Beckett Law - December 2018


Beckett Law, LLC

Peace of Mind. Not a Piece of Paper TM Estate Planning Law Center, LLC

The Joy of the Holidays Is in the Traditions

The great thing about holiday traditions is that everyone has their own. Some families get Christmas pajamas every year, and others still do stockings hung by the chimney with care. Some whip up a feast for breakfast, and others have store-bought cinnamon rolls. Some even ignore the holiday altogether — I heard one guy decided to binge-watch the entire season of “Making a Murderer” on Dec. 25. For the longest time, it was just my oldest daughter and me, which made Christmas a pretty quiet holiday. Now that six kids roam the halls of Beckett Manor, the house is filled with laughter, noise and activity on Christmas morning. Each child is up at the crack of dawn — let’s be honest, long before dawn! — unable to contain their excitement. Of course, we always have way too many gifts under the tree. I try to really listen to what the kids say they want throughout the year, and I’ll buy it while I’m thinking of it. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I’m done buying presents. I feel great for a New York second, pat myself on the back for another year well done … and then … I start seeing all the cute Christmas stuff. So, I buy a few more little

“Watching them embrace the idea of “it’s better to give than to receive” has been a source of joy for me every holiday season.”

things that are too charming to resist, and then I’m done. But then, of course, I see one more small gift I know someone will love, so I buy that too. I’m done. Okay, who am I kidding? Once I start gift wrapping and realize it’s not 100 percent equal and someone has a bigger pile than someone else — because you know they’ll count how many presents they each got — then I have to run to CVS or Walgreens and try to figure out something last minute. This year, it’s definitely going to be different! I’m done. I think. My kids enjoy the gifts I buy, but they also love the presents they make themselves. Every year, each child creates something from scratch for all the others. One year, my oldest made wooden coasters with pictures burned into them. My boys often give coupons offering to clean the house or do something thoughtful, and Nara always makes something wonderful. Watching them embrace the idea of “It’s better to give than to receive” has been a source of joy for me every holiday season. Don’t get me wrong — they love their gifts, but they also show genuine joy for giving too. After presents, my mother and brother might come over for a late brunch — the more, the merrier.

house to open just one present –and then it’s off to my friend Cindy’s house for a delightful evening. If you’ve ever seen a big Italian family gathering, take that and double it. Cindy took over the holiday festivities from her mother, Madeline, a few years ago, and now 50 or 60 — or more — of her relatives and friends celebrate the evening at her small house in Glastonbury. There’s lots of wonderful food, and I catch up with everyone I haven’t seen since the year before. It’s the most welcoming environment, and I love that Cindy and her family have included me in their tradition for the past 45 years. What’s better than old friends? I hope everyone finds joy with friends and family this holiday season. If you don’t, just call me and we’ll head over to Cindy’s.

Perhaps the greatest compliment you can give our firm is a referral. Referrals are our favorite way to grow our firm, as we are very choosy about the clients we work with. We find that our clients tend to refer friends and family who hold similar values, and those are the ones we most enjoy helping. If you know someone who would benefit from our services, please ask them to give us a call.

–Suzann Beckett

While Christmas Day is fun, Christmas Eve is pretty special too. We always go to my parents’


