The Law Office of Robert L. Firth - June 2020

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Helping clients with bankruptcy, estate planning, and tax resolution.

JUNE 2020

What Happens to Your Assets When You Die? A Step-by-Step Comparison of Living Trusts and Wills

detailed records and reports for the probate judge, who approves all expenses. There is also the expense of a bond and lawyer fees. Note that a will has nothing to do with your incapacity. It only applies at your death. With a living trust, your trustee manages your financial affairs according to the trust instructions for as long as needed.

Have you ever thought about what happens in the event that you become incapacitated or die? Well, you have three choices. The first choice is to do nothing, and unfortunately, many Americans do just that. If you don’t draft your own plan, then your assets will be processed according to the plan written by your state’s probate code. Your assets will fall under the control of the probate court, and the judge will distribute those assets according to the probate code. Typically assets go to your spouse, children, or other immediate family members, depending on who survives you at death. This is known as intestate succession. Your second choice is a will, which is a set of instructions for a probate judge about how you would like your property distributed after your death. Once again it goes through probate court. Your third choice is a living trust. With a living trust, you can detail out how you want everything handled. This includes what property you want to be placed in the trust, who the beneficiaries are, and how you want your heirs treated in the event of your death or incapacitation (such as Alzheimer’s, stroke, or dementia). Below is a comparison of what happens to you and your estate without a will, with a will, or with a living trust. If you would like to learn more, please contact my office.

AFTER YOUR DEATH

If you don’t have a will, the probate court takes control of your property. At that point, your debts are paid, and your assets are distributed according to the state law of intestate succession. With a will, after your debts are paid, your assets are distributed according to the will if the courts validate it. With a living trust, the successor trustee distributes the assets according to your instructions and pays any of your debts without the need for court intervention.

will, your assets are distributed according to your will if it’s court-validated, as mentioned above. However, with a living trust, your assets are distributed according to your instructions without court supervision.

COURT COSTS AND OTHER FEES

Between 4%–10% of your estate’s gross value is deducted in probate fees with or without a will (unless it is a very small estate). The costs can increase if its contested or other complications arise. With a living trust, there are minimal to no court costs.

PRIVACY

With or without a will, the court proceedings that settle your estate are public record, so your family is exposed to disgruntled heirs and unscrupulous solicitors. However, living trusts are not public record, so your financial affairs remain private.

SETTLING YOUR ESTATE

With a will or intestate succession, it usually takes nine months to two years or longer to settle. With a living trust, it often only takes a few weeks, but complex estates may take longer due to tax returns and asset division.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your living trust, reach out anytime.

YOUR INCAPACITY

Stay safe, everyone!

Without a living trust, the probate court takes control of your property and someone is appointed as your conservator until you regain the ability to manage your affairs (if you ever do). The conservator is required to keep

FLEXIBILITY AND CONTROL

-Robert L. Firth Helping clients with bankruptcy, estate planning, and tax resolution.

Without a will, your assets are distributed by the court according to state law, and with a

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ABOUT TO RETIRE? CONSIDER THESE LOW-RISK, HIGH-RETURN INVESTMENTS

As you age, it’s wise to make some changes in order to stay healthy, like your diet or your workout routine. Likewise, your portfolio should be adjusted to reduce risk and protect your financial health. After a bad turn in the market, it can take up to a decade to make your money back. If you want to retire in the next five years, then can you really afford that risk? Reducing your risk doesn’t necessarily mean missing out on high-return investments, though. Here are some low-risk, high-return investments to consider adding to your portfolio as you approach retirement. PEER-TO-PEER LENDING Otherwise known as P2P lending, this investment takes place online. Borrowers are matched with investors for loans that benefit both parties — lending without the bank. Your risk and potential returns depend entirely on which loans you choose to invest in. The two most popular P2P lending platforms are Lending Club and Prosper, and you can start investing in either platform with as little as $25. REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT TRUSTS When you invest in real estate investment trusts (REIT), you’re investing in mortgages or direct equity positions in various properties. When the stock market is in decline, REITs are a good investment because they’re not corrected with stock exchanges. Plus, their yield is usually higher than the dividends investors get from stocks.

FIXED INDEXED ANNUITIES When it comes to low-risk, high-return investments, fixed indexed annuities (FIA) are the most attractive option for retirees. In 2018, renowned economist professor Roger Ibbotson conducted research into the return history of inflation, U.S. Treasury bills, government bonds, FIAs, and stocks. Unsurprisingly, stocks offered the highest returns historically, but Ibbotson was surprised to find FIAs came in second, beating out bonds and conventional wisdom.

Historically, these investments have produced great returns for individuals who are in retirement or who are about to retire. However, remember that everyone’s circumstances are different. Before making any changes to your portfolio, talk to your financial planner about your options. TIMES THE OLYMPICSWERE CANCELED And the Postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Games

WorldWar II caused the next two cancellations. The 1940 Olympics were initially scheduled to be held in Tokyo. It would have been the first time the games were hosted by a non-Western country, but Japan forfeited the right to host when they invaded China in 1937. The games were then rebooked for Helsinki, Finland, but after Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and startedWWII, those games were scrapped as well. Since the fighting hadn’t ceased by the time the games were supposed to happen in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, in 1944, the Olympics were canceled again. Though the Olympics have happened on schedule since the end of WWII, the United States has not always participated. In 1980, when the U.S. boycotted the Olympics that were held in Moscow, Russia, in protest of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, 64 other nations followed suit. However, those games still went on as planned and 80 countries participated. The fact that major global conflicts are the only other events that have been catastrophic enough to affect the Olympics might be distressing and elevate anxiety about our current global health crisis. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the Olympics have only been postponed this time, not canceled. We’ll still get to cheer on our favorite Olympians next year.

