Mind Your Own Business
May, 2017 - Issue #151
Serious Consequences for Pedestrian Accidents and
Heavy foot-traffic areas are prominent throughout Santa Clarita, and drivers not only forget that pedestrians have the right of way, but they forget that pedestrians are not afforded the same protections as drivers inside vehicles. In fact, pedestrian accidents are among the leading causes of fatal roadside accidents in the entire nation - and fatalities continue to increase.
Catastrophic injuries, including brain injuries and spinal cord injuries; broken bones, fractures and contusions; traumatic neck, back, and spine injuries; paralysis or quadriplegia; loss of limbs; and death - these are all-too-frequent results of distracted driving.
We live in an age in which drivers are constantly barraged with technology and distractions. Although there are strict laws that forbid the use of hand-held devices while driving, many drivers still use cell phones or send texts. Fatalities and injuries can happen in a split second and it is this type of careless behavior that your legal team should seek out to correct by seeking justice.
The Law Offices of Gerald L. Marcus 296-2992
Pensions & Promisesby Arif Halaby
For many decades, the promise from California state and local governments to its employees included a retirement pension that lasted for the rest of their life, and if married, the life of their spouse. The details of those pensions depended on the entity for which you worked. However, they all went something like this: "Work for us for a set number of years - usually 20 or 30 - and we will give you a set number of dollars - monthly income - for the rest of your life." It was dependent on the amount you earned in the last couple of years, the type of job you had and your age at retirement.
That "promise" was initially meant to attract quality workers to a type of job that had stability and health benefits but not very high pay. Fast forward years later and we now have high-paying jobs in the government sectors along with pensions and benefits that employees could never outlive. Under the life expectancy of retirees during years past and the population of previous generations, this was a sustainable idea. Today, it is a completely different story. Some reports have the State of California at a $100+ billion shortfall.
We do not and cannot meet the current pension obligations to those that are yet to retire or those that are recently retired but did so at a younger age, say 50 to 55 years old. That includes most teachers, city/state employees, law enforcement and firefighters. Statistically, by the time a person passes away, their will have been at least two other people collecting a pension for that exact same job and one still working in that job.
After a recent trip to Sacramento to visit and speak with law makers and policy advisors, I am convinced there is zero opportunity for California to fix its looming pension crisis without massive reforms. The current majority party and legislative leadership have no desire to fix a problem that has been in the making for over a decade. In fact, the governor and legislatures in charge of the agenda and direction of this state government seem to believe that the tax payers will come up with the money from somewhere, somehow. Imagine being like most Californians who do not have a pension and must pay an extra 10 percent to 20 percent per year in taxes so that a county worker can retire in the Caribbean and sit on a beach. This is about math and logic.
So, what can you do to protect your retirement income and lifestyle? Start with your personal retirement savings plan. It may be called a 401k, a 403b, or a 457 (Deferred Compensation) which is designed for you to add to each pay period. Fund this account to the maximum for as long as you can. Next, diversify your other assets. Have accounts that protect your principal when the stock market goes down such as Fixed Index Annuities and real estate. Remember, your pension fund is also invested mainly in the stock and bond market. When the market goes down, it could also affect your pension and retirement plan from work.
Finally, keep all long-term debt to a minimum. That means you should not co-sign for your children's student loans, also called PLUS loans. Pay off your cars and any other debt attached to an asset that depreciates (i.e., cars, boats). Plan for a reduction in benefits either through low or no annual cost-of-living increases, or an actual pay cut depending on your age. Many Californians have decided to retire out of state, and law makers seem as though they could not care less.
Arif Halaby is the CEO of Total Financial Solutions. 753-9683
Estate Plan Updated
Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. Undoubtedly there are certain life events that prompt the need to check your estate plan to keep it up to date in order for your plan to effectively achieve your goals. Some of these include:
Marriage: If you made your estate plan while unmarried, it needs to be changed after marrying your spouse.
Childbirth: After the birth of a first child it makes sense to update your plan and to designate a guardian.
Buying Property: Buying a new property is usually the most common reason people need to revisit their plan for a simple update to keep everything in order.
Refinancing: When you refinance, most lenders will remove your home from your trust, complete the refinance and then add your home back to your trust. You'll want to double check that your home is added back because this step is oftentimes overlooked and can lead to complications.
Major Financial Transactions: If you inherit money or sell a business, stock, or other property, it makes sense to review where your estate plan directs your property to go.
Keeping your estate plan up to date typically takes less than one hour each year. It's an easy thing to do and will maintain the protection you've set in place for your family and loved ones.
Edward O'Hare, Esq. of O'Hare Law 284-5000