What is Mother’s Day Anyways?

What is Mother’s Day? Is it really one day a year? Is it just another Sunday in May? Is it a reason to run to the Mall and shop for gifts for moms and sneak in something for yourself too? Is it a Mother’s Appreciation day? Is it another excuse to celebrate?  What’s Mother’s day?

For you, it may be all of the above or none at all.

Mother’s Day is a tradition that started in the United States when in 1908 Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. A year later Andrew Johnson made the second Sunday of May, Mother’s Day.

For me, Mother’s day is more than just the second Sunday of May, it is an every day event.  It is certainly beyond a day to give a gift. It is an everyday Gift! It is a day for Giving Thanks to Mom for being the Eternal Super Hero in our lives. Having my Mother is a gift I treasure every minute. Being the Mother to my daughter is a gift beyond compare.

So if you are a MOM, just know that you are appreciated and valued!  Moms are superheroes — what superhero can make a child feel better when they are sick with just a caress? Moms can know when there is something wrong, or something good, or “someone” is hiding something or someone is cold in the middle of the nigh.

Happy Mother’s Day on the Second Monday of may and my appreciation to every mom every single day!

My mission is to make sure that Moms are informed and know how to protect their children through the legal ways if something were to happen to them. Stay tuned for an special on your email just for you (in about a week), but first make sure we have your email.  So click here: Life Planning & Beyond Session and make sure we have your information, or simply call us at 305-456-7158 and tell Mercy you want to be added to our newsletter list!

Yahima

Yahima_Suarez_ss020101vnew (1)
305-456-7158
ysuarez@YSLawyers.com

Yahima Suarez

 

 

How to Live Before You Die

In Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University, he said: “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.”

When Jobs was 17, he read a quote that made an impression on him, and every day after he looked in the mirror each morning and asked himself:  “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And he said, “whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

So, I ask you now, to look in the mirror and ask yourself this same question: If today were the last day of your life, would you want to do what you are about to do today, tonight, tomorrow, or the day after?

If not, it time to change? And when will you make the change?

Maybe, you are putting off change now because you are working toward what you hope is a better future.

But, how can you be sure that you are wisely considering all of your best options? And, how can you live the life you want now while simultaneously preparing for your future?

You can start with planning. Careful financial and estate planning can help you achieve your short-term and long-term financial goals, protect and preserve your personal wealth, and ensure your wishes for your end of life are respected and followed.

Jobs had an excellent point; facing death can help us have the best possible life now. Begin by coming in to meet with us for a Family Wealth Planning Session. Before the session, we’ll send you a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment to complete that will get you thinking about what you own, what matters most to you, and what you want to leave behind.

Just asking these questions will be a fantastic starting point for you to begin to help to clarify your big life choices.

This article is a service of Yahima Suarez, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Life Planning & Beyond Session,™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office at 305-456-7158 today to schedule or click Life Planning & Beyond Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

Yahima

Yahima_Suarez_ss020101vnew (1)
305-456-7158
ysuarez@YSLawyers.com

Yahima Suarez
Yahima Suarez, J.D. Life Planning & Beyond

Special Announcement: Come Join us April 15!!!!

Come Join us this coming April 15, 2017 at the Goodlet Park in Hialeah for a day of fun, egg hunting, games, prices, dance shows, bounces houses, food and more.

Bring your kids and have fund while getting some valuable information about the importance of naming guardians for your children, for free and you could be the winner of our Easter Basket!

Join us!

Any questions, feel free to click here to contact us!

See you Saturday, April 15th!!

Yahima Suarez

Yahima Suarez

Why Involve your Financial Advisor, Attorney, and Accountant at Your Family Meeting?

Some people might have misgivings about having a third-party advisor present at an otherwise private family gathering, and it is certainly not a mandatory step. However, you might want to consider inviting your financial advisor, estate planning attorney, or accountant to the meeting for the following reasons:

  • The presence of your financial and legal team can add a sense of authority to the conversation, reinforcing that your choices have not been arrived at lightly.
  • With your permission, your team can review the structure of your estate plan with your family, highlight its benefits, and make the meeting easier for you to conduct.
  • In some cases, there might be questions from your family. Your team can, with your permission, answer questions, especially those of a technical nature.

