Our favorite lifestyle boutique for moms just got even better!

I have always loved Xpecting, and got many lovely maternity items there when I was pregnant.  I’ve even rented my fabulous hospital-grade pump from them these last 8 months.  But now there’s even better news: Xpecting is expanding their offerings.  Xpecting announces the launch of UnXpected, their exclusive non-maternity collection for busy moms. They invite you to celebrate this new venture on August 28th. Enjoy 20% to 30% off of everything in the store all day.

In the mood to party? Shop from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and enjoy sweet treats, champagne, mingle with gossip blogger Kate Casey of Love and Knuckles and receive a fabulous gift with purchase.

 

Three Easy Steps To Filling Out the School “Emergency Card”

If you have kids who are getting ready to go back to school this Fall, then you will likely be sent home with an “official emergency card” to fill out either this month or next, depending on their start date.

I realize how chaotic that first week school can be…there’s already a ton of paperwork to fill out and homework to start. It can be tempting to just scribble down the names of nearby relatives or neighbors without giving that “official” card too much thought.

But doing so can be VERY dangerous for your kids if a real emergency happens. It could even cause them to wind up in the care of social services if something happens to you or your spouse during school hours (yes, really!).

Think about it, maybe hubby is out of town on a business trip and you are on your own taking care of the kids. Something unexpected happens, even a minor fender bender that lands you in the hospital temporarily. What happens next to your kids, legally?

Please understand that the emergency card only gives named contacts permission to pick your child up if they are sick, not take short-term legal custody of them if one or both parents are killed or incapacitated in an accident. The authorities are going to want to know Who has legal authority to have custody of a minor child? If they aren’t sure, they will call in CPS.

For this reason, I recommend creating an emergency plan before your kids go back to school, so there is no confusion or legal headaches should tragedy strike. This plan can be created in 3 easy steps:

1. Legally name short-term guardians for your kids. Short-term guardians have legal permission to care for your child until the surviving parent or long-term guardian can arrive. This should ultimately be someone who lives close by, and who will comfort your children in an emergency. This document must be properly authenticated to be legally binding.

2. Make sure your short-term legal guardians match those named on the school emergency card. In addition to listing friends and neighbors who can pick your child up from school if he or she gets sick, it’s equally important to list the full contact information of your short-term guardians for true emergencies. Without this information, the school could place your children in the custody of social services until the surviving parent or legal guardian can arrive.

3. Make sure the babysitter knows what to do if you don’t return home. It’s extremely important that parents give their babysitters detailed instructions on what to do and who to call if they don’t return home. In most cases, a babysitter will panic and turn to the police for help, again opening the door for social services to temporarily take custody of your kids until a long-term care provider can arrive.

Creating a back-to-school family emergency plan is so easy – and something that will greatly pay off if a parent is injured or killed during school hours.

Remember, the first few hours after an emergency are the most painful for a child, so it’s important for parents to make sure their kids spend that time with people they love and trust, rather than scared and confused in the arms of a state agency.

If you don’t have a comprehensive plan in place or need to name short-term guardians for your child, you’ll want to get that taken care of.  I can assure you that it feels GREAT knowing that you’ve got it taken care of!  And it’s easier and more affordable than you might think.  It’s something that every parent should have in place prior to the start of a new school year.

Darlynn Morgan is an estate planning lawyer at Morgan Law Group, a unique law firm that she created to truly make a difference in the lives of her clients.  Register here: http://www.KidsProtectionWorkshop.com for our next Kids Protection Workshop is on September 27th at 10:00 am at We Play Loud in Lake Forest. 

She’s really good at making it easy for your family to talk about and plan for tough subjects like money, death and taxes.  For more, you can Follow her on Twitter , Friend her on Facebook or check out her Blog.  If that’s not enough, you can also find her on Linked In or Avvo.

Get Your Spring Fest On!

 

 

 

Spring Family Fest is the ultimate event for parents, expectant parents and families with young children in Southern California!

