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So You Want To Move To A Foreign Country

You have read all the brochures and finally decided that life on the (fictional) island of Guata Gauta will be idyllic.  The island nation has virtually no taxes, beautiful and inexpensive homes to buy; the best climate; friendly people; stable government; wonderful culture; scenic beauty…in short it is Paradise, with a capital P.

One of the last things you are probably thinking about is your estate plan.  You just want to get to your island in the sun and start your new life.

But beware of certain issues when planning to become at expatriate (expat for short) and the difference between tax residence and domicile.

We know that there are significant differences between legal systems in different countries.  To give an example, British people who live in countries of the Middle East are for the most part subject to Islamic law and that law would apply when it comes to how their estate is treated.  This might mean that as an expat the law could divide your estate, your property and your wealth in ways that you never intended. Assets could go to someone that the expat never realized.

Once you establish domicile in a country, then Domicile typically decides where inheritance is paid and how (upon death) an expat’s estate is split.  The laws of that country regarding property, bank accounts, etc. could override any will or estate plan of the United States.

In most countries, expats should prove they have no intention of moving to another country to show their domicile has changed. For example – if you are moving yourself to Guata Guata, the relocation is permanent and you have no intention of returning to Wisconsin. This could mean relinquishing your U.S. passport; closing all U.S. bank accounts and selling Wisconsin property.

It is beyond the scope of this brief article to review all of the possible outcomes of becoming an expat.  The best advice –

Discuss with a professional (financial; legal and international) the long term consequences of a permanent move/relocation to a foreign country. Know before you go, how the laws in that country could affect your estate plan and your beneficiaries.

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

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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: 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

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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

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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

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

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Retiring With Debt

Recently, I came across a gem of an article from one of my many on line sources. The article is titled – Estate Planning, Taking Debt into Retirement by Mike Mahoney.

The article appeared in the on-line version of Columbus CEO magazine*.  The succinct article explores the rationale of some baby boomers choosing to continue or acquire new debt into their retirement years.

Mr. Mahoney’s well-written article is  worth the short time it takes to read it. He poses the question: What are some reasons for older Americans to take on debt during retirement?

According to the article: “They may be borrowing to pay for a child’s education, to manage the expense of divorce or the loss of a spouse, or to make ends meet after a late-career job loss.”

I look forward to more articles from the ColumbusCEO and Mr. Mahoney.

* The Columbus CEO magazine explores financial, business related and local trends relevant to the business community in the Ohio region and beyond.

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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‘Triggers’ To Your Estate Planning – Time To Review

I have written frequently about certain ‘triggers’ that can affect not only your life, but also your estate plan going forward.

Certainly, changes in the tax code can be a big ‘trigger’, but in this article I am referring to the more personal life events that would cause you to take a new look at both long- range plans and specific financial and estate plan documents.

Marriage and Divorce are two major life events, but think also of whose marriage and divorce?  By this I mean if a child (or even a grandchild if they are mentioned in your will or estate plan) is experiencing a marriage or divorce – it would be time to review what changes you envision to your documents. There are numerous articles written about an ex-spouse inadvertently inheriting.  Remember also, that critical period between the filing for a divorce and the actual decree of divorce. (see my article on my website: Almost Divorced)

Change of job/retirement – affects not only your plans for the future (e.g. possible relocation to a different state and different legal jurisdiction – think community property state) but also any 401(K) plans and investments in your previous or new company (think beneficiary forms) (See my article: 3 Life Events Affecting Your Retirement)

Death of a spouse or family member – anyone you have considered as a beneficiary to your estate. This event requires an important review of all documents.

Disability – if you or a spouse has experienced a dramatic change of health, it may be time to take a look at health care directives, power of attorney, etc. Has a child or grandchild become disabled or receiving disability insurance?

Births – Is there a new child or grandchild and do you want them to share in your estate plan?  Remember, also that depending on the wording of your estate plan, the birth of a step child or one from a ‘blended’ family might have an effect on your planning.

Acquiring or disposing of a major asset – particularly rental property, vacation property, valuable collections or a business that is/was part of your estate plan. Have you had a recent ‘windfall’ such as inheritance, settlement or lottery winning?

All the above are ‘triggers’ – important life events that deserve the new look at your estate plan and your financial position going forward.

Arguable, there are many other important life events.  Keep in mind – if it happened and the event was important to you – then it might just be a ‘trigger’ for your estate planning.


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


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A Word About Making Websites Accessible

Making websites accessible by those with disabilities, including those people with visual impairment, is a challenge being met by web designers and developers. In its infancy, the world wide web was being developed primarily BY ‘sighted’ people and for ‘sighted’ persons.

In today’s world, those with impaired vision have the capability to access the internet, to browse, to shop; to social network and do research. Those with impaired vision can access the internet with the use of screen readers and voice synthesizers on their computers.

One of the pieces of accessibility that I came across is offered via the website:  According to their website (from the United Kingdom) they offer a free download for those people who are visually impaired or blind by which it is possible to use the internet.

