Creating an Estate Plan Isn’t Just aWise Decision It’s a SMART Decision
Relevant Any goals made out of hate, remorse, or strong, momentary passion usually don’t last. However, making an estate plan is a goal made with a lot of forethought and the good of your family in mind. Everyone needs to plan for what will happen after they pass away, which makes estate planning a goal that is relevant to anyone’s life. You won’t have to worry about making it a goal for the wrong reasons. Time-Bound Don’t wait until it’s too late to complete this goal. When you’re making your checklist of smaller goals, put those smaller goals on a timeline, as well. Giving yourself deadlines and finding family and friends to hold you accountable to those deadlines will help you finish creating your estate plan in no time. Even if you’re still unsure about starting the estate planning process, don’t worry. If you give Scott Counsel, PC a call at 856-281-3131, we’ll get you on the right track. With the help of an expert attorney, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing your family will be taken care of after you’re gone.
We won’t lie to you: Estate planning is a complicated process. However, it’s one worth accomplishing, if only for the sake of your loved ones’ peace of mind. This month, millions of Americans all over the country are doing their best to follow the New Year’s resolutions that they’ve dictated for themselves. Some goals might be challenging, and some of them might be impossible. If you make it your New Year’s resolution to get your estate plan in order, though, you can save your family a lot of stress and heartache after you pass away. If the process seems daunting to you, don’t worry —we can show you how to make your estate planning goal SMART. “SMART” is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. It was first coined in an article written for the journal Management Review in 1981 as a way to help business managers develop achievable goals. If creating an estate plan is your goal, the SMART framework can help you get everything squared away. Specific While it might be hard to fully understand what the entire process will entail, making it your goal to create your estate plan is much more specific than a goal to exercise more,
read more, or eat healthier. That said, there are specific steps of estate planning to keep in mind. From deciding to make a will or a trust to making health care directives, you’ll want to make sure you have all the specific steps sorted out. If it’s too overwhelming, we at Scott Counsel, PC can help. Measurable Measuring your progress toward a finished estate plan might not be as easy as measuring physical fitness or weight loss goals, but it’s definitely doable. After getting all your specific steps sorted out, you can make them into a checklist. Every smaller task in the estate planning process that you can check off is one measurable step closer to your overall goal. Achievable Thought it may be challenging, making an estate plan is achievable. Maybe the reason it’s challenging for you is because you have to think about your own death and what will happen because of it. Or, maybe it’s hard for you to make the time in your busy schedule to actually start the process. Whatever the reason for the challenge, with the support of your friends and family and the help of a qualified estate planning attorney, you can reach your goal.
Winter Safety Is ‘Cool’ for our Elders Tips for Managing Dementia in the Winter
It’s January, and we are now full swing into winter! While some of us love watching snowflakes fall and cozying up by the fireplace, the cold can pose a lot of safety risks for our loved ones with Alzheimer’s and related forms of dementia. Extremely cold weather can cause confusion in any of us, so those with dementia may experience increased confusion if not properly cared for. As a result of increased confusion, our loved ones may not be able to verbalize the feeling of cold. Make sure to help bundle them up with hats, scarves, gloves and socks when going outside, and even when they’re inside, pajamas instead of nightgowns will keep in heat better. Hypothermia sets in quicker in older adults due to poor circulation as well, so ensuring your elders are active can also help with circulation and keeping their body temperatures up.
Be sure to keep their room between 68–70 F and avoid things such as heat blankets and space heaters. A warm room can increase the risk of dehydration, so it’s important to make sure someone with dementia is eating regular meals and drinking enough fluids during the winter. There are also many other hazardous factors for our loved ones with the dementia, such as more frequent falls from slippery surfaces, wandering in the cold, and less sunlight with longer periods of sundowning. Make sure you are reading up on all the ways you can keep your loved ones safe from the cold this winter.
