Tag Archive for: estate planning

estate planning for your elder parents

Estate Planning for Aging Parents

Thinking about the possibility of your parent’s death or incapacitation can be difficult to say the least. However, it is something you need to do, as it is the only way to ensure your parents’ wishes are carried out after their passing and their assets are managed, divided, and distributed as per their instructions.

Talking to Your Elderly Parents About Estate Planning

First and foremost, you need to talk to your parents about the need for estate planning and find out what they think about it. Generally, elderly people tend to put off estate planning because they do not understand just how important it is or because they believe that it is not the right time to do it.

Tell your parents about probate and help them understand that in the absence of an estate plan, their assets would be divided and distributed by a court-appointed executor – not by someone they love and trust. More importantly, tell them that creating an estate plan is the only way to make sure that their wishes are taken care of after their passing.

If you have siblings and other family members whom your parents might want to pass on their assets to, make sure you involve all of them in the process. Your parents need to know that all of you are on the same page regarding the need for an estate plan.

Be patient with your parents, address all their concerns, and make sure they are not pressured or forced into doing anything they do not like.

Determining Your Parents’ Estate Planning Needs

Once your parents are ready to create an estate plan, you need to determine their estate planning needs.

  • Do your parents have a list of beneficiaries that they want to pass on their assets to?
  • Do your parents want to pass on all their assets to their beneficiaries?
  • Do they want to leave some assets to charity?
  • Do they want their assets to be divided and distributed equally to all the beneficiaries?
  • Is there a beneficiary with special needs or some other kind of disability who might need lifelong care?

These are some of the questions you need to ask to determine your parents’ estate planning needs.

Creating an Advance Healthcare Directive

Talk to your parents about what should be done in the event of their incapacitation and create a plan for the same.

Firstly, ask your parents to choose someone as their healthcare agent who can make medical and healthcare decisions on their behalf. It can be you, one of your siblings, or anyone else that your parents trust completely. It’s a good idea to ask your parents to choose an alternate healthcare agent who can make decisions on your parents’ behalf if the primary designee is unavailable, unwilling, or incapable of doing so.

Secondly, make a list of your parents’ healthcare preferences. The most important questions you need to ask your parents include:

  • Do they want palliative care?
  • Under what circumstances do they want to be resuscitated if their heart stops?
  • Do they want to be put on a ventilator if they are unable to breathe? If so, for how long?
  • Do they have any specific preferences regarding the type and level of medical care they want to receive?
  • Do they want their organs to be donated?

Creating a Financial Power of Attorney

Talk to your parents about who should control their finances in the event of their incapacitation. Ask them to choose someone who can handle their financial affairs and make decisions on their behalf. As is the case with the advance healthcare directive, it’s necessary to designate an alternate agent who can take control of your parents’ finances if the primary agent is unavailable, unwilling, or incapable of performing their duties.

Creating a Trust

A trust can help your parents manage their assets while they are alive and of sound mind and make sure the assets are managed, divided, and distributed as per their instructions after their passing. The biggest advantage of a trust is that it eliminates the need for probate completely.

Depending on your parents’ needs, you can set up a revocable or irrevocable trust. You can consult with an experienced California estate planning attorney to decide what kind of trust might be the right choice for your parents.

Need an Estate Plan for Your Aging Parents? Let Us Help You

At Garmo & Garmo, we know how important it is for aging parents to have an estate plan in place. We can talk to your parents, understand what they are trying to accomplish by creating an estate plan, and create a customized plan which is best suited for their needs. We have over 80 years of estate planning experience and can provide you with the specialized guidance you need at every step of the process.

To discuss the estate planning needs of your parents with a proven southern California estate planning attorney, call us today at 619-441-2500 or contact us online and schedule a free consultation.

estate planning for new parents in La Mesa

Estate Planning for New Parents

As a new parent, taking care of your baby and catching a good night’s sleep (if possible) might be your top priorities. And during this season of your life, planning for your incapacitation or death is probably the last thing you want to think about.

However, it is necessary to plan for these contingencies – regardless of your age. As a parent, you have the responsibility to make sure your child is taken care of and provided for in your absence. So, this is the right time for you to create an estate plan.