June 7, 2014: 11am-4pm, Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa Huntington Beach

 

Join Club MomMe for an entire afternoon filled with popular speakers and amazing panels designed just for you and your family. Featuring Dr. Harvey Karp, and panels on Natural Parenting, Daddy Panel, Healthy Child Healthy World workshop or Understanding Label, Hot Baby & Toddler Products, and more!

Spring Fest will feature amazing giveaways, gift bags, family-friendly activities, activities for the kids, a style lounge, a pamper area, a daddy lounge and more.

What a great event! All kinds of swag and goodies…. hope to see you there!  Find out more here: http://clubmommeevents.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darlynn Morgan is an estate planning lawyer at Morgan Law Group, a unique law firm that she created to truly make a difference in the lives of her clients.

She’s really good at making it easy for your family to talk about and plan for tough subjects like money, death and taxes.  For more, you can Follow her on Twitter , Friend her on Facebook or check out her Blog.  If that’s not enough, you can also find her on Linked In or Avvo.

Shared Custody: Why It’s Not Always Best

By: Daniel R. Gold, Tredway Lumsdaine & Doyle LLP

“Children are resilient – they’ll bounce back.” If you’re a parent, you’ve likely heard these words and hope the saying is true as your child faces life challenges.

Navigating a child custody case during a divorce is never easy, and for children, divorce can be stressful, sad and confusing. Children in families going through a divorce are typically the only ones who do not have a choice where they fit – or where they’ll end up – throughout the process.

As parents, it’s important to give your child the right support they need through your divorce or separation. Successfully navigating this unsettling time can help your child heal and find hope – feeling loved, confident and strong.

Determining Custody

Several factors are considered when determining a child’s physical and/or legal custody in California. Oftentimes, parents may become attracted to the idea of a “50/50” shared custody arrangement where the child splits time equally between parents. This type of schedule is the byproduct of settlements designed to make one demanding parent happy and thereby sidestep an emotional courtroom battle. While avoiding litigation is always a noteworthy goal, an arrangement that is unstable and unnecessarily challenging for a child already in turmoil is not the best solution. In my experience, I’ve witnessed parents battling over “percentages” measured in hours, rather than determining what schedule is truly best for the child because they look at their interests, rather than the child’s. Studies have found that “50/50” custody agreements can bring on even more conflict – detrimentally affecting a child’s behaviors and academic achievement.

Generally, the court will also weigh in on a parent’s proposed arrangement and whether it’s in the child’s best interest. Questions such as: “Are the parents stable?” “Do they have drug or alcohol issues?” “Is there domestic violence in either household? “Does the child have behavioral issues or other special needs?” are factors considered in a custody dispute.

Living in two places also may bring on added financial and emotional stress, which significantly impacts a child. No matter the age, there is no clear line for when a child can express a preference for either parent. Under California law, it depends on whether the child is of “sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference to custody or visitation.” Special considerations are also taken into account for children under the age of three, such as maternal nursing and paternal bonding.

If the custody matter is not resolved in mandatory mediation, the court may conduct a hearing where they consider testimony from the child’s parents, relatives, and, if necessary and appropriate, the child. The court is given some liberty in taking the evidence presented, and may, in some cases, appoint a mental health professional to observe the situation and help provide information necessary to make a decision (i.e. a custody evaluation).

In my experience, custody evaluations, while less stressful and taxing than courtroom litigation, can be just as unpredictable and devastating, since the parent is allowing a third party “expert” to essentially critique his or her parenting skills. In the end, a good evaluation can help the parents get to the bottom of the dispute, and assist the parents and court in crafting an appropriate solution to their family dynamic.

When “50/50” Custody Plans May Work

In many cases, psychologists find that children need stability to avoid the feeling of moving from place to place like “nomads” without a space to call their own. I have in some cases witnessed successful shared custody plans. In my years of practice, I’ve noted two main characteristics of successful shared custody plans: (1) close proximity between parental residences and (2) two high functioning parents who are willing to put aside personal differences to be on the same page as parents for their child. The parents must act as if the child (or children) live in one household, separated by two locations.

