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:..
In medicine, there is cure and care; in finance, there is worth and value. In estate planning, there is wealth and meaning. Most people see the estate planner’s role as writing a document that transfers wealth at death. Just as significant is our role to communicate our client’s meaning clearly. This meaning is the foundation for estate planning.
If nothing else, recent events have brought us face-to-face with mortality. Although none of us knows when death will overtake us or a loved one, we know that someday it is going to do exactly that. We can deny the inevitable, or we can prepare for it. By preparing for death, we can make that transition much easier on ourselves and our loved ones.
Historic market volatility has washed over the globe in recent weeks. The spread of COVID-19 (the disease caused by coronavirus) has precipitated a record drop in the stock market and a sharp plunge in bond yields, sending the U.S. into its first bear market in over a decade. People around the world are facing a health crisis that’s driving an economic crisis, which are leading to high levels of anxiety for families and individuals regarding their well-being and financial situation.
How do you know that you are the target of a scam? Here are some red flags that you should be aware of…
My wife loves free things. When we go to any expo at the Hawaii Convention Center or the Blaisdell, she’ll be the one hoarding free pens and reusable bags. So, I should not have been surprised when she stopped at a table run by a hotel chain that was offering a free dinner, six hours of validated parking in Waikīkī and a two-night stay at a hotel. According to the salesman, all we had to do was review a hotel from pictures they would show us. The whole process would take only 120 minutes (not two hours?).
Siblingship is the state of being related or interrelated, or a state of affairs existing between one of two or more individuals having one common parent. The term describes the unique, dynamic relationship existing between siblings. Siblings begin their relationship at a very young age. They experience joys and setbacks together — laugh and cry together. And through fighting, they can learn conflict resolution together. No other relationship is like siblingship.
In life, we always have options. And when it comes to covering the costs of long-term care, it is no different. In this article, I’ll share a few viable strategies you can use to help cover the future costs of care in our Aloha State. It is by no means all-encompassing and exhaustive, but meant to get you thinking on this critically important topic.
Estate planning is the process of protecting that which is important and then passing those important things on to our loved ones and future generations. Many concepts that are central to Hawaiian culture are particularly applicable to estate planning. Starting with the concept of ‘ohana (a very inclusive notion of family), all the way through lokahi (a sense of unity — especially appropriate at the passing of a loved one), estate planning and the culture of our islands interweave to form a rich tapestry of aloha.
When it comes to personal finance, what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. That’s why money misconceptions can be so d dangerous. Here are four common money myths you may have heard — and perhaps even believe — that need to be put to rest once and for all…
Before trading in or selling your mobile devices, cellphones or tablets, be sure no sensitive data is left behind that may put you in jeopardy. Here are a few basic steps to reduce the risk of being victimized.
You would not place a welcome mat outside your car for criminals or hire someone to waive around a sign by your vehicle saying “steal this,” but that is exactly what many drivers do when they leave their keys in their vehicles. As a prosecutor, no crime gets me more upset than one that could have been easily prevented.
Over 54 million adults and children in the U.S. have a disability. The concerns of parents of disabled children are the same for most any parent — ensuring that their children are safe, happy and live a meaningful life. Some children may be unable to earn a living. Both the federal and state governments understand this and provide benefits so that they receive food, shelter and medical care.
Protecting personal privacy is generally a good thing, but can also have unexpected results. Consider the plight of a 90-year-old lady (“Nancy”) who was the life of her weekly exercise classes. Nancy was very well known for youthful outlook and zest for life.
So when Nancy missed class one day, her friends tried to contact her. All they were able to learn was that she had been moved to a nursing home.
Those who do not have children tend to have more financial flexibility to pursue their goals throughout life and retirement. This makes sense when you consider that the cost of raising a child from birth to adulthood is currently estimated at $233,610 (before you factor in college). However, childless singles and couples still need to manage their future financial needs.
If you want to make a donation, first go online and research the charity. Check the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission for any scams or complaints connected to the organization. Scammers attempt to fool you into thinking they are a legitimate, so before donating, verify that the URL and email address are correct.
I was a guest on “Generations Radio,” AM 690, on Nov. 22, 2019 with Lt. John McCarthy of the Financial Crimes Unit of the Honolulu Police Department. The 39-year department veteran is nationally recognized as an expert in financial crimes and elder abuse. On the show, we discussed how scams go undetected because victims don’t recognize the warning signs of abuse. What follows are danger signals that should prompt further investigation…
We have been receiving an increased number of phone calls from our clients’ children, notifying us about the imminent death of one of their parents. The children usually call in a panic, asking if anything needs to be done before their parent passes. We do our best to assist them; however, sometimes it is just too late.