Essential Aspects of Estate Planning for New Parents

Guardianship

As a new parent, this should be your topmost priority while creating an estate plan. By designating a legal guardian, you can make sure that even if something were to happen to you and your spouse, your child will be taken care of by someone you trust and raised the way you want.

The guardian you designate is authorized to take care of your child, make decisions on behalf of your child, and perform what are generally considered parental duties, which include:

  • Providing food, clothing, and shelter
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Safety and protection
  • Emotional support

It should be noted that in the event of your death, your child will be raised by your spouse – assuming they are healthy and of sound mind. The guardian is authorized to raise your child only under the following circumstances.

  • If you and your spouse pass away at the same time.
  • If they pass away shortly after you do and if your child is still a minor at that point.
  • If they have a physical or mental illness that prevents them from performing the duties of a parent.
  • If they have a serious alcohol or drug addiction.
  • If they have a history of being abusive and cruel to your child.
  • If they are convicted of a criminal offense and sentenced to prison.
  • If they are unable to take care of your child due to any other reason.

It is always a good idea to name an alternate guardian for your child as well. So that if the original designee is unable or not willing to take care of your child, the alternate guardian can do so.

Life Insurance

Life insurance is meant to provide a financial safety net for your family in the event of your untimely death. The payout from the policy can provide your spouse with the financial security they need to run the household and raise your child.

The best part is that life insurance is extremely affordable for those who are young and healthy. For example, if you are a 35-year-old non-smoker without any underlying health conditions, a 20-year term life policy with a death benefit of $500,000 will only cost you around $40 per month.

You can name your spouse as the beneficiary of your policy so that they can get the proceeds after you are gone. Alternatively, you can set up a trust and name it as the beneficiary, so that the proceeds are used to provide for your child’s needs.

Trusts

Setting up a trust is undoubtedly one of the best ways to make sure your child is provided for until they become an adult. It is particularly important if you have a special needs child who might require lifelong care. Learn more about creating a trust fund in California.

Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys in La Mesa, California

If you are a new parent who wants to make sure your child is taken care of and provided for after you are gone, the attorneys at Garmo & Garmo are here to help. We have an in-depth understanding of California’s probate and estate planning laws and have over 80 years of combined experience helping clients with these matters.

We can assess your child’s needs, understand what you are trying to accomplish with your estate plan, and create a plan that suits your needs. If you already have a plan that needs to be revised and updated, we can help you do that as well.

To discuss your needs with one of our Southern California estate planning attorneys, call us today at 619-441-2500 or contact us online and schedule a free consultation.

estate planning for millennials

Estate Planning for Millennials

One of the biggest misconceptions associated with estate planning is that it is only meant for aging adults. And this is borne out in the data that shows only one in five millennials in the US have an estate plan in place.

Contrary to what many young people think, estate planning is not meant for older people alone. In fact, experts say that as soon as you are independent and start earning, you should have an estate plan in place and update it as and when your goals change.

Why Is Estate Planning Important for Millennials?

The Threshold for Probate in California Is Very Low

Under California law, if the value of your estate is equal to or more than $100,000, it must go through probate – in the absence of an estate plan. If you own a home anywhere in California, the combined value of your home and other assets (jewelry, furniture, savings, and so on) can easily cross the threshold for probate.

In the unfortunate event that you die without an estate plan, your loved ones might not only have to spend a significant amount of money on probate but might also have to wait several months to inherit your assets.

Millennials Stand to Inherit a Significant Amount of Wealth

It is well known that baby boomers are the wealthiest generation in the nation’s history. As they grow older, they are all set to pass on their assets to their millennial sons and daughters in what experts call the ‘great transfer of wealth’.

By 2030, millennials stand to inherit as much as $68 trillion from their boomer parents. It is a staggering amount of wealth – to put it mildly. This is the most important reason why experts say that millennials should think about what to do with the wealth they stand to inherit from their parents.

If you belong to the aforementioned category and stand to inherit a substantial amount of assets from your parents, you need to have a plan to manage it, protect it, and eventually pass it on to your loved ones.

An Estate Plan Is Not Just about Your Assets

If you have young children, it is extremely important to think about who will raise them and care for them if something were to happen to you and your spouse. It is even more important if you are a single parent with young children. By creating an estate plan, you can designate a trustworthy person as the guardian of your children.

