Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 In Review

As the year 2009 comes to a close we reflect on estate planning:

In the news:

We learned from the deaths of many notables the importance of estate planning to all. How important it is to have a will and one that is up to date. The death of Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawsett and Senator Edward Kennedy all reflected different aspects of estate planning. See prior blogs on these issues starting back in July.

Top Blogs:
And the top blogs for 2009 are:
1/15/09 - 10 Reasons why you should have a will
1/27/09 - The 10 Hottest Estate Planning topics
2/9/09 - Hiring an Estate Planning attorney - 10 things that you should know
7/10/09 - Michael Jackson - 5 Estate Planning Lessons
7/22/09 - Planning for Non-traditional families
8/13/09 - Estate Planning - How do I get started
8/24/09 - Irrevocable Trust - When to Use
9/29/09 - Costly Estate Planning Mistakes
11/10/09 - Facebook, My Space, Linked In, Blog, Oh My
11/24/09 - Great Review o f My Book
12/19/09 - Tax Tips for your 2009 Taxes
Pick your top news stories and blogs. Contact us at

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Lost Symbol

As we look towards another day off, think about how you might spend that day. Whether you are with family, friends, alone in deep contemplation or meditation, 2010 is a time to refresh and renew.

I just finished reading "The Lost Symbol" by Dan Brown who wrote "The Da Vinci Code" which sold millions and had all of us thinking about the ramification of this fictional account. Well, in my opinion he has done it again. Throughout time secrets, codes and unseen truths have been held by mankind and passed down for generations. What is most revealing in the book is how those secrets, codes and unseen truths are actually available to all and revealed in the most prominent places. Read the book and share your comments here. Dan Brown's estate plan should address the manuscript of his books and the continued royalities that will surely generate from these best sellers.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hopes and Aspirations Captured Through Estate Planning

I was speaking before a group the early part of December about estate planning. I was telling the story of a man whom I had never met but through whose legacy I would never forget. His story was quite compelling. See my post of December 18, 2009.

In any event, a couple weeks after my presentation, one of the participants called me to let me know that I had made him think for the first time about his business and personal estate affairs. Though he thought he never had much of an estate, he realized through my presentation that he did. It was not about wealth and money but about his loved ones and his dreams for their future. From my presentation, he was made aware of ways to capture his hopes and aspirations.

Do you want to know more about estate planning and how it is not all about wealth and money? Leave your comments here or contact us at

Monday, December 28, 2009

An International Legacy

We had a wonderful holiday and are looking forward to the New Year. Of course the news on Christmas Day of the terrorist's attempted bombing was shocking and disturbing. Our need for continued vigilance in this area is apparent.

It reminds me how important it is that our personal legacy extends beyond our immediate family needs and interests into what is happening in our nation and in the world. In fact when we do extend our focus outside our personal circle, we are helping our selves and our families. What happens in Nigeria, London, Yemen affects our nation, our community. What happens anywhere in the world is of importance to all of us given the globalization of economy, technology, communication, and the list goes on.

So I continue to encourage us all to look at how we can address not only during our lifetime the issues impacting our nation and world but how can we create a legacy of an international dimension through estate planning. Leave your comments here or contact us at

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

We are up very, very early this morning with our 8 year old daughter who is now cooking the morning breakfast, with just a little help from Dad. She is quite the independent one and has started her own traditions for Christmas morning, as we also get ready to visit Mommom and Poppop, 3 hours away. Fortunately, we do not have to dash through the snow, just a little rain washing away the remaining snow from last weekend.

Creating memorable moments during the holidays and throughout the year is what life and living is all about. Passing on those traditions from generation to generation is what your legacy is all about. So, as we move into 2010 think about what the moments and traditions you are creating for your family and loved ones. Are they full of meaning; making a difference by helping others you do not know who are in need, sharing your wealth and good cheer with those who might not have anyone during the holidays, remembering to take the time to say I love you today and always to those close to you, and being the human being you were placed here to be now and forever.

Happy Holidays to all and to all a wonderous New Year!!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tax Tips for your 2009 Taxes

With the first day of winter (12/21) still 2 days away, we watch the falling snow of our first winter snow storm in the northeast. I am reminded that the end of 2009 is fast approaching and it is time to think about our taxes. Since estate planning includes protecting and preserving our assets, how can we save on our taxes and thus maintain more of our money.

Here are my 5 things to consider:
1. Start early gathering tax information, including receipts. You can loose lots of money with last minute tax preparations.

2. Do not forget those deductions - property taxes; mortgage interest; points; home improvements for medical care; tuition and fees; and, moving expenses for that first JOB.

