Wednesday, 15 May 2013 09:15
All of us have expectations, some great and some small, some of ourselves and some of others, some we verbalize and some we leave unspoken. They are in every relationship -- from professional to familial to personal to romantic. Sometimes our expectations are met, making us feel happy and contented, like we're "on the same page". And sometimes our expectations are not met, leaving us with a disappointed feeling in ourselves or others.
One thing that has always intrigued me about estate planning is the huge role that expectations play. There is, after all, no "test run" to see how things will play out once you're gone or incapacitated. Of course, everyone chooses who they put in charge of their health, finances, and/or children with expectation that the person will be fair and diligent in carrying out their wishes. Some people even expect specific circumstances, such as one child needing more financial help than another, and plan their estate accordingly. Indeed, much of what is decided during estate planning is based on past expectations that were met or unmet and future expectations that the client hopes will be met. Especially in the case of trust amendments, I am reminded of the power of great expectations. Here are two specific cases that come to mind:
Years ago, an elderly woman with no children had decided to leave her estate to her five nieces. One day, she thought it would be nice to surprise each of them with a four figure gift of at least $1,000 so she wrote the five checks and put them in the mail. Two weeks went by and all the checks were cashed. One more week went by and only one niece had responded with a "thank you" phone call. Soon, another month went by and the woman had not heard a word from the other nieces. Realizing that four of her five nieces were not going to say "thank you," the woman made arrangements to amend her trust. She left everything to the one niece who showed gratitude for her gift.
Wednesday, 15 May 2013 09:10
Maybe you're a college student looking to rent your first apartment; or a downsizing homeowner reentering the rental market for the first time in decades. Whatever your situation, there are many precautions you should take before renting any property. The last thing you want is to be saddled with a 12-month lease you can't afford or to be stuck in a neighborhood you've come to detest.
As one who's been there, let me share a few tips for renting a home:
Before you even start looking, know how much you can afford to spend. Housing is the biggest monthly expense for most people so if you miscalculate what rent is affordable, your budget will suffer from the get-go. Besides rent, don't forget such additional expenses as a security deposit, utilities, cable/satellite, Internet access, renters insurance, parking and laundry facilities and one-time move-in expenses like window treatments, appliances or rugs.
Scope out the neighborhood. Determine how safe you feel walking around, especially if you'll be parking on the street. Come back to see if the neighborhood's character changes at night or on the weekend. Also note the proximity to parks, schools, grocery stores, public transportation and busy commuter routes.
Thoroughly inspect each potential rental:
Consider total useable space – sometimes a smaller unit with a well-designed floor plan is more desirable than a larger space with a poor layout.
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