Albert Einstein famously said that an intellectual solves problems, while a genius avoids them. Here is an example of how you should employ this mindset when you put your estate plan in place.
In the last article we introduced and discussed the process of the virtuous circle of communication. In this article we will discuss how to communicate in a family meeting.
Many people build their retirement and estate plans around their children and grandchildren. Everything from where they live, to how they spend their time and money, to the legacy they want to leave behind is considered through the prism of their role as parents and grandparents. For those without kids and grandkids, a different formula may apply as these individuals may have more financial freedom and flexibility as they enter retirement and beyond. But they still need to be as vigilant — if not more — about planning for their later years.
As we all get older, our needs in life change. That can happen in both large and small ways. But one thing we all need to consider is the journey of long-term financial planning. While that can seem like a huge task, by breaking it down into manageable steps, we can all work towards financial security in retirement. Here are some thought starters to consider.
In Sherry Turkle’s book, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk In A Digital Age, she writes about the process of the virtuous circle of communication by discussing the poet, Henry David Thoreau’s moving to Waldon Pond to live more deliberately. Thoreau furnished his cabin with three chairs. One chair to represent solitude, where he could self-reflect on matters most important for him. Two chairs to engage in conversation where he could express his thoughts to another.
The first step in the estate planning process is learning. What do you need to learn? I suggest this as your starting point: You need to discover how to stay in control of your stuff while you are able to be in control, as well as how to be sure that that your wishes will be carried out when incapacity or the grim reaper catch up with you. Sorry to rub it in, but at least one of those things is going to happen to you. Odds are that both of them will.
Approximately 23 million Americans ages 65 and older are single, divorced or widowed, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau. That means there are many people in this country who are planning their retirement on their own, without the help of a spouse or partner.
Estate planning attorneys help their clients make sound, intentional decisions relating to their estate plans when they manage to help clients minimize guilt, conflict and anxiety. At the same time, survivors should be allowed experience the natural process of grief.
They say that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. When your life comes to an end, your loved ones can be left facing both certainties at the same time. The good news is that to some extent, we can postpone both, and we can avoid (notice I did not say evade) taxes almost entirely.
If you find yourself with extra cash — either a lump sum or excess dollars from your monthly paycheck — you may be wondering what to do with it. If you have debt — such as a mortgage or student loans — the prudent option may be to pay off your balances. Yet it might make more sense to put the money to work in the form of investments that have the potential to generate greater returns than the interest rate on your debt.
Aging is a process that’s changing. We’re now living longer and more active lives. And as we approach our later years, many of us have strong feelings about where and how we want to spend this period of our lives.
You can devise your estate plan without lawyers or accountants. All you need is a credit card, a computer, a printer and access to the internet. Armed with those four things, you can create one or more documents that may — or may not — accomplish what you expect.
Having a child with special needs presents unique challenges. When their condition limits their ability to earn a living and pay for living expenses upon reaching adulthood, financial worries can abound. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure your child has sufficient financial resources and a dedicated support system. As you work towards protecting your child’s future, consider these six strategies:
Clients who start the estate planning process do so with the knowledge that they will die one day. This death awareness comes with some degree of death anxiety, as well as anticipatory grief.
When Hiroko hired a healthcare agency to assist her in caring for her husband, she trusted that the company would provide her with caregivers who were responsible and professional. Unfortunately, this agency sent a “caregiver” who helped herself to Hiroko’s jewelry. This is only one of many cases of caregiver abuse handled by the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, but it highlights the need for people to become aware of the risks involved when hiring a stranger as a caregiver.
The first steps in your estate planning journey are learning 1) how to stay in control of your stuff while you are able to be in control and 2) how to make sure your wishes are carried out when incapacity or the grim reaper catch up with you. Sorry to rub it in, but there is a 100% probability that at least one of these things is going to happen to you and a 70% probability that both of them will.
