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Legal Checklist for the New Year

Dear Friends,

It is a New Year and a good time to review your legal affairs. Here are a few things you should think about for 2018:

1) Review your licenses. Which ones will expire in the coming year? Mark on your new calendar the date when the license will expire and place a tickler note several weeks before the expiration date so that you have plenty of time to file for a renewal.

2) Review your life insurance. Life insurance goes directly to the beneficiary named on the policy. It does not go through your will unless you have the policy made payable to yourself. Life insurance is, however, part of your estate when it comes to paying death taxes.

3) Review your liability policies. For most people, their liability policies are their home and auto insurance policies. These policies are important because they will pay for a lawyer to defend you if you are sued.

4) Powers of Attorney: Most lawyers recommend that every adult have a durable power of attorney which will allow someone to act on their behalf if they become incapacitated. These are very dangerous documents because they give the person named total access to your assets. They are very important documents because if you become sick, they provide your family with an easy and inexpensive way of taking care of your affairs.

5) Minor Children: If you have minor children, you need to provide for their care if you get sick, are in an accident or die. Make sure your children and other responsible people in your family know where the children are supposed to go if something happens to you. Each year you should review your choice of guardian. Is that choice still a good choice?

6) Wills and trusts: Wills and trusts, when used properly, are not substitutes for each other. They are different tools used in estate planning. One very good reason to have a will is to name a guardian for your minor children. The courts will generally honor your wishes. You can also create a testamentary trust within your will to manage any money you leave for your minor children. Once your children are grown, you should change your will to reflect the change in your circumstances.

7) Elder law is a specialty. Things that elder law planners have you do are not the same as the things that tax planners will have you do. In tax planning they will tell you that you may make gifts of up to $11,000 per year to as many individuals as you want without tax consequences. That is true. Unfortunately, the Medicaid rules are not the same. In many places (the rules vary slightly from state to state) any sum of money you give away within five years of a nursing home placement will trigger a penalty.

8) Charities: While you are reviewing your estate plan, think about supporting those charities and organizations that have been important to you. Gifts to charities are deducted from your gross estate.

9) The point is, plan ahead for yourself and your family.

We hope that this checklist is helpful to you. It is not all inclusive but covers the most significant points. Please call us if you have any questions. We are here to serve you.

And remember, our monthly Second Saturday Divorce Workshop is coming up on Feb. 10 at 10AM. Call (818)348-6700 to RSVP or visit www.thelawcollaborative.com/secondsaturday.htm for more info.

Happy New Year,
Ron Supancic and Ty Supancic
The Law Collaborative, APC
www.thelawcollaborative.com

Rob’s Mistake

Protect your assets - prepare an estate plan

Most people going through divorce don’t consider the possibility that one of the parties may die during the process. When this happens it creates chaos for the survivors. I’ve witnessed this several times during my practice, with one of the most poignant early in my career. I represented a young man with three children who rode a motorcycle to work every night. Rob worked the night shift and during the day, he packed lunches, took the children to school, and attended school functions.

He was married to a woman who wasn’t very interested in marriage or family. She stayed home at night while Rob worked and the kids slept, but she spent that time and most days romancing various friends. When they made the decision to divorce, she agreed that Rob would have custody of the kids so that she could continue her lifestyle. She also agreed to accommodate Rob’s work schedule by continuing to watch the children at night. Unfortunately, before we could finalize the divorce, Rob lost his life in a motorcycle accident on his way to work one night.

Rob was a great father but he failed to prepare an estate plan. Despite my advice that he prepare an interim estate plan during the divorce process, he chose to wait – he believed that he had plenty of time. He had not taken his wife’s name off of his life insurance. She was the sole beneficiary. He had not taken her off his retirement and pension plan. She was still the joint tenant on the real estate, the vehicles, the bank accounts, free to use and spend everything any way she pleased.

Most of us act like we’re going to live forever. We deny the truth. Statistics show that only half of married lawyers with children also have an estate plan. That’s among a population that should be most informed and knowledgeable about the need. The sad truth is that most people have not made even the most basic arrangements for the allocation of their estate.

Don’t make the kind of mistake Rob made. His wife, not his children, inherited everything. Nothing was set aside to provide for the children and she probably squandered it all as she continued the self-indulgent lifestyle that ended her marriage. Act now to ensure that your assets are protected and go to the right people.

