Tag Archive for: financial advisor

But It Avoids Probate! It’ll Be Fine! Nothing Bad Ever Happens!

Are we entitled to stocks from Uncle who removed Father as POD from Grandmothers account by mail when Grandma had dementia?

Grandma had severe dementia. Our Dad passed away and both him and my Uncle were POD beneficiary on her stock account.

Our Uncle requested a new account be opened removing our Dad as POD by mail. Grandma was not in her right mind and did not know what she signed. Uncle controlled all her finances. Paying her bill etc. He had undue influence over her. He wrote checks to his son in large amounts before she passed. He told us he would transfer our Fathers portion of stocks to us but then changed his mind and told broker not to do it. He now claims they are all his and we don’t get our Fathers portion. Grandma had a will that my Uncle now claims is missing so she died intestate. Bank statements tell the story of money he has taken before and after her passing. Grandma always told us and said it in her will everything was to be split between everyone. A neutral administrator is going to be appointed but the stock account has not been included in probate. How do we get our fathers portion of stocks. There is only my sister, Uncle and myself remaining.

There are two things going on here. First, Truth and Consequences of Grandma taking the easy way out by naming beneficiaries on stuff. Second, nefarious Uncle embezzling and undue influencing Grandma.

Truth And Consequences Of Taking The Easy Way Out

Avoid probate is great! Ask anybody. Beneficiary designations are great! Ask anybody. But are “Pay On Death” or “Transfer On Death” orders really the best? What if things go sideways? What if the world does not unfold the way you think it should?

Financial Advisors, Attorneys, Your Uncle Charlie and common sense all say that your kids will outlive you, so why not name them on your Individual Retirement Account, Life Insurance, Bank Accounts, Stock Accounts, and (God forbid!) your real estate (through the “lady bird deed”). This idea of “naming people” is easy, cheap, seductive, and actually works some of the time. But what if the Magic 8 Ball says: “Don’t Count On It” or “Outlook Not So Good”? Then what? Our letter writer is discovering what happens when Grandma assumes too much.

Uncle gets “Dad’s share” of Grandma’s stock account. But there’s nothing wrong with that! Grandma named her sons as “transfer on death” (TOD) beneficiaries. But Dad had to survive Grandma to be a TOD beneficiary. Uncle started out to be generous and kind and sharing. But he had a change of heart (not unusual when money is concerned) and decided to keep it all. As was his legal right. Could Grandma have taken other action (Hint: like a trust) to make sure that the surviving children of her deceased son (that’s our letter writer) did not miss out on the stocks? Yes. But she did not.

Bottom Line #1: When Dad died before Grandma, his entitlement (and his kids) to Grandma’s stock account lapsed. Kaput. Done. Over. Gone With The Wind.

Bottom Line #2: What if I misunderstood the letter and Dad died AFTER Grandma? If he survived by 72 hours, his estate would be entitled to the TOD share. And then Dad’s descendants would take through Dad’s estate. And the Broker could not simply give the money to Uncle, but would have to pay half to Dad’s estate.

Uncle Judas Betrays Niece And Nephew

There is a special place (an especially terrible place) in Hell reserved for those who betray their family members. It’s right next door to the Great Satan and populated with creative imps and demons whose sole delight is torture.

There are special laws, on this side of the Great Divide, to deal with those who financially exploit their family members. Especially terrible consequences for those who take advantage of vulnerable parents and older folks. Did Uncle exercise undue influence? Were the withdrawals legitimately authorized by Grandma or greedily embezzled by Uncle?

Bottom Line: Grandma depended on Uncle. Uncle controlled all finances. Uncle gave Grandma’s money to his own immediate family members. Uncle is accused of wrongdoing, undue influence, financial abuse of the elderly, embezzlement.

On the criminal side, Uncle is entitled to the presumption of innocence. It must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Uncle is guilty.

But on the civil side, it is different. When it comes to undue influence, fiduciary Uncle is presumed guilty (liable). Uncle must prove that there was no undue influence. Good luck with that!

Take Away Lesson: Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Half-planning measures like TOD beneficiary designations and failure to comprehensively plan open the door to exploitation. Not everyone resists temptation. If Uncle is guilty, he deserves the consequences, no excuses. But prudent planning would both limit evil Uncle’s ability to commit dastardly deeds and prevent weak Uncle from giving in to his all-too-common greedy impulses.

