Managing Money In Old Age

Managing Money In Old Age

As people get older and ease into retirement, there are always finances looming overhead. It is also crucial to update your estate plan at this time, or establish one if you have yet to do so. What do you need to do to manage your finances most effectively for retirement, and when do you need to start thinking about it? Here are a few ideas that will help you manage your money in the best way possible as you get older.

Keep it Simple

Take a long hard look at all of your financial accounts. Ask yourself if you still need each account or if it is something that you can roll into another account or get rid of completely. A good example of this is if you have old 401Ks from several different employers. Rolling them into a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA could be a good option. Keeping things like this on one taxable account instead of several will help make your finances easier. This will reduce mistakes on your financial and tax papers.

There may be some cases where you need an extra account. For example, you might want to keep an emergency fund or investment for your kids separate. This is fine, as long as you keep in mind that it will make your finances a little more complex.

To further help you simplify, set up direct deposit for regular income, such as social security checks, to go into your bank account. Not only will this keep you from needing to go to the bank as often, but it will ensure that your money gets where it needs to go with less chance of human error.

The fewer investment accounts and bank accounts you have open, the less likely you are to be a target for fraud. It will also be easier to detect if you are a victim of fraud if you only have a few accounts to oversee. You need to make a master list of all your accounts once you have them in order. In the event someone has to help you with your finances, or you no longer have the capacity to handle them yourself, a master list will be very helpful.

A Helping Hand

Once you have all of your accounts simplified, you may want to consider finding someone you can trust to help you with your finances. The first step is to make sure your spouse is involved and you are both on the same page. Is there another family member or friend you trust? You can also hire a financial advisor if you want to steer clear of extra family involvement. Getting an extra person involved in your finances does not mean you need to turn total control over, it is just an extra set of eyes to make sure there is no suspicious activity. It also helps this person understand how you run and control your finances should the time come where they need to fully take over the responsibility.

Some families prefer the option of hiring a money manager so that they can spend time with their family members and enjoy their company while not stressing over the finances. If you decide to use an outside person’s help, you need to make sure they are qualified in money managing and finances. There is no regulation on this, so you need to do your research before giving out all of your information. The American Association of Daily Money Managers offers certification for money managers that requires a criminal background check and a written exam. You can go to the website and search for money managers that have this certification before making a final decision.

Estate Plan Ahead

There are several steps to take as you plan ahead for your finances. The idea is to plan all of this out well before you are incapable of managing your own finances. While planning for the worst may be a hard thing to do, it is necessary for everyone as they get older. A good place to start is by setting up a durable power of attorney.

Have a durable power of attorney written up with a person that you trust. As you continue forward with your plans, your trusted person will have full control over your finances should you become incapacitated or otherwise incapable of handling it on your own. While you still retain full capacity to make decisions, this type of power of attorney lets you change your agent or revoke the document entirely whenever you wish.

There are many other steps to take for proper estate planning. Check out our other blog here that goes over the most important documents required for a good estate plan in California.

If your finances are placed in the wrong hands, this could lead to abuse of your estate. It is best to consult an attorney that is well studied in elder law as you write up the durable power of attorney, so you can make sure you are safe from exploitation. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys is a great website to visit to find a specialized attorney within your area. If you need help with your estate planning in the Ventura County area of California, contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez. We have handled thousands of estate plans, and we know how to help set up your documentation and keep them safe.

Final Expenses

Having a will and testament is very important for any estate plan. Your will makes it so that there is no question within the family about how your financial assets will be handled when the time comes. It is possible to write this up yourself, but it’s better to have an attorney help. That way, you can make sure there are no unanswered questions and your wishes are carried out just the way you want them. If you’re interested, you can check out this blog to find out what happens when someone dies without a will in California.

Make sure to set up accounts for your long-term care and funeral costs. This could be a specific savings account that you deposit into, or it could be something built into your life insurance policy. Having this in place lessens the burden for you and your family.

