While estate planning is probably one of the last things your teenage kids are thinking about, when they turn 18, it should be one of their (and your) number-one priorities. Here’s why: At 18, they become legal adults in the eyes of the law, so you no longer have the authority to make decisions regarding their healthcare, nor will you have access to their financial accounts if something happens to them.
With you no longer in charge, your young adult would be extremely vulnerable in the event they become incapacitated by COVID-19 or another malady and lose their ability to make decisions about their own medical care. Seeing that putting a plan in place could literally save their lives, if your kids are already 18 or about to hit that milestone, it’s crucial that you discuss and have them sign the following documents. Medical Power of Attorney A medical power of attorney is an advance directive that allows your child to grant you (or someone else) the legal authority to make healthcare decisions on their behalf in the event they become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions for themselves.
For example, a medical power of attorney would allow you to make decisions about your child’s medical treatment if he or she is in a car accident or is hospitalized with COVID-19.
Without a medical power of attorney in place, if your child has a serious illness or injury that requires hospitalization and you need access to their medical records to make decisions about their treatment, you’d have to petition the court to become their legal guardian. While a parent is typically the court’s first choice for guardian, the guardianship process can be both slow and expensive.
And due to HIPAA laws, once your child becomes 18, no one—even parents—is legally authorized to access his or her medical records without prior written permission. But a properly drafted medical power of attorney will include a signed HIPAA authorization, so you can immediately access their medical records to make informed decisions about their healthcare. Living Will While a medical power of attorney allows you to make healthcare decisions on your child’s behalf during their incapacity, a living will is an advance directive that provides specific guidance about how your child’s medical decisions should be made, particularly at the end of life.
For example, a living will allows your child to let you know if and when they want life support removed should they ever require it. In addition to documenting how your child wants their medical care managed, a living will can also include instructions about who should be able to visit them in the hospital and even what kind of food they should be fed.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney Should your child become incapacitated, you may also need the ability to access and manage their finances, and this requires your child to grant you durable financial power of attorney.
Durable financial power of attorney gives you the authority to manage their financial and legal matters, such as paying their tuition, applying for student loans, managing their bank accounts, and collecting government benefits. Without this document, you will have to petition the court for such authority.
Peace of Mind As parents, it is normal to experience anxiety as your child individuates and becomes an adult, and with the pandemic still raging, these fears have undoubtedly intensified. While you can’t totally prevent your child from an unforeseen illness or injury, you can at least rest assured that if your child ever does need your help, you’ll have the legal authority to provide it. Contact us if you have any questions.
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The days of working for a single employer for decades until you retire are over. Today, you are much more likely to change jobs multiple times during your career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, today’s workers have held an average of 12 jobs by the time they reach their 50s.
Since people change jobs so frequently, it is easy to lose track of an old 401(k), especially if you only worked in a position for a short time. In fact, forgetting plans is quite common: it’s estimated that roughly 900,000 workers lose track of their 401(k) plans each year. And when you forget to cash out your 401(k) upon leaving a job, it may eventually be transferred to a bank, rolled into an IRA, or even sent to the state’s unclaimed property fund.
If you’re looking to increase your retirement savings, one way to start is to make sure you haven’t lost or forgotten about any old accounts. Here are 6 tips for tracking down a missing 401(k).
Contact your previous employers: If your former employer is still in business, the easiest way to find an old 401(k) is to contact them. You can ask the human resources department or the plan administrator at the company to search their records to find out whether you participated in the plan, and if they still manage your account. Be prepared to provide the dates that you worked for the employer, your name, and your Social Security number.
Find the plan administrator’s contact details: If your former employer has shut down or merged with another company, you can try to contact the organization that administered the plan to see if they still control your 401(k). If you have an old statement, it should contain the administrator’s contact information. You can also contact former co-workers and ask if they have copies of old statements from the plan.
3. Review the plan’s annual tax return: If you can’t access your old plan statements, you can try to find the contact information for the plan administrator via the plan’s tax return. Most plans must file an annual tax return, Form 5500, with the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Department of Labor. Search the website www.efast.dol.gov by entering the name of your old employer to find this form.
4. Search unclaimed property databases: If you are unable to track down your account through your former employer or the plan administrator, you still have options. Depending on what happened to the company and how much money was in your account, there are a few different places to search.
The National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits offers a database where employees can register names of former employees who left retirement funds with them. By entering your Social Security number, you can search this database for free to determine if you have any unclaimed retirement account balances. Additional online resources, such as missingmoney.com and unclaimed.org, similarly allow you to search for retirement assets in any states in which you’ve lived or worked.
