Name Legal Guardians For Your Kids For Free at This Website

One of the hardest things to do as a human being is to acknowledge our mortality. Some people even seem to think that if they ignore their eventual death, it will not happen. This is risky behavior for anyone, but particularly for those who are parents of young children. If parents are the victim of an untimely death or disabling accident, and have not already taken appropriate action, a court will step in and decide who will take care of their children.

Fortunately, the laws of every state allow parents to designate who they want to take care of their children if they no longer can themselves. This is perhaps the most important decision anyone can make for their children. Children need strong guidance and love, especially after the loss or impairment of a parent.

And we know you do not want this decision left to a judge who doesn’t know you, or your family.You can take some easy steps today to ensure that your children are raised by a loving relative or family friend you choose.

On our website tylerhinz.kidsprotectionplan.com you can legally document who you want to raise your child, if something happens to you. It’s free, and easy. We’ve made it so there are no excuses.

This website will even guide you through the decision making process if you’re having trouble determining who you want to take care of your children. Do the right thing and name legal guardians for your child today.

Be Aware of these Four Cons

We’re all aware of how technology has greatly benefited our society. We can access goods, services, and information with great ease at the touch of a button. The flip-side of that is that this same technology has also spawned countless new opportunities for dishonesty and crime.

It is unlikely that any person who has a telephone, cell phone, or computer has not been the subject of an attempted criminal act, or at least of a scam that may precede an actual crime.

According to a survey by True Link Financial, approximately $12.76 billion is stolen from older Americans each year through identity theft and scams. To help protect yourself, be aware of the most common scams out there.

“I’m Calling from Microsoft Tech Support.”

If you receive a call from someone saying they are from Microsoft and a problem has been detected on your computer, don’t believe them. Microsoft does not make these types of calls. The people making the calls are trying to lead you to a website that will unleash malware designed to steal your usernames and passwords for online accounts where they can access your banking and credit card information.  If the caller gets you to go to a website, it may look very official, but remember, Microsoft will never contact you this way.

“I’m Calling from the Internal Revenue Service.”

According to the AARP Fraud Watch Network, this is one of the most often-reported scams. The caller will state that you either owe back taxes that must be paid immediately or that you are due a refund that can be collected online. In either case, the goal is to get you to a website that will launch malware on your computer in an attempt to seek your financial information and bank account numbers or that will facilitate the theft of your identity. The caller will likely sound very authoritarian and may even be able to state the last four digits of your social security number. But even if the caller gives you a number to call to “verify” that the call is from the IRS, or gives you a “case code number,” don’t participate. Like Microsoft, the IRS will never initiate contact with you by phone. Instead, it will always send a communication through the U.S. Postal Service.

Calls from No One

A common precursor to scam calls is a call on your phone where no one speaks. You may hear clicks on the other end. But rather than assume it was a wrong number, assume it was an automated call to validate a working telephone number that can be called later by a scammer. It is best to utilize the caller ID that is available on most phones and to avoid phone calls from numbers you don’t recognize or numbers that don’t display any information.

Chip Cards

The new chip cards for debit and credit use are much safer than magnetic swipe cards in that they change the code each time they are used. While that provides more protection when a retailer suffers a data breach, scammers are catching up quickly and using new and different tactics. They will send emails pretending to be your financial institution stating that financial information must be provided via a particular linked website. The link will cause malware to be released which searches your computer for account numbers, passwords, and other financially sensitive information.

The best rule to follow in thwarting scammers is to never navigate to a website or click on a link when directed to do so by an unsolicited caller. If you receive an e-mail or phone message asking you to call a number, don’t call that number. Instead, locate the appropriate number for the entity and call that number to determine whether the communication is legitimate.

Yes, technology makes things much easier for us, but it can make us vulnerable if we’re careless. Proceed with caution in all things financial and put the brakes on when things don’t add up. That’s where we can help. You see, we don’t just prepare estate planning documents for our clients and send them on their way. We develop ongoing, lifelong relationships which facilitate our clients’ protection and prosperity in ways traditional estate planning law firms don’t – and quite frankly, won’t. We’re here to support and advise our clients about more than just their estate plans – like a “suspicious” phone call from the IRS, for example. If that sounds like the kind of relationship you’d like with your lawyer, give us a call.

Work-Life Balance: A Personal Perspective

Pick up the latest copy of just about any business magazine, and you’re likely to find at least one article on work-life balance. Employers all over the country are talking about how to retain employees by enhancing work-life balance. But the conversation really can’t stop or start with employers.  It must start with you.

For the next two weeks, use a tracking calendar to track all of your waking time. It’s easy to do this using a google calendar that you set up specifically for identifying what you spend each hour of your day doing.

Then, at the end of the week, identify how much time you spent on self care, how much time you spent on family, and how much time you spent working.