Simplifying your accounts and getting all your finances and estate planning documents in place makes your elder years more enjoyable for you and your family. While at first it can seem scary and confusing, just imagine how much worse it would be to sort it all out when you are no longer able to do so on your own and your family would have to get involved. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to find financial and legal assistance to make sure that everything is correct and exactly how you want it. Proper estate planning is key, and the sooner you start to simplify, the better.

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

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Retail Apocalypse: Retail Stores Closing and Filing for Bankruptcy

Retail Apocalypse: Retail Stores Closing and Filing for Bankruptcy

With the shift of a lot of shopping going to the Internet, retail chains are struggling. Many have recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and there are an unprecedented number of retail stores closing across the U.S. It’s easier to log onto a website and shop than it is to go into a store and look around. There is more convenience in online shopping. You can be comfortable at home, and they are more likely to have the style and size you are looking for. So how will any of these retailers hang on to their in-store customers? How will they survive the online shopping boom? Some of them wont, and we are going to take a closer look at this problem.

Stores Aimed at Teenage Shoppers

Many of the recent struggling retailers are those like Wet Seal and The Limited. These brands are targeted at teens and are an in-the-moment brand. Young shoppers won’t have an extended loyalty to these stores as they get older. Over the course of two years, Wet Seal had a staggering loss of $150 million. The company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closed more than 330 stores nationwide in 2015. In January of 2017, The Limited’s women’s chain also took a hit from online shopping, closing all 250 of its remaining stores. In February, Wet Seal filed for bankruptcy again and also closed the rest of its stores.

Abercrombie and Fitch has also been hurt by these in-the-moment shoppers, with fast fashion stores like H&M coming out on top. The chain had to close 60 stores at the beginning of 2017. To keep customers coming, A&F took a new approach with more customer engagement. By creating a fashion runway with mannequins in the middle of the store and allowing customers to change the lighting in the dressing rooms, A&F are hoping to keep the customers coming. This is a new fast way of customer engagement, and in the instant gratification shopping age, this idea just might work.

Major Retail Chains

Retailers aimed at teen shoppers are not the only stores feeling the effects of online sales. JC Penney, once the go-to retailer for middle America, plans on closing 150-300 stores nationwide in 2017. Under a former executive for Home Depot, Marvin Ellison, it appears the retailer most known for apparel sales is attempting to broaden its appeal. Imitating stores like Sears, Roebuck & Company, JC Penney is opening more showroom stores for appliances, custom blinds, and flooring options. This may be one way to keep the retailer going as they try to maintain fewer retail stores and build up a home improvement side to the business. Only time will tell if this works.

Sears was one of the first retailers to feel the pull of online shopping starting a over a decade ago. Sears and its sister discount store, Kmart, closed 130 stores in 2016 and are set to close an additional 150 this year. Kmart has a history of financial struggle. It emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2003, and merged with Sears around that time. It will be interesting to see if retailers that are going a new route, like JCP, will hurt Sears even more as they increase in overlap.

American retail icon Macy’s is also set to take a punch from online shopping this year as it is geared to close 100 stores. It is also selling some of its prime locations in hopes of keeping a profit off of a few of its brick and mortar stores. It’s clear that Macy’s will need to revamp its presence, but this could take years.

Retailers for Specific Shoppers

It’s not just major retailers that are hurting, as businesses geared at specific demographics are closing shop as well. Children’s Place is planning to close 300 stores by 2020. Knowing this is coming, the retailer has struck a deal with online powerhouse Amazon.com to sell its clothing online while using Amazon as a replenishment program of sorts. By closing these stores, Children’s Place will attempt to boost inventory production and connect with a larger audience of internet shoppers. This seems to be a good option for them, as parents are busy, and online shopping is easier than dragging your kids through the mall to shop for clothes.

Another retail-specific store that did not hold up well to Internet shopping is RadioShack. The electronics seller closed 552 stores this spring. Websites like Amazon.com and NewEgg.com have become a hub for electronic consumers, and RadioShack could not handle the loss of customers. If you want to read more about RadioShack’s long history and current struggles with bankruptcy, check out a more in-depth blog on the topic here. Other electronics-based retailers like Circuit City also fell victim recently.

