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Endless Disruption

The term endless disruption is most often seen in articles about technology and the changes that occur (sometimes seemingly overnight) in this digital age. Continuous changes in personal life events, external forces and new legislation can also lead to a type of endless disruption for an individual’s plans for the future.

A recent article about how organizations can learn (and adapt to change) caught my attention.  In his article: Learning How To Learn by Willie Pietersen, the author suggests that the most successful companies instill learning as a habit and embrace change.  Those corporations that cannot recognize change; accept change and respond to it are doomed to fail.

Success means dealing with (and embracing) endless disruption.

Estate Planning is a segment of the law that deals with constant change.  The lives of my clients are ever-changing – births, deaths, marriages, divorces; remarriages, formation and dissolution of businesses; fortunes being made, lost or inherited; properties/assets being acquired or disposed of; clients’ changing health situations;  economies that falter; changes in tax laws; job changes and relocations- all are life events in a state of flux.

Changes in legislation and in digital technology are also impacting the estate planning process. (see my articles about digital wills)

Change is scary; information overload is rampant and the rate of change in today’s society is rapid and disruptive.  Taking no action in the face of change and uncertainty is thought to be a ‘safe’ alternative.  But if one stays ‘frozen’ in the face of uncertainty, no decisions are made; change happens around us and we have not adapted to the forces that are affecting our lives.

We also have relinquished the ability to positively respond when the need arises.

Apple co-founder Steve Woznik was quoted (2015):  “…(appoint) someone to look out for what is coming, for what might disrupt you own business…(a Chief Disruption Officer of sorts)”

Interestingly, my tag line – written several years ago – Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World – seems particularly an apt one – to cope with the potential endless disruption of my client’s plans.

Yes, the world is in a state of flux, and Estate Planning is an area of law well-suited to respond to the many and continuous changes happening in a client’s life and in the world around them.

Taking the first step and talking to an estate planning lawyer could help ‘unfreeze’ your decision- making.

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

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2018 Tax Legislation

Our friends at Investopedia have managed to put the more than 500 pages of the recent tax legislation into a compact and easier to digest form as to the impact on many individual taxpayers.

The Investopedia article: How the GOP Tax Bill Affects You by Amy Fontinelle (Updated January 3, 2018) outlines some of the major effects of the legislation.

The official title of the bill is:  “An Act to Provide for Reconciliation Pursuant to Titles II and V of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2018,” —thus possibly making it a tax legislation bill with the longest title in history.

Many will be reading numerous articles about the new tax bill and attempting to figure out the financial long and short- term effects.

As always, I caution not to rely on any one article or website for information.

Consult a professional about your individual tax situation.

I have learned from one contact that the (hard copy) IRS forms remain on ‘backorder’.

According to an IRS mailing:  “The Federal Tax Products you ordered …are not available at this time. We are holding your order pending availability.  There is no need to reorder. We apologize for the delay.”

(As of this writing, the hard copy of the requested IRS forms had not yet arrived.)

So if you require\order hard copies of tax filing forms, such as Form 1040, Instructions, Schedules, etc. you may be able to access them sooner via the IRS website.

As the IRS notice stated:  “Electronic versions of new tax products are often available several weeks before they are available in print.”  (www.irs.gov)

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 over 250 articles and printable infographics

 

Beyond The Scope

I have been publishing my blog page since 2013.  Over the course of years it became apparent that no matter the extent of research or the narrow focus of any article, it was ‘beyond the scope’ to detail every possibility within the topic.

Many of my article/blogs state:  “It is beyond the scope of this article…” and some readers might say, then why write the article at all.  If you cannot give definitive answers to a problem, then stay mute!

However, the true purpose of my blog and series of articles is to cover topics that are being discussed in the field of estate planning law.  Also, I want to draw attention to unique topics and issues that the ‘general’ public might not even be aware exist.

There is usually the caution at the end of my articles to consult a qualified legal or financial professional.  I do not take that caution lightly.  The laws of our land change and the consequences of not staying ‘on top of’ legislation can be disastrous.

One expert in estate planning law had quipped – “I love people who draft their own wills or trusts based on website forms – they are the backbone of my firm.”  He went on to say that a portion of his large client base was people who had attempted to draft their own legal documents, to disastrous long term and unforeseen effect. His ‘business’ was based upon untangling the messes!

