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Before You Remarry, Revisit Your Estate Plan

Asset Protection, Estate PlanningNo Comments

Marry for Money1 150x150 Before You Remarry, Revisit Your Estate PlanIf you are planning to remarry soon, you have probably given some thought to how this new marriage will impact your finances and that of your old and new families.  Before you take your next trip down the aisle, you both should review your estate plans with the following in mind:

Asset management – both of you need to create a list of your separate assets, including IRAs, brokerage accounts, bank accounts, retirement plans, pensions, life insurance policy, etc., and then decide which of these you plan to combine and which you plan to keep separate.

Asset plan – if one or both of you have children you are bringing to the new marriage, then you need to plan for how they will be included in your estate plan and wills.  You may want to consider creating a trust or buying additional life insurance to cover children.

Estate plan — consulting with an estate planning attorney is important, whether your assets are great or small.  If you have an existing estate plan and you remarry, you need to update your will, living will, powers of attorney, HIPAA authorization, and change the beneficiary designation on your qualified retirement and life insurance plans.  And if one spouse is bringing significantly more assets to the marriage, you may want to consider a prenuptial agreement to protect assets.

Whenever a major life event brings change to your family circumstances, contact our Orange County law firm to review or update your estate plan.

Making a Plan for Your Digital Afterlife [INFOGRAPHIC]

Asset Protection, Estate PlanningNo Comments

As more and more of us join social networks to keep in touch and live our lives online, the practice of planning for what happens to those digital assets after we are gone is a growing area of estate planning.

Your digital assets can have both sentimental and financial value.  Think of all the financial transactions you perform every week online, and you will realize that a plan needs to be prepared for what happens to your online accounts after you are gone.

The infographic below — prepared by web hosting information site WhoIsHostingThis? – provides information on what the major social networks require to deactivate an account as well as information about online tools available to help you protect and plan for the disposition of your digital assets:

preparing for your digital afterlife infographic 52caa38e5ed42 Making a Plan for Your Digital Afterlife [INFOGRAPHIC]

To learn more about estate planning for digital assets, contact our Newport Beach law firm.

4 Important Steps to Protect Personal Wealth From Business Liabilities

Asset Protection, Business PlanningNo Comments

asset protection 150x150 4 Important Steps to Protect Personal Wealth From Business LiabilitiesEvery business owner makes the decision to assume some portion of risk when they operate their own business, but no one wants that potential risk to affect their personal wealth.  Unfortunately, there are all too many business owners who neglect to implement the correct asset protection strategies to firmly separate business risk from personal wealth.

There are a number of important steps business owners should take to make sure personal wealth is protected from business liabilities, including:

Choosing the right business entity.  Setting your business up as a corporation or limited liability company (LLC) will better protect you in case of a business lawsuit than if you establish your business as a sole proprietorship.

Keeping finances separate.  Business and personal finances must be kept totally separate and the correct business name (not your personal name) should be used on all business documents, including property titles, contracts, etc.

Complying with all rules and regulations.  Taking shortcuts can come back to bite a business owner if someone suing you can prove you have been negligent or have acted fraudulently.

Having the right insurance.  If you own your own business as well as the building that houses your company, you will need to have different insurance policies for both.  Having the right kind of business insurance makes your own personal wealth less of a target in case of a business lawsuit.

To learn more effective business protection strategies, contact our Costa Mesa law firm.

Inconsistency a Hobgoblin for Estate Plans

Asset Protection, Estate PlanningNo Comments

yes and no e1389221463324 Inconsistency a Hobgoblin for Estate PlansElements of an estate plan that work at cross-purposes can wreak havoc on your assets, and estate plans that were created years ago but never updated may contain inconsistencies that could cost you and your heirs plenty.

From a recent Financial Planning article, here are some common inconsistencies that plague many estate plans:

Power of Attorney.  While designating an agent to protect your best interests for financial, legal and tax matters is a given with estate plans, many people hesitate to give their chosen agent immediate authority, instead opting for a springing power of attorney which kicks in once you become disabled.  However, confusion can reign when a disabled diagnosis is unclear and a third party has to be persuaded that a power of attorney is warranted.