The Future of Retail

What does this all mean to the U.S. retail store market? Some stores, like Abercrombie and Fitch and Children’s Place, have started making changes to try to keep up. Others have already failed.

The unprecedented amount of brick and mortar retail stores closing over the past few years reveals a change in technology and society’s views towards shopping. It shows that we are now in a time where consumers care less about brand loyalty and more about instant gratification. Yes, you still need to wait for your purchase to arrive in the mail, but the consumer knows it’s on its way. The product has been purchased. No walking the mall looking for the right dress, no needing to travel to another store to get that shirt in the right size, and no need to return to the store when that Bluetooth speaker is shipped from another location. All these things can now be done from the comfort of your own home.

Attorney Dan Higson can help with your bankruptcy case, and can answer any questions you have about Chapter 11, Chapter 13, and Chapter 7 bankruptcies. Contact Dan today at 805-644-7111!

Payless ShoeSource Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Payless ShoeSource Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Brief History of Payless ShoeSource

Payless ShoeSource is an American discount shoe retailer based in Topeka, Kansas. Cousins Shaol and Louis Pozez established the company in 1956. The stores became more widespread in the 1980’s as a result of its Pro Wings brand. These shoes were notable for the use of Velcro instead of shoelaces. Recently, the company has established over 4,400 locations in more than 30 countries.

As of 2012, Blum Capital and Golden Gate Capital privately own Payless ShoeSource. Unfortunately, the company has struggled in the following years. In 2016, it closed all of its stores in Australia. This destroyed around 730 jobs. On April 5, 2017, Payless ShoeSource filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. As a result of the reorganization, the company decided to close over 400 locations within the United States. The closures hit the West Coast hard, since nearly 50 of these failed stores were in California. The timing of store closures depended upon each location. A complete list of Payless ShoeSource closing store locations can be found here.

Chapter 11 Reorganization

By filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Payless ShoeSource will attempt to reorganize the company in order to have a stronger footing going forward. The company plans to reduce its debt by 50% and lower the interest payments. According to Payless, lenders have agreed to pay up to $385 million to keep the rest of the stores operational.

Modern Retail Store Struggles

When asked about the bankruptcy case, Payless ShoeSource Chief Executive Paul Jones stated, “This is a difficult, but necessary, decision driven by the continued challenges of the retail environment, which will only intensify.” In the modern age, many brick and mortar retail stores are seriously struggling. Shoppers tend to make purchases online or at discount outlets. Even discount stores such as Payless ShoeSource are failing to keep up.

2016 and 2017 have been full of bankruptcies and store closures for many companies. Clothing companies are also having problems staying open. Teenage clothing store Wet Seal attempted Chapter 11 reorganization in 2015. However, it completely failed by 2017, closing all locations and terminating all employees. The Limited filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early 2017 and decided to close all brick and mortar locations. The company will continue to provide online sales, but many jobs were lost in the process.

With the rise in online sales and so many stores closing across the United States, it’s hard to imagine a revival of brick and mortar stores and shopping malls in the future. Many of the businesses that want to remain successful will have to adapt to the changing sales environment of the 21st Century. Hopefully Payless ShoeSource can use this Chapter 11 reorganization to find a place for itself in modern retail business.

RadioShack’s Rollercoaster History of Boom and Bankruptcy

RadioShack’s Rollercoaster History of Boom and Bankruptcy

The Beginning

RadioShack is an American chain of electronics stores that has experienced both highs and lows throughout its long history. Brothers Theodore and Milton Deutschmann founded it in 1921 to sell ham radio equipment. The company originally consisted of a single location for retail and mail order sales. RadioShack issued its first catalogue in 1939, and even extended into the high fidelity music market by producing its own private label products with the brand name Realist. Throughout its history, the company constantly attempted to rebrand itself, changing its name, slogan, management, and purpose time after time.

