How to Achieve Sustainable Business Growth… The Christine Chronicles


It’s been a tough week, with the heat and jet lag. Here’s picture of our dining view of the georgous Alps, from our trip to Europe with the boys.

Lunch. Alps


I am ready for the weekend. We are attending a lobster feed tomorrow outside- oh boy!.  Not sure if there is anything I could chose to wear that would be comfortable in what I understand will be a very warm evening!  The good news is that there will be plenty of wine and food as the event will be held at a winery in El Dorado!  Should be fun.

Check out the article about sustaining your business, now that you are up and running.  Expanding your business base is good for long term stability.

Stay cool this weekend!



How to Achieve Sustainable Business Growth

You’ve put in the time to get your business off the ground and now you’re up and running. You have a product or service that’s selling well, team support to keep everyone happy and a proven income model.

Congratulations! You’ve overcome the biggest obstacle to business sustainability.

Surviving the startup phase is often the toughest obstacle. If you’ve made it through that, you’re ready to take the next logical step on the road to sustainability: growth.

There are many ways to expand your business, so read on to discover the next step that will be right for you.

Open Another Location. While this method isn’t a sure thing and should be carefully considered, proper planning and research can significantly increase your chance of raising your growth potential.

Consider franchising. Franchising is an excellent way to expand your business without having to put the same amount of time, money, and sweat equity you did when you first started. Franchising isn’t for everyone, though. You need a clean-running internal operating system (think scalability) and clear leadership vision to make franchising successful. Plus, franchises must follow very specific rules around disclosure and sale to franchisees. Contact us for support.

Begin licensing. Licensing can be a low-risk and low-cost way for service or branded product-based businesses to grow. But don’t jump in without consulting with a skilled creative business lawyer. Intellectual property rights are the key here; you have to protect your interests diligently in order to grow—and not compromise—your business. We can help.

Gain allies. Alliances can be mutually beneficial—if you are smart about whom you approach. Find someone in the industry that already has an impressive client base. And don’t be turned off by the prospect of paying commissions. Dramatically growing your clientele doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen a lot quicker if you tap into that of another industry leader. Remember to document all of your agreements with allies, and don’t simply rely on handshake deals that could turn allies into enemies down the road.

Diversify. Diversification can increase your income streams and counteract slow periods in your fiscal year. It can also help you to reach a larger audience and increase your market presence, something that can work to your advantage when attracting major retailer allies.

Infiltrate new markets. Think outside your market. Are there other markets you can reach? Take your service or product where it hasn’t gone before—just make sure you are going into a market where there’s demand.

Welcome the government as your newest customer. Government contracts are hard to win—they take planning, patience, and compliance—but the U.S. government is the largest consumer in the world. And, once you secure a government bid, future submissions won’t be such a process.

Join forces. Merge with or acquire another business, so you can appropriate its client-base and resources.

Expand online. The internet can be your biggest ally in your path to growth. Tap into the unlimited exposure available online where your potential customers number in the millions. With so much potential for success comes potential for failure, too. You need to be targeted and strategic, or you will be lost in a sea of competitors. And, of course comply with all FTC rules and regulations. We can help here too.

Go global. You’ll need to expand online before you tackle this step, but when you do, you realize the immense potential of being a global brand. Two things are key here: make sure your marketing is culturally aware, and find a trusted international distributor. Nail these, and global expansion will be the last frontier for your business.

The key to smart business growth is planning. If you are ready to take the next step toward sustainable business growth, begin by sitting down with us as your Creative Business Lawyer®. We are here to help you face the many challenges of owning and growing a business. We are experienced in helping small business owners grow their business through calculated legal and financial moves. If you’re ready to get smart about growing your business, we can help.





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Your Rights as the Parent of a Young Adult – What You Need to Know – Christine’s Family Wealth Series


Just returned from a  2 week grad trip with the boys to France, Picture4Switzerland and Italy.     We had a great trip, lots of driving, but a great trip. We visited Antibes in the south of France, and Eze was particularly beautiful. This is a medieval city on a hilltop, built in the 11th century or so. We hiked down (nice but tough on the knees) and then back up (nightmare) the Nietzsche Path, which is about 1.2 miles down from Eze to the Mediterranean. The dip in the azure sea was welcomed.  More about our travels next week but here are a few photos from Eze.

Cameron celebrating his 18th birthday. The whole restaurant serenaded him!

Cameron celebrating his 18th birthday. The whole restaurant serenaded him!

