December 5, 2013 – If you’re among the lucky ones, you had some retirement money saved up in your 401(k) or IRA in 2008, lost a bunch of it in the ensuing Great Recession years, gutted it out through 2013 and now have recovered most, if not all, of the wealth you originally watched evaporate.
If you were even luckier, you stayed invested and maybe even continued to make contributions to the market and are now comfortably ahead of where you were back then.
So now what?
My choice of gambling oriented words like “lucky” and “luckier” in the first two paragraphs is not accidental. The market is, after all, a crap shoot which goes up some years and goes down others even if the longer term direction trends positive.
But nobody, and I mean NOBODY, really knows what the market will do in the future despite the availability of exhaustive data and the existence of many sound strategies designed to help “hedge your bets” if you do choose to stay in the market.
Because negative years in the stock market, when experienced closer to retirement, can disproportionately and detrimentally impact one’s chances for retirement security and happiness, many people look for safer alternatives to simplify their golden years.
Enter deferred-income annuities
Earlier this week, under the broad heading of “Best New Money Ideas,” CNNMoney featured six “Best new ways to make money” as we head into 2014.
According to the authors, one the “Best new investment ideas” is also the “Best new retirement tool . . . ”
And NEVER In a financial column.
(Emphasis on Best is ours throughout, btw)
The CNNMoney piece describes an excellent retirement strategy, growing exponentially in popularity, designed to ensure you don’t end up broke in your later years.
With life expectancies ever-increasing, designating a portion of your retirement assets NOW to guarantee lifetime income in the FUTURE is one of the Best things you can do to secure your future.
And it’s not just easy, it makes financial sense:
“lifetime annuities are . . . the most cost effective and least risky asset class for generating guaranteed retirement income for life.”
- Economists David F. Babbell and Craig B. Merril -
I hope you’ll take a few moments to read the helpful CNNMoney column.
Then give us a call. We’ll provide you with several preliminary quotes and we’ll walk you through the rest if you decide this option makes sense for you.
We like helping make people happy and helping them secure their financial futures.
You might even say it’s what we do Best.
November 22, 2013 – Average life expectancy at birth being what it was in pre-war America, it’s a sobering reality that a significant percentage of Americans who were adults aged 30 and older in 1963 are no longer around to share their “I remember the day President Kennedy was shot” stories with us.
In another 20 years or so, all of them will likely be gone.
So the story-telling will ultimately fall to those of us who were just kids on that tragic day to share our reflections until, by the 100th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, no one will be left to talk about what they remembered.
And given a kid’s natural lack of appreciation for the true significance of current events as they occur, I hope any insensitivity of our perceptions will be forgiven.
I can’t actually remember whether or not it was preceded by a P.A. announcement but sometime in the middle of the afternoon, not long after lunch and shortly before we would leave school for the weekend, Sr. Marlene told us President Kennedy had been shot.
Because we all wanted to help him get well, we were instructed to get out of our desks to kneel and pray for his recovery.
President Kennedy was, after all, the second most important Catholic in the world after the Pope.
At Holy Family, we had kneeled by our desks in prayer before. A rote exercise, like saying the Pledge of Allegiance, our regular prayers were part of our morning routine if we didn’t have Mass. Usually, though, it was not much more than a quick Hail Mary and maybe a Glory Be or two. Kneeling for a bit wasn’t a big deal.
But this day would be different.
Whether the floors were hardwood, tile, terrazzo or whatever they make anvils out of, I can’t recall. I can only tell you that people were not meant to kneel for extended periods of time on hard surfaces.
Maybe this kind of thing was de rigueur in the Middle Ages but it certainly wasn’t cutting it in 1963. At least not for me.
If the president would just hurry up and get better, we could get back in our seats. What was taking so long? Why wasn’t this working? My knees hurt!
We weren’t allowed to talk but, wondering if my classmates were equally discomforted by this cruel rite that went on for the better part of an hour if not longer, I turned toward my friend John Bodnark when Sr. Marlene wasn’t looking to see how he was holding up.