You’ll quickly be able to see where you might be out of balance.

While it may be counter-intuitive, investing in your self care first, family second and work third, is the equation that will keep you happier at home and at work, which ultimately translates to a more positive bottom line for you and your employer.

If you are out of balance, first and foremost, take personal responsibility by using a time blocking calendar to block time each week for self care.

This may mean putting time on your calendar for exercise, medical and dental appointments, pampering, and play.

Block this time and keep it as sacred as you would a meeting with your boss, or one of your co-workers or clients.

Then, block time for family activities. And notice what you have left over for work.

If you find that you cannot realistically complete your work in the time you have left over, consider having an honest and direct conversation with your boss (or yourself, if you are the boss), about how you can get more support.

Knowing what you want and asking for it are the first steps to taking personal control of your circumstances and creating the life you want, and it gives your employer the opportunity to have you doing your best work and retain you as a team member they want for the long-term.

How does this tie into estate planning for your family?

Proactively planning for death is one of the best ways we can come into alignment during life. We support you to make the most of your life by guiding you to face the reality of death through our estate planning process.

Your real wealth is not just your financial wealth, but includes your most valuable non-renewable resources, time, energy and attention. Through our planning process, we can help you reclaim what really matters.

Contact us for a Family Wealth Planning Session and make conscious choices about how you use your whole wealth during your lifetime and pass what really matters to your loved ones when you are gone.

Life Is Multifaceted: Teach a Child to Be Open and Embrace Complexities

When you picture a “normal” family, what do you see? Is it the traditional notion of one male parent and one female parent, two kids, and a family pet? Or do you see something different? Or perhaps you reject the notion of a “normal” family altogether?

Recent court and legislative activity have opened the institution of marriage to same-gender couples. Regardless of your political position or whether you think this is a wise move, it is happening. Today 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 are being raised by single mothers without a father in the picture at all. And nearly 30% of all families today are single parent families. 5% of children aren’t living with a “traditional” parent at all, but with grandparents or other family members.

Simply put, mainstream society is changing in our country.

Sometimes, with affluence comes reinforcement of our personal norms. We often attend institutions – like churches and schools, for example—where most everyone else looks and thinks like we do.

While we may feel most comfortable in these arenas, we need to push the boundaries with our kids for their sake. Regardless of our politics, visible American culture is changing. We cannot expect voluntary segregation of our society—by race, socioeconomic status, or any other factor—to continue.

So how can we help our kids be open to cultural and familial differences and to embrace the complexities therein?

Children are best prepared through modeling and practice. This is the true inheritance we leave behind.

Be cognizant of the cultural norms you promote without saying a word, through your choice of neighborhoods, entertainment, institutions, and even the company you keep. It is critical that American children remain open to differences and complexities, to enable them to work and play with those who may be different from them as our society moves forward to keep in step with the ever evolving nature of our world.

Ultimately, estate planning isn’t just about passing on your money. We call it Family Wealth Planning because it’s about passing on your whole family wealth, which includes your values, insights, stories and experience, most of which is passed on without awareness. When you can bring awareness to this planning, beyond just the financial pieces, you are giving your children a true gift that doesn’t just last a lifetime, but many generations.

Parents experiencing our Family Wealth Planning process repeatedly tell us that the process itself guides you to see many of the parts of true inheritance that you are likely overlooking, and the process itself has them feel better about themselves as parents as well as adult children of their own parents.

Are You Leaving Your Retirement Account at Risk Due to Poor Planning?

You’ve spent your entire life building up your retirement account. It may even be the biggest asset you’ll leave behind for the people you love.
If that’s the case, you may want to consider creating a special trust designed specifically to receive your retirement account assets in the event of your death.

If you leave your retirement account to the people you love outright, simply by naming them as beneficiaries on your retirement account rather than through a special trust, here are the risks:

  1. Some studies indicate 80% of retirement account beneficiaries immediately liquidate the account and frivolously spend the assets (and on top of using the assets in ways you may not agree with, they also lose significant tax benefits for these assets you worked so hard to create);
  2. If your beneficiary is married and does not properly handle the retirement assets you leave behind, and then gets divorced, your hard-earned assets could end up in the hands of the future ex-spouse of your beneficiary;
  3. If you are in a second marriage situation with children from a prior marriage, you may be setting your spouse and children up for conflict after you are gone, due to the way you have planned (or not planned) for the passage of your retirement account.
  4. If your beneficiary is ever in a situation where he or she has creditors or may have to file bankruptcy, and you’ve left your retirement account to him or her without a special trust, your retirement account would go to satisfy those creditors first.

