ryan-cruz-law-san-diego-estate-planning-attorney-wills-trust-remote-contingent-beneficiary

What is a Contingent Beneficiary and Why Is That Important to Me?

In short, a Contingent Beneficiary is a person who will receive a benefit under a Will or Trust subject to a condition or event occurring.

I am in the process of assisting another San Diego family prepare their Estate Plan. A husband and wife team happily married for 25+ years with two children are planning what to do with their North Park home in the event of their deaths. In this case they want the house to transfer to their two adult children in the event of their death. But, what happens in the not-so-random case where mom, dad, son and daughter are all on a family trip when a tragedy occurs and all of them die? This is where a Remote Contingent Beneficiary or Contingent Beneficiary steps in. The person, persons, group or charity identified as a Contingent Beneficiary (or in this case a Remote Contingent Beneficiary) in the Will or Trust steps in to receive the house if the son and daughter cannot receive the house due to their deaths.  The purpose of identifying a Contingent Beneficiary in a legal document such as a Will or Trust is to leave a back-up plan. No one wants to consider such possible tragic scenario like a plane crashing with all family members within, or a boat capsizing with all family members on it. However, back-up plans including Remote Contingent Beneficiaries are important for that specific reason – we never know what will happen in our future.

Take a look at your Will or Revocable Living Trust. Does it identify a Remote Contingent Beneficiary? Do you know who you’re listing as a back-up beneficiary to take your assets (your house, cars and money) in the event your primary beneficiaries predecease you? You have worked very hard to pay off that house mortgage and car loan. Now take the next step and plan properly while you’re in good mental health and have the mental capacity to plan these things yourself.

Some families leave a friend or distant family member. Other families list their grandchildren or extended family. Others elect a charitable organization or favorite group. Consider your options and leave this in writing. If it’s not part of your Will or Trust, it won’t do anyone any good to simply think about your wishes.  This is a good time to also have your Trust reviewed by a professional if you chose to prepare a Will or Trust using a self-help method. An improperly prepared Will or Trust is not valid in the State of California and you don’t want to leave such document to chance.

 

ryan-cruz-law-san-diego-estate-planning-attorney-wills-trust-mom-family-2016

Celebrate Mother’s Day With the Kids (Sunday, May 8th) & Then Set Time Aside Time to Make Arrangements for the Children

As families prepare to celebrate Mom this Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 8th, children and significant others prepare to make this 1 day extra special for her. This day usually showers Mom with flowers, a dining experience, gifts and other memorable moments for the whole family to remember. The point of this day is for Mom’s to feel extra special, but Mom’s can also take this day as a reminder of things to arrange for their family’s future.

Regardless of whether you have been a Mom for 1 year or 21 years, you and your children will feel even more love between yourselves when you let them know that you have planned for their future with estate planning arrangements. Estate planning arrangements offer answers to the following questions:

  1. Who will care for the kids in Mom’s long term absence or death?
  2. Will the kids be left under the parental guidance of their natural father upon Mom’s death?
  3. Are there any savings accounts reserved for supporting the kids upon Mom’s hospitalization, incapacity or death?
  4. Are there any life insurance policies Mom set up?
  5. Who will handle the children’s financial, healthcare and educational future if Mom cannot do it?
  6. If Mom passes away, what items (including houses) do the children split and when?
  7. If Mom owns a business and suffers an accident, who carries on the business?

Estate planning answers many other questions that are dependent upon the family structure. This is even more important where there are circumstances involving adopted children, step children, blended families, disputes among family members and so on.

Therefore, enjoy Mother’s Day this coming Sunday. Hug your children like never before on this day and then focus on how you can show them your love even more through estate planning.  Calendar a reminder to yourself as a Mom to plan for your children’s future through Wills, Trusts, Financial Planning and other methods.

 

ryan-cruz-law-san-diego-attorney-business-real-estate-wills-trust-best-wills-trusts-estate-planning-attorneys-san-diego

5 Great Ways to Find the Best Wills & Trusts Attorneys in San Diego

When your San Diego-based family finds itself in need of a qualified estate planning attorney it can become a daunting task. There are so many attorneys out there advertising both offline and online claiming experience in wills, trusts and estate planning. So how do you find qualified and experienced wills, trusts, and estate planning attorneys in San Diego? Here are a few pointers to consider when you are searching for the best wills, trusts and estate planning attorneys in San Diego to take on your estate planning tasks.

