Boyack Christiansen Legal Solutions January 2020

Letter of the Law 435-674-2564

January 2020

What Led Me to the Law? My Competitive Streak and Love for My Community

I’ve been a pretty competitive person ever since I was a young kid, and I was pretty brutal in high school. One year in chemistry class, I was pretty confident that I would do well on a specific test. But when I got the results back, I had a lower grade than I knew I should have. After going through the test, I realized that the teacher marked a correct answer wrong. I stood right up in front of the whole class and told my teacher they’d messed up and that I had gotten the answer right. A few buddies of mine never quite let that go. My competitiveness stayed with me when I went to college and was even more pronounced when I joined the college football team. I’d always been especially competitive in sports — the worst feeling in my life was losing a football game or wrestling match. Then, my college football coach told me something I’d never forget. One day after practice, he looks at me and says, “In the 45 years of my coaching career, you’re the most competitive person I’ve ever had to coach. You’ll have to find something to be competitive in for a career, or you’ll find yourself having a miserable home life.” This was a time in my life where I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do as far as a career went. But what he said really made me think. I started looking around to see if I could even find a job that would both fit in with a competitive lifestyle and be something I would enjoy. It was around then that one of my friends came back from law school and opened up his own firm here. Up until that point, I hadn’t known any attorneys, but getting back in touch with him sparked an idea. Becoming an attorney who fights for their clients might just be the

rooting those important lessons deep in me. I was also an Eagle Scout and often helped the schools and community I lived in and near, intent on making them a better place. Now, being an attorney, I can continue to help, reach out to, and support the people around me. The reward of practicing law is helping someone whose life is falling apart for one reason or another. I can guide them and help them pick up pieces for a solution, even if what they see is a hopeless situation. That is what I found through the help of both my coach and my good friend. That is why I do what I do and why I stick with the people — plain and simple. It’s why I work late nights and why we fight so hard for people. Every step makes a huge difference in so many cases. We’re helping people, and that’s why we attorneys do what we do. As the years have gone by, I’ve distanced myself from being competitive. I realized pretty early on that there are far better solutions than the feeling of “win at all costs” that drove me when I was younger. What’s usually in the best interests of my clients is to find a way to solve the problem rather than fighting the problem. That saves everyone from stress and, best of all, heartache.

My family at the grave of an ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War.

perfect career for me, and I decided to try it out and see how I liked it. I started an internship at my friend’s office and quickly discovered that I really enjoyed the work that went into it. While my college football coach was one factor in my career path, my competitive nature wasn’t the only reason I fit so well in the legal field. I found myself drawn to the intellectual challenge of the job and to how often law involves finding solutions by thinking outside of the box. I also had a strong desire to be of use to my community, to make a difference for folks in difficult situations, which, for me, was the most significant pull. At a very early age, I knew I wanted to help people in the community. When I was growing up, I looked up to my dad, who was a teacher. He taught, helped, and served the community,

–Travis Christiansen | 1

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Social Security in 2020 KNOWWHAT’S CHANGING

Maximum Benefits

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.

Trust Fund

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.

Retirement Age

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.


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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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! MEET THE WORLD’S FIRST AIRPORT THERAPY PIG How Lilou and Animals Like Her Calm Stressed-Out Travelers


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 | 3

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435-674-2564 619 South Bluff St. Suite 202 St. George, Utah 84770 INSIDE THIS ISSUE

How My College Football Coach Changed My Life


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


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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