Cameron turned 18 while we were in Lyon France. This was another reminder to me of the importance of completing his incapacity planning. He is now legally an adult, which means as a parent, I no longer have any rights to control his legal or financial affairs, or medical decision making. Even more frustrating to many parents is the inability to even obtain information about their child, and this is especially true in the medical arena.  Should your child chose NOT to allow you to communicate with physicians or medical providers, you have no recourse.  Young adults are not in the best position, based in limited life experience, to make such decisions on their own.  Consider making it your priority to get incapacity planning in place for your adult children, at least until they are married or have a significant other in their lives.

We can get this done for you quickly and conveniently,especially if you have a child leaving the state for college.

Until next time,

Christine E. Faulkner


Your Rights as the Parent of a Young Adult – What You Need to Know 

As a parent, you are most likely quite accustomed to managing the legal and medical affairs of your children, as circumstances require. If your child requires urgent medical attention while away from you, a simple phone call authorizing care usually can do the trick. But what happens when those “children” turn 18, and are now adults in the eyes of the law, and need of urgent medical attention far from home?

The simple fact is that the day your child turns 18, he or she becomes an adult, and have the legal rights of an adult. What this means for you is that you lose your prior held rights to make medical and financial decisions for your child, unless your child executes legal documents giving you those rights back. Without the proper legal documents in place, accessing medical information, and even being informed about your adult child’s medical condition can be difficult and in some cases, impossible.

When sending kids off to college, it is important to consider the legal implications an accident or medical emergency might have on your ability to stay informed and participate in important decision making for your young adult child. Medical professionals have a responsibility to follow the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which ensures medical privacy protection for all adults. Once your child turns 18, they are (from a legal perspective)no more attached to you than a stranger, making communication about medical issues tricky if your child is incapacitated and not able to grant permission on their own.

In most states, there are three legal documents which can make all the difference when a medical crisis strikes and your young adult child is far from home. When utilized together, they can ensure a parent or trusted adult be kept in the loop about care and treatment when a child over the age of 18 experiences a medical event while they are away at college, traveling, or living far from home. As with most legal documents, the law varies from state to state, so be sure to seek out the counsel of your Personal Family Lawyer® to determine which forms suit your situation best.

HIPAA – Essentially like a permission slip, this authorization allows your adult child to specify who is allowed access to their personal medical information. Specific information can be specifically withheld, such as drug use, sexual activity, and mental health issues can so that additional privacy can be protected if desired.

Medical power of attorney Designates an agent to make medical decisions for the young adult. This could be you, as the parent or another trusted adult. Each state has different laws governing medical power of attorney, thereby requiring different forms. Be sure to check with your Personal Family Lawyer® to be sure you are following the laws of your state, as well as the state in which your child resides.

Durable financial power of attorney -Allows the parent or another trusted adult to take care of personal business in the event the adult child is unable to do so.  This form would allow the parent to take care of such important tasks such as signing tax returns, paying bills, and accessing bank accounts for the incapacitated adult child. A durable power of attorney is indeed powerful and gives broad access to sensitive financial and legal decision making and should only be given to a trusted relative or friend.

The milestones come quickly once children graduate from high school and enter into the big, wide world away from home. As your family navigates these significant rites of passage, be sure to consult us as your Personal Family Lawyer® to determine the steps necessary to ensure excellent communication and peace of mind when a medical emergency arises. Consider including your young adult children in the process. We’re here to help your family establish the legal and medical protections you all need to live the lives you desire.

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Opening a new Location? Follow These Three Steps First- Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Happy Friday:

We held a fun, informative wine tasting event last night at Barsetti Winery in Galt, to educate on estate planning and asset protection. As a business owner, these are important concerns as well, along with  business succession and proper tax planning.  Check us out on Facebook to keep up with our event schedule. I am thinking that our next event should be at a Brewery, which should appeal to all of you guys out there.

Expansion is exciting and scary at the same time. Market research is an important foundation component for successful business growth.  Moving locations can make or break your business so do your homework before committing on this key decision.  This is a multifaceted decision extending well beyond the location, so  if this may be on your horizon, have a look at our recommendations below.

Until next time,

Christine E. Faulkner


Opening a New Location? Follow These Three Steps First

Opening a new business location is an exciting venture. It also comes with inherent risks. A new site can increase profits and brand exposure, but it also opens up possibilities for failure. Rushing into expansion and opening a new location can do more harm than good if proper preparations are not made. Increase your chances of success by following these simple steps first:

Do Your Research
Deciding where to open a new location for your business should go beyond finding an affordable lease or the new hot retail spot. Just because your business is successful at its current location doesn’t mean it will retain its viability in a new one. Find a location where your product or service is needed but where you won’t face stiff competition. A nearby competitor shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, but it should get you thinking about how you can convince potential customers or clients to choose you over them.

