4 Warning Signs Your Elderly Relative May Be the Victim of Financial Abuse

Some of the most disturbing crimes against the elderly involve financial exploitation. While physical abuse is often easy to spot, financial abuse can be more difficult to detect, as victims often have no idea they’re being swindled until their money suddenly vanishes.

Most victims are more than 70 or 80 years old, and involve crimes like fraud, embezzlement, identity theft, along with welfare and insurance scams. If you’re caring for an elderly loved one, be on the lookout for the following red flags of financial abuse:

  1. Unusual financial transactions or spending

The most obvious sign an elderly family member is being exploited is if there are sudden changes to their spending, banking, and/or financial practices. At the same time, the person may start behaving secretively, confused, or otherwise atypical about money matters. A few of the most frequent actions include:

  • Someone who is normally meticulous about their finances suddenly starts seeing unpaid bills, non-sufficient funds warnings, and/or unexplained credit card charges.
  • The elderly person starts opening, closing, or changing banking and investment accounts, especially without regard to penalties or fees.
  • Someone with consistent spending patterns starts showing a sharp increase in spending and/or investing.
  • The person’s account sees a suspicious increase in ATM use, withdrawals, and/or checks made out to unfamiliar recipients.
  1. The appearance of a “new” person in their life

Because they’re often alone and isolated, seniors are particularly susceptible to being “befriended” by strangers who take advantage of their loneliness to exploit them. And it may not be a stranger—relatives who haven’t been around for years can suddenly start spending lots of time with the person.

This situation is particularly dangerous when the new acquaintance, caregiver, or relative spends time in the person’s home, where they have easy access to the person’s accounts, financial statements, and personal documents.

One sign that something is amiss is if the senior acts unusual when it comes to the new caregiver or friend. They may seem nervous when that person is around, stop participating in their usual social events, or be reluctant to speak about the person with you. This is a red flag the new person may be trying to isolate or control them.

  1. Unneeded goods, services, or subscriptions

Outside of loneliness, the elderly are often physically unable to handle household chores and maintenance like they used to. Given this, they’ll likely need service providers to take care of the work for them. But every new person they surround themselves with is a potential swindler.

Watch for unscrupulous door-to-door salesmen and home repair contractors, who stop by offering unsolicited products or services, especially related to home remediation issues. And they don’t have to physically present to perpetrate fraud—there are countless telemarketing and email scams that target unsuspecting seniors in order to make a quick buck or steal their identity.

One fairly common scam involves inviting the older person to a free lunch or dinner in exchange for listening to a “seminar” about a financial product or service. The elderly often feel obligated to “buy something” after getting what they thought was a free meal.

Make sure that another adult relative is present before signing any contracts, and always consult with us if you’re unfamiliar with a new investment or financial opportunity.

  1. Changes to wills, trusts, titles, power of attorney, etc.

The worst cases of financial abuse of the elderly can even involve the person making changes to wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents. Other potentially harmful changes can involve deeds, refinanced mortgages, property titles, and/or adding someone to a joint account.

Pay especially close attention if the older person seeks to grant power of attorney to someone out of the ordinary, as this can open the door for massive theft of assets and potentially fatal changes in a senior’s caregiving services.

One major advantage to establishing a relationship with a lawyer during your early years is so we can get to know you while you’re young, healthy, and clear, and then monitor if anything goes awry in your later years.

One reason financial scams are so hard to detect is that the elderly—like all of us—are embarrassed to admit they’ve been swindled, or they may not want to get a new “friend” or relative in trouble by telling others about their suspicions.

However, anyone can fall prey to financial fraud, so it’s important the elderly know that you’ve hired us as your Personal Family Lawyer® to provide trusted advice and guidance for all financial and legal matters. We can help secure your family’s most valuable assets with robust legal protections to prevent fraud and scams of all kinds. Call us today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session to make the most empowered and informed decisions for yourself and the family members you love.

This article is a service of Amy Hsiao, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at (858) 386-0998 to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

Suze Orman Says This Is the Age You Should Retire—Not a Month or Year Before (and Here’s What She Misses)

If you’re middle aged or older, it’s likely that one of your most pressing concerns is not having enough money for retirement. And there’s good reason. According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, a full third of Americans between 55 and 65 have nothing saved for retirement.

