This week on Make It Last Victor and Mark will be discussing inflationary psychology and how inflation can severely impact your retirement plan.
They’ll also be answering the two biggest questions pre-retirees have- when can I retire, and have I saved enough?
Finally, they’ll wrap things up with a game of Retirement “Yay or Nay?”
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Make It Last is hosted by Victor J. Medina, a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA®) and a Certified Financial Planner (CFP™). Founder of Medina Law Group & Palante Wealth Advisors, Victor and his companies are dedicated to empowering people through education about estate planning and their finances.
Full Transcription Below
Mark Elliot: How about that, a little Prince to kick things off. This time of the year back in 1986, Prince started a two‑week run at number one on the US singles chart with obviously the song “Kiss.” It was also this week in 2016 that Prince died at the age of 57.
I think his estate was worth around 200 million. He did not have a valid will at all in place, which is right in the wheelhouse of the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. Welcome to “Make it Last” with Victor Medina. I’m Mark Elliott.
Do you have any questions about where you are on your road to retirement? It’s 856‑506‑8300. No cost, no obligation, no pressure. 856‑506‑8300. We’ll give you that number throughout the program. Prince, he was incredibly talented.
When you think about it, we all have that situation. We’re not guaranteed tomorrow. Prince passed away unexpectedly at the age of 57. There’s a lot of things you need to put in place. The team at Medina Law Group, that’s what they are here for ‑‑ to help you with estate planning.
Victor is a certified elder law attorney, so they can help you in that world of estate planning, wills, trust, all those things you need for your life and for your loved ones, really. Then Palante Wealth is about holistic planning for your retirement. Victor is a certified financial planner professional, a registered investment advisor.
The team at Palante Wealth teams up with the Medina Law Group to create your Make It Last plan and income strategy, investment strategies, tax efficient strategies and, of course, the estate plan.
We’re going to talk a little bit today on the program to start with, anyway, about inflation. Now, Victor, we know that when we go to the gas station, and we fill up our cars, it’s costing…It seemed like 20 to 30 percent more than it used to. I think I filled up my one car that’s got a pretty big gas tank, and I’ve done it usually around 60 bucks.
I went a little trip, 90 bucks it cost me. I’m like, “Holy cow, 60 was a lot. 90 is crazy!” Then you go to the grocery store. Right now, meat prices are up about almost 15 percent from March of 2022 to March of 2021. Breakfast cereal prices, up 9.2 in that same time frame. It doesn’t make sense if inflation is around eight‑and‑a‑half percent. That’s what they’re saying.
High 40‑year‑plus high average of inflation. Why do things go at different levels? Why doesn’t everything go up eight percent? Why doesn’t my savings account get a little bump, but no, it’s a 0.6 percent or something?
Victor Medina: [laughs] Yeah, there’s one of those that’s missing. One of these things is not like the other. You’ve touched on something really interesting to me, Mark, and I’ve been thinking about it recently, which is the concept of inflationary psychology or inflation psychology.
It’s funny you should mention gassing up and taking trips because recently for Easter, we had to go and visit Jen, my wife, her parents, and go to my in‑laws, which is great, because they cook.
I said, “What do you want me to bring?” They told me two things, by the way. They wanted me to bring wine because they like my taste in wine, and they said, “Could you bring us our completed tax return,” because they had dropped off their paperwork the week before.
Mark: Dual purpose.
Victor: Exactly. They’re going to feed me, but they’re going to extract a little bit on the way out. Anyway, we were planning to go out and I’ve got two cars in the house. One is an electric vehicle, and one is this honking beast of a Toyota Sequoia. When you buy the car, you might as well get stock in Exxon because you’re going to be gassing it up all the time.
We made a decision about which car to take. We took the smaller, more cramped car, because one of my kids is 6’1″. I’ve got to fold him into the back. We took the smaller car and the electric vehicle because we just didn’t want to pay for gas for a trip like that, and the electricity was going to be cheaper.
People are making decisions based on inflation. That’s probably the best lead‑in to the answer to your question about why different things have different inflation levels is because it’s governed and driven by people’s decisions to buy.
We have to remember that inflation is nothing more than the expression of the increased cost of goods or services without an intended increase in supply. What that does is that drives up demand. There’s the exact amount of supply that was there before, and that drives up the cost of it.
We’re going to have different demand levels in different industries ‑‑ electronics versus groceries versus gas, which, by the way, has its own impact from the geopolitical strife that’s going on right now.
We have all these intervening factors, but because the rate of inflation is driven in part by the demand for the particular good or service, we now understand why there are different inflationary numbers for different sectors out there, because there are different demand levels that’s in there.
I’m going to go one layer deeper into this, which is that part of what drives inflation is the psychology around it. This is not something we can control. I’m just going to share this information, but there’s nothing much to do about it. As a herd of mammals, we, as humans, are going to react to the concepts of scarcity around a particular good or service in a way that will further drive that number.
We saw at the beginning of the year the Fed indicating its intent to increase the reserve rate in a way to constrict money supply or make it more expensive to borrow so that we could curb inflation.
This is when inflation was announced at seven percent at the beginning of the year, and they said, “We’re going to increase rates. Hey, we’re going to let you know that it’s going to essentially be harder to borrow money, or to have access to money over the course of the year. We’re going to do interest seven times, over the course of the year.”
What happened to inflation? Was it mitigated? No, it went the opposite direction, April 1, eight percent. May 1, scheduled to be nine percent. We’re going in the opposite direction. It’s not driven by any particular fundamentals.
It’s being driven by the psychology around inflation, which is continuing to drive up the demand and therefore, the cost of goods and services with no increase in supply.
Here, we stand with people chasing after this stuff and watching the cost of it go higher and higher and higher.
Mark: If you have challenges, you’re retired and you’re like, “Holy cow, I was budgeting X amount of dollars for my retirement years. My money is not exactly going as far as I was hoping it would go.” The number’s 856‑506‑8300. Again, there’s no cost. It’s a 15‑minute phone call just to voice your concerns or questions you may have.
Victor and the teams then going to try to see if they can help you. If they can help you, then that’s a great thing. If they can’t, they’ll maybe give you some advice. It’s a great opportunity for you to learn more. 856‑506‑8300.