In the absence of an estate plan, the court will be forced to step in after your death and designate a guardian for your children. The problem is that the person chosen by the court might not be someone you would have wanted to take care of your children. This is one of the biggest reasons why parents with minor children should have an estate plan in place.

If you have pets that you are extremely fond of, you can name a guardian for your furry friends as well.

An Estate Plan Can Protect Your Digital Assets

If you own cryptocurrencies, domain names, Venmo and PayPal accounts, and other valuable digital assets, you need to have an estate plan in place to make sure your loved ones are able to inherit them after your death.

Also, if you have a large amount of photos, videos, songs, movies, and e-books stored on the cloud, you need to make sure your loved ones can access it after your death. The same rule applies to your social media accounts as well.

You Need to Plan for Incapacity

You are never too young to think about who would make financial and healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated due to an injury, infection, or illness. An estate plan allows you to designate someone who can handle your finances and investments (commonly referred to as a durable power of attorney) and someone who can make medical and healthcare decisions on your behalf (commonly referred to as an advance healthcare directive).

In the absence of an incapacitation plan, your family members might quarrel among each other as to who should make decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacity.

Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys in La Mesa, California

If you are thinking about creating an estate plan, now is the right time to act. The skilled estate planning attorneys at Garmo & Garmo have extensive knowledge of California estate planning laws and have more than 80 years of combined experience. We can create a plan which is customized to your needs and goals and meets the highest legal standards.

To discuss your estate planning needs with a seasoned California estate planning attorney, call our firm today at 619-441-2500 or contact us online and schedule a free consultation. 

estate planning for single parents

Estate Planning Essentials for Single Parents

The importance of estate planning for single parents cannot be overstated at all. As unpleasant as it might be, you need to think about what would happen to your children, who would handle your finances, and who would make decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacitation or death and plan for it accordingly.

With the guidance of an experienced California estate planning lawyer, you can create a plan that will ensure that your children are taken care of, and your financial affairs are handled by a person of your choosing.

Estate Planning for Single Parents – The Essential Components

Designating a Guardian for Your Children

As a single parent, this should be your number one priority. By designating a guardian, you can make sure that your children’s needs are taken care of in the event of your incapacitation or untimely death.

Some single parents choose to designate the other parent as the guardian for their children. However, such a move is advisable only if the other parent is someone you can trust and if they are capable of and willing to take care of your children.

If the other parent is remarried and has children of their own, taking care of your children might be a problem for them. Similarly, if they do not have a stable job or struggling with debt, they might find it difficult to take care of your children’s needs. More importantly, if the other parent has a physical or mental problem that might make it difficult for them to take care of your children, you should definitely choose someone else as the guardian for your children.

Under California law, a legal guardian for minor children must be of 18 years of age or older and should have a clean record. The person you choose must be able to take care of your children, make educational, financial, and healthcare decisions on their behalf, and ensure all their needs are met.

Financial Power of Attorney

Financial power of attorney is a legal status which allows a person of your choosing to handle your financial affairs and make financial decisions on your behalf. If you become ill or suffer an injury and become incapacitated to the point that you cannot make any decision on your own, the designated agent will step into your shoes and handle your finances. With that said, they can take care of your children’s financial needs as well.

Advance Healthcare Directive

Considering the increased average lifespan, the risk of incapacitation in the final years of life has also increased. An advance healthcare directive is a document which specifies your healthcare preferences in a detailed manner. In the event of your incapacitation, you will be treated according to the instructions given in the document.

A healthcare directive serves three important purposes.

  • First, it specifies what kind of treatment you want to receive, so that you can be treated exactly as per your wishes.
  • Second, it specifies what kind of treatment you do not want to receive, so that you are not subjected to any treatment that you would not have approved of under normal circumstances.
  • Third, it allows you to designate an agent who is authorized to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.

Trust

Setting up a trust is one of the best ways to make sure your assets are managed as per your wishes and passed on to your children when they become adults.

Contrary to what many people think, a trust is not just meant for rich people. Under California law, if your assets are valued at $150,000 or more, your estate must go through probate.