Ultimately, a parent in a custody battle should realize what is worth fighting for – the child’s wellbeing. Ask yourself this: “how would you feel if you had to change where you slept every other night?” It’s important to understand that the courts have one goal: to ensure that the post-divorce custody agreement is in the best interest of the child. When confronted with a child’s health, safety and welfare, along with having frequent access between parents, judges are careful to side with the child’s health, safety and welfare. Whenever possible, the best thing for a child is to have both parents continue to be involved in his or her life after a divorce.

About the Author:  Daniel R. Gold, CFLS is the managing partner at Tredway Lumsdaine & Doyle LLP (TLD), a longstanding Southern California law firm. With more than 20 years of experience, Gold practices family law exclusively and has participated in more than one hundred contested hearings and trials. Gold is certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization as a family law specialist and is a member of the Los Angeles and Orange County Bar Association Family Law Sections, and the American Bar Association. For more information, call 877-923-0971 or visit www.tldlaw.com.

Do I Need to File For Bankruptcy?

Many years ago when I first got out of law school I worked as a law clerk to a federal bankruptcy judge here in Orange County. One thing I learned as a young attorney is that things are not always what they appear to be!  On the outside things may look glamorous and shiny, but oftentimes families are struggling, trying to “keep up” financially.  There are so many different reasons why a family may end up in the position of needing to file bankruptcy.  Although this may be a last resort, it is important to know what the options are.  “Daddy Esquire” Daniel Gamez shares his expertise on this topic and provides a legal perspective on debt relief options.

By Attorney Daniel Gamez

Do I need to file for Bankruptcy?  I hear this question all the time. Credit card debt is one of the leading causes for bankruptcy filings. Personal finances aren’t easy to deal with. Many would rather bury their head in the sand and hope the problem goes away, but that’s just wishful thinking. So what do you do if you find yourself buried in debt? The most important thing to know is that you do have options to deal with your debts. Educating yourself on these options is key.

Many people fall into is what I refer to as the debt cycle, relying on credit as supplemental income. It is easy to slip into the habit of carrying a balance on credit cards. Credit card debt is a lot like weight gain. You accept the first 5 pounds as a temporary problem. That 5 pounds quickly turns into 10. Before you know it, you’re 20 pounds heavier and have no idea how it happened. Now turn those pounds into thousands of dollars in credit card debt.

Now you’re trying to figure out how to shed this debt. When you fall into the debt cycle, paying the minimum amount due becomes an easy fix. This method will lead to years of payments with the balance only going down minimally each month. Most of your payment will go towards the interest.

Creditors love you when you fall into this trap. They know they have you hooked on a pattern that is hard to escape. Creditors are now required to tell you how long it will take you to pay off your debts using this method and how much you will end up paying. Depending on your interest rate, the total payoff could be double what you actually charge and it may take you years to pay off your debt. Some won’t live long enough to pay off the debts at this pace. If you find yourself in this trap, you need to explore your options.

For some, filing bankruptcy might be a good option. If you qualify for a Chapter 7, all of your debts will be eliminated in the end. Income is a huge determining factor to qualify for a Chapter 7. If you don’t qualify for a Chapter 7, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is another option. This is a repayment plan in which your secured debts (think mortgage debt) will be paid at 100% and your unsecured debts (credit cards) will be paid back at a percentage, largely based on your income. But beware, Chapter 13’s have a failure rate of approximately 70%. The main reason being that most Chapter 13 plans are 3-5 years in length. Think about the last 3-5 years of your life and the ups and downs you have endured. Life happens and your financial landscape can change too. This makes a Chapter 13 an unattractive option for many. If you are considering a potential Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a debt settlement may be a better option.