And even if you’ve diligently saved, it’s difficult to predict if your savings will be enough. Today, many people are living into their late-80s, 90s, and even 100s. Because most Baby Boomers have lived comparatively healthier lives and had access to better healthcare than their parents, you may live even longer.

In light of these facts, a recent article in Money by renowned financial guru Suze Orman declares that the new retirement age for the majority of us is now 70.

While most plan to retire in their 60s, Orman believes this simply isn’t realistic anymore, not only because of increased lifespan, but also due to rising healthcare costs and the increased need to care for aging parents for longer periods.

Today’s eligibility age for full Social Security benefits is between 65 and 67. Of course, you can retire as early as 62 and receive partial benefits, but Orman says that claiming such partial benefits is “one of the biggest mistakes you’ll ever make.”

By waiting until 70, your annual benefit will be 76% higher, which will be hugely beneficial in the long run. Orman notes that for married couples it might be okay for the spouse earning less to retire at age 67, but the higher earner must wait until 70. The only exception is if one of you has a medical condition that prevents you from working or makes it unlikely you’ll live into your late-80s or 90s.

But delaying retirement doesn’t necessarily mean working full-time until 70. You might be able to work part-time or receive a reduction in your current job responsibilities. Orman says to start talking with employers about the possibility of part-time work or reduced duties at least two years before your planned downshift.

You also might consider switching jobs to something that requires less time and energy. Start looking now for educational and training opportunities to prepare for such a new position.

Another option (and one Orman misses) is to launch a freelance gig, or “side hustle,” which is probably your best bet for a secure retirement anyway.

Instead of thinking about retirement as a time to retire from life and work, start thinking about it as the time you can finally do what you’ve always wanted to do. Create a service offering around the passion project you didn’t think you could indulge during your working years.

Dreaming into—and even taking steps toward this side hustle—now is the place to start, no matter how close or far you are from retirement.

Your life experiences were given to you so you can give them back. Begin to consider who needs to hear what you’ve learned throughout your life, especially during the hard times, as that’s likely to be the source of your side hustle.

While this all may initially add to your retirement anxiety, rather than reducing it, you don’t have to go it alone. With us as your Personal Family Lawyer®, we’ll be in your corner the whole way, offering guidance and support, while helping with any legal, insurance, financial, and tax issues that might arise. Schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session® today to see where your retirement planning currently stands.

This article is a service of Amy Hsiao, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at (858) 386-0998 to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

The Real Planned Parenthood: Platonic Parenting

Divorce can be one of the most unpleasant—and often traumatic—experiences of your life, especially if you have children. It can be even more distressing for the kids themselves. In many cases, a divorce can severely affect a child’s emotional well-being, and in extreme cases, even tear apart a parent’s personal relationship with their offspring.

In light of these hardships, a new movement is sweeping the country, known as “platonic parenting.” The arrangement typically involves spouses who refrain from divorce—or get divorced but stay closely connected (even cohabitating)—in order to more effectively raise their children and reduce trauma. The couple remains highly amicable and cooperative, but ceases any romantic connection or commitment.

This isn’t about “staying together for the kids,” where couples remain unhappily married solely for the children’s sake—and which is often just as traumatic as divorce.

Platonic parenting was pioneered within the LGBTQ community, since until recently same-sex couples couldn’t legally marry, and thus were forced to create outside-the-box parenting arrangements following a romantic split. Today, many people of all genders and sexual orientation are entering into these relationships, and some believe this style of co-parenting can be just as healthy as those raised in happily married households.

Obviously, Platonic Parenting is no panacea, and the arrangement requires intense levels of trust, communication, and planning. The first step of the new partnership is for both parties to come up with a firm agreement around their financial commitments and living situation.

Other things to work out include how to handle new romantic relationships, if/how to incorporate the platonic partner into family gatherings, along with all manner of other basic ground rules. Then you must plan how you’ll discuss this with your kids and other family members, so everyone clearly understands exactly what this new life will entail.

Platonic parenting isn’t just limited to married or otherwise romantically involved couples: Numerous people of all genders and orientations are entering into such relationships.

For example, a heterosexual woman may partner with a gay man to provide a father (literally and/or figuratively) for her kids. Or maybe it’s two longtime friends of any gender combination, who are interested in starting a family but haven’t found a suitable romantic partner. There are even cases where the arrangement involves three or more platonic parents, who tag team, if you will, the immense responsibility of raising children.