Test the Waters
If you can, test out your product or service in the area you are considering for a new location. Think mobile, low-investment ventures such as food trucks or kiosks. These can both increase your brand’s exposure in the new area and give you a chance to test the public’s response to your company. If the public responds positively to your business, it may be time to set up shop. But if you didn’t get the response you’d hoped for, solicit customer feedback to learn more, and carefully consider other locations.

Put the Word Out
Opening a new location doesn’t guarantee immediate success. The key to a successful opening is to create a marketing strategy that will alert potential customers to your new location. Foot traffic is great, but it can only do so much, so don’t rely on it to ensure success. Work with a marketing specialist to maximize your exposure at your new location. It takes time to build a neighborhood reputation, even if you have another successful location. Expect to invest in marketing while your new site is getting established.

A new location for your business can be a profitable venture if you are strategic and prepare well. Following these steps can reduce your risk of costly mistakes and free up your time and creative energy to can hit the ground running toward great success.

If you are ready to open a new business location, start by sitting down with a Creative Business Lawyer®. As your Creative Business Lawyer®, we will guide you in making the difficult decisions you face every day as a leader in business, including when and where to open a new location. We look out for your business’s legal and financial future so you have time and energy to focus on growth and expansion.



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Commit to Your Estate Plan Before Committing to a Trip Away… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets


Family vacations are standard operating procedure for summertime. The kids are out of school and the weather is warm. Before embarking on your family time, please seriously consider scheduling an appointment at our office to put your planning in place.

We’re planning our own summertime adventure and I often reflect on those days while traveling with Dave, wondering what would happen to my children if something happened us and we had no plan in place. It kept me up at night and if you have no plan, you probably wonder what would happen to your family as well. Give us a call and we will get you on the calendar for this very important appointment.

Until next time,



Commit to Your Estate Plan Before Committing to a Trip Away

If you are planning a vacation, you probably have a lot to prepare for before you get away. Between structuring your itinerary, getting plane tickets or train reservations, and booking hotels, creating an estate plan is probably not something you thought to add to your to-do list. But, think again and consider that now is the time to take action on this vital piece of your legal life planning.

If something were to happen to you while away on vacation, whether an illness, injury or even death, your family would be stuck with a huge mess to clean up.

The Barber family of Southern California is an unfortunate example. Mom, dad and three kids went on a roadtrip to Arizona where they were in a terrible accident. Mom and dad died, and their three boys were injured, but alive.

It took the authorities a couple of days to locate any relatives, during which time the boys were in the protective custody of strangers. A fate no parent ever wants for their children in a time of tragedy, fear and grief.

The family member that was located first was a sister of the mom and she promptly took the boys back to her home and didn’t let any other family members see the boys.

It took many hundreds of thousands of dollars and at least 7 lawyers to sort out the family fighting that ensued over both the boys and the assets left behind by the Barber parents.

And it all could have been easily avoided with a small amount of planning in advance.
Making the commitment now to create a comprehensive estate plan will ensure your loved ones will not be stuck in court or conflict, if the unexpected happens while you are on vacation.

At least 8 weeks before you leave, schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session with us. During that Session, we’ll get you more financially organized than you’ve ever been before (ensuring none of your assets are lost if you are injured on your vacation) and guide you to make informed, empowered and educated choices for yourself and the people you love most.

Whatever you do, do not just think a standard set of estate planning documents will serve you or your family. What you and your family need is a plan that properly addresses the care of your children (if you have minors at home), your assets and the parts of your life that go beyond just the money. We can explain more during the Family Wealth Planning Session.

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.


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What Happens to Your Body When You Die? The Choice Can Be Yours… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets



Well, ever so slowly we’re making progress on clearing our property. This has been, and continues to be, such a weird weather year (for instance it appears that it may rain again today), which makes it difficult to keep the grass and weeds at bay. However, I’d like to say that we are almost done, which means we can spend our weekends having fun as a family rather than performing continuous yard work. Yippee!!

Today we bring an interesting, albeit unusual topic. If you’ve ever lost a loved one or someone close to you, you know that one of the hardest decisions to make is burial vs. cremation vs. donation. You, like many people, may find this subject distasteful and scary. At Cava & Faulkner, we understand this. We incorporate this important decision making into every planning session because were all about empowering our clients to make the very best decisions to make things easy for the people you love the most!

