Published: December 22, 2019

Congress has passed, and the President has signed, a spending bill that includes the SECURE Act, which makes a number of changes in retirement planning rules. Here are some highlights:

1. Minimum distributions from IRAs and retirement plans, required to begin soon after age 70 1/2, may be postponed until age 72. This change applies to those who reach age 70 1/2 after December 31, 2019.

2. Participants in IRAs and retirement plans may withdraw up to $5,000 without penalty (but with tax) to pay the costs of the birth or adoption of a child.

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Published: June 10, 2019

How To Prepare For The Retirement Years


Ages 25, 30, 35, 40 – save more spend less

Save as much as possible on a pre-tax or tax-advantaged basis

(Why think about retirement at these young ages?  Because, with a little luck, you’ll be old someday)

Age 50 – increase savings in retirement plan by the catchup amount

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Published: March 26, 2019


I have had a few clients caught up in scams of the Madoff variety, but fortunately not for large sums. The most common reaction when this happens is embarrassment, that someone who is intelligent could be caught by something that seems so obvious in hindsight. And yet scams continue. Why is that?

There are several reasons:

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Published: March 10, 2019


In most households, there is one spouse who handles financial matters- paying bills, filing tax returns, planning retirement income. While division of labor might be great, there could be problems if the "non-financial" spouse is the survivor- he or she might be easy prey for those who try to sell inappropriate investments or insurance policies, or might be a victim of out-and-out theft. There is a solution, but it requires work while both spouses are alive. A technique I have used is to create a notebook with important information:

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Published: December 18, 2018

A client visited today and asked what advice we give to husbands and wives about financial responsibilities when one spouse has died. It's still often one spouse's task to pay bills and make household arrangements, and if that spouse dies first, what can be done to assist the survivor? My suggestion was just what I have done. Although my wife is familiar with our bills and the various contracts we have for maintaining our home, it makes sense to put that information into a separate "guidebook".

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Published: September 6, 2018

One of the many benefits of Saul Ewing's recent merger with Arnstein & Lehr, now Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, is that we now have offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Florida. Many people living in the Northern and Midwestern states have second homes in Florida or have become full-time Florida residents, and they often need additional or different estate planning assistance.

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Published: September 5, 2018

An article in the September 4, 2018 Wall Street Journal discusses the question of what people will spend in retirement. Its author is connected with something called the Center for Advanced Hindsight, which I suppose is humorous. The article indicates that the center brought together a large number of people and asked them what they thought their expenses would be in retirement. Because they had heard the figure of 70% of pre-retirement expenses, that's what they said. So far, not very scientific.

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Published: May 31, 2018

1. Why is it important to have a discussion about buy-sell agreements in the context of estate planning?

The ownership interest in a closely held business represents a substantial portion of an individual’s wealth.  Determining how much his or her family will be paid for that interest and when payment will occur is a very important part of the estate plan.  If the value is trapped in the business or can only be extracted over a long period of time, that changes how the surviving spouse and family can expect to enjoy the transmission of wealth.

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Published: May 22, 2018

A recent program presented by the Probate and Trust Law Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association offered suggestions on a safe withdrawal rate from accumulated assets during retirement. After much analysis, the author concluded that 4% was probably a safe rate of withdrawal to ensure that retirees don't run out of assets during the rest of their lives. This is an important concept, and there are other points to consider. As I've written before, it makes sense to summarize what your expenses will be during retirement.

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Published: May 15, 2018

Many publications report on the prevalence of elder financial abuse in our society. It can arise from misuse of powers of attorney, guardianships, and estate and trust administrations, as well as out and out scams. Many institutions are working on this problem, including the US Department of Justice, the SEC, FINRA and state agencies. In future blogs, we will discuss the suggestions made by these agencies to avoid elder financial abuse, but let's start with, why is this such a significant problem now? Here are a couple of basic reasons:

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