L.A.F.F. LAW ADVOCACY FAMILY FINANCE A monthly newsletter providing your family with insight about the law and finance (with an occasional dose of humor) from your friends and advocates at DuPont Wealth Solutions and the Law Offices of DuPont and Blumenstiel.
I FOUGHT THE LAWN AND THE LAWN WON
Around this time of year, gardening enthusiasts everywhere begin to receive magazines and catalogs in the mail, full of planting advice and ambitious landscaping ideas. These publications used to get me fired up! However, through some introspection and a lot of wilted lettuce, I’ve since decided to leave the lawn work to the professionals.
Nowadays, my gardening is restricted to puttering around. I still receive the same glossy magazines in the mail, but I’ve learned to regard their pictures and advice as suspect. I still keep a vegetable patch, though it grows more modest every year. I used to plant squash, peppers, tomatoes, and the aforementioned lettuce every year. Now I struggle just to get tomatoes in the ground before Memorial Day. Some people may find it ironic that a fiduciary and financial planner would have a hard time gardening. After all, the whole financial industry is steeped in agricultural metaphor: seed money, growing your investments, planning a fruitful retirement. You’d think the skills would translate better between the two practices, right? Well, it all goes back to my point about mundanity. Both financial planning and gardening demand a high tolerance for minutiae. You need to be able to have a deep and lasting interest in the little, detail-oriented facets of your craft day in and
“THE YARD WAS A BLANK
day out. It’s possible to possess that sort of passion for finance but lack it in gardening, and vice versa. That’s why I have a gardener, and my gardener has me! Still, as I write this, I feel that old, familiar excitement growing in me. If I’m being honest, I already Googled the price of tomato stakes at my local hardware store. And nothing beats the taste of a garden-fresh tomato in the middle of summer. If any of my clients with a green thumb out there have advice on how to keep these vines growing, please email me!
CANVAS, ONE THAT MY BURPEE CATALOG AND I WOULD TURN INTO A VIRIDIAN PARADISE.”
When Julia and I first got our house, it was new. There was no planting or landscaping to speak of. The yard was a blank canvas, one that my Burpee catalog and I would turn into a viridian paradise. Each year, I started the spring with pep in my step, embarking on the most ambitious projects I could find.
To your fruitful future,
But when it came to the mundane, everyday maintenance of pruning and watering, my enthusiasm waned. For 20 years, I labored in futility, watching the dreams of April die on the vine in August. Finally, I decided to hire one of my clients to do my yard work. That was a liberating decision. He does great work, and my back doesn’t ache as badly anymore.
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GARDENING: BRINGING FAMILY TOGETHER
WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER INVESTING IN A FAMILY GARDEN
After spending a winter cooped up inside with your family, there might be a little tension between everyone. Fortunately, it’s spring, and the warm weather, melting snow, and blooming flowers offer a good way to ease restlessness. This season, why not bring your family closer together by starting a family garden? A LEARNING EXPERIENCE Nearly every step in the gardening process can be a learning experience for kids and parents alike. Begin by discussing where you should start and why, what supplies you’ll need, and the types of plants you want to grow. Gardening also offers opportunities to learn about science, ecology, and nutrition. COLLABORATION Gardening gives your family a chance to collaborate. When you’re stuck inside for long periods, you may be spending time together, but it’s usually not quality time. Working in a group to create and maintain One of the most important services we provide atThe Law Offices of DuPont & Blumenstiel is helping folks plan a path forward when they find themselves overwhelmed with debt.There’s no worse feeling than having fallen into a financial hole you can’t lift yourself out of.That’s why bankruptcy exists — it’s a lifeline for individuals, families, and companies with no other means of settling their debt. Unfortunately, declaring bankruptcy is a rather complex issue.There’s a daunting amount of paperwork to complete, and countless nitty-gritty details must be considered before committing to a filing. While everyone has unique factors that will affect this decision, there are a few big-picture questions to consider. Which Chapter AreYou Eligible For? The first decision you have to make when filing is whether to pursue Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 is harder to qualify for, because you need to show that your income is lower than that of a median household in your state.To make matters worse, Congress has their own way of calculating your average income, which may make it appear higher than it is in practice.
a garden is a hands-on experience for everyone. It’s a chance to get the whole family involved with a single project, and you can literally share the fruits of your labor. DECIDING ON PLANTS When it comes to deciding which plants you want in your garden, there are many variables to consider. Do you want to grow edible plants, ones that have magnificent blossoms, or ones that are easy to care for? Flowers are a good start if you want a plant that grows a little faster; plus, they lend a pop of color to your garden. Growing vegetables is also rewarding, as the kids will take great pleasure in eating what they’ve grown. Other possibilities include sunflowers, blackberries, peas, and lettuce. You might be surprised at how willingly children eat their greens when they’ve had a hand in growing them. Family gardens can bring something new and fresh to your home. So, get outside, enjoy the sun, and discover the joys of plants and gardening.
THE INS AND OUTS OF BANKRUPTCY
THINK BEFORE YOU FILE
wastes time and money, so it’s worth getting this right the first time. When you are eligible for either chapter, keep the following considerations in mind.
