This week on Make It Last Mark and Victor will be talking about what the client experience is like at MLG, and why estate plans aren’t just for the wealthy.
Why you might have less than when you started retirement, and why you should be worried about retiring on a fixed income. How to battle inflation and make your money last as long as you need it to.
Finally, Mark and Victor wrap things up with a Q&A from people in the community!
Make It Last with Victor Medina is hosted by Victor J. Medina, an estate planning and Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Certified Financial Planner professional (CFP). Through his law firm and independent registered investment advisory company, Victor provides 360º Wealth Protection Strategies for individuals in or nearing retirement.
Full Transcript Below
Mark Elliot: Welcome to “Make It Last” with Victor Medina. I’m Mark Elliot. Victor’s got two companies, so we’re going to talk about both of those companies today on the program. Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth.
Victor focuses on traditional estate planning, Medina Law Group. He works on with Palante Wealth asset protection, retirement distribution, proactive income tax planning. Victor has been featured on national television, “The Wall Street Journal,” “The Huffington Post,” “US News,” and “World Report.”
We’re going to go into depth today. What is the client experience like? If you want to have your estate plan, you don’t really have an estate, but you feel like your estate needs a plan and really it’s not just for the wealthy, we’ll talk about that today as well.
You want to go into sit down with Victor and the team of the Medina Law Group, what’s that like? What’s that experience like? Maybe you want to find out, “Hey, can I retire? Do I have enough? Will my money last? Will my loved ones be OK if something happens to me?”
Maybe that’s the Palante Wealth side, the holistic planning for your retirement side. What happens if you go on and sit down with them? What’s it like? What is the experience like?
Now, Victor, right out of the gate, I’m going to guess this isn’t like going to the dentist and having a root canal, right?
Victor Medina: No. No, not at all.
Victor: The thing about it is, that most people don’t think about contacting their lawyer, contacting their financial advisor’s side of the thing that they want to do for fun and enjoyment.
Understanding that, we really focused in the client experience of shifting that around, thinking about scripting that client experience so that people feel welcomed. They’re put at ease from the moment they contact us to the moment that they walk into the office and the moment that their plan is complete.
Every moment of that, we see it through their eyes to make sure that they’re feeling comfortable, welcomed, understood, and cared for all along the way. The biggest source of pride that we get when clients reflect back on what they’re experience is like is how they were treated like family all the way through.
They would think, “This is what I’d hope my child would have done for me if they were an estate planner or a financial advisor for what they were doing.” Very beginning part of that, reaching out to us and making sure that you know about us, scheduling appointments, those types of things.
The first source of contact is really somebody who spends their time talking to people just like you, our clients, all the time, hears their stories, understands what their needs are. We’ve had a director of business and client strategy. Her role is to make sure that she’s talking to clients and understanding what their needs are, making sure it’s an appropriate fit for the kind of planning that we do.
She spends as much time as is necessary to make sure that we’ve got the right people in front of us, in front of the right planners on our side. We want to make sure that we got that great marriage along the way.
To your point about not visiting the dentist, we want to demystify everything around there. The moment that you make an appointment, whether you are going to visit with us virtually, because we can definitely accommodate people that want to do that, or you want to come into the office.
We’ll talk a little bit what that experience is like too. The moment that you do that, we are going to send you a lot of information and opportunities to learn more about us.
We are going to send you a video series introducing you to the firm and to their up planning and to the people that are on the team. We are going to send you some copies of our books if you like them so you can read through that. We even have a nutshell guide.
Say you don’t want to sit through a 100‑page book and you just want to get a flavor for what we’re doing, we’ve got a nutshell guide that’s about 35 pages or so that just explains really our biggest philosophies in and around planning. What are those principles that we think are most important?
Every one of our clients gets that as part of our welcome package before they even sit down for their first appointment. The other thing we are going to do is we are going to let you know what the process is going to be like even before you settle in. There’s no mystery about what to expect.
There’s no pressure. There’s no sales process. There’s no meeting where you are going to be asked for any form of commitment afterwards. We want to spend the time when we finally get together talking with you, getting an understanding about who you are, how you arrived here, what your goals are, what’s your biggest concerns?
How we can help address them and start to put together the framework of how to put a plan in place. We are going to talk a little bit about what that first meeting is like, but we’re walking up to that or ramping up to that is really this process that gets you to be welcomed in by our firm.
Again, those videos that we send out are a really great opportunity to see some of the personalities that are involved and make sure that’s a great fit for you. Here’s the thing, we’re not the best fit for everybody that’s out there because sometimes we hug a little too much virtually.
Sometimes we welcome people too much in and that’s not what they want. They want people that are hands off. They want people that are cold and transactional.
For people that that’s their mindset, we’re not great fit, but if you are somebody that really wants to be embraced and enveloped in an environment, a culture, client family that is caring and really welcoming and holistic and thinks through everything…If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re going to get a sense of that right from the first step.
Mark: With all that being said, I’m going to give you the number. You might want to write it down. You might want to call right now and call an appointment. You might want to right this number down and go, “All right, I’m going to hear what Victor has to say about his companies. I don’t have an estate plan yet. I think I need one. I don’t have it…I wonder maybe Medina Law Group so I should talk to.”
Or, “I’d love to retire in the next five years, I’m not really sure I have enough and if my money will last as long as I do.” The number with no cost, no obligation, no pressure, no judgment either, 856‑506‑8300.
Victor, if you think about it, a few years ago, I had a car loan and I decided to get a different car. I went back to the bank that I had my loan and I didn’t like the odds. I didn’t like the percentages. I said, “Well, I don’t think that’s very good.”
I went to one of their rivals, and I got a better deal. Then they say, “Well, why don’t you move all of your $10, $20 you have [laughs] over to us.” They’re like, “It’s painless. It’s really easy.” That was not easy. Because now that I have so many things that most of us do today where we just pay online, have an app, or whatever. Our banking is done through the phone and all that. It was not as easy as they said it was.
I think people when they change, sometimes they just do nothing because they don’t want…Changing doctors, your kids are 17,14 and 8. Dylan probably goes to a different doctor than Aiden, right? We change doctors as we age.