His expressive look of disbelief was only slightly reassuring that someone else felt the same as I. He mimed that he was kneeling on his fingers every so often to disperse some of the weight. Not a bad idea. I tried it. It helped and I was grateful.
Over on the other side of the aisle, Joni Baugh, the apple of my second grade eye, was downright stoic. Angelic in her sincerity with eyes closed, head bowed piously and mouthing devotions with the conviction of a saint, I was only too aware that girls just seemed to be better equipped to handle this kind of thing.
With mixed emotions of agitation and relief, we were finally allowed to board the school buses for home still believing the president was in the hospital. We may have even been sent home early. I don’t remember.
Walking through our back door by way of the garage that day (nobody used their front doors except to greet delivery people and company), my mom was waiting in the kitchen to meet my older brother and me when we arrived home from school.
“Do you know what happened today?” she asked not even bothering to find out how our day was as she usually did.
“Someone shot the president,” I responded matter of factly. “Is he okay?”
That’s how I learned John F. Kennedy was dead. My mom told me in our kitchen.
The nuns must have known by the time we left school that JFK was dead but wanted our parents to tell us the news I’m pretty sure. Probably a good call.
My mom’s delivery of the news was pretty steady. However traumatized she may have been inside, she probably didn’t want to upset her boys so she kept her emotions in check.
While this news surprised me a little bit because it never occurred to me that the president would actually die, everything in my house still looked the same so I just assumed everything would go on as usual.
I went to change out of my school uniform into my play clothes shrugging off the news of one of the seminal moments in world history.
Thanksgiving was next week and my birthday was coming up in a few days on the 25th, a birthday I shared with my baby brother, Dennis, who would be turning two and the president’s son, John-John, who would be celebrating his third birthday. I was going to be eight.
Wonder what kind of presents I would get?
The next morning was when the gravity of the situation hit me personally and really made me sit up and take notice of what was going on.
Where were the cartoons?
Every single television station, all three of them, had continuous coverage of nothing but old people talking and walking around in overcoats.
Whoever heard of a Saturday morning without cartoons?
I wanted Beany and Cecil, Quick Draw McGraw, Bugs Bunny and the rest of my regular Saturday morning pals but all I got was the drone of people talking about the same thing and no amount of protesting and complaining was going to change my weekend reality.
“You watch this. You’ll never see anything like this again as long as you live,” my dad insisted.
It would be many years before I fully appreciated how right he was.
The next day when Oswald was shot, I assumed everyone would be happy. After all, in the movies, when bad guys were shot, it was a good thing.
Wasn’t this the way it was supposed to be?
This is why I was so surprised to discover my mom talking to someone on the phone, probably her mom, late that Sunday afternoon crying because Oswald had been killed.
“First Kennedy and now Oswald,” she sobbed. “What’s this world coming to? What next?”
No comforting answers would be forthcoming.
Now I was really confused though. My mom never cried when Kennedy was shot but she cried when Oswald died? Why wasn’t she happy about this? After all, he was the bad guy, right?
As the weekend drew to a close, my final Kennedy remembrance was that of my dad and family friend Henry Withers watching the news coverage of Oswald’s assassination in our living room.
“Look at him. He’s just waitin’ for it. He knows it’s coming,” Henry insisted, an early devotee of the conspiracy theory that casts Jack Ruby as the hired gun sent to silence Oswald.
Henry and my dad spent the rest of Sunday evening drinking and debating what really happened that fateful weekend.
Within the year, our family would relocate to another city causing me to leave behind friendships that would never fully develop but paving the way for many others that never would have been.
Both events were early, if harsh, lessons that life always goes on.
Tragic events often cause people to make decisions they might not otherwise make so who knows if the Kennedy assassination had anything to do with my parents’ decision to relocate back the city where their own parents still lived.