We are here to assist and support you. We can help you set up a plan, or make any changes that need to be made to an existing plan. Please let us know how we can help.

And remember, our free Divorce Workshop is the Second Saturday of every month. The next one is Dec. 9 at 10:00AM. Call (818)348-6700 to RSVP.

Best wishes,

Ronald M. Supancic, CFLS
The Law Collaborative, APC
www.thelawcollaborative.com

Planning now protects your loved ones later

Protect your assets - prepare an estate plan

The world was stunned when we learned that Prince had passed unexpectedly at the age of 57. How is that possible?!? That same question came up when I learned that Prince died without a will. In life Prince was so concerned about his musical legacy that he stopped using his name for seven years in order to wrest control of his music away from his record label. When discussing the topic with Rolling Stone, Prince said, “If you don’t own your masters [master recordings], your master owns you.”

An artist that concerned about controlling his music while alive would surely have wanted to exert control over his image and music from beyond the grave.

Instead, the persona and music of Prince will likely be tied up in court for years as his legal heirs fight and wrangle for control. In the end, the lawyers and the government will be the big winners likely taking more than half of his estimated $300 million dollar estate. Not too long after that we’ll hear “Purple Rain” as a jingle for hair dye and “Little Red Corvette” re-recorded as “Little Red Kia.”

The only reason I can fathom that Prince didn’t take the necessary steps to ensure he forever controlled his legacy is that he, like his fans, never thought he’d die. Sure, everybody knows they’re going to die someday, but that’s way off in the future. Right now, when we can do something about it, we have other things to do.

I got a call last week from the son of a couple who suffer from dementia. The son has decided it’s time his parents do some low-cost estate planning. While I help people with simple planning all the time, I can only do so when they still have their faculties about them. Once a person no longer understands what they have and who their heirs are, it’s no longer simple. It’s costly and time consuming. What a horrible burden to leave your children.

It’s not just parents who burden their children. I’ve received heart-breaking phone calls from parents who cannot speak for their children because their adult child never executed a healthcare power of attorney. They can’t even handle their child’s business during a short-term incapacity because they lack a financial power of attorney. Those that have the power, often lack the information. Online cloud storage, photo storage, social media accounts — all inaccessible because nobody left behind a list of the domains, log-ins, and passwords. Will they even find all of Prince’s creative output?

They say Prince left thousands of recordings behind. Without any guidance, who knows how they might be exploited. Prince was one-of-a-kind. I doubt that the person or committee who ends up in control of his legacy will possess a similar genius. His court-appointed executors are already talking about launching a circus-like Vegas show using all unreleased music. I shudder.

God bless Prince. God bless grieving families. Go out and do the planning necessary to minimize the grief, suffering, and upset that your incapacity or death will inevitably impose on your family.

Best wishes,
Ty Supancic, Esq.
The Law Collaborative, APC
T: (818)348-6700 E: info@thelawcollaborative.com
www.thelawcollaborative.com

When Stars Collide

14-05-15 Newsletter_Header_Experts_In_Court

Madonna and her ex, Guy Ritchie, are locked in a transatlantic custody battle over their 15 year-old son Rocco. With cases filed in both the USA and the UK, even the courts were in dispute until a judge in London approved Madonna’s request to withdraw her UK filings.

Before doing so however, the British judge joined his American counterpart in suggesting the celebrity parents try to settle things outside of court stating, “It would be a very great tragedy for Rocco if any more of the precious and fast receding days of his childhood were to be taken up by this dispute. Far better for each of his parents to spend that time enjoying… the company of the… young man who is their son and who is a very great credit to them both.”

The judge continued, “I renew, one final time, my plea for the parents to seek, and to find an amicable resolution to the dispute between them.” But the conflict continues and Madonna and Ritchie are scheduled to appear in a New York court on June 1st.

In California, parents are required by statute to meet with a court appointed child custody mediator before they can ask a Judge to rule on custody issues. As a result of a program my father Ron was instrumental in implementing in Van Nuys in the late 70s, volunteer lawyers are also available to assist parties in finding mutually agreeable solutions before court. That mediation program was so successful that it was eventually implemented in most Southern California counties.