We probably should be changing financial advisers as we age because our needs change. How do you get people to get past that overanalyzing area, the analysis paralysis stage?
Victor: There’s a couple of strategies that I think are important. I feel an overriding sense of an obligation to help a client and make sure that the plan that they want to put forward is actually implemented. How that relates to making the change is in the following way.
Let’s say you came to us and you say, “Listen, we want to talk about putting an estate plan together. We need to update a trust. We want to put some documents in place.” When you move forward with us and say, “This is something I want to do,” we’re going to set up all of the appointments. So that you’ll know exactly from the moment you say, “This something I want to do.” When is it that you’re going to have your design meeting?
When are you going to be able to choose the people that are going to be involved in your plan? When are you going to sign the documents? When is it going to be completed? We’ll let you know all of those dates from the beginning.
Setting out that schedule, where you understand how do we get from step one to step two. What are the dates for that? What are the things that we’re going to accomplish in each one of those meetings, helps us get a sense of momentum propelling us forward.
I know that people left to their own devices would do nothing. There’s never any pressure that you’re doing it. You can abandon it at any point in time. The idea is that we don’t want to have a failure from a plan that a client wants to implement, simply because we don’t know what the next step is. Even when we sign an estate plan, for example, because all of our planning is revocable.
What we do, we say, “Look, we’re going to give you unlimited changes for the first six months. You’re going to be able to go in and make any swaps, whatever you want. That way if you don’t like something that’s in there, you don’t feel like you’re so committed to it that it’s going to be the worst decision.”
I say, “Sleep on it.” Comes out of there, you’re up at the middle of the night, maybe it wasn’t a great choice for you. We can shift it. If it doesn’t bother you after a few months, it probably was an OK decision.
In the financial side, you mentioned something going in there where people are making a shift. It’s often that the person that they’re coming away from never did anything wrong. I don’t like taking the position that the financial adviser that you’re moving from is some sort of horrible person that has somehow done something wrong.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Mark. Sometimes there are some horrible people [laughs] that do some wrong things. I have to point it out when it happens. For the majority of time, they were decent on what they did. They did some great accumulation. They got them in that great position, and we should say thank you. The shift that we’re making is because we need a different strategist for a different phase in our lives.
We’ve decided to focus our planning efforts, expertise, skills, strategies on helping people in retirement, post‑retirement, pre‑retirement. Getting to that different phase, where they have to now take this nest egg that they’ve accumulated and make that thing last.
Have it generate a paycheck for themselves in retirement. Make sure that they’re leaving a legacy behind. Make sure that they plan for long‑term care. All of those elements we are shifting the goals and the needs. For that reason, often we have to shift the strategist.
What my experience is, my experience is that when we couch it in those terms, when we understand that what we’re doing here, we’re just making a shift to a different need and somebody who can fulfill that need. Then we don’t actually encounter a lot of friction in making that happen.
Yes, there’s some work that needs to get done. We always link it back to the, “Were you better served with the strategist that you came from or the one that we’re going to now? Are your needs any different?” If then we’re still at the same point in time, then we should still be moving forward on the plan that we put together.
It is difficult to make a change. Change is difficult for people generally. They get very comfortable in where they’re at. The best thing that we do is show them that their experience is going to be fantastic off of it.
That they’re going to feel as stable as they were when they didn’t move anywhere, and they were kind of caught up by inertia. They’re going to feel that same level of stability moving over here because we’ve done this so many times before. It’s all that we do in terms of helping people in retirement.
Mark: All right, so if we go back to 2006, that’s when Victor started the Medina Law Group. Victor’s a practicing estate planning and certified elder law attorney. Then those clients were saying, “Well, why can’t you help us with the rest of our retirement planning?” Victor analyzed it and goes, “Well, I don’t know why I can’t. I bet I can.”
He then started Palante Wealth, which is about holistic planning for your retirement. Victor is now a certified financial planner professional, a registered investment adviser. That company started in 2014.
Here’s the question. When I walk in the front door to the left is Medina Law Group. To the right is Palante Wealth, or I walk into the building, I’m in Medina Law Group, and I’ve got to go across town to Palante Wealth. Where are we?
Victor: It’s neither of those, and more like the first one in terms of it’s better. One of the things that I love is the building that we’re in is a building that I bought, which is an old home. It was built in 1781. It was the home of the first mayor of Pennington, which, where we’re located. It’s a great old house.
The reason why I love that is that I love the sense that people are coming into our home, and we’re helping them in that way. It’s not a big corporate park. It’s not this antiseptic feeling. The moment that you walk in, you are walking into, essentially, what would be our living room.
You walk in, and you walk in through, we have our entrance in the rear, so we have coming from the back. When you do that, all of those companies, both of those companies, are all in the same building. They’re on the same place. They coexist everywhere.
The person that helps with our events and our marketing is the event and marketing coordinator for both of our companies, which is to say for all of our clients. We think of them as one large client family. It could be that some people only want us to do legal work.
It could be that some people only want us to help them in the financial world. I would tell you that the biggest percentage of people see the value in having us help them in both. Then, it becomes very comforting to know that the people that they talk to all know them throughout their continuum.
In other words, you talk to the paralegal, they know that you’re a financial client, and what’s going on in that world. That’s one part of one overall plan that’s working synergetically. It’s working with its parts together.
They don’t have to explain. Whoever they talk to, or wherever they call, knows everything about them as one client family. In fact, it’s even on the sign when you walk in. We’re a total retirement planning firm. You’re going to see the logos of both companies on the sign when you pull into the driveway.
Both places are here under one roof. We handle everything in house with that same high‑level, high‑touch for what we’re doing, whether you be a client of one, both. It doesn’t matter. We think about you as part of our client family.
Mark: We’re going to come back. We’re going to talk about what do you expect when you come in to sit down with the teams that Victor has created to help you on your journey in retirement. Whether it’s an estate plan. It’s a holistic retirement plan. What should you expect when you come in and sit down with the team.
You walk into that old home, what’s it going to be like. We’re going to talk about that. Victor is going to talk about the companies, the key people. The people that make it feel like a family. Something that you’re very comfortable coming in to chat with, Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. Here’s the number, 856 506‑8300.
