This week on Make It Last, Victor & Mark will talk to you about the client experience at Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth Advisors.
They’ll also be talking about how the four pillars of retirement will lead you to success. Specifically, how income planning works and why it’s so important for your retirement plan.
Finally, they’ll wrap things up by explaining why it’s crucial to have really great estate planning. The value of holistic estate planning, and how proper documents can help you get your ducks in a row.
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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: Welcome to “Make It Last” with Victor Medina of the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth, I’m Mark Elliot, glad you’re with us today. Here’s the deal, Victor focuses on traditional estate planning, asset protection, retirement distribution, and proactive income tax plannings. He’s been featured on “National Television,” “Wall Street Journal,” the “Huffington Post,” “US News,” and “World Report.”
Today, we’re going to talk about the client experience. What is it like if you’re a client of the Medina Law Group or Palante Wealth? What went into Victor starting his two companies?
How does he see the relationship with the clients of those companies? How does it all come together? Creating the Make It Last plan. What is the Make It Last plan when it comes to retirement?
We’re going to talk about all that today. If you have any questions, do you want to sit down and chat with the team? You certainly can give them a call. There’s no cost. It’s 856‑506‑8300. 856‑506‑8300.
Victor, are you ready to talk about the client experience of Palante Wealth and Medina Law Group?
Victor Medina: I’m totally ready. It’s like a hot seat show. I’m right there in the middle. I’m going to get peppered with stuff. Feature me. Let’s get going on the client experience working with my companies.
Mark: It’s really interesting. Let’s first talk about the two companies, Medina Law Group, which you started in 2006. You are a practicing estate planning and certified elder law attorney. You started that company in ’06.
In 2014, you started Palante Wealth, which is about holistic planning for your retirement. You’re a certified financial planner professional and a registered investment advisor. What does all that mean and what went into the two companies?
Victor: Yeah, it’s interesting because while I started the practice in 2006, I just recognized that in my 20th year of being a practicing attorney. I didn’t appreciate the fact that it had gone back by that quickly.
When I started the law firm, Mark, what ended up happening was I had family members that were dealing with somebody who had died in the family. It wasn’t somebody particularly close to me, but because I was a lawyer that was in the family, they asked me questions.
I supposed I should feel grateful that I wasn’t a doctor in the family [laughs] because I probably got hit with all of those. They wanted to know what was going on with an estate plan. Was it right? Was there something I could do to help? Because it turned into a bit of a mess.
I started getting into estate planning because I recognized from the outside that there was a way to do it better. For example, a lot of people will focus on estate planning as the completion of documents. I want to draft something. I want to sign something. They see it like a to‑do list.
I need a will, a power of attorney, a healthcare directive. Having those documents is often not enough. You need to make sure that they’re up to date. You need to make sure that they’re part of an overall plan.
When I began the estate planning firm, I focused on providing services to clients that were focused on this holistic nature to planning. Not just the documents being done, but how are they going to be used, keeping them up to date, staying there with their family.
Over time, we would develop these relationships with families. We had a client‑care program. We still do. That’s a program for people to keep their documents up to date so they don’t have to spend brand new dollars to get them in there. There are small tweaks instead of getting them done brand new all over again, which can get very expensive. We’ve got programs for that.
The program also includes, let’s say, having me on retainer to ask questions. As that program started to mature, one of the things that was coming up regularly were questions from clients because we would meet with them every year. We would go and we would talk about what’s going on. We get to know them and their family. Of course, we would get to know a little bit about their finances.
Most of the people that engage in estate planning, though, not everybody, but most of the people are of the same age as people who need retirement planning. They are ready to fully adult. They know that they’re going to need a plan because they’re going to eventually pass away or they might become incapacitated.
They see me at that same time. Naturally, they would have questions around their finances. It would start with investments and they want to know that they have the right investments. They want to know if they have the right advisor.
I would give my opinions. What was interesting about the opinions that I had was that they often differed from the opinions that they were getting from their advisors.
In the whole world of financial advisors, the majority of those individuals focus on investment products and investment advice, usually in the form of accumulation strategies. Very, very few of them focus on distribution strategies. That’s when they were coming to me when they had that.
They would ask me these questions. “What should I do about this? Is this right? What do you think?”
I started to be able to form some opinions and, of course, in that process, they would naturally ask, “Well, geez, since you know so much about this, or since you have these opinions that seem to resonate with what we’re thinking, you’re on the same track of the things that we need, can’t you do this for us?”
Those questions probably were there for about three or four years and I was continually answering, “No, no, it’s not something that I’m licensed to do.”
I had an attorney friend of mine who’s also a financial advisor over in Ohio, sit down and say to me, he says, “You’re doing your clients a disservice. You’ve promised to take care of them, but you won’t answer the simple question. You won’t do the work necessary to be able to take them all the way to the end, and they’re hoping that you’re able to do that for them.”
“Why don’t you at least give them that option?” I guess he pushed me over the edge. I went out and I started getting every license that’s available, every credential that exists. I started recognizing, Mark. I added it up. I got more letters after my name than are in my name.
Victor: When I started to do that, what we were able to do is we were able to create a one‑stop‑shop for people that did their retirement planning.
Over time, the nature of the way we did that work changed ‑‑ I want to go into that a little bit in a second ‑‑ but one of the things that did occur is that they could pick up one phone and they could get their legal tax and financial planning done in one place.
We started that in 2014, we focused first on having an insurance license. That was the simplest thing to get. Then we got a securities license.
Then as I designed the place that I was going to be operating, I chose to have the same standard of care that I have as a lawyer, as their financial advisor, which is the fiduciary standard, which means I have to put the client’s best interest above my own.