Another California twist on this case is Rocco’s age. With the enactment of Family Code Section 3042, Judges are now required to consider the custody preferences of a child over 14 years old when issuing a decision. Children under 14 can still express their preferences but the court can disregard them because the legal standard is “best interests of the child.” In California, if 15 year old Rocco said he wants to spend all his time touring with mom and hanging out with her groupies, the judge might not grant his wish. But the judge must explain in the ruling what their considerations were and how they affected the decision.

Hopefully Rocco’s parents take the judge’s recommendation to heart: a parenting plan they design is far more likely to fit with their lifestyles and values than anything a stranger in a robe can impose. Some Judges in Los Angeles won’t even make orders regarding holidays, instead warning the parents that if they cannot reach an agreement between themselves and counsel, the court will impose sanctions. At The Law Collaborative we strongly believe that parents know what is best for their children. Leaving it to a judge in a custody proceeding, or leaving it to a probate court when a parent dies is rarely “best” and always more expensive and destructive to the family. Siblings forced through probate sometimes never speak again.

Parents owe a duty to protect their children during divorce and avoid creating conflicts for them after death. Using mediation or Collaborative Law during divorce and preparing a proper estate plan can help avoid unnecessary drama, cost, and alienation. Please feel free to call me if you want to discuss anything in this article.

Ty Supancic works with his father Ron at The Law Collaborative to help families avoid crisis

Ty Supancic, Esq.
The Law Collaborative, APC
(818) 348-6700 F: (818) 348-0961

Khloe and Lamar: Dangerous Oversight

 15-10-30 Lamar & Khloe Header

Thankfully, Lamar Odom appears to be making a complete recovery after being found unconscious at Love Ranch outside of Pahrump, Nevada. But for a time his condition was precarious and the outlook for recovery grim. Although Odom and Khloe Kardashian had filed for divorce in 2013, they had not finalized the matter and are still legally married. Furthermore, it appears that Odom had not executed a new Healthcare Power of Attorney which meant that doctors had to look to Kardashian for direction regarding his medical treatment.

If they thought about it, my guess is that most people would not want their soon-to-be-ex making life and death decisions about their medical treatment. But most people don’t think about it.

I meet with people all the time who are in the midst of a divorce that’s spiraling out of control. They’ve spent thousands of dollars fighting in court and are desperately looking for a way to stop the bleeding, so they come to our office for help. Mediation and Collaborative Law offer a solution to the insanity of court costs and legal fees.

When I meet with these people, one of the questions I ask is, “Who holds your Healthcare Power of Attorney?” This question is often met with a blank stare.

“What do you mean?”

I repeat my question a different way: “If you were in the hospital and could not speak for yourself, who would the doctor turn to for guidance?”

“My parents?” is a common response.

“Great,” I respond, “so you’ve got a signed Healthcare Power of Attorney naming your parents?”

“No,” is the usual answer.

“Well in that case, your soon-to-be-ex has that power. And if you don’t have an interim Estate Plan, they’ll also inherit your share of the property. Is that okay with you?”

Healthcare Powers of Attorney are an important part of any complete Estate Plan, but Estate Plans need to be kept current, and during a divorce, interim planning is critical. But just as people put off Estate Planning, they put off interim planning as well.

If your Estate Plan is out-of-date, update it now. If you don’t have an Estate Plan, get one right away, but don’t do it “on the cheap.” I recently got a sad call from the long-time companion of an elderly gentleman who’d passed. He’d used an online “trust mill” to draft an Estate Plan. His intentions were that his companion could stay in the house for the rest of her life and after she passed, everything would go to his kids. By saving money on a cheap plan, he inadvertently bypassed her and she got nothing.

For Lamar Odom, things seem to have worked out okay. Others are not that lucky. If you’re going through a divorce, talk to your attorney about interim Estate Planning. If you’re going through the “divorce from hell” talk to a Mediator or Collaborative Attorney about putting an end to the madness.

Thanks for reading,

Ty Supancic
Ty@thelawcollaborative.com
T: 818-348-6700
F: 818-348-6700

What Everyone Seems to Forget

14-09-11 WhatEveryoneSeemstoForget

When moving into a new home, always check the smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. You just bought a new house, make sure it doesn’t burn down.  This makes good sense.  But after a divorce, it seems most people would rather just be done than take the next step to protect their newly acquired separate property.

