributions as long as possible for your beneficiaries.

This is not a do-it-yourself project.

Estate Planning When Divorced

Serving Individuals throughout Rocklin, CA and the Surrounding Areas

Estate Planning When Divorced

Whether due to divorce or death, you are now single again.

You may have children and even grandchildren. In any event, you need to create (or revisit) your estate plan.

Did you know the law requires every adult American to make his or her own personal, financial and health care decisions? Now that you are single again, who would make your basic decisions if you are legally incapacitated due to a serious injury or illness?

Unless you legally appoint the decision-maker of your own selection in advance through proper estate planning, then a probate judge will select one for you. The probate court process to accomplish this is expensive (it employs at least three attorneys), discloses your private personal and financial information to the public record and is a real hassle for your loved ones.

Did you know that in the absence of proper estate planning, your assets may be distributed after death based on “one-size-fits-all” state laws written for people who do not have their own estate plan? Of course, this impersonal estate plan written by state lawmakers may not reflect your own unique circumstances and objectives for your loved ones and assets.

What if you remarry? Well, if you want to risk losing about half of what you have should the remarriage not work out and disinheriting your own children and grandchildren, then do nothing. On the other hand, it is best to go into a new relationship with both eyes open.

In short, you need to have a legally enforceable premarital agreement inked before you say “I do” on your wedding day.

In a recent University of California study, researchers found that 60% of widowers are involved in a new relationship within two years after losing their wives, while only 20% of widows have a new relationship.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, men are ten times more likely to remarry after age 65. And the average time before they are remarried is just 2.5 years. When dad remarries a new wife some 20 years his junior, that can trigger all kinds of drama in the family, to say the least.

As you can see, planning for being single again includes planning for any new relationships on the future, while preserving (and protecting) the relationships you already have.

Fortunately, we can help you avoid probate and replace that impersonal, state-written, one-size-fits-all estate plan with one we design together for your unique circumstances and objectives. We even help you coordinate the beneficiary designations on your life insurance and retirement plans with your estate plan to avoid unpleasant, unintended consequences.