  1. Request Recommendations from Your Friends and Family – start off by inquiring within your network. Ask your friends and family members for recommendations. You’ll learn about how others have used an estate planning attorney in the past and what to expect in involving an estate planning attorney.  Friends and family will look out for you and will recommend only those that provide quality service.
  2. Read Available Reviews – After receiving recommendations, search their online profiles. Read available reviews to learn how other non-family members have been helped by these particular attorneys. Use local San Diego resources such as community-based sites or your local Chamber of Commerce, and national resources such as Avvo.com, Justia.com, Yelp.com, FindLaw.com. You can also simply perform a Google search for the attorney’s name to learn more about that person and/or law firm.
  3. Industry Recommendations – Use available resources such as the San Diego County Bar or the State Bar of California to learn more about your potential attorney. Search online and call around with inquiries as well.  Again, sites like Avvo.com (a legal database of attorney) will help shed more light on your search.  Here’s an example of an attorney’s profile on Avvo.com
  4. Referral Requests from Trusted Parties – Use trusted professionals to seek out recommendations.  For example, if you have worked with a Realtor in the past, that Realtor is typically part of a group of professionals and just may know a great attorney to refer you to. It also gives you a great opportunity to follow up with your group of trusted professionals.
  5. Consultations – When seeking legal consultations, attorneys in San Diego often offer free consultations depending on your particular legal needs. Take advantage of those free consultations and request more than 1, especially if you really want to obtain a second opinion.  In attending at least 2 consultations, you just may find that 1 attorney fully understands you or is simply a better fit for you than the other.

These recommendations are based on an accumulation of feedback from clients over time. Most expressed that taking their time to find a quality attorney is more cost-effective in the long-run than simply electing the first search result using an online search engine. I hope this helps you locate the best wills, trusts and estate planning attorneys in San Diego.  Feel free to reach out to this office to request a consultation after reviewing our client feedback.

Your family legacy is important. Be sure to take the time to locate the representation that’s right for you, your family and your posterity.

ryan_cruz_law_san_diego_attorney_protect_wills_trusts_planning_guardians

Yours, mine & ours = Family. But who raises the kids if somethings happens to us?

The phrase “yours, mine and ours” usually refers to the bringing together of children from two different families and growing the family with additional children. Essentially the end result is a household with a number of kids from different relationships. Usual circumstances include those where each spouse has children from previous relationships or marriages and then the newly formed couple have more children.  With these types of family structures, there are usually 2, 3, 4 or even more adults considering themselves parents to a set of kids.

Here’s an example: Sarah (age 21) marries Sam (age 21). They have Sammy Jr. soon after marriage. Sarah remarries five years later to Dave who has a three year old (Davy Jr,) from a previous marriage, and Sam remarries five years later to Diana who go on to have their own kids. Dave and Sarah, now your next door neighbors, care for Sammy Jr. (now age 5), Davy Jr., and together they have their own child Savannah (age 1). In this example, if your neighbors Dave and Sarah jointly pass away in a car accident a year later, who cares for baby Sammy Jr. , baby Davy Jr., and baby Savannah? It’s not a riddle. It’s a common occurrence!

In this scenario, the answer depends on written agreements between Sarah, Dave, Sam and Diana. That is of course assuming there is some sort of agreement. If nothing is in writing, the State of California will default answers for you concerning the care of your children.  Now, let’s add a few variables to this potentially realistic hypothetical. What if Sam and Diana suffer severe marital problems? What if Dave’s parents are elderly with medical problems too strong to handle children in the household? What if all of them want financial and physical custody of the kids?

I think you’re getting the idea. Preparing guardian nominations through a Will or a Revocable Living Trust is important for Sarah, Dave, Sam and Diana. Everyone has to be on the same page to ensure the well-being of everyone’s kids. Through proper guardianship nominations as part of your estate planning, you could avoid these future uncertainties once you pass away.

Parents, more than anyone else should hold discussions about guardianship nomination and discuss document planning soon after having their children. However,  other persons may also be interested in having the parents leave their desired plans in writing. Parents’ siblings, the parents’ parents (the two sets of grandparents), the parents’ friends and sometimes even the parents’ neighbors should all have this conversation with the parents to make sure there is proper planning set.

As a reminder, in estate planning, nominations for guardianship are set. However, those nominated may or may not wind up being the best fit for the children. Without any nominations, the California system will determine the welfare and future of the kids.