3. Do not forget those credits - first time homebuyer; and child and dependent care care.

4. Make contributions to your IRA.

5. If you have not already done so, invest in a financial management system so that throughout the year you are organizing and tracking your expenses to see where you can save and thus increase your net worth. At the end of the year, with the touch of a button, your tax information is available to you.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Benefitting Others Through Estate Planning

We all understand the importance of charitable giving. We benefit others through our philanthropy, giving and humanity. In return it encourages others to do the same.

When we first moved to Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, we purchased a home next to land under preservation for open space. We have been able to enjoy the trees and wildlife. We soon found out that this land had been donated to the community along with land where the elementary school is built that my daughter attends. It was part of the legacy of man who started his life in America as a poor immigrant. His legacy has touched the life of numerous children and many, like myself, in the community that he grew to love.

Just like this one man we, you and I, can benefit those we will never know through our giving. And how best to do that then through our estate planning. I have looked at my charitable giving during my lifetime and selected those organizations that will continue to benefit when I die.

Think about your life and how you might continue to help others or even start to help others by leaving a bequests in your Will. Leave your comments here or contact us at

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Insurance - Review Annually

DID YOU KNOW that insurance is a very important part of the estate planning process. I was reviewing (something everyone should do once a year) our insurance policies to update the beneficiary designations. It just reminded me how insurance helps pay off debts so your family can continue to enjoy their assets whether a home, a car or vacation property. It also provides money to families devastated by a death. It can even address the debt of business ventures.

AND WHAT THAT MEANS your estate (not your family) is responsible for paying off ALL debts before ANY distribution is made to a loved one. You do not want your estate to be bankrupt by your debts, business or personal.

SO MAKE SURE in your buisness affairs and personal affairs, you plan for incapacity and death because your debts do not go away just because you do!!!

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Your Pet And Estate Planning

We recently got a cat, Sneakers, for our daughter. It made me think about how estate planning covers everything that you have, including your pets. So, what happens to little Sneakers if something happens to us. Technically, she "belongs" to our 8 year old daughter but I do not think, in fact, I know the guardian for our daughter has not also agreed to take on the responsibility of a cat. Given allergies of the guardian's own children, it would not be a possibility to even address. So, what happens to Sneakers, the alternative will be to "give" her to another family member so that my daughter could regularly visit "her" cat. That seems to work as an option because we do have animal lovers to choose from.

BUT what if you do not have that option. If there are no family or friends available to take your pet then you could either (1) fund a Trust for the care of your cat; (2) look up places that would take your cat; (3) find cat adoption services or (4) leave money to a family or friend to take care of your cat. Any of these options should be addressed in your Will to make sure your plan is followed.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

"Today, It's Your Legacy"

I can hardly believe it is December 14th already. December is going way too fast. But, isn't that life sometimes, especially as we get older. I can remember when I was a child that time seemed to stand still and how I wished it would go faster. Be careful what you wish for!

Well, yesterday I did the taping for an internet TV start-up. My program "Today, It's Your Legacy" is all about people because estate planning is all about people and the life they are living. Everyday, ordinary people are doing ordinary things with extrordinary results. They, however, fail to realize how uniquely awesome the legacy they are creating is. My show will explore the legacy people, just like you, are creating everyday. It will help all of us realize how estate planning can work for us, our families and our communities.

I am excited about this new beginning and will keep you posted regarding the launch. First it was writing the script, then it was taping the pilot, what is next? Stay tuned. Leave your comments here or contact us at

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

American Doll - Collectibles for your Estate

My mother called me today and asked whether I had started my holiday shopping. She knows that shopping is not high on my list of things I like to do so that was her way to tell me to get busy. It did make me go online and order a doll for my daughter. She asked for an Addy American Doll. We really try not to get into the commercialism of the holiday. It is about being with family and sharing the reason for the season. Helping others and giving, not receiving, are what we "try" to stress.

BUT, in this case, my daughter has made an interesting connection for me. First, she has already read all of the Addy books. She was telling me Addy's story. Addy is the American Doll that represents that part of American history that we all would like to think never happened, slavery, and would hope has ended, racial discrimination. My daughter is 8 and I thought it was very interesting her discussion of Addy's plight. The Addy books have become a learning opportunity and a way for me to address this part of our history in a more concrete way with her.

Your estate planning may entail reflecting on the plight of your ancestors. Because of or in spite of those historical circumstances, you may have amassed a fortune that you might use through effective planning to eradicate the effects of. Maybe the Addy doll will serve as a collectible that my daughter might look back on as what allowed her to emerge as a beacon of hope that justice and equality for all people will be realized for her generation. Or maybe not.......

Happy Holidays. Leave your comment here or contact us

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Legacy of Internet TV

Today was an interesting day. I wondered what I would write about since I had decided to let December be on how estate planning is about life and living. What experience did I have in my day that demonstrates this aspect of estate planning?