I was looking up inflation. There’s an article online by the Shia Swati and David Wessel. It says inflation refers to changes over time and the overall level of prices of goods and services throughout the economy. The government measures inflation by comparing the current prices of a set of goods and services to previous prices.
Here’s my question. The Consumer Price Index, which is produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is the most widely used measure inflation. It says the primary CPI is designed to measure price changes faced by urban consumers who represent 93 percent of the US population.
The challenge is retirees are in a whole different world. Medical costs have been going up like crazy for a long time. Inflation is really for your everyday workers in a New York, LA, Philadelphia, the big cities. It’s not for the people that live in the country, it’s not the retirees though.
Victor: That’s exactly right, Mark. Exactly, for the people that are working, that have this other follow‑on effect of watching their wages potentially increase, it affects retirees completely differently.
Listen, if you’re listening right now, and you’re not in having a conversation with your advisor on a regular basis about how inflation is impacting your plan, maybe you don’t even have a plan.
You’re the kind of person who’s got to reach out to us and talk because these are the conversations that we’re having with our clients all the time. We saw what was happening with the rate of inflation.
We made an immediate pivot to talking to them about what we call their “lazy money,” their cash that they’re sitting on the sidelines, waiting for a rainy day, and explained to them, “Listen, based on the inflation rates right now, you have about seven percent less purchasing power on this cash, and it’s eroding over time.”
You sitting there with $100,000 in cash, waiting for a rainy day, that’s really only worth about $93,000 right now. You lost value in that relative to the cost of goods, you can’t buy as much from there.”
We’ve been talking with our clients about what to do in those scenarios. Now, every one of those recommendations is tailored to that specific client. I can’t give somebody something that will be universally applicable, except to say that you should be looking at it, except to suggest that it shouldn’t be ignored.
It should be part of an overall plan, which is not one that you create only once, but one that is you are revisiting on a regular basis. Again, if you don’t have that plan, if you’re in a situation where your advisor is not talking to you about this stuff or is just telling you to ride the market, it’s all going to work out in the end.
This is real dollars to you, this is real spending dollars to you, this is really about how long your money is going to last, and how far you can stretch that particular dollar for the rest of your lives. What you can do to pay for things that are your staples, your necessary goods. This is we’re talking about gross is in here.
If you’re not having a conversation with us, give us a call. By the way, you can do that, 856‑506‑8300. You just pick up the phone and just dial us. We’re going to have a real easy conversation with you, 15 minutes. Then, maybe you want to continue that conversation.
We’ll look at what your situation is, maybe we even create a plan for you and talk to you about how you can start to account for this high inflation and what you can do with that.
Again, 856‑506‑8300. Go ahead and start the conversation if you know that you’re not having it with your advisor right now. We would want to have that conversation with you because we want to take care of you that way.
Mark: All right, final thing this segment and we got a lot to get to on the program today. We all get it. When prices start to climb then consumers make adjustments to their spending. It’s one thing to go, “OK, I’m going to go to the store but I’m only getting generic brands because I’m going to save a little bit of money or I’m going to cut back on eating out.”
It’s another thing to be retired and have to go back to work because of rising prices. Some of the stats that are out, Victor, in March, the share of people over age 55 who are working or looking for a job was at almost 39 percent. More than 480,000 people over the age of 55 entered the labor force during the last six months.
Now, your clients have the Make It Last plan. These kinds of things are always built into it. There’s no guarantee they’re going to be perfect just because they have a plan, but they have a better idea of where they are. I would think people that go into retirement winging it, things like inflation, rising interest rates.
They have the bond portfolios that maybe aren’t doing very well, because when interest rates go up, bonds go the other way. That’s where the plan comes in to help us have some clarity.
Victor: It does, and it’s going to change from person to person. There’s nothing that says that just because you have a plan, you can spend as much as you want for as long as you want. It’s really about reflecting…
Mark: I would like that plan.
Victor: I saw that plan, Mark. It’s very, very expensive. It’s basically the cost of me to retire right now. Then I’m going to Belize with it. Maybe one time cost for that, but I tell you that the people with the plan, at least have a series of answers and a direction to charting a course.
We do have people that are likely to go back to work because we will help them answer the question, “What will happen if I go back to work? Is the picture made better or worse?”
They know we say, “Well, listen, you’re OK if you don’t do it, and if you do do it, here’s the effect of what we can do. Here’s what we can change off of your plan. We were headed in the right direction and now we can make this even better if you decide that you’d like to work at least part‑time and do it at your…”
Mark: Quickly on that, Social Security. If we’ve already started Social Security though, and we’re not at our full ‑‑ according to Social Security retirement age, which now is 67 ‑‑ we go back to work, say at 63 or 64, that can cause some issues there, I suppose.
Victor: They can, yeah, so you can have an offset on how much you’re receiving in Social Security. They commonly call that a penalty. The other thing you can do is if you recently started Social Security, you can pay back those benefits and then continue to let it defer while you’re going to be making wage income.
A lot of ways out of that paper bag that you can fight your way through. I would say that you need the answer to the question. That’s the best part of working with an advisor that’s holistic in his retirement focus is that you’re going to get the wealth of experience that comes from helping lots of people in the same situation and then answer the question for you, “What if…?”
“What if this happens?” “What if I do this?” “What happens after that?” Then, you’re able to use that person as a sounding board or as a guide. That’s where we serve. Our role in clients is to say, “Listen, you’re Luke Skywalker, I’m Yoda. Man, I’ll tell you how to use the force. You go live your life and go slay the Darth Vader if you want.”
The idea there is that you are getting answers to your questions, and you’re not up at night wondering what if. That’s really the benefit.
Mark: The Make It Last plan, income strategies, investment strategies, tax‑efficient strategies, estate planning ideas. I think everybody’s situation is different. Everybody has different needs and wants, everybody wants to do different things in retirement, and you put the Make It Last plan together, and as we said, it lives and breathes with us.
It changes with us. Things happen, and we have to make adjustments in this Make It Last plan, but you have a plan that’s really important when inflation hits or when something bad happens. The plans adjusting along the way, so you’re not caught off guard. That’s really important.
If you’d like to chat with the teams in Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth, and Victor Medina, it’s 856‑506‑8300. 856‑506‑8300. If you need an a cappella group, the local director, he’s right here. It is Victor Medina, the Jersey Transit, and might even do a set…probably have to be some air guitar since it’s a cappella, but maybe some Prince.
