The Importance of Humor
By Robert Stuberg | October 26, 2016
Have you ever thought about how important humor is to your life? In thinking about the subject for the past few days, I found myself reflecting on how critical humor really is in our lives.
I can’t imagine going through a day without laughter. In fact, when I think about those times in my life that were the most difficult, I find myself remembering how somber things seemed. There was little humor and not much laughter. Conversely, when I think about those times from the past when I was most alive, I immediately begin to recall experiences that made me laugh.
Certainly one of the best ways to ruin your life would be to take everything too seriously, especially yourself. Have you ever noticed how really successful people are able to laugh at themselves? I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone worthy of modeling who didn’t make humor an integral part of his or her life.
While much has been written over the years about how to be happy and successful, most people shy away from talking about how to be unhappy and unsuccessful. But, of course, studying contrasts can be very enlightening.
When it comes to being unhappy or miserable, I think I’ve learned a formula that never fails. See what you think. It’s simply this: Remove humor from your life. Don’t laugh. Don’t look for the humor in the experiences you go through on a daily basis. That’ll do the trick don’t you think? All you have to do to add unhappiness and misery to your life is to remove humor. That will undoubtedly help you find your way to total misery.
Luckily, the reverse is also true and I think we all know it deep down. So the question is: Why don’t we laugh more? Why don’t we look for ways to lighten up and find more levity and have more fun? I think like a lot of good things in life, we tend to forget what works and we need to be reminded of the simple truths.
Humor will make every part of your life better. It will help you through difficult times and it will help you make the good times even better. It will attract good people and good situations to you. You’ll become a magnet for positive experiences. And it’s well documented that daily laughter will make you healthier.
But, of course, there is a downside. You may start to lose some people in your life. People who don’t have a good sense of humor will probably start avoiding you. They’ll probably start to wonder if you’ve joined some kind of weird cult. And, of course, you’ll have to decide how to handle this. Should you try to change them or try to get them to laugh once and awhile? Sure. It might help. But don’t be surprised if they fail to see the humor and continue on with their sour way of looking at the world. Ultimately, we can’t change others, we can only change ourselves.
Besides, have you ever noticed how some people wouldn’t be happy if they weren’t miserable? There may actually be something humorous about that.
Estate Planning is Not an Event
by Don Pendelton | October 22, 2016
Contrary to the way many people discuss estate planning, it is not an event. It’s not accurate to say, “I’ve completed my estate plan.” Estate planning is not something you do once and forget. Your plan must change and grow throughout your lifetime, or it is unlikely to work when it is needed most!
Most of our clients want to make sure that their plans take advantage of all lifetime benefits and make the eventual administration of the estate as simple and cost effective as possible. The best way to do that is to make sure you keep your plan and its related documents up to date. Failure to keep things current can be very costly.
There are many life-changing events that might cause you to schedule a review. Here are a few to consider:
Buying or Selling an Asset
If you are using the most common estate planning tool, the revocable living trust, that trust is not fully effective unless it controls the assets that make up your estate. Once designed, the trust should become the owner or beneficiary of virtually everything you own (your attorney can tell you about exceptions to this general rule). That is called “funding” the trust. Over time, however, you will sell assets and replace them with new assets. It’s easy for a trust to become “unfunded” and therefore ineffective.
Divorce or Remarriage
Many state laws have provisions for cancelling bequests to ex-spouses after divorce. But that may just be the beginning. It is also important to check beneficiary designations on other assets such as life insurance (both individual and group policies), retirement plans, annuities, and bank accounts. Divorce also means the loss of important tax deferral advantages which could mean a significant estate tax due at death. Of course, re-marriage triggers a similar need for review and updating of the entire plan.
Changes in the Family
In many cases, new additions to your family will be handled by your existing estate plan. Be sure it covers not only births, but adoptions as well. In cases where you may have made special arrangements for children or grandchildren, you will want to schedule a regular review to make sure that all is being handled properly.
Like divorce, the death of a spouse can mean a major change to your estate tax picture. In the event of the death of another family member, you will want to review your plan to ensure that your distribution scheme continues to work the way you want it to.
Numerous families are now dealing with the issue of aging parents. Some have taken over the role of key care-giver and need to make sure that if something happens to them, alternative plans are in place for looking after an aging or ailing parent. This could include things like naming dependent parents as beneficiaries, or creation of a detailed successor care-giver structure.
The people you name as guardians, conservators, health care representatives and trustees are often family members who are most often chosen for their relationship with you, along with specific skills and abilities. A change in your relationship with them or in their ability to serve will require an update to your plan.
A Move to Another State
For many clients, a move to a new state should trigger an estate plan review. Will you be a permanent resident or only in winter months? Where will you get your driver’s license and register vehicles? Where will you vote? The answer to these questions and others will determine your legal residency and control such things as state income tax, inheritance tax, and other issues about administration of your affairs if you become disabled or die. The rights of your spouse and the rights of your children may change along with a change of address. Assets may need to be retitled in order to make sure your wishes are accomplished. Important benefits may be lost as a result of a move to a new state. All of these things require a review of your plan.
Selling or Buying a Business
In many ways, selling a business makes estate planning easier, since you now are dealing with a liquid asset (cash proceeds) as opposed to a non-liquid asset that may be hard to divide among family members. This means that current provisions concerning ongoing operations of the business may no longer be applicable and should be reviewed.
Buying a business will also trigger the need for a review. Depending on the type of business and the involvement of other family members, you may need to update your basic documents as well as deal with business succession and buy-sell issues. Lack of liquidity may now be an issue and you may want to consider adding life insurance to your estate plan in order to provide liquidity for estate equalization, debt repayment, or estate tax. Finding the most tax-efficient ownership structure for life insurance is another reason for an update or review.