If you like to maybe start this process. It’s not a one meeting, you’re a client now. There are a lot of moving parts. We’re going to get into that. How does this whole process work as well because, “Hey, Victor, when can I retire. Do I have enough? Will my money last as long as I do? Will my loved ones be OK if something happens to me?”
We had a lot of questions. We want to know if we pull the plug on working, and we head off into retirement, and we got a purpose what going to get us up out of bed every day, what do we need to do?
Mark: Are we going to be OK. That’s what we want to know, 856 506‑8300, more of “Make it Last,” with Victor Medina. We’re going to break down the companies. What do you expect? What can they both provide to us as well? Stay with us. This is Make It Last with Victor Medina.
Mark: Glad you’re with us today for Make It Last with Victor Medina. I’m Mark Elliot. Victor has two companies going, Medina Law Group, practicing estate planning and certified elder law attorney is Victor. You can find out more at medinalawgroup.com. They’re about the clients, and there are flat fees. They will explain all that.
They’re super transparent, but you think about traditional estate planning, legacy. How are you going to leave things? That’s Medina Law Group. Well, Victor started that company back in 2006. He had clients going, “Well, why can’t you help me with the rest of my retirement? Why is it just estate planning and that stuff that’s super important?
I got a lot more going on with my retirement.” He said, “Why, I don’t know. Maybe I can.” All of a sudden, Victor is a certified financial planner, professional. He’s a registered investment advisor. That is the other company, Palante Wealth. It is about holistic retirement planning.
It is about income strategies, investment strategies, taxes, and this, of course, estate as well. There are a lot of moving parts. Victor and the team can certainly help you with all these areas, palantewealth.com is the website for that company. Palante Wealth P‑A‑L‑A‑N‑T‑E, palantewealth.com.
Glad you’re with us. Victor, I know you’re a healthy guy, probably. I’m 61. I’ve been divorced for a long time, so I play golf. I like my cars. I have fun with cars. I have an ’08 Corvette, yellow, six speed, loud, fast. It’s fun. That means, because I am by myself, I may not eat as well as I should.
Now, when I get my chips with my French onion dip, I have to reach into the bag, and I got to go a ways to get a chip. I know that eating chips and drinking Mountain Dew’s are great for my heart. I’m trying to help myself health wise. When I reach into those bag of chips, they’re not full like they used to be. What’s going on here?
Victor: You mean, how to relate this into a financial concept. It’s a very, very smooth…
Mark: [laughs] Maybe not go the health route.
Victor: I was going to say when, I used to weigh about 48 pounds heavier than I do now. I made a lot of diet changes in order to make that progress. I can tell you something. When you buy a bag of carrots, the whole bag is full of carrots, and it’s not empty.
If you want to think about switching that out, you would get more carrots in the bag.
Mark: [laughs] I would get more for my money. [laughs]
Victor: Those do go well with the French onion dip. We’ll take this in baby steps with you, Mark.
Mark: That’s true. I do. I’ve done that, yes.
Victor: Related to financial ideas, when we’re thinking about having less there than when we originally started or would’ve expected, probably the most closely related financial concept is inflation. That is one of these ideas that people typically don’t factor into their planning because we’re so focused on the present.
We’re so focused on what’s going on today. When we go shopping, we know what something should cost today. We’ve been living with those small little changes when it has been increasing over a period of time. Now, we can remember years and years ago, it used to be less expensive.
We don’t have a firm grasp on what it was 10 years ago or 15 years ago. We probably, maybe, understand that it was less expensive. The increase, that creep, of the cost of things is this idea around inflation. The idea that things will be more expensive in the future.
That’s what this idea is around is that we have to plan for things being more expensive. It has to be factored into your overall strategy. If all you do is pay income amount, that thing that you need to live on, on one number as though it was never going to change, what you’ll find is as you grow older and older in retirement, your purchasing power goes down.
If you fixed your income at $4,000 a month, as you further into retirement, 10, 15 years down the road, that $4,000 doesn’t go as far because the stuff is more expensive. It’s not enough money for most people. We have to do some planning around that.
Mark: When you think about…My grandparents retired in the 70s. That’s when I was in high school. I graduated in 1977. I was young, Victor. I was 17 when I went off to play for the Dodgers in the Minor Leagues for three and a half years, before I was washed up at the age of 20.
They had hyperinflation. They also had high interest rates at the bank. They could put money in a CD, and get 8, 10, 12, 15 percent, but inflation was sky high too. For the retirees, it was probably easier than the workers back then.
Today, I think it’s reversed. It’s harder for retirees because interest rates are so low that inflation is maybe even bigger impact than it was from my grandparents back in the ’70s and ’80s. How do you see that? Do you agree with that or am I off‑base?
Victor: No, I think I agree with that because solution back when we flipped around the other way was that you could sit on your investments and the interest rate that it was being thrown off really gave you money. Sort of outpace with that inflation number was, and so those two things were closely linked.
The benefit of doing it that way is, of course, you could put your investments in all these really safe and conservative things that were throwing of interest because fixed income and debts and bonds are typically more conservative and more secure.
When we flip that around and we look at retirees today, it’s a bigger risk because what happens is that in order for you to gain money on your money, more of it has to be at risk. The reason for that is because the bonds aren’t throwing of anything that we don’t have high‑interest rates, so that in order to generate the income that we need, we have to some stuff that is at risk.
This is weird sort of more sophisticated investment strategy in retirement comes into play. When you’re earning money and you’re working and you’re saving for retirement, you can leave things at risk. It doesn’t really matter what’s going on the market because you don’t need it right now.
Over time, it will cross and you can just ignore what’s going on in the account until you face retirement. When you’re in retirement, though, if you kept the same investment strategy, the effect of the roller coaster of the values of this accounts has a very significant impact on your ability to last your retirement.
If you enter into a down cycle early in retirement, that is, that the account values go down as part of a normal cycle, but they go down. You still need to sell some of that stuff off in order to generate your income.
If we’re in low‑interest rate environments we have to sell off those securities in order to make the money that we need. We can’t just live off of the interest. Where that becomes dangerous is at if we’re selling it off while it’s low. We’ve taken away some of the growth momentum to make this money last as long as you need it to in retirement.
