Tuesday, February 16, 2010

12 Wealth Threats - check out the table of contents

Click here to see a pdf of the table of contents of my new report. 12 Wealth Threats You Must Know about and How to Avoid them.

The table of contents outlines the various topics, all focused on protecting your family's wealth.

12 Wealth Threats - new free report released

This week we released the new report I drafted. This report outlines 12 threats to a family's wealth and steps you can take to avoid them. Download the free report by clicking below:

12 Wealth Threats You Must Know About and How to Avoid Them

By David Otis Edwards, Estate Planning and Asset Protection Attorney

Saturday, October 31, 2009

rare video footage of an attorney and his Panaboard in their natural habitat

The ways of lawyers are largely unknown and mysterious - like the wily Sasquatch they are rarely caught by a camera in their natural habitat. And like the Sasquatch, any attempt to film them can sometimes be met with violent outbursts or at least strong procedural objections.

But, at great risk to life and limb, we have been able to obtain this rare footage of an attorney using an electronic white board, called a Panaboard, to illustrate a client's estate plan. This video was first shown publicly at a presentation at the Sangamon Valley Estate Planning Council on Oct. 29, 2009.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

$54 million pants: youtube video interview of owners

Here is a video related to my last post - the $54 million lawsuit against a family owned dry cleaning business, that resulted in them closing their store because of the legal expenses and stress of the 2+ years in court.

Check out the video.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Asset Protection: case of the $54 million pair of pants

"After 2 years in court, I realized we could lose everything we had worked for...I felt heartbroken and overwhelmed."

You're heard me talking about asset protection - how you should set up your estate to protect your spouse and children from threats to their inheritance from lawsuits, creditors, divorce, remarriage, etc. Maybe you've thought to yourself that your spouse or kids don't need that because they are good drivers, make wise decisions, aren't in a risky profession or business, would never marry a gold digger, etc. Well, that may protect them from some risks, but not all.

A man took his pants to a D.C. drycleaner. He came to pick them up and supposedly they misplaced them. So he sued the dry cleaner for damages of $54 million for the lost pants. How did he come up with $54 million? That's $18,000 for each day that the store allegedly committed consumer fraud by having a sign on the wall saying "Satisfaction Guaranteed".

The court found in favor of the dry cleaner. No surprise there. Then the customer appealed to get the ruling overturned. Guess what? The appellate court also agreed that the case was ridiculous and tossed it out. So everything is fine, right? Well, all that took over 2 years.

"Even though we were victorious, I knew no one had won this battle"

The owners of the dry cleaner, Korean immigrants Soo and Jin Chung, had to sell the business, citing the legal expenses (well over $100,000) as well as the stress of becoming part of a case that was a media sensation.

What is the moral of this story (from an estate planning perspective)?

  • Threats include not just legitimate threats (such as a car accident that was your spouse's fault), but also bogus threats that cost money to defend.
  • You can't insure against all possible threats. $54 million is beyond any small business's insurance policy.
  • Outside threats to assets are outside of our control. What are the odds a dry cleaner will lose a pair of pants? Probably 100% of dry cleaners have lost something at some point. What are the odds of getting sued for $54 million? Pretty slim, but all it takes is one loony customer who decides to take you to court. And all it takes is one nut job to threaten the hard earned money you leave to your wife or child.

Come hear more about threats to your family's wealth and how you can protect against them with some effective planning. RSVP today to attend our Truth about Estate Planning Workshop. CLICK HERE FOR ONLINE INFO AND SIGN UP FOR WORKSHOP

David Otis Edwards
Counselor at Law
Helping families protect what is most important to them

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Truth about Estate Planning Workshop

Starting in October., our Truth about Estate Planning Workshop is the best first step for anyone who wants to explore planning options. Learn about the pitfalls to a successful plan and understand whether you need to give more attention to your planning. Anyone who already has a will or trust (that may need updating) as well as someone with no plan at all will find this workshop to be just the thing to get them started thinking about options. This workshop is done informally, with a maximum of 12 people per session, and leaves plenty of time for questions.

Thursday, Oct. 1
1:30 to 3 pm

Tuesday, Oct. 6

4:30 to 6 pm

Monday, Oct. 12

9 to 10:30 am

Friday, Oct. 30

1:30 to 3 pm

Thursday, Nov. 5

9 to 10:30 am

Tuesday, Nov. 10

4:30 to 6 pm

Thursday, Nov. 19

1:30 to 3 pm

All workshops are held in the Community Room at Edwards Group LLC, 4340 Acer Grove, Springfield, Illinois. RSVP required. Space limited. Contact Lynn Hanson, Client Coordinator at 217-726-9200 or lynn@edwardsgroupllc.com.

Example of topics covered: how to protect your family's wealth from threats of probate expenses, taxes, nursing home costs, lawsuits, divorces; how to protect your independence as you face aging and disability; common mistakes made in leaving an inheritance; why your will or living trust may not do what you think it does.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

families face aging parents - trends and struggles

Aging Trends and Obstacles of Legacy and Control

There are some things going on in our society now that makes aging, and the way families deal with it, different than it used to be. These issues below are things I see my clients facing as we discuss planning for aging and disability.