5. Search for default IRA accounts: If your old account had a fairly small balance, it may no longer be in a 401(k). For 401(k) accounts with balances of less than $5,000, a former employer might have rolled the funds into a default IRA account on your behalf. Default IRAs can be created when your former employer is unable to reach you to find out how you want the funds paid to you. You can search for such IRA accounts for free on the FreeERISA website. 6. Search for terminated plans: If your former employer terminated its 401(k) plan, this doesn’t automatically mean your money is lost forever. The Department of Labor maintains a list of plans that have been abandoned or are in the process of being terminated. Search their database to find out whether the plan is in the process of—or has already been—terminated, and learn the contact details for the Qualified Termination Administrator (QTA) responsible for overseeing the plan’s shutdown.
Keep track of your assets
The best way to keep track of your retirement accounts is to not lose them in the first place. Indeed, one of the most important parts of estate planning is to create a comprehensive inventory of all your assets, not just your retirement funds. By doing so, none of your assets will end up in our state’s Department of Unclaimed Property, and your family will know exactly what you have and how to find everything if something happens to you.
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A case on the Supreme Court’s docket for October could have a major impact on the parental rights of same-gender couples seeking to adopt or foster children. In February, the high court agreed to hear Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, which deals with whether taxpayer-funded, faith-based foster care and adoption agencies have a Constitutional right to refuse child placement with LGBTQ families.
In March 2018, the City of Philadelphia learned that Catholic Social Services (CSS), an agency it contracted with to provide foster care services was refusing to license same-gender couples as foster parents. This was despite the fact the agency consented to abide by a city law prohibiting anti-LGBTQ discrimination.
The city told CSS it would not renew their contract unless they abided by its nondiscrimination requirements, but CSS refused to comply, and the city cancelled its contract. CSS then sued the city, claiming it had a First Amendment right to refuse licensing same-gender couples, since those couples were in violation of their religious beliefs.
Both a federal judge and the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the city, noting the city’s decision was based on a sincere commitment to nondiscrimination, not a targeted attack on religion. From there, CSS took the case to the Supreme Court.
Rampant discrimination at the state level LGTBQ adoptions are particularly contentious right now at the state level. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the issue of the parental rights of non-biological spouses in a same-gender marriage. Given this, many married same-gender couples looking to obtain full parental rights in every state turn to second-parent adoption, as the Supreme Court has previously ruled that the adoptive parental rights granted in one state must be respected in all states.
That said, 11 states currently permit state-licensed adoption agencies to refuse to grant an adoption, if doing so violates the agency’s religious beliefs. In other states, the law specifically forbids such discrimination, but as we’ve seen in the Fulton case, those laws are being challenged.
Estate planning offers another option
No matter how the Supreme Court rules, same-gender couples seeking parental rights have another option—estate planning. It may be surprising to hear, but it’s critically important for you to know that when used wisely, estate planning can provide a non-biological, same-gender parent with necessary and desired rights, even without formal adoption.
Starting with our Kids Protection Plan®, couples can name the non-biological parent as the child’s legal guardian, both for the short-term and the long-term, while confidentially excluding anyone the biological parent thinks may challenge their wishes. In this way, if the biological parent becomes incapacitated or dies, his or her wishes are clearly stated, so the court will keep the child in the non-biological parent’s care.
Beyond that, there are several other planning tools—living trusts, powers of attorney, and health care directives—we can use to grant the non-biological parent additional rights. We can also create “co-parenting agreements,” legally binding arrangements that stipulate exactly how the child will be raised, what responsibility each partner has toward the child, and what kind of rights would exist if the couple splits or gets divorced.
Secure parental rights—and your family’s future Whether you are married, or in a domestic partnership, even with no children involved, it’s critically important you understand what will happen in the event one (or both) of you becomes incapacitated or when one (or both) of you dies. Proper planning can ensure your beloved is left with ease and grace, not a financial and legal nightmare that could have been avoided.
With proper guidance and support, you can ensure your partner or spouse will be protected and provided for in the event of your incapacity or when you die, while preventing your plan from being challenged in court by family members who might disagree with your relationship.
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In January, I wrote about how the deaths of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Brianna, demonstrated the vital need for estate planning for people of all ages. At the time, little was known about the planning strategies Kobe had in place to protect and preserve his estimated $600 million estate for his wife, Vanessa, and three surviving daughters, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
Since then, court filings made by Kobe’s widow have shed light on both the successes and failures of Kobe’s estate planning efforts. On the positive side, Kobe created an extensive estate plan, which included the Kobe Bryant Trust to protect his assets, reduce estate-tax liability, and pass on his wealth to his family.