Now the solution for that is to not think about your account as one investment portfolio that’s all doing exactly the same thing and so does monolithic strategy and actually want to break these things apart and start to diversify your investment products as much as you are diversifying the asset strategies that are in there and the sectors and which funds that you’re in.
If you want to think about mixing things in from the bank world, from the insurance world, and from the stock market world, each one of them tied to different time segments so that it is available for you when you need it in a very secure fashion.
Yes, you are still having things that are invested to grow over a long period of time because, again, we have to fight that inflation thing that we just talked about, but I don’t need that money today. I can create the income that I need in the short, in the mid‑term and leave my growth‑oriented stuff to do what growth‑oriented stuff does over a long period of time.
It doesn’t matter what the accounts are going up and down and over there in that bucket because I don’t need that bucket today. The buckets that I need today are very secure. That shift that we have to do in retirement of an investment strategy in a way that we have to overcome the obstacles that our grandparents didn’t have in terms of having high‑interest rates.
We have to do something different with it in order to be successful.
Mark: Here’s where inflation plays out. Just like Victor said, if you think about it, let’s say that you needed $5,000 a month to retire and you go, “You know what, I think I can do that.” The question is at the age of…say you retired at 60, you needed five grand. At 65, you need $5,800. At 70, you need $6,700 a month. At 75, you need $7,500 a month.
That means you started out needing $60,000 a year, an income to maintain your lifestyle, but 15 years later you need almost $95,000. Do you have increasing income setup in your retirement plan? That is certainly where Palante Wealth can help you because inflation isn’t just a part of life.
Got to deal with it whether it’s two percent, three percent. Why do we get hyperinflation. We don’t really think it’s going there, but we do think inflation is going up. Jerome Power was on 60 minutes, I think it was in late March, early April, or whatever. Talking about, “Hey, we’re going to try to get inflation to two percent.”
We know the Medicare or the healthcare world, we’re talking five, six, seven percent inflation. Different areas of things that we use are inflating higher than others. It’s really about you and your retirement plan, how do you put it all together.
Palante Wealth can certainly do that for you, but they don’t really know how to help you until you give them a call. It’s easy to do. There’s no cost. It’s 856‑506‑8300. Retirement planning starts with income. How are you going to replace the paychecks that are no longer coming in?
How do you make your money last, as long as you do while still doing the things you’ve always dreamed about doing in retirement? 856‑506‑8300. Glad you’re with us today for “Make It Last” with Victor Medina of the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. I’m Mark Elliott. We’re talking about inflation.
Are there any income sources, Victor, that are inflation‑proof? Is there a way to make all of our income inflation‑proof?
Victor: I don’t know if we can get to all of your income, but we do have different categories of things that are inflation‑proof, or at least the inflation‑proof in their strategies. Let’s go through a couple of them so that people understand what we mean by that.
It turns out that it may not actually match all of the inflation numbers, but social security has a form of inflation protection, because it has routinely had a cost of living adjustment that gets the number to increase.
Now, it doesn’t increase as high as if you delayed social security where you earning that eight percent by delaying from age 67 to age 70 every year. It doesn’t do that big of a jump, but it will have adjustments on a year‑to‑year basis.
Historically has been in recent five years or so. There’s only one year where it didn’t. Where it’s making that change, that adjustment upward to compensate for the idea that things are more expensive that cost of living adjustment or COLA adjustment is a form of inflation protection.
Similarly, you can get inflation protected, treasury, securities, or different kinds of investments that are keyed to increase based on the rate of inflation. There’s ways of protecting it that way. The best thing that you can do to inflation‑proof your income planning is to actually build it into the plan.
Too many people look at their number. When you’re looking at trying to figure out, “Oh, do I have enough money to make it?” You look at the $5,000 per month that you need, and you extrapolate that up 30 years and you say, “Well, I have enough to make it.”
That’s not really the right way to make the calculation. We have to increase that amount by an inflation number, not just once, but every year in the years that you plan to be alive and retired and then be able to stress‑test what your income plan looks like and whether you can be successful.
Because again, that inflation amount is a compounding number, three percent this year, plus three percent next year is actually three percent going forward. It keeps increasing on that number. The idea there is really to think about it as a growing problem.
One that is thought of in plan at the beginning part of your retirement planning and conceptualized, so that you can make sure that you can avoid the narrow‑minded view of just looking at the number flat. You want to see it as an increasing thing.
Now, you really have the right answer to whether or not you have enough money to last because you’re taking into account inflation. When we do that planning for our clients, and if we were to do that planning for you, for example, what we would do is we would say, “OK, look, we’re going to put the inflation number higher than the historical average, and we’re going to stress‑test this in a little bit more of a conservative fashion.”
Because here’s the thing. If I get that number wrong, if I under‑account for it and you don’t have enough money. I don’t want you coming to live with me because I misfigured it. I’m going to have to put that number higher to make sure that you make it all the way through retirement.
It’s the same thing with longevity by the way, Mark. You take the client out longer than even they expect to be alive, just so that they don’t move in with you if they run out of money. That’s the whole strategies and advisor, you don’t have the client live with you.
Mark: Yeah, exactly. [laughs] I think a lot of people that come in to sit down with you, and your teams and Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth, don’t want to be a burden on their kids. That is certainly a part of this. Inflation can certainly cause that.
We think of inflation where drone pilots, the fed chair said, “Hey, we’d like to get it to maybe around two percent.” Well, we know areas are higher. The historical average is about three percent. Is that a challenge to people can make? People are going a two percent or three percent. That’s not very much at all.
Then it’s the compounding effect is that you have to walk them through to say, “Wait, inflation is a factor, and it is something we plan for when putting these plans together.”
Victor: It’s exactly right. It doesn’t look like much, even from one year to the next, especially the first few years that are in there. If you start to show someone that the income that they’ll need 20 years down the road is a number that is almost an unfathomable to the number that you started with. It gets real very quickly.