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Social Security in 2020 KNOWWHAT’S CHANGING
If you’re in the appropriate age bracket, Social Security may play a major role in your finances. So, it’s important to know how Social Security will be changing in 2020.
Those near the top of the Social Security income scale in 2019 will see an increase in their maximum payout in 2020. The maximum payout for an individual will be capped at $2,861 per month. That translates to $34,332 per year, so consider how that may impact your finances.
Unless Congress takes some drastic actions in the coming months, the current excess trust fund revenue will be depleted by the year 2034. If that happens, Social Security will only be able to pay 79% of the promised benefits from ongoing payroll taxes. You may need to think about what your financial plan would be like with 21% less income.
Howmuch your benefits are taxed depends on your household income levels. For example, 50% of your benefits will be taxed if youmake between $25,000–$34,000 individually or $32,000–$44,000 for married couples. If you’re above that income bracket, then 85% of your benefits will be taxable.
If you haven’t reached retirement yet, this one is important to consider. If you were born after 1959, the full retirement age is now 67 for you. You’ll still be able to start taking some benefits at age 62, but they’ll be at reduced monthly payments.
Cost of Living
Low inflation means that Social Security benefits will only see a minor cost of living increase. This year, it’s expected to be around 1.6%. It’s not major, but if you’re living off Social Security alone, every penny is important.
Ctrl, Alt, Delete Your Clutter TIPS FOR NATIONAL CLEAN UPYOUR COMPUTER MONTH
Back Up Your Computer
Everyone relies on technology. Computers, laptops, tablets, and phones are staples of modern life. However, it’s easy for these devices to become cluttered with old photos, files, and general disorganization. Luckily, January is National Clean Up Your Computer Month and an excellent time to get your technology in order.
Be sure to back up your computer before you start deleting things. This acts as a safety net in case you delete something you didn’t mean to. Additionally, consider installing a second hard drive. The extra space can help with storing important files without having to worry about how much room is left.
Start by Dusting
Clean Up Space
Over time, computer towers can become clogged with dust, which creates additional, unwanted heat within your computer. Regular cleanings will increase the lifespan of your computer and protect its essential components. Compressed air is great for removing most of the dust and other particulates. If the fans or filters are too dirty, you can remove them from the tower to clean them better. If you use water or liquid cleaning products on them, be sure they are completely dry before placing them back into your computer.
Any files you’ll never use again should be deleted. Likewise, any programs you haven’t used in a while should be uninstalled. Check your hard drive for files that might be taking up unintended space on your computer. And remember to empty the recycling bin — it’s easy to forget just how much goes in there.
Organize Your Files
Naming and arranging the files on your computer in such a way that they’re easy for you to find can end up saving you a lot of time. Declutter your workspace by creating one file for pictures, one for Word documents, one for spreadsheets, and one for programs to eliminate the hassle of frantically searching for the files you need.
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TAKE A BREAK
MEET THE WORLD’S FIRST AIRPORT THERAPY PIG How Lilou and Animals Like Her Calm Stressed-Out Travelers
Imagine you’re navigating a vast airport on a busy Saturday, shouldering your way through crowds and struggling to hear the PA system over the clatter of 1,000 wheeled suitcases. Suddenly, you see a pig wearing a hot pink sweater waddling toward you on a leash. Do you stop in your tracks? Does your stress level drop? Do you laugh out loud when you see its pink nail polish? If you answered “yes” to any of the above, then you can sympathize with the passengers, pilots, flight attendants, and staff at the San Francisco International Airport. They get to enjoy visits from Lilou, the world’s first airport therapy pig, on a regular basis! As part of the Wag Brigade, the airport’s cadre of (mostly canine) therapy animals, Lilou wanders the airport with her humans, bringing joy, peace, and calm to everyone she meets. Lilou may be the only pig of her kind, but airport therapy animals have been a growing trend for the last few years. According to NPR, as of 2017, more than 30 airports across the U.S. employed therapy dogs, and these days, estimates land closer to 60. The San Jose and Denver airports have therapy cats, and the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport even offers passengers the chance to play with miniature horses before boarding their flights. Therapy dogs started appearing in U.S. airports after the 9/11 terror attacks, which changed American attitudes about flying. They did so well at helping passengers calm down that airports began implementing permanent programs. Some have pets on hand 24/7 to assist passengers, while others host animal visits every few weeks or months. These days, regular travelers have fallen hard for their local therapy animals, many of whom even have their own Instagram accounts and hashtags. So, the next time you’re traveling, keep an eye out for a friendly pup, cat, pig, or horse to pet. A bit of love from an animal just might improve your trip!
