Key Retirement & Estate Planning Tools

Retirement Planning

Retirement can begin at any age, and so can planning for it — the earlier, the better. Assets for retirement can include savings, investment accounts, IRAs, employee retirement plans and pensions, even home equity (accessed through a reverse mortgage), annuities and life insurance policies. One way or another, the focus is usually on maximizing growth, minimizing taxes and managing exposure to risks (e.g., market risks, legal liability).

Estate Planning

Estate planning strives to effect the transfer of assets from an individual to others (beneficiaries) in a manner that is tax-efficient and implements the individual’s values and wishes. The transfer of assets may occur during the individual’s life and/or after his death. Methods commonly include Wills, family LLCs and limited partnerships, and trusts. With individual lifetime exemptions for gift and estate tax and generation-skipping transfer tax set at $12+ million through calendar year 2025 (or until the U.S. Congress decides otherwise), some of the tax-related aspects of estate planning have become somewhat simplified for all except the very wealthy.

Yet, many different factors should be considered when forming a plan. They include total value of assets, the type of assets (e.g., family business, family home(s), real estate, stocks and bonds, collectibles), beneficiaries’ ages and their capacity to manage their own financial affairs, and of course, YOUR family values and YOUR personal wishes about how assets should be used.

Asset Protection

Asset protection measures should be included in every estate plan and in every family business plan. The specters of divorce, personal-liability court judgments and a spendthrift beneficiary hang over all accumulated wealth. By minimizing or eliminating such risks, the integrated estate planning of this law practice protects and builds wealth.

Estate planning is more than simply buying a Will or Living Trust

For example, a substantial portion of an individual’s or couple’s wealth is often held in beneficiary-designated accounts, such as, IRAs, 401(k) plans, and insurance policies. By itself, a Will does not control the disposition of such assets. Estate planning, therefore, involves assessing what you have, setting goals, considering the many techniques and investment vehicles available to achieve your goals, and then working with advisers to put plans into action.

Exemplary retirement, estate, legacy and asset protection planning tools include:



General Durable Power of Attorney

Medical Power of Attorney


Employee plans, e.g., 401(k), 403(b), Defined Benefit (pension) plan

Investment accounts (managed to control risk while providing growth)

Insurance and annuity policies (risk management, tax advantages)

Long term care (LTC) & disability policies or riders

Life settlement contracts (i.e., sale of life insurance policy)

Reverse mortgages (to tap into the equity of your home, with low risk)

Medicaid trusts (to preserve assets for spouse and family members)

Business entities (e.g., LLCs, FLPs)

General Durable Power of Attorney – Simple Important Document While You Are Alive

For many, a Will and beneficiary designations are the main focus of their pre-death planning. A Will is important, of course. A Will instructs how you want the assets in your estate to be distributed, for example, to spouse, children, charities. In the absence of a Will, your estate will be distributed according to your state’s law for non-Will estates, and that might not be what you wanted or what is best for your family members and other beneficiaries. Similarly, beneficiary designations of retirement accounts (e.g., IRAs, 401(k) plans) direct the assets after death according to your wishes.

What about your assets when you are still alive? What happens if/when you become physically or mentally disabled and unable to make decisions or care for yourself? Who has the power to control and manage your assets on your behalf? Well, technically nobody unless you have a valid General Durable Power of Attorney in place. (Exceptions would be for a spouse controlling jointly-owned assets.) A General Durable Power of Attorney appoints fiduciary power in a trusted person to manage your financial assets on your behalf (i.e., exclusively for your benefit). The power can be immediate or it can be triggered by a certain event (e.g., disability). Without such a power of attorney, a legal court proceeding, with its delays and expense, would be necessary to appoint a suitable person to manage your life and your assets. A medical power of attorney is necessary to authorize a trusted person to make health care decisions for you when incapacitated.

Revocable Living Trust – Arguably the Most Flexible and Useful Estate Planning Tool

A revocable living trust keeps you in control of your assets. You can amend at any time before death. It serves as a Will substitute, managing your assets after death. In contrast to a Will, however, it offers options for managing and growing your wealth according to your wishes and your family’s circumstances long after your death, even for many generations. It avoids potentially long and expensive probate proceedings for your major assets. In other words, there is an essentially seamless transition of asset ownership upon death. After death, a revocable trust becomes irrevocable, although it can include some continued flexibility. The assets in a revocable trust are subject to estate taxes, but in view of the currently high estate tax exemption ($12+ million per individual, $6+ million starting 2026), estate tax is not an issue for most people. Assets in a revocable living trust get an automatic step-up in basis. When properly designed, the trust provides excellent asset protection to your beneficiaries (e.g., against their angry ex-spouses in divorce, against personal judgment creditors, against financially irresponsible behavior of beneficiaries). Finally, while you are alive, a co-trustee or successor trustee can manage and use trust assets for your care.