There you go. We got more to get to this is Make It Last with Victor Medina.
Mark: Glad you’re with us today for Make It Last with Victor Medina of Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. Again, if you’d like to chat with the team, you got some questions or concerns, 856‑506‑8300. 856‑506‑8300.
Victor, right when you go home from work, my guess is because you’re kind of the chef. Now your wife can cook, I suppose, but you’re this fancy chef.
Victor: I’m the fancy one, yeah.
Mark: There’s questions every day. When you come home, “Hey, what’s for dinner? Who’s cooking? Is it me? Is it you? Where are we going to go? Are we going to go out to eat? What are we going to do?” Every day is about questions that what are we going to do? What’s our plan for the day of work with your teams at Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth.
We have to have a game plan here about how we’re going to help certain clients, and they’re all different. There’s different plans always happening. When we’re starting to consider retirement, though, the questions get a little bit more difficult than “Hey, what’s for dinner?”
Now, that can certainly be a question you have in retirement, where are we going to eat? Are we going to eat at a different place all the time, we’re going to cook at home, how are we going to do it?
What are some of the questions that you feel like we really, and you get a lot from people that come in for the first time, not your clients, because you’ve already been through all of this, the typical questions, what are they?
Victor: Yes, it’s interesting. I think through what kind of questions they asked, because you’re right, it’s stark to me that people will ask more questions about what they’re having for dinner sometimes than what they’re going to do in retirement. They’ll just continue with their same path.
If I think through what those meetings are like, they often center around questions generally, “Are they going to be OK in retirement?” But more specifically, when can they retire? Do they have enough to do that? Will their money last? Is their spouse going to be OK if they die early? Will their kids be OK?
What happens if they get sick and require an assisted‑living facility or need long‑term care? All of these are questions that are trying to predict the future, and try to gain certainty over what that future looks like. They’re coming and asking the questions of me, as a professional. What do I need to be OK and relying on my experience and education.
The idea that I’ve got a Certified Financial Planning designation, and that I have a specific designation in retirement planning, and I’m a certified elder law attorney, and taking all of those together and saying, “Well, listen, from here, this vast knowledge and experience working with other people, but what do I need to be OK? Am I OK the way that I am? Do I need to make a change?”
When we go through that kind of analysis, it starts to draw for them a picture of where they are today and where they need to be in the future for their chance of success to be the greatest in their best optimal scenario to be in. That’s really what they’re focused on.
It’s like, are they going to be OK in retirement? Is it OK to make that decision? Are they making a mistake?
Mark: All right. Let’s look at, “When can I retire? Have I saved enough?” in this segment. We’ll go to the other two, “Will my money last? Will my loved ones be OK if something happens?” in the next segment. The “Have I saved enough?” and you remember those commercials had to be a decade ago now. What’s your number?
Really? That’s your number? Remember those commercials? The old adage maybe 10 years ago was, “Hey, my goal is to get to a million dollars. If I get to a million, I’m fine.” You’ve had people come in with a million dollars, it’s not enough, and you’ve had people come in with 250,000 and it’s plenty because everybody’s situation is different.
That question, “Have I saved enough?” How do you help them find an answer?
Victor: It’s really good, and by the way that juxtaposition is in where my own life is because I’ve got one set of parents who didn’t have a lot saved. They maybe have $350,000, $400,000. They’re perfectly OK in retirement because what they had was guaranteed income from their pension having been school teachers for 35 years.
I can look at them, and I can analyze the situation like, “You’re OK to go.” Similarly, I’ve had people come in with a million dollars, and no other source of guaranteed income. It’s like, “Am I going to be OK?” I’m like, “Nope, we need to do some work here. We’re not ready to go quite yet.”
The first question in terms of, “When can I retire? Have I saved enough?” is actually met by me with another question, which is, “What do you want to do?”
I need them to paint a picture for me for what retirement looks like, because that’s what drives whether or not where they’re starting is enough to get to where they need to be.
Now, in real practical terms, we’re talking about the creation of a budget, because when we’re talking about dollars, and we’re talking about having enough saved, we’re talking about spending those dollars.
There are a lot of factors that go into that, the rate of consumption of those dollars, the increase for inflation, and how those dollars are going to have to grow over time in order for them to meet the increased cost of goods, just normal inflation. Forget about the hyperinflation that we’ve seen over these periods of the last six to eight months.
They’re really looking at that question. Once they tell me, from a budget standpoint, what they want to do, once they paint a picture of what retirement looks like, and we started to put some dollars to that, we can now start to look at their situation and start to answer questions like, “Are you going to have enough to get there?”
If we take my parents as an example, if we start to fill the bucket of their guaranteed income from sources like Social Security and a pension, we know how much of that budget is going to show up every month at the beginning of them. We even know the day. We know the day. We know how much we’ve already pre‑paid in taxes for that.
We know with some decent certainty how much our tax bill is going to be over the course of the whole year. We’ve now figured out what’s left to spend in that bucket, and now we can figure out whether or not what they have saved in vehicles like IRAs, 401(k)s is going to be enough.
Then we get to the next level, which is where we usually get a lot of fun, which you start to take a look at, for example, how we can maximize the dollars that they have from a tax planning perspective. I love thinking about taxes for them, because it’s usually the thing people think they can do nothing about.
You’re just going to get a tax bill. They’re going to fill out their taxes. They just have to pay whatever they’re going to have to pay.
When we look at scenarios where people have got so much saved in IRA or 401(k), and we start to introduce the concept of converting into a Roth IRA and making that stuff tax free and spending maybe six years as part of our planning to get them from a position where they’re always going to have to pay taxes on their dollars to a position where they may never have to pay taxes on their dollars.
We’re getting to that scenario. I’ve now increased how long that money is going to last because, of course, I’ve bought out the federal government, and I’m having more purchasing power of the dollars that I have left.
We’re really starting with the idea about what you want to do with the retirement, and then we start to figure out how much they have, and if they can meet it there. Then we start to layer that additional sophistication of the planning around taxes.
Say, “How can I squeeze more juice out of this particular lemon to make sure that you can go ahead and last longer with those dollars and actually maximize and optimize what you can do with the money that you have saved?”
