Latest from Personal Wealth Law News

Congress has passed, and the President has signed, a spending bill that includes the SECURE Act, which makes a number of changes in retirement planning rules. Here are some highlights:
1. Minimum distributions from IRAs and retirement plans, required to begin soon after age 70 1/2, may be postponed until age 72. This change applies to those who reach age 70 1/2 after December 31, 2019.
2. Participants in IRAs and retirement plans may withdraw up to $5,000 without penalty (but with tax) to pay the costs of the birth or adoption of a child.
3. Contributions to IRAs were
Continue Reading SECURE Act Changes Rules for Retirement Planning

How To Prepare For The Retirement Years
Ages 25, 30, 35, 40 – save more spend less
Save as much as possible on a pre-tax or tax-advantaged basis
(Why think about retirement at these young ages?  Because, with a little luck, you’ll be old someday)
Age 50 – increase savings in retirement plan by the catchup amount
Age 59 ½ – you can withdraw money from your retirement account without penalty.  But unless you have a dire emergency, don’t do it.  Should you withdraw money to pay for college?  Try to find the money elsewhere.
Saving will give you
Continue Reading How To Prepare For The Retirement Years

I have had a few clients caught up in scams of the Madoff variety, but fortunately not for large sums. The most common reaction when this happens is embarrassment, that someone who is intelligent could be caught by something that seems so obvious in hindsight. And yet scams continue. Why is that?
There are several reasons:

  • The world is a complex place, and getting more so.
  • It’s tempting to select a pre-packaged, simple solution
  • People who prey on others never look like crooks- otherwise they couldn’t succeed.

Not every scam involves out and out theft. There are what I call
Continue Reading Scams, Hard and Soft, Plague Seniors

In most households, there is one spouse who handles financial matters- paying bills, filing tax returns, planning retirement income. While division of labor might be great, there could be problems if the “non-financial” spouse is the survivor- he or she might be easy prey for those who try to sell inappropriate investments or insurance policies, or might be a victim of out-and-out theft. There is a solution, but it requires work while both spouses are alive. A technique I have used is to create a notebook with important information:

  • what bills must be paid, and how are they paid
  • what

Continue Reading Does Your Spouse Know?

Providing for the people who matter most to you is one of estate planning’s overarching goals. An inheritnace can go a long way toward ensuring the security of your partner, spouse, or children after you’re gone. But sometimes our loved ones need to be protected from themselves. Reckless spending and the claims of creditors can quickly eat away at what at first seemed like limitless reserves. By establishing a spendthrift trust, you can help safeguard the assets you leave to your loved ones and ensure that they go only toward worthwhile expenditures.
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Continue Reading Protect Your Loved Ones With a Spendthrift Trust

A client visited today and asked what advice we give to husbands and wives about financial responsibilities when one spouse has died. It’s still often one spouse’s task to pay bills and make household arrangements, and if that spouse dies first, what can be done to assist the survivor? My suggestion was just what I have done. Although my wife is familiar with our bills and the various contracts we have for maintaining our home, it makes sense to put that information into a separate “guidebook”. The book includes what monthly, quarterly and annual bills need to be paid; what
Continue Reading Financial Responsibilities For Widows and Widowers

Like most people, members of the LGBTQ community often wait until after a major life event before meeting with a lawyer to plan their estates. The adoption of a child, the death of a loved one, or the approach of old age can be enough to prompt some of us to meet with a lawyer. Depending on the life event in question, waiting might work—or it might simply be too late. Learn why the best time to put your affairs in order is probably now.
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Continue Reading When Should You Write Your First Will?

What will happen to your frequent flyer miles when you’re gone? Will your spouse, partner, or someone else you care about be able to use and enjoy them? The airlines’ rules are not always clear-cut on the matter. But with proper planning, you can make the most of their policies and help to ensure that your miles are passed on to someone you designate.

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Continue Reading Who Inherits Your Frequent Flyer Miles?

One of the many benefits of Saul Ewing’s recent merger with Arnstein & Lehr, now Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, is that we now have offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Florida. Many people living in the Northern and Midwestern states have second homes in Florida or have become full-time Florida residents, and they often need additional or different estate planning assistance. My colleague Fatima Hasan practices from our Fort Lauderdale and Miami offices, and has discussed with me the wide range of assistance we can provide to part-time and full-time Florida residents. She can be reached
Continue Reading New Estate Planning Resources for Florida Residents

An article in the September 4, 2018 Wall Street Journal discusses the question of what people will spend in retirement. Its author is connected with something called the Center for Advanced Hindsight, which I suppose is humorous. The article indicates that the center brought together a large number of people and asked them what they thought their expenses would be in retirement. Because they had heard the figure of 70% of pre-retirement expenses, that’s what they said. So far, not very scientific. Then, they brought in another group of people and asked them what they would like to spend in
Continue Reading Spending in Retirement

1. Why is it important to have a discussion about buy-sell agreements in the context of estate planning?
The ownership interest in a closely held business represents a substantial portion of an individual’s wealth.  Determining how much his or her family will be paid for that interest and when payment will occur is a very important part of the estate plan.  If the value is trapped in the business or can only be extracted over a long period of time, that changes how the surviving spouse and family can expect to enjoy the transmission of wealth.
2. Do most closely
Continue Reading Some Notes on Buy-Sell Agreements

A recent program presented by the Probate and Trust Law Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association offered suggestions on a safe withdrawal rate from accumulated assets during retirement. After much analysis, the author concluded that 4% was probably a safe rate of withdrawal to ensure that retirees don’t run out of assets during the rest of their lives. This is an important concept, and there are other points to consider. As I’ve written before, it makes sense to summarize what your expenses will be during retirement. This will include the basic items, like health care, utilities, etc., but also numbers
Continue Reading A Safe Withdrawal Rate in Retirement

Many publications report on the prevalence of elder financial abuse in our society. It can arise from misuse of powers of attorney, guardianships, and estate and trust administrations, as well as out and out scams. Many institutions are working on this problem, including the US Department of Justice, the SEC, FINRA and state agencies. In future blogs, we will discuss the suggestions made by these agencies to avoid elder financial abuse, but let’s start with, why is this such a significant problem now? Here are a couple of basic reasons:

  • There are simply a lot more elderly people in the population,

Continue Reading Financial Exploitation of Elders is a National Crisis

A number of years ago, I spoke at a seminar organized by some clients, called “Sign here, my dear”. The point of the seminar was that spouses, in most case wives, know very little about family finances and are often just called upon to sign documents without knowing what they are. In my practice, I continue to see this mismatch of financial information in many situations. My experience is that this is rarely done for a bad purpose, but more often because one spouse has more financial skills and doesn’t want to burden the other. But when the less-experienced spouse
Continue Reading Does Your Spouse Know?

The more articles and blogs I write about planning for retirement, the more advice I get from people who have retired or are in the planning stages. Since the concept of retirement is still a mystery for many, I thought I would pass along some advice I have received:
1. Health maintenance. There is probably nothing more important than preserving your health in retirement as long as you can. Visit your doctor(s) on a regular basis, and consider even taking their advice. Exercise, eat right; you know this drill.
2. Ask your kids. Ask them what they want from among
Continue Reading More Dispatches From the Retirement Front