The people of Hawai‘i are generous with public charities. On the other hand, most of us do not have money to burn. Here are some good ideas about choosing where and how to give…
The Federal Reserve, our nation’s central bank, has a fair degree of independence, but it is directly accountable to Congress. Among its primary duties, is to oversee U.S. banking and financial services industries and establish U.S. monetary policy. Here are five ways the Fed impacts us…
When purchasing items with a credit or debit card online or over the counter, there are precautions you need to take.
In the last year, Americans received about 5 billion robocalls per month, up from the 2 billion a month just two years ago. Robocalls are automated calls made by a computer program, enabling the telemarketer or scammer on the other end to call multitudes of phone numbers in a short span of time. It took me under five minutes of “Googling” to find a website and fill out a form to order robocalling software that I could use to dial hundreds of telephone numbers an hour.
A frantic mother once called me after her daughter was injured in a ski accident. When she called the hospital to find out the status of her daughter, hospital personnel would’t release any information and didn’t allow her make decisions on her child’s behalf. Just imagine the stress this caused! This situation is all too common. When a child leave for college, for example, in the eyes of the law, he or she is now an adult and parental rights cease. This fact is often overlooked.
The people of Hawai‘i are generous with public charities. On the other hand, most of us do not have money to burn. The following are some good ideas about choosing where and how to give.
Making financial decisions takes time, attention and energy at any age. In the case of elderly adults, it can become increasingly difficult to manage daily finances, particularly if their health is declining or they’re experiencing cognitive issues. If you’re providing support to aging parents — or plan to in the future — here is some advice on how to handle the situation and prepare for what’s to come.
How often do we get and answer calls from telephone numbers of people who we think we know, only to discover it’s a telemarketer or scammer? Here are some prevention tips that may help…
My office has received an increase in calls from parents, siblings or other relatives trying to kick an adult child out of their house. Often, the caller has already requested that the child leave, only to receive an adamant “no” from the unwelcome person. In one instance, a mother was selling the home that she loved to move into a small, one-bedroom apartment, hoping her son would not be allowed to live there.
For many years, we have heard our federal and state politicians talk about “unfunded liabilities” of the government. An unfunded liability is any liability or expense that does not have sufficient savings or investments set aside to pay for it. The party responsible for paying the unfunded liability pays for it out of current income or savings or by borrowing the funds.
The risk of an unfunded liability is two-fold:
With rising health care costs, many Medicare participants use Medicare supplement insurance to help cover expenses that Medicare does not. However, many still struggle to pay the premiums for their Medicare supplement insurance. Surprisingly, another insurance product — one that can guarantee a monthly income stream — might be the solution.
How nice would it be if your child was born with an operating manual? There are many parenting books out there, but none that are specifically made for your child. The obvious reason for this is because the only person who can write an operating manual for a child, is the person who is raising the child.
A POLST is a special document in which you say what measures should be used to keep you alive. The acronym stands for — Provider Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment. It’s different from an Advance Directive in that it will be followed by emergency personnel before you reach the hospital, provided that they are aware of its existence.
Many couples are choosing to start families later in life compared to their parents and grandparents. And, increasingly, mothers are waiting to have their first child at age 35 or older. This trend has financial implications. On one hand, parents may be more financially secure and have clear priorities for the future. On the other hand, these parents are closer to retirement, so balancing kids’ expenses with saving can be a juggle.
There’s been a marked increase in text messages with a spoofed Caller ID that ask the recipient to click on a hyperlink — that’s always the objective of this type of scam. It is their methodology to hijack your device. Two Major Risks include: The recipient does not know who really sent the message; and the hyperlink may redirect the message recipient to a website where malicious software may compromise the recipient’s cellphone.
The term “stealing home” is associated with baseball. It occurs when a runner is on third base and uses guile, speed and luck to make a dash for home plate to score a run. This usually happens when the runner takes advantage of the pitcher being distracted. In the Elder Abuse Unit, however, my team has come to know the term in a different context. We have seen situations when a homeowner literally has had their residence stolen.
A few years ago, I created the Heartfelt Advance Care Plan booklet to provide my clients with a tool to improve their end-of-life care, to honor their choices and to reduce conflict and guilt among surviving family members. Those who do fill it out usually comment about how difficult yet rewarding it was to complete. Asking and answering detailed questions about end-of-life wishes, regardless of how difficult it may be, is tremendously helpful to both the dying and their survivors.
