Education trusts for grandkids?

If you want to leave money for your grandchildren you can easily do that in your will. But what forms(s) should it take? The obvious answer is to set up a trust

What you could do is set up what they call a pot trust.  A pot trust is basically a pot of money from which each of the beneficiaries can request funds. It’s a simple, but you need to be careful if you intend for all of the beneficiaries to be treated the same.

Every beneficiary can dip into the pot of money that’s in that trust and some may get more than another. That’s all well and good if that’s what you intended, but unequal distribution can lead to ugly fights.

As an example, one beneficiary may go to Hunter College and the other might go to NYU. The one going to NYU might use up most of the trust before Hunter even starts college.

That’s where educational devices like a 529 plan come in.” A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future education costs. 529 plans, legally known as “qualified tuition plans,” are sponsored by states, state agencies, or educational institutions and are authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.” 

Since a 529 is designed with education in mind, it is designed to be flexible and to address the changing educational environment. If you need help deciding, please contact us a 347-305-4262.



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Guns and Dementia

Back in June, Kaiser Health News investigation in conjunction with the PBS NewsHour published the results of an investigation in which they uncovered over 100 cases since 2012  where people with dementia used guns to kill themselves or others. Kaiser wrote about it on their website.

The shooters often acted during bouts of confusion, paranoia, delusion or aggression, common symptoms of dementia.  The victims were spouses, children and caregivers. The takeaway was that healthcare providers they talked to said they received little or no guidance on how to talk to families about gun safety.

Most patients refuse to answer if they have guns at home and doctors rarely ask if the patient has guns at home. Healthcare professional are trying to figure out how to ask patients if they have guns at home.

Dr. Altaf Saadi, a neurologist at UCLA who has been practicing medicine for five years, said the investigation revealed a “blind spot” in her clinical practice. After reading it, she looked up the American Academy of Neurology’s advice on treating dementia patients. Its guidelines suggest doctors consider asking about “access to firearms or other weapons” during a safety screen, but they don’t say what to do if a patient says they do.

Research bears this out. A 2014 study found, 58 percent of internists surveyed reported never asking whether patients have guns at home.

Dr. Colleen Christmas, a geriatric primary care doctor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and member of the American Neurological Association told Kaiser, “One of the biggest mistakes that doctors make is not thinking about gun access. Firearms are the most common method of suicide among seniors, she noted. Christmas said she asks every incoming patient about access to firearms, in the same nonjudgmental tone that she asks about seat belts, and “I find the conversation goes quite smoothly.”

Momentum has been building among health professionals to take a greater role in preventing gun violence. In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting that left 58 concertgoers dead last October, over 1,300 health care providers publicly pledged to ask patients about gun ownership and gun safety when risk factors are present.

Volunteers with Alzheimer’s San Diego, a nonprofit group, became alarmed when they visited people with dementia and found 25 to 30 percent of those homes had guns, said Jessica Empeño, the group’s vice president.

“We made a decision as an organization not to send volunteers into the homes with weapons,” she said.

But, for health professionals, navigating this politically fraught issue can be difficult. Here are the leading issues according to Kaiser:

Is it legal to talk to patients about guns?

Yes. No state or federal law bars health professionals from raising the issue.

Why don’t doctors do it?

The top three reasons are lack of time, being unsure what to tell patients and believing patients won’t heed their advice about gun ownership or gun safety, one survey of family physicians found.

“There’s no medical or health professional school in the country that does an adequate job at training about firearms,” Wintemute argued. He said he is now working with the American Medical Association to design a continuing medical education course on the topic.

Polling conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation for the story suggested that few Americans are concerned about the potential dangers of elders and firearms. Nearly half of people queried in a nationally representative poll in June said they had relatives over 65 who have guns. Of those, more than 80 percent said they were “not at all worried” about a gun-related accident.”

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Gibson Guitars out of bankruptcy

Gibson Brands, known mostly for its guitars, announced new executives who they hope will guide the company through a monumental transition as it emerges from bankruptcy protection. The company’s newly named president and CEO is James “JC” Curleigh, who is moving from his role as president of Levi Strauss & Co. to take the position.

To round out the new leadership team it will be Cesar Gueikian as new chief merchsnt officer, chief financial officer will be Kim Mattoon and its chief production officer will be Christian Schmitz.

Earlier this month a bankruptcy court in Delaware approved Gibson’s reorganization plan to get itself out of bankruptcy and keep itself in business.

On the team’s first day on the job November 1st, the investment firm of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) will assume majority ownership control of Gibson.

Under the reorganization plan, the company will continue to manufacture its namesake Gibson and Epiphone guitars, as well as maintain its professional audio business that makes studio monitors and loudspeakers under the names KRK and Cerwin Vega. It will be dropping its efforts to push into the home entertainment and headphone areas, areas the company hoped would make up for the decline in instrument sales, but which accounted for much of its debt.