While the contents of the trust remain private (one of the many benefits of this type of estate planning!), the court documents do provide a summary of the trust’s terms. Upon Kobe’s death, the trust was set up to allow Vanessa and her daughters to draw from the principal and income of the trust’s assets during Vanessa’s lifetime, with the remainder going to their children upon Vanessa’s death.
However, while the trust lists Vanessa and his oldest daughters Natalia, Brianna (who died in the crash with her father), and Bianka as beneficiaries, his youngest daughter, Capri, who was born just six months before Kobe’s death, was not included in the document. Reportedly, Kobe and his lawyers simply never got around to amending the trust to add Capri before his untimely death at age 41.
A tragic oversight Seeking to fix this oversight, Vanessa Bryant and Kobe’s best friend Robert Pelinka, Jr.—who were named Co-Trustees—petitioned the Los Angeles probate court to modify the trust by adding Capri as a beneficiary with equal rights as her sisters. Unless the court agrees with the petition, Capri will be ineligible to inherit her share of the family estate held in the trust, which could amount to wealth and assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
According to the petition, the trust was created in 2003 after the birth of the couple’s first child, Natalia, and its intent was to provide for the support of Vanessa and all of the couple’s children following Kobe’s death. As evidence of this intent, the petition points out the fact that Kobe amended the trust to add daughters Brianna and Bianka after they were born.
Although it’s likely the court will agree to the trust’s modification to include Capri, the fact remains that Kobe and his legal team made a major error by not updating his plan immediately following her birth. This mistake has undoubtedly cost Vanessa not only hefty sums of money in legal fees and court costs, but it also eliminated the trust’s biggest benefits by failing to keep Kobe’s surviving family members out of court and conflict, as well as exposing many of the estate’s details to the public.
And the most unfortunate part of the whole situation is just how easily this oversight could have been avoided.
Stay up to date It’s a popular myth that estate planning is simply a matter of creating the proper documents, filing those documents away for safekeeping, and only revisiting them upon the creator’s incapacity or death. However, this is far from the truth. Indeed, this oversight by Kobe’s lawyers illustrates why most plans—even those created by multi-millionaires—fail to keep families out of court and out of conflict. And though Kobe’s family can easily absorb these costs, your family probably can’t without significant impact.
As Kobe’s case shows, even the most well-intentioned plan can prove ineffective if it’s not regularly updated. Estate planning is not a one-and-done type of deal—your plan must continuously evolve to keep pace with changes in your family structure, the legal landscape, your assets, and your life goals.
And unfortunately, this kind of thing happens all the time. In fact, outside of not creating any estate plan at all, one of the most common planning mistakes we encounter is when we get called by the loved ones of someone who has become incapacitated or died with a plan that no longer works because it was never updated. Unfortunately, by the time they contact us, it’s too late.
We recommend you review your plan at least every 3 years to make sure it’s up to date, and immediately modify your plan following events like births, deaths, divorce, and inheritances.
Dedicated to empowering your family, building your wealth and defining your legacy,
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If you have a blended family and do not plan for what happens to your assets in the event of your incapacity or death, you are almost certainly guaranteeing hurt feelings, conflict, and maybe even a long, drawn out court battle.
So let’s start with clarity around what a blended family is and whether you have one. If you have stepchildren, or children from a prior marriage, or other people you consider “kin” who are not considered legal relatives in the eyes of the law, you’ve got a blended family.
Bottom line: if you have a blended family, you need an estate plan, and not just a will you created for yourself online, or a trust that isn’t specifically and intentionally designed to keep your family out of court and out of conflict. Period. End of story. Unless you are okay with setting your loved ones up for unnecessary heartache, confusion, and pain when something happens to you.
What Will the Law Do?
“Blended Families, once considered “non-traditional” families are swiftly becoming the norm. Currently 52% of married couples (or unmarried couples who live together) have a stepkin relationship of some kind, and 4 in 10 new marriages involve remarriage. So, clearly, this is no longer “non-traditional” but quite traditional, though our laws about what happens if you become incapacitated or die are still very much based on tradition.
Every state has different provisions for what happens when you become incapacitated or die, and the laws of California may not necessarily match your wishes.
For example, in California, all community property assets would go to your surviving spouse, and separate property assets would be distributed partially to a surviving spouse and partially to children, if living, in amounts depending on the number of surviving children.
This may not result in the outcome you want for your loved ones, especially if you have a blended family situation. If you have something different in mind as to how you would want things to go, there is good news. The state of California allows you to circumvent those laws, but only if you have an alternate plan in place BEFORE your incapacity or death.
Even within “traditional” families, I want to emphasize that having a full plan is the best way to provide for your loved ones. However, with “blended” families, carefully considered estate plans are often even more vital to avoid massive misunderstanding and conflict, and having your assets tied up in court instead of going to the people you want to receive them.
