Flying In To Washington

I post often about small businesses and the importance of estate planning for the small business entrepreneur.

Our friends at the NFIB (National Federation of Independent Businesses) are holding their annual “Fly In” event.

NFIB Participants fly to Washington to attend events and to make their voice heard through the organization.

The dates are July 26 – July 27. For more information about the FlyIn, go to www.nfib.com/flyin

If you cannot attend the event there will be ways to participate online. Check the NFIB website for details.

If you own a small business, this NFIB event will be worth tracking.

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

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Millionaire Retirees

In case you missed it, Investopedia had a recent article titled:

“This Is How Retirees Live on $1 Million” By Greg DePersio (Investopedia, May 30, 2017).

You may be able to still access the article quickly via this link:

http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/102715/how-retirees-live-1-million-dollars.asp#ixzz4j9ZOSSlO

If not, go to Investopedia.com and search for the article.

At first, when I read the title, I anticipated more of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” – but the reality is far different for ‘millionaires” today.

The article points out for those retirees fortunate enough to have saved wisely, that million in assets SHOULD last for as long as needed – providing it is invested wisely and managed carefully.

Clearly, having a million “ain’t” what it used to be!

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

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What Your Attorney May Not Tell You…

The Durable Power of Attorney is an important and powerful tool in your Estate Planning arsenal. When properly constructed, the document can offer peace of mind for you; for your beneficiaries and for loved ones who may be become responsible for your future care.

However, a word of caution. Your Power of Attorney document may not be determined as adequate for your financial institution to release funds when required. The financial institution may require their own form be filed. This would be particularly true of any foreign financial institutions.

An excellent article with some ‘real life’ examples is: New York Times on line: Finding Out Your Power of Attorney Is Powerless by Paula Span THE NEW OLD AGE ( MAY 6, 2016)

The article offers advice and examples of what families have had to do to access funds.

It is important to have an attorney draft your critical Estate Planning documents and to have those documents faithfully reviewed annually.

Contacting each financial institution about their required form may appear to be a laborious task, however, it can save your loved ones from unwanted legal issues.

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

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Life In The Balance

I have been meaning to share this site with my readers for some time.

From the site, http://www.thebalance.com the article that caught my attention is titled “Compare Your Wealth to the Average American Net Worth”.

You might be surprised by the comparison!

First, let me say that the editor of the site is Jean Chatsky and her credentials are impressive. Her bio includes:  “financial editor for NBC’s Today show; an award-winning personal finance journalist; AARP’s personal finance ambassador and a best-selling author.”

Ms. Chatsky is definitely someone to heed! and the site runs the gamut of really interesting topics.

Visit thebalance.com website for more feature articles. Another article of particular interest in these days of escalating medical bills is “Tactics to Deal With Medical Debt

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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Something Special for Military Retirees

Having a portion of my practice on Colorado Springs, Colorado means that I meet some wonderful military families.

Many people in the military are able to retire based on the length of years served, which means that they are younger when they take retirement. This ‘early’ retirement means that funds they have accumulated during their service years must last that much longer.

For a veteran who receives a military pension there is the possibility of some extra help. Some veterans may be eligible for Aid and Attendance, an allowance that could increase their pension.

The circumstances are very specific for claiming the additional monetary payment. According to the VA website: “ Veterans and survivors who are eligible for a VA pension and require the aid and attendance of another person, or are housebound, may be eligible for additional monetary payment.  These benefits are paid in addition to monthly pension, and they are not paid without eligibility to Pension.”

For more information about the Aid and Attendance and the Housebound payments, military retirees should contact the office of Veterans Affairs in their state and submit a claim form. You might also use the following link to find out more about eligibility:

http://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/aid_attendance_housebound.asp

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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Summer Time…Moving Time

Summer is one of the busiest times for relocations – ask any real estate agent.

When you have found your next dream home, you probably are not thinking of your Estate Plan – you have enough to do just planning the move.

The reality is that there are two things to consider during and after the move.

First, Organize and keep those important legal documents with you. Don’t trust them to moving companies.  You might just have a critical need for a particular document and would not want to go through the hassle of floundering through cartons to find that important piece of paper.

One rather bizarre event was when a client’s associate, during their overseas move, lost most of their household items overboard. Their entire container left the dock and took a nosedive into the water, along with their legal documents, photo albums and irreplaceable collectibles. Their insurance documents were, of course, in the container.

Second, After the move /consult your estate plan documents (or have your legal advisor do the job) and think about if and how your situation may have been affected.  The most obvious change would be moving to/from a community property state or to a foreign country…there are differing laws for different states and countries that could affect your estate plan.

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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Preserving Open Spaces in Colorado

I am privileged to live and work in Colorado, a state with grand and beautiful open space areas and many outdoor recreational opportunities.

Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts (CCLT) * is an organization committed to the establishment of areas for land use in the state and preserving those areas for recreational use and for future generations to enjoy.  Their website (www.cclt.org) offers opportunities to attend various events and tours across the state – for members and non-members.