That means that I have to, and we choose to recommend investment products like mutual funds, stocks, and bonds, where we don’t receive a commission for that. Meaning we’re only going to recommend the thing that’s best for the client, not the thing that takes me on a trip to Hawaii, or because the person takes me out to dinner when he comes into town. It’s picking the best investments for the clients.
The nature of that was needed to be in line in my mind with what their expectation was with me as their lawyer, which is that they needed to have that one place, that unassailable faith, that when they picked up the phone, they were getting absolutely the best advice in their best interest that they could possibly find out in the world.
That happened to be mine, but they wanted to make sure that that was the case, and very, very quickly, clients started to recognize the value of that and start to come to us for all of their planning needs in retirement.
Mark: Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth, they’re focused on different things. I suppose, elder law, basically on the Medina Law Group, holistic retirement planning in Palante Wealth.
Why did you maintain two separate companies, even though they worked together? Why don’t you combine it into the Medina Financial Experts? I don’t know.
Victor: The total retirement shop in one place whose name is Medina.
Victor: There are some regulatory reasons why that needs to happen. For example, we need to have separate engagement agreements, separate licensing. The law firm itself cannot become securities license.
There are reasons why the registered investment advisory firm can’t be a law firm, but you are onto something there, which is that for most of the clients that come through our doors, there isn’t a distinction between the companies.
While the companies do different things, meaning that the financial services are under Palante Wealth and the legal services are under Medina Law Group through the client.
There’s only the one relationship that handles everything. They don’t seem to make too big of a distinction, whether it’s a paralegal or a client service advisor, that’s happened to do one thing or the other, they recognize that they have agreement with two different companies. Of course, it’s very much disclosed and signed off on and all the paper works.
From their perspective, it’s that they only have one place to call for everything. We have some rules that govern why we need to maintain separate entities, but the client experiences that they dial one phone number and they get one series of responses. Very common, for example, for a client to send us an email with questions that straddle both worlds.
It’s up to us to make sure that we have the right person responding to them, but they don’t, for example, pick up the phone and dial one company for one question and another company for another question. In their mind, there’s only one phone number. There’s only one location. There’s only one team.
That’s where they see the value is that they don’t have to distinguish between the two. We do that on the back end, but for their experience, for a client that’s working with us.
If you were reaching out to us and you were working with us, you would see one entity, just the way that you’ve described as Medina total retirement place that does everything that’s located on 230 West Delaware Avenue. You would see that as one solution that is taking care of your retirement problems.
Mark: You reach out and you call 856‑506‑8300, and you can chat with Medina Law Group or Palante Wealth about whatever issues you might have or concerns you may have. 856‑506‑8300. We’re talking today about the client experience, which is why we started with the two companies, how they came to be?
We’ve talked about this before. They get 70 percent of Americans do not have a written retirement plan, 30 percent do. I’ve even had people say, “Well, that 30 percent probably high.” Most people do it themselves. The 401(k) IRA retirement world is not the pensions of our grandparents.
Now, there’s so much more pressure on us to make the right decisions, and a lot of us have never been trained in this financial world to even have an idea how to do this. Why do you think, and then that’s why we’re doing this show.
The client experience really is that a lot of times people don’t go into this next step of getting an actual retirement planning firm to help them come up with their strategy for retirement, because they’re not really sure what to do. You’re sick. You don’t feel well, go to the doctor. “I don’t want to go to the doctor. It might be bad news.”
It’s the same thing in retirement. Victor’s probably going to tell me I can’t retire. I want to retire. There’s a lot of emotional parts of this that aren’t based on math, which is how you plan your retirement.
Talk a little bit about your office in which we’ve done that, to a degree, but add whatever you’d like, and then talk about what potential clients can expect when they do come in to meet with you and your team.
Victor: It’s going to lead into answering your question. To go back through the different iterations that it’s taken. When we first got started, we would complete legal plans for people and then offer to talk to them about financial planning.
What we learned, which is very in line with what you just commented, Mark, is that most people didn’t have a plan at all. Certainly, one that didn’t incorporate all of the elements together.
Even to your point about there being 30 percent of people with some form of a plan, I would probably push back on that and say only the smallest fraction of those have a qualified and practicing attorney offering opinions on what the legal planning needs to look like often. They’re mostly focused on the investment side.
We do something that’s very, very specialized and nowadays, we do it holistically. For somebody that’s going to be reaching out to us, first of all, you know that it’s probably the easiest phone call that you’re ever going to make.
I know that it’s difficult to reach out when you think, for example, that you might be getting advice that might be difficult to hear, or you’re afraid of hearing some news that says you should have done something different. That’s not the way that we operate. We don’t set there in any judgment of what has occurred in the past.
We’re certainly not there to let people know how wrong things are going in their life. That’s not the way that we operate. The very first phone call that you make is going to be met with somebody that’s completely pleasant and used to talking to people who are facing the retirement questions.
She’s going to go ahead and set you up. She’s going to talk to you, make sure that you’re a good fit for us, make see what your problems are, make sure they’re the problems we can solve.
For example, if you’re looking for something that is helping you with your student‑loan forgiveness, that’s not really retirement planning, and so you might reach out to us, but we might refer you to somebody else.
If you’re somebody that’s looking at retirement and you otherwise fit into the model of what would be a good client for us, she’s going to set you up with Susan in our office. Susan has been working with me since 2014.
When she was working with me, she came over as somebody that was a social worker that dealt with lots of different issues in there, but elder issues, somewhat, some people dealing with end of life.
The point is that she has a lot of practice and training in the listening skills because her job is to try to figure out what your needs are in that first phone call and make sure that we’re going to be prepared to meet with you, answering the questions that you need. After she’s had a conversation with you, she’s going to put you on the calendar to have a strategy meeting.