Estate and financial planning are subjects that become particularly important at retirement. Beneficiary designations, decisions on withdrawals from retirement accounts, as well as many other issues are key factors triggering the need for an update.
Changes in the Law
For larger estates, a changing tax code is reason enough to keep your plan updated. Over the last 25 years, there have been numerous tax changes. The only thing you can count on with tax laws is that they will change again. Sometimes non-tax laws change at the federal or state level which also requires a review of your estate plan. Over the past several years, changes to HIPPA privacy laws have been enacted which impact your health care power of attorney documents. Various changes in laws at the state level affect inheritance taxation. Your estate plan should be an ongoing part of your financial and family life – changing as often as life changes!
Note: Protect Wealth Academy, LLC is America’s leading training company on lawsuit protection, estate planning, and income tax reduction. For more information, or to attend one of our 3-Day Workshops, visit us at www.ProtectWealth.com or call 800-276-1430.
A Willingness to Pay the Price
by Brandon Boyd | September 20, 2016
Brian Tracy says time and time again that one of the most important requirements for success is the quality of WILLINGNESS. Those are want to become successful are willing to PAY THE PRICE, whatever it is and for as long as it takes, until you have achieved the results you desire.
Nearly everyone wants to be healthy, happy, thin, and rich, yet most people are not willing to pay the price. They may be willing to pay PART of the price, but not the whole price. They typically have some kind of excuse or they rationalize as to why they cannot achieve what they desire to achieve. So the question is, how do you know when you have truly paid the price? Its simple: Look around you. Look at your current lifestyle, your bank account, your happiness, and your relationships with others. Is it what you imagined in your minds eye? Your outer world typically reflects what has gone on in your inner world and also tells the tale if you have paid the price or not.
A lot of experts say that success can only be rented, not owned. It must always be paid in FULL, and in advance. Its not like a restaurant where you pay AFTER you have enjoyed your meal.
As Zig Ziglar puts it,
“The elevator to success is out of order, but the stairs are always open.”
Speaking of experts, you need to learn from them. Read their books. Listen to their audios. Attend their seminars. Those who you listen to and take action from is a great indication of the direction you are heading in life and the type of results you may have in the near future, whether that be good or bad. Choose wisely, for as the Bible states, “Faith comes by hearing.
The Real Meaning of Destiny
by Robert Stuberg | August 19, 2016
The first step toward mastering your destiny is simply acknowledging that it’s possible to exert control over your life. You must accept, as we’ve discussed, that you have the power to exert that control. Unfortunately, few people really live in this way.
For many, the word destiny conveys a curious, even mystical concept. The dictionary calls destiny “the predetermined, usually inevitable or irresistible course of events.” It is a definition that appears to have many interpretations.
For some, destiny means life is controlled, even predestined, by external forces over which individuals have little or no say.
The ancient Greeks, for example, believed that a person’s future was determined by three goddesses called the Fates, or the Destinies. The first Fate, Clotho, spun the thread of life. The second, Lachesis, measured the length of the thread so that the last Fate, Atropos, would know where to cut the thread to end the individual’s life.
Since Ancient Greece, people have found reason to believe sincerely that their individual destinies were determined by such other disparate forces as gods, astrological signs, spirits, numerology, and even aliens from outer space! For some, divine predestination is an important religious belief. Some are convinced that individual fate is determined solely by either heredity or environment or both.
The obvious problems with such preemptive prescriptions for life is that they not only relieve individuals of the responsibility for their actions, but they rob us of incentive and initiative to live up to our potential. It reminds me of what I call the “conveyor belt” philosophy of life. With this outlook, we merely have to step on at the beginning and be carried through life without initiative or interruption to a predetermined destination. It may be safe, it may be secure and undemanding, but it leaves little room for creativity, individual achievement, or opportunities to enjoy the ride.
Let’s look again at the definition of the word destiny. It says that destiny is “the predetermined, usually inevitable or irresistible course of events.” What’s missing here, of course, is the who! Who predetermines the course of events? I certainly don’t mean to fault or take issue with those who, by religious teaching or tradition do ascribe a part of the direction or influence for their lives to a higher power. But I don’t think any of us can afford to abdicate complete responsibility for what happens in our lives.
If we’re to progress, if we’re to succeed, if we’re to reap the rewards of our efforts, each of us has to be the one who predetermines and makes inevitable or irresistible the course of events in our lives.
Consider Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” We have to give him credit for recognizing the inevitable consequences of his old ways. In the end of the story, he leaves us with the timeless and uplifting lesson that not only do we each predetermine our individual fate in life, but we each have the power, through our own actions, to shape a more rewarding destiny for ourselves at any time.
These reflections on individual destiny always bring me back to the familiar but reliable saying that God, or whatever higher power you prefer, always helps those who help themselves. I don’t believe anyone is entered as a favorite in the human race. Certainly some people start out with more than others, but everyone is given opportunities to advance in the world, and everyone has the free will and power to act on those opportunities. We all are empowered to reach our highest potential. Not to do so is a waste of the gifts of talent and free will that are our natural birthright.
So I urge you to define your destiny as a self-charted path to the successful future that you’ve decided to create. Experience the full potential of your destiny by exercising the power of your talents and the free will you have been given. Consider your destiny as a happy, exciting, and fulfilling journey that is always in progress, not just a final destination. It is the sum total of your well-designed life. It is the highest expression of what you believe. Your destiny is predetermined by you and is always subject to change for the better.
You can look at your life in two ways: that your destiny is something that happens to you, or that it’s something you actively create. For me, the choice here is obvious. Become the architect of your own life. Use your power over your destiny to design your future and shape the world around you. Be the one who makes things happen!