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Monday, September 29, 2008

What To Do If You Can't Decide Who To Name As Guardians For Your Kids

There are a lot of parents out there who have not named guardians for their kids because they really can't decide who the guardian should be.

You might be one of them.

But, here's the thing. If you don't decide and something happens to you, the decision gets made by a Judge.

You don't want that, do you?

Here's a few things that may help you decide:

1. Think through on a practical, realistic and non-emotional (to the extent you can) level who would come forward to raise your kids if you were in an accident.

2. Is that who you would want to raise your kids?

3. If not, who would be better than that person or those people?

4. If more than one person would come forward, who images Judge.jpg
would a Judge pick if the Judge had to decide between all
the people who would come forward?

Bottom line?

If you don't decide, a Judge will. Even your worst choice would be better than that, right?
Call Golowin Legal, LLC for help walking you through the entire process of choosing the right guardians for your kids and then legally document your decisions!

If not knowing who you want to name has been holding you back, don't let it hold you back a second longer.

Do it now. It's Easy. No Excuses.

Golowin Legal helps parents complete their important estate planning documents, including guidance with nominating permanent and temporary guardians for their minor children. Call us today at (614) 453-5208. Visit our website for more information on Naming Guardians for Minor Children.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Your Parents, FDIC and Keeping Your Money Safe

Timely discussion on how to protect your money held within financial institutions. Can you shield more than $100,000 via FDIC protection? Absolutely!

Don't fail to take advantage of these valuable planning techniques!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Grave Issue of Parenting – Writing Wills and Choosing Guardians

The following article, which appeared in the Orange County Register, features an interview with fellow Personal Family Lawyer Darlynn Morgan of The Morgan Law Group in Newport Beach, California.

Tips for making sure your children are cared for in the event of your death.

"Mommy, what happens after you die?"

It's a question most kids ask at some point – and we may quickly paint a picture of fluffy clouds, golden roads, rainbows and go about our day.

It's a question parents rarely want to truly consider. But ask yourself – what would happen to your kids if you died? Who would take care of them?

"A will may not be enough," says attorney Darlynn Morgan of The Morgan Law Group in Newport Beach. Morgan, a personal family lawyer, offers estate planning tips and advice to parenting and moms' groups, with a particular focus on children.

Here are her tips for ensuring your children's future in the event of your death:

•If both parents can't agree on a suitable guardian for the children, don't give up. Find a mediator who can help you to come to a mutual agreement for the benefit of the kids.

•When you name a couple to act as guardians, be sure to indicate what should happen if the couple broke up or one of the partners in the couple died. You want to ensure your children don't end up in the care of someone you wouldn't really want.

Name several alternate guardians if your first choice can not serve.

•It isn't necessary to take into account the financial resources of potential guardians when deciding who should raise your children. Your guardians are the people who will be in charge of your kids' emotional, spiritual and physical well-being, not necessarily their money.

It's your responsibility to leave enough money behind to take care of your kids either through savings or life insurance, and someone to manage that money if the guardians are not good money managers.

It's also a good idea to provide someone to manage your children's money so a lump sum doesn't go to your children at age 18 – without adult supervision.

•Be sure to name short-term guardians as well as long-term guardians. Short-term guardians will offer immediate care of your kids if you were in an accident. Otherwise, your kids could be taken out of your home and into the arms of strangers (child protective services) until the authorities figure out what to do.

•Be sure to specially name anyone you want excluded as guardians – those who might challenge your decisions or who you would never want raising your kids. (A grandparent or aunt or uncle, for example, who may fight the guardians for custody).

For a list of Morgan's upcoming speaking events, visit Morgan Law Group.

SOURCE: Orange County Register in an article written by CYNTHIA RUPE

Monday, September 22, 2008

Keep Your Memory Sharp With A Social Life

A recent Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) study found that people with the highest level of social integration had the slowest rate of memory loss, with the most active experiencing memory loss at less than half the rate of the least integrated people.

So there you have it! The perfect excuse to keep up that weekly golf, bridge, church or other activity!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Couples Face Pitfalls When Estate Planning In A Second Marriage

Attorney Stephen M. Worrall writes the following in his Georgia Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning Blog. This centers upon an issue that is constantly overlooked, creating drastic and unfortunate impact upon the estates of many people! Don't overlook the importance of planning in second marriage situations.