There are few people who would attempt major surgery on themselves – they seek the advice and medical services of a doctor of medicine.  However, those same individuals might not hesitate to undertake the process of drafting a legal document on their own using a website form.

So, yes, often the information in a blog is ‘beyond the scope’ of the article to cover and for any individual legal situation/question – it is indeed wise to seek the advice of a qualified professional.

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 over 200 articles and printable infographics

The Art of the FICO Score

As we move into 2018, many of us are seeking more information about how the recent changes in tax legislation will affect us.  I have often written that changes like births, deaths, divorce and yes, even tax law changes can affect an estate plan.

If you have an existing estate plan, now might be a good time to seek the advice of a financial specialist to get the real data of how recent tax legislation could impact your future plans.  Then consult an estate planning specialist to determine whether any ‘improvements’ to an existing estate plan might be beneficial given the recent legislation.

Another resolution for the coming year might be to ‘clean up’ your credit.  We know that when planning a large purchase using credit, it is wise to know your credit score.  But do you fully understand the actual components of that mysterious FICO score?

An article in Investopedia titled” “The 5 Biggest Factors That Affect Your Credit” by Amy Fontinelle (Investopedia, Nov. 20, 2017) might unlock some of the mystery.  The article mentions ‘credit utilization ratio’ and the difference between making a ‘hard inquiry’ vs a ‘soft inquiry’.

Another recommendation is to start working on improving your credit score BEFORE that major purchase in order to get the most beneficial interest/lending rate.

Lastly….In 2018, I plan to be:

“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 over 250 articles and printable infographics

 

 

 

Top 5 Retirement Challenges…

Our friends at Wiser Women (www.wiserwomen.org) posted their top 5 retirement challenges facing women in the United States.  Among the five challenges:  only 45% of women between 21 and 64 years of age participate in a retirement plan.

To view all five ‘top challenges” use their website.

The Wiser Women website also offers helpful advice about social security; financial scams; health care; caregiving; divorce and widowhood; and the very useful “Your Future Paycheck” calculator.

You can also subscribe for free to the Wiser Women newsletter.

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 than 250 articles and printable infographics

 

Infographic – Median Retirement Savings by Age Group

Most recent articles about retirement agree that American have fallen woefully behind on their retirement savings goals.

With the new year coming, now is a good time to review your end-of-year retirement and savings goals and make adjustments.

I have just posted on my website a helpful chart (printable infographic) titled: Median Retirement Savings by Age Group.  See how you compare with the “Recommended” Goals.

It is never too late to increase retirement savings, either through 401(K) or individual retirement accounts or through a change in lifestyle.

At the end of my infographic there are some suggestions about how to achieve an improvement in saving for retirement – whatever your age group.

For the ’20 Somethings’, this might mean setting realistic goals and establishing a new retirement account.

In your 30’s to 50’s, it is time to review your financial situation with an eye to having a more stable savings plan for retiring.

In your 60’s, it can be a time to review your investments and make lifestyle changes for a healthier lifestyle with an eye to reducing medical costs.

Each age group has a Recommended Retirement goal, and you can meet that goal through a disciplined savings 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

Visit my website:  http://www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com for over 200 articles and printable infographics

 

All Grown Up in 2017

The year 2017 marks the ‘anniversary’ that many of the millennial generation will have reached the ripe old age of thirty.

The Millennials, according to many articles, are the largest generation (post Baby Boomer) and those adults of the millennial generation were long to leave the nest.

This long maturation may be due to the staggering student loan debt of the generation – $1.35 trillion of student debt, according to some data.

By the age of thirty, a Millennial is most likely to have held several jobs.  They are also adults who are most interested in a balance of home, career and quality of life.

According to other sources – the ‘typical’ traits of the Millennial Generation:

Want to make a positive impact on the lives of others;

Desire to make a positive difference in society;

Want meaningful work, not just a paycheck;

Are not afraid to challenge the way things ‘have always been done’;

Are willing to share options and ideas;

Seek feedback and advice;

Live and breathe technology;

Are competent to research information with internet searches and probing questions;

Demand to know why, rather than just how;

Expect and thrive on recognition and feedback; and

Are a generation of social media and digital assets.

With the acquisition of property/assets, the Millennial Generation is poised to take a serious look at how they will pass on those assets as well as their ideals.

If you are a Millennial “Thirty Something” – Time to think of the issues of health care directives; making a will and asset protection.