I just know that fifty years later, people are still debating what happened in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
And even if a lot of them are doing so online instead of sitting in living rooms together, such a shared experience connects us all regardless of our backgrounds.
A few of us are even still around who can still say “I remember the day President Kennedy was shot.”
Now if only we were sure we knew the whole truth.
November 21, 2013 – My dad was a claims adjuster.
Thirty years ago, I began my insurance career as claims adjuster.
My wife, too, was a claims adjuster. We met at work.
One of my brothers was a claims adjuster.
So was his godfather.
All told, my family and our assorted godparents can lay claim (pun intended) to about 150 years of adjusting and insurance experience.
So when, while reading an article entitled “One JFK conspiracy theory that could be true,” I learned that one of the world’s preeminent Kennedy assassination researchers is a retired claims adjuster, I knew this was a guy whose opinion I was going to value.
Not unlike a claims adjuster who uncovers an original receipt for an item on a theft inventory for which the insured estimated a different figure, he values only the verifiable.
The world will likely never be satisfied with the Warren Commission report or any of the subsequent theories of “Who Really Killed JFK?”
But with a professionally trained insurance adjuster looking into things, we can at least take comfort in knowing every possible (dare I say, Oliver) Stone is being unturned.
November 20, 2013 – It’s too bad Las Vegas isn’t taking bets on this hypothetical match-up: Structured settlements vs. stocks.
I’m not much of a gambler myself but if I were and they were, I’d put a whole lot of money on structured settlements coming out on top.
And if yesterday’s CNNMoney article, “Welcome to the 4% return market” is any indication, I wouldn’t be alone since “among a growing group of forecasters, 4% is becoming something of a consensus.”
If you don’t want to read the short article yourself, here’s one of the major take aways:
Since The Great Depression, stocks have risen just 4% a year in the decade following a market where P/E ratios have traded where they are now.
But we’d like to remind you: When stocks are cashed out, taxes are due on the gain whereas structured settlement payouts stemming from a personal, physical injury claim are paid 100% income tax-free.
In other words, the experts are predicting that the best case scenario for stocks is right about where tax equivalent yields for structured settlements are right now.
So we can’t help wondering:
Who would willingly risk being on the losing end of a bet whose best case scenario equals the guaranteed sure thing?
The worst case scenario for stocks, of course, is something like 2009 all over again even if that scenario seems unlikely. In poker, they’d call that hand a bust.
So even though nobody’s actually taking bets on the imaginary structured settlement vs. stocks card, we’ve got our phantom money riding on structured settlements all the way.
Every situation is unique, of course, but those who choose the tried and true method of resolving their personal injury claim with a structured settlement always leave the tables with money in their pockets.
And that’s the closest thing to a sure bet as you’re ever likely to see.
Click on the Smiley Face . . .
. . . to be transferred to our November 15, 2013 newsletter where you can learn about two choices you can make that are scientifically proven to make you happier.
November 13, 2013 – Rumors began circulating this afternoon that Johnson & Johnson has agreed to a $4.0 billion products liability settlement to end the litigation of more than 7,500 pending lawsuits in state and federal courts, alleging metal-on-metal artificial hips, manufactured be subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics, were defective.
If this turns out to be true then we weren’t far off on our prediction a few days ago that such a settlement was nigh. In a game of horseshoes, this would have been called a “leaner” worth two points.
We’ll remained focused on the details of this settlement with great interest (assuming it pans out) as it unfolds over the course of the coming weeks and months and stand ready to assist anyone who can benefit from the unique advantages structured settlements afford them in this type of litigation.
NOTE: It’s important to stress at this time that the terms of any settlement are said to be confidential so any reports, including this one, should be considered unofficial.
For additional information on how you can benefit from structuring your DePuy hip settlement, please visit our companion website dedicated to this unique class of plaintiffs to learn how we can help and why we feel so strongly about this particular group of lawsuits.
Thank you for the opportunity to be of service!