Here is what their website offers – in its own words:

“NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) is a free “screen reader” which enables blind and vision impaired people to use computers. It reads the text on the screen in a computerised voice. You can control what is read to you by moving the cursor to the relevant area of text with a mouse or the arrows on your keyboard…NVDA can also convert the text into braille if the computer user owns a device called a “braille display”.”

If you or a loved one has visual challenges, you can visit Nvaccess to learn more about the organization; the free download and about how they use Donations.


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


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More Retirement Hints

Across my computer screen came some interesting articles from “The Ticker Tape” – an Ameritrade offering from its website:

The three articles under the Retirement Section outline:

The advantages of ‘test driving’ a retirement community

Planning ahead – when a living will is not enough …and…

Vacation Homes – how to make the decision of whether buying a vacation home is right for you

All of the three articles are concise and offer helpful “hints” about important topics/decisions of retirement planning.

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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Yes, But Is It Art?

I have previously written about Art, the sustaining and preservation of fine art collections, the collecting of fine art and the difficulties surrounding art in inheritance situations. (See my website for the article:  The Art of Valuing Art)

According to recent research, it appears that the “culture” and purpose of art collecting has been changing over the years. *

In general, Millennial Generation attitudes often differ significantly from their parents’. (see my articles under the Millennials Category)

Older generations deemed art as something to be collected, enjoyed and eventually passed on to future generations via inheritance.

Younger generations are more likely to use art, not only as an investment, but also as loan collateral.

For each generation, art may have a different meaning and a different function. Even artists cannot agree on its purpose.

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.        -Edgar Degas

Any fool can paint a picture, but it takes a wise person to be able to sell it.         – Samuel Butler


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

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* Reference: Wealth  “Six characteristics of NexGen Art Collectors” by Evan Beard and Ramsay H. Slugg (June 27, 2016)

The Rule of 78

I want to share with you part of the ‘take-away’ from a wonderful webinar sponsored in part by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Fraud and the elderly is a hot topic according to the presenters of the webinar. You can find my articles about the subject on my website

The pace of scams has escalated. One reason proposed is that there is an actual “date” which the predators use.

It is known as the Rule of 78.   Yes, when you turn 78 you become more vulnerable to scams because there is a significant increase in mailings and telephone calls targeted to the elderly on that birthday!

Elder financial exploitation through scams actually can be targeted by predators to those individuals who are 78 years of age; who have some income; who live in their own homes and by other demographic information, including use of credit cards. The predators buy these lists of names and then use them for their own purposes, i.e. scamming/defrauding as much money over as long a period of time as possible from the vulnerable of our society.

Make no mistake…there is an Elder Fraud Industry worth billions of dollars and the predators depend on such things as cognitive decline; vulnerable age;  and the ‘hunter’s list’.

Some of the specific scams have even been given names: The Nigerian 419 scam; the Grandparent Scam; The Jamaican Sweepstakes Scam and Threats; The door-to-door Solar Sales Scam; the Sweetheart Scam; the iTune gift card Scam; and the Home Improvement/Roofing scam are only a few.  There are new scams every day and derivatives of previous scams.

Sadly, numerous people have been targets of scams more than once and some up to twelve times. There is also a large uptick in cross-border fraud – wiring money to foreign countries.

There exist lists of victims including the Super Victim List of those elderly who have been scammed out of $10,000 or more and the Mega Victims List of those elderly scammed out of $100,000 or more.

In North Carolina alone (according to one presenter of the webinar)  between 2009 and 2015 there have been a total of close to $30 million defrauded from the elderly (that is reported cases). Many more cases go unreported.

North Carolina in 2013 implemented a series of government policies and financial regulations that were able to partially reduce the activity of such scams.

A good website for general knowledge about financial exploitation and the elderly is (then go to Information for Older Americans then to Resource Guide.)

You can take a “course” – it is free- via Money Smart for Older Adults that will help to improve your awareness and give you tools to combat financial exploitation.

According to the site: “Why are older adults at risk of financial exploitation?”

“The following circumstances or conditions, especially in combination, can make an older adult more vulnerable to financial exploitation.”

Older adults may:

  • Have regular income and accumulated assets
  • Be trusting and polite
  • Be lonely and socially isolated
  • Be vulnerable due to grief from the loss of a spouse, family member, friend, or pet
  • Be reluctant to report exploitation by a family member, caregiver, or someone they depend on
  • Be dependent on support from a family member or caregiver to remain independent
  • Be receiving care from a person with substance abuse, gambling or financial problems, or mental health issues
  • Fear retaliation by the exploiter
  • Be unfamiliar with managing financial matters
  • Be unprepared for retirement and the potential loss of financial decision-making capacity
  • Have cognitive impairments that affect financial decision-making and judgment
  • Be dependent on a family member, caregiver or another person who may pressure them for money or control of their finances.”

Another website (from the webinar) is the North Carolina Dept. of Justice website: – but be forewarned that some of the links are broken on that site.

 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: for more articles and interesting infographics