Disputes Between Spouse and Children from Previous Marriage
One of the most common problems that arises in a blended family is that the deceased’s children from a prior marriage and the surviving spouse end up in conflict. The courts are filled with these kinds of cases. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
When you’re considering all of this for the people you love, it’s important to have a trusted advisor who can help you look at the reality of what will happen if you become incapacitated or when you die. With the complexities of modern families, it’s far better to know and plan than to leave it up to the law or a court to decide. That way, not only do the people you love get the assets that you want them to receive, but you will also be saving them from years of potential legal conflict.
Dedicated to empowering your family, building your wealth and defining your legacy,
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Right now, huge numbers of people are
coming face to face with their own mortality, and realizing they need to plan
for the worst. This goes not just for those in the “senior” category, but for
all of us, no matter our age. We are facing the reality of our mortality, and
many of us are doing it courageously by taking this as an opportunity to learn
what we need to do for the people we love.
Recently I heard a tragic story from a
colleague whose client lost her fiancé to COVID-19. Because she wasn’t listed
on her fiancé’s health directive and HIPAA waiver, she could not get anyone to
update her on his condition once he entered the hospital.
Naturally, she didn’t give up trying, and
eventually someone told her that he wasn’t in the ICU anymore. She was enormously
relieved, but when she hadn’t heard anything else by the next day, she called
again for news. Finally, after being transferred several times, she learned
that the reason her fiancé wasn’t in the ICU was because he was in the morgue.
He’d passed away the day before, and no one had told her. Heartbreaking.
Nobody expects something like this to
happen, especially to people who are healthy and making plans for their own
futures. But sometimes the worst does happen, and if it does, you want the
people you love to be able to grieve properly, without leaving them with a mess
of confusion on top of it all.
Now, think about your own situation. What
will happen to your loved ones, and the assets you’ll leave behind, if you
become sick or die?
Without a doubt, you’d want to ensure
certain people in your life are informed if you have to go to the hospital and
kept up to date on your condition while you are there. You’d also probably want
to avoid them having to go through a drawn-out court process to handle your
estate after your death or save them from the fate of not being able to access
your assets if you are hospitalized. This article is all about you having the
tools you need to make sure everything is in place to do the right thing for
the people you love, just in case something happens to you.
Covering the Bases First, you need to have a worst-case scenario conversation with your family. A lot of people try to avoid conversations about death, but the fact is, we will all die. It’s better to face that with those we love so that when the time comes, we will be as ready as we can be, and so will they.
Create an Asset Inventory This is something you can get started on right now, by yourself, without the help of a lawyer. It is a great resource to leave for your loved ones so they know where to find everything that is important to you, and will be important to them, if something happens to you.
First, get out your calendar and schedule
an appointment with yourself. Set aside an hour or so to put all your asset
information in one place (we use a spreadsheet when we do this for clients):
real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance, stocks, bonds,
business interests, etc.
Update Your Health Care Directive This is extremely important if you want your loved ones to avoid the tragic situation my colleague’s client found herself in. Do NOT delay reviewing and updating these documents.
Your Health Care Directive should have
A Living Will/ Medical
Directive, which states how you want decisions to be made for you.
A Medical Power of
Attorney, which states who should make these decisions if you can’t make them
A HIPAA Release that allows
medical professionals to disclose information to your Medical Power of
Name Legal Guardians for Your Kids A very important thing for all parents of minor children to do is name legal guardians for your children. Think about what would happen to them right now if something were to happen to you, for both the long term and the immediate future. This is the single most important thing parents of minor children should do because it would have the greatest impact on – or leave the biggest hole for – our minor children if something happens to us.
Going Beyond Just the Basics The goal in setting up an estate plan is, ultimately, to keep your loved ones out of court and out of conflict. To do that, you must make the right decisions during the planning process, retitle assets so they are protected by your plan, and ensure your plan stays up to date for the rest of your life.
Estate planning is all about merging your
family dynamics, assets (both material and non-material), and the law into a
cohesive plan which accomplishes all that you really want to do for the people
If you are ready to face your mortality
courageously and want to ensure your family is protected and provided for no
matter what, don’t wait. Get the help of a professional (someone who’s
providing virtual planning sessions) and get started now.
Dedicated to empowering your family, building your wealth and defining
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beginning of the month, and bills are coming due. If you are stressed out, it’s
important that you know where and how to get access to financial relief. Please
consider this not only for yourself, but for your adult children and elderly
parents, too, even if you do not need it for yourself.