Here’s the good news, it’s not hard to protect your retirement account for your beneficiaries with the right planning. We use a variety of special trusts to ensure the retirement assets you’ve worked so hard to build up throughout your life are passed on to the people you love so they are totally protected from a future divorce, creditors, bankruptcy and so that they do not create conflict for your loved ones.

If you have a significant retirement account whose designated beneficiary is your spouse or children, or even your regular revocable living trust, call us to have your planning reviewed immediately.

This article is a service of Tyler S. Hinz, Personal Family Lawyer, who develops trusting relationships with families for life. If you’re ready to begin planning what you’d like to happen in case of unfortunate emergency, or even your death, Call our office today at (800)979-6170 and schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session today. We can help you make plans for how you want to provide for your loved ones when you can’t be there.

Prince’s Death Brings Estate Planning to the Forefront

The untimely death of superstar Prince has brought a surprising issue to American living rooms: estate planning. If current reports are correct that Prince died without a will, state law and the Court system will dictate who controls and inherits his sizeable estate. It is also likely that taxing entities will take a bigger bite out of his estate – costing his family millions, unnecessarily —  before anyone inherits anything.  All of this could have been avoided and there’s an important lesson here for you and your family.

Prince died on Thursday, April 21, at the age of 57, in Carver County, Minnesota. He had one half-sister, Tyka Nelson. He also had six half-siblings. Prince was predeceased by both of his parents and two of his half-siblings. He was divorced twice and had no living children.

Ms. Nelson recently filed documents with the Carver County probate court, asserting that she believed that her brother died without a will. She also asked that the court appoint a special administrator to handle Prince’s affairs until a personal administrator was appointed. A judge appointed a banking affiliate to serve in this role temporarily.

When a person passes away without a will, they are said to have died “intestate.” When this happens, state law directs the distribution of the person’s property, known as the “estate” through a process called probate. And, it’s up to the Court to decide who controls the estate.

If Prince indeed died without a will, these statutes will result in his siblings dividing his estate, including his half-siblings. This may or may not be what Prince would have wanted, had he made provisions himself.  And, his estate is likely to be overseen by a paid executor, instead of a family member or friend he would have chosen.

So, what does this mean for you?

Just like Prince, if you do not plan for your death, your family will get stuck in Court and could end up in conflict as well.  It’s an unnecessary expense to your family, causes additional heartache and grief, and is totally avoidable.

Let Prince’s death be an inspiration to you to leave your loved ones with a legacy of love, not a big mess to clean up. We can help.

If You Don’t Trust Your Kid With Money Then You Need a Trust

While most parents have the best intentions when it comes to teaching their children about handling finances wisely, sometimes the lessons don’t take.  In addition to concerns about spendthrift behavior, some children experience problems with substance abuse or have mental issues that make giving them access to wealth a problem.  This is where a trust can be a parent’s best friend.

Trusts allow you to put controls on the distribution of your wealth.  For example, you could elect to make partial distributions at predetermined ages throughout a child’s life, or select a trustee who will make the decisions on regular intervals of asset distribution.  A trustee may also be a good choice to manage the assets and make investment decisions that are better suited for those with the professional capacity to do so.

Trusts can also protect your heirs from a divorcing spouse or creditors.  In the case of a special needs child, a trust can be set up to provide supplemental financial support that doesn’t disqualify them for important government benefits. One of the most commonly used trusts is a revocable living trust, where you transfer assets into a trust that you control while you are still living.

After your death, those assets pass to your heirs outside of probate (an unnecessary, expensive and totally public court process).  This helps your heirs avoid the hassle and cost of going to Court and doesn’t tie up the assets, which are generally frozen during the probate process unless protected by a trust. Since trust laws are changing all the time, it is best to get professional legal advice for the help you need in ensuring your assets are protected for the future benefit of all your heirs.

One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation.  Call our office today at (800)979-6170 to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security.

Estate Planning for Blended Families

The term “blended family” has become commonplace in our society and refers to a family where one or both spouses were previously married and have children from the prior marriage. In some instances, the new couple goes on to have children of their own. With children, stepchildren and ex-spouses involved, estate planning can get quite complex.

When you are trying to take all the different interests involved with your blended family into account, you need help to ensure you provide for everyone adequately. And to ensure you avoid conflict after your death or incapacity, as that’s quite common in blended family situations.

Without a well-crafted estate plan to establish how you want your surviving spouse and children to receive your assets, the distributions made pursuant to the law (or a poorly drafted plan) could lead to tremendous conflict among your loved ones and significant unintended consequences. To create a comprehensive estate plan that achieves the results you want, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced lawyer.