This strategy meeting is our opportunity to, for the very first time, look at the statements that you’ve brought in, ask you questions about what you’re looking for in your retirement plan, ask you questions about what experience you’ve had, what are you trying to achieve, what is a good working relationship for you look like, what have you liked about other advisors.
What haven’t you liked? What are you looking for in a new advisor? What are you hoping to get out of your plan? What’s your relationship with your kids like?
That strategy meeting takes about 45 minutes to an hour. It’s the very first time that we’re asking to see your financial statements. Not because we’re there to immediately make recommendations, but most of the time after that first meeting, what people agree is that they’re ready to have a second meeting. What we promise is that in that second meeting, we’re going to deliver to them the plan.
When you show up in the first time, I can’t look at your statements or get answers to your question and immediately come up with a plan. That’s not the way the plan works. Anyone that’s giving you answers that quickly is absolutely pushing some form of a product that they want you to buy. We do the opposite. We need to put the plan together first.
Most people from that first meeting will decide to come to a second meeting in which we will present our plan and that plan, which we’ve developed overtime to make sure that it addresses all of what our clients need, are going to focus on your income, your investments, your tax planning, and your estate or legacy planning.
What you leave behind or making sure you’ve got good ducks in a row on the legal side. Those four pillars of a Make It Last plan form the beginning of a lifetime relationship with you and us in retirement.
Most clients, when they come back for that second meeting, love the plan so much that they move forward with having us be their advisor and often be their lawyer at the same time.
The reason why we do it all at once is, I used to break it apart as I said to you. We do the legal plan. We do the financial plan. What I recognize is that everyone’s going to benefit from getting all of the answers at once. I can’t give you a recommendation on your legal plan unless I knew more about your finances.
I can’t give you a set of recommendations on your finances unless I know a little bit about your legal plan and the same thing of obviously applies to taxes.
By focusing on those four pillars ‑‑ the income, investments, tax, and estate planning ‑‑ what we’re able to do is to deliver a set of ideas about ways to move forward with your retirement. I’m picking that language deliberately because we will often meet people that are already retired and we might have to change direction a little bit about what’s going on.
We have people that are entering retirement, we’re creating a plan for them, but that plan begins to set sail the ship in the right direction. I’m careful not to say that it’s the only plan that people will get. In fact, the relationship with us is one that’s ongoing because plans are going to need to change as your life circumstances change. That’s why it’s a long‑term relationship.
If that plan was something that was automatic to implement and never needed to be changed, then you wouldn’t need us as advisors after we had originally set it up, but there’s so much that’s dynamic in what you’re doing in your planning life circumstances. Geez.
What is going to change in the market or higher inflation, or someone’s gotten ill, or there’s something else that’s going on, or you want to relocate. The benefit of having the plan in the first place is that it’s much easier to make small tweaks to that plan than to be off course by hundreds of miles and then having to reset our direction.
This plan becomes the beginning of our discussion about how to keep things going. We put things in place, in our best mind, and the best thing that we’re going to do forward now. Then we build in all the flexibility necessary to make the adjustments as your life requires those adjustments as every bonds does.
Mark: We’re going to talk more about that when we come back. The number if you’d like to chat with the team to Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth, legal retirement, 856‑506‑8300. We got a lot to get to here today in a short amount of time. It’s 856‑506‑8300. More with Victor Medina. This is Make It Last.
Mark: Of all the questions you get asked every day, this is one you shouldn’t ignore. “How much money in your 401(k) or IRA is actually yours?” Not what its current value is, but how much of it will end up in your pockets, not the governments.
Remember, you still might owe taxes on that money but do you have a plan to make sure you don’t pay more than you should? It’s confusing, it’s complicated, and it definitely isn’t fun.
That’s why at Palante Wealth Advisors, we work to help make sure you aren’t paying more in taxes than your fair share. It’s your money. You deserve to know what’s at stake. Right now, taxes are on sale. Call our team at Palante Wealth Advisors today before they potentially go up. 856‑506‑8300. That’s 856‑506‑8300.
Don’t pay more in taxes than you have to. 856‑506‑8300. Firm offers insurance services and may not give tax advice. Investment advisory services offered through Palante Wealth Advisors, LLC, a New Jersey and Pennsylvania registered investment advisor.
Mark: Glad to witness today for Make It Last with Victor Medina, Medina Law Group, and Palante Wealth. You can always find out more on the websites, medinalawgroup.com, M‑E‑D‑I‑N‑A, medinalawgroup.com, palantewealth.com, P‑A‑L‑A‑N‑T‑E, palantewealth.com. Might be easier to pick up the phone and call them if you have questions. 856‑506‑8300.
There’s no cost for Victor and the team to sit down with you and try to figure out can they help you? If they can’t help you, they might have some advice or they might say, “Hey, you’ve already won the game. You don’t need to do anything. You’re good to go. You can retire right now. You’re fine.”
The idea is you don’t know until you sit down with a retirement planning firm like Palante Wealth. Then Medina Law Group comes in to help with the estate and legal issues that you have as well. 856‑506‑8300. Back to your Make It Last plan.
You said there are four pillars ‑‑ income, investment, taxes, and estate planning. A lot of people think, “OK, well, this is a financial meeting. It’s about my retirement.” It’s all about investments. It’s a part of it. It’s certainly one of the four pillars. The investments are the second pillar and then income, investment, taxes, and state.
You’re not trying to sell them a product or a tool for their tool belt until you know something about them. You’re not trying to sell them anything. You’re trying to help them create more confidence and more clarity with their retirement, I would guess. How would you state that?
Victor: What’s interesting, Mark, because I think that a lot of financial advisors try to distinguish themselves by the ideas they have in investments, by this sector. At this time, options, this…It becomes very much about whatever the end product is. I don’t know, maybe this is a little controversial.
I tend to take the position that the products are probably the least important and the least difficult decisions to come to. It seems to be where most people are hanging their hat.