Risk-Managed Retirement Income

Surprising to many, a cash-value life insurance policy can serve as a reliable source of tax-free “income” during retirement. The income is in the form of tax-free loans secured by the cash value of the life insurance policy. Under IRC §§ 101 and 7702, cash value in a life insurance grows income tax free. In a specially designed indexed universal life (IUL) policy, cash value grows linked to one or more market indices, but is not exposed to market risk. In other words, cash value increases in a positively growing market, but it never goes backward (i.e., principal is protected in downward markets). Individual income tax rates are likely to increase in the future. Cash-value IUL, therefore, protects against both market risk and tax risk in retirement. Another risk in retirement is longevity risk, the risk of living too long. Annuities can provide market-linked growth, with no downside risk (principal protected). An annuity can also provide guaranteed lifetime income, which you can never outlive.

Copyright © 2023 Thomas Swenson, J.D.

Warning Disclaimer: This is not legal, insurance or tax advice. No person should assume that any information presented or made available on or through this article or linked websites may be construed as legal, insurance or tax planning advice. Personalized legal, insurance and financial planning and advice can only be rendered after written engagement for services. Please contact Law Office of Thomas J Swenson for further information.

Internal Revenue Service Circular 230 Disclosure: As provided for in Treasury regulations, advice (if any) relating to federal taxes that is contained in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (1) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (2) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.

5 Empowering Tracks From Female Icons To Make You Feel Inspired

Sometimes we all need a little lift. Whether you’ve had a recent knock to your confidence, have been going through stress in your personal or professional life, or have always struggled with your self-esteem, music is an essential tool for lifting your spirits and making you feel better about yourself.

According to a study by Heriot-Watt University, the type of music you listen to not only influences your mood, but also your personality, with indie and rock/heavy metal fans reporting the lowest levels of self-esteem, while fans of jazz, blues, opera, classical, pop, rap and soul all reported high levels of self-confidence.

So if you’re having a ‘down day’, why not boost your spirits by listening to some powerful, uplifting tracks? Here are five perfect confidence boosters.

Britney Spears – Toxic

Britney’s own struggles with her mental health and conservatorship have made her an inspiration for many people across the world.

This classic song is timelessly sensual, and the heavy beats throughout make it impossible not to dance to. A welcome blast of nostalgia, this tune has filled dance floors across the globe with fans old and new.

The video features Britney as a female spy playing the sexy flight attendant, seducing her passenger before she makes her escape on a motorbike and breaks into a high-security facility guarded by a laser security system.

This track and video is a guaranteed way to feel invincible, and deserves a place on your playlist no matter your mood.

Kelis – Milkshake

A cheesy classic that is guaranteed to make you feel all warm and gooey inside, Kelis pumps up the heat in this 00’s RnB track. Underpinned by intricate drum beats and electric elements, Kelis’ self-confidence is infectious, and it’s hard not to find yourself smiling at the lyrics.

This track is a great way to get into a flirtatious mindset, making it a great choice before going on a date or heading out for the evening.

And if you’re staying in? It’s a great mood lift. But beware! You may find yourself craving a sweet treat.

Eve (ft. Gwen Stefani) – Let Me Blow Your Mind

This RnB classic will capture your attention with its assertive rhythm and powerful vocals from 00’s icons Eve and Gwen Stefani. Featuring a laid-back – yet self-assured – beat, and catchy guitar riff, this is a great track for driving, and its empowering feel is sure to help you feel motivated.

Got a job interview lined up, or thinking of asking for a raise? This anthemic number is a quick way to feel positive and more assertive.

The video features Eve and Gwen Stefani crashing an exclusive event on quad bikes, causing a stir among the privileged attendants, and shoving the performer off stage to perform their own music, before finally being arrested and taken to the station in a police van.

This ‘baddie’ track helps you to tap into the hidden ‘bold’ side of your personality, and lifts your mood while keeping you feeling calm and cool.

Fergie – MILF$

If you have kids, it can be difficult to feel sexy. When you’re running around cleaning the house, changing nappies, or up to your elbows in dishwater, you can easily forget your sensual side – leaving you feeling frumpy and lacking in confidence and motivation.

Thankfully, Fergie’s comeback track is a quick remedy to your low mood and lethargy.

Featuring attractive mothers dressed in curve-hugging latex and silky lingerie going about their daily life in a dreamy, colourful suburbia, this track is a quick way to transform your self-esteem and transport you to a world where you are not just a mother, but a goddess too.

Why not shake off the day and tap into your feminine energy with Fergie, your sexiest PJs, and a bottle of your favourite wine?

Marina And The Diamonds – How To Be A Heartbreaker

Low confidence after a breakup? You’re not alone. Having your heart broken can leave you feeling depressed, undesirable, and unmotivated. So flip the tables on your ex and become a heartbreaker with Marina’s catchy club classic.