Until next time,



What Happens to Your Body When You Die? The Choice Can Be Yours

Many of us are too afraid of death to carefully consider what happens to our bodies after we die. Unfortunately, failing to plan for that event can leave your wishes unattended to and your family grief struck and unsure how to honor your wishes. And the larger truth is that facing your death proactively creates a better life now.

There are many options for disposal of the body when you die, including burial, cremation, and donation to science. These are difficult decisions to consider, especially if you aren’t familiar with the standard body-handling practices used in our society today.

A humorous—and possibility lighthearted—way to learn about these practices is to read Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (New York, Norton, 2003), which explores the how and why of what happens to bodies when people die.

In Stiff, Roach takes us on a journey—albeit an unconventional one—to see what happens to human cadavers. From surgical practice to crash test dummies, donated—or unclaimed—bodies make significant contributions to many fields of research. But let’s say donating your body to science is not what you had in mind. Roach also touches on the other options we have such as traditional grave burials and cremation. And within those choices lie other choices such as the type of casket, where the body will be kept prior to funeral proceedings, and how ashes are distributed.

Stiff provides an entertaining and educational look at death and the practicalities surrounding it, which leads to the important issue of including your wishes in your estate plan. Most people don’t want to leave their loved ones with so many unanswered questions. Creating a comprehensive estate plan ahead of time is a way to ensure your family members are not left with such a burden.

You get to decide what will happen to your body after you die, but to ensure your family can carry out your wishes faithfully, you will want to work with a lawyer to clarify your choices in your estate plan.

You have many options including:

Donate your body to science. You can even specify a particular medical school, university program (called Willed Body Programs) or research organization you want to receive your body. Roach reviews many uses for human cadavers such as crash test dummies, surgical practice for medical students, ballistics testing, transplant experiments, and research on decomposition. You can also specify if you want to designate specific organs to go to science, Roach explains. This is something to consider for those with diseases or disorders that researchers can learn from.

Grave burial. You can specify where you want to be buried, how you want your body transported, what kind of casket you want, and how you want your burial proceedings to take place. You might need a permit if you want your body to cross state lines or travel internationally to arrive at your grave plot. If you haven’t already purchased a grave plot, now is a good time. You might also want to specify what you want printed on your gravestone.

Cremation. You can specify who will handle your cremation and who will receive your ashes. If you want your ashes brought to a particular place, used for a certain purpose (e.g. as fertilizer to grow a plant) or held in a special urn, those wishes should be clearly stated in your estate plan. While cremation can be economical for both the surviving family and the funeral director, Roach explains, many are not comfortable with the thought of their body being converted to ashes and bone fragments, and some religions even frown upon it. Consider your options, and discuss them with your family.

You might also want to include a provision regarding your funerary proceedings in your estate plan. The cost of funerals can be staggering, and the event itself can be a logistical nightmare for the family member struggling to grieve, honor your memory, and make significant decisions. Including specific provisions for your funeral can alleviate some of the burdens your loved ones will face.

When you die, your family will be left with many decisions and many tasks to carry out. It can be a confusing time leaving family members vulnerable financially or emotionally. Including specific instructions in your estate plan can ensure they are not left having to make difficult decisions at a time when they already have so much to deal with. Your family will also need the contact information for any organization(s) that will be involved in this process. Including provisions for details such as your grave plot, casket, funerary proceedings, and accounts you have set up to cover those costs can reduce the financial and emotional strain on your loved ones significantly.

Your estate plan should ensure your loved ones will be taken care of when you die. If you are ready to take the next step toward protecting your wishes and providing for your loved ones both emotionally and financially, start by sitting down with us. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can walk you step by step through creating an estate plan that will protect what you value most.

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The Surprising Secret to Keeping Good Records in Your Small Business… The Christine Chronicles


This has been a busy week and I am ready for the weekend.  What are your plans?  Speaking of plans, I am co-hosting an event at Barsetti Winery on 6/22/17 at 6 PM. Come join us for wine tasting (free), food and a short educational event to learn more about estate planning and asset protection/preservation. RSVP to Cava & Faulkner.

As a small business owner you wear a lot of hats. Working in your business is where the money is generated. Although working ON this business allows creativity and innovation, certain work you should delegate to others. Keeping your books is one of those tasks. Working with a bookkeeper makes a huge difference in understanding your numbers, cash flow and payroll in addition to freeing up your time to work IN your business.  We recommend Cybertary. Give us a call if you would like us to connect you. They do a great job, are reasonably priced and most importantly, are highly professional.