One of the reasons why we end up going through the four pillars the way that we do, beginning with income and then going through each of those, is that they necessarily build on one another. For example, most people have faced the challenge of creating income in retirement because they’re no longer working. They’re not getting a check from their job.
They have to create their check. Their check might come from a couple of different sources that they live on. Certainly, people are aware of Social Security. There are some people that get a pension, but fewer and fewer every year. Then they have their own savings that they can generate that from. In that discussion alone, there is so much involved in putting a plan together.
When do you declare Social Security? For whom do you declare a Social Security? Married couple. When do you switch off after that? How do you plan for what happens when one spouse dies? If you’re going to have a pension election, which election do you make? How do you continue on those benefits for a surviving spouse? Is there a death benefit? Do you roll it over? So on and so forth.
I haven’t gotten through the first panel yet. If you think about the level of detail that needs to go into everything that is processed and calculated and thought through on the question of income alone, we start to see very quickly why the question about which investments should I be in become secondary, tertiary, down the list.
Unless we can figure out how to gain security for the check that you’re going to receive in retirement, that, by the way, is not this check for this amount today, but it’s set to increase over time so that you can meet all of the challenges of inflation. Then it starts to crystallize why we’re focusing on income.
First, you got to get that done first. Once you understand what that looks like and by the way, there’s a whole other back end to that, which is your budget about how much you can spend. We focus on how we can generate income.
What are you going to be spending on in your budget in retirement? Only once we recognize what our income needs are and how we’re going to create them d we then look at the investment mix that you have.
One of the best benefits of working with an independent fiduciary like us, is that we are not beholden to any particular company or any particular product. We can choose off of the menu. Basically, anything that is best for you.
We do tend to follow some of the guidelines that are driven by a lot of great research about how much you should have in the banking world versus in the Wall Street world versus in the insurance world.
By the way, I think that you should have money on all of those, plus a couple of extras.
The idea is that once we start to recognize how much should be allocated into that as a principle of how long that money can last for you, only then do we start to decide from within those buckets what are the best choices in there, like which of the mutual funds and which of the insurance products and so on and so forth.
It’s only when you get to that level that we start talking about it. I’m like 30 percent into the work that we’re doing before we’ve had our first discussion on investments. That’s why I disagree with what you’re suggesting, which is that while most people tend to focus on the investments as being the part of the plan, in reality, that’s not what planning is about.
It’s probably the least difficult part to arrive at. Once we understand the meets and bounds off of it, then we can choose what fits each of those roles for the investments, again, the different funds and the different insurance products that is going to work best for a client.
Then, of course, we still have to talk about taxes and estate planning. We still have to figure out how you’re going to keep the most of your money and pass it off smoothly. That’s how long it takes for us to get to the investment discussion, to talk about which investments and which investment products are going to be best for you and your plan.
Mark: If you would like to learn more about how the Make It Last plan might give you some clarity and confidence moving forward in your retirement or you’re already retired and you’re like, “Well, I don’t think I have that many different plans. I don’t really have separate categories in my planning process. I’m just hoping that my money will last as long as I do.”
That’s still the number one fear amongst retirees is the fear of outliving their money. Call the team at Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. It’s 856‑506‑8300. This first chat, there’s no cost to you to actually become a client. They’re super transparent. They’ll tell you all about that and how that works. It’s about you.
Can they help you? If they can help you, then do you want their help? That’s one of the challenges. It’s 856‑5068‑300.
Victor, we know we’re creatures of habit. I changed from one credit union to another credit union a couple of years ago. Of course, the new credit union says, “This is going to be so easy.” Then you start thinking about how many automatic payments you have coming out of your checking account for the bills.
It took me a while to get into the new era that we’re in where I could pay things from my phone. It wasn’t as easy as they said it was going to be. I will say that. We are creatures of habit. To switch advisors or to have a retirement plan, to go in and do those things, that’s a little bit challenging for some.
Victor: I totally respect folks that had a long history and staying in one place, doing the same thing over and over again. What I’m asking of them when they move their accounts over.
The other side of that is also true, which is that when people see the benefit of making the switch, like when you saw the benefit of switching credit unions, even though it may have taken some extra work to get done, you recognize that you are doing the right thing and our clients are exactly in the same boat.
Listen, most folks have never had a plan delivered to them, created for them the way that we’ve done our plan. Even the concept of planning, we take to the next level. Our focus on tax planning and how we’re going to have you keep the most amount of the money and give the federal government the least amount.
How we’re going to protect spouses if one spouse dies. What we’re going to do to leave behind for kids is so robust that people immediately see the benefit.
I will tell you that the folks that gets to that second meeting see the plan almost always move forward with having us implement that plan if we’ve done a good job of listening. I know that we do a great job of creating the plan because we are so well versed in this area.
That we are folks that bring specialized knowledge in retirement planning and having the law degree and estate planning practice with it. That when we bring this over, people see the value and are willing to do the work.
I completely respect the work that needs to get done. We got to do paperwork. Stuff got to get signed. Things are going to be in motion for a while. We’re going to be doing some heavy lifting in the beginning.
The things that drives them forward, the things that keeps them grounded in this and saying that even the extra work with all the changes in bill payor, where things are going or selling new investments, or how we’re going to manage that is worth going through because the end result is so much better than where they’re coming from.
I can’t tell you how many times, Mark, we will go through with people and show them the plan, show them how we’re going to generate income, how we’re going to adjust the retirement portfolio, what they’re invested in, how we’re going to manage taxes and they look relieved. This is finally what they’ve been looking for.
I even say that when I go out and talk in public and I present to people that have never met me before, and I talk about planning, I say, “Listen, I’m going to give you something that you probably have never had before, which is the chance at a real financial plan. That at the end of this, you’re going to have something that you likely have never had a chance to have before, which is a plan.”