This empowering dance track will make you want to move your body and get in touch with your bad girl side, with its heavy beat and pounding rhythms.

Plus, if your libido has suffered as a result of your low mood, take a sneaky peek at the video – it will get your blood pumping with its steamy shower shots and smoking hot male models.

The Pandemic Effects on Hospitality Industries and How They Overcome It

The COVID-19 pandemic affects many aspects and many sectors of life. As a result, economic sectors are fully affected, and the hospitality industry is no exception. The hospitality industry is known to be the source of job opportunities and supports many livelihoods of millions of workers and their families. Because Indonesia is primarily reliant on the service sector, the tourist industry plays an important part in the country’s growth. The increase of the COVID-19 cases has brought about a huge increase in the number of workers getting expelled or having their work ended. How did the hospitality industry survive in this era? The pandemic has provided several opportunities for numerous hospitality industries to use specific mechanisms in order to overcome pandemic difficulties.

Tourism and hospitality industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including hotels, restaurants, resorts, travel agencies, travel and transportation, and real estate, show a significant losing number of tourists. According to the president of the Indonesia Tour Guide Association (HPI, 2020), 45,000 visitors have cancelled their plans to visit main tourist spots in the country between January and May. Furthermore, According to UNWTO (2020), 100-120 million direct and indirect activities were in jeopardy, and foreign tourist numbers decreased 56% year on year from January–May 2020. These noteworthy diminishing numbers primarily influenced the Indonesian financial state. For example, hotel profits have dropped by up to 40%, having an effect on hotel operations and risking business continuity. The drop in international visitors has an effect on the salary of restaurants whose clients are more prevailing than foreign visitors (Block, 2017). Following the dropping, many hospitality industries are taking awareness of tourists’ health risks and protocols taking an advance.

The recovery of hospitality industries is indistinguishable from the progressively sophisticated information innovation utilized to pull in potential visitors to choose to travel. The regaining of tourist attractions after a pandemic is required to utilize other promoting techniques to advertise their items inventively. First, social media marketing reaches many internet users who are looking for tourist information hospitality industry. This strategy is helpful in advertising and attracts many tourists to find more information related to a tourist attraction in the designated region. Second, Tourism industry players and visitors, as well as government action, are required to arbitrate between the two groups. Government policies must be in the form of the finest judgments to characterize the middle ground between commercial actors and visitors (Anggarini, 2021). This means that provided policy in the hospitality sector during-post pandemics maintains the best solution for both tourists and hospitality owners. Last, all tourism-related activities must adapt to current conditions, in which humans must live alongside Covid-19 (Anggarini, 2021). By all means, many factors, including health issues, hygiene, and safety for tourists, are priorities.

In conclusion, even though the pandemic is really affecting the hospitality industry as a whole, it gives many advancements of movement done by the hospitality industry to survive. Many resources are being used as the development of technology to provide data destinations insight. In addition, the sophistication of information technology can also facilitate the government in supervising the implementation of safe travel in accordance with government recommendations. All these initiations are good examples of overcoming pandemic situations while running hospitality industries.

Expert Advice For Tree Service

If you’re a resident of Clearwater, Florida and you need tree service, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll provide valueable advice on what to look for when hiring a tree service company in Clearwater and some tips on how to care for your trees throughout the year. Let’s get started!

What to look for when hiring a tree service in Clearwater, Florida?

When hiring a tree service in Clearwater, Florida, you should keep a few things in mind. The first is to make sure that the tree service company is licensed and insured. This will protect you in case something goes south during the job. Another thing to look at is whether or not the company has experience in the type of tree work you need done. Finally, be sure to get a written estimate from the company before hiring them.

The benefits of professional tree care in Clearwater, Florida

When you have trees on your property, it’s important to take care of them to stay healthy and look their best. That’s where professional tree care services come in. Tree care experts have the knowledge and experience needed to maintain your trees properly. There are many benefits to using a professional tree service in Clearwater, Florida. One advantage is that they can help you keep your trees healthy. They can also help you avoid problems such as insect infestations and diseases. Another benefit is that they can improve the appearance of your property by trimming and pruning your trees. This can add value to your home or business if you ever decide to sell.

How to prepare your property for tree service in Orlando, Florida?

When you hire a tree service company in Clearwater, Florida, there are certain things you need to do to prepare your property for the work that will be done. The first thing is to make sure all vehicles and other valuables are moved out of the way of the work area. This includes any lawn furniture or toys that might be in the way. Another important thing to do is make sure there is a clear path for the tree service company to access your property.

What to expect from the team of arborists at your home in Clearwater, Florida?

The team of arborists we send to your home in Clearwater, Florida, will be equipped with the proper tools and knowledge to take on any Tree Service Clearwater task you may need. They will work quickly and efficiently to get the job done right the first time. We guarantee that you will be satisfied with our work!