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Some times, one finds a book that tells you, better than any other, how to do a thing. For those who wish to be out-going, the standard has long been Dale Carnegie's How to Make Friends and Influence People. For those who wish to grow rich, the standards are Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich, or a more recent classic, The Four-Hour Work Week, by Timothy Ferriss. For those who wish to save and invest what they have earned, the standard is The Richest Man in Babylon, by George S. Clason. And finally, for those who wish to pass their wealth on to their children or their friends without getting shaken down by the State or probate attorneys in the process, the standard used to be How to Avoid Probate.<BR/><BR/>Until now.<BR/><BR/>I think that The Art of Passing the Buck, Volume One, does the best job that I have ever seen of telling the average Joe or Joan, in simple words, how to put their property into a Trust, either a family Trust or an irrevocable Trust, and how to maintain that Trust so that it can pass that property on to those whom they want it to go. I say this as one who has a degree in law (Juris Doctor), and one who has been working with attorneys and on my own for the last twenty years to probate estates and to prepare family trusts for lay men and women. <BR/><BR/>Volume One of The Art of Passing the Buck tells the reader why it is important to set up a trust, and why the very rich have been using this method to preserve their property to and for their children for at least the last thousand years or so. I wish that this book had been written, and that I had known about it, when I was helping people to set up trusts and pour-over wills for them. If I had, I would have told them to buy this book before going any further. Volume One has indispensable knowledge, in laymen's terms, of telling what a trust is, and how it works. <BR/><BR/>Some may think that the price tag on this book is just a tad high. So far, though, I have only been able to find four ways to get the knowledge that is found in this book:<BR/><BR/>1. You can go to law school, and pay particular attention to the courses on Wills and Trusts. I am told that this is both rather expensive and labor-intensive these days;<BR/><BR/>2. You can become a paralegal or a lay Trustee, and go into apprenticeship for four or five years at a law firm or office specializing in Trusts or Estate Management. This seems also to be a bit labor-intensive;<BR/><BR/>3. You can teach yourself how to read the law, and read through Bogert's Trusts and Trustees, all twenty-two volumes of it; or<BR/><BR/>4. You can buy, read, and use The Art of Passing the Buck. <BR/><BR/>I must also say that while I have done numbers 1 and 2 above, and am in the process of doing number 3, I have learned more from The Art of Passing the Buck than I have from the other three ways combined. The Art of Passing the Buck may thus be a bit cheaper.<BR/><BR/>I would recommend The Art of Passing the Buck to any intelligent layman or woman (or even a lawyer) who wished to learn how to protect his or her property, or the property of others, and to pass it on to those that they most cared about, instead of leaving it to probate attorneys or the state. <BR/><BR/>I have one warning, though. The writer of this book is very contrarian. That is, he has some things to say which are a bit outside the box. Any one willing to spend more than ten minutes of thought on what he says will find some truth there. Those who can't or won't think should not read this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 13, 2008
If death and taxes are inevitable, it follows that, sooner or later, we all must deal with inheritance, whether by receiving a bequest, leaving one, or both. Sadly, most Americans get zero training on the matter, and it doesn't help that our culture is youth obsessed and often, can't even bring itself to use the word. No one dies; the dear departed merely "passed." While this may be psychologically comforting, it is zero comfort if you die and leave people with an inheritance mess that rips the family apart or if you inherit and that tears your family apart, assuming you don't simply blow it in less than a year, being unschooled in the proper handling of money. Nor are these abstract issues, for I've seen them in real life, and they aren't pretty. In fact, it's fair to say there is nothing more explosive when combined than old hurts, perceived unfairness in the Will, and the prospect of money.<BR/><BR/>Most adults in this country die intestate, without a Will. In reality, they actually chose to follow the Will defined by their respective states, and upon whose terms the Probate Court decides--eventually--who gets what and how much. Those who have Wills are better off, but their estates can easily wind up in Probate Court. All it takes is one named party to contest a Will. Others take comfort from Living Trusts, not realizing it may be a ticking time bomb, in that if the Grantor dies, whatever was last written concerning the Trust is now cast in concrete. <BR/><BR/>THE ART OF PASSING THE BUCK offers a time-tested way out of this mess, starting with how to raise sane heirs, a matter of vast import if you wish to see your legacy carried forward. Having gone to school myself with the scions of the upper crust, kids who desperately needed parental attention, love, discipline and appropriate boundaries, but instead were de facto latchkey kids, upon whom instead money and indulgence were lavished, I've seen how corrosive this is and what results. The book presents sound strategies for dealing with this vital issue and related matters.