In recent years, financial planners have shown the effectiveness of using a reverse mortgage line of credit to supplement a retirement portfolio. But while a line of credit can be a strategic part of a retirement income plan, there are often misconceptions related to how the credit line grows. In yet another Forbes article focused on reverse mortgages, Wade Pfau, Ph.D., CFA, professor of retirement income at The American College, sets the record straight with an in-depth analysis of how a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) works, grows and stands to benefit borrowers.
Unless you keep up with critical changes, your estate plan will become ineffective and maybe even become harmful to you and your ‘ohana. What kinds of changes are we talking about?
Professionals in many industries tout their education and professional experience as a way to demonstrate their expertise and set themselves apart. The financial industry is a prime example. With almost 200 professional credentials available, advisors can sharpen their ability to serve clients well. If you are searching for a financial advisor and seeking clarity on what the acronyms after each professional’s name means, here is a primer on eight of the most commonly used designations.
To create secure passwords, you generally want to set the minimum password length to at least eight characters, but a minimum length of 14 characters is better.
It’s expensive living in paradise. It’s really expensive aging in paradise. Many seniors have had to resort to relying on the “cash economy” to help them out. “Cash economy” is the term used to refer to hiring or purchasing things“ under the table” or with cash so that there is no paper trail and therefore no taxes have to be paid.
We often struggle with the concepts of equal, equitable, fair, and adequate when it comes to the distribution of our assets among our children. Understanding the meaning of each term helps us make the decision that most closely reflects our intention.
We encounter risk in all facets of our life. Why do we take risk if we have a choice? Simply put: We take on risk in exchange for some kind of return. Generally, the potential for higher returns from investments comes with greater risks.
Receiving an inheritance is like winning the lottery. What could possibly be wrong with that? Callie Rogers, age 16, won $3.1 million in a British lottery. By the age of 22 she was broke, living with her mother, and working three cleaning jobs. William Post won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania Lottery in 1988…
Searching for warmer weather, moving closer to adult children and grandkids or pursuing a change in scenery are just a few reasons why many Americans choose to move in retirement. These retirees often relocate for emotional reasons, but it’s important to consider the financial impacts, too.
At the start of a new year, many of us make a New Year’s resolution to get healthy. Did you make a resolution to start the year with a “healthy” computer, too? Here are some computer health tips…
It is only by knowing what is going on in our parents’ and grandparents’ lives that we can prevent certain abuses from occurring. Get involved and find out your loved one’s routine. Talk to them. Any deviation from their norm may be a warning sign to you that they are being targeted for a possible scam.
Making an estate plan that clearly documents intention helps surviving family members avoid fighting; especially in court. Yet lawyers will write the estate plan for exactly that purpose — writing as if it were going to be fought over in court. I call this legalese legal dis-ease. Write your intentions down in your own hand-writing for inclusion in your estate plan so that you don’t risk miscommunication or misunderstanding among surviving family members.
We have a right to say “enough is enough” when it comes to medical care, including the use of respirators and tube feeding. We also have the right to name who will speak for us when we cannot speak for ourselves. Having a clear and comprehensive advance health care directive is only way to be sure that your wishes will be known and carried out.
The most important goal for many of my clients is to retire on their terms – which often means planning a long, secure retirement that enables them to check off items on their ultimate bucket list. Retirement requires careful planning in addition to avoiding financial missteps along the way. Here are five common mistakes, and strategies to avoid them…
With all the natural disasters happening throughout the world, unscrupulous scammers are looking to take advantage of our empathy and generosity as we seek ways to help the victims of those disasters. These scammers will be soliciting donations using telephone messages, emails, and even social networking services like Facebook.
When my father-in-law “Gramps” had a stroke, he spent time at the hospital, rehab, and then a nursing home, before finally being able to return to his house. During those months of recovery away from home, my family made every effort to visit him daily. Between my wife, brother-in-law, mother-in-law and myself, we were pretty successful in making sure he would have the company of a loved one every day.
There is no “good grief” or “bad grief”— there is only grief. Drs. Kenneth Doka and Terry Martin* suggest that there are two types of grievers: “instrumental” and “intuitive.” Neither type is deficient; only different. Understanding the difference can allow family members to empathize with, rather than attribute bad motives to, another family member.
Setting New Year’s resolutions is a tradition for millions of Americans who see January 1 as a fresh start. However, we all know how easy it is to have resolutions fall to the wayside as the year progresses.
Fortunately, if the goal you have in mind is a financial one, there are ways you can break it down into steps that will keep you motivated and on track to achieve it.
