Friday, November 21, 2014

Naming a Guardian

Most parents, and their lawyers make these same mistakes when naming guardians for their children.

You should never name a couple to act as guardian when you really only want one person in the couple to raise your children. And then not saying what should happen if thos person is in the same accident as you or otherwise can't serve.

You should never name just one possible guardian. What if something happend to youyr first choice. You'll need to make sure you have a backup plan in place to guarentee the well being of your children.

Considering financial resourses when deciding who should raise your children. Your guardians do not have to be the financial decision makers for your kids.

Another common mistake is not protecting the financial resourses adequetly. A will means the court MUST get involved to distribute your money, making your kids' inheritance a matter of public record. That makes life more difficult for the people you love. You need a comprehensive plan that stays up to date throughout your life, keeps everything private, and makes it easier for your loved ones!

Make sure you exclude anyone that might challenge your gaurdianship decisions or who you know you'd never want to care for your kids.

Make sure when you name guardians that it's not only for the long term, but for the short term too, in case you're ever in an accident. What would happen in those immediate hours until the permanent gaurdians arrived. These is a big one to think about.

Naming guardians is a very important thing and a very big deal. Please don't ever take it lightly and always seek professional help if you're not sure you're covering all of your bases.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Priceless Christmas Gift: The Legacy Interview

This year ABC Utah Law wanted to do something a little extra for the holiday season. So we've decided to offer this special gift at an extrememly special price. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

National Adoption Month

Each year, November is recognized as National Adoption Awareness Month.  Adoptions are one of my favorite things to practice in my law firm. Everyone (including the judge) is happy when they leave the court room. 

For each of us to have each other is a dream come true. No, I didn’t give you the gift of life; life gave me the gift of you.    -Unknown

Adoption is a way for a couple or a family to claim legal responsibility for a child who has no parents, whose parents have abandoned them, or whose parents are unfit to care for them.
Because Utah adoptions laws differ slightly from many other states regarding parental rights, it is important to have an experienced attorney to guide you through the process. While there are several types of adoptions the four most common ones are:
·         Step-Parent Adoptions;
·         Agency Adoptions;
·         Private Adoptions; &
·         Public Adoptions

Step Parent Adoptions

            A step-parent adoption is simply an adoption involving a child’s biological custodial parent and a step-parent who wants to adopt their step-child.

Agency Adoptions

            Agency adoptions are exactly what they sound like: adoptions undertaken with the help of an agency. The agency usually connects the adoptive parents with the birth parents and arranges most of the meetings and paperwork.

Private Adoptions

            Private adoptions are adoptions in which an agency’s assistance is not used. In private adoptions, the adoptive parents find their adoptive child; many times through family connections (e.g. an underage niece becomes pregnant and wants to give the child up for adoption).
            Private adoptions can be less expensive than working with an agency; however, given the complex nature of the adoption process, you want to make sure you’ve enlisted the help of an adoption attorney to make sure the process is done correctly.

Public Adoptions

            Public adoptions, (sometimes called foster-parent adoptions), is when a child in the foster care system is adopted by their foster parent.
            In public adoptions a lot of the work is facilitated by the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS), and an attorney is only brought in to assist with the finalization of the adoption.

Adoption Finalization

            Finalizing an adoption is the last step to completing the adoption process. Finally, after all those years of filling out paperwork, searching for your adoptive child, having people ask you personal questions and inspect your house, the criminal background checks, the birth mother interviews, the waiting, you will now be legally recognized as your child’s parents.
            Finalizing an adoption is one of the most enjoyable things that attorneys and judges participate in as part of their jobs.
            The process of finalizing your adoption, however, can be quite complicated. There are documents to file with the court, people to notify, fees to pay, and the hearing before the judge that you need to prepare for. Don’t do it on your own. You should enlist the help of an adoption attorney to ensure your adoption finalization is done correctly. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Why You Might NOT Want to Make an Appointment

You Think You Already Have an Estate Plan in Place
If you already have a Will, Trust, Health Care Directives and/or a Power of Attorney in place, you may think you don't need to come in and meet with me about your family's legal planning.
Here's why you would want to come in anyway.

The reality is that estate planning documents by themselves are meaningless to your family if they are not kept up to date throughout your lifetime and if your assets are not owned in the right way to keep your family out of Court.
If there have been any changes in your life, the law or your assets since you put in place those documents and the documents have not been updated, come on in to see me so we can make sure they still meet your family's needs. 
And, if you have minor children at home, there is a very good chance that the documents were not prepared properly in the first place.  Most lawyers do not have the knowledge, training or experience to plan properly for the care of minor children.
Not to worry though ... we'll take care of all of that when you come in.
You Think You Do Not Have Enough Assets
You may be thinking you do not need an estate plan because you don't have an estate. 
And you might be right.  If you do not own your home, do not have life insurance, and do not have any assets in the bank or in brokerage accounts, you still have an estate, BUT you may not need a comprehensive plan to handle things at the end of your life.
But there are a couple of things you still will need to have in place, even if you don't have many assets.
First of all, if you have dependent children at home, you will need to make sure you have a plan in place that addresses their care if anything happens to you.
This plan needs to take into account not just who would raise them in the event of your death, but also who would take care of them in the short term if there was an accident, and how you would want them raised by the people you've chosen as guardians.
Don't worry if that sounds like a lot, we'll make sure you've got it all taken care of when you come in for your planning consultation.
If you do not have dependent children at home, even if you do not have assets you will need to have legal documents in place to ensure that health care decisions and financial decisions can be made for you in the way you want in the event of an accident.
And it is possible you could get those very basic documents in place without a full blown estate plan.
The Family Asset Planning Consultation you have scheduled with us is designed to take an honest look at what you really do need and what you really do not need. If it turns out you don't need any planning at all, you leave the consultation educated, informed and feeling great that you have done the right thing by your family by investigating what's necessary to make things as easy as possible for them at the end of your life.
If it turns out you do need planning, we will work together to determine the right planning for you and your family based on your needs, your budget, and your stage of life. And most importantly, we will make sure that whatever gets put in place will stay up to date and continue to work throughout your lifetime.
You Think You Can't Afford to Plan
The last reason you may not want to keep your appointment is that you may think you cannot afford to plan.
That may or may not be true. But you don't have to worry about that yet because when we meet we are first going to look at whether you need to plan.
If it turns out you do need to plan, we will work together to make it affordable for you and your family.

If you do not need to plan, you leave the meeting feeling great about having done everything you can to make sure things will be as easy as possible for your loved ones if and when something happens to you.
So, rest easy, don't worry about a thing.
I am here to make this whole process of thinking about difficult subjects easier for you and your family.