Balance Sheet Planning.  Many estate plans are devised based on a person’s current balance sheet, but in fact it may be advisable to use financial projections instead.  If a person’s wealth is likely to grow, conducting financial projections may reveal additional opportunities to save on estate or gift taxes.

Gift Provisions.  A power of attorney often provides a designated agent with the ability to make certain gifts, like continuing the support of a family member.  If the estate plan also includes a living trust, these often include gift provisions as well.  It is important that these are coordinated.

Estate Tax Allocation.  For people facing a 40% federal estate tax, the tax allocation clause of their estate plan that determines which bequest will bear the cost of the estate tax can be a significant factor in determining who inherits what.  Your objectives for inheritance should be clearly thought out when considering this clause.

Multiple Trusts.  People whose estate plans include more than one trust need to determine if these trusts are efficient and serve their interests.  Trusts established at different times for different reasons could result in tax planning complications as well as greater administration costs.

To be sure your estate plan doesn’t include any of these or other costly inconsistencies, contact our Newport Beach law firm.

We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

Asset Protection, Estate PlanningNo Comments

christmas tree e1355953727677 We Wish You a Merry Christmas!We are here for you any time of the year for estate planning and asset protection strategies to benefit you and your family.  Contact our Orange County law firm soon.

4 Simple Estate Planning Steps to Protect Assets

Asset Protection, Estate PlanningNo Comments

estate planning image 284x250 150x150 4 Simple Estate Planning Steps to Protect AssetsThe strategic use of estate planning to protect assets is something every family should consider.  Not only will careful planning help you to preserve your assets for future generations, it can save your family the time and expense of California probate proceedings.

Here are four simple steps to get you started:

1.  List your beneficiaries.  Think of all the people in your life that you would like to benefit from your estate and write them down.  If you have minor children, think about who you would want to take care of them if something were to happen to you.  If you have someone in your family with special needs and want to make special provisions for their care, note that as well.  In addition, list any charitable causes you may wish to support with a gift.

2.  List your property.  Now make a written list of all your assets, including real estate, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and physical items like jewelry, art collections, cars, etc.

3.  Link your lists.  Take the lists of people and property you have made and start linking them, deciding who you want to leave what.

4.  Get expert advice.  Finalize your plan by visiting with an estate planning attorney who can assist you with creating the proper planning documents, including your will, durable powers of attorney, advance medical directive, trusts and so on.

Contact our Newport Beach law firm for assistance in creating or updating your estate plan.

How to Know When It’s Time to Help Elderly Parents Manage Their Money

Asset Protection, Estate PlanningNo Comments

caregiver e1354228604294 How to Know When It’s Time to Help Elderly Parents Manage Their MoneyThose fortunate enough to have parents living to a ripe old age are often faced with the challenge of when to step in with care giving duties.  The time to do so for healthcare reasons will be obvious; what may not be so obvious is when parents need help managing finances.

Here are some tips for making the transition into a financial caregiver:

Know when to initiate a discussion.  The best time to have the discussion about family finances is when your parent(s) are still healthy.  Look for signs they may be having trouble or if they have fallen victim to a financial scam.

Make them comfortable.  Let them know you want to respect their wishes when it comes to getting help so they will feel comfortable when the time comes, and ask them to prepare you by detailing what they have already done when it comes to estate planning.

Build trust.  Ease into financial care giving duties by starting out small.  By having access to their accounts online, you can monitor activity without being intrusive.

Keep siblings in the loop.  Usually, care giving duties will fall to one sibling, but it’s important that all siblings be kept in the loop.  If parents already have a financial advisor, it may be helpful for all siblings to attend annual reviews.

Look for opportunities to protect assets.  Advanced asset protection strategies may need to come into play for those with substantial assets.  These could include parents giving co-ownership of a home to an adult child or establishing trusts to protect assets.

Avoid probate.  Ensuring that retirement accounts have beneficiary designations will help the estate avoid probate.

For more tips on protecting assets, contact our Costa Mesa law firm.