Mark: If you’ve never sat down with a retirement planning team like Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth, this is a great opportunity for you to actually start thinking a little bit more seriously about, “Hey, I wonder if we can retire? I wonder if we have enough? Is our money going to last as long as we do? Will my loved ones be OK if something happens to me?”
Those are big questions. They’re exactly what Victor and the teams are here to help you figure out because again, everybody’s situation is different. You can always call him, there’s no cost for this, there’s no obligation at all. They’re here to help you. They just don’t know if they can until they hear from you. 856‑506‑8300, again, is the number. 856‑506‑8300.
Think about it, your Make It Last plan, Victor, it goes into investment strategies, tax‑efficient strategies and estate planning, but it starts with income. We have to have income to be able to retire. We’ve got to replace the paychecks that are no longer coming in because we have to maintain our lifestyle. How do you help them to do that?
I suppose income is where it starts. How many different types of income do people typically have? Your parents lucky with school teachers, with the pension, Social Security, but people retiring today, that don’t have pensions. Income is more of a challenge.
Victor: It’s a challenge in the sense that you can’t have as many sources of guaranteed income and a lot of people have not saved or have their investments set up to provide income for them. They’ve gone in with long‑term accumulation strategies, which by the way is not wrong.
As you’re accumulating assets or trying to do your saving portion before you get to your spending portion. Where they came to us as, or where they’re starting is not always in the best position to generate income going forward. The sources of guaranteed income from those people start and end with Social Security.
It just starts there, like that’s it. That’s all I have that is going to generate a check for me afterwards. There are other things that they can and should consider as part of their portfolios to get into retirement. Some of them have to do with the kind of investments they own. For example, real estate.
Real estate is an investment that will, for many people, generate some income. That income may not necessarily be guaranteed. It may be subject to having a tenant in a particular property if you own it directly, or having a good enough portfolio within a real estate investment mutual fund, that will allow to pay off something. Again, not necessary guaranteed.
It’s a good source of generating income because the asset itself is designed to throw off income that you can later spend. Be the same thing by the way if you were owning interest‑bearing investments. Things like CDs or bonds. Of course, they come with their own pluses and minuses.
Bond funds are down now as interest rates rise. What does that mean about what I’m relying on to generate income in the future and what those interest rates are? Then we look at annuities. We use the guarantees that insurance companies will give us based on their financial strength and their contracts.
To say, “OK, if I give them some money, what would they pay me back and how much of that is guaranteed for how long?” That’s a good source for people to think about filling that bucket. In our practice, it’s hard to use some broad lines that drive some thinking.
For me I’d like to see at least about 50 percent of somebody’s guaranteed ‑‑ what their budget is in retirement ‑‑ I’d like to say about 50 percent of that in a guaranteed set of fixed‑income sources. I’m going to add Social Security, I might add in annuity.
I might find something that will guarantee that up to the 50 percent level, then figure out what the rest of withdrawals we’re going to make. The idea is that, you’re going to look at multiple sources of income and start to put them together.
Maybe even shift your investment strategy to be able to generate those if you’ve mostly been in the accumulation phase beforehand.
Mark: The question, “Have I saved enough?” The answer is different for everybody. Victor and the teams are here to help you to figure that out. Again, it’s 856‑506‑8300. The question of, “When can I retire?”
I always think that’s an interesting question, because some people hate their job and don’t want to work anymore. Others love their job and go, “I don’t know physically if I’m able to continue to work so I might have to look to retirement.” Those are different scenarios.
Then you go back to ’08, the great recession. That was when people were going, “I’m never going to be able to retire, I lost half my money. My 401(k) became a 201(k).” Then you fast forward to the pandemic of 2020.
People are like, “Holy cow, we could die at any time, I’m retiring now. I’m going to enjoy whatever time I have left.” Then you throw in, Social Security, you’re eligible at 62. Medicare is at 65. What are some of the key things a lot of people decide when to retire? There’s a lot of factors, I’m sure.
Victor: There definitely are. When they talk about retirement date, you often have to have conversations, “You’re retiring to what? What does retirement mean for you? Are you stopping working? Are you changing jobs?
“Are you lowering your income so you’re not going to work at that crazy job that you had before, but you’re going to switch it out for maybe working at the Apple Store because you love their products, and that’s going to be enough to making a few dollars come in?”
Figuring out the date. [laughs] I always have a joke answer back and say, “When do you want to die? I can tell you when you’re going to retire if you’re going to tell me when you’re going to die. If you give me those two dates we’re going to go pretty well.”
We try to plan around bringing somebody out to age a hundred. Which seems a little crazy, but I’d rather they have enough money to last to a hundred rather than knock on my door and say, “I’ve ran out of money I get to live with you now, Medina.”
We want to bring them out that far. We want to factor inflation. The date itself is going to be a function of what kind of sustainable withdrawals, or sustainable living expenses they’re going to need over that period of time.
If they’re going to come at me let’s say at age 65, and I have to provide for them 35 years worth of income. It’s a whole other third of their life from what they have saved. I’m going to reach a conclusion that that’s either plausible or not based on where they stand.
When we’re looking at a target date about when I can retire, it’s really for me a function of being more conservative with the planning, to make sure that we have enough money on the most extreme of the situations.
Have you lived to the ripe age of a hundred, if you need long‑term care in the future, if there is higher than normal inflation. Those types of things. If there are, for example, claw backs of the stock market.
If we lose a lot of value early in the beginning of your retirement that actually has a mathematical effect on how long your money’s going to last unless we do something to help protect some of those assets.
That all gets combined, Mark. That all gets combined into a plan, that Make It Last plan that looks at income, investments, taxes, and estate planning, so that we can now chart course in a particular direction.
It will do this, we have created a checklist that will let you know whether or not you’re ready to retire. Before we get to the date off of it, we might have you go through about 35 different things that are precursors for you having a successful retirement.
Some of these you might done already. Maybe you’re very far into it. Maybe you haven’t gotten started at all and you need this little roadmap to help you along the way, but I’m going to give it to you 100 percent free. It’s downloaded at the website 920checklist.com.
You go to 9‑2‑0 checklist.com. You put your name, your email. We will automatically send that to you, to your email address. It’s our checklist challenge. It will have you go through 35 different areas that you should be looking at to make sure that you are retirement ready and that you’ve got all your ducks in a row.