With so many important agreements to be made, all parties involved are advised to seek legal counsel before creating such an arrangement. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we specialize in helping you navigate these types of non-traditional partnerships. Whether you’re seeking advice on planning such an arrangement, or you need us to draft legally binding contracts, contact us today to make sure your new family is as happy and healthy as possible.

This article is a service of Amy Hsiao, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at (858) 386-0998 to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

4 Cryptocurrency Risks and Scams and How to Navigate Them — Part 2

Last week, we shared the first part of our series on cryptocurrency risks and scams, and if you haven’t read it yet, you can do so here. In part two, we discuss two more common traps to be wary of when investing in digital currency.

If you are considering using cryptocurrency as an investment vehicle, talk with us first.

  1. Pyramid/Ponzi Schemes That Will Trade For You

Because dealing with cryptocurrency can be a complex affair, online scammers have developed complicated cons similar to traditional pyramid and ponzi schemes. People have lost a lot of money in such scams, and unless you’re well-versed in the technology, they can be difficult to spot.

One giant red flag to watch for is giving your money to others who invest/trade for you, or if you only get paid when you recruit new members.

Also avoid buying upfront “packages” (The Gold Package) promising varying returns. And if you see the words “This isn’t a pyramid scheme” in the marketing materials, you may want to look a little more closely!

Unless you get to hold the keys to your private wallet containing your crypto directly or trade via a reputable exchange like Coinbase, you very well could be dealing with a scammer. And while plenty of people will make money in cryptocurrency pyramid/ponzi schemes, many will lose. That could include you or people you care about, if you get involved in crypto this way.

  1. Fake ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings)

While new cryptocurrency can be created without any public investment or offering, many use an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) to fund their startup initiative. ICOs are basically IPOs (Initial Public Offerings) for cryptocurrency and a highly effective way to crowdfund vast sums of money extremely quickly. In fact, recent ICOs have raised millions of dollars in mere minutes.

This speed comes from the fact that ICOs are barely regulated—a good thing if you’re looking to raise money quickly and avoid the rigorous and time-consuming regulations involved with traditional capital raising. But it can bad, too, as the lack of regulation is a big neon welcome sign to scammers.

The lack of legal oversight has resulted in numerous fake ICOs being created by crypto con men, who go to great lengths to convince potential investors of their fake coin’s legitimacy. If you’re just getting started with cryptocurrency, it’s probably best to avoid ICOs until you really understand what you are investing in. In fact, that’s a good rule of thumb with any crypto investment, if you don’t understand the technology beneath it, start by learning that—and understand “what this crypto actually does”—before you invest. Contact us if you’d like help with that.

Of course, not all ICOs are fake, and if you’re tech-savvy, they can be quite lucrative. In fact, many tout ICOs as the future of venture capitalism and fundraising.

But no venture capitalist would ever fund a startup without proper vetting, and the same applies to altcoins. Check the background of the people directly involved with the project and those serving as advisors. Use Google and social media like LinkedIn to verify these are real people with stellar reputations, and their advertised skills and knowledge match those found on online resumes and CVs. And make sure you understand what the cryptocurrency proposes to do and that you believe the team behind it can accomplish that goal, as with any business investment you would make.

And as with any investment, beware of deals that promise unrealistically high returns and/or just sound way too good to be true—that’s sign they likely are.

If you’re serious about adding cryptocurrency to your family’s investment portfolio, take the next step in your education by contacting your Personal Family Lawyer®. As your trusted advisor, we’ll help you incorporate cryptocurrency into your family’s financial and estate planning, so you can get the most bang for your crypto buck.

This article is a service of Amy Hsiao, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at (858) 386-0998 to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

4 Cryptocurrency Risks and Scams and How to Navigate Them — Part 1

It’s no secret that Bitcoin and other brands of cryptocurrency are one of the hottest new investment opportunities.  And if you’re not already invested, you may be considering how to get in, what exactly is the best way to get in, and you should definitely be considering risks and potential scams that are easy to get caught by if you’re not eyes wide open on the issues surrounding cryptocurrency.

Launched in 2009, Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency, and since then, it has evolved from something only computer geeks and hackers talked about into a global phenomenon that’s transformed how the entire world views money.

Bitcoin is still the most popular—and valuable—digital currency. As of November 2017, a single Bitcoin was worth more than $10,000, with the currency’s total market capitalization at roughly $158 billion.  Bitcoin’s smashing success spawned a legion of other coins, known as “altcoins,” such as Ethereum, Litecoin, and Ripple, and the global market value for all cryptocurrency is currently more than $300 billion.

