RobRoy's blog

A Vicious Lie: “Multitasking”

Are you good at multitasking?  Are you able to work on multiple things at once and thereby accomplish more than most people?  Personally, I’ve never really considered those questions.  I just assumed that in today’s world, that’s what you have to do to stay on top of things.  How else can you satisfy all the demands placed upon you?

 

Last week I attended a networking luncheon for the Lehi Area Chamber of Commerce.  The speaker at the meeting was Dave Crenshaw, author of the book “The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done”.  What he shared in his short presentation was a real eye-opener to me.  I’ve since obtained a copy of his book and have been sharing it with everyone at work.  It has caused me to seriously re-evaluate the way I approach my workday, my personal life, and my relationships in general.

 

Here are a few pearls of wisdom from Crenshaw’s book that have really helped me, and I hope will do the same for you:

A Mother’s Love

If a theme is to be found from my many interviews with clients over the years, it’s that parents love their children and will do anything for them.  Over and over, when I work through the estate planning process with my clients, I find that the guiding principle motivating parents in their planning is the happiness and well being of their children.  Parents will frequently state to me that they are willing to do anything for the success and happiness of their children. 

 

This sentiment was proven again in a dramatic fashion recently.  You’ve likely heard by now about the amazing story of the mother in Louisville, KY who protected her children from almost certain death when a tornado with 175 mph winds ripped their brand new brick home to shreds.  If you’ve not seen the inspiring newsreport yet, it’s well worth watching.

How Will You Die?

A few days ago, my wife and I learned that a friend we went to college with is in need of a heart transplant. As any of us would be, this woman is overwhelmed at the thought of facing her own death. Unfortunately, we can be faced with end-of-life health care decisions at any age. This is why every adult should give some thought to planning for those decisions and then take the simple step of executing an advance health care directive.

This week, Governor Herbert will sign SCR2, a concurrent resolution encouraging every adult in Utah, whether they have a known serious medical condition or not, to consider preparing an advance health care directive (AHCD). The Utah AHCD form has two parts: (1) Part I allows you to appoint someone (an agent) to make medical decisions for you when you cannot make or communicate your own medical decisions (also called a Health Care or Medical Power of Attorney). (2) Part II allows you to express your preferences about health care decisions under particular circumstances and helps ensure your health care wishes will be honored (also called a Living Will).

Obama’s War On Faith?

I consider myself a person of faith.  And although I strive to be sensitive to those of other faiths (and to those who eschew faith altogether), I believe strongly that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution lies at the foundation of what makes the United States great and strong.

 
The First Amendment reads:
 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

 

You have likely noticed by now that the the media is all abuzz about the conflict raging between American religious leaders and the Obama Administration’s proposed policies regarding mandated health care coverage.  If you’re not yet familiar with this subject, here is a short article from Reuters news service on the issue.

Josh Powell and The Evil That Men Do

Most of us are now aware of the horrific events surrounding the Josh and Susan Cox Powell family over the last 48 hours. “Disturbing” doesn’t even begin to describe the feelings that most of us have experienced as we have learned about these events. The question that I keep asking myself is, “How could our system of justice have allowed this to happen?”

Over and over, my wife and I have turned to each other and said, “Why isn’t this dirtbag in jail yet? How much evidence do they need!?” How long does a person need to be given the benefit of the doubt before we take action to protect other innocent people?

Well, I’m not a criminal lawyer. But I have spent time working with youth in the juvenile justice system during law school, and I have friends and family who work within the criminal justice system. And although I don’t profess to fully understand the ins and outs of that system, I have come to have a healthy respect for it, despite it’s apparent failings.

Over the River and Through the Woods . . .

It is becoming more common these days for families to own vacation homes. Often, these second homes become the center of a lifetime of fond memories for generations. In many cases, the sentimental feelings attached to these vacation homes are more pronounced than the feelings attached to the family’s actual residence. It’s not hard to see why.

