Selling your Soul, and Other Fine Print

DevilDid you sell your soul?

In 2010 the British game retailer GameStation revealed that it legally owned the souls of thousands of its customers.

If you went on their website to order software on a particular day, you had to click one of those “I accept” buttons on the screen under their contract before you could make your purchase. The contract looked like the usual fine print, and as we all know, most people don’t bother to read that stuff.  

But this language was in it (edited ever so slightly):

“By placing an order via this Web site . . .  you agree to grant Us a non-transferable option to claim, for now and forever more, your immortal soul.  Should We wish to exercise this option, you agree to surrender your immortal soul and any claim you may have on it, within five working days of receiving written notification from Gamestation.co.uk or one of its duly authorized minions.” Read more

Avoid the Asset Hassle, Courtesy of Uncle Pennybags

Piggy bankBeware the hassle assets. They are called that because if you inherit some, you will jump hoops, go down chutes and climb up ladders to get these assets into your name.

The corollary: if you own hassle assets now, do your spouse and estate recipients an enormous favor, and deal with these assets now, while you can. Prevent the legal zoo. We’ll explain how below.

Let’s contemplate your rich Uncle Pennybags, who has received huge royalties over the years as his picture has appeared since 1936 on millions of Monopoly boards, Community Chest and Chance Cards. (You thought it was Warren Buffett?)

Uncle Richie (as you called him) was a sophisticated investor; no Baltic Avenue for him in the real world.  Instead, he bought into companies which owned mineral rights in Georgia and oil well interests in Texas. He also bought a couple of shares in a company producing a Broadway musical. And yes, he had a part-interest in an assisted living facility on Marvin Gardens.

So when Pennybags died, his estate owned 1.6% of a Georgia partnership trying to sift kaolin out of dirt, 0.875% of a Texas venture owning a semi-dry oil well, and 3% royalties from whenever their musical was performed, whether in local high schools or foreign countries. Read more

Protect the Proceeds of your Company’s Future Sale Now

Sell buttonThe business you’ve been growing is now generating income and making distributions. So it’s not inconceivable that someone (or some people) may want to buy it in the future.

 

But how do you protect what you’ve accumulated until it does sell?  

And after the sale, how do you protect what you receive?
Read more

The Hokey Pokey and Your Financial Power of Attorney

SignatureDid you hear what happened when the composer of the Hokey Pokey died? They had a terrible time getting his body into the casket. Supposedly they put his right leg in and . . .

But we digress from a more serious topic: what the Hokey Pokey has to do with the document used when someone’s disabled.

Y’see, the dance worked best when people followed its directions. You did what it told you to do, which was simple. Nobody bumped into anybody else and the dance worked.

Where this is going: we review lots of Financial Powers of Attorney each year. We find that so many of them are missing a simple but required part. Not having this part in the document means the FPOA may be worthless – an impressive-looking document that is only good to ignite kindling. Read more

Don’t Let Your Pets Become Orphans

George was interviewed recently by Laine Sweezey, President of the Brook Run Dog Park Association, to be part of a newsletter article for the Brook Run Dog Park.  The article content appears below.

DogIt is shocking how often I receive heart-breaking pleas to help find homes for pets whose owners have died or have become incapacitated. According to the website of the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), “… approximately 5 to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide each year, and approximately 3 to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats). As a responsible guardian, it is important to think about who would care for your pets in the event of your inability, illness, or even death, and to implement a plan to prevent your pets from ending up in a shelter where their future remains uncertain.” Read more

Three Reasons You Still Need a Will, Regardless of the Estate Tax

FamilyWe heard so much about the “Fiscal Cliff” a few months back, and after all that talk and all the headlines, for most people, the change in the Estate Tax didn’t really change a thing — you still need a Will. Here’s why.

1. The Estate Tax doesn’t decide who raises your children.
We hear it all the time: “I don’t have any assets so I don’t need a Will.” But you do have children, and the change in the Estate Tax isn’t going to name guardians to take care of them if something happens to you.

When both parents die, the Georgia Probate Court will look to see who the parents named as guardians for their children in their Wills. If there are no Wills, then the Probate Court decides who will raise them.

Even if you aren’t sure about the person you choose, you are going to make a better informed choice than a Judge who never met you, and won’t meet your children, your in-laws, siblings, and parents until the Probate Court hearing where they’ll be fighting it out. Read more

Your Death Be Not Proud in a Digital Cloud

EmailShakespeare wrote “The email that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with the bones.” (See Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2.) (It’s sort of there.)

The email lives on? Sure thing. The person may have died, but the funeral home package doesn’t include embalming the deceased’s email account, which likely holds saved and unread mail with comments, remarks, links, ads, articles you meant to read, appropriate and inappropriate jokes (from others, of course), and God only knows what else. Read more

Even You (Yes, You!) Can Create an Endowment

Money with bowYes you can.

We’ve given out the candy on All Hallow’s Eve. We’ve harvested and given thanks. Soon we’ll share good tidings of comfort and joy.

So this is a perfect time to consider a painless way to do something charitable. Actually, two painless ways.

One way is not going to cost you a penny more than what you are spending already.

The other way will cost you next to nothing.

Neither way will change your cash flow during your lifetime. And when you die, you’ll trigger a spectacular donation to the charity of your choice for any purpose you specify. Voilà: your personal endowment.

Here’s how this happens. Read more

The Age of Tax Aquarius (This is the waning of . . . )

Peace and Love BusThese days are the tax equivalent of when the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars. Congress and IRS have put two things in force which create an unusual tax-saving opportunity between now and year’s end. It is the 2012 equivalent of the days of Aquarius – at least between now and December 31.

The opportunity starts with the much-maligned Estate Tax Credit. Rail if you must, curse if you’d like. But its disappearance doesn’t appear on anybody’s agenda.

So you can presume that the Tax Credit is either going to (a) stay at $5.12 million; (b) shrink to $1 million; (c) end up somewhere in between; (d) head up GA Hwy. 372 towards Ballground, GA.

It doesn’t really matter. But what could make a big difference to you is if you’re holding on to assets which produce income that you’re not spending or using. Read more

Can’t Get Health Insurance? New Law Says You Can.

StethoscopeThanks to a new law, someone who couldn’t buy health insurance before can buy it now.  Guaranteed.   And this new law applies to virtually anyone who’s stuck.

Think of someone with a pre-existing condition who cannot get an individual policy or coverage under group health insurance.

Think of someone whose COBRA coverage has run out.

How about someone who doesn’t qualify for Social Security? Or someone 65 or older who doesn’t qualify for Medicare? Even a disabled person under age 65 who can’t get Medicare because he or she hasn’t been disabled long enough.

And really, a person’s age doesn’t matter at all. Or a person’s work history: even a person who’s starting a new business and who can’t get insurance because of a pre-existing health problem and doesn’t have enough employees yet to get a group policy.

What matters is they can’t get health insurance coverage.

Here’s the antidote: the “Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program” (“PCIP” for short). Read more