November 7, 2013 – When you follow large, complex class action or mass tort products liability litigation matters, as we have been doing for several years with the DePuy ASR artificial hip lawsuits, it’s hard to predict with any degree of accuracy when things are finally going to end.
But there are signs that things could be coming to a femoral head on this litigation in the not-too-distant future.
From the March, 2009 filing of the first products liability lawsuit against DePuy alleging its ASR artificial hips were defective;
Through the August, 2010 worldwide recall of the device by DePuy Orthopaedics;
Through the December, 2010 multidistrict litigation (MDL) consolidation of a number of cases in Northern Ohio;
Through the $8.35 million verdict in Los Angeles – Kransky v. DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc. – in March, 2013;
Through a couple of recent postponements of several bellwether cases scheduled to begin this year and ongoing rumblings that Johnson & Johnson, DePuy’s parent company, has been weighing a $3.0 billion offer to settle more than 11,000 of the pending lawsuits;
Our firm has been monitoring this matter with great personal and professional interest.
And while we’re not taking any wagers on the matter, our tea leaves are leading us to believe this matter could be on the cusp of resolving.
If and when any plaintiffs involved in the DePuy ASR hip litigation do find themselves anticipating any settlements, we hope they’ll let us talk to them about the benefits of structuring their settlement.
We understand. We listen. We care.
That’s why three years ago we created a special companion website
to demonstrate to clients why this litigation is so personal to this firm.
We want to make sure everybody involved is aware of their settlement options and how we can help.
So please take a few minutes to watch our video and let us know what questions you have. We look forward to being of service.
And if the litigation resolves later rather than sooner, that’s OK. Just call us when it does. We’ll still be here to help you.
Posted: November 7, 2013 | by Dan Finn | Category: Blog | Comments Off
November 5, 2013 – About a decade ago, someone came up with a novel way for people to promote a particular belief or to advance a personal cause or organization about which they felt strongly.
Silicone wrist bands.
Part fashion statement and part statement PERIOD, wearing one was a creative way to tell others how you felt about something without being “too preachy” while also helping you identify kindred spirits along the way with whom you held shared experiences or convictions.
I personally never jumped on that bandwagon (pun intended) even though I appreciated the sentiment behind its creation. Heck, I rarely ever even wear a watch!
But one particular silicone wrist adornment has really been on my mind quite a bit of late.
The Ohio State Buckeye football team is presently the No. 4 ranked team in the nation. The team currently boasts the longest winning streak in the country going 17 games in a row (two years) without a loss.
If a few more things fall into place for them during the next few weeks, Ohio State could end up playing for the 2014 BCS National Championship in January.
(Full disclosure: Ohio State is this author’s alma mater and he wouldn’t mind seeing OSU play Oregon in a Big Ten/Pac-12 match-up at the Rose Bowl for old time’s sake.)
The bigger story that seems to be gaining more traction with every passing week, though, may not be the team’s ranking at all. But rather the E + R = O silicone wrist bands some of the players are boasting and the story behind them.
Second year head coach Urban Meyer is not just teaching football X’s and O’s. He’s fostering leadership on his team by adopting a simple formula that is a popular topic on the motivational speaking circuit: E + R = O.
E + R = O stands for for Event + Response = Outcome.
The philosophy goes something like this:
You cannot control an Event that comes your way
You CAN control your Response to that event
Your Response to the Event determines your Outcome
And at Ohio State, one leader’s R becomes another player’s E which then creates a new leadership opportunity. The cycle continues feeding upon itself as one success begets another success. And so on.
Next thing you know, the Buckeyes are undefeated and contending for a championship despite having a relatively young group of players.
Short, sweet and a lot of fun to think about, this formula has implications well beyond the football field, however. In our practice, we can find applications nearly everywhere we turn.
In mediation: How will Party A respond to Party B’s “unreasonable” offer/demand (the Event)? How will the mediator’s Response influence the Outcome?