Bankruptcy and Changing Strategies

By the 1960s, RadioShack had expanded its mail order business and had 9 stores. Soon the company fell on hard times, however, and had to file for bankruptcy. Luckily for RadioShack, entrepreneur Charles Tandy took an interest and bought the company for $300,000 in 1962. Tandy Corporation was interested in expanding their leather goods company into other hobby businesses. In order to make RadioShack viable again, Tandy ended the mail-order business and credit sales and dropped most of the upper management positions. Tandy led the ailing company through a period of growth and success in the ‘60s and ‘70s before his death.

In the ‘80s, RadioShack attempted to edge into the IBM PC compatible market. This didn’t last long though, as the company struggled against rivals like Dell. In 1982, people were moving towards owning their own phones instead of renting them after the breakup of the Bell System, and RadioShack jumped on board by offering 20 different models of home phone.

In the ‘90s, RadioShack once again attempted to change, this time having to restructure over 200 store locations. The company wanted to shift away from components and cables towards more mainstream consumer electronics. It continued to do so into 2015 by selling things like cell phones. In 1994, the company began to offer inexpensive, non-warranty repairs for over 45 brands of electronics. In 1998, RadioShack claimed to be the largest seller of consumer telecommunications products in the world. By 2011, smartphone sales accounted for over half of the company’s revenue.

2015 Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Unfortunately, management issues and tough competition led to several bouts of restructuring, purging of management, and financial instability after the turn of the century. In 2005, a switch in the wireless providers that RadioShack featured caused a huge decline in profits. This along with management problems led to several cuts in 2006. Nearly 500 stores closed down, and stock prices plummeted. The company also attempted to cut overhead expenses by laying off a fifth of its headquarters workforce.

Since 2006, RadioShack has continued to close more stores and lay off more people. At the beginning of 2015, the company faced over $1 billion in debt and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the hopes that another restructuring would save it. Late in 2015, the bankruptcy plan was approved, and RadioShack began the liquidating funds to pay off its creditors. The chain was forced to close nearly all of its remaining 4,000 stores.

In September of 2015, many problems still faced RadioShack’s Chapter 11 plan. Standard General LP and Wells Fargo claimed that RadioShack was obligated to pay the substantial legal fees accrued from lawsuits with junior creditors, estimated at around $15-20 million. This stipulation would have probably led to the collapse of all of the creditor repayment plans. Luckily, the junior creditors decided to drop the lawsuit instead.

2017 Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

As part of the restructuring plan, Standard General bought RadioShack’s brand and saved around 1,700 stores. Standard General, Wells Fargo, and other banks provided $9.4 million in cash and savings to a liquidation trust. As part of the RadioShack restructuring, the company has switched focus to pushing the Sprint brand for mobile phones.

Standard General created an affiliate company called General Wireless to operate RadioShack’s brand and assets along with Sprint. Together, Sprint and General Wireless opened co-branded stores under Sprint’s name that sold products from both brands.

In March, 2017, RadioShack was forced to close 187 more stores. This accounts for about 9% of its remaining 1,943 locations. This move affected around 1,850 of the company’s 5,900 employees. The company again filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and stated plans for closing many of its locations that are shared with Sprint.

Sprint also paid $12 million as a “wind down payment” to General Wireless. In return, Sprint received the leases for 115 stores and the equipment from 245 other locations where Sprint was primarily in control.

Time will tell if Standard General and General Wireless will manage to salvage anything from RadioShack’s remains. For now, the company retains control of over 1,000 locations. If the struggles continue, this longstanding household name might go down in history as yet another company that failed to keep up with the speed of modern technological advances.

Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Riding a motorcycle is a wonderful sensation, but there are a lot of dangers associated with them. Because of a motorcycle’s size, other drivers have a harder time seeing them on the road. If a collision occurs, motorcycles provide almost no protection from injury. If you or a loved one have experienced a motorcycle accident as the result of another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for damages. By using the services of an experienced personal injury attorney such as Dan Higson, you will increase the likelihood of getting the most compensation possible.