By the way, if you are most of the way there, some of the way there, and you want some help with the rest of the way, certainly, we can do that for you, but we’re going to give you that roadmap so that you can have this analysis and say, “Am I on the right path? Or are there are some decisions that I have to make or some choices that I have to make differently kind of going forward some changes?”
Again, if you’re interested in that, that’s 920checklist.com. You can go to it right now, as you’re listening to the show, put in your name and your email and the automatic magic of the computer and the Internet will have it sent to you.
Mark: If you’re like me, I’m 62. When I do the checklist, I can get to the maybe four or five items, which means I’m not quite ready to do this, but if you can get to, and that probably out of the 35, 32 or so, will probably pertain to you. There’s two or three, usually, that won’t pertain to everybody.
If you can get to 28, 27, that area you’re getting really close, but if you’re at 4 or 5, like me, that’s not good. It’s a great opportunity for you to talk with the teams at Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth.
Again, that’s 920checklist.com. You download it right there. It’s an easy process, but it’s a great checklist, will open your eyes about some of the challenges of your retirement. It’s maybe some areas you haven’t thought about, but if you’d like to just chat with the team, you can certainly do that as well. It’s 856‑506‑8300. 856‑506‑8300.
We’re looking really at the big questions that retirees, pre‑retirees have. “When can I retire?” “Have I saved enough?” We’re going to look at the other two in the next segment. “Will my money last?” and “Will my loved ones be OK if something happens to me?” More with Victor Medina, this is Make It Last.
Mark: Welcome back to Make It Last with Victor Medina of Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. You can find out more about the estate planning and certified elder law attorney, Victor Medina. You can go to that website for Medina Law Group at medinalawgroup.com, M‑E‑D‑I‑N‑A, medinalawgroup.com.
On the holistic planning side for your retirement, the Palante Wealth site. That is P‑A‑L‑A‑N‑T‑E, palantewealth.com. Both companies go together to help you create your Make It Last plan, income, investment, taxes, estate planning. All of that is a part of it.
If you’d like to learn more, you can always call the team as well. 856 506‑8300, no cost, no obligation for that. 856‑506‑8300. Now, we’re talking about the big questions that pre‑retirees have. “Hey, Victor, when can I retire?” “Hey, Victor, have I saved enough? Will my money last? Will my loved ones be OK if something happens to me?”
We looked at the first two questions already and they’re certainly all tied together, because there’s a lot of challenges in there, but the one about “Will my money last?” It seems like for the last decade or so, that’s been the number one concern of retirees, “Will my money last as long as I do?” or “Will my money last as long as we do?” Is that still a huge concern for people, you think?
Victor: I think it’s at least big enough for me have named all five books, Make It Last and call the show, Make It Last.
Mark: I guess. Yeah.
Victor: I was going to say it’s recurring enough as a theme to start to message all this stuff around there because I think at the end of the day, people are looking for peace of mind. They want to know that they’re going to be OK.
The concept of outliving their money, the concept of having a long‑term care event where, that we use too much or we don’t have it available for the other spouse, or we don’t have our care options as broad as we might have had otherwise.
All of that jumble together is that same message of, “Am I going to have enough and is it going to be OK?” Our job as advisors is to answer that question as honestly as we can.
We do get the benefit of coming in with different ideas about retirement that they may have heard from before, being able to illustrate some concepts and strategies that might put them in a better position, but being really frank with the answer, “Are you going to be OK? What changes do you need to be?”
Now, for some people, it’s a great day where we get to say to them, “Absolutely. Here’s some things that we’re going to want to tweak to make it even better, but you’re going to be OK.”
There’s some other people that, in fact, our clients of ours that will work with them and say, “Not the way that you thought. You are going to be OK, but we’re going to have to make some changes.” You can’t escape whatever the truth of the answer is going to be.
There’s no magic that you can sprinkle over that to get the answer that you want simply because you want it. We’re out of kindergarten stage off of it, but you do owe it to yourself to get the right answer through it. I do think that it is still a very common concern for folks to make sure that they’re going to have enough money through retirement, that they’re going to be OK.
I think the best thing about our planning process, the going through the Make It Last plan where we talk about the income, investments, tax and estate planning, is that we do a thorough investigation to be able to answer that question for them in a very confident way. If you’re going to be OK, we’re going to tell you’re going to be OK.
If you’re going to need to make some changes, we’re going to be really confident about the changes that you need to make. Then, we’re going to be really confident about the answer that you’re going to be good after that. That’s the whole purpose of doing that complete plan, as opposed to just recommending a product, say, “Go buy this,” or change this aspect of it.
We want to make sure we have nothing that has slipped through the cracks. That’s one of the things that is, I guess, fortunate, unfortunate byproduct of my legal training and in my law practice is that, I’ve been trained at gun points to examine this from five different directions to make sure that there’s nothing that’s missing.
I’ve spent 20 years in an industry whose entire existence is about thinking about problems before they happen, and being able to come up with strategies on multiple different avenues so that my clients are in their best position going forward. We do exactly the same thing, retirement planning.
We look at this from all of the angles, so that there’s nothing that we miss going forward in the way that we construct the plan. If we tell you you’re going to be OK, it’s because we’ve looked at everything so thoroughly that we’re completely confident in that answer.
Mark: One of the challenges I would think, because everybody situation is different. Every individual, every couple that you sit down with at Palante Wealth and Medina Law Group, everybody’s situation is different.
So that question “Will my money last as long as I do?” how you facetiously said in the last segment, “You tell me when you’re going to die, and I’ll be able to tell you when you can retire comfortably.”
We don’t know that answer. We don’t know our end date, we also don’t know if we or our spouse or somebody in our family has a health issue that totally throws a wrench into our plans. Those are challenges that we need to plan for. Then plan for the worst, but hope for the best, I guess.
Victor: Yeah. I think that that’s a fair way of doing it. If you go ahead and you plan for the worst, but you hope for the best, at least you won’t be surprised.
There won’t be an ugly wake‑up call, 10 years down the road and say, “Oh, we’re so sorry. We planned for the best and we hoped for the best, but we got something different. That means, unfortunately, you’re going to have to go back to work in manual labor for the next 10 years.” You don’t want that answer.
If you’ve done it the other way, at least, the only thing that you have to apologize for is that things are better than what you had otherwise anticipated, and that’s a great position to be in. It’s the same reason why we bring out the longevity to a hundred.