Deciding how to divide your wealth and assets between your surviving spouse and your biological children can be difficult. If you are close with your stepchildren or you have adopted them, you must take their interests into account as well. This means that you may need to address issues such as child custody and support once you are gone. You will also want to avoid mistakes such as:

  • Your children being unintentionally disinherited (by everything going to your spouse)
  • Your children’s inheritance being postponed until your spouse dies (that’s often the fastest path to family conflict)
  • Your ex-spouse making a claim on your estate

Family fighting or litigation over your estate or to gain the authority to act

With so many issues to consider, it is necessary to make these decisions while you are healthy and you have the time to create the best strategy for drafting your estate plan whether you have a lot of money or not. If you want to take action to protect your blended family, contact us to schedule an appointment. Let us help minimize the chance of family conflict and ensure your wishes are carried out when you are gone.

Got a Job? Here’s How You Can Save Money You Might Be Losing Right Now

Did you know there are many steps that you can take to save money via your employment?  Some of these strategies work by allowing you to pay for things with pre-tax money, which could up to 40% (depending on your tax bracket) right back into your pocket.  Others provide benefits through your employer that are not taxable to you on your individual income tax return, again reducing your tax liability.

Saving through Pre-Tax Contributions

There are several ways you can save money at work by paying for things out of your gross income (that is your pre-tax income).  Perhaps the three most significant pre-tax expenses you can pay for through your employer are 401(k) contributions, medical flexible spending accounts (“FSA”), and dependent care reimbursement accounts.

You can make retirement contributions to either an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan or to a traditional individual retirement account, tax-free.  In addition to saving money in the short run by decreasing your taxable income, you’ll be building a nest egg for your later years. You will pay taxes when you take money out of the account, but we always suggest to defer taxes when you can.

In addition to contributions to a retirement account, the regulations of the Internal Revenue Service also allow for both medical flexible spending accounts and dependent care reimbursement accounts.  With these types of accounts, you contribute pre-tax money, effectively securing a discount on eligible medical or dependent care expenses.

Saving through Nontaxable Benefits

Pre-tax expenses are not the only way your job can help you save money, however.  The Internal Revenue Service allows employers to provide their employees with many benefits that are not taxable to the employees.

Here are several benefits your employer can provide, which you do not need to report on your individual tax return:

  • Employer-paid health insurance premiums;
  • Employer-paid parking, to a maximum of $240 per month;
  • Health club access for a gym on your employer’s property;
  • Employer-paid educational classes, up to a maximum of $5,250; and
  • Employer-paid life insurance coverage, up to a maximum of $50,000 in benefits.

You might be surprised at the number of savings opportunities you can leverage from your employer.  In addition to providing a paycheck, your employer can improve your financial condition in many other ways.  And over the course of a career, the savings can really add up. It may be time to talk with your employer about providing some of these benefits.

By the way, if you own your own business and set your business up properly, you can be the employer providing yourself with these benefits. Contact us to discuss the possibilities.

Should I Pay Off My Mortgage Now or Save More Money?

To many people, living debt-free is a lifelong dream. It’s the picture of the easy life. Retired with no debt. . .

You may be surprised to learn, however, that debt-free is not always the best decision – particularly if the choice is between paying off a mortgage or using the money more wisely to invest in a future using low-interest rate funds.

What?  I Shouldn’t Pay Off My House?

Most of us don’t have that much extra cash lying around.  We simply don’t have the luxury of being able to pay off our family home and maxing out our retirement contributions and investing in a side business. It’s pretty much an either-or proposition.

With that said, from a financial standpoint, it is usually most favorable to make additional contributions to a company 401(k) program, if your company is matching your contributions, or investing in growing a side business, rather than using extra money to pay off the mortgage.

Putting money into a 401(k) plan has many advantages:

  • Taxes on these contributions are deferred;
  • Employers often max 401(k) contributions, doubling your money;
  • Money can be liquidated for unexpected expenses; and
  • In most cases, if you are connected to how your 401(k) is invested, investing the extra money could result in a more significant return than the interest you are paying on your mortgage, leading to greater net wealth in retirement.

Creating a side business has many advantages:

  • You can create a side income stream that provides you with the kind of security a job working for someone else never can;
  • You can write off business expenses for things you are already paying for already, such as using the home office deduction to deduct part of your home costs;
  • You can use your creativity, knowledge, experience, and other resources gained over a lifetime of learning to help others and get paid for it;
  • You can employ your children, teaching them financial principles and how to be personally sovereign from a young age;
  • You can learn, grow and evolve – starting and running a business is one of the best ways to push the edges of your own comfort, bringing you closer and close to true internal liberation.

And, remember this: Mortgage interest deductions help when tax time rolls around.

After all is said and done though, the mortgage versus 401(k) versus side business decision is a personal one that you must ultimately make for yourself.  Just keep in mind that if your priorities are financial, it is probably best to lean towards making additional contributions to your retirement account or starting a business, rather than paying down your mortgage.