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Business and Finance articles appearing in this paper are based on the experiences and opinions of the writers and not The Journal. The advice given is strictly for your information and should not be acted or relied on without related professional advice.

Giving is Good! – Part II

marlene s cooper 2011My last article focused on charitable gifts of money. This article focuses on a type of charitable gift everyone is capable of making, regardless of the size of their estate. This type of gift is known as an anatomical gift – the giving of either your entire body after your death for medical research and education or certain body parts for transplant to others.

Even though the law in California concerning organ donations makes it relatively easy for organs to be donated, statistics show that the number of individuals needing organ or tissue donation is growing. If you are inclined to be a donor, here are some of the ways it can be done:

You can stipulate in your Advanced Health Care Directive to allow or disallow organ donation.

During terminal illness or sudden injury, you can express to two witnesses your desire to donate your organs.

While renewing or applying for a California driver's license, you can check a box indicating your desire to be a donor. You can also go to the Department of Motor Vehicles website and fill out the form.

In California, many hospitals are legally bound to ask about organ and tissue donations under certain circumstances. If you left no instructions concerning organ donation, the person you designate on your Advanced Health Care Directive to make your decisions (or the next of kin, if no Advanced Health Care Directive exists) will most likely have to decide whether to donate your organs or not.

Any good estate plan should include an Advance Health Care Directive. If you decide to be a donor, you can tailor your Advance Health Care Directive to reflect any limitations on the use of your anatomical gift. For example, you can state that you do not want any organs donated to a prisoner serving a life sentence. As another example, you can designate a particular research facility to receive your body.

Whether or not to make an anatomical gift is an intensely personal decision. If you are inclined to make such a gift, sometimes called "the gift of life", make sure you take steps to make your gift a reality. © 2014 by Marlene S. Cooper. All rights reserved.

[Marlene S. Cooper, a graduate of UCLA, has been an attorney for over 30 years. Her practice is focused entirely on estate planning, estate administration and probate. You may obtain further information at www.marlenecooperlaw.com, by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , by phone at (626) 791-7530 or toll free at (866) 702-7600. The information in this article is of a general nature and not intended as legal advice. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this article]

 

How to Avoid Fumbling the Football in the Red Zone of Retirement

The 6 Documents You Need for Your Estate Plan Playbook

The start of football season may be months away, but the game's on the minds of many after the NFL draft. Minicamps are gearing up and team personnel are organizing in preparation for the 2014-15 season. Football is a big deal in the United States – and so is the surge of retirees – 10,000 baby boomers every day for the next 18 years, says multi-certified planner Larry Roby. The last thing pre-retirees want to do at this stage of their lives is to fumble while in the red zone of their retirement date, he says.

"Only 23 percent of pre-retirees have calculated how much they'll need to save for retirement, according to New Retirement Landscape; while three-quarters say they're confident in the red zone of retirement, an equal amount of people haven't even done the math yet!" says Roby, founder and president of Senior Financial Advisors, (www.sfabridge.com), a wealth-management firm that holds ethics and education as top priorities.

"Confidence in your retirement portfolio is good – if it's justified. Otherwise, it can lull people into a false sense of security and lack of preparedness."

Having a diverse portfolio and understanding your options for life insurance, Social Security and 401(k) or other retirement accounts are staples for retirement planning. But there are also six crucial documents that are often either not in an individual's playbook or are overlooked.

Here are the six documents you need for a solid red zone estate plan:

  • Joint Ownership -- Enables you to own property jointly with another person and upon the death of the joint tenant, the surviving joint tenant automatically becomes the owner of the property.
  • Last Will and Testament – A legal document which expresses the wishes of a person concerning the disposition of their property after death and names the person who will manage the estate.
  • Durable Power of Attorney – Grants authority to another individual to act on behalf of the person who executes the instrument and are commonly used for legal and financial purposes.
  • Durable Health Care Power of Attorney- Grants authority to another individual to make health care decisions on your behalf should you be unable to make such decisions.
  • Advance Care Directive – A set of written instructions in which a person specifies what actions should be taken for their health, if they are no longer able to make decisions due to illness or incapacity.
  • Living Trust – Created during your lifetime. Assets are transferred to the trust while you are alive. Provides written instructions for the disbursement of the trust assets upon your death.

"These documents can play a vital role in the major plays during the fourth quarter of your life," Roby says. "Understanding how they work now can make the difference between a last-minute victory or loss."

 

 

4 Smart Investments Beyond the Stock Market

With Speculations About an Impending Downturn, Investment Entrepreneurs Suggest Options

As major stock market indexes continue to climb, so too are concerns on the "fear market" – VIX, the CBOE S&P 500 Options Volatility Index, says entrepreneur Dean Anastos.

"Advances in the market have been relatively thin in volume, and the declines have been heavier; in general, there seems to be too much complacency among investors, and there are hints here and there that the market is not as bullish as many have supposed," says Anastos, who specializes in real estate, computer programming and trading data communications equipment.

"Now may be a really good time to look elsewhere for smart investments," says his business partner Ricky Brava.

Anastos and Brava review some of those options.

Real estate is still growing. No area was hit harder by the recession than real estate. Since then, however, the getting has been good for prospective buyers looking for a profit, yet many remain gun shy due to the hard lessons of 2008-09. Meanwhile, the housing recovery continues as prices are getting back to where they once were. In many markets, buying is still cheaper than renting, "although this is not true everywhere," Anastos says. "Ultimately, it depends on the area, the loan and how long you may be looking to live on the property – or, if you want to rent a property out, which continues to be very lucrative today."

Banks have plenty of distressed debt; consider a deal. (www.apollofinancialgrp.com). "We buy distressed debt bank portfolios that aren't generating cash for the bank and work with the families in the homes to refinance at affordable rates," says Brava, senior partner at Apollo Financial Group, founded by Anastos, who adds, "If we can't work it out with the owner, the property gets a second chance, rather than sitting vacant, when we sell the loans as non-performing first or second lien bank notes."

Conduct a thorough title search of the property to reveal any liens. Check with the county to ascertain what, if any, outstanding property taxes are due. Contact a local real estate agent to get an estimation on the property and its as-is resale value.

Keep in mind tax-advantaged investments. Tax-advantaged investments can include real estate partnerships, oil and gas partnerships and suitability, which refers to how appropriate an investment may or may not be to an investor. Two of the most common types of real estate partnerships, for example, are low-income housing and historic rehabilitation. The federal government grants tax credits to those who construct or rehabilitate low-income housing or who invest in the rehabilitation or preservation of historic structures.

Pay attention to possible changes to Roth IRAs – still a good option, so far. This is still a good investment option for retirement, even though significant changes have been proposed by the White House. Your allotted money goes into a Roth after it's already been taxed, but earnings aren't taxed. Unlike traditional IRAs and 401(k)s, Roth owners currently don't have to take annual distributions after turning 70½ — which means the money has even more years to grow if the owner doesn't need it. And once the Roth owner dies, the beneficiary inherits the money tax-free. President Obama says this isn't what was intended in a Roth and wants to change this advantage, yet his proposal continues to face mass opposition and many think it won't pass.

[Dean Anastos is the founder of Apollo Financial Group, (www.apollofinancialgrp.com), and Ricky Brava is senior partner. Anastos is an entrepreneur with a background in real estate, computer programming and trading data communications equipment. Brava specializes in education, marketing and new business development, with an expertise in data-driven, long-term strategic planning. Both men have a strong interest in business opportunities that help resolve societal problems.]

 

 

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