On March 27,
President Trump signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill into law that will
hopefully provide some relief for many, perhaps including you. The CARES Act
(Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) sends money directly to
Americans, expands unemployment coverage, and funds loans and grants for small
businesses. So, let’s look at how you can access these funds.
Who gets direct stimulus money and how much do they get? All eligible adults who have a Social Security Number, filed tax returns in 2018 and/or 2019 will automatically get a $1,200 direct stimulus deposit from the government within a particular income bracket. This is true whether you have been laid off, are currently employed, or are currently self-employed or an independent contractor.
To get the full amount:
A single adult must have an adjusted gross
income of $75,000 or less.
Married couples with no children must earn
$150,000 or less for a combined total stimulus of $2,400.
Every qualifying child 16 or under adds $500
to a family’s direct stimulus.
If you have filed as head of household, have
dependents, and earned $112,500 when you last filed, you will get the full
is not considered income—it’s essentially free money from the government.
Therefore, it will not be taxed. It also is not a loan, so if you are eligible,
you will not be charged interest or expected to pay it back. As of right now,
the stimulus is a one-time payment.
Are there exceptions? Payment decreases and eventually stops for single people earning $99,000 or more or married people who have no children and earn $198,000 annually. Additionally, a family with two children will no longer be eligible for payments if their income is over $218,000.
If you are an
adult claimed on your parent’s tax return, you do not get the $1,200.
What do I need to do to get my stimulus money? For most people, no action is necessary. If the IRS has your bank account information already, it will transfer the money to you via direct deposit. If, however, you need to update your bank account information, the IRS has posted on their website that they are in the process of building an online portal where you can do so.
note: if you have not filed a tax return in the past couple of years, or you
don’t usually need to file one, you should file a “simple tax return” showing
whatever income you did have, so you can qualify for these benefits.
You can continue to check for updates on how
to make sure you get your payment by regularly checking for updates on their
Coronavirus Tax Relief page. https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus
When will that money come through? Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin says that he expects most people will get their payments by Friday, April 17th, though other sources say that it could take up to 4–8 weeks.
Loans (and Grant Money) for Independent Contractors If you have a business, are an independent contractor or are self-employed, you can apply for loans, and get a $10,000 grant from the government via the CARES Act.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
loans. Please note that there are still elements of these loans that are not
fully understood, and we are giving our best legal interpretation based on
information from the Small Business Administration and the US Chamber of
VERY IMPORTANT: If you apply for EIDL right now, you can claim
a $10,000 advance that does not need to be repaid. It’s essentially a grant
that can be used to keep your business alive. You can apply for it right here: https://covid19relief.sba.gov/ Do it, now. This is applicable if you are an
independent contractor, or a self-employed business owner. Basically, if you
file a separate tax return for your business or a Schedule C on your personal
tax return, you SHOULD qualify. But please see note above that we don’t really
know how all of this will be implemented. What we do believe is that you should
get your application in for the EIDL grant money.
The PPP applications will be made through your bank, so contact your banker, if
you believe you will need the PPP loan, which will be forgiven if used for
payroll specifically in the weeks after receiving the loan funds.
have the following information on hand to fill out either of the two loan
IRS Form 4506T—Tax Information
Authorization—completed and signed by each principal or owner,
Recent federal income tax returns,
SBA Form 413—Personal Financial Statement,
SBA Form 2202—Schedule of Liabilities listing
all fixed debts,
Any profit and loss statements, recent tax
returns, and balance sheets.
Here’s a bit
more information about both loan programs.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans (Above and Beyond the $10,000 Grant) Every state has been declared a disaster area due to COVID-19, and therefore your business may be eligible for an SBA economic injury disaster loan (EIDL). This is a low-interest loan that has terms that can last as long as 30 years, and can provide you with capital loans of up to $2 million and an advance of up to $10,000.
Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) can be used to cover:
Paid sick leave to employees unable to work
due to the direct effects of COVID-19,
Rent or mortgage payments,
Maintaining payroll (to help prevent layoffs
and pay cuts),
Increased costs due to supply chain
Payment obligations that could not be met due
to revenue loss.
application used to take hours, it now only takes about 10 minutes to fill out.
A couple of important notes, however:
SBA loan reps have said that they are focusing
on processing applications filed after March 30th, so if you have a
confirmation number starting with 2000, you should probably reapply.
Be sure to check the box toward the end of the
application if you want to be considered for an advance up to $10,000 (as I
mentioned at the top of the article, this amount does not need to be repaid and
so is essentially a grant!).
Coronavirus Emergency Paycheck Protection Loan The CARES Act’s $350 billion allocation to small businesses is specifically called the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). It specifically incentivizes borrowers who maintain their payrolls, i.e., don’t lay off their employees. This program will fully forgive loans where at least 75% of the forgiven amount is used to pay employees for the eight weeks following the loan. If you lay off employees or cut salaries and wages, your loan forgiveness will also be reduced.