The number of infants born in the US jumped significantly after World War II and continued to increase through the mid-1960s. Social scientists believe it was the result of the thousands of WWII veterans returning home to a booming economy and GI Bill benefits that provided access to home ownership, encouraging them to marry and start families. These infants born between 1946 and 1964 are known as baby boomers.
Retirement marks the end of a chapter in your career and the start of a new lifestyle. This unique transition can bring a myriad of emotions, most commonly, excitement and apprehension. If you’re pondering retiring in the next year or so, here are five tips to help you transition smoothly.
All grief starts as anticipatory grief. Dr. Daniel Miller defines the term “anticipatory grief” as the “process of grieving that starts prior to a loved one passing away.”
Data from the Federal Trade Commission show that more consumers than ever report falling prey to romance scamming, also called “catphishing.” The total reported lost over the past five years has now reached $1.3 billion. How Do They Do It?
Estate planning involves protecting what is important and then passing it on to our loved ones and future generations. Many concepts central to Hawaiian culture are applicable to estate planning. Starting with the concept of ‘ohana, all the way through lokahi, estate planning and the culture of our islands can interweave to form a rich tapestry of aloha.
We all know couples who fight about money. You may even be in a relationship where finances are a source of tension. It’s no mystery why these kinds of conflicts are so common — money fuels our ability to take care of ourselves and our dependents. Managing it requires discipline and a plan, but often, couples don’t see eye-to-eye on what that means.
Facing one’s mortality is the unspoken uneasiness that rests just below the surface of the conversation with an estate planning attorney. Estate planning attorneys are well-versed in the law of estate planning. But as they focus heavily on probate avoidance and tax minimization, they may overlook the emotional, human side of estate planning. Therefore, the best estate planning attorneys are counselors of law with the emphasis on counselor more than law.
Charities depend on gifts from people like us to do their good works. That’s why they are not shy about asking us for money. Here are some ideas about maximizing your charitable gifts.
Many grandparents spend money on their grandkids, whether by chipping in on big expenses like tuition bills and travel expenses, or covering smaller costs like meals and holiday gifts. The inclination to be generous is understandable and many seniors say it brings them joy to support (or even occasionally spoil) their grandchildren. But lavishing them with gifts shouldn’t come at the expense of your or grandparents own financial security.
Continuing from my last article, I believe that clients really want the estate planning attorney to help them meet their needs so that they can reduce their fear, anxiety and anticipatory grief in light of their knowledge of their inevitable death.
During times of market volatility like we’ve seen since the start of 2022, it’s natural to feel a bit skittish about the stock market. It’s a potent reminder that there are risks to stock ownership. Individual stocks are not guaranteed to grow and may lose value. The good news is that the stock market has historically delivered a higher rate of return than other forms of investment in the same timeframe.
Thanks to ongoing advances in medical care, people are living longer than ever before. But that longevity comes with a cost. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, roughly 70 percent of Americans over age 65 will require some type of long-term care services in their lives — costing potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A trust is created when a person transfers “stuff” to a trustee with the understanding that the trustee will manage it for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. “Stuff” includes any kind of property you can own: real property, such as land and buildings (including timeshares) and personal property, such as bank accounts, stocks and bonds, and personal effects.
Grief is a natural response to the loss of someone special. The process of grieving allows the griever to adapt to a new world of existence without the loved one. If allowed to proceed through the grieving process with minimal guilt, anxiety, stress, unresolved issues and conflict, we can help each griever experience their grief fully and allow the griever to validate and honor the life of the deceased, and affirm and strengthen relationships with survivors.
A Provider Order regarding Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) says what measures should be used to keep you alive in a medical emergency. It is different from an Advance Directive in that it will be followed by emergency personnel, provided that they are aware of its existence. If you don’t have a POLST, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are required to do whatever they can to restore and stabilize your heartbeat and breathing and take you to an appropriate facility for treatment.
The Federal Reserve (the Fed) has begun what it says will be a series of interest rate increases in an effort to slow the economy and temper the current surge in the inflation rate. At the start of 2022, the federal funds rate stood at near zero percent. By May, the Fed moved the federal funds rate 75 basis points (0.75 percent) higher.