Opposites Attract
Ya Gotta Do What Ya Gotta Do
Not Really Kidnapping
Do It For The Children

She Said We Were Going Out To Dinner…
What Happened Next Changed Our Lives Forever

A Friday night in July. Hot. Humid. Threat of thunderstorms. Sue, a retired teacher, wheels the red Jeep Cherokee to the front door. Bob, an engineer, hops in, a bit mystified. “Where are we going?” he asks. “Your favorite steak place… Rico’s Rocket Room. But first, a special pre-dinner appetizer…” she mysteriously replies. After 30 years of wedded bliss, Bob wisely refrains from further comment and settles down for the ride.

Most married couples are not a matched set. Opposites do attract. She likes paisley, chintz, and patterned wallpaper. He prefers solid primary colors, leather, and walnut paneling. You say, “Spare the rod and spoil the child!” Your loving spouse whacks you in the head (figuratively!) with Doctor Spock’s “Baby and Child Care” book (also known as “How to Coddle a Criminal”). You “Rutabaga”. You say “Potato.” Loving spouse says “My sister and her family are coming to visit for a week. With my mom.” You say, well you say nothing at all. Or maybe, “Gosh, that’ll be nice.”

Couples who endure find ways of coping. Some delight joyfully in daily surprises dished up by their spouse. Others do not.

Noted finance guru, author, radio show host, and all-around wonderful fellow Dave Ramsey has observed: human beings are either natural spenders or natural savers. Not that there is anything wrong with either. But as you well know, natural savers overwhelmingly marry natural spenders. And vice versa. Sometimes this does not work. Debt. Fights. Divorce. But sometimes it works well. Balance. Harmony. Peace.

As a teacher, Sue is a natural planner. Lesson plans, grades, dates, times, objectives. Order. Sequence. Schedule. Engineer Bob thrills to the daily challenges he must solve.

An overloaded dam. A rusting bridge. Floods. Washouts. Emergency. Danger. Solution.

Two great workers who work great together. But after 30 years, they still only have the Last Will and Testament drawn up when they first had kids. Sue hears the clock ticking. Sue has reserved seats at the LifePlan™ Workshop several times now. Bob has always had an “emergency.” Of some sort. Including a dinner special at Rico’s Rocket Room…

Whose Fault When Nursing Home Poverty Strikes Middle-Class Savers?

Sue and Bob are just like your friends. Just like the folks at church. Little or no debt. Lifesavings. Home. Taking one day at a time and making the most of it. Confidence based on accomplishment. Security founded on savings. Sue and Bob recognize that they’re not experts on everything. A financial advisor helps. Medicare and Medicare Supplement insurance secure their future medical needs.

So who is to blame when middle-class folks, just like Sue and Bob, have to exhaust their lifesavings on long-term care? And give up their security. Fall into nursing home poverty? Did the Financial Advisor screw up? Is the Medicare Supplement insurance agent at fault? Somebody must have done something wrong… right?

Are You Stepping Into The Long-Term Care Trap?

Bottom Line: 70% of Americans need long-term care services for an average of 3+ years. 20% need long-term care for 5+ years. According to the federal government. Look it up. https://acl.gov/ltc You may not be interested in long-term care. But long-term care is interested in you.

Read On… To Learn The Rest Of The Story

Financial Advisors try to keep your money safe. And grow it too! Safe Money Plans claim to ride the market elevator up, but not down. Mutual funds, stocks, bonds, portfolio theory, annuities, retirement-year funds. They have charts and spreadsheets and glossy brochures. Have you ever been to a boat show? Salesmen, proposals, financing charts… You come home with a shopping bag full… Some financial advisors are kind of like that. Information overload… and all to do with: #1 Not losing your money in the market. And #2 Growing your money safely. All about investments and the market. But nothing about long-term care..

What about the Medicare agents? Medicare and Medicare Supplement insurance are intended, designed, and operate to make sure that seniors get top-shelf medical care. Need an operation? Medicare! Sick in hospital? Medicare! Broke hip? Medicare! But if you need long-term care for a chronic condition… dementia, physical disability… You are on your own! Sure, Medicare will help with rehabilitation, for a whole 20 days! And 80 more days, with a $170/day co-pay. If you qualify for rehabilitation. Which you will not.