In a debt settlement, you debts are negotiated down to a reduced balance that is paid either in a lump sum or over a term. Depending on a number of factors, debts can usually be settled for around 40% of what you owe. Debt settlement often gets a bad rap since there used to be a lot of debt settlement companies out there that basically stole their clients’ money and never performed any services. Most of those bad apples have been put out of business by FTC regulation. There are also attorneys that practice in this area of law. The advantage of using an attorney is that they can prevent embarrassing collection calls to your home, work and relatives. An attorney can also represent you in court if a creditor decides they want to sue you for non-payment of your debt. Most debt settlement attorneys work the same. You put money aside in a savings account to accumulate the funds necessary to settle your debt and pay your attorney’s fees over a period of time. The length of time depends on your budget.

The bottom line is that you have options. If you have significant debts, you should consider each of them to determine what fits you best. And if anyone tries to tell you their option is the only option available, walk away. For most people, there are a number of available options. You just need to figure out which one suits you best.

If you are struggling with credit card debt or any other type of unsecured debt, you owe it to yourself to explore your debt relief options.  Please reach out to an attorney to schedule a consultation.  Attorney Daniel Gamez is available at (858) 217-5051 or www.gamezlawfirm.com.

Milk Matters

This article comes at a great time because I just had my second child two months ago!  The other day I was actually wondering what the law is and my fellow Mommy Esquire came through with an informative post to help me out.

By Attorney Kasumi Takahashi, Esq.

If you are a new mother, you have a lot on your plate, including ensuring proper and adequate nourishment for your baby. And, if you are in a position to be able to breastfeed your baby, then you should know your rights to make you feel more confident about your decision to breastfeed. Here are some of your rights under California law with respect to breastfeeding and lactation:

Right to Breastfeed in Public

Yes, you have a legal right to breastfeed in public. California Civil Code section 43.3 provides that, notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present, except in the private home or residence of another. So, the next time you decide to breastfeed while running errands, at a restaurant or other public establishment, you should feel comfortable knowing that you have a legal right to do so.

Deferred Jury Service for Breastfeeding

If you have been summoned for jury duty and you are a breastfeeding mother, you may request that jury service be deferred for up to one year. Your request may be renewed as long as you are breastfeeding. If you make the request in writing, the jury commissioner must grant it without requiring you to appear at court.

Lactation in the Workplace

California employers are urged by the state legislature to strongly support and encourage the practice of breastfeeding by striving to accommodate the needs of employees, and by ensuring that employees are provided with adequate facilities for breastfeeding and otherwise expressing milk for their children.

Lactation Accommodations at the Workplace

All California employers must provide their employees a reasonable amount of break time during work hours for expressing breast milk for the employee’s infant child. Employers must provide a room or other private location in close proximity to the employee’s work area for expressing milk, which cannot be a toilet stall. An employer which fails to provide a lactation accommodation may be liable for a civil penalty of $100 per violation.

No Discrimination for Breastfeeding

Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees or job applicants because of breastfeeding or medical conditions related to breastfeeding.

So, as you can see, California law and the legislature support women who choose to breastfeed and those breastfeeding working moms who require lactation accommodations in the workplace.

Kasumi Takahashi, Esq. is an employment and business lawyer at Jones Bell LLP. www.jonesbell.com. To inquire further about the information above or other issues pertaining to labor and employment law, please contact Kasumi Takahashi at ktakahashi@jonesbell.com or call (213) 485-1555.

Paul Walker’s Will Could Spell Trouble For 15-Year-Old Daughter, Meadow

A will for actor Paul Walker has surfaced from 2001, which leaves his entire $25 million dollar estate to his 15-year-old daughter, Meadow.

Additionally, according to USA Today, the filings call for the actor’s father, Paul William Walker III, to have authority to sell or invest estate property as needed. Walker’s mother, Cheryl Ann Walker, is named as the guardian of the actor’s daughter and was also appointed to oversee her portion of the estate until she reaches adulthood.

While it appears Walker had everything taken care of based on the instructions in his will, much was left undone, which may have negative repercussions for his teenager teenage daughter down the road.

Custody Battle

Because Meadow Walker’s biological mother is still alive, there may still be a battle over her custody, despite her father’s wishes. Single parents often appoint someone other than the biological parent to raise their child if the unthinkable happens, but this is not typically honored by the courts unless there is good reason (history of addiction, abuse, etc.). However, given her age, the judge may take Meadow’s wishes for guardianship into account.