We make you live that long, and then we put the youngest spouse to that age a hundred. We put inflation at a higher number than average, and we model down years in the very beginning and a whole decade of down years to make sure that in the worst‑case scenario, you’ll be OK following our plan.
If, just by chance, things are better than what we had anticipated, all we have to do is say, “We’re so sorry. We’re so pessimistic. Actually, things are great. Things are better than we expected. We should have a cause for celebration.”
That’s the best position to be in, both for me as an advisor, but for you as a client as well. It’s to be like, “It’s even better than we anticipated. That’s a great place to be.”
Mark: The fear of outliving our money is still the number one fear amongst retirees. We want to make sure that our money will last as long as we are here. Obviously, we don’t want to be a burden on our kids and all of that. It really starts with the Make It Last plan ‑‑ income, investment, taxes, estate planning.
It’s all part of the Make It Last plan. Here’s the deal, though. You can’t say, “Hey, Victor, can you just send me that Make It Last plan?” Well, no, because every plan is different. It’s built to whomever they’re sitting down with. That number, again, is 856‑506‑8300. 856‑506‑8300.
There’s no cost. I don’t know why you wouldn’t take advantage of this. 856‑506‑8300. That final question, “When can I retire? Have I saved enough? Will my money last?” The final question we’re looking at is, “Will my loved ones be OK if something happens to me?”
That is one that, I think, a lot of people are, and I know your clients that come in. You have clients that are really concerned. “Hey, I’m five years older than my wife, and I think I probably will go before her. I want to make sure she’s OK.” You hear that a lot, I would imagine?
Victor: We hear that a lot. Not just in the age differential, but sometimes the anticipated health. My parents may have had Alzheimer’s, and then I’m worried about that happened to me. Is that going to make sure what is that going to do to impact my spouse? Are they going to be OK?
First of all, I applaud clients that come in and think that way. They’re our favorite clients, because they’re thinking outside of themselves. They’re not coming into me and say, “Can you make me the most amount of money, and I don’t care about my fellow humans? I just want to make sure that I’ve scraped as much on this earth before I leave it as possible.”
That’s not our clients. Our clients are really concerned about other people. When they come in, and they’re thinking about it that way, it’s a great position to be in. It’s a great position that we’re able to help them, help achieve. I will say there are probably two good answers to that question.
The first is, if we know that that’s a goal of yours, then we can help plan around it. We start with that as a default, that’s a nice thing about our plan. We say, “OK, we want to provide for both spouses, we want to provide for the kids.” We do a thorough investigation‑analysis examination. We get to learn about your family.
Of course, some families may have a special needs child, and they want to make sure that they’re OK afterward. They may have a child that is just starting out in life, and they know if they were going to leave them, they want to be able to leave them a head start on their savings or their retirement, their retirement nest egg. That can be part of the goal that we achieve.
I’m going to go in a little bit of a different direction with my second response to it, which is one of the benefits that I see of aligning yourself or having a relationship with our office is to know that we care about the entire family. There are so many of the testimonials that are out there on our website.
The responses that we get from families that come through this and even just in the initial meetings when we ask people, “Why are you here?” What they’ll say back to us is that, “Well, I heard this is a place that you come to when we want to make sure that after I’m gone…”
Let’s say that this is the financially savvy spouse that’s driving said, “After I’m gone,” even though I don’t get this, “that you’re going to be here to take care of them, and that you’ll be here to take care of the family. I heard this is where we come for that.”
That warms my heart. I love hearing that on the frontend, but let me tell you a really quick story about where it comes on the back end. I actually had a situation about six months ago, and it’s not unusual. It’s happened a couple of times since then, but I am thinking about one in particular that happened a little bit before that. Two for the few cases.
We got a phone call from a widow, and it was the wife in the scenario. We had met with them, we did all the planning, she wasn’t as involved as the husband. She wasn’t as into the specifics of what we’re doing, but she came to all the meetings, and she was pleasant off of it.
I got the phone call because the husband had died, his name was Jim, and she said, “Jim passed away.” I said, “I’m really sorry to hear that.” We didn’t know he was sick, by the way, ahead of time. It was kind of sudden. I said, “Listen, we want to talk, but how are you doing?”
She said, “Well, of course, I’m sad that he is gone, but I have to tell you that when I picked up the phone, I felt all this incredible peace because the only thing that Jim told me, or one of the things he said is, ‘If something happens to me, you pick up the phone and you talk to Victor because he’s going to take care of you. You are going to be OK.'”
“And I believe that with every fiber of my bone. So, I want to make sure I followed what he told me to do because that’s how I know that I am going to be OK.”
If we’re trying to figure out, “Are your loved ones going to be OK if something happens to you?” My question back is, “Are you working with a team where that is their principal goal for how they have the relationship with the entire family?” Because that’s what we do.
We look at you and say, “Listen, you are going to be OK.” Because we are going to take care of you from here on out.
Mark: 856‑506‑8300. Those big questions are “Will my loved ones be OK if something happens to me?” is a really big one as well, obviously. 856‑506‑8300 Victor and the teams here to help you create your Make It Last plan with their guidance. Final minute of this segment before we head to our final segment.
We’re just going to touch on this briefly. I’m going to give you more time to talk about this maybe in another point. I think a lot of people think estate and legacy planning are just for the wealthy. What would you say about that, Victor?
Victor: Estate and legacy planning is what you do when you care about the people that you leave behind. There’s so many things out in the world, dealing with probate, dealing with the regulatory stuff, getting things all aligned so that it’s an easy transition. That has nothing to do with the amount of money that you have and just more with how you have set things up.
How have you set up the bowling pins so that you can just knock them over like dominoes where you can push them over? Estate planning really is an act of love that you do for people that you leave behind so that you leave their job easier, you leave their life better.
It has nothing to do with your net worth, just has to do with where your heart is.
If your heart is in the place that says, “I want to make this easier for somebody,” then you go ahead and put a really great estate plan in place because that will make a difference between their life being a real headache or a nightmare after you’re gone and something that, Yeah, they’re grieving you, but at least you did the right thing by setting up things to go smoothly after your departure.”
Mark: Again, those questions, “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?” Those are big questions and Victor and the team at Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth are here to help. Just give them a call. That’s how it starts.