 

Protecting Assets When Your Family is Far From Traditional

Asset Protection, Estate PlanningNo Comments

Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving thanksgiving 2927689 375 479 e1386888034691 Protecting Assets When Your Family is Far From TraditionalThe American family gathered around the holiday table as portrayed in the 1943 painting by Norman Rockwell has changed a lot in the last 70 years.  Today, “traditional” families often consist of a stepparent, stepchildren and other relatives interrelated by a different number of marriages.  And the more complex the family relationship, the more complex your estate planning is likely to be.

Here are some tips for protecting the assets of those living in the new norm – otherwise known as blended families:

Put everything in writing.  No longer does a blanket designation cover all the bases for blended families.  If you want to leave assets to someone not related to you by blood, even though you may consider them your children, you will need to include their legal names in your will and other estate planning documents.

Distribute heirlooms while you are alive.  Unless you want to itemize all your belongings and assign names to each in your will, you are probably better off leaving valuables to the people you want to have the while you are alive.  Plus, you get the added benefit of seeing them enjoy those items while you’re still around.

Keep your beneficiaries updated.  Check your beneficiary designations annually on your retirement and investment accounts as well as your life insurance policy.  Do it at tax time when you’re already thinking about money so you don’t forget each year.

Plan for long-term care.  Nothing can deplete assets quicker than having to pay long-term care costs out-of-pocket.  Make a plan for your long-term care, whether it’s purchasing insurance or setting funds aside.

Contact our Orange County law firm for information on planning your California estate.

Cost of 12 Days of Christmas Rises 7.7% This Year

Asset Protection, Estate PlanningNo Comments

12days partridge 150x150 Cost of 12 Days of Christmas Rises 7.7% This YearFor 30 years, PNC Wealth Management has measured the cost of fulfilling the gifts promised in the song, “12 Days of Christmas” and reports that in 2013, giving those gifts to your true love will cost you $27,393.17, up 7.7% from last year.

In case you need reminding, that $27K+ will buy you:

  • 12 Drummers Drumming
  • 11 Pipers Piping
  • 10 Lords-a-Leaping
  • 9 Ladies Dancing
  • 8 Maids-a-Milking
  • 7 Swans-a-Swimming
  • 6 Geese-a-Laying
  • 5 Gold Rings
  • 4 Calling Birds
  • 3 French Hens
  • 2 Turtle Doves
  • A Partridge in a Pear Tree

According to PNC, the largest contributing factor to the price increase is labor.  The price for 9 Ladies Dancing rose 20%, 10 Lords Leaping is up 10% and the pipers and drummers are up almost 3% from 2012.

We suggest you forego the items above and instead give yourself and your loved ones the gift of an estate plan this year.  It will protect your assets long after the maids have stopped milking.  Contact our Newport Beach law firm to get started.

Estate Planning Moves to Make Before Year-End

Asset Protection, Estate PlanningNo Comments

2013 2014 featured 570x270 e1386627990363 Estate Planning Moves to Make Before Year EndIf you tend to procrastinate when it comes to estate and tax planning issues, you are certainly not alone.  But there are a few things you need to take care of before the end of this month to ensure your estate plan is still in good shape and to take advantage of tax deduction opportunities for 2013:

Check beneficiary designations.  The disposition of assets in retirement accounts, IRAs and life insurance policy is governed by whom you have listed as beneficiary for each account or policy.  Review these designations now to ensure you still have the right people listed as beneficiaries.

Make charitable contributions.  The holidays are a perfect time for charitable giving, as well as giving a little back to yourself in terms of reductions in estate and income taxes.  To make sure your gifts qualify for 2013 deductions, be sure you make them before Dec. 31.

Make individual gifts.  This year you are allowed to give away up to $14,000 ($28,000 for married couples) to anyone you wish, free of gift tax.  This is another nice gift to yourself as well, since it removes taxable assets from your estate.

If you need to review your entire estate plan to determine if you are employing the latest estate planning strategies, you should do it before year-end in case there are other tax-saving tools that could help you and your loved ones.

To make sure you are doing as much as possible to protect your assets, contact our Orange County law firm.

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