Tailor the role of your financial advisor, attorney, and accountant in your family meeting to your specific needs.

Whoever you include can give a brief presentation of your estate plan as part of the proceedings, or simply be on hand to clarify points.

When appropriate, someone from your team can even act as a facilitator or moderator for the meeting itself.

Best of luck over the holidays! Enjoy them with your loved ones and make the best of your time together. Peace, Love and Wealth for the New Year!

Yahima Suarez, Esq.
Yahima Suarez, PA
Life Planning & Beyond
305-456-7158
ysuarez@YSLawyers.com

Yahima Suarez
Yahima Suarez, J.D. Estate Planning for your Family

What should you discuss at the family meeting?

Once you’ve committed to discussing your estate planning with your family, what should you share specifically? Should you detail the entire plan with them, or just an outline of it? Should you go into detail about who gets what?

The specifics of what should and should not be discussed about your estate will depend on your family, your circumstances, and your overall level of comfort with how much knowledge they possess.

You don’t necessarily have to violate your privacy, and there’s typically no need to reveal specific dollar amounts at this meeting.

One big caveat – if there’s anything in your plan that might stir controversy, concealing it now serves to invite conflict later. Thus, a good basic rule of thumb is to share as much as is necessary to get everyone on the same page.

Yahima Suarez, Esq.
Yahima Suarez, PA
Life Planning & Beyond
305-456-7158
ysuarez@YSLawyers.com

Yahima Suarez

Yahima Suarez, J.D. Estate Planning for your Family

Tips for a successful estate planning family meeting

When you hold your family meeting, a bit of awkwardness is to be expected at first—after all, no one in your family (presumably) is likely eager to discuss what will happen when you die or in the event of incapacity. Remind everyone that is not just about death, it is also about life planning.

Likewise, you need to be prepared to talk through some of the choices you’ve made that are likely to generate some pushback. The end of the meeting is often more comfortable than the beginning. The following guidance can help you get there.

  • Plan the meeting after the holiday, if possible. If you’re gathering the family at a holiday like Christmas, try to arrange the actual meeting to take place after the holiday itself, so a potentially uncomfortable conversation doesn’t spoil any planned festivities.
  • Invite your financial advisor, estate planning attorney, and accountant to be in attendance. (More to this point to come — stay tuned on next blog posts).
  • Schedule the meeting in a quiet place that encourages candid conversation. A public place is probably not appropriate for this discussion. Your financial advisor or estate planning attorney might have access to space if you need it and prefer a “neutral” site over your living room.
    •  Set an agenda. Encourage open conversation, especially on any controversial points, but have a clear list of points to be covered, so you don’t forget anything in the midst of emotional moments.
    • Set a start and stop time. This step will help the meeting stay on track without meandering away from the main points.
    • Strike an inclusive tone. While you should not suggest that your decisions are open to challenge or discussion (it is your estate plan after all), try to convey that you are inviting the family to share your vision and goals. If you can get them on board with you at the outset, the risk of disputes will be significantly reduced later.
    • Arrange for child care. This meeting should be an adults-only gathering so everyone can participate without distractions from babies and children.
    • Set an agenda. Encourage open conversation, especially on any controversial points, but have a clear list of points to be covered, so you don’t forget anything in the midst of emotional moments.
    • Set a start and stop time. This step will help the meeting stay on track without meandering away from the main points.
    • Strike an inclusive tone. While you should not suggest that your decisions are open to challenge or discussion (it is your estate plan after all), try to convey that you are inviting the family to share your vision and goals. If you can get them on board with you at the outset, the risk of disputes will be significantly reduced later.

If you would like to know more or need help or guidance, email us at ysuarez@YSLawyers.com or call us at 305-456-7158. 