Is estate planning really all about “who gets my stuff”? Your assets may be 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.
If I were to open a crime college, a place to learn the fine art of thievery, one class that would assuredly be on the curriculum would be Advance Fee Frauds, commonly known as sweepstakes and lottery frauds. This con involves the victim being told the lie that money is coming their way (usually from lottery winnings, insurance refunds or inheritance) but a fee/tax/processing charge has to be paid first to receive it. This one scheme is responsible for more money being stolen in Hawai‘i than any other crime.
It is not just families who disagree about the interpretation of legal documents. There seems to be tension among estate planning attorneys in regard to recommending that clients write down their heartfelt intentions to accompany those documents. Many lawyers believe that it is the form that is most important — that the written legal language will communicate their client’s heartfelt wishes. Others believe that, no matter how carefully written, the form alone cannot transfer intention.
Many parents, in addition to planning for their own future, care deeply about helping their children find their financial footing as they enter adulthood. Having spent decades building up their nest eggs for retirement, they recognize the power of long-term financial planning and hope their children will capture the same benefits by starting to invest while they are young. Convincing someone just starting off in their careers to set aside money for retirement — which to them, may seem like light years away — can be a tough sell.
When hiring a caregiver, you may be tempted to try to make the process as simple as possible by treating the caregiver as a “private contractor.” You tell the person “I will pay you so much an hour, and you deal with the IRS and the State when it comes time to pay taxes.” After all, taking on the responsibilities of withholding taxes (and then paying the taxing authorities), buying Workers’ Compensation insurance, paying Social Security and Medicare tax, and all the rest, can be a real pain. However, the IRS and the State will take the position that the caregiver is an “employee,” that you are an “employer,” and that all the legal obligations that attach to those labels are applicable to your situation.
Only one out of every 44 cases of financial abuse among the elderly ever gets reported and even fewer make it to trial. This is the true story of one of those cases.
“What does a con artist look like?” The answers I receive are oftentimes humorous. Descriptions of used car salesmen and politicians are shouted out, with visuals of “shifty eyes,” bad toupees, rapid speech, and loud aloha shirts added in for effect.
Ideally, estate planning is “by invitation only.” Most people misunderstand this to mean that we, as the lawyers, are the ones doing the inviting. In actuality, it’s you, the clients, who are doing the inviting, by inviting us into your unique and textured lives.
Another way to consider gifting assets is to set up a charitable trust. Trusts can help you manage highly appreciated assets in a more tax-efficient manner while, in some cases, allowing you to split assets among charitable and non-charitable beneficiaries
There are three estate planning documents that every competent adult living in the State of Hawai‘i should have. Of course, “competency” can be an elusive quality, but once a Hawai‘i resident has turned 18, the law of our State presumes that person to be competent.
In Hawai‘i, we must always be on the lookout for scammers going door to door posing as trustworthy salespeople. They may be offering lawn care, home improvement services, alarm systems, and more, and also pretending to be legitimate companies just to get you to trust them. Five tips to help protect you and your home
I have been with the Prosecutor’s Office now for over 22 years, and 10 years ago created the Elder Abuse Unit. This unit was the first (and still is the only) team in Hawai‘i dedicated to prosecuting felony offenses where the victims were 60 years of age or older.
Before you panic about the new “Hawai‘i Aid in Dying Law,” it’s a great law but not for the reasons you may think. Governor Ige signed the Our Care, Our Choice Act on April 5, 2018 and it will become law on January 1, 2019. The new law’s purpose is to establish a regulated process whereby a mentally competent adult resident of Hawai‘i with a terminal illness and less than six months to live may choose to end life with a prescription.
In today’s world of wondering whether information is reliable or not, it is critical to protect our kūpuna and their families. You may hear or see an advertisement for a business professional with a bunch of initials after their name and wonder what do all those initials really mean?
Class reunions are poignant reminders of change. With each passing year, our classmates grow a little grayer, perhaps a little balder, and maybe a little more expansive at the midsection. Good thing we are not like our classmates, right? Actually, we are. Father Time is catching up with all of us. That sobering fact should inspire us to reflect each year on our estate plans and whether they still do what we want them to do.
Inflation is the normal state of affairs in the U.S. economy. Most economists consider an annual increase in the cost-of-living of two or three percent per year to be a manageable level of inflation. This increase usually is a good trend, because it is an indication of a growing economy.
On average, I get one to three calls a day from the public seeking advice about elder abuse. Fortunately, only about 20 percent of the calls involve matters needing my office’s involvement. The rest are from people that see “elder abuse” in our name and hope we can help with their situation.