One of the events noted on the CCLT website currently is a conference held by the Colorado Open Space Conference (COSA)

The conference is open to the public. The dates are September 18-20, 2017 at the beautiful Beaver Run Resort in Breckenridge, Colorado.

For more information go to the COSA website (www.coloradoopenspace.org).

Of Legal Note: A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between the owner(s) of land and a land trust (or a government agency) that permanently limits uses of the land.  The easement is established in order to protect the land’s conservation values.

There are various other easements – notably: preservation; affirmative; negative; and covenants (which differ in form)

* From the website: “CCLT is Colorado’s statewide membership organization for the land conservation community. We work to be a voice for the community and to secure support for increasing open space, and preserving agricultural land and water ways. We provide continuing education for our membership to ensure we have the knowledge and skills to conserve land in a way that is collaborative, cost-effective, and lasting.”

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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Pitfalls and Pratfalls in Estate Planning

Why not take the Do-It-Yourself approach to Estate Planning? If you have very few assets, self- help might be one approach.

But Estate Planning is much more than having a Will, Power of Attorney; and Health Care Directives in place.

When it comes to hidden pitfalls, there are quite a number of special circumstances where you would be ill-advised to use an “estate planning app”’.

Here is just a short- list of some situations that might create “pratfalls” and unexpected outcomes:

* Blended families and step-families– his, hers, mine, yours, ours, theirs

*Common law couples; same sex couples; unmarried couples

*Changing dynamics of a family structure – divorce(s), remarriage(s) – who is in and who is out of a new will?

*In vitro fertilization, artificial reproductive therapy, adoption

*Dual citizenships – or one spouse is not an American citizen

*Living/retiring abroad

*Temporary overseas work assignments-illness/death in a foreign country

*Discord and long- term alienations among family members

*Complex estates/Hi Net Worth Estates with complicated tax implications

*Small business ownership

*Complicated business/employment contracts

*Frequent changes in domicile

*Complex divorce/marital agreements and pre nups

*Family farms/acreage

*Special needs family member

*Widely differing views of inheritance between spouses

*Tax-sheltered assets

*Overseas assets

*Diminished mental capacity/dementia/cognitive decline of testator

*Bankruptcy filings

*Medicaid planning

*Residing in Community Property States

And the list goes on….

In such cases, there is a higher probability of unexpected outcomes from a poorly structured estate plan.

It is worth the effort to have a ‘specialist’ in Estate Planning law review your legal documents.

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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The Good Pre Nuptial

For many the phrase ‘good pre nuptial’ is an oxymoron. Aren’t all pre nuptial agreements in essence an admission of defeat and of not having faith that the marriage will last?

The short answer is ‘it depends’. One might suggest that a ‘bad pre nup’ is one in which one of the parties feels that they are ‘helpless’. The ‘weaker’ party signs the pre nup so that the relationship can move forward to a more stable level. The ‘stronger’ party feels that they must be ‘protected’ from circumstances should the relationship falter.

A good pre nuptial agreement, in actuality, protects both parties and can promote fairness in the relationship moving forward. It can, in some cases, establish the legitimacy of the ‘rights’ held during the marriage if one spouse dies.

Pre nuptial agreements can prevent inter and intra family disagreements, particularly in ‘blended’ families (where both parties have children from prior marriages).

For high net worth individuals the pre nup can promote security and fairness for both parties.

For the previously divorced or recently widowed, the pre nup can offer the knowledge that both parties are approaching the marriage for the ‘right’ reasons.

One important factor of the ‘good pre nup’ is to approach the agreement with an ‘all cards on the table’ approach to finances. Disclosing assets and debts prior to marriage means that both parties can expect honesty and integrity moving forward in the relationship.

Yes, it can be embarrassing to have to admit that you have a large outstanding debt to your ‘soon- to- be- spouse’. But it is far better to disclose that before the marriage rather than burden your new spouse with unforeseen debt at the outset of the marriage. Such a financial ‘secret’ could spell doom to the new couple.

For a ‘good pre nup’, both parties should enlist the services of separate attorneys, someone who is knowledgeable in contractual agreements. Sufficient time should be allocated prior to signing the agreement. It is no advisable to present the request for a pre nuptial agreement one day prior to the wedding date!

Because your pre nup is a legal document, make sure that it is properly executed according to all state laws. The pre nup should be in accordance with any trust documents in existence and there should be no conflicts between the documents. One simple example would be if the pre nup states that the new spouse would have financial rights to an asset, but that asset has a different beneficiary or is held as a joint asset with another party – that is a conflict to be resolved.

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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Free Help For Small Businesses

Our friends at the NFIB are offering a free live webinar for small business owners.  The webinar explores “OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Violations” as well as information about heat stress; natural disasters and weather emergencies.  There will also be free mobile apps on offer.

The webinar is Wednesday, May 24 and for more information got to http://www.nfib.org to sign up

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:  http://www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com for more articles and printable infographics