The huge amounts of money transitioning into the world of cryptocurrency has attracted equally large numbers of investors, looking to tap into this seemingly boundless source of new money. However, because it’s largely unregulated, involves extremely complex technology, and offers significant anonymity, the cryptocurrency market has also garnered the attention of cyber criminals.

Indeed, cryptocurrency’s brief history is filled with stories of people losing major money through hacking and a variety of other traps and scams. As with any new investment opportunity, the key to safety with cryptocurrency is education. While you should always do your own research before investing, here are a few of the most common scams to watch for and how to know whether investing in or using cryptocurrency is right for you.

  1.  Shady Exchanges

A cryptocurrency exchange is an online platform for trading one cryptocurrency for another or for fiat currency like the U.S. dollar. These platforms are where you buy in and cash out your cryptocurrency, so they’re essential to the crypto market. Exchanges typically charge a fee for each transaction and are based on current market rates or rates set by sellers/brokers.

Bitcoin’s popularity has caused the number of exchanges to explode, but not all exchanges are trustworthy. In the past, major exchanges have disappeared overnight and taken all of the digital currency with them, while others offer horrible customer service, and/or make getting your money out extremely difficult.

Your best bet is to stick with the largest, most popular exchanges like Coinbase, Kraken, and Bittrex. That said, legitimate smaller exchanges are out there and can be used safely, provided you’ve done your research. Indeed, there are numerous websites that rank and review crypto exchanges for quality, security, and customer service. If the reviews are largely negative, note that it’s difficult to cash out your altcoins, or mention the customer service is exceptionally poor and/or slow, steer clear.

  1. Picking Your Wallet

In order to store cryptocurrency, you’ll want a digital wallet, as that’s the safest way to hold your cryptocurrency. Exchanges are for buying and selling, but not the safest for storing.

Your cryptocurrency wallet doesn’t actually “store” money like a traditional wallet; rather, it stores passcodes, known as keys, that allow you to send and receive digital currency to and from the wallet. There are many different wallets available, but not all of them are totally secure.

Wallets come in two forms: hot and cold. A “hot” wallet stores your cryptocurrency in a location that’s connected to the internet—exchange-based wallets, desktop wallets, and mobile wallets. Because they’re connected to the internet, hot wallets are the most convenient, but that also makes them vulnerable to hacking. A “cold” wallet, conversely, stores your cryptocurrency in a location that’s completely offline. Ironically, the most secure type of wallet for storing digital currency is a cold “paper” wallet.

Paper wallets involve printing out your keys and storing them in a secure location. While paper wallets are the most secure option, if you lose the codes, it’s the same as losing paper currency—you’re screwed, meaning there is no way to recover your investment. Paper wallets are also inconvenient—you have to send your money back to an exchange to use it—which can be a pain if you’re using cryptocurrency on a daily basis.

If you primarily use cryptocurrency as a long-term investment, you should store all of your crypto in a paper wallet. If you’re receiving, spending, or trading frequently, however, you should use both a hot/online and paper/offline wallet. Like real-world wallets, store the money you need for the day in your hot/online wallet, but keep the majority of your funds in a paper/offline wallet for safekeeping.

In all cases, whether you have crypto in a hot wallet, paper wallet, or directly in an exchange, make sure you’ve given the details of where it’s stored and how to access it to the people who need to know in case you’re incapacitated or when you die. Otherwise, it’s completely lost. If the people you love don’t know how to find and access it, it’s the same as it not existing at all. Please talk with us about this if you have any cryptocurrency now that may not have been included in your estate plan, or if you do obtain any in the future. Remember: if your family doesn’t know how to access it, it will be lost if you become incapacitated or when you die.

In addition to safety, investing in cryptocurrency comes with an array of other legal, financial, and tax issues you’ll need to consider. The good news is, as your Personal Family Lawyer we can guide you through these challenges and help you incorporate cryptocurrency investments into your family’s overall financial and estate-planning strategies. Contact us today to get started.

Next week, we’ll continue with part two in this series on cryptocurrency risks and scams.