Until next time,



The Surprising Secret to Keeping Good Records in Your Small Business

Keeping good records relieves stress and makes running your business easier and more enjoyable. But it may not look like what you think if you’ve run your business by saving receipts all year long and then trying to handle your bookkeeping all at once at tax time.

First and foremost, don’t handle your bookkeeping yourself. Your focus should be on sales and marketing for your business, with bookkeeping outsourced to someone who does books for a living. But, be careful! Not all bookkeepers are equal.  Find one who will help you to set up systems, like those described in this article, that get you the reporting you need and not just record debits and credits.

Although good record keeping can easily get overwhelming, it’s easy to do if you follow these best practices.

Schedule a monthly meeting with your bookkeeper (and your Creative Business Lawyer®, if you have one) to review your P&L and categorize all expenses properly on an ongoing basis. This will keep you from scrambling come tax time, and you’ll maximize all deductions. If your business is earning 6-figures or more, you may also want a weekly financial report prepared for you that shows what you have in the bank, what’s coming in, and what’s going out during a set period of time.

Create a system with your bookkeeper so that you do not need to keep any paper records yourself. Instead, send everything to your bookkeeper electronically so that he or she can keep all of your invoices, paid bills and critical paperwork in a digital file for you.

Do your banking with a bank that provides electronic copies of checks, so you don’t need to keep paper copies yourself. Likewise, send your bookkeeper a copy of the invoice or bill you are paying with each check. If discrepancies arise in the future, it will be easy to reference checks and invoices to sort things out.

Ensure your bookkeeper keeps copies of all invoices you send out, and has a thoughtful way of organizing your invoices for easy reference. Your bookkeeper should also keep track of any accounts receivable with monthly reports submitted to you, so you can talk with your Creative Business Lawyer® if you need collection support. Accounts receivable that go on too long or are overlooked, are less likely to ever get collected. Ensure your profit and loss breaks income down by revenue stream, and possibly even by class, as your revenue grows.

Lastly, but most importantly, do not procrastinate on finding the right bookkeeper for your business! Yes, it is an investment, but an important one that will pay out big returns in tax and time savings for you each year.

This is perhaps the most obvious but most crucial best practice. Set aside an hour each week (ideally on the day you’ve scheduled to work ON your business) to review your financials and proactively meet with your bookkeeper each month to review that P&L and keep it up to date.

Good record keeping for small businesses is often more about having a great relationship with your bookkeeper, regularly meeting and knowing what to look at during those meetings than it is about keeping copies of checks and receipts. If you need help getting started, sit down with us as your Creative Business Lawyer® for guidance. We can help you put systems in place to help you organize your business and build a foundation for success. Meeting with a trusted Creative Business Lawyer® will help you identify what your business needs to thrive.

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How (and Why) to Disinherit a Child or Grandchild… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Hello and Happy Monday:

We are excited to tell you about our event at Barsetti’s Winery in Galt, on June 22, 2017 at 6:30.  Wine Tasting on Us!! Yep you heard that right. We have limited space so RSVP to our office. My colleagues from New York Life, Pacific Investments and I will provide a quick but illuminating talk on asset preservation and protection.   Come join us. This should be fun!

Creating your planning requires thoughtful intention, deciding who must absolutely never be included in your plan. Should you decide to remove children or grandchildren from planning, we urge you to closely consider your reasons for doing so, as such a decision may result in significant family discord.  After all, one of your highest planning goals is family harmony.

Until next time,



How (and Why) to Disinherit a Child or Grandchild

Completely disinheriting a child or grandchild should be reserved for extreme circumstances.  And, if those circumstances exist in your family, it’s critical to ensure that you’ve taken the proper planning steps so that you are not leaving your loved one’s with a guaranteed lawsuit or other conflict after you are gone. Read on, if you are considering disinheriting a child or grandchild.

First, let’s get clear when it is a good idea to disinherit a child or grandchild, and when it is not. Disinheriting a child or grandchild to punish them for a lifestyle choice you do not agree with is usually not the best course of action. Instead, consider whether it may be time to release your need to control the people you love with your assets and instead recognize that each person deserves to be accepted and loved for the choices they are making.

If the lifestyle choice you disagree with is something like a drug, alcohol or gambling addiction, which could be exacerbated by an inheritance, consider creating a trust that would allow your assets to be used for treatment programs, and that may even incentivize treatment. We can help you draft appropriate provisions into your trust to address a scenario like this.