Yahima Suarez, Esq.
Yahima Suarez, PA
Life Planning & Beyond

Yahima Suarez
Yahima Suarez, J.D. Estate Planning for your Family

Why You Shall Talk to Your Family over the Holidays about Your Estate Plan

We work hard and build up assets and we are strong in the fight for causes that matter to us. It is very fulfilling to know that we can share our wealth and our legacy with our family.

It is impossible to plan for every eventuality, but careful planning can make a big difference, especially when it comes to your intentions and vision of your wealth management.

Communicating your clear intentions about your estate management, during life or  beyond, can avoid costly and time consuming conflicts among your heirs or family members. One of the purposes of planning is to bring harmony and unity to our loved ones, not war.

Sharing your wealth management vision with your family can make them understand where you stand and why. If they understand where you want to go with your plan, they may share your same vision. If they do not understand, they may try to move in the opposite direction causing dissipation of your assets or mismanagement.

Remember, you want your family to follow your intentions and visions upon your death but you have put careful thought into which assets go to which beneficiaries and why. But, when the details of a plan are revealed, especially during a time of grief, differing opinions can create conflict. If your family unexpectedly discovers upon your death that there is a significant amount of money to be distributed, and you haven’t shared your rationale behind the decisions you’ve made, then you’ve set the stage for conflict and fighting – possibly even a costly and lengthy lawsuit.

To overcome these challenges, frame your estate planning around your guiding principles, communicate your intentions thoroughly in the trust, and explain your vision clearly to your trustees and beneficiaries while you’re still around to explain things. Remember that you do not have to give specific information about distribution, but you can share your intentions, your vision and your rationale behind your decisions.

When you attach your values to your estate plan and involve your family in the process, your estate plan now becomes a family plan, minimizing the risk of conflict.

Yahima Suarez, Esq.
Yahima Suarez, PA
Phone #: 305-456-7158
Email: ysuarez@yslawyers.com

Yahima Suarez, J.D. Estate Planning for your Family

Yahima Suarez, J.D.
Estate Planning for your Family

Buying Presidential Breakfast Cereal in the U.S.

I very much liked this post. Very well put. Love the analogy. We definitely have more than two options Americans!

It’s Not Just About Death and Taxes: The Essential Legal Documents You Need for Incapacity Planning

Two weeks ago Jane (not her real name) called my office trying to find out if I had prepared an estate plan for her dad. She had found among his belongings my contact information but no documents. She was desperate and hopeful. After asking the routine ethical questions and giving legal disclaimer — we do not provide information about our clients to third parties, etc. She explained that her dad was in the hospital and had suffered an stroke. I remembered him and our conversations but, unfortunately, he never came back to my office to start his plan.

Her dad had his savings and retirement plan and a bit of money to cover his own expenses; however, no one had any access to his bank accounts or any of his assets. The daughter was very distressed. The hospital wanted to send him to a rehabilitation center she did not agree with, but she had no access to money to pay for a better one or to decision making without any documentation.

It is not the end of the world, I said. It would have been a lot easier and cost-effective to have the right documents in place, but now you can certainly start an Emergency Guardianship.

Guardianship is a legal action for a court to designate a guardian for an incapacitated adult. The only problem is that Jane’s brother wanted to be in control and did not want Jane making all the decisions for her dad.  The court battle has just began.

Where do I want to get with this? This is a real life example that shows that comprehensive estate planning is about more than your legacy after death, avoiding probate, and saving on taxes. It must also be about having a plan in place to manage your affairs if you become mentally incapacitated during your life.

What Happens Without an Incapacity Plan?

Without a comprehensive incapacity plan in place, a judge can appoint a guardian to take control of your assets and health care decisions.  This guardian will make all personal and medical decisions on your behalf as part of a court-supervised guardianship.  Until you regain capacity or die, you and your loved ones will be faced with an expensive and time-consuming guardianship proceeding. It is possible for the judge to appoint a family member to make these decisions, but upon conflict, the court may decide to appoint a total stranger to make your personal (financial and medical) decisions.