Exposure To Predators

Other legal problems stem from the fact that Walker did not set up a trust before he died to protect his young daughter. Without a trust, all of the proceedings of his estate will be made entirely public, alerting every con-artist in the country as to what Meadow stands to inherit and when. This not only jeopardizes her privacy, but her safety as well.

Dangers of Outright Inheritance

Likewise, without a trust, Meadow will receive her full inheritance at age 18. There will be no opportunity to protect her money from reckless spending, mismanagement, scams, divorce or future bankruptcy. A trust, on the other hand, would have put “speed bumps” around the money by allowing someone else to manage the funds until she reached certain milestones (i.e. graduation of college, marriage) or was deemed by her father to be at an age where she was mature enough to handle the responsibility.

Love vs. The Law

There’s no doubt Paul Walker loved his daughter and wanted to give her the world; unfortunately, he was the victim of bad legal advice and did not take many steps that would have fully protected his daughter and kept her affairs private in the wake of his passing.

As hard as it is to think about, every parent must educate themselves on what would happen to their minor children if they passed away—whether they have a large estate like Paul Walker’s or a modest one. It doesn’t take celebrity status for a child to wind up in a custody battle or receive an inheritance before they are mature enough to handle it.

By simply planning ahead and learning about the legal tools available, parents can ensure their child’s privacy stays protected and that their assets are safely available for their children in the future. Any other way opens the door to creditors, predators, interference from the government and the potential for teenagers to make poor decisions when facing a life without mom or dad.

Darlynn Morgan is an estate planning lawyer at Morgan Law Group, a unique law firm that she created to truly make a difference in the lives of her clients.

She’s really good at making it easy for your family to talk about and plan for tough subjects like money, death and taxes.  For more, you can Follow her on Twitter , Friend her on Facebook or check out her Blog.  If that’s not enough, you can also find her on Linked In or Avvo.

OH No, My Child Was Arrested, What Should I Do? Part 2

Attorney Katie Walsh follows up her post from last week with some great tips for how to choose an attorney and what to expect next, in the case of your minor child being arrested.

Guest Post by Attorney Katie Walsh

After you decide to hire an attorney, how do you choose one when there are so many attorneys out there?

1) First and foremost, Go with your gut

Did you feel better after speaking with that attorney? Did it seem like a good fit? Were your questions answered? Or did you feel like just another number? If you experienced a bad feeling (or even a mediocre feeling) with one lawyer, seek the assistance of another one.

2) Pick an attorney that practices only criminal law

Whether or not your case will settle through a plea bargain or go to trial, you need an attorney who is knowledgeable in criminal law. Lawyers with no experience in the field may not understand the ins and outs of the “criminal world,” or the rules of evidence, the strengths and weaknesses of the case and will have no credibility to negotiate a good deal for you! Most importantly, the criminal world functions very differently than the civil world of law, and it is extremely important for your attorney to know how the judges and the district attorney operate.

3) Avoid lawyers that guarantee a result

If you consult with a lawyer who promises you certain results, particularly before they have truly evaluated your case, immediately cross him/her off your list. Criminal law is complicated and every case is unique. There are no guarantees, or simple answers. Any attorney who makes promises to obtain certain results in a criminal law case is not worth your trust, time or money.

4) Choose a Lawyer that clearly explains your situation, your legal rights, and your options

Your lawyer should be able to simply and clearly explain the criminal charges against you, what they entail, your legal rights, what the prosecution has to prove, and how evidence can be used against you in court. Your criminal lawyer should also explain the possible consequences you may face for your charges. Your lawyer should always be direct, honest, and to the point, rather than just promising that you will “win your case.”

5) Do not bargain shop for a Criminal Lawyer

While an affordable attorney is a concern, it should never be the main priority. There are too many things at stake and you need the best attorney who can ensure your rights and interests are fully protected every step of the way. Attitude, compassion, and experience are very important when it comes to choosing a criminal law lawyer.