Just a conversation. Your concerns, your questions, they’re here to help. 856‑506‑8300. 856‑506‑8300. No cost, no obligation, no pressure, no judgment either. 856‑506‑8300. Glad you’re with us today for Make It Last with Victor Medina, Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. Headed to our final segment right after this.
Mark: Glad you’re with us today for Make It Last with Victor Medina, Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. I’m Mark Elliot. Of course, you can find out more about the estate planning side of things, Medina Law Group. It’s M‑E‑D‑I‑N‑A, medinalawgroup.com. The holistic planning for your retirement side, Palante Wealth. That’s P‑A‑L‑A‑N‑T‑E, palantewealth.com.
It might be easier to remember, just give them a call too. 856‑506‑8300. If any questions you may have concerning your retirement. 856‑506‑8300.
Now, there are a lot of big decisions that we all have to weigh heading into retirement. Certainly, you can say, “Well, do I have enough?” and all of those kind of things. “Boy, I wonder if my money is going to last as long as I do.” Those are big questions. We’re going to take one of those big decisions and we’re going to play our little game of retirement yea or nay.
We’re going to look at some pros and cons. Now, this is right in the wheel house of Medina Law Group, Victor. We’re going to be talking about, this week’s yea or nay is, leaving an inheritance or not. It’s an interesting question.
I’m going to start with this. There are a lot of famous people ‑‑ Daniel Craig, James Bond. He says, “It’s quite distasteful” is how he describes leaving his children a massive inheritance. There are a number of other celebrities and other wealthy people that have publicly said they have no plans to leave fortunes to their heirs. They’re going to give it to charity.
Daniel Craig, James Bond, he says, “Isn’t there an old adage that if you die a rich person, you failed?” His philosophy is get rid of it or give it away before you go. Bill Gates, Microsoft, has made philanthropy his mission for many years now. He said, “It’s not a favor to kids to have them have huge sums of wealth.”
Gene Simmons, Kiss, he says he grew up poor and he wants to pass down a serious appreciation of money to his children. He won’t leave them penniless, but he doesn’t want them to become rich off of his money. “I don’t want them to say,” Gene says, “Thanks, Dad, for making me rich.” No, you want to be able to stand on your own two feet, and say I did that.
Warren Buffet, the oracle of Omaha, he says relatively little will go to his three children. He said he will leave 2.1 billion in stock. [laughs] Little. It’s going, 2.1 billion in stock, to each of their philanthropic organizations, but the bulk of his fortune will go to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
To me, I always think that parents want to leave behind whatever they don’t need to live the rest of their life, but is this a new thing? Where, “Hey, I’ve made a million dollars, a billion dollars, whatever it is, and I want my kids to stand up on their own two feet. I’m not leaving them much.”
Victor: Mark, speaking as somebody who’s made a billion dollars, let me…I don’t have a lot of clients that are in there. I do want to thank you, by the way, for finally giving me a segment that is easy. I always feel like you’re setting me up to pull a buzzer on me, or make this a challenge, but this one’s a layup. This one’s a layup.
Here is my experience. My experience is I tend to work with regular folks. Even regular folks that are by all measure, wealthy. They’ve got a few million dollars, that will be our clients. We have clients anywhere between $5 million and $10 million , some of them, but I don’t have people with $2 billion.
I don’t have people who will leave behind such a massive amount of wealth that it will cause their kids to become unproductive members of society. It’s just not who I meet. I have one client that I have met on the legal side that we don’t really do financial planning, but he talks to us every once in a while for them, and he has a lot of wealth.
He may eventually give it to us to help manage and put a plan together, but that’s the one client that I can think of where I’ve had a conversation. You know what? If you give them that number, and it’s actually what we consider to be eight figures, if you give one person eight figures, maybe they’re not going to do much after that, and is that what you want to do?
I think that the line for a lot of clients is going to be, “Is this inheritance going to be more of a burden than a blessing?” If you get to that point in time, and you want to make a different decision, we can talk about what that looks like, there are different options along the way. I would say that the majority of our clients are managing their lives with some wealth.
Maybe they’ve got to see $3 million, but they also have five kids, and so, that means by the end they may only be getting $600,000 off of it. While that is not a small amount of money, it’s also not an amount that permits those people never to work again. They’re going to have to continue with their lives, it’s just going to have been a blessing that you have left for them.
I think that’s really the line. It’s like, “Is this going to be more harmful than is it going to be helpful if having left them all these funds?” Then from there, we can talk about the specifics about what we’re going to do if we are going to leave them money, or if we’re going to choose to do something else with it.
Mark: My simple rule of thumb is if you hate your family do no planning in this area, because you’re going to leave behind just a total mess. If you really love your family, make sure you have these kinds of plans in place. What you’re going to do, what goes where, all those kinds of things and the Medina Law Group can certainly help you figure all of that out.
Again, the number is 856‑506‑8300. 856‑506‑8300. I’m going to leave it to you now to go a little bit through, because this is a yea or nay segment. We’re talking about leaving inheritance or not. I’ll let you attack some of the yeas and then maybe pop into some of the nays.
The yeas, yes, you want to leave an inheritance to your heirs, and the nays obviously, you don’t plan to leave an inheritance for your heirs.
Victor: Let’s go through the yeas first. Before you make a decision that says that you’re going to leave everything to your kids, and that you’re going to provide for them 100 percent along the way, much like the whole thing on the plane with the oxygen mask, you want to make sure you’re taking care of your own needs first.
If you plan to leave everything behind to them, you don’t necessarily want to give that to them early if you haven’t otherwise provide for what you might need for your healthcare costs, or if you need long‑term care or something along those lines. First, make sure that you’re OK before we start to plan for somebody else.
The truth of the matter is that people may let your kids borrow money to buy a house, borrow money to go to school, but no one is going to ever let you borrow money to retire. We got to take care of you first. Now, let’s assume for a second that you have that taken care of.
Now, we have a couple of things structurally that we need to talk about and one of them is “What are you going to be leaving behind? How is it owned?” The first thing that I look at, because of my training as an estate planning attorney, because we have that element in the Medina Law Group, is I want to make sure that what I leave behind to kids is protected.
So, we call that protected from divorce, creditors, and senators. We want to make sure we’ve got protections in case that they money that we’ve left behind, our kids that are married, if they have divorce afterwards, we want it to go to them. If they get a lawsuit, we don’t want it to go to them. If they’re going to have a lot of income taxes, we don’t want it to go to them either.