“I’m not going to offer you a particular investment. I’m not going to offer you any particular solution. I’m going to offer you the chance to engage in a planning process with somebody that’s focused on planning and get something that is so valuable to you going forward.”
People jump at the opportunity. People jump at being able to work with us mostly because this is the first time that they’ve had it this way.
While it is a little bit difficult to move stuff in your life, and we recognize that we’re going to make that by the way, as easy for you as we possibly can, we do all of the work to generate the paperwork and to get the signatures. We are advanced enough to get you to sign it on your phone. If you’re ready to do that, we can get you to working on your phone, if you’re going to do it that way.
All kidding aside, we make it super easy. You don’t like the phone. We’re going to FedEx things to you. We’re going to have little things where you can sign, just drop it in the FedEx afterward, and then we help monitor that process. Then we take you all the way through to the implementation of that initial plan and handhold you that entire way.
Most people are just breathing a sigh of relief. I’ll tell you something. One of the things that we did that is in line with our beliefs about how you should have a retirement plan set up and the things that you should be thinking about that we’re thinking about is we created a guide that you can download called a “Checklist Challenge.” It will walk you through the principles or a good retirement.
If you’re not ready to go ahead and call us, maybe you want to try out our thinking a little bit. You can go to 920checklist.com, download that, and that will give you an idea of the blueprint, or the roadmap that we follow and how we evaluate what your retirement plan currently looks like.
Of course, our suggestions or things that we’ve built on our experience, but that would be a good beginning step. If you’re interested doing that, that’s 920checklist.com. It’s absolutely free. It’s a good way of trying out a little bit of what our thinking is before you get the full commitment and dial us on the phone.
Mark: I always think it’s wise to do some of your own due diligence, which is why I give you the websites as well. Medinalawgroup.com, palantewealth.com. The 920checklist.com, where you get the checklist. There’s like 35 items.
There’s going to be a couple that probably don’t pertain to every single person out there, but if you can get to 28 to 30, you’re getting pretty good when it comes to what the outlook looks like for you being able to retire 920checklist.com.
If you like to sit down with the team and get started, it’s 856‑506‑8300. No cost, no‑obligation, no pressure. 856‑506‑8300.
What are some of the typical types of questions you ask in that first get‑together with potential new clients?
Victor: It probably gets broken down to a couple of different categories. The first is we’re very curious about people’s family and their life circumstances having gotten to this point in time. It’s not just being friendly, which obviously we are, but it is important to the retirement plan. A little bit of their lifestyle, what’s going on with their kids and where do they live?
Do you have to support them? What do you want to leave behind? What’s your experience been with them and are they going to be ready to inherit money and how much? There’s an element of trying to get to know you as a client and wanting to know what makes you tick and making sure that we understand how to create a plan that will serve you.
Maybe you’re somebody, for example, that is particularly daring and the way that you view your life and what you’re going to be investing in needs to reflect that, or maybe you’re somebody that’s a lot more conservative, which most of our retirees are. They recognize that they need to shift that down. We learn a little bit about that as well.
The next area that we go into is a little more discussion on the particulars of their financial and legal lives. What is their budget for retirement? What have they have invested in? Do they know what they’re invested in and why?
We’re asking questions in and around the buckets that they’ve created and the details of that. We want to learn a little bit more about where that is, what people have, where it’s located, what their investment experience has been like.
Then the last section, is actually the most important, which is we start to ask questions about what an ideal relationship with an advisor needs to look like for them. For this section, people can either share their experience with prior advisors that would likely in most cases be negative.
If they’re thinking about moving over to us, they have some good experiences with some stuff, but there’s stuff that they want to change, and they want to make sure that we know that going into it, of what they’re looking for.
We try to set the expectations of what they could experience, what they could expect and rely on. If they worked with us, talk a little bit about the way that we operate. We want to check in with them and make sure that that’s something that they want.
The reason why I go through that expectation setting discussion as the last part of those questions is, what is most important about being successful with our plan is the idea that people remain…I don’t want to say the word so committed, they’re not going to change, but that they understand that the plan that we’re going to put together.
That their adherence to the plan is a little bit more important than changing some of the details. I’ll tell you, there’s no material effect if I increase your equity position from 60 to 62 percent. That’s not going to move the needle.
If you’re going to be somebody that sells at the drop of a change in the market, not recognizing that we’ve already protected some of your initial living money and that you can live through staying loyal to that plan because of the way that we’ve designed it, that becomes the most important part of it.
We try to work through a lot of the behavior finance elements of that to make sure there’s a good meeting of the minds. Some people want an investment advisor or a financial planner that’s going to come within with a new idea of the month.
I got to tell you if that’s the way that you’re wired, we’re not going to be a great fit for you. We don’t have a new idea of the month, but I do have a way of dealing with a new circumstance in your life and the way that it adjust your plan.
If all of a sudden you get diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, God forbid, I’m going to have the expertise as an elder law attorney, as well as having dealt with thousands of clients already on how to navigate that for you.
To most people are looking for a partner with them, somebody that can work as a guide, and if you’re hungry for that relationship, then that would be a great reason to reach out to us.
Again, it’s simple phone call. It’s 856‑506‑8300. The number again is 856‑506‑8300. You reach out and begin that process. I told you, it’s the easiest conversation that you’ll have with folks. We’ll move you gently along that path, as you are comfortable, and we get you to point where maybe we can become your partners.
Mark: We’re talking about the client experience. If you’re a client of Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth, how does that play out? What about the, Make It Last plan, income, investment, taxes, estate planning? We’re going to touch on taxes and estate planning as well when we come back, but this is important stuff.
