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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

May Newsletter: Retiring?

Who Wants to Retire?

What we have learned over time about retirement is that people in their twenties don’t plan because they think they’ll never die. People in their thirties don’t plan because they are too busy building careers and keeping up with the Joneses. People don’t plan during their forties because they’re too busy paying off their kids’ college tuition. Most don’t start planning until their fifties, sixties, and seventies and sometimes that’s too late. It’s not too late for you. When are you going to plan? Is your plan current? Know that laws change every year and plans need to be reviewed and updated to reflect these changes.

We are pleased to announce that we’ve joined Wealth Counsel, the premier Estate Planning organization for Estate Planning Attorneys. We offer Estate Planning services to clients who are considering reviewing, renewing, or initiating their estate plan. We can draft your simple or complex will, a living trust, or a more complex and elaborate wealth transfer plan. Call us today. We are here to serve you.

On another note…

Let’s Bring Back That Loving Feeling

Dr. Mark Goulston wrote an article titled, Human Cooling, Global Warming, & Childhood Obesity, that reflects his observations of our society today. How we’ve replaced listening with lecturing, taking responsibility with excuse-making, contentment with immediate gratification, value with ROI, giving with taking. This is not true for all people, but, unfortunately, it is true for many. Why? Why have we replaced joyful laughter with laughing at others, and gratitude for our blessings with disappointment for what we lack? According to Dr. Goulston, we’ve done it because we’ve lost sight of life’s positives. We grasp at ‘stuff,’ to fill the gaping hole left behind.

The more we make excuses, blame others, react without listening, and indulge in resentments, the more likely we will consume, buy, take, and grab to fill the void. The more we listen, contemplate, give to others, and take responsibility for our actions and choices, the more complete and whole we begin to feel. Dr. Goulston recommends the following powerful exercise to anyone who wants to bring back more of those loving feelings.

1. Think of someone you are grateful to, why you are grateful to them, and the difference they have made in your life. Contact them (or a surviving family member if they have passed) and tell them. Thank them.

2. Think of someone to whom you need to apologize. Contact them and apologize. If it’s been a long time say, “This is a long overdue apology, but time slipped away and I felt too embarrassed to contact you. I’m contacting you now to tell you I ____________________. I was wrong and I am sorry.” If you use email, write in the subject line, “A long overdue apology,” which should get their attention.

This exercise will uplift you and give you a new attitude towards life. It will be easier to take care of your health and you will be able to model these positive, powerful behaviors for your children. To read Dr. Goulston’s article, click here.

Best wishes,
Ron Supancic, CFLS and Robert Borsky, Esq.
Partners at The Law Collaborative, LLP

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