PPP loans can
be used to cover:
Group health care benefits during periods of
paid, sick, medical, or family leave, and insurance premiums;
Interest on a mortgage obligation,
Rent, under lease agreements in force before
February 15, 2020,
Utilities, for which service began before
February 15, 2020,
Interest on any debt incurred before February
businesses with less than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships,
independent contractors, and those who are self employed) are eligible. You can
apply through SBA 7(a) lenders, federally insured credit unions, or
participating Farm Credit Systems (ie your bank). Other lenders might be on the
scene soon as well, but a lot of them are currently being reviewed for approval
to the program.
What if I am not eligible or need more money? If you don’t qualify for stimulus money, all is not lost. There are several other ways that the CARES Act has made it easier for you to get a short term financial boost.
Unemployment The CARES Act has also legally expanded unemployment benefits, expanding them for 13 more weeks and adding an additional $600 per week. Some self-employed, freelance, and independent contractors may be eligible, too. These benefits vary from state to state, and you can find how to apply at the Unemployment Benefits Finder site: https://www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/UnemploymentBenefits/find-unemployment-benefits.aspx?newsearch=true. Be sure to have your Social Security number, the Social Security numbers for dependents you are claiming, and your driver’s license or state ID handy while you apply.
Private Loans If you’re in good standing with your bank, you may be able to get a “bridge loan” extended to you in order to cover your bills. Several major banks have set aside money specifically for the purpose of supplying these loans to customers that they deem eligible for them.
Retirement Account If you don’t have another rainy-day savings account, the CARES Act waives the 10% penalty tax that you would normally get for withdrawing money early. The criteria is pretty open-ended, and applies to people who experience financial hardship because of COVID-19 in some way.
If you are experiencing fear about
affording to pay your bills, remember that you do have options for accessing
savings, loans, and stimulus money. Stay up to date on the above resources, and
if you need any help navigating your way through this uncertain period, we are
here to help.
https://www.calilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/CARES-ACT-close-scaled-e1585882477755.jpg9181410CaliLawhttps://www.calilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Cali-Law-Logo-A5-1-300x99.pngCaliLaw2020-04-06 21:12:052020-04-06 21:13:15How To Get Access to Your COVID Stimulus Money
As you no
doubt already know, on January 26, 2020, basketball legend Kobe Bryant was
killed in a helicopter crash on a wooded hillside 30 miles north of Los Angeles.
Also killed in the tragic accident was his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and
seven other passengers who were friends and colleagues of Kobe and his family. Kobe’s
survived by his wife Vanessa and three other daughters: Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3,
and Capri, 7 months. The exact cause of
the crash remains under investigation.
death at age 41 has led to a huge outpouring of grief from fans across the
world. Whenever someone so beloved dies so young, it highlights just how
critical it is for every adult—but especially those with young children—to
create an estate plan to ensure their loved ones are properly protected and
provided for when they die or in the event of their incapacity.
While it’s too early to know the exact details of Kobe’s estate plan (and he very
well may have planning vehicles in place to keep the public from ever knowing
the full details), we can still learn from the issues his family and estate are
likely to face in the aftermath of his death. I’m covering these issues in
hopes that it will inspire you to remember that life is not guaranteed, every
day is a gift, and your loved ones are counting on you to do the right thing
for them now.
Kobe’s sports and business empire Between his salary and endorsements during his 20-year career with the L.A. Lakers, Kobe earned an estimated $680 million. And that’s not counting the money he made from his numerous business ventures, licensing rights for his likeness, and extensive venture capital investments following his retirement from the NBA.
Given his business acumen and length of time in the spotlight, it’s highly unlikely Kobe died without at least some planning in place to protect his assets and his family. But even if Kobe did have a plan, when someone so young, wealthy, and successful passes away this unexpectedly in such a terrible accident, his family and estate will almost certainly face some potential threats and complications.
For example, due to his extreme wealth, Kobe likely created trusts and other planning strategies to remove some of his assets from his estate in order to reduce his federal estate-tax liability. However, because he was so young and still actively involved in numerous business ventures, it’s quite unlikely that all—or even the majority—of his assets had been fully transferred into those protective planning vehicles.
that Kobe owned the helicopter and the weather at the time was poor (many other
flights had already been grounded), there’s also the real potential that the
families of those killed in the crash will file civil lawsuits against his
estate. Regardless of how extensive Kobe’s estate plan is, it’s doubtful that
the lawyers who drafted his plan considered the possibility of so many
potential wrongful-death lawsuits.