Growing up, my family always had a pet. From dogs to cats to frogs and even a chicken for a day, pets have always been a part of my life. Today, our pet family consists of three dogs, a guinea pig, a bunny and frogs. Our pets are not just animals but members of our family. And like our family members, we want to ensure that they are taken care of after we are gone.
How do you stay in control of your stuff while you are able and assure that your wishes will be carried out when incapacity or the grim reaper catch up with you? Sorry to rub it in, but at least one of these possibilities is going to happen to you and odds are that both of them will.
Having spent decades saving for retirement, it can feel like a major shift for retirees to spend down their hard-earned assets. Research by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found people with $500,000 or more in savings at retirement spent down less than 12 percent of their assets over 20 years.
Parents often struggle with the concepts of equal, equitable, fairness and adequacy when it comes to the distribution of their assets among their children. Defining these terms will help us make the decision that most closely reflects our intention.
Remember the classic Abbott and Costello comedy routine, “Who’s on First?” The longer they banter, the more their frustration grows due to their seeming lack of understanding of the game they are discussing — and hilarity ensues.
Similarly, the language of estate planning can give rise to problems for the uninitiated, but the problems that arise may not be funny at all.
Dividing tangible personal property is a task that often causes problems for a personal representative and between heirs. A will typically directs that property with monetary value is to be sold and the proceeds deposited into the estate account. But what happens when the property has no real value but the sentimental value is priceless?
Like most Americans, you’ve probably spent years working to achieve the retirement of your dreams. Then there comes a point when this career milestone changes from a distant goal to an imminent reality. You can make your first year away from work more rewarding and less stressful when you take the time to anticipate potential challenges and prepare for how you will handle this important life change.
As an estate planning attorney, I observe how families decide to distribute their assets among their children. I have seen two main standards used to determine the gift. First is the standard of meeting needs and wants. As parents, we know the needs and wants of our children, and do our best to meet both of these.
I recently received a telephone call from my mother. Given that I was in a meeting, I didn’t answer it, but instead let it go to voicemail. Almost immediately, the phone started buzzing again from her same number. Usually, my mom would just leave a message, so this second call was very unusual. I excused myself from the meeting and answered the call. Mom immediately asked, “Scott, are you in jail?”
After spending a lifetime of earning, saving and investing — and paying income and capital gains taxes all the way along — you may wonder why our government feels entitled to tax the value of what’s left when you die. However, the IRS and the State of Hawai‘i both want a piece of your estate.
If you are among the nation’s more than 31 million small businesses owners1, you likely spend much of your time juggling day-to-day business activities and put off planning for the future. If retirement planning has fallen on your back burner, now is the time to bring it to the forefront.
Two of the most frequently asked questions I hear are “How do I choose a trustee?” and “Am I choosing the right trustee?” Here are six criteria to help you choose the right fiduciary for you.
Only about 25 percent of family businesses survive for 15 years or more, and only about 25 percent of the “survivors” will survive the transition to the next generation. There are many contributing factors.
In many parts of the country, home prices have been soaring. According to the National Association of Realtors, the median existing-home price rose more than 17 percent in the one-year period ending in March 2021. This reflects just how competitive the market has become for homebuyers. If you are among those looking to purchase a new home, you should have a solid strategy in place before entering the market.
According to the book, Preparing Heirs: Five Steps to a Successful Transition of Family Wealth and Values, “60 percent of transition failures were caused by a breakdown of communication and trust within the family unit.” With the aging demographic of baby boomers, the high cost of living in Hawai‘i and the increase in multigenerational homes, the potential influx in trust litigation is foreseeable.
In the dozen-plus years I have specialized in prosecuting elder financial fraud cases at the Prosecutor’s Office, it has become pretty easy for me to spot and disassemble how the majority of scams work. Like how a master chef can taste a dish and tell you the ingredients he tastes, I can smell a “business opportunity” or a get rich quick scheme and identify the individual parts of it that will reveal it to be an actual scam.