We want to get you a feel for what it’s like being a client of Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth, and the importance of the confidence and clarity that you would get from having an actual retirement plan. We’re talking about that today on the program. This is Make It Last with Victor Medina back right after this.
Mark: Welcome back to Make It Last with Victor Medina, Medina Law Group, and Palante Wealth. Of course, Medina Law Group is here to help you with all your legal issues. The elder law side of things, the wills, the trust, the powers of attorney, and all of that. It’s certainly a part of the Make It Last plan and estate planning is the fourth pillar. Starts with income, investments, and taxes.
Those are run by the Palante Wealth group, is what they are. It’s about the holistic retirement planning there and the legal side with the Medina Law Group. We’re talking about what should you expect if you come and sit down with a team? How does it all play out? What about the meetings? How do they play out?
How do we create our own Make It Last plan with the help of Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth? That’s what we’re talking about today.
One of the things that we talked about earlier is not very many Americans actually have a written retirement plan. They’ve got the financial junk drawer. They’ve got all the statements, the IRAs, 401(k)s, maybe got some real estate, some life insurance, some annuities. They got this, they got that, they got a lot of stuff ‑‑ stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and all of that.
How many people come in thinking that they have a plan and it’s really just a financial junk drawer?
Victor: Is there a number higher than 100 percent? [laughs] Most of the folks that have come in that even think that they’ve got a plan, they may have an investment plan, but they really don’t have a retirement plan. Even if they’ve consolidated things in one location so that’s less of a junk drawer.
They’re living off of one statement, it’s an investment plan. They can’t point to me, for example, to a good income plan. Even if we started to focus, for example, on the tax planning, the tax planning is going to be one of those things that most people overlook.
By the way, some of their financial advisors out in the world are not allowed to talk to you about taxes because they are brokers. They can’t give you any kind of tax plan or tax advice. They’re not allowed to do that.
It’s one of the benefits of having a law firm and me as a lawyer that I can actually offer legal and tax advice under those umbrellas that you can’t get elsewhere. When I think about tax planning, the question that stumps most of the clients come in here, “What is your plan to minimize taxes?”
Often they’ll choke back and say, “Well, not to have too much to pay.” Then, of course, how are we going to arrive there? There is a very nuanced way of withdrawing money from an IRA or dealing with Roth conversions or trying to figure out how we’re going to create tax‑free income, let’s say 10 years from now as part of helping to mitigate inflation.
The tax component of it is the thing that is an ongoing piece of work. The federal government changes those tax rules so often that it drives…People notice because their accountants are constantly tweaking the work that they need to do. Their accountants are doing tax preparation and they’re doing it after the fact.
Working with us is actually doing tax planning, which we do before the year has ended, as part of a proactive set of steps that we put in place, as opposed to a reactive thing, which is what tax preparation is. When folks come in and they are thinking about whether or not they’ve got a plan or if we’re challenging on the question, “What does your plan look like?”
Even if they have the junk drawer of investments that is in there with different hodgepodge things in different buckets, very few people can point to a written, structured tax‑mitigation plan.
That’s one of the things that we pride ourselves in being able to provide is that clients that walk through there will often be, for example, on a set of strategic Roth conversions that they are doing on a regular basis.
Our tax focus delivers so much value for people that again, as I mentioned earlier in the show, that the investments only become secondary around that. It is, by the way, a thought once we start to increase the amount that’s in your Roth IRA, we are increasing the amount of aggressiveness that’s in that part of the account because we want the tax‑free parts to grow faster than other parts.
That’s part of our overall strategy. You can see where it’s the strategy of the tax planning that’s driving the investment thought and that’s all together, this holistic part of the planning that it is bearing the taxes with the investments. Also, as I’m sure we’ll get to a little bit the estate planning as well, that there are elements to that.
It’s a natural instinct, Mark, to want to break it up and say, “Well, let’s just talk about the investment side. Let’s just talk about the tax plan site or just talk about one or the other.” In truth, the matter is that tweak in one area informs a tweak on another area.
It’s about looking at all of them at once, that we arrive at a set of ideas and strategies that our clients adopt and have us implement for them so that they are in a much better place than they were before they ever met us.
Mark: That is the idea of having the Make It Last plan. You’re the CEO because it’s your retirement. Look at Victor’s teams as your CFO, your chief financial officer to help guide you. At the end of the day, it is about your hopes and dreams for retirement. What are you going to do? What are your bucket list items?
It is about you, but having the plan gives you a little bit more freedom, a little bit more independence to not be worried about. “Boy, I wonder if I’m going to run out of money if we take this trip.” The idea is having the plan in place, which allows you to be maybe a little bit more aggressive or in some cases, maybe to back up just a little bit, back off just a little bit.
The number’s 856‑506‑8300. If you’d like to chat with Victor and the teams of Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth and get started on your, Make It Last plan because it is all about you. 856‑506‑8300.
The Make It Last plan, again, income strategies, investment strategies, tax‑efficient strategies, and of course, estate planning.
Let’s touch on the taxes a little bit because you brought it up. Taxes because it’s different than my grandparents, where they were pensions, social security, and their savings. They weren’t really the go‑goers of the baby boomers today.
They were the previous generation where you get the gold watch, you got a pension and you sit around and you wait till the end thing, watch your grandkids and all that. Today’s retirees are way more active. When you think about, the IRAs didn’t start until 1974, 401(k)s till 1978, and then the Roth versions were ’97 and ’98.
They haven’t been around forever, but retirees today have a lot of money in 401(k)s and IRAs. I don’t know if they realize the tax burden that they’re creating, the more money they get in the tax, and the traditional side of those IRAs and 401(k)s, then they really might be looking at.
Victor: It’s so true, Mark. I tell you it’s not their fault at all. Boy, have they been fed a line that pile more and more in their 401(k) or IRA, or when I asked the question, how many people were told or expect that their taxes are going to be lower in retirement?