Here’s the bottom
line: the post-death handling of Kobe’s affairs is surely going to be
complicated. Though you almost certainly don’t have a Kobe-size estate to pass
on, that makes it even more important for you to handle your planning—and
really get it done right. Kobe’s family can afford years in court, lawyers upon
lawyers, and a loss of some assets to taxes and lawsuits. Your family, on the
other hand, probably cannot.
Trusted support when it’s needed most Since Kobe’s wife Vanessa survives him, and it’s been widely reported that they
married without a prenuptial agreement, it’s most likely that she will inherit
everything. And due to the “spousal exemption,” those assets will pass to her
tax free. Yet despite the protection from estate taxes, if she does inherit
everything directly, all the estate-planning, financial-planning,
business-management, and wealth-preservation responsibilities for Kobe’s
immense fortune will now pass to Vanessa.
That’s an overwhelming responsibility, especially while she’s mourning the loss
of both her husband and child, as well as parenting three other daughters
who’ve just lost their father and sister. Given the vast scope of Kobe’s estate,
ongoing business ventures, and likelihood of lawsuits and other legal
complications, Vanessa will need the advice and support of her trusted counsel
now more than ever. And I do hope she has that support, and that it was
established well before this point in time.
Unfortunately, many estate planning firms do not engage with the whole family
when creating estate plans and the associated legal documents, leaving the
spouse and other family members largely out of the loop. Though we can’t know
if this was the case with Kobe’s lawyers, such situations occur frequently
enough that there’s a real possibility this could be true for Vanessa as well.
such a scenario be true for your family. There is immense value in not only
getting your estate planning handled now, but also in accomplishing that with a
family-centered law firm as your partner.
Dedicated to empowering your
family, building your wealth and defining your legacy,
https://www.calilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/BBZvPq0.jpg405720CaliLawhttps://www.calilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Cali-Law-Logo-A5-1-300x99.pngCaliLaw2020-02-06 20:10:412020-02-06 20:10:42Kobe Bryant’s Untimely Death Highlights the Vital Need for Estate Planning at All Ages
Both wills and trusts are estate planning documents that can be used to pass your wealth and property to your loved ones upon your death. However, trusts come with some distinct advantages over wills that you should consider when creating your plan.
That said, when comparing the two planning tools, you won’t necessarily be choosing between one or the other—most plans include both. Indeed, a will is a foundational part of every person’s estate plan, but you may want to combine your will with a living trust to avoid the blind spots inherent in plans that rely solely on a will.
Here are four reasons you might want to consider adding a trust to your estate plan: 1. Avoidance of probate One of the primary advantages a living trust has over a will is that a living trust does not have to go through probate. Probate is the court process through which assets left in your will are distributed to your heirs upon your death.
During probate, the court oversees your will’s administration, ensuring your property is distributed according to your wishes, with automatic supervision to handle any disputes. Probate proceedings can drag out for months or even years, and your family will likely have to hire an attorney to represent them, which can result in costly legal fees that can drain your estate.
Bottom line: If your estate plan consists of a will alone, you are guaranteeing your family will have to go to court if you become incapacitated or when you die.
However, if your assets are titled properly in the name of your living trust, your family could avoid court altogether. In fact, assets held in a trust pass directly to your loved ones upon your death, without the need for any court intervention whatsoever. This can save your loved ones major time, money, and stress while dealing with the aftermath of your death.
2. Privacy Probate is not only costly and time consuming, it’s also public. Once in probate, your will becomes part of the public record. This means anyone who’s interested can see the contents of your estate, who your beneficiaries are, as well as what and how much your loved ones inherit, making them tempting targets for frauds and scammers.
Using a living trust, the distribution of your assets can happen in the privacy of our office, so the contents and terms of your trust will remain completely private. The only instance in which your trust would become open to the public is if someone challenges the document in court.
3.A plan for incapacity A will only governs the distribution of your assets upon your death. It offers zero protection if you become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions about your own medical, financial, and legal needs. If you become incapacitated with only a will in place, your family will have to petition the court to appoint a guardian to handle your affairs.
Like probate, guardianship proceedings can be extremely costly, time consuming, and emotional for your loved ones. And there’s always the possibility that the court could appoint a family member you’d never want making such critical decisions on your behalf. Or the court might even select a professional guardian, putting a total stranger in control of just about every aspect of your life.
With a living
trust, however, you can include provisions that appoint someone of your
choosing—not the court’s—to handle your assets if you’re unable to do so.
Combined with a well-drafted medical power of attorney and living will, a trust
can keep your family out of court and conflict in the event of your incapacity.