When you’re starting to have to budget for an $80,000 a year‑number, when you start with a $50,000 a year‑number, it’s a very significant increase. Of course, we want to make sure that you’re comfortable through retirement. You don’t have to change your quality of life.
As you were talking about, we don’t make sure that you’re not a burden to your kids. We don’t want your quality of life to suffer to the point where you’re either moving in with kids or you’re lowering your standards.
From the beginning, we want to make sure that that is part of what we’re planning around. That’s a landmine that we’re trying to not step on as we do this, planning it because that’s number can grow to a very significant impact.
By the way, that’s another reason why we want to think about the product mix in investments in retirement a little bit differently.
Because you can start to mix and match different forms of guarantees from insurance companies, or look at different guarantees from bank products that you can’t get from the stock market as ways of blending all of these things together to be able to get successful in retirement. Again, that’s part of an overall plan that you should be putting together.
Mark: We’re talking inflation and we’re going to come back and talk more about it. Retirees suffer probably the most from higher inflation. Victor is going to take a look in the past to inform ourselves and what we can do now to help ensure our retirements can bear the brunt of inflation.
Before we go, though, I want to remind you the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth serve the Pennington Greater Mercer County areas as well as Bucks County. There’s clients in New Jersey, there’s clients in Pennsylvania as well from Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. If you’d like to learn more about the estate planning, about retirement planning, call the team, they’re here to help.
Mark: Just don’t know if they can, until they hear your situation, 856‑506‑8300. Again, no cost for this call 856‑506‑8300. Back with more, right after this. This is “Make It Last” with Victor Medina.
Welcome back to Make It Last with Victor Medina of Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. Victor focuses on traditional estate planning, asset protection, retirement distribution, proactive income, tax planning.
In 2006, when he started Medina Law Group, because Victor is a practicing estate planning and certified elder law attorney, the people are going, “Well, why can’t you help us with our retirement planning? There’s a lot more than just estate and legacy planning.”
He’s like, “Well, I think I can.” All of a sudden, he is a certified financial planner professional and it wasn’t overnight. It takes time. There’s a lot of studying involved, a lot of testing. He’s also a registered investment advisor that became Palante Wealth. There’s Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. They go hand in hand.
You think about when it comes to retirement, that Victor’s teams are going to be able to help you with your income plan, your investment strategies, taxes. We’ve got to be efficient when it comes to taxes and estate planning.
The companies are really intertwined to help whether you’re in your 30s or 40s, because certainly the companies can do that as well, but also when it comes to retirement. We’re talking inflation today. I mentioned to my grandparents retired in the ’70s. That was the Jimmy Carter time, double digit interest rates, double digit inflation.
In the ’70s, retirees typically live on a fixed income. Inflation was nearly 20 percent at one point in the late ’70s. That’s crazy to think about 20 percent because we’re right now around the 2 and 2.5 percent or so. We’ve been really not very high inflation. Everybody is thinking that inflation is going to be going up.
If you were a retiree on a fixed income and inflation bounces way up, what are you going to do? Do you pull more money out which gives you a chance to run out of money sooner than we would prefer or do you change your lifestyle and take out less money? That’s not where we want to be either. Inflation forecast is at an eight‑year high.
Victor, really at the end of the day, we know we’re pre‑retiree, we’re 60 going to retire at 65, for example. How concerned should we be about inflation impacting our retirement?
Victor: I think you said the magic words, Mark, when you talked about retirees being on a fixed income because that is that part of the mathematical equation that causes so much problems for retirees is specifically with respect to inflation.
The answer, by the way, to your question is 11 on a scale of 1 to 10. You should be concerned about it. Let’s explain why, and then maybe we can talk about how we’re going to do that. The idea of inflation, the cost is increasing. It means it’s more expensive for you to buy stuff.
As that happens, then there is increasing revenues to the companies that are selling things that allow them to pay employees higher wages because they’re getting more revenues. This inflation thing actually chases itself around so that people that are in the working world aren’t nearly as affected by it.
Once we get down to the nitty‑gritty of a retiree, who’s on a fixed income, they’re not the beneficiary of any of those increasing costs. They don’t get a higher salary because they’re making their own salary in retirement.
They’re creating their own paycheck, which means that it becomes more difficult for them to keep pace with this as things start to get more and more expensive. If we have successive years of higher inflation, especially in the beginning part of a retirees’ journey, if you face higher inflation costs at the beginning of that, what ends up happening is a mathematical calculation off of it is that it’s a more significant impact.
If you have inflation at the tail end, if you are 104 right now, and we’ve got next three years at the highest inflation that you’re going to see, probably not going to be as affected by it. Because the way that the math of it factors into that is that it doesn’t have the compounding impact that it would if you had higher inflation, that beginning portion of your retirement journey.
Where now you’re taking more and more money out of count, it’s growing smaller. That means that you have less amount available. It’s a very significant concern that retirees specifically, because they are either on a fixed income or are creating their own fixed income beneficiary of increasing anything.
Mark: Inflation might be relatively low in general, but the inflation rate for medical cost is much higher, around six percent in 2020. One of the challenges for retirees it’s one of the number one reasons that retirees or even working people have to file for bankruptcy is a major health incident that they didn’t have the insurance coverage. It just bankrupted them.
Let’s face it. We don’t want to be in that position, but the inflation is really impacting I think the healthcare world. How do we look at that? How do you help people deal with that?
Victor: That’s a great point, Mark, because I remember one of my prior careers in the legal world, I actually used to be a labor negotiator for public school districts. I would sit across from teachers’ unions and I would say to them, we can’t as the board continue to cover your healthcare costs without you contributing it. Because, look, these things are going up 10, 11 percent per year.
Tell me where are we supposed to get the money from? It was eye‑opening to them early 2000s when we were having this negotiation, never mind what it looks like for retirees that are going to have to face that increasing one healthcare costs.
It breaks down into two risks that are associated with increased healthcare cost. There is the general increased healthcare costs for normal, what you need if you need to go to the hospital acute care that you may look at making sure you have an appropriate supplement or Medicare Advantage plan, or some way of covering the extra cost that won’t be covered by Medicare.
That’s one component of it, and it’s certainly something that we help clients with by making sure that they’re in the right supplement and discussion in around which Medicare Part D Premium they have for their prescriptions. All that kind of stuff. You put that in place.