In filings earlier this year, Gibson estimated that it was up to $500 million in debt.

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You don’t have to be millionaire to have an estate plan

Aretha Franklin died without any kind of estate planning. Her estate was worth an estimated 80 million. But, since she had no advanced estate planning, after applying the federal estate tax exemption the estate will only be worth $68,800,000 and that is subject to 40% federal tax.

Now that valuation doesn’t include attorney’s fees, court costs and other costs associated with settling the estate. But what is known is that it will be worth a fraction of the 80 million.

So, you don’t have 80 million, but what you have worked for you want to pass along to your heirs without the government taking a huge cut, right? That’s where estate planning comes in.

What if you have debt? Creditors can go after that debt and the heirs who you bequeathed your money if the debt hasn’t been dealt with.

How to avoid such hassles? Here’s a list of what you should include in your estate plan to lessen the possible hassles.

  • Assign healthcare power of attorney 
  • Create a will
  • Review your beneficiaries for life insurance, investments etc.
  • Set up a trust(s)

Reviewing your beneficiaries is important especially if you assigned them years before. As an example, if you remarried you still might have your ex-spouse as a beneficiary and now you want your current spouse to be the beneficiary.

What happens if you get hospitalized and can’t make decision about your health and money? A healthcare proxy or healthcare power of attorney can make sure your wishes are carried out.

Suppose you have a sizable estate, maybe not millions but a nice chunk. How do you keep the government frtom getting their hands on it? You can set up a trust. A trust is managed by a trustee for a beneficiary or beneficiaries you choose. You toss the assets right into the trust and it bypasses probate court and the expenses associated with it.

These are just a few ways to shield your estate from the grabbing government hands. The Law Offices of Jeffrey Weinstein can help you manage your estate. Please call us at 347-305-8752 for a free consultation.




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Kenmore warranties and Sears bankruptcy

Sears has filed for bankruptcy and many aer wondering what will happen to their Kenmore appliance warranties.

The good news is Sears is honoring those warranties. The company said in a statement,  “We are honoring our warranties, protection agreements and guarantees as normal,” the company said in a statement. If you need help with a replacement part for your appliance, check out the Sears PartsDirect Site.

Eric Arnum, editor of Warranty Week, which reports on the warranty industry said,.    “Normally consumers haven’t had to worry about their warranties being dissolved in the wake of a company going out of business.

When Circuit City and CompUSA filed for bankruptcy, outside insurance companies stepped in, and all extended warranties were honored. “That’s been the case for decades in the U.S.,” Arnum said. The reason: Many states mandate that a company work with outside insurance companies or demonstrate assets of a certain amount to continue coverage for consumers.”

So, even though you don’t have to worry about your current warranty, you should definitely think twice about extended warranties in the future. Here’s why you should think twice.

Warnings about extended warranties aren’t new. Consumer Reports against them for decades.

Margot Gilman, Consumer Reports money editor says,  “Consumer Reports has always advised consumers to be wary of extended warranties. Whenever we’ve analyzed them, and surveyed our members about their experiences with them, we’ve reached the conclusion that the benefits don’t outweigh the costs. There are better, more financially prudent alternatives to extended warranties for people who want to protect themselves against products that may break.”

Consumer Reports found that almost two-thirds of consumers rated aggressive pitches to buy extended warranties a top annoyance.

Yet in 2017, consumers bought $44.6 billion in extended warranties, according to Warranty Week. In 2010, extended warranties totaled $31.3 billion.

Warranty Week editor Eric Arnum says,  “People are often helpless in the face of a determined salesperson. There are people who can sell snowshoes in Hawaii, and they are extremely skilled.

The top offenders according to Arnum P.C Richards and Sears.

“Most consumers do not go into the store even thinking about extended warranties until the salesperson says, ‘Hey, thought about protection?’” Arnum says. “All the research they do is on the product, so it’s easy to convince one in three people, on average, to buy them.”

Many consumers see their kids’ cellphones as a peril worth insuring. They might not think they need the break/fix protection, Arnum says, but loss/theft is seen as worthwhile. ‘What if I drop it?’ You see that with laptops [people are attracted to] the accidental damage protection. Even the Consumer Reports people say loss/theft is good.”

Another critic of extended warranties is Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. “When something is a big profit center for a company, it’s probably not in the best interest of the consumer,” says Rheingold.

“I don’t typically think they’re worth it,” Rheingold said. “Whether [something] needs repairs along the way, the standard warranty is usually good enough.”

“Another issue is you can’t always see the cost of a warranty before you buy a product.” On the Sears website, which is still open for business, a customer has to place a specific refrigerator in the shopping cart before seeing the cost options for an extended warranty.

On its website, The Federal Trade Commission, has a section called ‘Who’s responsible for the contract,’ that says “Before you sign a contract for an extended warranty, think about the company’s financial situation and consider whether the business is reputable.”

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