<BR/><BR/>The object of this careful prep work is, for those qualified, and some are not for various defined reasons, to create an ongoing Private Trust or Family Trust. Extensive research shows this is one of the keys used by the "haves" to stay on top, a way to pass money and property from generation to generation without the normally associated tax bite, loss of privacy, exposure to scam artists, etc. This information has been carefully guarded and all but removed from both legal and accounting curricula, but it is eminently usable by and useful to many Americans with homes, investments, Roth IRAs, life insurance policies, etc. <BR/><BR/>My personal involvement in sensitive financial matters goes back to the late 1970s when I worked in financial printing, and I got into Trusts in the late 1990s. If the best way to learn a subject is to teach it, then the second best may well be to help edit a book on it, and that's what I've done, primarily from a readability standpoint, but also proofing. Call it the Inheritance Immersion Course!<BR/><BR/>This taught me two main things: 1) my own dazzling level of personal ignorance on inheritance and the money system and 2) the even worse plight of the average American. THE ART OF PASSING THE BUCK is specifically intended to tell people how the system really works, whom it serves and to show them how to not only protect themselves, but thrive. A must read!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 21, 2008
The issue of trusting trustees has always been a sore spot. Covered within the book, The Art of Passing the Buck, is a lengthy discourse about what trustees can and cannot do. I have observed through a friend of mine, the advantages of having trustees act for the benefit of the family, and realized that to give away my assets to professionals for management might be the best way to pass on wealth to my somewhat disoriented children whose priorities are not the same as mine. Long-range planning is definitely not their game. The thought, though, of losing control of the money was too much for me. Although I can see the real problem now is trustee incompetence and not someone taking all my hard-earned assets, I still cannot quite let go, but I¿m getting closer to it. With the nice checklist given in the book of what to look for in a trustee, it helps me considerably decide how to handle my wealth. Other subjects I found quite enlightening were the variety of trusts available, the experiences of several people in handling inheritance issues, and what an ideal trust environment might achieve. The information about off shore and foreign trusts was initially confusing, especially the relationship of the federal government to the many states, but after reading several pages a couple of times I understood, and mostly understood that what used to work as an off-shore tax haven, doesn¿t work any more. This has probably saved me at least several thousand dollars. The chapter on Parenting and Perpetual Wealth gave me insights into my children, and I found myself in those pages. No, I did not set up my children to handle money as I should have, and I do regret it I share this short book review so that others may not make my mistakes. Reading The Art of Passing the Buck will definitely prevent many mistakes and loss of wealth.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 9, 2008
Unexpectedly my beloved uncle passed on. Just two days before he had come for dinner to our house with his new fiance. A week after his visit, I attended his funeral. Only 42 years old, he left three children under the age of 16 behind. Legal complications could go on for several years to free up funds. Having seen this complex matter get even more tangled up with time - his assets were impressive - I purchased a copy of 'The Art of Passing the Buck'. Not only does the author emphasize how to set up the passing of wealth long before it is needed, but also explains the complexities in simple terms! I found myself reading and pondering, then being drawn back to the book. The chapter on heirs: Favored and Flawed is by itself worth buying the book. What an eye opener! With sufficient footnotes and court cases, it is not only a fascinating book to read, but it can also serve as a reference book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 4, 2008
I¿m a baby boomer who has lost enough friends that I¿m starting to realize that I may not live forever. So, I¿ve been looking into how to set up my affairs to benefit my loved ones and causes I care about when I¿m no longer here. A friend and I were discussing this a few weeks ago and the subject of trusts came up. Realizing that I need to learn more about this, I went online and started looking around. Boy, did I ever discover a wealth of information, and all in one book! The Art of Passing the Buck gave me a whole new insight in to money management, estate preservation and wealth building. I will guarantee you never learned this stuff in school, at least not the way they have it here. Learn how major financial dynasties are built and maintained from generation to generation, and how our economic system really works ¿ truly mind blowing. Talk about thorough this book ranges from the history of trusts to present day applications it covers the legal side with references to court cases a well as statutes it also deals with the family dynamics and personality issues that come up around money. And it does all of this in a very readable manner. Do I recommend this book? It depends. Do you have any money? Do you want to leave others better off once you are gone? If you answered yes to either of these questions, I would recommend the book. If you answered yes to both, order the book immediately.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.