If you’re a soon-to-be parent of if you are already parents, start your planning now, not later. If you’re in a situation where your  household kids are comprised of “yours, mine & ours,” you are greatly encouraged to start these discussions. Here are a few factors that affect the family planning:

  • who the natural parents are
  • whether any children are adopted legally by the new step parent
  • step parent situations
  • parents with credit problems
  • parents with criminal histories
  • many more variables affect the nomination planning
  • physical custody and financial custody of the kids
  • parties that may be interested in caring for your kids
ryan_cruz_law_san_diego_attorney_estate_planning_free_wills_heroes

Wills for Heroes San Diego Saturday, January 30, 2016

If you know a firefighter or police officer in your life, let him/her know about Wills For Heroes program.  San Diego has its own division, but it is a nation-wide organization.

Here is a bit more about the organization:

“Anthony Hayes, a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough, LLP, in Columbia, South Carolina, started the Wills for Heroes program shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Anthony emailed the Columbia Fire Department asking what lawyers could do to help that department. During an impromptu focus group, it became clear that there was a glaring need for estate planning services.

Since then, Wills for Heroes programs in ten states have provided more than 7,000 free estate planning documents for first responders. Because of the tremendous success of these programs, attorneys and bar associations across the United States started requesting assistance with implementing Wills for Heroes programs in their communities. In response, Jeff Jacobson and Anthony Hayes created the Wills for Heroes Foundation to oversee the nationwide expansion of these programs and connect volunteer attorneys with local first responders.” Wills for Heroes & San Diego division

San Diego Event

San Diego is hosting an event on Saturday, January 30, 2016 at the San Diego County Bar Association located at 401 W A St #1100, San Diego, CA 92101. Read more & sign up. I’ll see our first responders there!

ryan_cruz_law_san_diego_attorney_estate_planning_premarital_legal_wedding_prenuptial

Spring weddings are coming up. Add this to your wedding prep plans.

While parts of the County like Mission Valley, La Jolla, Fashion Valley, Ocean Beach and Sorrento Valley are currently  experiencing flooding issues this season with the recent El Nino related storms, some residents are thinking positively and are looking forward to a brighter upcoming Spring wedding season.

Weddings in general are surrounded by happy thoughts for the bride, the groom and their families. Most brides and grooms go through the motions of attending wedding expos and food samplings in preparation for their big day. These are all fun activities. But there are two activities that tends to get left out, probably for being considered less enjoyable: premarital legal planning and financial planning prior to marriage.  What is premarital legal planning? This can include the following:

For example, I once worked with a couple who were both previously married. The bride-to-be had a child from her previous marriage and the groom-to-be had an inheritance from his parents. Both wanted to know how their upcoming marriage was going to affect the bride’s son and the groom’s inheritance. Fortunately, they came for legal help before marriage thereby allowing them some important options. It was a bit of a rushed process since their wedding date was about 4 weeks out, however, timely assistance was possible.  Premarital legal planning is important.

If you’re getting married in 2016, we recommend that you speak with an attorney if you have any questions about your finances, family planning or property ownership planning. Marriage may or may not affect your situation. A consultation will help you determine your options.

ryan_cruz_law_san_diego_attorney_estate_planning_creating_will_online

Can I Safely Create a Will Using a Self-Help Form Available Online?

We totally understand that sometimes electing to use self-help options is cheaper and faster to use. But, be very cautious with forms available online when it comes to creating a Will for yourself. This applies to both free forms and paid-for forms.

From our perspective, using a form online to create a Will is like using a self-help medical site to diagnose a medical condition online. They help by highlighting general aspects, but the document will not be custom to your particular needs and may not be done correctly. Most importantly, it won’t be custom to fit your family’s needs. Cutting corners by using an online form is not recommended for many other reasons: the document may contain outdated language, the document may contain provisions not recognized by the State, the document may not be executed correctly, the document may be ineffective as prepared, or the document omits serious terms which could have serious consequences.

An estate planning attorney, even through a consultation, will guide you in the right direction and provide you with information custom to your needs.  Having a properly drafted Will by an attorney helps you ensure that your hard-earned money and property will pass on to those you designate.

We do not recommend using or buying any estate planning documents online that are offered for free or cheap. In our opinion, they cause more headaches than its worth if done incorrectly. Seek a consultation about a Will. It will save you time, money and energy in the long run.

Suggested life-events to create a Will:

  • Buying a new house
  • New baby in your family
  • New job or pay increase
  • Marriage, divorce, or recent family death
  • Children leaving for college
  • New business or company
  • Health problems
ryan_cruz_law_san_diego_attorney_estate_planning_create_a_will_trust_2016_resolution

New year, new you. Here is an attainable resolution for you to add to your list and crush within 3 months.