Most of them were fed that line and when they do retire, what they find is that their income and the taxes that they have to pay on that income is very similar to where they were when they were working. Maybe not at their highest years when they were saving the amount, but they’re spending very, very close to what they were spending while they were working.
In fact, sometimes it may even a little bit more because every day, Saturday for them. It’s common that people have overfunded those accounts. By the way, that’s water under the bridge. Can’t do much about it. That they’re there, but we can figure out how to make sure how we liberate that money in the most tax‑efficient process.
That’s where we spend a lot of time. There’s a lot of tax money we can do for brokerage accounts and things afterwards, but most of the value in tax planning is how we liberate money from the IRA account. What’s our strategy to do that, or what are we going to do in which years? For example, we’ve got a number of tax planning years before the year 2026, where tax rates are lower.
How do we use those to our advantage? The goal is going to be to pay the least amount in taxes in that account, and of course, if you’ve got a lot of money in there that you’re probably going to benefit a lot from our tax‑planning strategies since they’re so focused on paying the least amount of money in those IRA accounts.
As I mentioned, it’s not anybody’s fault. They were fed a line that says pile as much money in there as possible, but they have kicked the can down the road in terms of taxes, and many of them are facing tax problems.
By the way, tax problem’s not just for them, but for their kids as well because the newest law requires their kids to pay the account out by the end of the 10th year of them inheriting it.
No longer are we in the world where they could inherit that account and do what we used to call stretching it out over their life expectancy, create this great retirement for themselves, sometime in the future as kids. Now, as kids, when they inherit that account, they have to deplete it in 10 years.
If you’re leaving them behind few hundred thousand dollars, you can imagine how much they’re going to pay in taxes if you left it to them that way. Many times, even for people that don’t need that money to retire on their own, maybe they’re in pretty good shape with other sources that they’re getting. We are focusing on tax planning for that money for the next generation.
If you care at all about your kids, if you care at all about leaving them the most amount possible, then you ought to think about, hearing more about our tax strategies specifically around your large IRA accounts, because my experiences and other clients will share with you that’s the first time that they’ve heard strategies like this, that help them maximize what’s in those accounts.
Mark: Victor has created…We talked about the 920checklist.com. If you want to get a checklist on just retirement checklist is what it is. 920checklist.com. You can also go to 920taxes.com. Great information in that. You just go to the website, download it. There you go. It’s a lot of things that maybe you didn’t even realize about the tax world when it comes to retirement, 920taxes.com.
All right. A couple minutes left. Then we’re going to talk about estate planning in our final segment, but insurance tools, annuities, life insurance, because you work in both worlds, the investment world, and the insurance world. A lot of people, especially older folks maybe had the door‑to‑door salesman and they’d buy a whole bunch of different policies, and then they go, “Well, now what do I do?”
Is it possible to change and adjust the old insurance or annuities?
Victor: Yeah, it’s very much so. We have great opportunities, first of all, to maybe replace products that weren’t as great when they were sold to you that are much, much better, especially for you in retirement.
We have the opportunity to introduce to you products that may not have been available for somebody that was talking to that was captive with one company that was limited in what they could offer, of course, because we’re independent.
We can offer from the entire spectrum of what is best‑in‑class for clients and making sure that those things are appropriately placed with them if they’re either replacements or if they’re part of an overall plan.
I would say that if you are ready or in a position where you maybe have some of these products in there specifically, let’s say forms of life insurance or annuities and you have them in place, and you’re not sure if they’re right, that can be the beginning of our conversation and a good reason to reach out.
You could call us at the 856‑506‑8300 number and say, “I want to do an annuity review as part of my overall plan.” That’s part of what we’re going to do. We’re going to look at the fees that are in there. We’re going to talk about whether or not it’s a good product. What the guarantees are.
We can talk about what replacements are available and if they’re appropriate for you. Some of these older policies are great and they’re not worth replacing, and in many of them you can do much better with what you’ve got today, but that’s why you should be reaching out, is to see what else is out there, what new ideas exist.
Of course, because you know that we’re planning focus, you’re going to get not just that idea on that product, but also the ideas on other ways to handle the taxes from that or the taxes as part of overall on what you’re doing. Again, you have to take that first step and reach out to us. 856‑506‑8300.
Mark: All right. We’re going to touch on the estate part of the, Make It Last plan when we come back. Stay with us, this is Make It Last with Victor Medina, of Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth.
Mark: Glad you’re with us today for Make It Last with Victor Medina, Medina Law Group, and Palante Wealth. I’m Mark Elliot. We’re talking today about the client experience. What should you expect if you talk with the teams at Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth, and what do they actually do?
We know the Medina law group is about all the elder law things, the wills, trust, powers of attorney, and all those types of things. Palante Wealth is the holistic planning for your retirement income, investment, taxes. How do we plan for all of this? How do we make sure that our money will last as long as we do?
You come into the estate part of this, which is where you started. Medina Law Group started in 2006. Then those people that you were helping with wills and trust and powers of attorney going, “Why can’t you help me with the rest of my retirement stuff?” That’s what started Palante Wealth in 2014.
You’ve been helping people for a long time. Now, we’re going to talk about where this whole thing started for you. We know you were practicing attorney back starting in 2002, but you started Medina Law Group in ’06.
Where does the estate planning part of the Make It Last plan fit in? As you said, all these areas of four pillars, income, investment, taxes, and estate, they’re all tied together, aren’t they?
Victor: [laughs] Yeah. I was going to say it’s the one ring that binds us together. The estate planning part for me is it’s so much home. What’s often overlooked is the how crucial it is to have really great estate planning documents.
