Read an Excerpt
"People do not plan to fail, they merely fail to plan."—Old Adage
There is an old adage that people do not plan to fail, they merely fail to plan. We all want financial security and control over the important areas of our lives, but the task of putting our lives in order can be quite daunting. The journey toward organizing our affairs is impossible without a roadmap. This book will help guide you on your way. Each chapter deals with an important aspect of personal legal and financial planning, and although each chapter takes you a little closer toward the goal of implementing a comprehensive legal and financial plan, you can also go right to the chapter that specifically deals with your own personal goals. I hope you enjoy the journey.
Life is damn complicated. The material found in this book (although I do not believe anyone actually lost this material) can help you or perhaps your friends or family deal with the many issues that face older Americans today. Although the title of this book is A Guide to Elder Planning, the book provides information that can be tremendously helpful to everyone, regardless of age, on topics such as IRAs, scams and income taxes.
Just who is an "older American," "Senior Citizen" or whatever euphemism people use to describe the elderly in America today? The definition seems to be changing, since aging baby boomers do not seem to fit the long-held stereotypes of what it is to be an older person. As a lawyer, I once represented a frail, elderly woman in a lawsuit brought against her by a large bank. On the day of trial, the presiding judge took me and the lawyers for the bank into his chambers to discuss the case beforethe jury trial started. I knew I had a friend in the courtroom when the judge opened the discussion by asking the bank's attorneys, "Why are you doing this to that little old lady?" With much effort and a judge interested in justice for all, a fair settlement was reached between the parties. Afterward the judge told me that over the years he had to change his definition of "old" because he kept reaching those ages that formerly had been limited to the elderly, a group in which he did not count himself. Finally, he told me, he arrived at a definition he could live with for the long haul: "Old is five years older than whatever I am."
Many senior citizens today are young and vital at heart, but their legal and financial affairs can be complex. This book deals with those complexities. It is written to show you how to make the law and financial situations work for you. There are many good laws of which people fail to take advantage because they just do not know about them. There are many opportunities in one's financial life that people also miss because they are not aware of them. This book tells you in plain language and with a little humor how to take charge and reorganize your affairs to make the law and the world of money work for you.
The story goes that W.C. Fields, the comedian of long ago, was on his death bed reading the Bible when a friend came to visit him. The friend was startled to see Fields, who was notoriously anti-religious (in his will, he left money to a school on the condition that religion never be taught there), reading such a book and commented, "Bill, what are you doing?" Fields responded, "Looking for loopholes." And that is also what this book is about. Looking for the loopholes to help you understand the complexities of the legal and financial matters that affect you and showing you how to make those laws and financial opportunities work for your benefit.
One of my many jobs over the years was teaching in the Massachusetts state prisons. During a long and boring orientation program, all the new teachers were instructed on how to complete a Disciplinary Report. Written in the guidelines presented to us and emphasized by the instructor was that we were to "not use too many unnecessary words." Had it not been late in a day that felt like it was interminable, I most likely would have inquired of the instructor as to what was the correct amount of unnecessary words to use. However, I did not. I did take those words to heart though and have tried in this book to "not use too many unnecessary words." This book is a guide that will describe the journey to a more secure life in an understandable and enjoyable way that will make it easier to achieve your goals and perhaps even make the journey a bit more pleasant—and without using too many unnecessary words.