Most criminal lawyers will quote you a flat fee. This fee is not just for the hours they may work on your case. You are also paying for their skills, knowledge, experience, and qualifications. Fees are often based on the difficulty of the case and the amount of time the lawyer etc. will spend in court and researching and preparing. Your fee will be higher (often a separate charge) if the case is expected to go to trial.

6) Choose an attorney who is easy to get a hold of, and spends time on you

You need to trust your attorney, and you need to feel comfortable. When speaking to the attorney did they only talk about themselves, or did they inquire about you, your story, and your situation? Did they seem rushed, or rushing you? Do they answer your questions using language that you can understand? How easily an attorney is to get a hold at the beginning is a good indicator of how it will be down the road.

   So then what happens?

After you’ve hired your attorney and the case goes to court:

Your child will be arraigned by the Judge. An arraignment is the formal reading of the criminal complaint to inform the accused (your child) of the charges against them. The attorney will enter a Not Guilty plea and set a new court date for a Pre Trial.

If your child is in custody, the first court date is called a detention hearing. At the detention hearing the Judge will make a determination whether or not to detain your child in custody, or release your child back to your home, pending the duration of the case. Several factors go into consideration.

After being arraigned, Pre Trials are the next phase of the case. The attorneys from both sides (prosecution and defense) exchange information about the case and discuss a possible resolution. Often times these discussions are held with the Judge.

If the case is unable to be resolved, a Trial (Adjudication) will occur. This will occur in front of a judge. Because juvenile proceedings are confidential, unlike adult court, there are no jury trials in juvenile court. If your child is found guilty (the petition is sustained) at trial, they will be sentenced at a later date.

If you or your child needs an attorney contact the Law Office of Katie Walsh. (714) 619-9355. www.katiewalshlaw.com

 

Oh No, My Child Was Arrested- What Should I Do?

It’s hard to imagine, right…. your child being arrested? But we live in a crazy world, and sometimes the unimaginable happens.  So if you find yourself in the daunting position of your child being arrested, then there is really only one thing to do:  Hire an Attorney!  Katie Walsh is an experienced attorney (and a mom) and here she explains the process and the importance of that very first step.

Guest Post by Attorney Katie Walsh

If your child is arrested, why is it so important to hire an attorney ASAP, versus having a public defender assigned to your child’s case, or waiting to hire an attorney until the after first day in court?

 Your child’s case needs to “start” as soon as possible. The wheels need to move immediately! Research and investigation need to be done, and statements need to be obtained which possibly the police did not get to, or know about. When time passes people forget, they get afraid, and they do not want to be involved in the matter. For example: A friend of your child’s or a witness who was there, but not interviewed because the police felt there was already enough information with other witness statements to move the case along.

 Your son or daughter knows more information than was given to the police. Whether it was because they were scared, lying, or just didn’t think that information was important to disclose; they have more information. This information could make a difference in whether the case goes through probation for informal handling or to the District Attorney’s office. Hiring an attorney before the court date assures this information can be properly used to your Child’s benefit.

 Often times the Police will not take statements from every witness. There could be a friend or witness that supports your child whom the police did not interview. It is important to gather evidence that will support your child, and present that to the District Attorney. It is possible with other evidence presented, outside the police report, the District Attorney will not file charges against your child, or file lesser charges than they were originally going to file.

 Grades and school attendance need to be gathered for a detention hearing. To consider releasing your child from Custody the judge will want to note the child’s grades, school attendance and family history. That information is harder to gather if you just arrive to court without an attorney, or an attorney who was just assigned to your child’s case the morning of court. This information can be the difference between your child being detained, pending the case or being released home to the parents

 There are several non-jail options for your Child, depending on their prior history and current criminal charge. A good attorney will be able to gather information and present it to the Court and Deputy D.A. painting your child in the best light. The best case scenario is that your Child’s case will be dismissed.

So will your child’s juvenile mistake haunt them the rest of their lives? Generally speaking: No. The Juvenile System is different from the Adult System in that the goal of juvenile court is to rehabilitate the Minor; whereas in adult court the purpose is punishment. As such, all juvenile proceedings are closed, private, and not open to the public.