Making gifts to your loved ones during your lifetime will enable you to see how your beneficiaries handle newfound wealth. This could be a great way to “test drive” your estate plan and determine how well it works while you are still able to make adjustments. If one beneficiary turns out to be a poor steward of your wealth, you can always direct assets to other beneficiaries upon your death.
The COVID-19 pandemic reminded Americans how fragile life is. Applications for life insurance policies in the United States increased 4 percent in 2020, according to the MIB Life Index. If you’re thinking about purchasing life insurance coverage, here’s some basic information to help you make an informed decision.
Passing on keepsakes to those we care about and who we know will cherish them can be a meaningful experience. We hope that the recipient of these items will continue to find value and meaning in the keepsake long after we are gone.
Winning the game of life — and death — depends on having an effective plan in place before the inevitable happens. If you do not have an advance healthcare directive, your loved ones may find themselves blindsided and sidelined at the precise moment you need them to step in and make medical decisions for you.
If a person close to you has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it may be time to address some serious financial questions. It is wise to get financial matters in order as soon as possible due to the debilitating nature of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia that affect your loved one’s ability to make sound decisions.
Two emotions are likely to strike those who are nearing retirement — excitement and fear. Leaving the world of alarm clocks and offices and having time to pursue your own passions on a daily basis is liberating — but the apprehension of entering a new life stage can easily creep in. Although work-related stress will disappear, the responsibility of filling each week in a satisfying way can be a challenge. Top that off with the ever-present concern about long-term financial security in retirement and the nerves can grow even greater.
In a sympathy scam, a con artist plays on the victims’ emotions in order to extract money from them. Typically, you see a lot of these scams stemming from a tragedy that is highly publicized.
I have noticed a troubling emerging trend in estate planning. More families are owning property with different generations. This could be because real estate in Hawai‘i is expensive to purchase and even harder to maintain and keep. It is further exacerbated in situations where there are multiple children beneficiaries and/or where the parents need to leverage the equity in the home for their care, and are unable to access the equity due to a lack of income.
Problems with your estate plan may not become apparent until it is too late to fix them. Here are some common pitfalls:
• Failing to plan for large expenses, such as long-term care. • Failing to update your estate plan, including beneficiary designations on bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts and insurance policies. • Failing to take steps to avoid family strife. • Putting your kids on the title to your stuff during your lifetime.
Trust beneficiaries are sometimes left to wonder why a decedent instructed that a trust distribution be made in a particular way. The trust clearly identified who the beneficiaries were, what they were to receive and how they were to receive. But unfortunately, the trust was silent as to the “why” of the distribution — the underlying reason and purpose for creating the trust in the first place.
Recently, I received a call from a woman who wanted to report that her father had been the victim of theft. The culprit was her niece, who had taken over $100,000 over a three-year period. The caller had the evidence and her father now wanted to hold the niece accountable for what she had done. However, the only problem was that the crime was outside the statute of limitations.
Only about 25 percent of family businesses survive 15 years or more. Only about 25 percent of those will survive the transition to the founders’ descendants. Many factors contribute to these statistics. Here are two critical factors.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the country, parents saw a wave of adult children move back home. Pew Research recently found that 52 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds now live in a parent’s house. Some children may have moved back simply due to safety during the virus response or because universities switched to e-learning. Others may have returned because of financial reasons.
It’s natural to experience grief when we lose a loved one. While we often associate grief with the death of a loved one, we can also experience it when we get divorced or when ties with a friend become severed. Everyone experiences grief differently. Some are able to move on, while others are unable to process their loss.
When there are secrets within a family, it has been my experience that no good has ever come from them. Now, I am not talking about secrets that a family might keep from non-family members, such as, grandma is a witch and Uncle Joe has 12 toes, but secrets family members keep from each other.
A trust is created when a person transfers “stuff” to a trustee who will manage the stuff for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. “Stuff” includes real property — such as land and buildings — and personal property — such as bank accounts, stocks and bonds, and personal effects. The person who transfers the stuff to the trustee is called the trustmaker.