In late March, amid the global spread of COVID-19, the International Olympic Committee announced the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games. They were slated to take place in Tokyo, Japan, this summer, but they will now happen in the summer of 2021. While this is an unprecedented decision, it’s not the first time that major global events have affected the Olympic Games or which countries participated. Since the inception of the modern Olympic Games in 1896, they have been outright canceled three times — 1916, 1940, and 1944. The first cancellation of the Olympic Games happened duringWorldWar I. The German Empire was supposed to host the games in Berlin, but by the time 1916 rolled around, Europe was deep in the trenches of WWI. Many nations had sent their athletes to fight in the war, so the games were canceled.

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TAKE A BREAK

TURN YOUR VACATION INTO A STAYCATION

3 Ways to Replace a Canceled Vacation

Vacations provide opportunities for families to spend time together in a relaxed environment, get away from the routines of everyday life, and create meaningful memories. If you’ve recently had to cancel a trip but still want to create the experience of a vacation for your family, then a staycation is just what you need. TRANSFORM YOUR BACKYARD When you’re trying to recreate a vacation, the outdoor areas of your home present a variety of possibilities. You can turn a sandbox into a relaxing beach, complete with a kiddie pool “ocean.” If you have trees, then set up a zip line or obstacle course. You can even stimulate summer brains with a scavenger hunt around the backyard with hidden clues in the dirt or bushes. The ultimate prize can be something you would have purchased on your original vacation, like a souvenir you can find online. CREATE A ‘FAMILY MUSEUM’ Many vacations include an educational aspect in order to enrich our understanding of the place we’re visiting, and museums are a great way to accomplish that. If you’re confined to the house, then teach your kids about your own knowledge and interests and encourage them to get creative and make their own contributions, too. Have everyone create art, take photos, or write about their prized possessions. Display these masterpieces around your home and let their creators take you on a tour. Learning more about one another builds meaningful bonds. BRING YOUR TRIP HOME You probably chose your original vacation destination in order to experience new and different cultures and activities. But just because you’re no longer traveling to that location doesn’t mean you can’t experience some of what it has to offer! Research popular local cuisine, activities, and history of the area, then create ways to experience them with your family. Cook a traditional meal, recreate a scenic location through photographs, or share a story about local lore and history. Your changed plans will no longer feel like a missed opportunity. Staying at home doesn’t mean your family can’t have the fun of a vacation. All it takes is a little creativity and innovation to build an experience that will bring your family closer together.

GRILLED BASIL CHICKEN AND TOMATOES

Inspired by TasteOfHome.com

You can’t go wrong with grilled chicken and tomatoes on a warm summer’s evening. It’s a simple recipe that packs a flavor punch.

Ingredients

1/4 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves

2 tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic

8 Roma tomatoes

1/2 tsp salt

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 oz each)

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Directions

1. For marinade: In blender, combine olive oil, garlic, salt, vinegar, and basil. Cut 2 tomatoes into quarters and add to mixture. Cover and process until blended. Halve remaining tomatoes for grilling.

2. In bowl, combine chicken and 2/3 cup marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Reserve remaining marinade.

3. Heat grill to about 350–400 F. Lightly oil grates. Grill chicken until internal temperature reads 165 F, about 4–6 minutes per side. Grill tomatoes until lightly browned, about 2–4 minutes per side. Discard remaining marinade.

4. Serve chicken and tomatoes with reserved marinade.

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68910 Adelina Rd. Cathedral City, CA 92234

760-770-4066 FirthLaw.com

Helping clients with bankruptcy, estate planning, and tax resolution.

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1

What Happens to Your Assets When You Die?

Best Investments for Retirees Have the Olympics Ever Been Postponed Before?

2

Grilled Basil Chicken and Tomatoes 3 Enriching Staycation Ideas

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Help Local Nonprofits in Challenging Times

THE BEST WAYS TO HELP LOCAL NONPROFITS IN CHALLENGING TIMES

VOLUNTEER

Over the past several months, families, businesses, and nonprofits have had to navigate life in this challenging “new normal,” and it can be hard to support your favorite nonprofits when times are tough. Here are a few ways you can help these important entities, even when you don’t have resources to spare right now.

In a time of social distancing, volunteering may be discouraged, but nonprofits still need volunteers to operate. The good news is that many nonprofits need volunteers for positions that maintain social distance, such as driving. Food banks and kitchens need drivers to pick up donations or ingredients from donors and to deliver food to people in need, such as the elderly or those with disabilities.

DONATE

While many people donate generously during the holiday season, remember that nonprofits need donations throughout the year, and different nonprofits need different things. A monetary donation can often go a long way, but never feel obligated to give money, especially when your budget may be tight. Instead, consider cleaning out your closet. What clothes, shoes, or other accessories can you part with? What about dishware or small appliances? When you clean out your home and donate unused items, you benefit those in the community who need them most.

ADVOCATE

Even if you don’t have time or resources to give, you can become an advocate for important causes around your community. While it might not seem like much, sharing information about local nonprofits on social media can make a genuine difference. Nonprofits need exposure, which is greatly boosted through community support. Sharing useful information about nonprofits — or sharing their posts — increases their visibility so more people will take action.

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