Traditional estate planning lawyers want no part of this. Estate planning is all about when you die. Who gets the leftover stuff? How can we stop the kids from fighting over it? That is their concern. Foolish! When long-term care gobbles up all your stuff, there are no leftovers. Nothing for your estate plan to do.

Here is a crazy idea: What if we first made sure that you did NOT go broke? What if you could avoid nursing home and long-term care poverty?

Traditional planning leads to nursing home and long-term care poverty.

LifePlanning™ is the “Rest of the Story.” LifePlanning™ delivers freedom and choice. Sue and Bob earned the freedom to choose. By working. Saving. Doing all the right things. And they still fail, depending on Financial Advisors and Medicare. They were close, but…

A baseball that soars over the fence is called a homerun. A baseball that nicks the top of the fence and falls into the centerfielder’s glove is called an out. The celebrating football player who drops the ball one foot short of the goal line has a fumble. The one who protects the ball over the line has a touchdown. An almost win is a fail. A real win is a triumph… for you, for your family.

Why Should You Get Stuck With The Bill?

As anyone can see, rich folks have it made. Were you surprised when leaked IRS records proved that billionaires pay little or no federal taxes? Me neither.

Folks who have no resources cannot pay. Simple as that. Last I heard, you still cannot get blood out of a turnip. So I say, poor folks get services for free.

The rich have fixed things so they do not pay. The poor have no ability to pay. Who does that leave? Who gets stuck with the bill? Who pays for it all?

You do. Sue and Bob do. Middle Class foots the bill. Which sucks. Of course, it is nothing new. Other people have always counted on you. For your entire life. To do the job. Follow through. Pay taxes. Volunteer. Pitch in. Donate to charity. Bring something home-made to the potluck. And I pray you never change. Keep on smiling. Be reasonable, cheerful, action oriented. Do not let them get you down.

But gee… why do you have to go broke when your spouse needs long-term care?

Why Do They Say YOU Are Greedy?

They get care for free or without sacrifice. Sue and Bob are charged the highest rates and are wrung out to dry in a few months. Broke. All we ask is to keep some, a little bit. They say “No!” Take those Required Minimum Distributions… Pay the in- come tax. Too bad if grandkids need help. Sorry if you want to provide for your spouse… or yourself. Want to pay a little bit forward? Nope. You did work for it, but too bad. What the hell makes that OK?

Are You Selfish Because You Help Family First?

Sue and Bob are not selfish. Yes, some people are unlucky. True, bad things happen to good people. But seriously, some people are shortsighted and self-centered. They must have the new boat/car/ snowmobile/TV/cruise/whatever right now. Some sacrifice security for pleasure. Greedy, selfish people do exist. Bad decisions are made. We will take care of them all. No problem. But Sue and Bob want to take care of their own family first… how can that possibly be a bad thing?

I Expected A Cocktail And Hot Hors D’Oeuvres,
I Got An Oatmeal Raisin Cookie and A Bottle of Water

Minutes passed, miles rolled away, and Bob grew curious. “C’mon Sue, where are we going?” “You’ll see!” was her only reply. On arrival, a friendly young man greeted them. He handed over name badges, information folder and fresh-baked oatmeal raisin cookies. They chose bottled water over coffee. Sue and Bob were directed to their reserved seats. Several other couples, just like Sue and Bob, were there as well. Sue had finally gotten Bob to a LifePlan™ Workshop.

After introducing himself, the attorney conducting the Workshop asked if there were any questions.

Bob raised his hand… “What is this all about? Sue said we were going to dinner and here I am!” “Well dear,” said Sue, “this is that estate planning seminar we keep scheduling and cancelling…” “That’s fine,” said Bob, directing his comments to the attorney, “but there’s really only one thing that bothers me, and it keeps me up at night… what if I get dementia and need a nursing home… we’ve got a little saved, but what happens to Sue?”

That Workshop was the best! Sue had no idea that these questions were eating at Bob every day. He was even more concerned than she had been. She was surprised at the number of his questions. I was impressed with his analysis.

I don’t know what happened at Rico’s Rocket Room, or after… but Sue and Bob have turned out to be one of my favorite couples of all time.