Interest rates recently hit all-time lows as the Federal Reserve made cuts to mitigate the financial impacts of COVID-19. If you’re a homeowner with a monthly mortgage payment, you might be wondering if now is a good time to refinance. While a lower interest rate may yield a more affordable monthly payment, there are other factors to consider. Here are seven questions to ask yourself before making the decision to refinance…
I recently received a call from a concerned parent of an adult special needs child. Her son was recently diagnosed with schizophrenia, refuses to take his medication and has been living on the street. Unable to physically care for her child and experiencing a health scare of her own, she decided it was time to get “her ducks in order” and contacted our office. Her main wish is to continue to provide financially for her son’s present and future care without disrupting his governmental disability benefits.
One of the most common problem I encounter investigating a cybercrime is that the reporting person and/or victim fail to provide any records and/or documentation to support their claim that they had been victimized — more so in cases involving online fraud. One of the simplest and quickest methods of documentation is printing out the webpage offer, sale or service.
You may be tempted to treat a caregiver as a “private contractor” in order to avoid the humbug of tax withholding and buying the right insurance policies. You would do so at your peril. The IRS and the state will take the position that the caregiver is an employee, that you are an employer and that all of the legal obligations that attach to those labels apply to your situation.
In the last couple of months, I have had two people come to my office because they were not millionaires yet. You see, they each had won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes (PCH) and had not received their monies yet.
Investors are understandably wondering — and maybe even anxious — about how the US presidential election will affect the stock market. Election years often come with increased market uncertainty. And this year, COVID-19 and a fragile economy have added new dimensions to what may be a landmark US election cycle.
It may be hard to believe, but even during the coronavirus pandemic, criminals are targeting and preying upon the public via phony websites, bogus emails and text messaging, and by phone.
As I indicated in the last issue, under Hawaii Revised Statute §514E-9, timeshare companies are required to give clients all information regarding the unit for purchase, including all the fees attributed to that unit that are due immediately and the “hidden” fees that require seemingly endless future payments — the monthly mortgage, property tax, maintenance fees and interest.
As a member of ACTEC, I am privileged to learn from and exchange ideas with some of the most skilled and dedicated trust and estate lawyers in Hawai‘i. I often wonder why most of our discussions focus on probate and litigation issues rather than on how we can help plan to mitigate family conflict and avoid probate.
When I was in elementary school in the 1960s, my family’s set of encyclopedias claimed that I could expect to live to the ripe old age of 70. That seemed incredibly old to me. Fast-forward to 2020, and the current consensus is that I will live into my 80s, barring a catastrophic illness or an accident.
In these challenging economic times, many worthwhile charitable organizations find themselves in a precarious financial position. Meanwhile, they are experiencing unprecedented demand, especially those charities that provide basic needs like food and shelter. Thankfully, new, unique provisions in the tax code have been implemented in response to the COVID-19 crisis, creating more incentives for giving.
By virtue of buying a condominium, each unit owner becomes a member of an association and agrees to share the costs of operating that association. For example, owners share the cost of community lighting, water and grounds-keeping, usually via a set monthly maintenance fee.
Hawai‘i’s residences are often targeted by door-to-door solicitors asking for donations. Here in Hawai‘i, we are a generous people. We take pride in living the Aloha Spirit, but we must exercise caution as well. We must know the basic things about charitable giving in the event that anyone tries to take advantage of our good nature.
What are you leaving behind? This is a question that all too many of us fail to address before it’s too late. It’s not just a question about money, but about the entire heritage that you want to pass on to future generations—to those in your family and even to society as a whole.
If you want to, you can devise your own estate plan without the benefit of lawyers or other trained advisors. All you need is a credit card, a computer, a printer, and access to the Internet. With those tools, you can come up with a set of documents that may or may not accomplish your goal. The problem is that you will never know.