A traditional New Year’s favorite in the South, Hoppin’ John includes black-eyed peas that are said to represent coins, a sign of prosperity for the coming year. It’s usually served alongside collard greens, which represent cash.
1 cup dried black-eyed peas
1 smoked ham hock
5–6 cups water
1 medium onion, diced
1 dried hot pepper, optional (arbol and Calabrian are great options)
1 cup long-grain white rice
1. Wash and sort peas. 2. In a saucepan, cover peas with water, discarding any that float. 3. Add pepper, ham hock, and onion. Gently boil and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until peas are just tender, about 90 minutes. At this point, you should have about 2 cups of liquid remaining. 4. Add rice, cover, drop heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes, undisturbed. 5. Remove from heat and let steam for an additional 10 minutes, still covered. 6. Remove lid, fluff with a fork, and serve. Inspired by Epicurious
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PRST STD US POSTAGE PAID BOISE, ID PERMIT 411
856-281-3131 www.scottcounsel.com 1230 Brace Rd. Cherry Hill, NJ 08034 INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Make Creating an Estate Plan Your New Year’s Resolution
Changes to Social Security in 2020 Enter 2020 With an Organized Computer
Hoppin’ John Meet the World’s First Airport Therapy Pig
The Sweetest Crime in History
HISTORY’S SWEETEST THEFT THE GREAT CANADIAN MAPLE SYRUP HEIST
Maple syrup holds a proud place in the history and culture of Quebec, Canada. It’s also a big part of Quebec’s economy, with 72% of the world’s maple syrup produced in Quebec alone. Due to tactics employed by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (FPAQ), the NPR-backed podcast“The Indicator”estimates that maple syrup is valued at approximately $1,300 per barrel —over 20 times more than crude oil. The FPAQ controls the available syrup supply, never releasing enough maple syrup to meet demand, which increases the price. As a result, most of the world’s maple syrup is stored in various reserves. Between 2011 and 2012, a group of thieves decided to liberate the syrup from an FPAQ facility in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, Quebec. Stealing syrup from Canada doesn’t sound as glamorous as stealing cash from a Vegas casino, but their plan could rival the plot of “Ocean’s Eleven.”
At the FPAQ facility, syrup was stored in unmarked metal barrels and only inspected once a year. The heist, led by a man named Richard Vallières, involved transporting the barrels to a remote sugar shack in the Canadian wilderness, where they siphoned off the maple syrup, refilled the barrels with water, and returned the barrels to the facility. The stolen syrup was then trucked east to New Brunswick and south across the border into Vermont. Wisely, the thieves sold their ill-gotten goods in small batches, avoiding suspicion from legitimate syrup distributors. In what is now known as the Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist, thieves made off with 10,000 barrels of maple syrup valued at $18.7 million. This remains one of the most costly heists in Canadian history. Vallières himself became a millionaire and took his family on three tropical vacations in one year.
Unfortunately, the thieves got sloppy and stopped refilling the barrels with water. When an FPAQ inspector visited the targeted facility in the fall of 2012, he accidentally knocked over one of the empty barrels. The inspector
alerted the police, who would go on to arrest 17 men in connection to the theft, including Vallières himself.
Police were then able to recover hundreds
of barrels of the stolen syrup, but most of it was never recovered — likely lost
to pancake breakfasts far away.
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