Is It Kidnapping If It’s Your Spouse?

Getting your spouse to a LifePlan™ Workshop under false pretenses may be a bit extreme. But it is not kidnapping. Usually. Besides, desperate times call for desperate measures… You may not be sure exactly what to do.

As I see it, once you have decided to plan, you have three choices:

First: Same Old, Same Old

GOOGLE estate planning attorneys. Or look in the Yellow Pages. Ask friends. Check out billboards on the highway. Set appointments with several. Spread your personal information all over town. Thoroughly interview each. Ask questions. Get fuzzy answers. Lots of legalese. This will be great!

Second: Do Absolutely Nothing

Who wants to plan anyway? Spend all that time and money for what? A will or trust? Peace of mind… who needs it? You do not need that security. You like exactly where you are. Get exactly what you have always gotten. Acid indigestion. Insomnia. Migraines. This is as good as it gets.

Third: LifePlan™ Workshop – Kidnapping Optional

Try it, you’ll like it! Don’t give up your current plan right now. LifePlanTM Workshops are happening all over the place. Check it out. Once again offering those famous fresh-baked oatmeal raisin cookies. Sixty eye-opening minutes. You will be glad you did.

There’s no need to fear, the LifePlanTM Workshop is here!

Which Is Easiest For You?

Let’s see…
#1: Track down lawyers. Set appointments. Go to offices. Get third degree. Research. Try to pick… One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Four…
#2: Sit Still and Go Broke.
#3: Sixty lively minutes. Getting the “Rest of the Story!”

Which one is easiest? Which most likely to help you to security and peace of mind?

Why Not Get It Done In Twenty-One?

I fear 2020 was a year of wasted opportunity for regular families. Devastating. The good news is that 2021 is rebounding! More families planning than ever!

Got Questions? Get Answers!



You know how it is. Everybody has something to say. And each one says something different. It is a whole choir singing flat: Financial Advisor. Accountant. Next-door neighbor. Friend from church’s lawyer. That get-out-of-debt guy on the radio. That financial guru woman on public television. Confusing? Yes. Here’s the straight story…

Probate Works Like This. It’s Simple.

1. You run into Meijer (or Spartan Stores or D&W) for a loaf of bread. Before you know it, your arms are full of items you cannot live without. And you are in control of that stuff.
2. But then: You slip and fall! Whoops… the stuff goes flying and makes a big mess. You had total control. Then you had none.
3. Clean Up On Aisle 3!
4. The janitor comes out to clean up your mess. The janitor takes your stuff and decides what to do with it. Where it goes. How it gets there. According to Janitor Rules.

Translation: Here is How Probate Works!

1. You earned and saved. Now you have stuff. Not groceries, but your home, insurance, investments, furniture, automobile, stocks, bonds. You have control. You earned it. It is all in your name.
2. But then: You died. You became disabled. You lost control.
3. Now nobody controls your stuff anymore. Not you. Not anyone else. But somebody has got to figure out what to do with your leftovers… And that’s the job of Probate Court… figuring out what to do with the leftovers.
4. Now a big chunk of your lifesavings goes to probate attorneys and a bit more to probate court.
5. Your beneficiaries get the rest. You hope.

But My Will Avoids Probate! Doesn’t It?

Wills do not avoid probate at all. Your will is nothing but a nice letter to the janitor, asking nicely that the janitor will do as you ask:

Last Will & Testament

Dear Janitor,
When I have slipped and fallen and you find my stuff, please let my spouse/child/someone special help you.
Please pay any bills that you get. Please advertise to see if anyone else wants to claim any of my money. Do not forget to pay yourself and anyone who helps you!

Please do not use your usual rules, but give my stuff to the following folks: 1,2,3…
Thanks Janitor!

Person Who Did Only a Will.

Remember: The Will does not do anything except tell the Probate Court where you want the leftover stuff to go. If anyone finds it. Then reads it. Then follows it. And if no one else complains.

  • If sole ownership and death, then Mess.
  • If Mess, then Probate.
  • If Probate, then Will.
  • If no Mess, no Probate.
  • If no Probate, Nothing for Will to do.

Get the information you need to avoid the janitor! Call 1-800-317-2812