Small Business Trends

Most of my readers know that my family has been involved in running a small business for decades and that, as a lawyer, small business topics are of special interest to me.

For those of you who own a small business, this free webinar is too good to pass up. Did I mention that it is FREE?

Our friends at the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB.com) have the Marketing Advisor for ECommerce Fed Ex, Kevin Chung as a presenter of the webinar.

According to the NFIB website, the webinar will be about recent trends in ECommerce.

Some of the topics include the growth of on- line spending; the use of mobile devices in ECommerce and using gift cards and discounts to improve business opportunities.

The webinar is free, (did I mention that?) but you must register before Sept. 20, 2917, by going to the NFIB website, NFIB.com, learn more about the webinars on offer and register.

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

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Social Security and Divorce

In the U.S. nearly 50% of first marriages end in divorce and a higher percentage of second marriages fail.

These are glum statistics, but perhaps the thing that people forget is that even in divorce the social security benefits for ex-spouses can live on – depending on circumstances.

Yes, even if you are divorced, you may be able to claim social security  benefits based on your ex-spouse record .

If the marriage was a long term (official) relationship that marriage still counts as far as social security is concerned even after divorce.

Visit the excellent government website:  Retirement Planner: If You Are Divorced

https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/divspouse.html

Some information from that website:

“If you are divorced, but your marriage lasted 10 years or longer, you can receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record (even if they have remarried) if:

  • You are unmarried;
  • You are age 62 or older;
  • Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits and
  • The benefit you are entitled to receive based on your own work is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work.”

Keep in mind that even if your marriage ended in divorce over a decade ago, you might still be eligible.

If you are approaching retirement, have been divorced, have not remarried (or your second marriage ended), visit the social security website or your social security office to find out more about your rights to claim.

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

 Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

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More About Reverse Mortgage Program

Our thanks to the NCLC National Consumer Law Center for their timely reminder about a change coming to the reverse mortgage program “rules.”

You can find complete information on the website: www.nclc.org under the title:

HUD Again Makes Major Changes to the HECM Reverse Mortgage Program

Accoring to the NCLC:  “The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which oversees the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) reverse mortgage program, has once again announced major changes to the program.”

Referring to the reverse mortgage programs (loans) – The NCLC noted that “The proceeds that older adults can receive from the loans will also be lower.”

Changes will take effect Oct. 2, 2017.

There is also a free webinar on offer for Sept. 12, 2017 from the NCLC about nursing home debt.  (Nursing Home Debt Collection is the title of the webinar)

Registration is required for the webinar attendance.

Working to Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

 Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website:  www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com for more articles and printable infographics

 

 

200 and Counting

Since the inception of my website (www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com), there are now over 200 articles accessible to my readers. You might well ask… what is there to write about in Estate Planning?  Isn’t it just a matter of making a will or creating a trust?

To give some idea of the wide-ranging topics that are included in Estate Planning – here is a short list from the Categories on my website (there are also other unique topics of special interest in addition to this listing)  –

In alphabetical order the short list is ——

Advanced Directives; Aging; Agreements; Asset Titling; Banking Documents; Beneficiaries;  Blended Families; Business Contracts; Business Planning; Buy-Sell Agreement; Charitable Giving; Contracts and Contract Law; Cyber Security; Deeds; Dementia; Digital Assets; Digital Inheritance; Disabilities;Divorce; Durable Power of Attorney; Easements; Elder Care; Elder Law; Elder Fraud; Electronic Wills; Estate Planning; Executor; Family Care Agreements; Family Finances; Family Loans; Financial Planning; Foundations; Gifts and Gifting; Guardianship; Incentive Trust; Identity Theft; Inheritance; IRAs; I.R.S.; Irrevocable Trust; Land Trusts; Legacy Planning; Loans; Marital Planning; Medical Debt; Millennials; Minors; Perpetuation Planning; Philanthropy; Pre-Nuptial Agreements; Power of Attorney; Probate; Protecting Assets; Relocation; Remarriage; Retirement; Reverse Mortgages; Revocable Trusts; Small Business; Social Security; Special Needs; Taxation; Tax Planning; Trusts; Wealth Transfer; Wills….

and there are more

Each of the above topics has its own set of specific legal issues.

So although a person might believe that they have no need of Estate Planning – think again – any one of the above matters could influence a decision that you make or an action that you take– now or in the future.

