Monday, May 2, 2016
If you’ve heard even a few minutes of More than Money radio you’ve heard me begin my answer to – nearly every – question with, ‘It depends.’ There’s a very good reason – other than it’s become my ‘signature’ radio line – I say that. It’s because the answer to nearly every financial question depends on who’s asking.
This is why trusted financial advisors take the time and care necessary to understand their clients – the folks asking these questions. When I know who you are and what your goals are I can answer these questions without, ‘It depends.’ This is also why the financial advisory profession, the financial regulators (SEC, FINRA, etc.), and quality advisors everywhere are so disgusted/frustrated with financial salesmen who have no interest in anything other than you buying their product. Their commercials are constant. Their messages spout fear. They have the answer to everyone’s prayers. They skirt the truth and parade testimonials across the screen. If only they would work as hard in your best interests as they do for their own.
If your trusted financial advisor took the time to get to know you and your financial goals before he/she started recommending the best actions for you – send them a thank you note.
“Pennsylvania Filial Support Law”
If your parent(s) are judged to be indigent (income less than their expenses) a relatively new Pennsylvania law makes children responsible for the costs of their parents care. The Pennsylvania Filial Support Law has already been used in court to force children of parents in nursing homes and other care facilities to pay – in some cases – nearly $100,000 towards the care of their parent(s).
The law seems to have significant opportunity to create havoc in the retirement plans of Pennsylvanians. What would happen to your retirement plans if you were forced to cough up $100,000 or more in unexpected parental care expenses? What plans should you be making now to best protect you and your retirement? What can be done to change this law? These are all excellent questions that you should be asking your estate planning and elder law attorney. They are also excellent questions to jump start a conversation with your parent(s) about their planning. Do you need help with these conversations? Please contact our More than Money office to schedule time to talk.
“Can One-Third of $300,000 Really be $10,000?”
We recently encountered a listener who had lost his mother. His mother’s estate was valued at just over $300,000 with her will clearly stating that each of her three children (two sons and a daughter) should receive an equal share. Sadly, this gentleman and his brother actually received slightly less than $10,000 and his sister received just over $280,000 – not exactly equal shares! How can this be?
It appears that the daughter has some significant influence over her mother in mother’s last years. Mom added the daughter as a joint owner on her home. She named the daughter as beneficiary of her IRA and life insurance policy. She added her daughter to her checking account. When mother passed all of these assets were transferred to her daughter before the will was even considered. The only reason there was anything left to be ‘shared’ with her brothers was from the sale of two cars and some personal assets. Is this really what Mom wanted? At this point, there’s probably no way to know.
Sadder still, unless this gentleman can show that his sister had undue influence over their mother he has little recourse. Even if he thinks he can show such influence, he must take the steps to sue his sister in court – with all the consequences each of us can imagine.
Lessons are everywhere in this story. Estate planning is critical. Estate planning should not be left to amateurs. Parents can do things that have very unintended consequences. Lots of things happen before the will even comes into play. Kids need to talk to their parents. Kids need to talk to each other. Families can be torn apart at the very moment they need to be most together. Don’t do this to your family. Use a trusted estate/elder law attorney. Be clear about your wishes and communicate them to your attorney and to your family.
“If I move to Florida Do I Lose My Bethlehem Advisor?”
No, not if your advisor is properly licensed to practice in Florida.
“Thank You for Your Kind Words and Prayers”
Our 25th anniversary radio show aired on March 26th and was filled with wonderful guests, kind words, and shared prayers. I only say thank you for everything you’ve done and continue to do for me as part of my More than Money family. Thank you. If you weren’t able to join us for the live show, please listen to the podcast on our website.
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Words are Powerful Tools for American Freedom
You should know two things about me that will absolutely influence both the words I share with you and my interpretation of those words. First, I am an amateur at the Bible. I’ve read the Bible my whole life and been blessed with many wonderful teachers of the word. To this day, I consider myself an amateur in both my knowledge of and ability to fully understand the Scripture. For me, every reading is a new adventure.
Second, you should know that I am an optimist. I’m a practical, real world, hard-nosed, pragmatic man . . . but an optimist. And I’m an optimist for a very logical reason – I entered with world with only one significant advantage and I now live in this world with virtually every blessing an unreasonable man could expect. Leaving the Horatio Alger story opportunity aside, my one significant advantage – that made all the difference in my world – was I was raised by God loving parents. Perhaps the lesson both my parents represented to me over and over again was:
“All things are possible, with God”
Near as my study can tell, these words are found in Gospels of both Matthew and Mark. The various versions of the Bible offer slight variations, but the message is the same. Cool. Really cool. However, in a society that thinks the 240 character limit inside Twitter represents high literature this brief passage can be a challenge to apply.
To the simple minded twit (pun intended) what they see is – All things are possible! Equally simple minded they then conclude that since all things are possible they should have all things and they should have them now! Repeat after me, ‘I want a pony. I want a pony. I want a pony.’ What I want is for everyone to read the entire message:
“All things are possible, with God”
If the things you want are aligned with what God wants – all things are possible! Admittedly, it doesn’t say anything about easy, but clearly – stick with God – and all things are possible. If however, you choose to ignore the whole ‘aligned with God’ bit you’ve chosen a much tougher path. You’ve chosen a misguided, self delusional ‘optimism’ based on nothing more than childish wants. You have chosen to ignore the most powerful ally in the Universe in favor of pop psych affirmations.
But I pray a different life for you my dear readers. You are part of my More than Money family. I want only the best for you. I am optimistic you will see the best for you and those you love. It doesn’t matter if we’ve never met. It doesn’t matter if your financial advisor is a ‘competitor’. It doesn’t matter if you are a ‘competitor’. All that really matters is I’m quite convinced – optimistic even – that God wants all good things for you. And since my wishes are perfectly aligned with God’s wishes and since all things are possible, with God . . . do you see how perfectly, practically, pragmatically logical this really is?
Dream big. Dream abundantly. Dream with God.
Please allow us to serve you and those you love.
P.S. What will you do today to envision great and possible things that are perfectly aligned with God?