The bigger risk, in terms of the size of the impact of it is in long‑term care cost, because when you think about long‑term care cost, and here I get to put on my lawyer hat with a certified elder log stuff where we’re talking about asset protection.
You look at that, you’re looking at the need to either have somebody in your home at home health care, or need to potentially go to an assisted living facility, or even a skilled nursing facility, nursing home, or what we might call the old folks home. Those all are really expensive propositions.
Anywhere between $5,500 a month on the low end for an assisted living facility in our area to maybe up to $14,000 per month. How do you prepare for something like that? The answer is as soon as you possibly can. It’s very difficult to prepare for that when you need that care itself. You think about doing that ahead of time.
Traditionally, the way that you do that is either by thinking about getting some form of insurance and get it. Specifically, either a life insurance policy that has long‑term care riders attached to it, or an income‑based annuity that has long‑term care benefits.
By the way, both of those are subject to very specific things that a client has to meet in order for that to be appropriate for them. Or you think about doing it from the legal perspective, where you create trusts to help safeguard assets so that we don’t have to spend them down. We can use programs like Medicaid or the VA’s Aid & Attendance Program to help pay for care.
There are options. The point that you have to take away from this is that these options aren’t as helpful, if at all, if you wait until you’re sick to need them. It’s stuff that you have to put in place while you’re still healthy to get the best benefit.
To make sure that, again, you don’t step on one of these landmines out of a long‑term care cost. Just blow up everything that you were trying to do with your retirement plan.
Mark: 856‑506‑8300. If you like Victor’s teams to help you walk through all of these challenges that we more than likely, hopefully, won’t face, but that’s typically how it works. 856‑506‑8300.
Now, what are the challenges and you mentioned the cost of living adjustments for Social Security? If you’re a Social Security recipient, say since 2010, well 2010, 2011, 2016, there was zero percent cost of living adjustments.
2018 was two percent, 2019, 2.8, ’21, 1.6, this year if you’re on Social Security, hey, you got a $20 a month on average, 1.3 percent. My challenge with all of this inflation stuff is that Social Security and the real inflation rates for retirees, they’re not coinciding.
The government looks at inflation as what the clerical worker in New York or Philly or Chicago, but not retirees. To me, if we’re talking inflation for cost of living for Social Security, shouldn’t it be the impact inflation has on retirees? Doesn’t seem like it is.
Victor: It really isn’t linked to that, and especially because most retirees aren’t viewed as relying exclusively on their Social Security to live. I think you have a much higher outpay of this injustice of not increasing Social Security amount to match the true cost of inflation if we had people relying on Social Security exclusively.
No one is capable of doing that and living any kind of life in retirement they want. It’s a component of it, but they’re relying on their own assets, their own nest egg about how they’re going to create their paycheck, which means that we can’t necessarily even just rely on Social Security.
We might have to make up [laughs] the additional amount of Social Security increase didn’t cover for inflation as an overall calculation for how, in fact, we are going to make up these increasingly higher bigger checks as we get through retirements. I’m with you on that one.
Mark: As you think about it, your kids, you’ve got three of them. Aiden is 17, Lucas 14, Dillon 8. My guess is Aiden is probably not going to the same doctor Dillon, is at eight. Is that correct?
Victor: No. In fact, he doesn’t want to go to the same doctor, right?
Mark: [laughs] Right. You think about that. As we age, we go to different doctors and when we get to my age of 61, now you’re going to the heart specialist, the cancer specialist. You’re going to the specialist.
That’s what you need. In the financial world, there are the stockbrokers that can certainly help you grow your money. There are the insurance agents that can help you getting a car, home, auto, life, all those kind of things, but neither one of those are retirement planners.
Retirement planning is a totally different ball game. Victor, how do we find the right help to put a plan to protect against inflation and all those other major risks we have and may face in retirement?
Victor: I think you nailed it that you’re looking for somebody that’s a specialist in that area, somebody who focuses on that exclusively. If I were going to go through this, if I were the retiree and I was trying to search out a financial advisor and trying to figure out who I wanted to work with, I would find somebody that was focused exclusively in retirement.
It is its own specialty to make sure that you’re focusing on the distribution strategies, to make sure that you make money last.
Beyond that, there are ways of them characterizing themselves to the way that we, as financial advisors, decide that we want to operate. I think it is a good indication of people you want to work with which is, you want to work with somebody that is subject to the fiduciary standard. That is being obligated to put your best interests ahead of their own, ahead of their companies, ahead of their own profits.
You need that standard to say, “Look, all things being equal, we’re going to make sure we’re going to make recommendations that are going to benefit you, the client, over us, the advisor.” That’s a super important element of it.
In addition to that, we want somebody that is wholly independent. Not working for a big brother company that is looking or telling the advisor what their menu of options are so they can pick what the best one is, but it’s really not the whole universe of them.
We want somebody who is independent so that we can pick from every single strategy and making sure that that is what is absolutely best for that client. It’s totally tailor‑made from them. We’re looking for independence. We’re looking for the fiduciary standard. We’re looking for retirement planning.
Then the cherry on the top is if they have additional specialties like the ability to help you with your legal planning and making sure [inaudible 42:10] and an income and inheritance taxes along the way. Now you’ve gotten all of that under one umbrella.
When there’s something wrong in Gotham, there is one Batphone that you pick up because there is one Batman to solve it. You don’t want to have to pick up multiple phones to make sure stuff is coordinated. Clients really get a benefit of having that all under one house and not sort of having to manage all these different relationships.
One phone call, one plan with one planning team to make sure that you got it all set.
Mark: That’s the idea. Victor and the teams are here to help. Medina Law Group. Palante Wealth, 856‑506‑8300. I think we all get inflation, the impact. That things are going to cost more as we move down the road. You can’t get that $3,500 Corvette anymore when it was brand new, back in the day. Everything is going up.
The house that our parents bought, it’s not the same price anymore, is it? It’s double or triple. It might even be more than that. Inflation is a big part of retirement planning and Victor and the teams, that’s where they start really. Income. Got to know income and how we’re increasing income.