You can avoid probate by setting up a trust, put all your assets into it, designate a trustee, and designate your children and other family members (if any) as the beneficiaries. If you become incapacitated or die, your trustee will administer your trust and manage your assets until your children become adults.

Depending on your preference, you can set up a revocable or irrevocable trust. While a revocable trust can be amended as many times as you want, it does not offer you protection against lawsuits or creditors’ claims. An irrevocable trust cannot be amended (except under rare circumstances) but can protect your assets against liens and lawsuits.

Need to Create an Estate Plan? Let Our Attorneys Help You!

At Garmo & Garmo, we know the importance of estate planning for single parents. We can assess your needs as a single parent, take your unique concerns into consideration, and create an estate plan that can ensure your assets are protected and your children are taken care of in the event of your incapacitation or untimely death.

Our attorneys have an in-depth understanding of California’s estate planning laws and have over 80 years of combined experience. To discuss your needs with one of our attorneys, call us today at 619-441-2500 or contact us online and schedule a free consultation.

estate planning during coronavirus in La Mesa

Estate Planning in a COVID-19 World

In a span of just a month or so, the coronavirus pandemic has turned our country and most of the world upside down. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, and because we are short on tests in many parts of the country, the real number of people who have had it probably totals well into the millions. We have already lost tens of thousands of our citizens to this virus, and no one is entirely sure when this pandemic is going to be over.

One of the most important things that the COVID-19 outbreak has done is to remind us of our own mortality. People are dying from the coronavirus every day, and it is not only the elderly and infirmed. Fatalities are happening among middle-aged individuals and even some younger adults that many never thought could succumb to the disease.

The fact that the coronavirus can be deadly should not cause us to live in fear. It should, however, prompt us to get our affairs in order, so we are fully prepared to pass our property on to the next generation and have our final wishes carried out whenever it is our time to leave this earth. We should also make sure we have a plan in place in the event that we ever become physically or mentally incapacitated and unable to manage our own affairs.

Foundational Estate Planning Documents to Consider

Everyone’s situation is unique, so each estate plan should be tailored to fit your specific needs. That said, there are several estate planning documents that would be considered essential for many individuals:

  • Last Will and Testament: Having a will is a necessity for just about everyone, regardless of their circumstances. Without it, your loved ones could be facing a long and drawn out probate process after you pass on, with the courts having the final say on how your estate is distributed and who becomes guardian of any minor children you may have. With a last will and testament, all of your final wishes are spelled out for you, and you are able to appoint an executor (someone you fully trust) to carry out your directives. This helps ensure that probate goes smoothly and the chances of conflict among family members are minimal.
  • Advance Health Care Directive: Also referred to as a living will, an advance health care directive is a document that spells out how healthcare should be administered to you under various scenarios should you be unable to make these decisions at the time. For example, you can decide which procedures you would like to have and which ones to forgo, end-of-life pain relief decisions, and many others. This document should also appoint a health care agent/health care power of attorney, which again should be someone you fully trust to see to it that your wishes regarding health care decisions are carried out.
  • Financial Power of Attorney: In addition to a healthcare power of attorney, you should also appoint a financial power of attorney to make financial decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so yourself. A financial power of attorney would be authorized to manage your bank account, pay bills, manage business affairs, and make any other decisions related to your finances. Once again, make sure this is someone you are absolutely certain you can trust in this area.
  • Revocable Living Trust: A revocable living trust is a slightly more advanced estate planning document that creates a separate entity in which you can hold your assets. Any property you place into your trust can be distributed directly to your designated beneficiaries when you pass on, thus bypassing the need for probate. Having a trust also ensures privacy – since it does not go through probate, it does not become part of the court record.

Contact Garmo & Garmo for All Your Estate Planning Needs

Estate planning is not just for the affluent, and the coronavirus outbreak has reminded us that it is necessary at any age. At Garmo & Garmo, we have extensive experience helping clients in Southern California with all types of estate plans – from the simplest to the most complex. We also want you to know that we are open and fully operational even as our state and nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic. We are doing most of our work remotely as we follow all of the social distancing guidelines, but we have the technology and resources to handle whatever legal needs you may have.

To get in touch with a member of our legal team, message us online or call us today at (619) 441-2500. We look forward to serving you!