No one would embark on a long trip to a new land without making some necessary arrangements. Yet people regularly move into a new life as a single person without the necessary planning to ensure that loved ones and property are protected as they intended, and that their affairs are taken care of if they become incapacitated or die.

Fact: everyone over the age of 18 needs an estate plan. Yet it becomes even more pressing when one is newly divorced.  After a divorce, our Estate Planning attorney will review assets to ensure that title has been updated and is held properly, that account beneficiaries reflect the newly-single person’s wishes, and that children are protected from future step-parents.

I often get sad calls from people who learn their step-parent is getting what was supposed to be their inheritance. Why?  Because mom or dad didn’t plan – they simply put it off for “later.”

If a divorced party should unexpectedly die before creating a new estate plan, the ex-spouse might receive control of assets that had been intended for the children. While the surviving parent might have the children’s best interests at heart, that person’s new spouse may not.  Make certain that the legacy intended for the children does not end up in the pockets of the opposing party and their new love-interest.

The great thing about Estate Planning is, if you’re still fortunate enough to reading about it or thinking about it, it’s not too late to act on it.  Don’t leave your loved ones in the position of having to call my office to ask if we can “fix” things: “Mom died without a will,” or “Dad said, ‘Everything’s taken care of!’ but we can’t find his estate plan.”  Attend to your estate now, and leave your loved ones the best legacy possible. A legacy you plan, not the default that will enrich tax collectors, bill collectors, and will surely divide families as they fight over “What mom would have wanted.”

Your friend,

Ronald Melin Supancic
Certified Family 
Law Specialist
The Law Collaborative, APC
T: (888) 852-9961  F: (888) 852-9962 

I understand that this is controversial; I’d love your feedback.

NEW_Newsletter_Header_Second-Amendment

 

Experts estimate that American civilians possess at least 310 million firearms. In 2010, U.S. companies manufactured 5,459,240 new firearms compared to only 2,966,133 automobiles. The Economist recently declared, “It’s too late. Gun control in America is as quaint a proposition as prohibition.” Meanwhile, lawmakers are considering laws that will criminalize the passive act of having Grandpa’s old rifle in the closet, even if it doesn’t function.

Whether you support gun control laws or believe the only form of gun control should be the use of both hands, guns are here for the long haul and so are the legal traps they represent. If you’re a gun owner, or acquainted with one, you need to continue reading.

Unless you’ve purchased a firearm recently, you might be surprised by how many confusing and often conflicting laws control the transfer and ownership of firearms in California – and the laws aren’t any clearer for heirs. Putting firearms in a will or trust exposes heirs to accidental felonies and possible state and federal criminal charges.

If someone borrows your key ring, and one key opens Grandpa’s gun cabinet, both parties may be instantly guilty of several felonies.

If Mom gives Grandpa’s old broken rifle to Jimmy, and Jimmy has a prescription for medical marijuana — Mom and Jimmy may both go to jail.

During your life, a properly written Gun Trust will protect you, your family, and your collection should laws change, or should you or a family member lose the right to possess firearms.

When the gun owner is no longer around to provide guidance, a Gun Trust will help protect heirs by providing instructions for proper conveyance to prevent illegal transfers which might occur with a regular will or trust. A Gun Trust can also provide a means to support the continued use and maintenance of the firearms or instructions to maximize their sale potential.

If you want to pass on 2nd Amendment values to your heirs, we can prepare a Family Armory Trust which will provide firearm safety and marksmanship training, incentives to support the 2nd Amendment, and preservation of multi-generational heirloom collections.

Whether you own one gun or several, whether you own guns as an investment, or for self defense – you have a responsibility to ensure that those firearms are handled properly, now and in the future. You will leave a legacy – Make certain it isn’t a legacy of prison time.

How do you feel about gun control?  What do you think about the 2nd Amendment? I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this controversial subject. Leave a comment on our Facebook page (Facebook.com/TheLawCollaborative), tweet us @TLC_Law, or reply to this email.

Call us now to discuss protecting your heirs and your guns today, before it’s too late.