If you are considering disinheriting a child or grandchild because you are concerned that they may not make good use of their inheritance, or could even possibly lose the inheritance to a future spouse or divorce, we can support in preparing a special trust that would allow you to leave the inheritance to your child or grandchild and keep it protected from future spouses or divorces, ensuring the inheritance stays in your family, no matter what.

If you are considering disinheriting a child or grandchild because they have special needs issues and you want to ensure they qualify for governmental benefits, contact us because we can create workarounds to ensure that your inheritance can be used for their support and they can qualify for governmental benefits.

Finally, if you truly do want to disinherit a child or grandchild, be sure to do it very carefully so as not to create unnecessary family conflict. Do not attempt to do this on your own.

Be sure to document your capacity and that you are making the choice to disinherit based on your own free will, so that the disinherited family member cannot challenge the disinheritance claiming incapacity or duress.

After you’ve made these difficult decisions, make sure you review your estate plan every 1-3 years to ensure your wishes still align with your legal documents. Families are dynamic, so you should refresh your estate plan at regular intervals or after significant changes in your family take place, such as births, deaths, or marriages.

Because the decision to disinherit a child or grandchild requires significant consideration, you should not make it alone. Consult with us to help you clarify your wishes and include them in your estate plan, so they are legally enforceable and do not create additional conflict.

Working with us when considering disinheriting a child or grandchild will ensure you make the wisest decision and that your wishes will be followed when you die. If you are considering this significant decision, meet with us for guidance. A Personal Family Lawyer® can help you articulate your wishes and include them in a comprehensive estate plan so your desires—and your beneficiaries—are clear.

This article is a service of Christine Faulkner, 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. Begin by calling our office today.

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Recently Divorced? Here’s Why You Should Put Aside Your Differences Come Tax Season… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets


Hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. I spent time with my friend and colleague Nicolette Eberle with NY Life, at the Dancing Fox Winery in Lodi on Saturday. We were doing some research for our next event–that was a fun day of event planning for sure. Nicolette and I held a joint seminar a few weeks back and are planning our next fun, information filled event.  We’ll keep you posted on the details. Come join us.  Yesterday, I spent the day bottling wine at Too Good winery with friends, in Somerset CA. Fun way to spend my Memorial Day weekend.  Here’s a photo of the wine we bottled!


Divorce is unpleasant all the way around.  We discuss this prospect in our planning sessions. Specifically, in terms of asset protection for the wealth you plan to pass to your children, in the event they divorce, and the general fallout from the divorce process.  You likely don’t relish this subject. Most people don’t, but the long lasting effects of divorce and its impact on your finances are worth considering.  Getting on the same page with your ex, or soon-to-be ex, can have its advantages especially when it comes to successfully navigating joint financial obligations.  Have a look.

Until next time,



Recently Divorced? Here’s Why You Should Put Aside Your Differences Come Tax Season

Divorce can wreak havoc on your finances. But what many divorced couples don’t realize is that they can expect to face recurring financial challenges during tax season for years after the divorce is finalized. While divorce is often adversarial, leaving both spouses with animosity in its wake, tax season is an opportune time to put aside those differences and cooperate to reach a mutually beneficial outcome.

Filing taxes in the midst and even after divorce can be complicated. Even after a divorce, many couples retain financial ties in the form of ongoing support, shared assets, lingering retirement plan divisions, and tax breaks, all of which can significantly affect tax liability. You can avoid another bitter battle by sitting down with your ex-spouse—and ideally a trusted lawyer—to discuss a few key issues.

Will You File Jointly or Individually?
Couples in the midst of a divorce can file “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately.” Each filing status has its pros and cons, so you should only make this decision after consulting with a lawyer and a tax advisor.

Couples with a divorce finalized before the New Year have to file separately, so consider delaying the finalization of your divorce until after December 31st if you’d like to reap the benefits of filing as a married couple.

Whatever you do, don’t wait until tax season to decide how to file, and don’t decide without consulting with your spouse. Coordinating your filing status can be advantageous to both parties if you plan ahead.

Who Claims the Children?
This is another important issue worth determining before tax season. Typically, the divorce judgment will include a stipulation on who gets to claim the children and the associated credits or deductions. Many couples choose to take turns by alternating years or each claiming one (or more) child individually . But if you don’t already have this determined in a court order, you might need help determining which parent has the most to gain one way or the other. In general, primary custodial parents have the right to claim the children, however in the case of shared custody, that right can fall in either direction. Likewise, divorcing couples that are filing separately will need to make this decision, but it is best first to figure out whom the claim will benefit the most before you decide.