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

 Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website:  www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com for more articles and printable infographics

 

Banks and Safe Deposit Boxes

When opening a bank account you should be offered by the bank – a beneficiary form and you can request the BANK’S Power of Attorney Form.

Do not assume that your Power of Attorney form will be adequate for every financial institution.  Many financial institutions require their own POA forms to be filed.

The reason the two forms are important is that upon death, the bank account of the deceased, along with their safe deposit box could be ‘frozen’ – access can be denied.

Some exceptions apply, for example, if the bank account is in joint names and there is right of survivorship.

If there are two names (signatures) on the safe deposit box documents, access could be available to the second party upon the death of the first person.  NOTE: There might be exceptions to this also, depending upon banking policies.

Also, there is the question of who holds the safe deposit key(s) and whether the other person named on the safe deposit signature card knows there the key is kept.

Keeping all this in mind, when you open ANY account with a bank, make sure you know which documents you should be signing and what could happen upon your death or disability.

If you have questions, talk to your attorney or financial advisor.

For example, if you are disabled and there are important documents in your safe deposit box, how would those documents be accessed and by whom?  Get the details in writing from the bank and read the fine print.

Asking a banking agent  questions about their beneficiary forms and Power of Attorney forms, and completing the correct bank documents/forms could help to alleviate problems in the future.

Do not assume that your next of kin will be given access to either your accounts or your safe deposit box.

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website:  www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com for more articles and printable infographics

 

Using Technology for Small Business

Don’t miss the chance to listen to a Director of Dell Technologies in a free webinar for small businesses.

Our friends at NFIB are offering the free webinar titled: Technology Trends Critical for Small Businesses.  The presenter is Rob Elzner, Director, eCommerce, Dell Technologies.

The webinar is on Wednesday August 23 at 12PM ET.

Space is limited for the webinar, so registration is required.

Mr. Elzner will be offering information about ”what technologies are critical for the small business person; the genuine threats and how to protect your business and how to win eCommerce without a ton of expense.”

Go to the NFIB website for more information and to register.

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website: www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com for more articles and printable infographics

 

Personal Cyber Security

Our friends at Squared Away from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College have come up with another pearl of wisdom for us: the Article/interview on June 27, 2017, How Your Data Get into the Wrong Hands

Warning: for some, the article might be scary reading!

The Squared Away Interview was with Chris Vickery, director of cyber-risk research for UpGuard in California, who warned listeners recently about a situation in which another high-technology company allowed 198 million voters’ personal information to become publicly accessible online.

In general, we are more vulnerable than we think we are to personal security breaches. “If a bad guy has your phone number and can get your PIN, they can, at 3 in the morning, get a code sent to your phone, listen to your voicemails, log in to your bank account and drain all your money,” Vickery said. “Phone numbers are more important than people realize.”

And there are a lot of people being careless with their emails and its content. Social networking sites are another source of information for the ‘bad guys’ to mine into.

According to Vickery, Experian put together a data base called Mosaic, and placed group names to the data. Here are some: “It’s (Mosaic) a lifestyle segmentation of people into groups that are labeled to describe their economic circumstances. The names of some top-level categories are “power elite,” “flourishing families,” “booming with confidence,” “suburban style,” “rising boomers,” promising families.”  Categories at the bottom, in terms of individuals’ economic circumstances, are “economic challenges,” “aspirational fusion,” “golden year guardians,” “striving forward,” and “urban survivors.”

You might wonder, like I did, which lifestyle description do I fall into according the Experian’s Mosaic segmentation?

Vickery said: “There is very little regulation protecting all of this intense data.”

One information technology representative referred to the present as a time of ‘mega data availability’.

For information about what Vickery recommends to allay some of your fears, go to the Squared Away article to read the entire interview.

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

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Retirement Planners…Sample Some

I have written many articles about retirement and retirement planning. In most cases when people start to think about retirement, they begin to get serious about their estate planning needs as well.

There are many retirement planners on the market and on the internet. For those who want to get an idea of whether they are on track to reach their retirement goals, these retirement planners are helpful. Our friends at Squared Away have tested three free retirement planners that are available on the internet.

Although no one retirement planner is fool- proof, using such tools is better than just hoping that your goals are being met.

Here are the three picks from our friends at Squared Away (Why not try all three and compare them?)

Be forewarned, no one calculator from the internet will be ‘tailored’ to your exact circumstances.