This article is a service of Amy Hsiao, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at (858) 386-0998 to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

New Bill is Potential Game Changer for Your Family’s Tax Strategy

If you follow the mainstream or social media news, you likely know the new Republican tax bill, which recently passed both the House and Senate, is a potential game changer for tax planning. Known as the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” both houses of Congress passed different versions of the bill, so it’s unclear what the final legislation will include, or if it will even pass.

That said, both versions include some common elements, and since we’re close to year end, it’s important to understand what these potential changes might mean for your family’s tax planning. For example, if you are a W-2 employee, you may want to start a side-line business in 2018 to offset some of the potential negative impact of the tax law changes, and we may be able to help you with that.  If you have specific questions on personal impact to you, contact us prior to year end so we can discuss.

You can use this knowledge to implement tax-saving strategies—by potentially deferring income to 2018 or accelerating deductions into 2017—if you take action before year end. 

But keep in mind: None of this is set in stone, yet. By the time this article is published, we’ll certainly have more information. And one thing is for sure, knowledgeable, proactive planning is always wise, especially when supported by a trusted advisor who can guide you.

Higher standard deduction

Both the House and Senate versions of the bill increase the standard deductions to nearly identical levels: $12,200 for singles and $24,400 for joint filers in the House and $12,000 and $24,000 in the Senate. Both plans eliminate personal exemptions, though, so those with dependents won’t see quite as much savings. And if you’ve deducted medical expenses and/or charitable donations in the past, that would be eliminated. So if you donate to charity and are able to write off your donations because you itemize your expenses rather than take the standard deduction, consider increasing your charitable donations this year, as they may not be deductible next year.

Changes to mortgage interest deduction

The bill keeps the mortgage interest deduction, but adds some new limits. Current homeowners can continue deducting mortgage interest up to $1 million. For new home buyers, however, the deduction will be capped at $500,000. And the bill only allows homeowners to take the deduction for their primary residence, not vacation and/or second homes. What’s more, the bill no longer permits taxpayers to deduct the interest on home equity loans or lines of credit.

Increased child tax credit

Those with young children will see an increase in the child tax credit, too. The House raises the credit to $1,600 per child, with a phase-out for joint filers with an income of $230,000. The Senate plan boosts the child credit to $2,000 per child and sets the phase-out at $500,000.

Expanded estate tax exemption

The House bill sets in motion a full repeal of the estate tax  by 2024, but it boosts the exemption from its current $5.49 million to $10 million starting in 2018. The Senate doesn’t repeal the estate tax, but it does significantly raise the exemption to $11.2 million. Chances are you aren’t impacted by the current estate tax, but if you are, contact us so we can take advantage of potential opportunities to save going into 2018, as it’s likely that the estate tax exemption amount will be rolled back after future elections.

Eliminated state and local income tax deductions

Both bills repeal deductions for state and local income taxes. However, they do still allow for up to a $10,000 deduction for state and local property taxes.

Changes to medical expense deduction

In terms of the itemized medical expense deduction, the House plans to totally eliminate it, while the Senate’s bill keeps it and reduces the income threshold above which medical expenses are deductible from 10% to 7.5%

To review your tax strategies and possibly benefit from these potential changes, contact us as your Personal Family Lawyer® right away—time is of the essence! And, at the same time, it’s never too late to start planning for next year. So even if it’s after the 1st, contact us to begin planning for next year now.

How to Buy Life Insurance Like a Pro

Life insurance is a purchase only made once or twice in a lifetime, so it is common to be unaware of the ins and outs of policy protection. The potential pitfalls are significant, however, so review the following tips before purchasing a life insurance policy.

Get the Right Type and Amounts

Life insurance policies are generally sold by highly commissioned sales people or by order takers. In either case, you need to be sure you are in the know, before you buy, lest you get sold a policy or amount you don’t need, or you overlook the types and amounts that are right for you. We can help you make objective decisions about your insurance needs, with no commissions payable to us, so you know you’re getting our 100% on your side analysis.

Don’t Name a Minor as a Beneficiary

If you’ve named a minor child as a beneficiary, or even a secondary beneficiary, after your spouse, you could be creating double trouble. First, your life insurance would have to go through a court process and subject to the control of a financial guardian, and then second, whatever is left would be distributed to your minor child when he or she turns 18.

You can easily avoid this by naming a trust as beneficiary of your life insurance, thereby keeping your life insurance out of court and ensuring your child doesn’t receive control until he or she is ready. Plus, then you get to decide who takes care of the life insurance money you are leaving behind, until it’s distributed to your child. And, you can even build in protection against your child’s future divorce, or any creditor issues.