Investments. Taxes. Estate planning. All of that. It’s all important. We got to have the holistic viewpoint of how it all ties together. 856‑506‑8300 is the number. 856‑506‑8300. We’re headed to our final segment this is “Make It Last” with Victor Medina of the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. Back right after this.
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Mark: Glad you’re with us today for Make it Last with Victor Medina of Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. You can find out more about the estate planning world with Medina Law Group. And, of course, Victor is also a certified elder law attorney. Got to get our ducks in a row. The estate plan. The legacy plan. How we’re going to leave things.
What about the transfer on death? What about the…What’s it called when we’re doing the provision for somebody that can make the decisions for us when it comes to health care or our finances because we can’t do it anymore? I’m missing the term. What is it, Victor?
Victor: The provision, like you name an agency to help you make decisions?
Mark: I’m thinking of, like we need somebody that we can say, “Hey when I have a medical issue, I was in a car wreck. I can’t make a decision.”
Victor: Oh, you want a health care proxy. Somebody to make a decision for you.
Mark: There’s a lot of moving parts in this where that we need the guidance. Medina Law Group can certainly help in that area. Palante Wealth is about holistic planning for your retirement.
Victor is a certified financial planner, professional registered investment advisor, and that is the income, investment, tax world, estate world obviously in Medina Law Group. Both of these companies are really geared to help you moving forward into retirement to feel a little bit more confident about things. 856‑506‑8300 if you’d like to learn more. How can the teams help you? Give you a little bit more confidence.
Maybe a little bit less stress in your life. That would be nice. 856‑506‑8300. Here’s the deal, Victor and the teams in Palante Wealth and Medina Law Group, they get a lot of questions. People come in because they have questions. “Hey, what should I do here? What should I do there?” This is going to lead us right into the mail bag segment.
This is kind of fun. Victor and the teams go out and do things in the community. They might put on a seminar here or there. They’ve got people come in. They’ve got people that email them questions or call with questions. We just steal some of these questions. We’re going to use them right here on the radio show.
Are you ready to handle some questions from some different people from the area?
Victor: I am limbered up and ready to go, Mark. Let’s do this.
Mark: That’s why I wait until the last segment so your voice is well limbered by the time we get here. First question comes from Donna in Princeton. “Victor, will social security be there for me in the future? If I listen to the news, I’m not sure if I should count on it for my retirement or not.” What do you think?
Victor: That’s a good question and thanks for sending it over, Donna. I would tell you that there’s a lot of people who have this similar concern where, just like you, they’re worried about social security.
What they hear about in the news that’s out there is how social security is being raided the way that we’re increasing the debts that the government is running up and how we’re going to pay for those. The concern is about where that money is going to come from when they need to get through retirement.
I’ll tell you historically, when they’ve made changes to social security, what they’ve essentially done is stretched out the time period, or made it later, when you could go ahead and start to claim that amount. They’ve adjusted the timing of it, so they didn’t have to pay for as many people for as long.
Considering this compounding effect, not only is there less money in the trust fund for paying this social security, but we have people who are living longer and longer. While my crystal ball is broken, and I can’t tell you exactly whether or not social security will be there or what it will look like in the future, I will tell you it is a valid concern.
Whether or not it can make good on its original promise to help you fund your retirement and protect you against being poor when you are retired. What can you do about that? First of all, you can plan around needing it exclusively, which I think is a lot of people are already doing.
They are already saving for their retirement because they know that social security will not cover 100 percent of it. The other thing you can do is to start to think about how much you are going to need for your retirement and include having that portion of the social security for a shorter period of time.
I think that what we’ll see is that the true impact to social security might be coming up on the next generation or the next kids.
That’s really where we’re going to see this significant impact, but if you’re on the verge of retirement, you may see a one or two‑year delay before you can claim it and it may go longer than that depending ‑‑ Donna, you don’t say how old you are, and I’m not going to ask you because my wife and my mom have raised me the right way ‑‑ but you may need it for a longer period.
In which case, it might be delayed even longer that the one or two years that we’re talking about. What you need to do is plan on needing it for a shorter period of time so that you can make sure that you’re not overly reliant on that social security. I think that’s where the fault comes when we start thinking about it too much.
It’s too strong or important of a leg in the way that we design our income plan for retirement.
Mark: The other part of this, Donna, is the social security administration says 70 to 80 percent of Americans take social security the wrong way for their situation. It doesn’t mean you’re wrong at 62 or 70 or anywhere in between. It just means you took it wrong.
That’s why Palante Wealth looks at the holistic plan. That means you’re looking at the entire picture. It’s not just a social security question because we know if we wait, we get more, but if we take it early we get less.
You might need to take it at 62. You maybe should wait until 66 or 67 or maybe wait until 70. Everybody’s situation is different. The team at Palante Wealth can help walk you through this decision and give you some educated reasons for why you should do this or why you should do that. Just give them a call, Donna.
856‑506‑8300. Appreciate the question. Again, it’s 856‑506‑8300.
Next question, Victor, comes from Roger in Feasterville, PA. He says, “Victor, I was just reviewing my pension plan, and the option I chose when I was a new employee might not provide much for my wife if I die before her. Is there anything I can do to make this right or is there anything I can set up so she can still have income if I pass away before her?”
Victor: That’s a good question, Roger, and thanks for sharing it. It’s great, by the way, that you’ve got a pension option because so few people, so few companies really, have that as a defined benefit of employment.
It’s great that it’s there, but your question is valid because if you made an election when that was irrevocable when you set it up, that doesn’t provide as much for your wife when you retire, there’s this concern that your death will leave her with less income to spend in retirement.
That is a really serious concern and is one of the things that you should be worried about going forward. I’m going to give you some good views about ways that you can think about this to help you with your planning retirement and your comfort level. That it will be OK no matter what election you made. Whether it’s irrevocable or not.
To set the context for this, both of my parents are teachers and when they retired, they each had a pension. It’s super unusual. Talk about a double unicorn. They each had pensions and they had to come up with a plan about what would happen when one of them died.
What they did was start to equalize the number, so that when one of them died, didn’t matter who it was, there was the same amount of income coming afterwards.