How Will You Handle Dividing Your Assets?
Not all types of property divisions are tax friendly. Make sure you consult with a lawyer before you put your property division in writing to ensure the spouse who receives the assets is not met with an undue tax burden come tax season. This is more of concern for couples in the midst of a divorce, but divorced couples can run into issues about jointly held assets (such as the family home), too. And failing to include a stipulation regarding jointly owned assets in the judgment can create trouble.

The spouse who retains residence of the family home doesn’t necessarily get to claim all the tax benefits, especially if he or she is not financially responsible for the home. Cooperation is essential in this matter. The division of retirement accounts can also affect your taxes. Make sure you file a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to divide plans without penalty. Liquidating the accounts to divide them will result in penalties and a higher tax liability.

How Will You Characterize Support?
Orders for alimony (also called spousal support or spousal maintenance) and child support are common in many divorces. Child support has no bearing on tax liability and cannot be deducted. Alimony, however, is a little more flexible. Alimony is typically taxed as income to the receiving spouse and a deduction for the paying spouse, but the wording in your judgment can affect this. Work with a lawyer before you finalize your divorce to ensure your alimony order will be mutually beneficial to you and your spouse.

If you’re divorced and need financial guidance, consider sitting down with us. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can help you strategize your tax filing for maximum benefit this tax season.

At Cava & Faulkner, 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.

Posted in Asset Protection, Financial, Retirement, Taxes | Comments Off on Recently Divorced? Here’s Why You Should Put Aside Your Differences Come Tax Season… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Generational Wisdom in 32 Questions… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets


One day and counting to Cameron’s graduation. Yipee!  We are excited for Cameron to matriculate and begin a new chapter of his life.  It is an exciting time for our family, especially Dave and I, watching our youngest graduate from high school.  One major milestone done. Cameron likely plans on moving to Tempe, just like his older brother, and attending college there. Will be truly be a family of Sun Devils!

Family wealth is not just the kind of wealth you see on paper in financial statements. Your most precious assets are the people you love in your life, and their stories, insights and wisdom should not be lost. The 32 questions (below) are designed for you to learn what matters most in your family, and help you pass this on to future generations.  At  Cava & Faulkner, we complete a family legacy conversation, similar in design and intent to these 32 questions, so that your most precious family wealth, your stories, wisdom, hopes and dreams are never lost.

Until next time,



Generational Wisdom in 32 Questions

What can we learn from earlier generations? Quite a bit, says Brendon Burchard, but only if we ask the right questions.

Brendon Burchard, famed personal development trainer and author of The Motivation Manifesto (Carlsbad, Hay House, 2014) says asking your mother, father and/or another loved one these 32 important questions can teach you valuable lessons about love, life, and what matters most. Burchard suggests recording the conversation so the lessons and messages can be passed down easily to your children and grandchildren. Use these questions as a springboard and see what you didn’t know about your elder loved ones:

1. What comes to mind when you think about growing up in your hometown?
2. What did you love to do as a kid, before high school?
3. What did you love to do in high school?
4. What do remember most about your teenage years?
5. What do you remember most about your mom (grandma)?
6. What was most important to her?
7. What do you remember most about your dad (grandpa)?
8. What was most important to him?
9. If Grandma and Grandpa had a message to pass along to the grandchildren, what would it be?
10. How did you meet your spouse? How did you know (s)he was the one?
11. How did you choose your career? What was your favorite part about it?
12. What made you successful?
13. What did you believe about yourself that helped you become successful and deal with hard times?
14. What times in your life truly “tested your mettle,” and what did you learn about yourself by dealing (or not dealing) with them?
15. What three events most shaped your life?
16. What do you remember about when I was born?
17. Were you ever scared to be a parent?
18. What three words would you say represented your approach to parenting and why?
19. When you think about [sibling] how would you describe him/her?
20. What message do you have for [sibling] that you want him/her to always keep in mind?
[Do the last two questions above for each sibling in your family]
21. When you think about [spouse], how would you describe her/him?
22. What message do you have for [spouse] that you want her/him to always keep in mind?
23. What three words would you say best describe who you tried to be in life? How would you like to be remembered?
24. What do you think your children and grandchildren should  focus on professionally?
25. What have you learned about people in life?
26. What do you think the world needs more of right now?
27. What do you believe people want the most in life?
28. What were the three best decisions you ever made?
29. What are you most proud of?
30. What were five of the most memorable moments of your life?
31. What message would you like to share with your family?
32. What are you most thankful for?