Term Insurance to Fund Divorce Settlements

If you receive child support and alimony, insist that your spouse have a  term life insurance policy to guarantee you are able to collect on your settlement, even if your ex-spouse dies while still paying out your divorce settlement.

Compare Quotes for Whole and Term

Experts suggest most people only need life insurance to cover their working years and while they raise a family. Term life insurance is typically affordable and covers you when you need it most. Permanent insurance is best when you know you will have estate taxes to cover OR if you want to use insurance as an investment vehicle with guaranteed returns, but often big commissions to make up in the early years of the policy. One of the services we provide to our member clients is to review all insurance policies, both in place and those being considered, to provide objective evaluation before you buy.

Don’t Overlook Living Benefits

A living benefits rider could allow you to access funds if you were diagnosed as terminally ill or with a chronic and debilitating condition.

If you are ready to purchase a life insurance policy that works for you, start by sitting down with a Personal Family Lawyer®. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can walk you step by step through creating a financial plan that will help you provide for your family no matter what. A Personal Family Lawyer® offers Family Wealth Planning Sessions that help you protect and preserve your wealth for future generations. Before the session, we’ll send you a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment to complete that will get you thinking about what you own, what matters most to you, and what your wishes are when you die.

This article is a service of Amy Hsiao, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session,™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at (858) 386-0998 to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

Planning to Protect Your Assets

Asset protection planning is an important step to take in safeguarding your hard-earned assets from being lost, inadvertently, because you overlooked something important.

The most foundational level of asset protection is to plan for what will happen to your assets in the event of your incapacity or death because you are 100% guaranteed to have one or both of those happen to you.

If you become incapacitated or die without proper planning in place, your assets will get stuck in the court system, and could be delayed in getting to your loved ones’ or even lost. If you have not reviewed your planning for death or incapacity in the past couple of years (or ever at all), you will want to call us for a Family Wealth Planning Session as soon as possible.

And, what about planning to protect assets from things that could happen during life, such as potential litigation, taking on too many debts, accidents or other mishaps?

First and foremost, buy insurance! Insurance can do two things an asset protection plan can’t: pay to defend you in the event a lawsuit is brought against you and pay to settle any lawsuits. Bottom line: insurance says I love you. And, if you need it, you’ll be glad you have it.

As part of your Family Wealth Planning Session, we will look at the types and amounts of insurance you have, and determine what else may be needed, or if you are even over-insured.

If you have a business, make sure you’ve fully separated personal and business assets. And that you are using your business entity properly, to ensure that any business activities are kept within your business entity, and that you have us review any personal guarantees before you sign something that could create personal liability for you.

If you need more thorough asset protection, due to an upcoming marriage, or engaging in other risky behavior, please contact us sooner rather than later.
Asset protection cannot happen after something happens. It must be set up ahead of time to be effective, and so it must happen now, if you want to get set up right.

Protecting your assets takes know-how. If you’re ready to develop a smart asset protection plan, consider sitting down with a Personal Family Lawyer®. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can help you with your asset protection planning needs. Our Family Wealth Planning Session guides you to protect and preserve what matters most. Before the session, we’ll send you a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment to complete that will get you thinking about what you own, what’s most important to you, and what you can do to ensure your family is taken care of.

This article is a service of Amy Hsiao, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session,™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at (858) 386-0998 to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, and the Blockchain — What Happens When You Die?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Bitcoin. But, you may not know what it is or how it affects your estate planning. Or, maybe you’ve got yourself some Bitcoin, but haven’t given thought to what would happen to your digital currency in the event of your death or incapacity.

So today’s article will dive in with some initial thoughts, and then we’ll get deeper in future articles.

There are now over 800 digital currencies available, though Bitcoin is the most well-known.

And each one operates a bit differently, and with a different purpose.

What they all have in common is that they are digital currencies, in the form of “tokens” that you can now buy (or invest in) and in some cases use to exchange for goods and services.

For example, more and more providers of goods and services are accepting Bitcoin as a payment method, just as they would cash or credit.

And, even a few accepting the lesser known currency called Ripple (XRP).

But, as of this writing, there are no providers we’ve heard of accepting, for example, the lesser known cryptocurrency of ProCoin (PROC), a coin based on shopping rewards. But, the coin is tradeable on the open coin market, currently at $.12, though it’s been traded as high as $.38.