4. Enhanced control over asset distribution Another advantage a trust has over just having a will is the level of control they offer you when it comes to distributing assets to your heirs. By using a trust, you can specify when and how your heirs will receive your assets after your death.
For example, you could stipulate in the trust’s terms that the assets can only be distributed upon certain life events, such as the completion of college or purchase of a home. Or you might spread out distribution of assets over your beneficiary’s lifetime, releasing a percentage of the assets at different ages or life stages.
In this way, you can help prevent your beneficiaries from blowing through their inheritance all at once and offer incentives for them to demonstrate responsible behavior. Plus, if the assets are held in trust, they’re protected from the beneficiaries’ creditors, lawsuits, and divorce, which is something else wills don’t provide.
If, for some
reason, you do not want a living trust, you can use a testamentary trust to
establish trusts in your will. A testamentary trust will not keep your family
out of court, but it can allow you to control how and when your heirs receive
your assets after your death.
An informed decision The best way for you to determine whether your estate plan should include a living trust, a testamentary trust, or no trust at all is to meet with a trusted estate planning attorney. Sitting down with your Personal Family Attorney to discuss your family’s planning needs will empower you to feel 100% confident that you have the right combination of planning solutions in place for your family’s unique circumstances.
Dedicated to empowering your family,
building your wealth and defining your legacy,
https://www.calilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/wills-vs-trust-signs-91024.jpg375500CaliLawhttps://www.calilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Cali-Law-Logo-A5-1-300x99.pngCaliLaw2020-01-24 18:03:252020-01-24 18:03:274 Things Trusts Can Do That Wills Can’t
As a parent,
you’re likely hoping to leave your children an inheritance. But without taking
the proper precautions, the wealth you pass on is at serious risk of being
accidentally lost or squandered. In some instances, an inheritance can even
wind up doing your kids more harm than good.
Creating a will or a revocable living trust offers some protection, but in most
cases, you’ll be guided to distribute assets through your will or trust to your
children at specific ages and stages, such as one-third at age 25, half the
balance at 30, and the rest at 35.
If you’ve created estate planning documents, check to see if this is how your
will or trust leaves assets to your children. If so, you may not have been told
about another option that can give your children access, control, and airtight
asset protection for whatever assets they inherit from you.
Asset Protection Trust safeguards the inheritance from being lost to common
life events, such as divorce, serious illness, lawsuits, or even bankruptcy.
But that’s not all they do.
Indeed, the best part of these trusts is that they offer you—and your kids—the
best of both worlds: airtight asset protection AND use and control of the
inheritance. What’s more, you can even use the trust to incentivize your
children to invest and grow their inheritance.
Not all trusts are created equal Most lawyers will advise you to put the assets you’re leaving your kids in a
revocable living trust—and this is the right move. But most lawyers would
structure the trust to distribute those assets outright to your children at
certain ages or stages.
And if you’ve used an online do-it-yourself will or trust-preparation service
like LegalZoom®, Rocket Lawyer,® or any of the newer options frequently coming
online now, you will most likely be offered only two options: outright
distribution of the entire inheritance to your kids when you die, or partial
distributions when they reach specific ages and stages as described above.
Either of those options leaves their inheritance—and your hard-earned and
well-saved money—at risk. Indeed, once assets pass into your child’s name, all
the protection previously offered by your trust disappears.
For example, say your son racked up debt while in college, which can sometimes happen. If he were to receive one-third of his inheritance at age 25, creditors could take his inheritance if it’s paid to him in an outright distribution.
thing would be true if your daughter gets a divorce after receiving her
inheritance, only it would be her soon-to-be ex-spouse who would claim a right
to the funds in a divorce settlement. And despite what you may have heard about
an inheritance remaining separate property, once it’s in your child’s hands, outright and unprotected,
those assets are at risk.
There’s just no way to foresee what the future has in store for your kids—these kind of events happen to families every day. And that’s not even taking into consideration that your kids might simply blow through the money and spend it all on unnecessary luxuries.
Airtight asset protection—and easy access Lifetime Asset Protection Trusts are specifically designed to prevent your hard-earned assets from being wiped out by such risks. And at the same time, your children will still be able to use and invest the funds held in trust as needed.
For example, even though the assets are held in trust, your kids would be able to invest those funds in things like stocks, a business, or real estate, provided they do so in the name of the trust. Plus, if your child needs to pull money out to pay for college, a new home, or medical bills, they can do that by asking a Trustee—who’s chosen by you to oversee the money—for a distribution.
Or, as will cover next week, you may even allow your child to become Sole Trustee at some point in the future, allowing him or her to make decisions about the trust’s management.
Dedicated to empowering your family, building
your wealth and defining your legacy,