Our greatest challenge is planning the estate for second marriage clients. The blended family carries with it a number of competing concerns as we prepare wills and trusts to meet their needs.

If the couple is financially sound with adult children from their former marriages and have a prenuptial agreement, our task becomes fairly easy. The challenge comes with the scenario wherein the surviving spouse would need the assets from the first to die, yet the first to die would ultimately want for his or her children to inherit once the surviving spouse passes.

The problem with leaving all of the assets to the spouse is that the spouse is under no legal duty whatsoever to include the children of the deceased spouse in his or her will or trust. The children of the first to die become disgruntled when their relationship with their step-parent begins to fade for fear they will never inherit anything from their parent. Invariably they feel that their parent would never have intended the inevitable result.

By way of illustration, let's assume that Tom has two children from his previous marriage, Terri and Tim. His wife, Julie, has two children from her previous marriage, Jack and Jennifer. Should Tom's will leave his assets to Julie? What about Terri and Tim? What should Julie's will say? In such a scenario, there are several options.

We explain the options to our clients as spectrum ranging from complete control of the assets from the grave to little or no control. The first-to-die spouse can control the assets by giving the surviving spouse lifetime rights over the assets, but when the survivor dies, the remaining assets must pass to the children of the first to die. This can work well for those children, but the surviving spouse often is uncomfortable with the feeling of being controlled .

The other end of the spectrum would be to simply leave the assets to the surviving spouse and trust that the survivor would provide for the deceased spouse's children in his or her trust in the future. While this latter option sounds nice, often the relationship between the stepchildren and step-parent fades as years go by and the stepchildren are typically disinherited in the end.

We like to see a hybrid approach taken. First, using our example, we recommend that Tom's estate plan provides that Terri and Tim first be left some amount outright and then provide the remaining assets to Julie - some restricted and some not restricted. The assets typically not to restrict would be the marital residence and retirement assets.

Life insurance proceeds and other investment liquid assets could pass to a "QTIP" trust whereby Julie could withdraw funds from this trust for the rest of her lifetime, but at Julie's subsequent death, the remaining QTIP trust assets revert back to Terri and Tim. "QTIP" stands for Qualified Terminable Interest Property and was created by Congress in early 1980s.

Each and every case is different but perhaps some combination of the above should be considered when the difficult challenge of planning the estates of the blended marriage is encountered.

SOURCE: Naperville Sun in an article by Richard W. Kuhn

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tips on Selling Your Senior's House

Many seniors are faced with the task of selling their home after they decide to move into a senior-living community. At that point, the question becomes "how can I make this as easy as possible"?

Colleen Krupp, Health Services marketing director for First Community Village in Upper Arlington, Ohio, relayed the the following tips from relocation expert Joe Evans Realty Group:

1) Pack up your personal items so they're out of sight. The people who are considering buying your home are trying to visualize themselves living there. Your personal photos and other items will only distract them.

2) Update your house. If you haven't modernized your home in the last 10 years, it probably won't be received well on the market. Consider eliminating wallpaper, laminate flooring and old bathroom fixtures, to start.

3) Evaluate the market. Take a look at the other similar homes, and take a close look at which ones are selling - and copy that as much as possible.

4) Find the pricepoint. In this down market, you might consider pricing to sell rather than holding on and let months go by without a look.

5) Get an inspection. By showing potential buyers an inspection, you'll move to the top of the heap and buyers will be more comfortable.

6) Be ready to go. If you're flexible as to when the buyers can move in, you'll only make your home more attractive.

Planning ahead is key, and will take a lot of stress out of this process.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Heath Ledger's Will Fails His Family

This morning I saw that the newest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight" had earned about 1/8th of the total summer box office. I began wondering how much money Heath Ledger, starring as the Joker, earned from this blockbuster.

I didn't find a current estimate of his take, but whatever it was, it's the center of a heated debate. Heath Ledger joins the list of wealthy celebrities that died without a proper estate plan. As you can see in this article from several months ago, Mr. Ledger's will was outdated (I'm shocked he even had one) and did not leave a penny to his child!

Remember - estate planning isn't a one time event. To ensure you and your loved ones are protected, it takes regular review to make sure your wishes are fulfilled.