If you want to learn more about how these digital currencies work, please do let me know and I’ll write more about it in the future.

For today, I want to cover what you need to make sure you’ve got in place from a “what happens when you become incapacitated or die” perspective if you are holding digital currency.

Because if you have not planned for the transfer of your digital currency at the time of your incapacity or death, it could literally be lost to the ethers. And, if you invested in Bitcoin back in the day before it got popular, that could potentially be millions of dollars lost to your loved ones.

There are two things for you to consider if you are holding digital currency:

  1. That your loved one’s (or whoever you would want to have your currency) know about it; and
  2. That they know how to access it and cash it in or hold onto it.

If you are holding your currency in an exchange, such as coinbase, with 2-factor authentication, it could be very difficult for your loved one’s to access your currency. We are in process of setting up a digital account administration system for our clients and you can look forward to that in the coming months. Having that in place would allow the executor of your estate to handle all digital accounts, not just crypto accounts.

Until then, best practice is to transfer your cryptocurrency into a “paper wallet”, which is kind of ironic given that it’s a digital currency. And it basically involves storing codes offline that allow you to access your currency. Here’s the thing, if you lose those codes, or your loved ones can’t find them, it’s the same as all of your currency being gone.

You can read more about the different storage options for cryptocurrency here.

Bottom line: if you have cryptocurrency and you want your loved ones to have it after you are gone, you should probably call us so we can make sure it’s not lost upon your incapacity or death.

As a new technology, cryptocurrency can be a bit confusing, and not many lawyers are even thinking about this issue yet. But we are, so give us a call and let’s have a Family Wealth Planning Session during which we can help you to protect and preserve what matters most. Before the session, we’ll send you a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment to complete that will get you thinking about what you own, what’s most important to you, and what you can do to ensure your family is taken care of.

This article is a service of Amy Hsiao, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session,™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at (858) 386-0998 to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

The Real Cost of Caring

Senior Man & Worried Son

Dealing with the financial stressors of caring for an aging loved one can affect your ability to provide them with the care and compassion they need. It can also put the security of your financial future at risk.

To mitigate these concerns, consider these useful tips to help you make informed decisions about how to protect your future retirement plans while caring for your senior loved one.

Don’t Leave Your Job

Many adult children end up putting their professional lives on hold to become a primary caregiver for their elderly parents. Financial experts advise against this because of the sudden loss of income and valuable benefits. Consider caregiving options that support your ability to maintain your earning potential.

Create a Budget

Review the actual costs of being a primary caregiver before making any drastic changes like leaving your job. Also, consider whether your loved one’s assets can be utilized to cover some of the costs involved in providing care inside or outside the home.

Look for Benefits Elsewhere

Free or low-cost benefits that can help cover some of the costs of caregiving, such as home health aides, are often available to seniors. Similarly, review the limitations of public benefit options such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Consider Relocating Your Parent

It is common for seniors to prioritize remaining in their own home while they age. Although understandable, this can be a very expensive, and often unrealistic option. If opening your home to your loved on is an option, it can be far less expensive.

Seek Professional Help

Geriatric care managers can help you establish a caregiving plan that meets your needs and assist you in identifying resources to save time and money.

Protect Your Parent From Scams

Financial elder abuse is on the rise, so make sure your loved one’s finances are protected. Telephone, postal mail, and internet fraud is common and can be easily avoided when a close relative or friend is keeping tabs on the accounts of a senior loved one. Consider talking with your parents about stepping down as Trustee of their trusts and letting you step in now to monitor their finances, and if they do not have a Trust holding title to their accounts, meet with us now to look at whether it makes sense to set that up for them (and for you).

Discuss the Future

Now is an opportune time to review your loved one’s wishes for his or her estate and consider your own financial goals and how helping to care for a loved one might affect them.

Caring for a loved one can take a toll, both financially and emotionally. If you are ready to create a financial plan for caregiving, start by sitting down with a Personal Family Lawyer®. A Personal Family Lawyer® can help you plan for changes in life at every stage. Our  Family Wealth Planning Session  guides you to protect and preserve what matters most. Before the session, we’ll send you a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment to complete that will get you thinking about what you own, what’s most important to you, and what you can do to ensure your family is taken care of.

This article is a service of Amy Hsiao, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session,™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at (858) 386-0988 to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.