We want to think about them keeping it protected, and that has a lot to do with the structure that you have in place. The real simple answer for that is to have a comprehensive estate plan that uses a revocable living trust as the foundation of your plan, and then, leaves behind those assets protected for the next generation.
By the way, Mark, there are advantages to that as well, because for example, you might be able to have that cascade down from one generation to the next, what we call bloodline protection, or heritage planning, having to go from your kids to your grandkids, and not necessarily end up in somebody else’s hands along the way.
That’s the structure of it, you want to make sure it’s owned in a way that keeps it protected for the next generation. The next layer of that is we want to make sure that we are leaving the right things to the right people at the right time for the right reasons. Let’s take for an example, an IRA.
We want to make sure that that has been left to our kids in a way that has minimized the amount of taxes that they’ve had. That we’ve gone ahead and instead of leaving the IRA directly to the kids, we’ve filtered through the trust that provides the divorce and creditor protection.
So that’s just one example of it where we’re going to be using the type of asset to dictate where it’s going to be going. I’ll give you the example of another one.
We’re going to take, for example a home that you own, a piece of real property, and we’re going to want to make sure that we have left that to them at your death, rather than giving it to them during their lifetime because it’s going to end up getting a step‑up in basis, and we’re going to put a little eraser to all of the taxes that might be owed on selling that particular property.
We might, for example, want to provide for somebody that might be a special needs child, or may have a lot of assets that may be tied up for liquidity reasons. We might want to create some life insurance to be able to leave that behind for them. That will give them a tax‑free benefit, pays out roughly within 10 days after your death.
It gives them the opportunity to get access to some money early. These are all little tweaks, little dials that you set on leaving money behind to your kids, but as you mentioned earlier, this is all based on you doing planning before you go. It is not something that can be handled easily and if at all, after your death or if you become incapacitated.
If you’re somebody that says, “Listen, I really want to leave money behind to my kids, and I want to make sure I’m doing it the right way,” you’re somebody that should be giving us a call to make sure that both your retirement planning and your legal planning are coordinated together to maximize what is that you’re leaving behind for your kids.
So, if you give us a call, and the number is 856‑506‑8300, that’s 856‑506‑8300, and start that process, we can go through a plan with you that says, “Well, if your main focus is to leave something behind for your kids, that you’re doing it in a way that pays the least amount in taxes, has the least amount of risk, if something happens.
“They go sideways, like they get a divorce or something like that, and has the best protection is going forward, but you have to take the step to set it up before something happens to you.”
Now, let’s flip the coin a little bit and talk a little bit about what if you don’t leave inheritance for your kids, or maybe there’s a portion of it that you can leave.
I’m thinking about a client right now that we’re talking to. He says, “Listen, we’ve amassed a pretty decent wealth, mid‑seven figures. We want a lot of that to go to our kids, but we don’t want it all to go our kids. What are our options afterwards?”
Thankfully for this client, I think for many of the people that are listening out there, that they are charitably inclined. They can see a use for that money for the benefit of other individuals, and they want to make sure that it’s going to those causes.
Again, this is something that you have to set up ahead of time by essentially making an estate plan that names charities, or names the places that you want it to go, and doesn’t leave it up to scrawled wishes on a napkin or something like that.
Those aren’t going to necessarily going to be honored. We want to make sure that we’re going to be able to do that. A couple of ways that we can do it. The first way, we can name the charity is directly. Some of my clients know specifically where they want that money to go, and they’re going to set it up that fashion.
Other of my clients are a little bit different. They’re actually want to teach their kids about charitable giving, and about putting others needs ahead of their own. What you might do in that scenario is create what’s known as a Donor Advised Fund, that is a D‑A‑F. Now, a Donor Advised Fund is essentially a container that’s going to hold your money.
By giving your money in there, it’s actually going to be a charitable contribution. That’s going to go to a charity, but you’re going to tell the fund where to make grants for those monies. It actually provides some flexibility.
For example, you can use a Donor Advised Fund during your lifetime, and you can use that to make your care contributions to your church or wherever else you wanted to go.
After you die, you can put your kids in charge of telling that fund where that money goes. You make them managers of a little charitable organization. By the way, people think about this like a charitable foundation or something like that. Most people don’t have enough money to make one of those things viable.
If you’re thinking in the realm of a charitable foundation, you probably want a Donor Advised Fund instead, because it’s a lot easier to manage, a lot less expensive, a lot easier to set up. You can put that money there, but then you can leave your kids in charge of where that money goes.
Every year they’ve got to go ahead and decide to make a grant, and you can leave some instructions, you can do some training, you can do it with them while there, alive.
It’s a good way of you incorporating this concept that some of it might go to your kids, but not all of it. If you want to teach some lessons with that money, maybe you want to teach about how that money can benefit other people.
For the people that are going to fall into the nays column for that and leaving people outside of that, we might think about a charity. The hardest thing to do, by the way, is if we have somebody that’s going to leave money not to their kids, not to a charity, but somebody else, nieces or nephews.
Now, they got to talk to me as an estate planning attorney about inheritance taxes. There are a lot of states that say, “Listen, unless they’re kids or grandkids of yours, we want a little piece of what you’re leaving behind.” Again, we can talk about some strategies about how to help them as well.
That’s my little speech on yeas and nays. Mark, what did you think?
Mark: I like that. There’s no wrong answers, whether you want to leave money behind to heirs or you don’t want to. You want to leave it to a charity. Whatever your wishes are, they’re your wishes. It’s your money. You decide what happens to it. To do that, you need to have a plan. You need to have a plan in place.
The team of Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth are here to help. It’s 856‑506‑8300. Again, no cost, no obligation, 856‑506‑8300. If you’re leaving money behind, you have a plan for it. You have an idea of where you want it to go. Let’s get it all down. Let’s have plan about this. 856‑506‑8300.
Glad you’re with us today for Make it Last with Victor Medina, Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. Victor, enjoyed it. That was good. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Have a great week. We’ll do it again next week.
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Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth Advisors are not permitted to offer and no statement made during the show shall constitute tax or legal advice. Our firm is not affiliated with or endorsed by the US government or any governmental agency.
The information and opinions contained herein provided by third parties have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth Advisors.
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