Peace of Mind. Not a Piece of Paper TM



UseThis Upcoming Year to Properly Plan Growing older is a fact of life, but as the new year rolls around, people often find themselves pondering their own life journeys. Some follow the “new year, new me” adage by setting resolutions and working hard to achieve them, while others sit back and reflect on the years that have passed. No matter how you ring in the new year, our team here would like to encourage you to think about protecting your future as one of your New Year’s resolutions. You can plan ahead by preparing a few simple legal documents to ensure that your medical and financial wishes will be carried out by someone you know and trust if you find yourself unable to speak or act for yourself someday. One of the ways you can do this is by granting someone “power of attorney.” Health-Care Power of Attorney You may appoint a health care representative through a health care power of attorney . This representative will be allowed to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. You can give this person broad or limited powers, which can include the ability to consent to surgery, withhold medical treatment, and hire or fire doctors and other health care personnel. We recommend you give a copy of this document to your primary care physician so that it is already in your chart if needed. Financial Power of Attorney You may appoint someone to handle your financial affairs through a financial power of attorney . Again, you can give someone very broad powers, covering the right to open your mail, pay your everyday expenses, file and pay your taxes, maintain your property, collect benefits, and invest money. Or, you can limit the powers to a specific action, such as signing documents at a real estate closing that you cannot attend in person. A financial power of attorney is a very powerful document; we recommend you only sign one original and that you know where it is at all times to minimize the opportunity for misuse. We believe these documents should be drafted with the particular person and situation in mind and are strongly against using preprinted forms which may not be fully understood. These documents protect you and should be taken seriously. If you don’t have POAs in place, or if they’re more than a year old, please give our office a call at 860-236-1111. We can help you make this simple New Year’s resolution come true.

Planning for and navigating retirement is the most pressing financial concern for older adults. While understanding how to budget and spend as you approach and enter retirement is crucial, it’s far from the only issue that seniors face. Last year, a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) investigated the most commonly reported complaints the organization had received from adults age 62 and older. Aside from retirement savings, here are the five major issues reported by seniors. Debt The number of seniors and retirees with debt is at an all-time high. Many seniors carry excessive debt in order to ease the burden on their children and grandchildren. Some still have student debt from their college years or other outstanding loans. Others turn to credit cards to defray a surprise cost like a medical emergency. If you’re in danger of falling behind on payments, contact your lenders before opening a new credit account. Reverse Mortgages Many seniors have reverse mortgages, which allow them to buy into home equity provided they repay it when the property is sold. In this mortgage structure, however, people still need to pay property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. These mortgages can end up being a trap for seniors, which is why Jean Setzfand, a senior vice president at AARP, refers to them as a last resort. Scams and Identity Theft Sadly, many identity thieves and cybercriminals target the elderly. While your credit report can be corrected after such an event, many seniors are unequipped to deal with the process. The best defense is to check your statements often to ensure that any foul behavior is caught as early as possible. Confusion Regarding Fees Many seniors reported charges they didn’t understand to the CFPB. Often, they were signed up for subscriptions they didn’t use or weren’t sure how interest was being calculated. As with identity theft, monitoring your statements for unusual charges is the best way to avoid this source of stress. Loss of a Spouse The loss of a spouse presents challenges much greater than the financial burden, but that is often a major part of navigating the death of your partner. Accessing bank accounts and other assets can prove difficult, especially if it was the deceased who primarily managed the finances. Working with a financial planner or elder law attorney can help make this process less daunting.


Bankruptcy Doesn’t Have to Be a Bad Thing

3 Successful People Who Declared Bankruptcy

There is a stigma attached to the word “bankruptcy.” Between our society’s belief that money means success and the simultaneous idea that admitting your shortcomings means weakness of character, it’s no wonder people shy away from even considering bankruptcy as an option to fixing their financial plight. Desperately struggling people buy into the theory that bankruptcy is the ultimate failure and wrongly believe it destroys credit scores and the ability to borrow forever. This is contrary to our experience, which is that bankruptcy is an important tool in the toolbox needed to regain financial stability. The process of declaring bankruptcy can help you discover your strengths and learn from past mistakes. You’d be surprised how many people have filed bankruptcy and gone on to great success, including: Walt Disney Disney was a pioneer in character animation and perhaps one of the most innovative businessmen in history. Walt filed bankruptcy in 1920, and his company filed in 1923, but he went on to enjoy tremendous success in the entertainment industry. Donald Trump

City. Then several more of his casinos and hotels went bust in 1992. It happened again in 2004 and 2009. Despite the bankruptcies, he’s been incredibly successful in the political arena. Burt Reynolds As one of the biggest stars in Hollywood in the ‘70s, Reynolds spent his money lavishly, owning mansions, a helicopter, restaurants, and a ranch in Florida. By 1996, he owed creditors $10 million and had to declare bankruptcy. He regrouped and, at his death, was believed to be worth more than $5 million. The point is … you’re not alone. If you or someone you know is facing financial stress, considering bankruptcy, or just wants additional information, please feel free to reach out to our team.

