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Cypen & Cypen
December 20, 2012

Stephen H. Cypen, Esq., Editor

1.      FOURTEEN MUNICIPALITIES SEEK TO INVALIDATE PALM BEACH COUNTY I.G. FEE:  Representatives for 14 cities and towns in Palm Beach County, Florida, have filed suit, challenging required payments to the county Office of Inspector General.  According to the Palm Beach Post, the cities argue that the county has no legal right to force them to pay for the Inspector General.  The county has responded by saying that a majority of residents in each of the county’s 38 municipalities voted for the Office of Inspector General in 2010 after issues of corruption countywide, and that the referendum said the various cities would be responsible for funding it.  Furthermore, the county says the Inspector General has already discovered more than $2 million in waste -- savings that cities could direct toward paying for her office. 
2.      THE 10 BIGGEST ESTATE PLANNING MISTAKES:  Sometimes, in order to lock in the $5 million estate planning tax exemption, clients gift away their excess assets. While gifting is good, and even better if you can avoid taxes by doing it, some clients give away too much, and are no longer able to maintain their standard of living in retirement.  From, here are 10 mistakes clients can make when setting aside wealth for future heirs:

  • Procrastination.  While some of us would like to think we are immortal, the time will come where all of us will eventually have to meet our maker. For this reason, it is important for advisors to push their clients to have their own estate plan, before it is too late, and state laws intervene by creating one for them. 
  • DIY Mentality.  While a “do-it-yourself” mentality is admirable, it is wise for clients to seek a professional advisor or lawyer when treading the murky waters of estate planning. 
  • Failure to Think From all Angles.  Sometimes clients get too invested in a particular planning approach, and forget to look at the big picture. While advisors should offer solutions to clients, they should also provide clients with “what-if” scenarios, so that they are fully prepared for what might go wrong. 
  • Divorce.  Often clients do not take into the account that they might get divorced. As a contingency, clients can place restrictions on the money in the trust being distributed outside of the family. Or, clients can use a discretionary distribution standard which gives discretion to the trustees.
  • Missing the Fine Print.  As with any other legal document, the fine print in estate planning documents can be the difference between retirement in the Bahamas or in a trailer home.  The client and estate planning attorney should make sure they have dotted every "i" and crossed every "t." 
  • Forgetting Pets.  Sometimes, clients forget to consider their pets, and so when they die, their pets often have to follow them to their grave. Set up a pet trust to care for animals after the client dies. 
  • Failure to Update All Documents.  Failure to update or title clients’ other documents may prove to erase any benefits estate planning documents might have to offer. The client should make sure to re-title the assets in the name of the trust, not themselves, for clarity. And check regularly to ensure that beneficiary designations on all retirement documents are up-to-date. (You might not want that $1 million to go to your ex-wife anymore). 
  • Underestimating Trusts.  Some clients assume that trusts are only for minor children. In actuality, trusts are asset protection vehicles for the entire family, and can protect the assets from the claims of creditors
  • Failure to Consider Digital Assets.  When a client dies, their spouse or heirs may not have access to the password for digital assets. As a result, there is value that they cannot get to. To prevent this situation, clients should have a list of all their online user names and passwords, and the appropriate family member or trustee should have access to the list. 

No passing on of Digital Libraries and Music Collections (Yet).  As of this writing, clients cannot pass down to heirs their digital libraries and music collections, due to terms of service of the major sellers of digital content. While this situation may change in the future, clients will just have to accept this fact for now.
From, is a list of germiest places you encounter while traveling.  Read ’em and weep: 

  • Hotel Remotes.  Hotel housekeepers may bleach the bathroom and dust the nightstand, but they rarely clean the TV remote. Studies show that the remote has some of the highest levels of bacterial contamination in a hotel room.   
  • Airplane Bathrooms.  Airplane lavatories may be tiny, but they are big breeding grounds for germs. The space is so small that flushing the toilet sprays bacteria onto almost every surface in the bathroom, including the sink.
  • Airplane Tray Tables.  Poor tray tables, we have seen them used as a diaper changing tables for newborns, dirty tissue depositories and barf bag holders. With quick flight turnarounds, these tray tables are not getting sanitized between every trip.
  • Water Fountains.  Would you rather drink from, a public water fountain or a public toilet? Well, it turns out that the water fountain may have more bacteria. Think about it -- bathrooms are cleaned multiple times a day, but when was the last time you saw a water fountain being cleaned? 
  • Pillows and Blankets.  Excited to get a free pillow and blanket on your next flight? Do not be, especially if they are not sealed in plastic. Blankets and pillows generally are not cleaned between shorter flights.   
  • Hotel Bedspreads.  Think twice before you flop down on your freshly-made hotel bed. The heavy bedspread on top probably has not been washed in a while. Most hotels change the sheets between guests but do not change the top comforter, which could be a nice cozy home for bedbugs and bodily fluids.
  • Airplane Seat Pockets.  We have seen passengers shove used tissues, dirty diapers, banana peels, sunflower seed shells and general trash into the seat pockets on a plane. And that black hole of grossness definitely is not deep-cleaned between flights. 
  • Hotel Light Switches.  What is one thing that everyone touches in a hotel room, but no one ever cleans? It is the light switch, and it is home to lots of germs.   
  • Touch-Screen Ticket Kiosks.  Self-serve kiosks are great time savers for checking in and printing boarding passes at airports and train stations. Unfortunately, they are not health savers, as they are also covered in germs. 
  • Cruise Ship Handrails.  Cruise ships are notorious for being germ incubators. Watch out for the handrails that you use to get on and off the ship. They are touched by thousands of other passengers every day, and germs can live on them for hours.

Best advice: stay put. 
4.      TAKE THIS GIFT AND SHOVE IT:  CareerBuilder’s annual study of companies disclosed that 36% of employers plan to give holiday gifts, up from 30 percent in 2011 and 2010.  Twenty-three percent of workers plan to buy gifts for co-workers this year, and 22 percent are buying for their boss.  Eighty-one percent of workers who plan to buy gifts expect to spend $25 or less for each office holiday gift.  Thirty-eight percent plan to spend $10 or less and 10 percent plan to spend less than $5.  While a nice gift does not have to be pricey, some workers may be left wishing for coal instead of the strange gifts they are given.  When asked to share the most memorable gifts received from co-workers, here is what workers reported: 

  • 4 rolls of toilet paper
  • A harpoon
  • Can of wasp spray
  • Jar of sand (something to pound?)
  • Lava lamp filled with fake fish
  • Expired body lotion

Maybe you should look a gift horse in the mouth. 
5.      A BAD DAY AT HALLMARK:  Heard your wife left you, How upset you must be.  But don't fret about it...she moved in with me.
6.      DEFINITIONS:  LECTURE:  An art of transmitting Information from the notes of the lecturer to the notes of students without passing through the minds of either. 
7.      QUOTE OF THE WEEK:     “Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.”   Gertrude Stein
8.      ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:   In 2007, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II becomes the oldest ever monarch of the United Kingdom, surpassing Queen Victoria, who lived for 81 years, 7 months and 29 days. 
9.      KEEP THOSE CARDS AND LETTERS COMING:  Several readers regularly supply us with suggestions or tips for newsletter items.  Please feel free to send us or point us to matters you think would be of interest to our readers.  Subject to editorial discretion, we may print them.  Rest assured that we will not publish any names as referring sources. 
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Items in this Newsletter may be excerpts or summaries of original or secondary source material, and may have been reorganized for clarity and brevity. This Newsletter is general in nature and is not intended to provide specific legal or other advice.

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