Strong Relationships Breed Success

Nurture“Take steps today to strengthen and build the relationships that you already have.  The value of long-term working relationships are the core of all of our business successes.”

David writes about the importance of nurturing your business relationships in the December issue of the Massachusetts Real Estate Bar Association (REBA) newspaper.  This newspaper is also inserted into the highly esteemed Banker and Tradesman newspaper.

It’s his first article in REBA News and we’re very proud of him.  Congratulations David!

REBA News Dec 2011 pg 5

Use it or Lose It. Estate Planning Strategies Now! by David M. Datz, Esq.

GiftingI was on Jetblue this morning on my way home from a few days visiting my partner Jim’s mom.  This very outgoing ‘snowbird’ who splits her time between Boca and Boston struck up a conversation with us.  We eventually got to the ‘What do you do for a living” question and after ‘real estate’ and ‘estate planning’ law came out, these became the subjects of conversation for the duration of the flight.  Like many seniors she was concerned about preserving as much of her wealth as possible for her children and also having enough income to live the way she likes to live for the rest of her life. 

She wants her kids to benefit from her lifetime of savvy investments but is fearful that giving away her assets too early may cause her to have to depend on her kids.  She was obviously a very independent woman who is currently on her own. 

I gave her a short education on her ability to ‘gift’ up to 5 million dollars in assets that exceed the annual limit in your lifetime, before you start owing the gift tax  though the use of some relatively simple planning strategies.  Up to 5 million and no Gift tax?  Correct.

Although she was proud that she had done some planning, she was not familiar with the ‘gift’ that congress has given to all of us for the balance of the next two years.  I suggested that she call her estate planning attorney and inquire as to what her current options may be to obtain her goals.    

It is time to explore the benefits of gift planning before the expiration of this ‘two year window,’ i.e. before the expiration of the 2010 Tax Relief Act, which is scheduled to end on December 31, 2012.  Son, daughter, boyfriend, girlfriend, partner; you can benefit any or all of them and possibly reduce or eliminate taxes to your estate.  You can give what you have to whom you want, and possibly not have taxes deplete your estate by missing this planning opportunity. 

GRATs, Grantor Trusts and Gifting, are buzzwords for the estate tax planning strategies that we are exploring with our clients NOW.  Unless congress passes a new tax bill, this $5 million dollar planning strategy opportunity will soon be history. We are currently advising our clients to whom these planning strategies may be beneficial to ‘use it or lose it.’  Will congress pass a new tax bill changing or extending these limits?  Will I lose 10 pounds by summer?  Who knows?  But I am planning my weight loss strategy now.  Why take the chance?  To explore whether these strategies may be right for your estate, give me a call or send me an email.   It would be my pleasure to have taken a part of preserving your legacy.  david@datzlawoffices.com

“The new Massachusetts Pet Trust Law: Who is going to take care of Max and Fluffy if something happens to you?” by Robert L. Vitale, Esq.

As a pet lover, I’m thrilled to let you know that Massachusetts has joined a majority of other states in allowing people to set up a trust for the care of animal companions. Like many people, I think of pets as family members. You want your family and assets protected, so why wouldn’t you protect your pet with a pet trust?

What is a pet trust? Basically, a pet trust allows you to create a legally binding agreement that provides for the care of your pet if you become incapacitated or pass away. You can designate the person you want to care for your pet, leave money for the benefit of your pet, and set forth specific instructions. If Fluffy has a favorite brand of food, or needs her medicine given a particular way, and if Max will only visit a certain vet or has a favorite route for his walk, then you can spell this out in the trust. The pet trust will ensure that your pet’s daily routine isn’t interrupted.

If you’ve already set up an estate plan with us, contact us to discuss how you can add a pet trust to your current documents. Our office has already drafted several pet trusts for our clients so that their pets will maintain the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed! If you would like to learn more about pet trusts, we’re co-sponsoring an informational event with our neighborhood pet store, Polka Dog Bakery.

Join us on Wednesday, April 13 at 6:30pm for food, fun and gifts for your pet in an informational discussion on how you can take care of your pet with a Pet Trust.  This event will be at our office at 530 Tremont St. in Boston.  Please RSVP to Jim at info@datzlawoffices.com, or 617.357.9333, or simply use the contact form on our website.

Prepare for the Spring Market: Characteristics you need in a Real Estate Agent

The spring market is right just about here and if you’re planning to buy or sell your home, you need to have the right people on your team.  A key team player will be your real estate agent. 

Of course it is the duty of the agent to get the best buyer or seller at the most appropriate price.  But, what makes a good agent?  What are the characteristics a buyer or seller should look for when choosing an agent to represent them?

Well, after careful consideration and some research, they can be narrowed down into 5 general characteristics:

  1. Good Character.  First and foremost, you want someone who’s honest, patient, professional, straightforward and has integrity.  You want someone who’s fair to all parties. If your agent isn’t fair to the party on the other side, chances are he/she won’t be fair with you if given the opportunity.
  2. Good Communication skills.  You also want someone who communicates well and often.  Better to have too much information, then not enough.  And, you agent also needs to be accessible and responsive.  Sure, everyone needs to have a life, but during crucial moments when offers are on the table, you want to make sure you can get in touch with your agent.You also want your agent to listen to what you say and understand your needs.  No one wants to take time to go see a property with one bedroom when you’re looking for a place with three!You’re also looking for accuracy and attention to detail.  No one wants to get important documents with errors.  This just wastes everyone’s time.
  3. Passionate.  You want your agent to be passionate about what he or she is doing.  An agent who really has a passion for real estate will seek to know as much about it as he can and be on top of his game.  He will know the market inside and out with information such as inventory, pricing, absorption rate, market cycle and buyer demand. 
  4. Well connected and resourceful.  You want an agent who knows how to get things done.  She should have good list of people in her back pocket that she can call in a pinch when something needs to get done. 
  5. An excellent negotiator.  At the end of the day, you need someone who’s going to utilize all the characteristics above to close the deal.

That sums it up.  Now, you may not be able to know for sure if the agent you’re about to meet or hire will satisfy all the characteristics above, but do your research, ask around and, above all, trust your instincts!