Happy New Year, 2016! Every new years, San Diegans create exciting resolutions to improve their lives. This tradition of creating resolutions has been known to exist during Babylonian time as we all want to live quality lives and improve our lives with a new calendar year. Some resolutions are very attainable while others are short-lived and last only a calendar month or so; trust me, we’ve all made those short-lived ones meant to improve our lives radically. Resolutions usually include:

  • Improve well-being;
  • Exercise;
  • Think more positively;
  • Upgrade wardrobe;
  • Put more money in savings;
  • Pay off all credit cards this year;
  • Improve finances; and
  • Spend more quality time with friends and family.

However, there is one resolution that often gets overlooked and that is to take care of your loved ones through planning. This is a resolution that should be handled in the next three calendar months to avoid having it become a short-lived resolution.  Taking care of your loved ones can be handled through creating a Last Will and Testament and/or a Revocable Living Trust. Most consider these documents are something the elderly group should concern themselves with, but this belief is entirely incorrect.  These documents are beneficial to anyone over the age of 18.  Essentially, these documents describe what happens to your cars(s), money, belongings, and possibly children, if you become incapacitated or die. These documents are created to have just in case anything were to happen to you. Of course, even though documents are created, we hope you live a great 2016 and many more years to come.  The documents described above are created in case of the unexpected and persons of all ages, especially after 18, should have one.

As life moves forward quickly in 2016 and you earn a pay raise, grow your family with new children or nieces and nephews, buy a new home, experience changes in your network of friends and family, it is a good time now (at the beginning of a new calendar year) to consider what Will or Trust you have in place. If you do not have anything in place, you should consider establishing one. If you have a Will or Trust in place but have not revisited the documents in years, it is a great time to reconsider the contents of the documents you have established.

As a courtesy reminder, do not mark your current Will or Trust with pen or pencil to note any changes. Doing so may invalidate your documents and really complicate your probate administration or trust administration.  If you are considering making changes to your Will or Trust, speak with an attorney to learn about the process. Depending upon the amount of changes you desire, different steps will be necessary to make those changes legally effective.

Crush this resolution by giving yourself a deadline.  Over the next 3 months, consider establishing or revisiting your Will or Trust. Now  that we’re already in the new year and you are soon going to be in the mind frame of handling your finances and taxes this upcoming tax season, it would also be a great time to add “estate planning review” to your list of goals to accomplish this year. In doing so, you’d crush your new years resolution of taking care of your loved ones in case of your absence.  Leaving your loved ones without such planning could cost them plenty of time and more importantly, money.

Call to schedule an appointment to discuss any of the following points involved in the process of estate planning. These are a list of commonly asked questions covered during an initial consultation about estate planning:

  • Should I create a Will or a Revocable Living Trust?
  • What does a Revocable Living Trust do?
  • Is a Revocable Living Trust better than a Will?
  • How much do you charge to establish a Will or Revocable Living Trust?
  • How long does it take to establish a Will or Revocable Living Trust?
  • Can I make changes to my Will or Revocable Living Trust over my lifetime?
  • How do I plan things so that upon my death, my wife/husband and our kids receive my money and property?
  • I have been divorced and remarried, are there any special provisions I need to include in my Will or Trust?
  • I do not have much, do I still need to create a Will or Revocable Living Trust?
  • What happens to our minor kids in case my wife/husband and I die simultaneously?
  • I have property in different states, how do I plan for that?
  • I want to plan for my children’s well-being after my death, what options do I have?
  • What happens to my debts when I die?
  • What provisions should I include in my Will or Revocable Living Trust.

Knock out an estate planning review in the next three months and rest easily for the rest of 2016 knowing that you have then cared for your loved ones with proper planning.  Ryan-Cruz Law, APC offers free 1-hour consultations concerning estate planning. Let us help you accomplish this task.

ryan_cruz_law_san_diego_attorney_county_recorder_office_deed

Recording A Quitclaim Deed with the San Diego County Recorder’s Office

If you established a Revocable Living Trust in the recent past or anytime in the past, remember that after establishing your Trust, you must also “fund” the Trust. Funding it means to place things into the Trust so that it can be administered and carried out the way it is intended.

