Estate Planning, Family and Wealth Planning

Paying back or paying forward?

I was in Court yesterday morning and I genuinely had the opportunity to introduce two professionals. I met my client’s daughter who is a psychologist involved with dependency cases. I also met my opposing counsel who is a Board Certified Juvenile attorney dealing with tons of dependency cases.  Perfect timing for an introduction that promises to be fruitful.

My intern noticed: “you are always connecting people.”

I replied: “Sometimes you do not have the opportunity to ‘payback’ so you “pay forward.” I have been helped so much, I always try to pass it on by ‘giving forward.'”

As I was driving to the office, I get a phone call. It was a colleague in another city who promised (voluntarily) to give me a heads up on his very unique and effective estate planning strategy.

I received an hour of a class that by its content is priceless! There is no book written on the subject (yet).

I certainly love giving forward. What goes around, comes around!

Have a wonderful day . . .

Yahima

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File Apr 05, 10 25 23 PM
Attorney Yahima Suarez Life Planning & Beyond
Estate Planning, Family and Wealth Planning

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Is Valentine’s Day a day of Roses and Chocolate and expensive gifts? Is it a day of dining out (and making lines for that matter)? It is for many.

To me, Valentine’s day is a reminder of the power of Love in the whole extension of the word.  I celebrate Love Day Every Day! But, Valentine’s day is a reminder that love is much more than just a box of chocolates. It is appreciation and it is understanding.

I am so grateful for the love in my life — my family, my friends, my life  Thank you to all those who make my life full of love.

May you have a beautiful Love Day!

Yahima

File Apr 05, 10 25 23 PM
Attorney Yahima Suarez Life Planning & Beyond

Yahima_Suarez_ss020101vnew (1)

Estate Planning, Family and Wealth Planning

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
Estate Planning, Family and Wealth Planning

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

Estate Planning, Family and Wealth Planning

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
Estate Planning, Family and Wealth Planning

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

Estate Planning, Incapacity Planning

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
Estate Planning, Incapacity Planning

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
Estate Planning, Family and Wealth Planning, Legacy Planning, Testamentos y Herencias

Estate Planning? For what?

Estate planning? I am not rich!  Estate planning? I am not going to die!

Have you said that yourself many times? Yes, I know. I have said it too. It was not until my daughter was born that I really understood the importance and the need of having an Estate Plan. Here are some of the reasons to plan:

  1. An Estate Plan is not just to transfer wealth at death. In fact, many Estates are not very wealthy.
  2. The most important part of planning is protecting yourself. Yes! Who makes legal and medical decisions for you in the event of temporary or long-term incapacity?  We do not want the court appointing a stranger to make sensitive decisions regarding our health and our money.
  3. Then we protect your family, especially if you have young children. Who is going to be the guardian of your children if you are not able to care for them yourself? If you do not nominate specific people, the court will do so for you. They may choose who they believe is best, but will their choice be the right choice according to you? Maybe not.
  4. It is then that we plan to protect your assets and we plan to make sure that if you are not around, yours will be able to continue to run your business or have enough to live decently. How? That is going to be an article in our next issue.
  5. We recommend, in most cases, a trust-based plan. Why? Because it allows to cover most of the situations above. What’s the difference between a trust and a will? Read our post from July 11 or click on Will v. Revocable Living Trust and we will forward you the article.

If you are interested in knowing more of how we can help you protect your family, your business, your valuables and yourself with an Estate Plan that will meet the needs of your families, feel free to click Estate Planning Session or give us a call at 305-456-7158 and we will schedule a Legacy and Estate Planning Session for you.Either way, do not wait, be protected and  have peace of mind knowing you have the right estate plan.

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

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

 

Estate Planning, Family and Wealth Planning, Legacy Planning, Testamentos y Herencias

Will v. Trust. Who wins?

So what does a Trust do that a Will does not? Below are some of the main differences:

  1.  Planning for incapacity – Wills have nothing to do with incapacity.  Will based plans must rely on a durable power of attorney or a guardianship proceeding in case of a long-term incapacity.  Durable powers of attorney are not readily accepted in cases of long-term incapacity and lack distribution guidelines.  Guardianship proceedings are public, expensive and not timely.  With a living trust plan, the client picks who they want in control and can specify specific guidelines and desires.
  2. Privacy– In today’s environment public information on individuals is a commodity.  Wills become a public document upon the death of the testator/testatrix including the names of the beneficiaries. A decedent’s living trust is not a public document and the grantor’s planning remains private.
  3.  Clients tend to have a better understanding of how property should be titled– While joint tenancy with right of survivorship can sabotage both will-based planning and living trust planning, clients with a living trust centered plan seem to have a better understanding of why how assets are titled is an important part of the estate plan.  Will based planning attorneys and clients mistakenly tend to believe that funding is not necessary when in actuality proper funding is just as important for will based planning.
  4. Insurance beneficiary designations are simpler with trust centered planning– With a living trust centered estate plan you can just name the trust as beneficiary of estate plans and get the advantage of running the proceeds of the insurance through the formula clause without exposing the proceeds to probate and potential creditors.  Insurance companies and HR departments understand naming living trusts as beneficiaries.  They become confused when asked to name testamentary trusts as beneficiaries.
  5.  No need for an ancillary probate– Even though a state’s probate process may be simplified, the state of the decedent’s residence has no jurisdiction over out of state property.  With a living trust, there is no death of the owner, so no need for an ancillary probate.
  6. Clients want to avoid probate– Even if you tell clients that probate avoidance is not necessary, the clients still want to avoid probate.  No matter how much I might tell a client that probate avoidance is not the reason I recommend a living trust centered estate plan, the clients still want assurance that their planning will avoid probate.

The above are just some of the reasons to have a Trust-Based plan. If you would like to schedule your planning session to see how I can help you plan for you and yours and have peace of mind, click Estate Planning Session  or call 305-456-7158. I will be happy to help you achieve peace of mind.

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

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