If a parent suddenly fell unconscious or required emergency medical attention, would you know what do? Would you know what paperwork, insurance cards and medical records to bring with you to the hospital? Once a medical crisis occurs, it’s too late to prepare for the large amount of information that is needed by doctors, hospital staff, family and relatives. The solution? A medical organizer.
Nobody likes to pay taxes, but most of us like to take baths. Unless the bath is the kind where money flows out of your pocket and down the drain. If you feel like paying taxes is a lot like seeing your money go down the drain, you will be glad to know about an exciting estate planning opportunity that can help make the IRS take a bath after your death instead of your loved ones.
The New Year is here and, because of the rough economy, it’s more important than ever to become a savvy shopper to both save money and prevent identity theft in 2011.
A financial advisor can offer valuable strategies and guidance to help you grow your savings and meet your financial goals and dreams. It’s important to select a qualified individual who is also a good match—personally and professionally.
The good news is that the federal estate tax took a vacation in 2010. The bad news is that it spent the whole year lifting weights and taking steroids. The estate tax is coming back in 2011, as big and bad as it has been in a long time. Now is the time to review your estate plan and make changes that could drastically affect how much of your estate goes to your loved ones, and how much goes to the IRS.
The holiday season is a happy time celebrated with food, family and friends. Unfortunately, it’s also a time for fraud at the hands of identity thieves, computer hackers and deceptive sellers. Hawai‘i’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers advice on how to recognize and avoid common holiday scams.
As we enter the third holiday season after the onset of the “Great Recession,” American consumers may be battling penny-pinching fatigue. We’ve scrimped. We’ve saved. When do we get to reward ourselves? Sure, it would be fun to celebrate the holidays with a big spending binge, but if there’s one lesson to be learned from the recession, it’s the importance of fiscal prudence.
You were named as successor Trustee of a trust created by a family member or friend, and that person just died. What now? Before you rush in, think about what awaits. Until you sign on the dotted line, the fact that you have been named as a trustee does not obligate you to accept that position. Decide carefully, because once you accept the job, you accept all that goes with it. It is a position of great honor, and it involves great responsibility.
One of the rites of fall for most employees is the opportunity to review and revise their benefit options for the next year (the next benefits year could start in January or sooner). This is often referred to as the “open enrollment” period. Typically, all employees of a company or organization can make adjustments to their benefit options at this time.
You may have heard the old joke, “where there’s a will … I want to be in it.” That may be true, but is estate planning really all about “who gets my stuff?” Who gets your stuff is important, but when you sift through the reasons for doing estate planning, you may find that identifying who gets your stuff takes a distant back seat to far more important considerations.
As you enter retirement, a lot of changes may occur. You need to determine how to generate current income from your existing savings while still trying to keep your money growing to meet your needs well into the future, when the cost of living is likely to be higher. You want to protect your assets from market volatility, but still be an active investor.
It’s safe to say that your retirement will bear little resemblance to that of your grandparents—and even your parents. The world has changed so much in the past 20 years that even the savviest prognosticators couldn’t have predicted all changes in society and technology that have transformed our daily lives. We now know there is no turning back from the life we’ve become accustomed to, but it begs the question: What’s next?
Work-at-home and make $500 dollars a day, lose 30 lbs. in one week, and the secrets of becoming financially secure for the price of shipping and handling all “risk free.” Hawai‘i’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns against offers that claim a “risk free” trial but takes your payment information up front. Many consumers allege that after providing credit card or banking information that they are bombarded with fees and other charges before the free trial is over.
The attorney’s ad tells you that you can get a “comprehensive estate plan” for $800. Does that sound too good to be true? It may be. Before you rush in, here are some questions to ask. If you get positive answers to every question, then maybe you have a real bargain on your hands.
It may be hard to believe, but during natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes — and even the current COVID-19 pandemic — unscrupulous scammers set up fraudulent fundraising operations to take advantage of Good Samaritans who want to help.
It’s not uncommon to see advertisements promoting timeshares, as well as promotions for timeshare cancellation programs. The contradictory nature of these ads begs certain questions:..