In juvenile court a “Conviction” is not called a conviction- it is referred to as a “sustained petition.” Therefore, when asked on a job application or college application “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” Your child is able to mark NO. This is because, technically, they have not been convicted of a crime. They may have a “Sustained Petition,” but it is not considered a conviction. To go one step further, after a certain amount of time you will want to get your child’s record “Sealed” for background checks by employers and such. By

sealing your record, it is as though the offense never occurred (with certain exceptions). Once it is ordered sealed, you can deny the existence of any juvenile record. This procedure prevents anyone from seeing your child’s file unless they have a court order. The hope is for the minor to enter the adult world with a clean slate, without the negative effects of a criminal record following them around.
Attorney Katie Walsh was a prosecutor with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for almost 10 years. During that time, amongst many other assignments, she served as a Juvenile Prosecutor, and as a Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Prosecutor. Ms. Walsh has tried approximately 85 trials in felony and misdemeanor matters including Attempted Murder, Aggravated Mayhem, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Domestic Violence, Rape, Possession of Drugs and Drug Sales, Drunk Driving, Petty Theft, Resisting Arrest and a variety of other misdemeanor and felony matters.  She received her undergraduate degree from Santa Clara University with honors, and her J.D. from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.  She now works in criminal defense, emphasizing juvenile law and victim rights.  If your child has been arrested, or needs their record sealed contact the Law Office of Katie Walsh (714) 619-93355.

Paul Walker’s Death and the Estate Planning Kick in the Pants We All Need

Paul Walker, star of the popular movie franchise The Fast and The Furious, died suddenly last week. In what seems to be a sad twist of fate, he died in a tragic car accident. He was only 40 years old.

Paul Walker’s Death and Estate Planning

When someone we know, or feel like we know, dies in the prime of their life, we can’t help but relate. He was in excellent health, at the top of his professional career, and conceivably had years and years left to live. Most of us feel like we also have years and years, but as this story demonstrates, we all need to be prepared.

It’s too early to know if Mr. Walker was prepared by having an estate plan in place, but if statistics are any indication, he probably did not. This is particularly sad because he had a minor daughter, Meadow Walker, in his care. Not only was he supporting her financially, but she had moved to California to live with him.

By all accounts, Paul was a loving and devoted father. It was said that he even accepted or rejected movie roles based on his daughter’s schedule. His desire to stay close so he could raise her full-time was strong.

Paul was like most parents that way. But, I wonder if he was like most parents who thought he had plenty of time to do his estate planning.

Without a plan in place, Meadow will most likely have to move back with her mother, who lives in another state. She will also likely inherit his sizable estate at age 18 outright and unrestricted.

If this devoted father had put a will or trust in place, he probably would have named someone responsible to administer the estate until Meadow matured enough to be able to make responsible decisions. History has shown that handing that much money to a child can be a disaster. Instead of using the money for college or investing the money so that it will be available for her during her whole lifetime; grieving, the not-quite-developed brain of an 18-year-old will most likely squander it on luxury cars, vacations….or worse.

And, just because you don’t have the amounts of money that Paul Walker had, don’t think that this isn’t a problem for you. Even if you handed a child the benefits from your life insurance policy or the proceeds from the sale of your home – they could do a lot of damage. Just think back to when you were 18. If you were handed $100K, or even $50K, would you invest it to have it available for your future family? Or would you take it and buy a fancy car, expensive clothing, and throw parties and invite all of your friends?

The lesson for all of us is that no matter how healthy we are, we should take steps to make sure our family will be cared for if we are no longer able to do it. Putting a will or trust in place to help our loved ones carry on without us is critical whether we have the estate of a movie star or not.

Do the right thing for your family; get informed so you can determine the next steps for your particular situation.  If you would like to learn more about protecting your family, reach out by email give me a call at (949) 260-1400; we also have monthly parent workshops www.KidsProtectionWorkshop.com.