I spent most of my day reviewing 2 documents and writing a script for a new program that I hope to bring to TV, internet TV. I will keep you posted on that venture and invite you to the celebratory launch. In any event, I had my sister critique the script. She holds back nothing and that is why I rely on her. She is just not going to sugar coat something or say what she thinks you want to hear. Basically, after spending the good part of 2 days immersed in writing this script, I had to go back to the drawing board as a result of her comments. I just sent her a revised script before writing this post. Let see how I do.

If this program should ever go anywhere and it will, then it will be these moments - developing the script; receiving feedback; revising the script - that will form a part of the legacy of the program, the back story, you might say. I want to take the time to document that and not just breeze through it. It is not always the end result that is important. The getting there has just as much value.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Your Purpose May Find You

Let me tell you a story about a woman I met who says in her own words, "be careful what you ask for" and "she is doing what she has to do."

Well, this woman lost her son-in-law to cancer. Her step-daughter was left to raise triplets, one with cerebral palsy. At 55 the woman was able to retire from the government but choose to find another job because she needed something to keep her busy. She began to wonder what her purpose was in life. She felt her life did not have meaning. Within a couple of years, she lost her husband to cancer. One night while her step-daughter was visiting, her step-daughter had to be rushed to the hospital. Her step-daughter never left the hospital. A brain aneurysm ruptured and she died.

"Be careful what you ask for." This 58 year old woman was the only one left for these 5 year old triplets which she has since adopted. When you look at her with total awe and admiration, she says "she is doing what she has to do". Her purpose found her.

Estate planning will be very important for her, especially now. Provide us with your comments or contact us at

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Your Sport - Your Legacy

Good Saturday Morning. This is the first Saturday in December and I am sure the malls are packed. For a person, like me, who does not like to shop, the mall is the last place I want to be today. Fortunately, there is nothing that is requiring me to make that visit.

So, today I attended my daughter's basketball game. Parents and siblings scream as their little darlings dribble, past and shoot. I am among the screamers. As my daughter concentrates on her game, I notice every once and awhile she glances over to make sure I have not missed her daring feat. She does have skills and I'm not just being the pride parent, though I am that.

In this case, I am assessing how I am passing on my legacy to my daughter. Remember estate planning is about life and living. Though I never played basketball as a child, my mother played through college. I have shared pictures of "Mom-Mom" leading her team to victory and through my prodding my mother has shared those experiences with her granddaughter. It has not been my mother's manner to talk about her past. While my dad, on the other hand, has written 4 books about his life and I talk about everything, all the time because it is our legacy to share and to enhance the lives of those we love.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Create Your Legacy - Live the Life You Were Meant to Live

This morning I decided I would do Yoga and Meditation. The best time of the morning to do Yoga and Meditation is just before sunrise. If you are like me, once my day begins there is no time for any type of exercise or even relaxation. So if you are so inclined to forego a bit of sleep and get up early, you will find it to be invaluable.

So what does Yoga and Meditation have to do with estate planning or even your legacy. In a nutshell, everything. Life is all about change. Yoga teaches flexibility and if one is flexible in mind and body, your ability to deal with change is enhanced. Meditation, like Yoga, focuses on the breath, your life source. Thoughts will come and go and not take control of you as long as your focus remains on the breath. You clear your mind of the chatter (thoughts) in your head and you can begin to feel a real sense of peace. All of this is important to living a life that creates a legacy that one might wish to pass on in estate planning. But the most important part is that you are living a life that is worthwhile to you.

Yoga and Meditation are not the only way to obtain this state of clarity about our life, our purpose and our legacy. Share ways that have helped you or contact us at

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Delaware Canal - Charitable Giving

This morning I was walking along the Delaware canal in Washington Crossing. It is a smooth even trail with historical significance but this morning, for me, it is all about the wildlife. The Blue Herring gliding along the waterway just as I approach his private perch. The mallards, the colorful males and their mates, floating along the water's edge. Squirrels rustling dry leaves as they scamper from the shore up the nearest tree. A black snake slitters across the canal path disappearing into the murky waters. Nature's bounty available for me to enjoy on a morning walk.

But, I can not take this natural beauty for granted. Will it continue to be here for me to enjoy and for my children? Then a thought came to me. I can make a difference in the preservation and improvement of this canal. If it means something to me, I can make that difference now and beyond my lifetime.

So, here is what I did. Today, I joined the friends of the Delaware Canal. And you can too, at

Let us know how you are living your life now and how that living impacts your estate planning here or contact us at

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December is about Estate Planning

If you are like me, December has arrived way too fast. I was just enjoying Thanksgiving and now the shift is to Holiday gift buying and the like. Well, this season I am creating my own shift. I believe that estate planning is not about death and dying but about life and living. I want to demonstrate it not only in my business practice but in my personal actions as well.

So, I invite you on a December journey with me. I am going to share with you each day an experience in life and living that impacts estate planning for me and could do the same for you.

Stay tuned and feel free to share your life and living experience here or contact us at