In our regular homes, kids do homework, complete chores, get disciplined by parents, etc. But at a vacation home, parents tend to relax, kids make fun memories with aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings. There are often fun activities and lots of good food that go along with the time spent there.

Over the holidays I had the opportunity to spend a few days with my family at just such a vacation home. It was hard to come back to reality after that weekend, but I so enjoyed watching my kids have the time of their lives with their cousins playing in the snow, wrestling, playing hide and seek, beating their uncles in checkers and more.

Increased Assistance for America’s Vets

My Grandfather was a WWII Vet although he didn’t talk much about his war experience. In his last years of life, he suffered from the crippling effects of a stroke. For almost three years he struggled to speak, move around on his own, and provide for his normal activities of daily living. As far as I know, none of his family members had any idea that his service in the military made available to him nearly two thousand dollars per month of reimbursements for his medical expenditures including in-home health care, assisted living and other health care costs.

Guitar Shopping Anyone?

Merry Christmas! December and all of the holiday celebrations that this month brings has finally arrived. My kids are bouncing off the walls already. Last night, I took each of them to the store to help them pick out presents for their siblings and mother. After we got them all wrapped back at home, our little girl asked if she was going to get to open them tomorrow. I told her, “No. We still have about 20 days before you can open them.” I couldn’t help but feel her pain as a drawn-out whimper of despair escaped her lips while she tried to comprehend the eternity of the next 20 days. Ahhh, waiting for Christmas morning. What torture!

December is also a big birthday month in my family. Last Saturday I had the chance to go with my nephew Talmage to Guitar Center to help him look for a new electric guitar that his parents wanted to get him for his birthday. Of course, my doing so wasn’t entirely selfless as I will jump at any opportunity to go to Guitar Center and play with the big boy toys that fill my dreams on these long winter nights.

There Is No Good Reason to Make These Mistakes

Today I read an excellent article warning CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) of the risks that many of their clients face with regard to estate planning. Even when some form of estate planning has been done, the following mistakes show up repeatedly in clients' estate plans:

(1) "Outdated or Unsigned Estate Planning Documents" (i.e., if they have a plan at all, most clients' plans are either outdated or inadequate, and worse yet, unexecuted)

(2) "Lack of Coordination between the Estate Planning Documents, Titling of Assets and Apportionment of Estate Taxes" (i.e. the house is still in dad's name rather than in the name of the trust resulting in an unnecessary probate proceeding)

(3) "Lack of Understanding That a Transfer of $1 Is a Gift" (i.e., that transfers (typically of real property) for less than the fair market value of the property constitute a gift)

(4) "Life Is a Movie, Not a Snapshot" (i.e., that estate planning should be viewed as a process rather than a one-time transaction)

Sorry Folks, That Ship Has Sailed

It is not uncommon for my office to receive a call from a panicked family member of an elderly individual. The call may go something like this:

Caller: Hi, I'm calling to see how much it costs to get some estate planning done for my mom.

Paralegal: We'd be happy to help you if we can. Why don't you first tell me a little bit about your mom.

Caller: Okay. Well, mom's not doing too well these days. She's in an assisted living facility and mostly doesn't recognize us anymore. Although she sometimes has good days, most of the time she's confused and is asking for her husband who died three years ago.

Paralegal: Okay. What kind of property does your mom have?

Caller: Well, she has a home that's paid for. She has a brokerage account, a checking and savings account, some farm land in Tooele and I think she has some municipal bonds that she invested in once. But I'm not really sure.

Paralegal: Does your mom know what property she owns and does she understand its value?

Caller: Oh heavens no! She put me on her checking account years ago because she was so overwhelmed with trying to manage her finances. I don't think she has a clue how much she owns, nor could she keep it straight even if we told her.

Paralegal: I think we can help you, but you'll need to meet with an attorney to discuss some of the legal implications of your mother's situation.

Although this above excerpted conversation is a fictitious example, and a very abbreviated one at that, it illustrates a trap that many people fall into with regard to estate planning.

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