1. Better healthcare and longer life expectancy. That's a good thing, right? Yes, but it leads to some challenges. If you live longer, your health issues may cause you to run out of money, your declining health may dramatically reduce your quality of life, or there's even a chance your children may face declining health or even pass away before you do.

2. Earlier retirement. People are living longer, but retiring earlier. In 1910, the average retirement age was 74 years, meaning people often worked until they passed away or had to quit for health reasons. In 2002, the average retirement age was 62. Isn't it nice to retire early? Yes, but it also leads to more planning pitfalls, i.e. more years to potentially get bored, lonely, or run out of money

3. Families are more scattered. I know some people who have several households within the same family living on the same street. This is rare. More common is that parents have children scattered around different cities, different states, or even different ends of the country. When the family is so spread out, what does that mean for the parents as they age and need assistance? The magazine Christianity Today recently had a column ("Honor Thy Father" for Grownups) about honoring your parents by taking care of them in their old age. How does a family do that when there are 1000's of miles in between? Often it means delegating the day to day assistance to professional care givers or medical personnel.

4. Communication between generations. David Solie's book "How to Say it to Seniors: Closing the Communication Gap with our Elders" discusses the two main tasks facing older adults: how to maintain control and how to leave a legacy. Those issues can lead to both conflict as well as rewarding and meaningful conversations.

Let's think about control

As a person ages, they are faced with losing control. Loss of health, friends, social status, ability to work, driving, choosing where they live, control of money. All these evaporate as the years tick by. As they are already facing these things slipping away, along comes one of their kids. And what is he telling them? stop driving, move to assisted living, go to the doctor, eat better, etc.

Is it any wonder that the older generation balks at the advice sometimes? Even if the advice is logical and right on target, it is still another threat to their independence and control. The control is already slipping away naturally and then comes a child wanting to (seemingly) speed up that loss. When a child pushes their elderly parent to make the "right" decision about some life circumstance, it can lead to frustration on both sides, with both feeling unappreciated.

Some people learn from experience that trying to convince our elders with logical arguments will get no where when the elder sees it as a threat to their independence and control. The author, David Solie, says we should stop fighting for control and instead be there to assist. When an older person is allowed the room to make a decision they will often come to a conclusion much more quickly than if they were pushed.

Those in the younger generation are constantly pushing forward to the next new thing. Older adults are sometimes faced with hanging on tight to avoid losing what they already have. Remembering each generation's different perspective will hopefully reduce the frustration and conflict in those already difficult conversations.

Leaving a legacy

Unfortunately, some seniors spend so much energy and effort trying to maintain control that they never get to the second task of aging - reviewing their legacy. Leaving a legacy involves reflecting on life and how we will be (or want to be) remembered. Reflection means slowing down and focusing on past details. True reflection means a lack of urgency about current tasks.

This lack of urgency is another obstacle to a child pushing a parent to make decision about a new living arrangement or some other decision that "must be made right now".
For all us overly busy people measuring our worth on errands done, emails sent, and whether we are caught up on our facebook status, it may be hard to relax and drop our task orientation.

However, when you hear an older person repeating a story or going into exhaustive detail, listen! You might see how the values in the story reflect the legacy that the storyteller wants to leave and how they would like to be remembered.

Friday, September 4, 2009

parents - download report, get free movies, pizza, ice cream

Who wouldn't want to win free movies, pizza, and ice cream?

If you don't want that, you probably need to have your head examined.

Enter my September drawing for free stuff just by downloading a copy of my free report on how to protect your most precious asset - your kids. Do it right now before you forget.

Go to www.11ThingsParentsShouldKnow.com and download my free report:

Naming a Guardian for your Kids: 11 Easy-To-Understand Facts Every Parent Should Know

Anyone who downloads my report during September will be entered in a free drawing for a Family Fun night of pizza, movies, and ice cream, worth $80.

Pizza $30 gift card from Coz's Pizza, 4441 Ash Grove Dr. (and only a 30 second drive from Edwards Group LLC!)

Movie $35 in movie coupons from Kerasotes Theaters (yes, Showplace 12 on Wabash is about 2 minutes from Edwards Group LLC)

Ice Cream $15 for Culver's (maybe 40 seconds drive from my office...and yes, I know Culver's sells custard, not "ice cream"!)

Whether you have kids, if you used to be a kid, or if you know someone with kids, please pass along this info.

Kidsafe - Bailey banner ad pic.jpgWhat is the KidSafe Legal Plan?

It's our process to help moms, dads, and kids out there with some of the same planning tools we use with our "grown up" clients. Not just "writing up a will" because that's not enough. But also dealing with emergency notification, how to choose the best guardians, financial organization and planning to make sure the kids can go to college, and many other steps.

The KidSafe Legal Plan is our process for addressing all the important issues to protect your kids. Subscribe to Being a KidSafe Parent newsletter to hear more details. Just click to request the report and be automatically added to the KidSafe mailing list. www.11ThingsParentsShouldKnow.com