In settlement discussions: Will a plaintiff choose a structured settlement if offered (the Event)? Or reject it (the Response) out of hand despite strong anecdotal evidence that all cash settlements can dissipate very rapidly (the Outcome) leaving them without money after a short while?
In retirement decision making: Will someone getting ready to retire (Event) roll his/her 401k balance into some type of annuity (Response) that will provide guaranteed cash flows they can never outlive (Outcome)? Or will they have a different response?
For more than 20 years, I have personally assisted people who Responded to the unplanned Event in their lives (an accident) by choosing a structured settlement when their claim resolved as a means of helping to secure their long-term financial Outcome.
Spend enough time thinking about it and you can see the formula’s impact on almost every facet of your own life.
So whatever your profession or status in life, next time something unexpected comes your way, think about how your response, not the event itself, will ultimately determine what happens next.
And if you’re so inclined, go ahead and yell “Go Bucks!” while you’re at it. Some of us will get it.
“O – H . . . “
October 25, 2013 – In just about eight more weeks, the 2013 calendar will be ready for the recycle bin.
For contingency fee-based plaintiff attorneys who’ve had a successful year, recycling one of the best-ever tax deferral strategies is also on their minds as 2013 winds down: Structured Attorney Fees.
Since the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, our firm has experienced an EXPLOSION of requests from attorneys inquiring about structuring their fees.
Add to that the impact of Proposition 30 in California and similar tax increases in other states across the nation and the importance of effective tax planning for successful plaintiff attorneys becomes clearer.
These various tax hikes have combined to affect so many practitioners this year that structured attorney fees account for approximately 36% OF ALL OUR FIRM’S ACTIVITY so far in 2013.
Yet surprisingly, attorneys who would never dream of leaving money on the table during a negotiation for one of their clients do it all the time when it comes to their own finances.
That’s where we can help.
With the right amount of analysis and planning, attorneys can arrange to structure their fee so that they credit the income in a future year (often, when an anticipated tax bracket will be lower) to maximize tax efficiency.
Add some pre-tax interest earned and most conclude that they simply cannot pass up such a money saving strategy.
So don’t leave YOUR money on the tax table. Put it in your own pocket instead. Call us for an analysis BEFORE you finalize your client’s settlement.
True, interest rates might seem low by historical standards but it really depends on your frame of reference.
That’s why we created this one-page flyer for you: Historical Long-Term Interest Rates
Taking a broader view of history, many people are shocked to learn that precedent exists which makes very real the possibility that interest rates probably aren’t going to be heading too far north anytime soon.
Oh, sure, they’ll probably go up. Then again, they may go down. But whatever they do, history is telling us there’s a very good chance they’re going to remain in their current range for awhile. Possibly for an entire generation. “Bond King” Bill Gross recently said as much.
Truthfully, though, only time will tell.
But while bond traders may obsess about interest rate changes, making and losing small fortunes along the way, people who have the opportunity lock into one of the most highly secure, tax-advantaged opportunities ever conceived (aka a structured settlement annuity) should ask themselves one very important question:
“What else am I gonna do with this money?”
If your needs are very short term, then choose cash.
But if you’re seeking safety, security and superior COMPARATIVE rate of return for long-term financial stability, nothing can match the benefits of structured settlements.
When put into place for a personal physical injury, all principal AND interest is 100% income tax-free making the comparative yield significantly better than most bonds.
When a structured settlement is chosen for a personal non-physical injury, all proceeds, principal and interest are taxable; however, because interest is earned on pre-tax dollars otherwise lost in the year of dispersal, the comparative yields can be up to 4-times better than anything else the individual can find without assuming significantly more risk.
This is why so many smart attorneys choose to regularly structure their attorney fees, by the way.
So I hope you find our flyer helpful as you plan for your future. While you’re at it, check out the entire new BROCHURE section of our website where you can find lots of helpful information in easy-to-read pamphlets.
Posted: October 10, 2013 | by Dan Finn | Category: Blog | Comments Off