What Happens to Your Finances During Incapacity?

If you are legally incapacitated, you are legally unable to make financial, investment, or tax decisions for yourself. Of course, bills still need to be paid, tax returns still need to be filed, and an investment strategy still needs to be managed.

So, you must have these two essential legal documents for managing finances in place prior to becoming incapacitated (remember, once you become incapacitated you can no longer appoint anyone):

  1. Financial Power of Attorney. This legal document gives your agent the authority to pay bills, make financial decisions, manage investments, file tax returns, mortgage, rent, and sell real estate, and address other financial matters that are described in the document.
  2. Revocable Living Trust. This legal document has three parties to it: The person who creates the trust (you might see this written as “Trustmaker” or “Grantor” or “Settlor” – they all mean the same thing); the person who manages the assets transferred into the trust (the “Trustee”); and the person who benefits from the assets transferred into the trust (the “Beneficiary”).  In the typical situation you will be the Trustmaker, the Trustee, and the Beneficiary of your own revocable living trust while you are alive and well, but if you ever become incapacitated, then your designated Successor Trustee will step in to manage the trustls assets (your assets) for your benefit.

Health Care Decisions Must Be Made Too

If you become legally incapacitated, you won’t be able to make health care decisions for yourself. Because of patient privacy laws, your loved ones may even be denied access to medical information during a crisis situation and end up in court fighting over what medical treatment you should, or should not, receive (like Terri Schiavo’s husband and parents did, for 15 years).

So, you should have these three essential legal documents for making health care decisions in place prior to becoming incapacitated:

  1. Medical Power of Attorney. This legal document, also called an Advance Directive or Medical or Health Care Proxy, gives your agent the authority to make health care decisions if you become incapacitated.
  1. Living Will. This legal document gives your agent the authority to make life sustaining or life ending decisions if you become incapacitated. You can specifically decide in this document if you want or not life sustaining or life ending procedures.
  1. HIPAA Authorization. Federal and state laws dictate who can receive medical information without the written consent of the patient. This legal document gives your doctor authority to disclose medical information to an agent or agents selected by you.

Is Your Incapacity Plan Up to Date?

Once you get all of these legal documents for your incapacity plan in place, you cannot simply stick them in a drawer and forget about them.  Instead, your incapacity plan must be reviewed and updated periodically and if certain life events occur – such as you or your agent moves to a new state or you marriage or go through a divorce. If you keep your incapacity plan up to date, it should work the way you want it to work if it is ever needed.

Fee free to leave your comments below or email me at ysuarez@yslawyers.com.

Yahima Suarez, PA
305-456-7158
ysuarez@yslawyers.com

This post is for information purposes only and shall  not be construed to constitute legal advise.

Yahima Suarez
Yahima Suarez, J.D. Estate Planning for your Family

 

Do you Have a Guardian for Incapacity? Factors to Consider when naming a guardian or guardians for incapacity

As we mentioned before, having guardians named for the event of incapacity is a very important task if you want to avoid a court process (a guardianship) and an stranger making decisions over yourself and your assets.  It is easy just to throw names out there and write down someone; and in fact, having someone designated is better than not having anyone.

However, it would make the designation more likely to work as planned if you consider these factors:

  • Where does the agent live? With modern technology, the distance between you and your agent should not matter.  Nonetheless, someone who lives nearby may be a better choice to make decisions in a daily basis, either health-related or financially-related, than someone who lives in another city or state.
  • How organized is the agent? The agent will need to be well organized to manage your health care needs and be very responsible, keep track of your assets, pay your bills, and balance your checkbook, in addition to being able to manage their own finances and family obligations. Think that this may be  temporary or a long term assignment.
  • How busy is the agent? If the agent has a  demanding job or travels frequently for work, then the agent may not have the time required to take care of your finances and medical needs.
  • Does the agent have expertise in managing finances or the health care field? An agent with work experience in finances or medicine may be a better choice than an agent without it.
  • In sum, an agent who is willing and able, organized and that can follow your instructions and be true to your wishes, shall be an asset.