DoYou Have a Co-Debtor? When you are filing for bankruptcy, it’s important to consider who else may be affected — especially any other persons or organizations that share a liability to your debt. When you file for Chapter 7, your co-debtors will be left holding the bag, meaning debt collectors will almost certainly go after them, too. Filing Chapter 13 prevents this offloading of responsibility. DoYou Have Nonexempt Property? Chapter 7 bankruptcy only lets you keep property that is protected from creditors by state and federal law. If you own property that falls outside of these narrow exclusions and don’t want to see it repossessed, Chapter 13 may be a better option. While you are not fully off the hook for your debts, there is greater leeway for what property you get to keep. These are just a few of the factors we take into consideration when you schedule a bankruptcy consultation with us. We know everyone’s financial needs and goals are different, which is why we’re committed to finding you the best route back to financial solvency.
Having an expert bankruptcy attorney on your side can ensure you pursue the chapter you qualify for from the beginning. Having a filing rejected
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WILLS AND TRUSTS
KNOW THE DIFFERENCE
Wills and trusts are both important for preserving your estate and legacy after you’re gone. However, these two legal arrangements aren’t the same thing. We often hear these two words used interchangeably or have clients ask us which would be better for them.This month, we’re here to set the record straight on the differences between wills and trusts and why they are not mutually exclusive. Wills A will is a legal arrangement that serves several important functions. It is used to designate your children’s legal guardians, details how you want your assets distributed, and allows you to name an executor to oversee this distribution to your beneficiaries. Whether it’s a meticulously typed document or handwritten, for a will to be valid in the state of Ohio, two witnesses who are not named within the will must be present when you endorse it. The important thing to remember with wills is that they are all subject to probate.This court process goes into the public record, determines the validity of the will, considers any objections, and pays any remaining creditors. Probate can take several months.The probate process is even longer if you die without a will.
Trusts A trust is a relationship in which you assign your assets through another legal entity, called a trustee.The trustee can be an individual, a bank, or an attorney, and the trustee is then responsible for transferring your assets to your beneficiaries.This keeps the transfer of your estate private and often avoids the need for probate entirely. Unlike a will, a trust doesn’t allow you to name a chosen guardian for your children, dictate funeral arrangements, or determine who gets personal property items that were not specifically named within the trust. This is why the two arrangements work well hand in hand.Trusts can keep your loved ones out of prolonged probate proceedings, while a will can ensure the minors in your family are looked after and the broad strokes of your last wishes are carried out.
MINT PEA SOUP
With the beautiful spring weather, peas will soon be ripe enough to slip out of their pods. In honor of the season, this recipe pairs peas and pearl onions with mint to make a refreshing soup.
3 pearl onions, diced
1 tablespoon agave nectar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
6 cups fresh or frozen peas
Salt to taste
5 cups vegetable stock
Pistachios for garnish
3/4 cup fresh mint, plus more for garnish
1. Place pot on stove over
3. Put the mixture in a blender. As you blend, add mint, agave, lemon juice, and salt. 4. Once blended, pour into a bowl, garnish with mint and pistachios, and serve!
medium heat. Add olive oil. Add onions and cook until translucent. 2. Add peas and stock. Cook until
peas are just tender and still bright green. Remove from stove and allow mixture to cool for 5 minutes.
Adapted from mynewroots.org
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Growing Pains PAGE 1
Gardening: Bringing Family Together
Filing for Bankruptcy? Ask These 3 Questions First PAGE 2
Will, Trust, or Both?
Spring Greens Soup PAGE 3
3 Places to View Natural Wonders PAGE 4
NATURESCAPES the sight you might be treated to at Luminous Lagoon in Jamaica, where dinoflagellates, microscopic organisms in the water, lend their glow to the lagoon.These tiny organisms thrive in areas where salt water and fresh water meet, making the lagoon in springtime an ideal place to see them.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, you might see rare magical sights — baby turtles scuttling toward water, glowing lagoons, or a shimmering sky. But when and where do you need to be to catch these natural wonders?
Eco tip: To ensure this magical sight will remain for years to come, always go with a “pack it in, pack it out” mentality.Take all of your belongings with you when you leave and be respectful of the beautiful environment that is yours to enjoy. Northern Lights in Scandinavia - One of the most elusive natural wonders, the aurora borealis, can only be seen on dark nights in the most northern parts of the world.That makes Sweden and its Scandinavian neighbors a great place to see the phenomenon. From December through April, you’ll have your best chance of seeing the northern lights. Sightings are dependent on solar activity, so it’s impossible to predict the exact timing and location, but they’re easier to see during the longer, darker nights of winter and early spring.
SeaTurtles Hatching in Hawaii - On Oahu’s North Shore, head toTurtle Beach, which gets its name from the many turtles that nest along its shores. During late spring and summer, the waves subside,
allowing turtles to crawl onto the beach to lay their eggs. Baby turtles hatch at night and make their way to the water by the light of the moon. If you do head to the beach at night to see this spectacle, don’t use white light, as it can disrupt the turtles’ progress (that means no flash photography).
Eco tip: Look, but don’t touch! It’s illegal to touch a sea turtle in Hawaii.
Eco tip: Book your trip through a responsible travel company, such as those that practice a fair-trade policy.
Bioluminescent Plankton in Jamaica - Imagine looking out at the water as the sky gets dark and seeing it turn a bright, glowing blue.That’s
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