Ty Supancic, Esq.
The Law Collaborative, APC
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
T: (818)348-6700
F: (818)348-0961

Rob, His Family, and the Tree

Protect your assets - prepare an estate plan

Most people contemplating divorce don’t consider the sad reality that one of the parties may die while going through the process. When this does happen it results in chaos for the survivors. I’ve witnessed this several times during my practice, but one of the most poignant was early in my law career. I represented a young man with three children who rode a motorcycle to work every night. Rob worked the night shift as a machine technician at a local trade school. He was responsible for the necessary cleaning and repair of the machines that were used each day by the teachers and students. During the day, Rob happily packed lunches, took the children to school, and attended school functions.

He was married to a woman who wasn’t very interested in marriage or family. She was home at night while the kids were asleep, but spent that time entertaining various married boyfriends. During the day, she also had a very active social life. When the decision to divorce was made, she agreed that most of the property should be put in trust for the children, and that Rob would have physical custody. She also agreed to accommodate Rob’s work schedule by continuing to care for the children at night while they slept. But before we could finalize the divorce, Rob lost his life in a motorcycle accident on his way to work one night when he was cut off by a drunk driver and hit a tree.

Rob was a great father but he failed to prepare an estate plan. Despite my advice that he prepare an interim estate plan during the divorce process, he chose to wait – he believed that he had plenty of time. He had not taken his wife’s name off of his life insurance. She was the sole beneficiary. He had not taken her off his retirement and pension plan. She was still the joint tenant on the real estate, the vehicles, the bank accounts, free to use and spend everything any way she pleased.

Most of us act like we’re going to live forever, or like we can predict our death. We deny the truth. Statistics show that only half the lawyers who are married and have children also have an estate plan! That’s among a population that should be most informed and knowledgeable about the need. I do not know the statistics for the general public, but I know that most people have not made even the most basic arrangements for the allocation of their estate.

Don’t make the kind of mistake Rob made. His wife, not his children, inherited everything. Nothing was set aside to provide for the children and she probably squandered it all as she continued the self-indulgent lifestyle that ended her marriage. Act now to ensure that your assets are protected and go to the right people. We are here to assist and support you. We can help you set up a plan, or make any changes that need to be made to an existing plan. Please let us know how we can help.

Best wishes,

Ronald M. Supancic, CFLS

Ty Supancic, Esq. – Avvo Rated Estate Planning Attorney

Ty Supancic Esq, Avvo Rated

I’m very proud of my son and associate, Ty Supancic, Esquire.  Ty has an Estate Planning practice, which includes Wills, Trusts, Asset Protection, and Gun Trusts.  He also practices in all areas of Family Law with an emphasis on Mediation, and he continues to represent Artists from his days in the Entertainment Industry.

–Ron Supancic

 

A Gift from The Law Collaborative

photo by only alice via PhotoRee

We have a Special Limited Time Offer ($500 Value) for current clients in good standing.

The 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was designed to make health insurance portable for employees, but it also imposed strict rules for the release of private medical information.

Healthcare providers, in efforts to comply with HIPAA, regularly refuse to provide family members with critical information about the medical conditions of their loved ones. The problem is, once disabled, a person may no longer be able to grant the necessary authorization. Abusive and neglectful caregivers have been known to hide behind these rules, while loved ones are denied recourse.

To help protect our clients, The Law Collaborative is offering to prepare and provide current clients in good-standing with a complimentary Advanced Health Care Directive, Living Will, Healthcare Power of Attorney, and HIPAA Authorization. Clients will also receive a wallet card and a complimentary one-year enrollment in a service that stores these important legal documents so that they can be accessed by medical professionals anywhere in the world in case of emergency. The wallet card also lists allergies, medical conditions, and provides a toll-free number for access to these critical documents.

We care about our clients and we want them to be protected when they need it most. To take advantage of this limited time offer or for further information on how you can control your property while you’re alive, care for yourself and your loved ones if you become disabled, and give what you have to whom you want, the way you want, when you want, call us toll free at (888) 852-9961 and ask about our HIPAA offer and free estate planning consultation.

Your legacy matters – take control of it now.

*This is a limited time offer to clients with current billing accounts and may be subject to change or revocation at any time without notice.

Best wishes,
Ronald Supancic, CFLS and Robert Borsky, Esq.
Partners at The Law Collaborative, LLC