If you haven’t funded your real property into your Revocable Living Trust, you can do so by signing (before a notary public) a Quitclaim Deed and subsequently recording it locally with the San Diego Recorder’s Office.  Only real property physically located here in the county can be controlled by the San Diego County Recorder’s Office. If you live in San Diego, but have real property physically located outside of this county, you will have to seek assistance that that county’s Recorder’s Office for assistance in funding your Trust or other real property matters.

The following is more information published from the San Diego County Recorder’s Office as of July 6, 2015. You are encouraged to review their official website for current information.

The County Recorder, upon payment of proper fees and taxes, will accept any document which is authorized or required by California law to be recorded, if the document contains required information and if it is photographically reproducible.

For your convenience, documents may be presented for recording in the Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk offices at the addresses listed below.

County Administration Center
1600 Pacific Highway, Suite 260
San Diego, CA 92101
El Cajon Branch
200 S. Magnolia Ave
El Cajon, CA 92020
San Marcos Branch
141 East Carmel St.
San Marcos, CA 92078

All applicable fees must be paid at the time of recording, click RECORDING FEES.

For information on hours of business and directions to the office locations, quit this option and
click PHONE #’S/LOCATIONS.

Each document presented for recording MUST include or comply with the following general requirements.

If any portion of your recordable document is in a foreign language*, it must be translated into English. The translator will need to complete a Declaration and Verification of Interpretation form for submission to the County Clerk. The County Clerk will then complete a Translation Certificate for a fee of $10.00. Both the Declaration of Interpretation and the Translation Certificate forms must be completed and attached to the document prior to recording.

The document should not contain more than the last four digits of the Social Security number, pursuant to Civil Code 1798.89. This does not apply to documents executed prior to January 1, 2010 or certified copies of the death certificate attached to the documents.

  1. The property must be located in San Diego County.(CC1169)
  2. The document must be authorized or required by law to be recorded. (GC 27201)
  3. The document must be submitted with the proper fees and taxes. (GC 6301, 27201, 27261)
  4. The document must be in compliance with state and local laws.
  5. The document should Name the person requesting recording. (GC 27361.6)
  6. The document should state the Name and address to whom the document should be returned, fill in “Recording Requested By and Mail To”. (GC 27361.6)
  7. The document must be legible enough to produce a readable photographic record.(GC 27201, 27361.6, 27361.7)
  8. Signatures must be original unless the document is a certified copy issued by the appropriate custodian of the public record. (GC 27201b, GC 28288, Evid Code 1530)
  9. The document must be properly acknowledged, unless exempt. All purpose acknowledgments taken in California must be completed as prescribed by law.  Any certificate of acknowledgment taken in another place shall be sufficient in this state if it is taken in accordance with the laws of the place where the acknowledgment is made. (GOV 27201, 27285, 27287, 27288, 27289, CIV 1189)
  10. The Assessor’s Parcel Number is required on deeds by local Ordinance. (R&T 11911.1)
  11. The notary seal must be legible for a microfilm reproduction .(GC 8207)

Documentary Transfer Tax is due on all taxable conveyances in excess of $100 at a rate of $.55 per $500 or fractional portion of real property value; excluding any liens or encumbrances already of record as required, per Revenue and Taxation Code 11911. It is collected at the time of recording on each deed, or instrument. A Documentary Transfer Tax Declaration must be completed and signed for all deeds. If no Documentary Transfer Tax is due, so indicate by entering “0” on the tax line and sign the declaration. Please explain the reason why no tax is due on the document or on a separate signed statement.(R&T 11932)

When transferring property to ANYONE a “Preliminary Change of Ownership Report” IS REQUIRED per the Revenue and Taxation Code 480.2, click PRELIMINARY CHANGE OF OWNERSHIP REPORT. This document is in Acrobat PDF format.

If a “Preliminary Change of Ownership Report” is required, but not submitted at the time of recording, please include an additional $20.00 for the Ownership Change fee. Preliminary Change of Ownership Forms are available at the customer counter or it can be mailed to you upon request by calling (619) 238-8158.

You may also mail in your documents for recording with a check,cashiers check or money order made payable to:

The San Diego County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk
P.O. Box 121750
San Diego, California 92112-1750

Your request is processed upon receipt. Please allow 2-4 weeks to receive your original recorded document back in the mail.

The office of the Recorder/County Clerk is PROHIBITED from giving ANY legal advice or to assist in document preparation. We DO NOT provide any notarial services. Various types of forms may be purchased at office supply or stationary stores.

Once you have the appropriate form, you may prepare it yourself, consult legal counsel or contact a local title company or escrow company.

Photo Credit: San Diego County.gov