Articles Tagged with trusts

Published on:

firefighters-115800_640-300x201California’s recent fires in Butte County certainly got me thinking about my family’s important documents and how best to store them safely. It is so hard to imagine losing everything and having to rebuild from the ground up. Storing our most important documents in a firesafe box suddenly seemed really relevant. I’m guessing that I’m not the only person thinking this way, so, in the spirit of the collective anxious unconscious, here’s a list of what to keep and my thoughts on some best practices to keep these documents safe.

First: What to Keep

Here are a list of the documents that I would advise you to keep. While it is true that many of these are public records (like birth and death certificates or property deeds) having them accessible, and having copies of them, will make it easier after a disaster.

Published on:

book-cover-from-amazon-234x300My new book, Every Californian’s Guide to Estate Planning is available now and I’m excited to share it with all of you.

I wrote it because there isn’t a California-specific estate planning book out there, and we, as Californians, have some special things to deal with.

In addition to an introduction to wills and trusts, what probate is and how to avoid it, and how to pick guardians for your minor children, this book also discusses these California-specific issues (and many others):

Published on:

03-Generosity-300x300What is estate planning, really? I know that most lawyers focus on reducing taxes, or the creation of documents, but when you get down to it, what you’re really doing when you make an estate plan is giving everything away, right?

So, to me, understanding the practice of generosity and what gets in the way of being generous are central to effective estate planning, and who better to explore that territory than my guest for episode 3 of Life/Death/Law: Myoshin Kelley, an eloquent teacher on the key Buddhist teachings on the wisdom of opening the heart. Myoshin is a Senior Instructor with the Tergar Community, which supports the worldwide vision of Tibetan master meditation teacher and author Mingyur Rinpoche, tergar.org, and it is an honor to have her on the podcast.

If you’ve ever been curious about the practice of generosity or the value of it, or found yourself wanting to be generous but somehow holding yourself back, and wondered what was getting in your way, please listen.

Published on:

loneliness-2308923_640-300x200A few months ago, the New York Times published an article entitled, “Single? No Children? No Will? Big Mistake.” I’ve been meaning to write about it ever since. The author writes, “Certain people never reach one of those obvious points in their lives to write one. If you are unmarried in middle age, do not have children and have never had a devastating disease or brush with death, making plans for what happens to your stuff if you’re not around may not feel pressing.”

The author is so right. I have met many people who somehow feel that, because they don’t have children, they don’t need an estate plan. But here’s the thing — people without children may have even MORE need to make a plan that those with kids.

For one thing, all of us, at some point, are going to get sick or otherwise incapacitated, and need someone to act on our behalf — to pay bills, maintain our homes, or make medical decisions. Estate planning is not just about transferring assets when you die, it is also about planning for incapacity. And everyone needs to do that.

Published on:

BabyNew parents face so many new challenges–from figuring out how car seats work to figuring out how babies work. I remember taking a deep breath as we opened the door of the hospital, loaded our daughter into the car (including several annoying moments in the parking lot trying to gently put her new born and limp body into the brand new car seat) and out into a whole new world.

Part of that world includes estate planning. I built my practice, in the early days, by giving workshops at preschools, parenting groups and new parent groups at all of the local hospitals. New parents are often sleep deprived, terrified, and overwhelmed. But here’s what I told them, over and over again — you don’t have to do everything now, just put the basics in place and promise yourself to revisit your estate plan in a few years, when you are getting some sleep.

If you are a new parent, or know one, here are the basics:

Published on:

old-peoples-home-63614_150I recently read a Huffington post article about the need for women to plan their estates as if they were single. And that got me thinking about how, despite our best efforts to plan, life just has a way of constantly changing.  Children grow up, we get old, and even families slip away, or change over time.

I work with families to craft estate plans all of the time, and it’s hard enough to get them to focus on the inevitability of death. Let alone the possibility that one of them is likely to survive the other, and live alone in old age. But from now on, I will try and do a better job to get that idea on the table, too.

Statistics tell us that it’s likely to be the woman who survives.  According to a U.S. Census report, 80% of women will survive their husbands.  And it’s pretty common knowledge that close to half of marriages ultimately fail.

Published on:

plane-50893_150Inevitably, in the summer months, I get phone calls from people who are about to take a trip somewhere, often within just a few days. Sometimes they have a Will or a trust that’s out of date; sometimes they have no estate planning documents at all; sometimes they have just finished getting divorced and are in a panic because they haven’t gotten around to updating their Will or trust.

Much as I try to help everyone who calls, sometimes (often) there’s just not enough time to update their documents before that plane takes off or the road trip starts. What to do?

Although none of the documents I’m about to suggest take the place of a well-drafted Will or trust, they can serve to get something in place before a trip, quickly and with minimal or no expense. Upon your return, you can come in and get the job done right — but at least you can take to the skies with some peace of mind.