Remember that you can always name a guardian to handle your money and assets (financial affairs) and a different one to make medical decisions for you. This may be wise and it can help lessen the load for each guardian and you can have checks and balances on each other.

If you choose the wrong person to serve as your financial agent or health care agent, your incapacity plan is likely to fail and you could end up in a court-supervised guardianship, as well as your assets. Thus, it is extremely important to review your designations and update them every so often – at least every three-year reviews are recommended, or upon any change in circumstances (marriage, divorce, or someone moves).

In order to create an incapacity plan that will work the way you expect it to work, you need to carefully consider who to choose as your agent. But probably the most important steps in designating the chosen person as your agent is knowing that this person is willing and able to serve. So, before you designate your choice of agent, talk to that person and make sure the person can do it and wants to it.

I will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Leave your comments below or email me at ysuarez@yslawyers.com.

Yahima Suarez, PA
305-456-7158
ysuarez@yslawyers.com

Yahima Suarez
Yahima Suarez, J.D. Estate Planning for your Family

Do you have a Guardian for Incapacity?

A common misconception is that estate planning equates to death planning.  But planning for what happens after you die is only one piece of the estate planning puzzle.  It is just as important to make a plan for what happens if you become mentally incapacitated.

What Happens Without an Incapacity Plan?                                                      

Without a comprehensive incapacity plan, a judge can appoint an agent, known as a guardian to take control of your assets and make all personal and medical decisions for you under a court-supervised guardianship.   The guardian must report all financial transactions to the court either on an annual basis or at least every few years.  The guardian is also typically required to obtain court permission before entering into certain types of financial transactions (such as mortgaging or selling your real estate) or making life-sustaining or life-ending medical decisions.  The court-supervised guardianship will then continue until you either regain capacity or die.

Who Should You Choose as Your Financial Agent and Health Care Agent?

As you can see above, a guardian has an important and involved role in your life if you become incapacitated.

Creating an incapacity plan can help you create a plan that will avoid a court-supervised guardianship.

Rather than having a judge decide, your incapacity plan will have you appoint one or more agents to carry out your wishes. There are two very important decisions you must make when putting together your plan:

  1. Who will be in charge of managing your finances if you become incapacitated (your financial agent); and
  2. Who will be in charge of making medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated (your health care agent).

The most important part of these designations is that you can leave written instructions to guide your guardian make the decisions as you would have wished those decisions made.

For Factors to consider when naming your guardian or guardians, get tuned for out next post . . .

If you have any questions on the subject or would like to know something specific on the subject, post it below or email me at ysuarez@yslawyers.com.

Yahima Suarez, PA
305-456-7158
ysuarez@yslawyers.com

Yahima Suarez
Yahima Suarez, J.D. Estate Planning for your Family

A friend is now gone 

2005 was a year of many surprises and anticipation. It was, however, one of the best years for when Santa arrived. It was no common Santa, it had the usual hat, the usual clothes, and belt but instead of boots, it had four legs!

Baci (kisses in Italian) arrived to our life to stay for over ten precious years. Thank you daddy and Rosi for the special gift.

It was a shared gift nonetheless. As I was finishing my last year of law school and then had to study for the bar, my time was very limited. My mom was his second mom as he was growing up and when it was time for me to leave home and be on my own, Baci shared two homes.

As time went by, he preferred the more serene and structure environment of my mom and Jesu.

He was spoiled. He followed schedules he imposed, like get up from the dinner table and go lay in the sofa, every night. He would not allow Jesu to enjoy a dessert for long. He woke up to clean himself in the bathroom rug every morning with my mom and no matter how old he got, he loved toys.

In 2016 he went to heaven, yes I believe there is a doggy heaven because he was the sweetest little creature ever born!

So I say goodbye to a great friend and a member of my family. We will always love you!

Your family — Yahima