The three picks from Squared Away are:

NewRetirement – newretirement.com

E$Planner Basic – esplanner.com

Target Your Retirement – available through the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

Calculators use various assumptions to provide analyses. They all require (and rely on) estimates and financial data that you provide. If those estimates are inaccurate the results of the calculator may be also. Remember the old adage – garbage in, garbage out.

Also, many changing economic factors (interest rates; house valuations; medical costs, etc) make retirement calculations less than an exact science. However, retirement calculators are a good place to start, if you are willing to take the time to answer some detailed questions.

In the words of Squared Away: “A calculator is no substitute for a precise and detailed estimate by a financial planner. But it’s important to start somewhere.”

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website: www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com for more articles and printable infographics

 

 

 

 

Millionaire States

An article came across my desk about millionaires and their “migration”. No, not migration to some sunny island, rather migrating to another state in the U.S.: Top 10 Surprising States with the Most Millionaires”  (Phoenix Wealth & Affluent Monitor, February 17, 2017)

According to the article: “ Wealth is more concentrated and shifting geographically…”

So where do the millionaires migrate and which states top the list of having the most millionaires? More research concluded that Colorado did not make the top ten listing.

In 2015, according to thinkadvisor.com there were “6 million U.S. households with $1 million or more of (investable) assets.”

The top ten on that list: (which includes the District of Columbia) are: D.C.; Delaware; New Hampshire; Massachusetts; Virginia; Alaska; Hawaii; New Jersey; Connecticut and Maryland.

What makes these states so attractive to millionaires?

Apparently not taxes or cost of living, since New Jersey is a high tax state and Alaska is expensive to live.  Climate is not a deciding factor, think Alaska versus Hawaii!

I considered that perhaps the state mottos might have a connection?

If you are a millionaire – Why not migrate to a state with an attractive motto? (Just one thought)

So here are the interesting mottos of the above ten states:

D.C. – motto on corporate seal – Justice to all

Delaware – Liberty and Independence

New Hampshire – Live Free or Die

Massachusetts – (Latin) By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty

Virginia – (Latin) thus always to tyrants

Alaska – North to the future

Hawaii – (native Hawaiian translation) The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness

New Jersey – liberty and prosperity

Connecticut – (Latin) He who transplanted sustains

Maryland (Italian) strong deeds, gentle words

 Thus, the words that seem to attract millionaires? Justice, liberty, independence, freedom,future,  peace, righteousness, prosperity, deeds.

By the way, the motto (Latin) of Colorado is “Nothing without providence”

Working to Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

 Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website: www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com for more articles and printable infographics

 

 

 

Deciding About Electronic Wills

I have written previously about digital assets and the growing importance of those assets within Estate Planning.  There is much more being written about digital assets as they relate to Estate Planning.

Digital assets are electronic and recently The Colorado Bar Association is taking an intense look at the issues surrounding electronic wills. What is an electronic will?  To simplify for the purpose of this article it is a will/document that is signed and stored electronically.  (Do not confuse this with an on-line  document that one can print and then file in paper form.)

The main points about electronic wills revolve around the signing, witnessing and notarizing of the electronic will. The person making the will (the testator) signs the will electronically (using a computer, tablet or other electronic device), not with pen and ink.  The witnesses (remote witnesses) sign the will electronically (and can be virtually anywhere in the world to do the signing). The will is notarized electronically and one can assume that the will is then stored electronically.

The only state at the time of this writing that permits electronic wills is Nevada. According to an article in Technologist * “Nevada was the first state to authorize electronic wills, and includes safeguards for authentication. It requires that electronic wills be authenticated through finger prints, retinal scan, voice recognition, facial recognition, digital signature or other unique authentication process.”

Do electronic wills simplify the process of making a will? For those who are comfortable with technology and the concept of electronic wills, probably.

Does an electronic will afford adequate protection/privacy/security for the testator? That question remains to be answered. There are matters of safekeeping, privacy, storage and custodianship of an electronic will.

Is an electronic will secure and can it offer the same legal protections as having a paper/hard copy document? That depends upon technology advancements and ongoing legislation.

Can electronic wills stand up to the test of revisions, codicils, and legal challenges from beneficiaries? The jury is still out and each state will be working through legislation on the topic.

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website: www.attorneybarbadalvano.weebly.com for more articles and printable infographics

 

* Will Electronic Wills Be Legal Soon?  By William Vogeler, Esq.  (March 23, 2017)