This is an area where people feel like the documents are interchangeable and unfortunately, I get to deal with substandard documents and when they fall apart for clients and hopefully within the books that I’ve published. By the way, those are easily available for folks, but the books I’ve published talk about the value of good holistic estate planning.
The reason why we conclude that as a component is not because of my experience in the area, but if you think about the normal retiree’s trajectory, they may have gotten through life perfectly fine without any estate planning documents. By definition, they didn’t die. They didn’t have a long‑term care issue before they had met us.
Maybe they put in place may be a will that named some guardians for their minor kids, and they haven’t touched it for all this time. As they enter in retirement, they realize that a few things are true. The first is that they’re mortal. [laughs] They’re finally coming face‑to‑face with their mortality. They know that this is no longer catastrophic planning, but eventuality planning.
There’s going to be something that happens that will cause them to no longer be with us, and if they care about the people that are around them weather is their spouse or their kids they’re going to do the work to set those things up and create fewer problems for them along the way.
The other component of it is that they may get ill along the way, or they may not be able to care for themselves. They were healthy and robust as they enter into retirement, not immediately there, but they can see it down the road. It’s the reason why they call them the go, go. The won’t go years, the slow go. The point is that it gets a little worse the older that you get.
The idea behind that is that your estate planning document should match what your needs are at the time, so that you can, in fact, make life easier for the people that you’re leaving behind either because you got sick or because you passed away. What we want to do with an estate planning document is we want to make sure that we have filled in all the cracks that currently exist in your life.
Whether you get an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, your pass away, or you’ve got the accounts in the right one, or you’re going to avoid probate or whatever that looks like, there are items that needs to get integrated is part of your overall plan to make sure that you’re getting the benefit of all of this great income investment and tax planning.
You can’t go through all of this and all of a sudden lose everything because you get sick and you have to go to a nursing home. You can’t do all of this and all of a sudden end up messing up what your kids are going to get as their retirement, because you haven’t protected it against divorce or creditors.
It’s the punctuation at the end of this, to make sure that we’ve tied it up in a nice bow and have avoided having anything that would look like a landmine in our life that we’re waiting to step on. We’ve gone ahead and navigated through that.
The estate planning has become a crucial part of getting a good plan done, and it’s not as simplistic as getting a will and a power of attorney, or taking the list of to‑dos on the documents.
It’s thinking about that plan with as much breadth, as much depth as we’re doing with the everything else that we have in terms of the financial plan that they’re all as deep and as encompassing as what we ended up putting in place for what we’ve put in place in the financial side as well.
Mark: We’ve just got a couple of minutes left. Touch on your Make It Last series, the books, you’ve got five of them now?
Victor: Oh, yeah. One of the things that I really liked was the opportunity to educate. Everybody in my family, Mark, isn’t in education field, either they’re school psychologists or their educators, or they were retired educators.
It gives me an opportunity to scratch an itch when I get to write a book. I’ve written five over the course of my career. Each of them focusing in a slightly different area. The very first one was “Make It Last ‑‑ How to Get, and Keep Your Legal Ducks in a Row.” It’s very broad‑based estate planning book.
The one after that is “Making Sure Your Nest Egg is Around as Long as You Are,” also part of the Make It Last series. That was really about sound financial principles in retirement.
Then we started to get a little bit specialized. The next book after that was “Protecting Your Family Against the Cost of Aging.” This was when I was focused on elder law, and then I published a book called “Empowering Women in Retirement.”
That’s really an homage to my mother who, as a single mom, raised me and faced some economic‑financial challenges and persevered through them. I knew that I really owed it to not just her and what she was able to provide for me, but also to my clients that are in that same circumstance.
The truth of the matter is that women are going to be in charge of the largest percentage of wealth because both they have more better longevity than men, but also because they are highest in terms of the population.
We wanted to give them good ideas about how to manage that and how to empower in their retirement. Then finally, we created the Reader’s Digest Version of our estate planning book called “Our Nutshell Guide to Estate Planning.”
Each of those five serves a great purpose for people to be educated. By the way, if anyone would like a copy of any of those books, all you have to do is contact us and we will ship it out to you. That’s my gift to you as being a listener.
It is something that our clients really take advantage of, not only in terms of resources for themselves but also sharing it with their loved ones, because it’s a way of passing off this knowledge with no pressure to do anything else afterwards. It’s really a gift because I know that I can’t help everybody. If I can get everyone to read my book, I know I can share that information with everyone.
Mark: That number is 856‑506‑8300. Remember, the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth serve the Pennington, Greater Mercer County areas as well as Bucks County so clients in New Jersey and in Pennsylvania for the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. Again the number, it’s 856‑506‑8300.
Hope you have a better understanding of how this plays out. When you do pick up the phone and you’re not as nervous, maybe.
Mark: Susan will chat with you, explain the process. Can they help you? Not really sure? So that’s why they’re giving you the opportunity to reach out. They’re here to help, they’d love to help you, there’s no question. 856‑506‑8300 is the number. 856‑506‑8300.
Victor, enjoyed it. That was a lot of information today. We appreciate it. Enjoy the rest of the weekend and have a great week. We’ll do it again next week.
Woman: Taxes are just a fact of life. You can’t avoid it, even in retirement. 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 9‑2‑0, taxes.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 in 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. Insurance guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims‑paying abilities of the issuing carrier.
This radio show is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular need of an individual situation.
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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Now think about your retirement accounts. Do you want to pay taxes on some of that money now when rates are historically low, or later when rates are potentially higher? Whether you should pay taxes now or in retirement depends on a lot of things.
Victor Medina and the team at Palante Wealth Advisors know what to look for. Victor can help you create a plan so your retirement is as tax efficient as possible. Call 856‑506‑8300 to set up a visit with Victor Medina and Palante Wealth Advisors. That’s 856‑506‑8300.
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