Trump has never personally filed for bankruptcy, but his companies have filed six times. The first time was in 1991, with the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic


Only Give to Reputable Charities. Do some research before donating to charities. Look up any prospective charity on Charity Navigator at This service flags “high concern” organizations suspected of fraud and ranks how reliable established charities are. Even legitimate organizations can be misleading about how they spend their donations. A good rule of thumb is to avoid organizations that spend more than 25 percent of donations on salaries or administrative costs.

During the season of giving, charities receive a much-needed rush of donations as people open their hearts to others. Unfortunately, criminals are all too willing to abuse this goodwill. According to a report from the Justice Department, Americans over the age of 60 lose over $3 billion a year to scams and fraudsters. As charity scams reach their peak, here’s what you need to do to ensure your donations aren’t lining the pockets of criminals. Never Give by Phone or Email. Charities regularly reach out to past and potential donors through traditional mail, email, phone calls, or text messages. This means fraudsters will mimic their approach with less noble intentions. Because it’s impossible to determine who is on the other end of a call or email, you should never hand over your credit card information to strangers. If you really are speaking to a representative from a legitimate charity, they will direct you to a secure avenue where you can give without worry. Feeling Pressured? Walk Away. A lot of charities set goals they want to reach before the new year, but even groups that are hoping to raise a certain amount of money know better than to pressure donors into giving. Donations should always come from the heart, and it’s a bad sign if someone insists there’s a deadline for giving. As the Better Business Bureau says, “Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow as much as they do today.”

There are many amazing charities and organizations that do good work. Stay vigilant to make sure you are bringing joy to the world and not falling for a criminal looking to make a quick buck.

3 888-336-1212

Beckett Law, LLC Estate Planning Law Center, LLC


If you need legal or other assistance, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Even if it is in a practice area we don’t handle, we can help you find an excellent attorney or other professional. We can even call ahead and introduce you, which is better than finding someone through Google. We’re here to help in any way we can.

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the characters sing at the end of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” If you want to make Christmas caroling part of your holiday traditions, we have some tips to help make your outing the best ever. Plan Early Calendars fill up fast around the holidays, so if you want to include people outside of your household in your caroling party, send out invitations early. You don’t want your caroling gathering to be a bust because all your guests had other plans. Have Songs Picked Out Will your caroling group perform classics like “Silent Night” or something silly like “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”? Get everyone on the same page, print out sheet music, and practice before the big night. Christmas Traditions Mean Everything Financial Struggles Older Adults Face What Does It Mean to Give Someone Power of Attorney? These People Declared Bankruptcy and Still Found Success Scammed for the Holidays The Ultimate Christmas Caroling Checklist

Here We Come A-Wassailing In some families, caroling is an annual event, while others stick to watching PLAN YOUR FAMILY’S CHRISTMAS CAROLING PARTY

Dress for Success Some carolers wear matching scarves, while others go out in full Victorian- inspired costumes. Whatever dress code you decide on, dress for what the temperature will be after dark. You don’t want your caroling to get cut short because of frostbite. If you are caroling outdoors, add reflective tape and flashing lights to your clothing so your party can be seen by passing cars. Don’t Make Everyone Sing One of your kids may be ready to rock around the Christmas tree, but what if another would rather get coal in their stocking than sing in public? That’s okay! Nonsingers can still participate in caroling by ringing silver bells or handing out candy canes at the door. Bring Gifts Small goodies like bottles of cider, homemade Christmas cookies, or candy canes are always sure to spread holiday cheer.

Keep the Party Going! After a night of singing your heart out, everyone deserves a treat. When you get back home, enjoy some traditional wassail or hot chocolate. Warm up, enjoy leftover cookies, and spend time with your loved ones.


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