Common Motorcycle Accident Causes

Even if you’re the safest driver in the world, accidents can happen to you. It’s impossible to control all of the factors around you, including road conditions and other drivers. Here are some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents:

Inattentiveness. Inattentive drivers account for a large amount of motorcycle accidents each year. Inattentive drivers are often responsible for head-on collisions and left-turn collisions. They happen when a driver is not fully aware of their surroundings. With the ever-increasing presence of smart phones in drivers’ hands, this hazard has become even more commonplace.

Recklessness. Many collisions occur because of reckless driving. Examples of this include drivers going over the speed limit or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Bad communication. It’s important to be able to communicate with other drivers around you. Whether you’re riding with a group of motorcyclists or determining whether another car is taking a turn in front of you, communication, such as properly using signals, is key to surviving on the road.

Road hazards. Hazardous road conditions include loose gravel, potholes, uneven asphalt, and other issues. State and local governments maintain most roadways, but government agencies often fail to address problems on the road. Unaddressed road hazards are responsible for many motorcycle accidents.

What to Do When in a Motorcycle Accident

When a motorcycle accident occurs, it’s important to understand that the other driver and the insurance companies are not necessarily on your side. Because of this, there are several important steps to take after an accident occurs to protect your personal and legal safety. If you are seriously injured, wait for emergency personnel to arrive on the scene and worry about legal issues after your safety is ensured. If you are able to, acquire further information. Below, are some steps to keep in mind after you’ve been in a motorcycle accident:

  1. Seek medical attention. Even for minor injuries, it’s important to get official medical records that can be used to support your claim. Sometimes injuries do not become apparent until days or even weeks after an accident, so have these injuries checked out as soon as they develop.
  2. Gather information. Accurate, detailed information is crucial for your case. If safe to do so, take photographs of the crash site, the condition of your motorcycle, and your injuries. Get the contact information of the other drivers involved and any witnesses.
  3. File a police report. If possible, call the police to the site of the accident. By cooperating with the police and making a statement, you provide even more evidence for your case. Make sure to inform the police of any witnesses that might have relevant information.
  4. Hold off on repairs. Hold off on making any repairs to your motorcycle until an insurance claim is opened. If you preserve the damages done to your motorcycle throughout the examination process, it will make it easier to determine what compensation is needed. If this is not possible, keep detailed records of all repairs that are done.

California Motorcycle Laws

California has a few unique motorcycle laws that don’t necessarily exist in other states. In California, lane-splitting is legal. Lane-splitting is when motorcyclists ride between the lanes of traffic when it has slowed down. This practice is risky to the motorcyclist, so be careful whenever you attempt to do so. When lane-splitting, the motorcyclist can be ticketed if they drive recklessly. Thus, it is advisable that motorcyclists travel at a safe speed when lane-splitting so that he/she can react to sudden movements by the surrounding cars. Surrounding cars are not allowed to impede motorcycles between lanes, and they can be punished if they attempt do so.

Motorcyclists should also be aware that any negligence on their part, such as unsafe operation of your motorcycle while lane-splitting, could be used as evidence to reduce their recovery in a subsequent trial. This is because California uses the “comparative fault” system to offset an injured person’s recovery for any percentage of negligence that is attributed to their own conduct. For example, if a person suffers $50,000 in damages and is determined to be 50% at fault for their own accident, they would only be entitled to recover $25,000.

More up-to-date information can be found online at the California Department of Motor Vehicles motorcycle handbook page.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by another person’s negligence, let Dan Higson help you get through the paperwork and insurance companies and get you the compensation you deserve. It’s possible to receive compensation for a variety of damages such as medical expenses, motorcycle repair, lost wages, therapy, disability, and pain and suffering.

Getting yourself and your motorcycle back in peak condition after an accident can be expensive. Having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side can mean the difference between fully covering your accident costs and paying everything out of pocket.

Call Ventura Attorney Daniel A. Higson at 805-644-7111