The coming year 2018 may be the time to contact a legal professional to seek advice and discuss a plan for ‘what could happen’.

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

Maintaining the Family History

Developing an estate plan also includes deciding who will be the person or persons to carry on the family history.  Arguably this may have more to do with legacy planning – taking the longer range view of your final estate.  However, my experience has been that many clients do wish to decide about the specific beneficiaries of family heirlooms and other cherished possessions, regardless of their monetary value.

Your legacy can also include photos, family videos; home movies and DVDs; diaries, memoirs; letters; genealogical studies; and digital data.  It would be difficult to put a “price” on such memorabilia and their intrinsic value.  However, certain family members may have more of an interest in items of historical significance.

Careful thought will probably produce a list of those family members.  The next step would be to talk with them about their willingness to be the ‘caretakers’ of specific family memorabilia and then decide how to apportion the items.

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

 

When To Make That Gift!

In Estate Planning there is always the question of what inheritance to leave; who will benefit; how to leave it and when to leave it.

At times, a decision is made to make a substantial gift while you are still living.  There are many reasons to take this approach –

1)  People are living longer and your children might well be senior citizens themselves before they inherit from your estate.

2)  There are financial pressures on younger generations and there is a sense that the inheritance might be useful – “sooner rather than later”

3)  You have determined that you have adequate funds to take care of yourself into the future. (This is particularly important.  If you have to tap into an IRA to make a gift – you might want to rethink your retirement plans.)

4)  You are considering a trust/gift that aids and encourages specific achievements – for example setting aside funds for a child’s college education or establishing a trust for a grandchild

5)  You consider loans for a specific use – for example aiding your child to purchase or upgrade a home; or money for an adult child to take educational courses to improve their job skills

6)  You consider periodic gifting now from a trust – rather than a ‘lump sum’ inheritance upon your death.

A review of your Estate Planning goals and adjusting them as you age and as your adult children age – are good reasons to consider when is the best time to make a gift.

So, at this holiday season and approaching the end of the year, now might be a good time to review your ‘gift giving’ plans for the longer perspective.

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 over 200 articles and printable infographics

Not As Spooky As Halloween!

(I have been posting a version of this article for a few years, but it bears repeating…)

There are many articles written about the reasons that people avoid thinking about making a will and formulating an estate plan.  A few of the top reasons are:

Thinking of our own mortality is very unnerving

Find it difficult to broach the subjects/issues of estate planning with family members

Believe that one needs to be wealthy to bother with an estate plan

Thinking that one does not have enough assets;

Feel that it is too complicated or expensive and takes too long; or

Justify delay, thinking that there is ‘plenty of time’; just “put it off until tomorrow” and “things will take care of themselves”.

One other possible reason is that people think the estate planning process is just downright SPOOKY!!

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Yes, there may be some trepidation at the outset, but clients leave my office with a feeling of “relief”.  Yes, dare I say, that they are HAPPY AND RELIEVED that they made the decision to formulate a plan for their future and the security of loved ones.

There are some great infographics on my website (www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com) to help you “adjust” to the idea of having an estate plan.

Feel free to make copies of the helpful graphics from the site.

Here are titles of the Infographics to help you begin the process:

My 4 Step Plan – Building Blocks of Your Estate Plan – yes, it is only four steps!

My Client- It’s All About You– my practice is very client-focused

Building A Strong Estate Plan – the steps to a secure future

How To Plan For Your Attorney Meeting – helpful hints to make the most of our meeting time

Your Estate Planning Team – the professionals that can assist with the process

People ask:   What can an Estate Plan do for ME? 

An individualized Estate Plan can offer –

Peace of mind – knowing you have a plan in place for the future

Help Preserve your assets – there are often strategies for tax planning within an estate plan

Protect the future of your loved ones – clearly a great motivation

Offer Guidelines to follow if you are disabled (temporarily or permanently) and deal with end- of- life issues/wishes

Avoid conflict – with a clear estate plan, there can be far fewer misunderstandings among family members/beneficiaries.  A well-crafted plan is a pathway to avoid conflict

Manage and Plan for Change – deal with the ever- changing legal landscape as well as the fluctuations within your own life

For many – NOT having an Estate Plan is a lot spookier than Halloween!

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

Please read my Disclaimer and “How I Can Help You”

Visit my website:  http://www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com for over 200 articles and printable infographics