The way that we would do that for somebody that doesn’t have a pension. We’re going to assume, Roger, that your wife doesn’t have a pension of her own. You didn’t say that in your question, so I’m going to assume that that’s the case. The way that we think about doing that is making a pension out of your savings using an insurance product to do that.
That is called an annuity. What you would do is you would take a portion of your investments that you’ve been saving for retirement and you would purchase an annuity that would give a guaranteed lifetime income stream that would be pegged to a date that your wife would be able to trigger that after you’ve passed away.
When we talk about guarantees, that’s really based on the financial strength of the underlying insurance company, which is one of the reasons why you want to get great recommendations for great companies and not just pick anything that’s out there that might be blaring on a commercial.
We really want something that’s tailor made, really working with the best products that we can find for this solution. What you’re essentially doing, is you’re creating the missing part of the pension that you missed out on by not selecting the money that stayed constant when you die.
That’s the whole idea, is that we’ve made up for that decision by using some smart strategies. It’s absolutely something that you can do, assuming all of the rest of the circumstances are in place.
You’ve got a big enough nest egg and it all works out. It’s a problem that we can correct, Roger, if we have the chance to do that before you die, which is what we’re looking for.
Mark: Yes. We would like you to come in, Roger, before you pass away to make these decisions. It’s about planning, it’s about being proactive, not reactive. 856‑506‑8300 is the number. 856‑506‑8300.
Roger, there’s no cost to chat with the teams. They’re here to help. Just don’t know if they can until they hear your situation, but I think in this situation, they probably can give you some options. 856‑506‑8300.
Glad you’re with us today for “Make It Last” with Victor Medina of Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. I’m Mark Elliot. We’re going through some mail bag questions. Might come from people that have called in and asked a question or people send an email or around town or what have you. These are always interesting. They’re always all over the place.
The next one, Victor, comes from Allison. Allison is in Skillman. Allison says this, “Victor, I found a box of statements when I was cleaning out our closet. I realized I have no idea just how much money is in our accounts. I just manage a checking account because I pay the bills. But I really don’t know much about what else my husband is managing. What should I do?”
Victor: Allison, you sound a lot like my mom after she ended up getting divorced from my dad and not understanding all the financial implications that were out there. In fact, it’s the whole reason why I wrote my most recent book, “Make It Last ‑ Empowering Women in Retirement.”
I’m going to do this for you, Allison. I’m going to do the same thing for anybody else that’s listening. If you are a woman and you would like a copy of the “Empowering Women in Retirement” book, go to the website, ask for it, reference the radio show, and we’ll make sure that we’ll send that out to you.
To answer your question, Allison, I will tell you this. First of all, it is super important for you to be as involved in the financial planning and picture as your husband is in terms of what’s going on. I’m going to assume for a moment that there’s nothing bad going on. You have a great relationship with your husband and things are going well. He’s not hiding anything.
You do have to have a discussion. Say, “Listen, if you love me, if you care for me, what you have to do is make sure that you don’t leave me scrambling if you die before I do.” There’s always this divisions of labors in marriages where “You’re going to handle this and I’m going to handle that” and their priorities of expertise.
“Don’t ask me to do laundry and not because I think it’s women’s job but my wife is taking that over. It probably to make sure that I don’t run the reds with the whites and everything is worked out.” We got this division of labor and it’s probably OK, but she has taught me how to use our sophisticated washing machine so in case she dies I can start, take that over and I can continue to do it.
Same thing would be in the finances. If your husband loves you, he needs to make sure ‑‑ you need tell him this ‑‑ that he is providing you with the same level of information and education as he…So that if he passes off before you, you have to take over that work, maybe not even interested in taking over that work, but in case something happens, you’re on equal footing.
I’ve seen too many widows come through my door scrambling for all kinds of things ‑‑ how to make the payment on bills on their own, trying to figure out where the investments are, scrambling to figure out what goes into the box and collecting all the things together. That’s just not fair way to leave somebody behind.
It is super important that we put everybody on [inaudible 55:56] specifically around finances because we can cause a lot of damage if we don’t have them on equal footing going in.
Mark: Great question, Alison, we appreciate it. Donna and Roger as well. Again, the number is 856‑506‑8300. There’s no cost. There’s no obligation. There’s no pressure. The teams in Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth certainly here to help. 856‑506‑8300.
Alison or whomever would like a copy of the book that Victor gave to you available. No cost, no charge, no nothing, no obligation, no nothing. He’ll send it right to you. He said you go to the website. Medina Law Group, M‑E‑D‑I‑N‑A, medinalawgroup.com, palantewealth.com. Now I would say that’s an easier place probably for the book.
Palantewealth.com, P‑A‑L‑A‑N‑T‑E, is part of the three…What? Three books, right? The “Make It Last” series?
Victor: I’m up to five now, Mark.
Mark: Oh five now.
Victor: Yeah. Five published books, all available on Amazon, all available in our office if you came in. I know I’m a little surprised myself that I’m at high.
Mark: Pretty impressive. When you’ve got a lot of knowledge, you want to share with people. That’s Victor Medina of the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. Again, the website palantewealth.com. If you’d like a copy of the book, P‑A‑L‑A‑N‑T‑E, palantewealth.com. The number 856‑506‑8300.
Appreciate you being with us today for Make It Last with Victor Medina. Victor, enjoyed it. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Have a great week. We’ll do it again next week.
Narrator: Taxes are just a fact of life. You can’t avoid it even in retirement, but what if I told you there are ways to minimize what you pay in taxes? Victor Medina and his team can help. To learn more, visit 920taxes.com to get your free copy of Victor Medina’s tax guide, 920taxes.com. That’s the numbers 9‑2‑0taxes.com.
Mark: Palante Wealth Advisors are an independent financial services firm that utilizes a variety of investment and insurance products. Medina Law Group is an independent estate planning and elder law firm. Investment advisory services offered through Palante Wealth Advisors, LLC, a New Jersey and Pennsylvania registered investment advisor.
Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal. Any references to protection, safety, or lifetime income generally refer to fixed insurance products, never securities or investments.
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Transcription by CastingWords