These questions can reveal a wealth of valuable life lessons–family treasures to share with generations to come. But having this conversation is just a start. To preserve and protect your family assets and other things of value, you should create a comprehensive estate plan that will safeguard what you value most. And, we include a recorded Family Legacy Conversation, which becomes a priceless family legacy piece for your loved ones, with every estate plan we create.

If you need guidance in planning for your future, start by coming in to meet with us for a Family Wealth Planning Session. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can guide you in creating a comprehensive estate plan that protects and preserves your most valuable assets. Before the session, we’ll send you an Estate Planning Worksheet to complete that will get you thinking about what you own, what matters most to you, and what you want to leave behind.

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. Begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session.

Posted in Elderly, Legacy | Comments Off on Generational Wisdom in 32 Questions… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Leaving Without a Plan: Prince Didn’t Leave a Will & Here’s Why You Should… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets


I hope you had a lovely Mother’s day with your mother, wife  or daughter. I enjoyed a lovely brunch a la Daniel, Cameron and Dave comprised of Crepes Suzette (yes my kids are adventurous in the kitchen indeed, bacon and mimosas. It was lovely and most especially that we are all together again as a family. It is so good to have Daniel home again, and I know Cameron misses Daniel tremendously when he’s away at school. As always, I think of and miss my mom Nancy on Mother’s Day, remembering the lovely woman that she was.

Mother’s Day is a time you celebrate your mother–everything she means to you and to show your love. Every mom worries about her kids, and what will happen if she is not around to care of them.  That is why creating a plan is key, so that your mom, or you (if you are a mom), have the peace of mind knowing that your family is taken care of under  ALL circumstances.  Prince and many celebrities like him never get around to planning and we get to see the results play out in public. It’s never pretty. The good news is that this does not have to be you or your family.  Give us a call and we will create a custom plan that meets the specific needs of your family!

Until next time,



Leaving Without a Plan: Prince Didn’t Leave a Will & Here’s Why You Should

Even after death, celebrities are highly publicized for their mistakes, many of which we make ourselves. This time last year, superstar musician Prince died suddenly, leaving no will, and the management of his substantial estate fraught with legal complications and added costs.

It’s easy to assume that the wealthiest among us have all their ducks in a row, but it’s hard to judge someone—even a celebrity—for neglecting something like the creation of a will. Until you stop to seriously think about what will happen when you die, creating a will can seem like an unnecessary and morbid task, certainly not something you casually check off your to-do list. Nevertheless, the importance of having a will simply cannot be stressed enough. Below are just a few of the reasons why everyone should have a will, no matter their wealth, age or health.

You can name the person you want to manage your estate in your will. You will get to choose someone you trust and make sure they have all the knowledge they need to ensure your wishes for your estate are carried out.

You can decide who your beneficiaries will be. You can also disinherit those who would normally stand to inherit from your estate if you choose. Your wealth and possessions are yours; a will provides a legally enforceable way to ensure they go to the right people.

You can ensure your minor children will be raised by the people you want, for the long-term. If you have minor children, you should name a legal guardian and include provisions for their care in your will. But, don’t rely on a will alone because it won’t address the immediate care of your children if something happens to you, it won’t provide for your children’s care in the event of incapacity and it won’t ensure someone you would never want to raise your kids could not.

You can leave gifts and donations to your favorite charities or people you love beyond your legal family. Without a will, your estate would pass to the people designated to receive it under the law, and that may not be who you would want to receive everything you own. Creating a will ensures you get to choose who gets what.

Important as they are, a will can only do so much. For example, a will does not keep your family out of court.

And, a will does not ensure your kids will never be taken out of your home, if something happens to you.

And, a will does not keep your family out of conflict.

A will is only one part of a comprehensive estate plan that will protect and enforce your wishes when you die.

If you are ready to take the right steps toward making informed, empowered and educated decisions for the legal and financial future of the people you love, start by sitting down with a Personal Family Lawyer®.

As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we will walk you step-by-step through the creation of an estate plan that will protect what you value most. Our Family Wealth Planning Session™ helps you protect and preserve your wealth for future generations. 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.

Posted in Beneficiaries, Celebrity, Death, Estate Planning, Guardianship, Legacy, Trusts, Wills | Comments Off on Leaving Without a Plan: Prince Didn’t Leave a Will & Here’s Why You Should… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets