Our Website is up and Running!!

Hi Friends!!

As mentioned in my previous post, we have been busy busy busy. On that note, we are moving our blog to our website since it’s up and running now!

Come on over and visit us at http://www.carmenrosaslaw.com!

Please join us on our new blog!


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Avoid an Estate Battle After You Die

Hi all! I hope everyone is doing well. We have been assisting lots of clients and had the honor of attending a wedding a few weeks ago.

REMEMBER! It is always important to update your estate plan and a marriage, whether it’s your first, second, or third, is definitely a time to make those updates.

This week as I was preparing my monthly post, I came across an article on Huguette Clark, the last surviving daughter of William A. Clark. Mr. Clark made a fortune in copper mining and passed those fortunes onto his daughter, who happened to live until she was  104!

The article posted in the New York Times stated that Huguette’s estate, valued at $300 million is still being litigated due to two wills written 6 years before her death, both within one month of each other.

The first will left everything to 21 distant relatives and the other left her estate to a caregiver, goddaughter and established a foundation for her dolls and other collectibles.

Although it is clear Huguette was a millionaire, her case has some important reminders for those with a lot less of an estate than she had.

Issues presented in litigation were:

  •  Disputing Heirs: wills are being more and more litigated and often times it is by relatives who were not even close to the decedent. People come out of the woodwork and stake claim to an estate, especially when the decedent has less obvious heirs.
  • Leaving a Collectible: if donating a collectible or an item of value to a charity, be sure the charity wants it. Be sure to check with the organization or charity to just to make sure.
  • Preventing Disputes: Huguette could have put all of her estate in a trust. This would have prevented disputes and protected her assets while still allowing her to have access to her money. This makes it more difficult for the disgruntled or excluded heir from arguing that mom or dad were incompetent when the trust was created.

It is important for individuals with estates larger than $150,000 to have a trust. Not only for the reasons above, but because it allows you to ensure disputes are limited when you are no longer here.

Our attorney will be more than happy to meet with you to discuss creating an estate plan.  You can meet at our Redwood City location and learn all about our full and comprehensive estate plans.

Let us know if we can help!

P.S. Are we friends on Facebook yet? LIKE us today and for a chance to receive a FREE consultation.

Our law office serves Redwood City, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, San Carlos, San Mateo, Foster City, Belmont, Burlingame, Mountain View, San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and more.

Posted in death, Estate Planning, Plan, trust, Wills | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Smart Man “Dies Like an Idiot”- He left his millions to no one.

I came across an article about a Holocaust Survivor who left his estate, that was worth almost $40 million, to no one. Yes, I said almost $40 million left to no one (insert loud gasp here!)

So, what happened to this millionaire’s estate? The state of New York is the proud owner of those millions. As I have mentioned in the past, if there is no will or trust dictating where your assets should go, the state determines where those assets will be distributed.

In this case, Mr. Blum left no instructions as he had no will or trust. He left it up to the state to determine where his millions should go. Because the state could not find any heirs, even after doing a world wide search, and the estate is unclaimed, his millions will go to the State of New York.

Mr. Blum was not a dumb man. He was smart and according to his accountant he knew how to name beneficiaries and knew what had to be done.

Although escheating to the state is incredibly rare because the laws of intestacy look for any living relative including cousins and their descendants and any one who falls under the nebulous term “next of kin,” it does happen.

The moral of this story? PLAN!

You may not own millions but you also want to ensure that whatever assets you do own are distributed in a way you want them to be.

If you want assistance in creating an estate plan specific to your needs, contact our Redwood City estate planning attorney at 650-503-3770. At the Law Office of Carmen M. Rosas, we ensure that every plan is unique to our clients and their families.




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Your Nest Egg vs. Your Children’s Education

As many of you know, I am a HUGE (did I mention HUGE?) advocate of proper planning- whether it’s estate planning, financial planning, party planning or vacation planning. Yes, I am that person who creates an itinerary for a family vacation!

Recently, I was asked by a client about how she should start saving for her retirement while also saving for her children’s education. The conflict usually arises from the lack of financial resources to do both all while still funding daily living expenses. This client isn’t alone.

Parents become stuck between priorities and usually wind up doing nothing at all. Now, I am not a financial planner (I can refer you to one!), but I do assist my clients with sorting out their priorities to they can come up with a plan to support their family in the future.

Here are some tips to how to find a balance between saving for your retirement, having an emergency fund and saving for your children’s education.


An emergency fund is that money you have saved for a “rainy day.” This fund should be about 3-6 months worth of expenses and used for emergencies. If you don’t have this saved, you may be required to take a loan from your 401(k) or take a personal loan. These options may subject you to penalties and taxes, which end up costing more.


Once you have your emergency fund, you should begin saving for your retirement. Parents are often concerned about being selfish because by saving for retirement, they are not saving for their children’s education. This is actually the opposite. If you don’t have a retirement savings, when it is time for you to retire and your children have their own families, you won’t have any money to take care of yourself. You will then become dependent on your children to take care of you and add to their own expenses. There are student loans, scholarships and grants available for your children’s education. There are NO loans for retirement!


This is the LAST step. Once you have your emergency stash and a growing retirement fund, THEN you can start funneling some money into your children’s education fund. If you invest in a 529 college savings plan, the earnings grow tax-free. AND, other people in your child’s life — like grandparents, godparents and generous aunts and uncles — can contribute as much as $14,000 per year (annual gift tax exclusion for 2013) to a child’s 529 plan.

If you would like to set up  a time to meet with us to discuss your plans for the future, feel free to call us at 650-503-3770  so we can sit down and chat. And because we know how important this planning is for our clients, for the first two people to call our Redwood City Estate Planning Attorney, we will give away a FREE consultation (valued at $400)! Call now and schedule your appointment- When scheduling your appointment, don’t forget to mention this post!

Posted in College, Estate Planning, Future, Plan, Retirement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t be a Fool this April- Plan ahead!

1300137640fZ1a4THappy April Folks!  We hope everyone enjoyed their Easter holiday (if it was celebrated)! Our office has been busy assisting clients with estate planning issues, probate hearings, child visitation modifications, writing a new e-book, working on an “Estate Planning 101” Basics seminar, working on our Vlog  and podcast series, and revamping our website! So we have been just a little bit busy!

How have you been? Have you been busy and completing your Estate Planning Homework Assignments? Have you made an appointment with an estate planning attorney in your area? (We have experienced estate planning attorneys in California, specifically Redwood City and San Jose AND we have a virtual law office to serve the rest of California 🙂 ) Are you just starting assignment #1? Don’t wait too much longer- you don’t want to be the April Fool who waited too long to create an estate plan (insert fake laugh here!).

So as promised here is some discussion about one of the Must Have Documents– a will. This scenario can apply to individuals either in their first, second or third marriage, or just have children from previous relationships; It can also be considered where there are issues of separate property and inheritance.

WHAT WILL YOU PICKReciprocal and Non-Reciprocal Wills

When thinking about your will, decide whether you and your spouse will execute reciprocal wills. Reciprocal wills are wills executed by husband and wife, which are exactly alike. This means that each will leaves the same asset(s) to the same person(s) in the same proportion. For example, Jane and John, each on their second marriage are married to one another, and each has one child from a previous marriage. They both execute wills, which leave everything to the other, and in case the other is deceased, one-half of the estate to Jane’s child and one-half to John’s child. Some things to keep in mind when deciding whether to execute reciprocal wills.

When executing RECIPROCAL wills, your spouse is free to change his or her will at any time. For example, John and Jane, each on their second marriage are married to one another, and each has one child from a previous marriage. They both execute wills, which leave everything to the other, and in case the other is deceased, one-half of the estate to Jane’s child and one-half to John’s child. Jane dies, and John inherits the entire estate. He then may change his Will to leave the entire estate to his child, and disinherit Jane’s child.

When executing NON-RECIPROCAL wills, you will need to determine what assets belong to each of you so that there is no confusion about what property each party may leave to his or her heirs. If you experience any difficulty reaching an agreement concerning ownership of your property, a pre-nuptial agreement or your state’s marital property, laws may dictate ownership of some or all of your property for you.

Your spouse is not required to inform you of changes made to his or her will.

Whether executing reciprocal wills or not, your spouse is free to change his or her will at any time and is under no obligation to inform you of the change. This means that he or she may remove your children as beneficiaries and leave their entire estate to their own children, without your permission or knowledge.

Feel free to contact our office if you have any additional questions! Enjoy this beautiful Spring weather!

Posted in blended families, Children, Estate Planning, Family, Future, Goals, Wills | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment