Posts Tagged ‘tax planning’


Bob Marley reminds us that “Everything is going to be all right.” “Don’t worry about a thing.” 

If you like, listen to THREE LITTLE BIRDS as you read this blog post.

As I prepare for my 25th year (a whole quarter century) of tax preparation and consulting, it is easy to look back and see that not much has changed over the years. You can pretty much deduct the same items on Schedule A as you could in 1988 when I started. And, tax freedom day is and remains sometime in May each year for most higher income tax clients of our firm.

Flat tax proposals… well, they fell flat to date and most likely the flat tax talk you hear right now is just a ploy to try to get nominated or elected. I do agree, simplification would be nice. But, so would a private firm in charge of collecting taxes away from the slothfulness we find in a government-owned and run operation. 

ersPerhaps letting a company like Fed EX or UPS run the I.R.S. (changing of course the acronym to E.R.S. – External Revenue Service).  In fact, we are used to seeing a brown truck roll up to our home. An E.R.S. version would roll up and collect your weekly “tax” money and give the employers a break!

Far fetched or crazy?  Yes, it is. But, so is the current system. However, changing it drastically would spell disaster in this country. Especially if charitable donations were no longer deductible. All those good, well-heeled clients I see that give a lot of both money and goods (used stuff) to charities keep this country going and helps so much the people who depend on agencies, churches and other non-profit companies for welfare to help them “exist” during these tough times.

Of course, charitable education gifts including help with college costs is another massive charitable effort that must not be hampered by overly aggressive legislators trying to put additional feathers in their caps!

All I’m saying is let a private “for profit” firm run the I.R…I mean E.R.S. – and efficiency would improve. And with efficiency, we could get down to simplification.

But, this blog entry isn’t meant to talk about actual taxes you pay or don’t pay, how well the IRS is run, etc.  It is meant to talk about how satisfied you are now with your current method of tax preparation?

Just in time for tax season this year, Market Tools Blog conducted a new survey in the United States that gauged satisfaction levels among individuals who filed their 2010 federal income taxes as of April 1st, 2011.

The main question only dealt with satisfaction of HOW the survey participants  were with the experience. The highest percent of the filers used an unpaid individual preparer (friend or family member) and 77% reported being “extremely satisfied”.  Now, I want to discuss that just a little.

This first survey result says if you want to be happiest, you’re going to have to take your shoe box of expense receipts and income slips to your Uncle “Bob” or your buddies you snow ski with and force them to learn everything they can on taxes, so you  can be the happiest! (Tongue in cheek here)

Well, don’t despair if you don’t have a relative or friend who is super sharp on taxes and likes to work for free. (My kids are so lucky I do their returns for a penny each year!) The next category down for “Satisfaction” level will cost you a tax preparation fee, but you will be almost as happy as you would be in this first category. Few are lucky to have someone “slave” over their tax situation this year for free, and remarkably –be able to get it right. After all, you don’t want the I.R.S. audit boys showing up at your door in a couple of years to “enforce” wrongful deductions ol’ Uncle Bob shouldn’t have taken!

According to the survey, you only drop 2% in your satisfaction level by MD_Anderson_Looks_For_Every_Deductionusing someone like me. Professionals like me will scour over your tax papers to find every legitimate deduction and come up with a  strategy for the future, so you can pay less tax and keep more of your own hard-earned money. The survey reports that 75% of filers who worked with a paid individual preparer such as an accountant or CPA were “extremely satisfied” with the experience. I guess giving up the tax preparation fee to the professional tax preparer is mostly offset again by knowing that the return was done right and the filer was treated with respect. (not waiting in a crowded office with sweaty people all around you, eating smelly fast food burgers and fries)

Next up in satisfaction levels, was the DIY’s out there in tax land. You are younger and just doing your returns by yourself online or by downloading free (or cheap) software to get the deed done each year. This means (I hope) you have a good handle on tax law and rules – not just a good handle on how to run a computer. If this describes you, congrats!  However, DIY mistakes are becoming legendary.

Take for example, using a scroll mouse. You can be entering W-2 info and sneeze and if you don’t go back and look, your scroll mouse might have entered a wrong code. You might sneeze and tell the I.R.S. you are “dead” now. Worse, you could make a number mistake that could enter you into the system (we only know that DIY mistakes in multiple tax years could get you audited), and the I.R.S. might just pull your file for a closer look later. Two years later is the norm, enough time to be sure  that the penalty and interest on wrongful refunds earns a good rate of return for the government! 

A_Bad_DIY_Tax_DayBut, that isn’t the main reason to consider letting a paid tax professional prepare your 2011 tax returns. The main reason may be the actual survey results!  DIY’s using tax software were just 69% “extremely satisfied” followed by DIY’s preparing their returns online, who reported an even lower 66% satisfaction rate. Maybe, that “doubt’ feeling a DIY has doing their own taxes is the reason. They just don’t know for sure if they can trust themselves, the software they used, or the “guided” instructions that tried to tell them how to do it. And, like any do-it-yourself project you may attempt, something can always go wrong! 

The lowest level in the survey respondents was from those poor souls who visited a tax preparation chain last year to get their 2010 taxes prepared. Only 64% reported being “extremely satisfied” with their experience. And, had full disclosure handouts been provided to them at the door to read before they started, I don’t think that percentage would be anywhere near that high.

For example, H&R Block, obviously the largest tax preparation chain, has some skeletons in the closet you won’t be apprised of if you used them last year. Probably, nobody in their tax office told you:

1. Their broker/dealer (H&R Block Financial Advisors, Inc.) was charged with bond fraud by the N.A.S.D. (now FINRA) over their sales of Enron Corporation bonds just weeks before the company did the Humpty Dumpty. Some of the brokers had claimed they were “safe” right up until the end.

2. The N.A.S.D. also fined them $500,000 for enabling a hedge fund customer  to use deception in market timing of mutual funds. Multiple employees of the firm were involved in the scheme.

3. They announced in August 2005 that they had overstated their earnings for 2003 and 2004 by $91.1 million dollars. They claimed “insufficient resources” to identify and report complex transactions in its corporate tax accounting.

4. In 2006, they admitted in a quarterly result, that they miscalculated their 2005 and 2004 state income taxes, stating they owed $32 million in back taxes. (Their stock price immediately fell 8.5% in one day over that goof!)

5. California sued them in 2006 over their refund anticipation business. The suit by the California Attorney General claimed that H&R Block(head?) charged annualized rates on RAL’s exceeding 500%, after including their fees! The AG said the company falsely portrays the nature of the loans, advertising “cash, cold, green, in your hand, out the door.”

6. New York sued them in 2006 in connection with the sales of the H&R Block Express IRA. The allegations by then AG, Eliot Spitzer (I know, he had a bad habit or too of his own) stated in the allegations that the IRA product earned less interest than the fees paid by the customers to obtain one! The complaint accused them of fraudulent business practices, deceptive acts and practices, fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.

Want more? Well, when they entered the mortgage business, you can only imagine how that one turned out. Just read the 2009 annual report. Pay special attention to pages 12-15, listing the “problems” the company board faced by the time the annual report issued in 2010. Without embellishing the “truth” of the kind of characters that run H&R Block companies – IT WILL BEND YOUR EAR!!!

Even their chairman, Richard Breeden had enough and stepped down last April 18th…

Though the fancy commercials running on television right now would have you think they are the best choice this year – one must seriously stop and ask this question: DO I WANT TO ASSOCIATE WITH A COMPANY LIKE THIS? If you want a higher level of satisfaction, I suggest you don’t…even if you were to use their “Premium” office accountants that are supposed to be the cream of the crop. One visit to THIS SITE may kill that idea!

The second largest chain, Jackson Hewitt would have been treating the customers with more respect last year if they had disclosed the following facts by April 1, 2011:                                                             

We are heading for bankruptcy. (filed 5/24/11)  Though we can tell you how to get the biggest refund – we can’t run our own business on the current business model and went broke! And, we also want to tell you that we will be pushing refund anticipation loans on you again this year, in spite of the fact that we face a class action lawsuit claiming we “bilked” consumers with short-term, high-interest refund anticipation loans. ($1.1 million was later set aside to settle the claims)

And, fresh out of bankruptcy and in 2800 Wal-Mart’s for the 2012 season, one would hope that Jackson Hewitt would tone down the marketing of “big refunds” and “big loans”.  That isn’t happening at all. According to Reuters last December, the last bank (Republic Bancorp) that will still do business with them to fund the loans is backing them one last time this season. It is their last year allowed since they agreed with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp to stop funding them by 2013. Believe it or not, that was agreed to in order to settle a lawsuit filed against the bank also by the F.D.I.C.

Do you want all your personal identification information left with people like this?

Again, though the fancy commercials running on television right now would have you think they are the best choice this year – one must seriously stop and ask this question: DO I WANT TO ASSOCIATE WITH A COMPANY LIKE THIS? If you want a higher level of satisfaction, I suggest you don’t…

The third largest tax preparation chain, Liberty Tax Service, is a spin-off of Jackson Hewitt. Being fairly new, they haven’t had a chance to get in as much trouble as the two BIG DOGS! And to be fair, west coast reviews I read are favorable so far.

READ MORE ABOUT THE TOP THREE TAX PREP CHAINS — HERE

The final survey results reported that about 1/2 of you reading this (and are employed) are unhappy with your job and thinking of looking around. Yet, the survey also reported that only about a quarter of employers have any system in place to gauge employee satisfaction levels and hopefully, improve them so they don’t go through bodies needlessly.

Lastly, I would like to say that for the last 24 years, I have had to compete with the big dogs. But, when clients leave them and come to me, they become loyal, long-term clients. My online testimonials show I know how to stay out of trouble, do a good job for the client year after year, and grow old with my tax clients! I’m 99% satisfied with the broad income tax clientele I have maintained all these years. And, I would bet my loyal clients would rate their level of “extreme satisfaction” higher than any of these survey results.

We are taking new Arizona as well as national clients this year to grow our practice. We need you to take a step in faith to experience a REAL TAX MAN who will never forget who he serves.

It’s tax time, but don’t

worry about a thing.*

Just call me at:

1-800-782-2806

if you have any questions or would like immediate tax service.

(Such as to get those W-2’s or 1099’s out the door before the deadline)

M.D. Anderson, Accountant, AZCLDP

* Unless you are going back to those “Big Dog” chains who will never tell you how much trouble they get into. Or where you may be heading by using their services. (SEE BELOW)

!cid_5338BFCF18484EE6A65D9701DE64FB39@g41me7200

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Roll Over BeethovenThere are old pilots and bold pilots. But, there are few old, bold pilots. The idea of finding fault with any particular profession, let alone the legal profession, may put my plane in the ground just for daring to be bold. I hope not. This article is written with hope, that things get better. I really care, and that is why I am going to tell on some advisors who should know better.

I can’t just say I am dismayed with a few lawyers. It doesn’t stop there. Some CPA’s, registered reps, RIA’s, insurance agents, bankers and Certified Financial Planners — are also in my sights this time. This blog entry may indeed “Roll Over Beethoven” and ”Tell Tchaikovsky the news” as the song lyrics go.

Enjoy the song as you read!!!

 

You see, in 1998, I entered a new emerging consulting arena for “Inherited IRA’s” that didn’t exist prior to that time. Fewer people had large IRA accounts since the “norm” before was that most employees had company sponsored pension plans with survivor benefits. Yes, people did have IRA’s since 1974, but contribution limits were extremely small and so were the accounts for the most part. But, the extreme success that individual 401-k plans had with employers and employees alike, fueled a huge increase of money piling into the stock market. Mandatory withdrawal tax law for those reaching 70 1/2 in age were put into effect in the 1980’s and have only been suspended once by Congress in tax year 2009. These “RMD’s” allow accounts to grow even when mandatory payments commence.

In case you didn’t realize it, the stock market is much like a fire in your fireplace. Supply and demand is what I am talking about. With unrestricted airflow and plenty of wood, a fire will blaze. So it goes with the stock market. When peopleFAT_CAT_2 are piling in “new” money in equity type investments, there is a natural tendency to see a nice “lift’ in the long term charts. Some investors become “fat cats”, but most forget the fire eventually will die down again.

And when that same money pulls back or is taken out of the equity markets, the opposite is true of course. Sadly, many get in too late, just as the fire peaks and then starts to die down. Then, they often get scared and pull out before more money (new wood) is again put back into the market. Timing is everything, especially now.

The Inherited IRA consulting I have done for for thirteen years has made me kind of an expert on the subject. My website, www.InheritedIRAHell.com is very popular in search engines. This is because my firm gives away timely and important information with no obligation.

Thousands come each year to read the Inherited IRA web content, which is always kept up to date with law changes. Many contact me each month and some hire me to assist them in trying to stay out of this “Inherited IRA Hell” the site is named after.

And, that isn’t an easy task even with my help and expertise on board. Sometimes (actually most of the time), I still have to deal with less than spectacular advisors on the other end. Though lawyers, CPA’s, investment advisors and insurance agents now come to my site to resource and learn the basics of Inherited IRA advisory, (as well as many executors, trustees and heirs), the norm in America is still at or near “incompetency” on all fronts. When it comes to getting solid Inherited IRA facts that you can take to  the bank, the old carpenters’ tip measure twice and saw once” was never more true.

The problem isn’t that most of these advisors are Cracked_Brain_from_IRA_Talka quart low in brains. Not at all. Some very intelligent advisors and clients of mine over the years have proven it all comes down to  desire. The desire to learn and the ability to understand the more complicated tax and legal issues surrounding inherited type funds to most people is like watching paint dry. Popular IRA advisor Ed Slott, CPA has penned it this way — “the most difficult area of the tax code”. He is right! That is why even the lawyers and accountants shy away from this field of practice.

Some heirs and advisors have the ability to resource on my site and other great sources available to them. They can make good decisions because they can grasp the concepts, rules, and instructions necessary to keep the funds from immediately becoming taxed. (That is the hell we reference on the site) But, most financial advisors consistently get a low score and most heirs need professional guidance and help. THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IS THAT THE HEIRS LOOK TO THE ADVISORS OF THE DECEASED LOVED ONE – AND THEY AREN’T QUALIFIED!

My team of advisors is ready for any case, big or small, in trust, or out. And the circumstances never duplicate in an estate IRA situation case. Therefore, all known factors must be reviewed so that good decisions can be made by the surviving parties that contact me. (Usually the estate manager or administrator) Yet, after all these years, I find the education in this area of practice is not a whole lot better than when just a few of us pioneered the area of practice from scratch, way back in 1998.

Ed Slott, CPA does a fantastic job of writing books, giving free tweets, providing online resource, as well as sponsoring seminars and training classes for professional financial advisors. He is an expert IRA advisor! But, he can’t reach everyone. In fact, he can only put a dent in the problem that attorney Natalie Choate in New York (she is our master Inherited IRA expert in the country hands down), has stated is an emerging area for malpractice for lawyers to look into.

Dumb_as_JethroOne problem though on that. Many of the estate plans I have a chance to peruse after the death, show gross negligence, high malpractice and most commonly – failure to understand why leaving IRA money to the client’s living trust is in many cases, a bad idea. Sadly, some estate advisors are just plain stupid, like Jethro! I guess Ms. Choate desires the good lawyers sue the bad lawyers in IRA cases so she won’t have to work so hard. After writing and updating the Bible on IRA’s, we count on her expertise in paperback form, on EVERY case we review.

What I am saying is that Natalie is right about the malpractice she notes in her Estate_Planurebook, because I see it too. Every week on every case I work on, something is messed up. Someone who couldn’t spell the words – “Estate Planner” is to blame.

After death, post mortem advisory looks a lot different when the rose colored glasses come off. After the death, seldom does the plan for Inherited IRA funds work out like it was planned prior to the death. Gross negligence, gross malpractice, fraud, coercion, tax mistakes, cover ups – all are common on the files I have worked on over the years. And, it seems like it is getting worse, not better. Estate planners with 1/2 brains would correctly describe my current files on my desk! 

Let me prove my point by discussing in general, a few examples from actual clients, giving permission to publish details without of course, revealing personal information:

A. AMERICA’S WORST LAWYER?

The Personal Representative & Successor Trustee, our client’s sister, and her chosen Estate & Trust Attorney & Trust Administrator and Estate/Trust CPA (BFF of Estate/Trust Attorney who also made the referral) refused to provide direct notice, refused to provide direct communication, refused to disclose estate and trust assets, and refused inspection of all trust properties, trusts books of records, and trust accounts.

This was contrary to the Trust agreement and statutes but was done because they did not want my client to know what was there. It was necessary for her to hire a very expensive southern lawyer, just to try to obtain communication with the sister in charge and her chosen estate lawyer. His best work for the most part, was in printing his billings…

huhBut, the estate lawyer the sister hired has been found to be, more or less, A LAWYER FROM HELL! (Referred to as L.F.H. hereafter) She first assisted my client’s mother in updating her living trust early in the year of death. At that time, no one knew that a medical condition would take her life late that same year. Sadly, the original professional trust prepared by a name brand law firm in the Midwest was replaced. The trustmaker got a thin, poorly written 10 page “jobbie” instead. Of course, it claimed the trustmaker was now a resident of the southern state where she lived part of the year in her boyfriend’s condo.

The client’s mother resided the rest of the time in her boyfriend’s Midwest home, the same Midwest town where instructions were left for burial. The client’s mother did own a rental condo property titled to her trust in the southern state. That didn’t stop the L.F.H. from listing the property as a probate asset on the Probate Inventory filed in the court of this southern state!

The female CPA who had been doing the income taxes prior to the death was also using the free state tax approach for the client and a drivers license was also issued there, giving reasonable proof the trustmaker had the outer appearance as a real resident, at least for IRS purposes. Perhaps the southern state was her resident state irrespective of the fact the IRS is fully aware of winter visitors doing the exact same thing to avoid state tax on some or all of their retirement income. (And the home state tax agencies as well) The problem the client and I discovered after the death was that the consecutive months rule wasn’t really met for residency testing per the state statutes.  Oh well, no one’s perfect.

But, the test for her residence state in the Midwest was also ignored for probate reasons, irrespective that most of the decedent’s large money accounts were opened there and the statements went to the Midwest home address, not the southern state residence that was being claimed by the CPA for IRS tax purposes.

Our examination as an estate accounting/tax preparation and Inherited IRA tax consulting firm found the amended trust drafted by the L.F.H. was clueless on how to draft proper estate legal documents. Since our firm is certified by the Supreme Court of Arizona to prepare estate legal documents, with 36 years of estate legal document work either on our own, or by working with estate planning legal firms – we can tell a “stinker” from afar.

We also found out the L.F.H. was clueless on why trust funding is necessary BEFORE death. Proper funding was ignored by all estate and tax advisors prior to death as well as the sister in charge. This, even though three months prior to death, written statements by physicians declared the mother (now a patient) incapacitated mentally and physically. The sister had full powers as GPOA and Successor Trustee, but chose to ignore the need to fully fund the living trust, prior to death.

The L.F.H. stated, word for word: ” FINALLY, (CLIENT) ASKED A QUESTION IN A RECENT FAX TO ME WHICH I AM ANSWERING FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL OF YOU HERE. IT IS NOT MY PRACTICE, NOR COMMON PRACTICE HERE, TO PREPARE A “DECLARATION OF TRUST OWNERSHIP OF PERSONAL ARTICLES” OR ANY OTHER SIMILAR DOCUMENT WHICH WOULD TRANSFER PERSONAL PROPERTY TO THE TRUST, AND IT WAS NOT DONE IN THIS CASE.”

It is a nice admission of malpractice since professional estate planners in this southern state commonly use such assignments on a regular basis. This caused probate on assets that helped run up her fees no doubt! We documented our file with numerous lawyer websites in the same state, describing the assignment of tangible items to the trust as common practice in trust estate planning. (Common nationwide as well)

Worst of all, this L.F.H. was not able to properly list the actual sibling beneficiary sisters as the trust beneficiaries. Instead, the trust beneficiaries were identified only by state default statutes to identify just who gets the money. Especially when you have almost a million dollar IRA, separate from other large estate assets and investment accounts, that is high malpractice! It cost a lot of money to perfect what was penned by me initially as the “world’s worst trust”  I had ever read. Not a legal opinion of course. But a fact! There was also no Inherited IRA management legal language, no conduit trust provision, nothing at all to make her trust eligible for such a big IRA payoff upon death.

The southern lawyer my client was forced to hire in order to communicate, came on board even though he had zero knowledge with large trust owned IRA accounts and eventually admitted it. He was mostly a grapevine between the parties, whose connections discovered after his dismissal now bring up questions of conflict about disclosure items that should have been told up front to my client.

Also, legal and tax help was brought in by me to work for the client to perfect complications of the mother having a bad IRA custodian that did not allow splitting IRA shares inside a trust which was then changed to another bad custodian by the sister for one reason. The investment advisors in charge that got the large IRA account were down south! And friends or fellow yacht club members with the L.F.H. and her CPA associate! The other sibling sisters benefited from this work my client had to pay for, basically getting a free ride for this advisory work we all did for our client, the only sister caring to do things in a professional manner. 

This female L.F.H. with direct connections to all the other “players” in the southern estate game that was played out (and is still going on as I write this), charged like a Manhattan lawyer while producing results similar to letting Hannibal Lecture give you a haircut! She sent my client a hokey looking copy of her employment agreement with the sister in charge, a whited out IRA beneficiary form copy that looked like more redacted than a pilot’s UFO sighting report — all adding up to imperfect production of documents. Only a few of requested documents ever came in.

Which brings up the question my client and I can not dismiss:

Was it all intentional, just to milk the estate for all the fee money the lawyer from Hell and her associated southern advisors could get? 

We have come to a definitive conclusion that she is not the sharpest knife in the drawer of lawyers. But, perhaps she is intelligent in knowing how to make a trust fail so that a large amount of non–trust assets were forced into probate. But, then, she listed trust assets in the initial probate inventory which only a fool would do. Or, someone milking the estate for all the pesos possible. (This southern state has a liberal policy on how a lawyer can grab a percentage of trust assets, much more liberal than my home state of Arizona)

Money Down the ToiletThis L.F.H. does just one thing very well. Billing. Well, maybe that should be changed to “charging” since my client has never seen an actual billing from her, even though 1/3 of the payments came from her inheritance money. The truth is, flat fees were agreed upon up front, (the factor % included trust assets needing little work) then “extra-ordinary” fees were of course also manufactured by the lawyers on this estate, and by the sister in charge, claiming in mediation the detailed extra-ordinary billings existed but now claiming they don’t. Can you spell highway robbery? 

Total legal and accounting fees to date on this estate paid out by all parties to date exceeds $300,000! Most of that money went down the toilet directly because the L.F.H. drafted imperfect legal documents and ignored proper trust funding. This in turn, caused probate, delays, fights, and mistakes in rapid fire. Though I too participated in the fees paid out, my work helped perfect an imperfect Inherited IRA account. It was necessary. Most of the fees were not. Truly, some of the advisors of this estate have taken their own “share” as if they were listed heirs. That is shameful, since now, they refuse to provide billings to justify the large extra-ordinary fees taken against the estate (and my client’s share). It also is against the law.

Today,the sister is still too busy to do any substantive work on her own (she claims it is short term memory loss). I wonder if she tells the adults she cares for as a doctor she can’t remember anything? The allowed fee for her full PR and Successor Trustee services weren’t discounted again in the “extra-ordinary” free for all payments that were paid out after mediation completed. This, even though a whole team of lawyers had been on staff at times doing most of the work. (in the most sloppy, careless way possible) The fact that the CPA recently granted the PR/Successor Trustee carte blanche on when she claims her second half of the pre-agreed fiduciary income payment is laughable if the IRS finds out. Especially since it was deducted on the 706 two years before! Broken statues and laws have run off these people’s back like water to date.

Between the estate lawyer and CPA handiwork, multiple amended inventories of probate assets were filed again and again and again with the Southern state’s Court and copied to the Southern State’s Department of Revenue (they still have a tax department for Corporate and Estates), because the L.F.H. listed Trust asset(s) as Probate assets on Inventories and failed to list all probate assets. To this day, even though Probate has been “closed” via ex parte communications in a Probate Judge’s Chambers attesting under oath that estate was fully administered), the estate remains not fully administered. The 2011 plan is to hold remaining estate money in accounts that pay no interest so they don’t have to file form 1041 another year. I guess any bank account can pretty well guarantee that. But, it isn’t professional, nor is it the manner in which a professional Trustee would (or could) act, since it violates the trust. The trust also remains violated because the terms dictated “distribute” upon the mother’s death. Year four is coming up next week in violation of that trust term… 

The IRS Form 706 Death Tax Return, also showed a goof of over $70,000 in death taxes overpaid! Even today, the inventory is flawed, the “corrected” death certificate is flawed, and the list of mistakes fills a couple pages. The estate is now sealed with the IRS on the 706 and the southern state county probate proceedings. Sealed unless someone wants to go back and lift the rock up that is still hiding the mistakes and misdeeds that this lawyer helped the PR and Successor Trustee perpetrate against my client.

Revenge Spotlight

Which brings up the second situation that has fueled the fire on this case. Simply stated, it is JEALOUSY & REVENGE. “We Are Going To Get You!”  was spoken from the sister in control of the purse strings — to my client, as the mother lay dying in her hospital room. 

Jurisdiction was declared down south for the revised trust, GPOA, and Last Will. That begat the introduction to the bank sponsored securities brokers who took delivery of a majority of the estate money which was “ordered” south as well, from it’s Midwestern roots. The sister allowed migration of jurisdictional control and estate money, even though she was and remains a resident Successor Trustee back in the Midwest.

We also had stale IRA — RMD withdrawals, claiming life insurance proceeds with an imperfect death certificate, failure to manage the IRA properly, failure to protect the securities accounts from large losses, and improper taking of bank deposit box contents owned by my client, improper art valuations and accounting. All this mal–performance and malfeasance adds up to a nightmare estate situation caused on the most part, by bad advisors and a sister who doesn’t really seem to care how much money the bad advisors cost or how many mistakes are being made. The high priced souther state CPA started this mess by referring the deceased mother and her estate administrators to just about everybody who is an advisor and also “friend” on her Facebook account page!

The death took place almost 3 years ago, yet today the estate is still not fully settled! Money is still being held hostage because my client won’t sign a forgiveness waiver that I quote, “Covers from the beginning of time to the current time”. Of course, everybody but the Butler is included in the waiver parties now wanting exemption from liability before the final cash payment can be made to my client from the estate. 

The once large estate has dwindled down because of market risk (crash of 2008), and very expensive advisory fees (still with no billings being provided to my client for ordinary or extra-ordinary fees charged against her share). Then, you have two investment advisors on the money pulled down to the southern state — both who I found just sitting on their thumbs with the sister in charge, until we had to intervene and cry foul over a year ago. (They had made no trades from inception) By that time, additional stock market losses took even more money away from the estate beneficiaries.

Add in a whopping payment to the IRS for the estate tax due because no one advised doing annual “gifting”. Even higher Form 1041 Estate/Trust federal taxes resulted simply because the CPA and lawyer failed to coordinate DNI in the same tax year on the fiduciary return, as the year of death. That kissed 20k away alone.

But, we still aren’t done! The expensive legal battles over the large IRA cost plenty, but above all, market loss cost the most because the sister never understood her right to go to cash to protect the estate from market loss was part of her job, not to maintain her deceased mother’s investment positions for months (or years) after her death.The wasted money, energy and time to get the IRA issues straightened out was huge by all parties involved.

Even to this day, the sister serving as Successor Trustee and her lawyer doesn’t seem to understand the money manager (RIA) is not the custodian of the former failed IRA account. Or that the terms of the mediation agreement my client was forced to sign under duress have not been complied with. At least one brokerage account that was supposed to have been zeroed out and closed still had money in it 8 months after the agreement was signed! Inventories and bookkeeping entries to date, remain incorrect and inaccurate.

Lastly, my observation on this case was that the estate became a “feeding trough” forlegal malpractice add the southern advisors hired by the sister in charge, far from the clients regular home. One thing is certain — the revengeful sister in charge has the mental capacity to do better than she has. She is rated “brilliant” in IQ tests. (the whole family were/are lawyers or doctors with high IQ’s) But, as a busy medical doctor she has trusted an incompetent southern lawyer and CPA to advice and do most of the work instead. Bad work. The fiduciary duty of PR &  Successor Trustee (sister), Estate CPA, Investment Advisors and Estate lawyer, as well as my client’s former southern lawyer, has all but been forsaken in this case. Only the sister, doesn’t reside in this little STEPFORD community with their tight little group most likely looking and hoping for another large estate to feed off when they get done on this one!

Thanks to Facebook and online searches, we now know just how well connected everyone is with each other in this case. Since there is no statute of limitations for fraud, the revengeful sister with America’s worst attorney (the Lawyer from Hell/L.F.H.) at her side, doing her bidding – may yet find out that using an estate to get even, is not smart. Not smart at all…

Dunce_at_Insurance_CompanyB. DUMB INSURANCE COMPANY: “We will make an exception in your case”.

This case was settled recently. The CPA client was chief financial officer for a company and was not up on the current laws and rules regarding her mother’s inherited IRA account left to her and her four siblings. Initially, our firm was hired to help review paperwork sent to her by the insurance company.

Upon examination, it was obvious the insurance company serving as custodian of the decedent’s IRA account had sent out paperwork to my client and her siblings that would immediately tax the proceeds once the death benefit was paid out! But, it was too late for three of the siblings. They had already signed and executed the paperwork sent which meant they now get the privilege of instant taxation in tax year (2011). Perhaps if they had compared and seen the projections of how long a stretch IRA will provide income to them and their heirs, they would have made different choices. The problem was, the insurance company initially didn’t offer anything but a lump sum settlement, making if 100% taxable in the year taken.

Our firm was able to save the client and one remaining sister sibling from instant taxation by requesting alternate paperwork that set up an inherited IRA account for the benefit of the daughter (our client). Some work was necessary because the initial response was “we don’t do that here”. This was quite shocking since I am a licensed agent of this insurance company, one of the best rated and lowest cost term insurance providers in the nation! But, they are not high on the list of qualified IRA custodians. Only New York life gets mentioned by Inherited IRA expert, Natalie Choate, as a valid carrier to handle your loved ones IRA.

I found it embarrassing as a licensed agent to have to fight the company in order to obtain an exception for her. When the letter from their top legal staff stated “we will make an exception in your case”, our green light was on for executing the alternate paperwork I ordered for her (her sister I think will duplicate what we did) and it was sent in. It also included copies of paperwork “porting” the funds away from this insurance company to what Natalie Choate refers to as a “more sophisticated custodian”. 

The final result is the funds were never first placed into an insurance company product as an inherited IRA account. But, were transferred by direct rollover to a brokerage firm known as the best qualified to manage an inherited type account. We could not stop the insurance company paying the death claim on the IRA, from the moves they made. Even still, the new custodian felt everything was in order, but it left that small element of doubt for both me and the client, who as a CPA, knows the truth will be revealed when the 1099-R is issued next January.

Because of that, I had her request and she received confirmation from legal staff of this insurance company, re-assurance that the original “taxable” reporting from the first set of paperwork would be replaced in their systems with a “tax free” direct rollover coding on the 1099-R. Yet, fingers are crossed since the incompetence of the claims staff was ever present while dealing with them.

Legal recourse would be available if a taxable reporting took place on this case, because solid letters in writing were obtained by the firm on “status” prior to the transfer out and away from them ever took place. (In the Inherited IRA advisory field, this is called the “handshake”) If you would like to know the name of this company, just call me at 1-800-782-2806 and I will tell you.

The Future

This blog entry will be continued as “Roll over Beethoven – Pt. 2” in the near Real_Moron_Dilemmafuture. Some recent cases will provide more titillating stories of tax and legal malpractice. They are being published here hoping people “test” their advisors BEFORE they die with 3 million dollar estates (give or take a million describes many of my cases) to see if they really are qualified as experts.

I think my practice of Inherited IRA consulting and assisting as accountant, and constant settlement of estates in and out of trust will keep ol’ Ludwig spinning for quite some time into the future. Bad advisors, creating bad plans and bad faith, creating broken promises while purporting to be experts is the reason.

I find it really sad, the clients can’t find out while still alive, the truth about those who practice below the belt as advisors. If you don’t know, just say so! Instead, they let their client die, and then expect the heirs to still want to do business with them, even after they discover all the mistakes they made. By then, it is often too late to fend off all of the damage they caused. If your current IRA financial advisor can’t readily tell you what the words – RMD* stand for, RUN!!!!!

* RMD is the common term for “Required Minimum Distributions” that must start for any inherited or beneficiary IRA, no later than the end of the year following the year of death.

I tell clients I meet for the first time, they will never know just how good I am when they die with my Arizona professional Trust Estate Plan. But, their heirs have found out my best work is performed after losing a client. SEE MY TESTIMONIALS.

My company record for Arizona trust estate clients to date, as far as I know, is no probates, lawsuits, or prolonged squabbles resulted by using my professional legal documents! After about seventy five trust estate settlements for Arizona clients, my record allows me to print this “money where my mouth is” blog entry, hoping other advisors get a little more educated about estate planning and inherited IRA’s BEFORE they perform services for their clients. I won’t be holding my breath…

M.D. Anderson, President

Financial Strategies, Inc.

Toll free: 1-800-782-2806

Screwed Up Advisors

I-see-dumb-people


Dont Trust the Ball HolderIn other words, the old law from 2001 still kicks in again in 2013 with a $1,000,000 estate exemption limit per spouse, and that is based on having the proper legal documents that actually properly use the double exemption of both spouse’s to exempt the first $2,000,000, starting January 1st, 2013!  Just as the one year exemption is a “play” that most likely won’t be used from the government play book any time soon. (2010 estate owners that died, now have their choice to elect “unlimited” status regarding estate tax, but restrictions on tax “basis” on appreciated assets, or $5,000,000 estate tax exemptions with better tax treatment of appreciated assets) This two-year special “deal” everyone is frothing about as a great law, will pass by too very quickly. And with all the stuff that is due to hit the fan in the next two years, most likely is on the back burner again in Washington, and the burner is on “off”.  Hopefully, all of you reading this will still be here in two years. But surviving the next two years means the party is also over for big exemption amounts. That is without a needed amendment to make the temporary provisions regarding the estate tax – permanent. And, with cuts everywhere from national down to city governments — just how willing will Congress be willing to extend big breaks to the “rich” in a few years?

The law that alters previous laws by amendment, and  in a last-minute  political “band-aid” session last December, was meant to avoid the fact that we need more to count on as estate planners trying to do the best job for our clients. Even the official authenticated entry of H.R. 4853 in the GPO: Begun and held at the City of Washington on Tuesday, the fifth of January, two thousand tenmay be the Omen to warn us – temporary law can’t be taken serious. The bill was first introduced in the House March 16th, 2010. I know it’s easy to write the wrong year early in January. But, the official registrar can’t get the year right?  

I’m not the only one that feels the way I do about our temporary estate laws. Howard M. Zaritsky, a Rapidan, Va. estate planning expert who advises other lawyers in the field, says he’s telling practitioners not to base estate plans on portability until it become permanent. I quote his quote from Forbes magazine: “Congress has shown propensity for surprising us with both bad decisions and good ones, and you just cannot plan on Congress doing the expected or the right thing.”

This time around, the sunset clause comes back and is identical to the one  we thought would hit us in 2011. The only difference is that they moved the chains two years in advance, and raised the prior exempt estate limit of $3,500,000 (that applied only to 2009 deaths) to a temporary $ 5,000,000 exempt limit for 2011 and 2012 deaths only.

If you can plan on certain death, (I’m sorry to hear that), the only positive in your situation is that your terminal medical condition will allow the majority if not all of your estate to pass to your heirs tax-free now. That is unless you have more money than Howard Hughes did. The tax rate was lowered in this temporary amended law, to a flat 35% for the assets over $ 5,000,000. In 2013, the chains revert back to the $1,000,000 yard line, a huge penalty! 

And as I have said in a prior 2010 blog entry, the risk of having your children “help” you use the temporary law (obviously only a child demented) by the deadline will also come back December, 2012. Forget about predictions of the end of the world (it won’t happen) in December 2012. If you are still here and have really greedy dastardly heirs (or that demented child aforementioned), then be careful where they take you or of being isolated too much that last month when these higher limits apply and then suddenly run out at midnight. Seriously! One must wonder with these sudden “drops” in taxable estate assets programmed into the estate tax laws — is Stephen King secretly consulting with Congress?

Now, if you are married, the same marital exemption applies to your spouse in the amount of $5,000,000. That gives up to 10 million exempt assets if you can check out of life’s hotel, together before the midnight deadline I have already quoted.(I hope you understand I am not serious on this point) 

 The second most important portion of the 2010 law, at first glance, would appear to be a great new law provision. But, it won’t be around long enough, without further legislation, to help most families. Unlike any past estate tax law in this country, it gives a new “portability” feature we never had before.

Starting this year and through 2012, any unused portion of your $ 5,000,000 valued estate exemption on the first death you don’t use, will now carry forward to your spouse who dies last, as long as he or she also dies by December 31st, 11:59:59 PM. In other words, the odds are against you — to orchestrate joint deaths in such a tight time sequence, to ever trust these new provisions will be of much help for you. (Joint accidental deaths would be most likely)

You could compare it to the spousal rollover rules that apply to IRA accounts between married couples. The taxation of the funds is delayed until the second death if “rolled over” into the surviving spouses’ name at death – but never is the tax eliminated.

Though the portability clause is forward thinking, nothing guarantees in the current law you will ever get to use it even if something happened to you in the next two years. Your spouse too has to use it or lose it!  And, if your lawyer tells you to count on it, please give me a call as I have some ocean front property here in Arizona I would like to sell too!  Any financial advisor telling you to ditch your bypass trust setup needs to be recorded and documented for later use, just in case I am right. (Lucy pulls the football) 

Also, if your trusted legal advisor also is “sure” the portability clause in this patched up new law will be around as long as you are, kindly ask for a signed and notarized statement with proof of bond or errors and omissions insurance in force, as no one can make that guarantee!

The bottom line: Do you see Lucy pretty well itching to pull the football on you when you really do die?  I am afraid Lucy is the government and do you really trust Congress to do everything in the future, in your best interests? 

Thank goodness, the new law did permanently fix a problem with last years’ stepped up tax basis valuation rules. New provisions now reverse the damage from last year’s alternative capital asset valuation law that would have failed to allow full stepped up basis on appreciated capital assets over certain limits.  (when the federal estate tax was on a one year hiatus and a one year alternative law applied to taxation of appreciated capital estate assets)  So, there was some good from the previous bad law, that did came out of last month’s session. 

I am sure CPA’s and other estate accountants will enjoy all the fees the alternative capital appreciation tax laws caused in trying to properly value estate assets for future deaths of surviving spouses, when they lost their spouse last year. Some heir’s were facing eventual capital gains taxation on any assets over $1,300,000, until the change was made.

Also, assuming I convince some to keep their estate splitting strategies (kind of automatic in community property states), and also keep the bypass trusts in force, the improper use of A/B or A/B/C funding is a constant problem with the wrong formulas and wording.  

I have noticed this year after year, from the many wills and trusts I have read through when clients hire my certified legal document services. Trust and will provisions can quickly became out of date with lame solutions coming out of Washington lately. And, if you can’t guarantee your use of these short two-year provisions, (meaning your death/s are not imminent), then you better review and find out what your legal documents really say. 

The use of wording such as “the maximum current exempt assets”  that will pass federal estate tax-free, in your current estate plan documents could render your original plan to split the estate at the first death (if married), useless. No bypass funding will take place if you don’t write a concise funding formula, if one of you passes away in the next two years. Then, you could expose the kids or heirs to the tax rates and low limits that applied a decade ago! 

Lucy could slip that ball out on you at the last minute, when you kick the bucket (football) and you could fall down hard with a screwed up estate plan mess, and a big tax bill! Anything valued then over $1,000,000 and a starting 41% tax rate will give your kids a great appreciation of wishing they had written an estate plan that though complicated, covered the contingencies so many legal advisors gloss over. (failed trusts are great income generation vehicles for law firms)

As soon as January 1, 2013, there could be hell to pay for not listening to the experts now calling for “caution” in over-reliance on these new provisions. It takes cerebral work, to get it right for the future. (which is now less than two years away I must remind you of).  A custom convertible trust option should be created that allows any estate to properly be funded with as many tax saving or deferral sub-trusts (that is those A or A/B or A/B/C letters you may now have in your current trust), so that the law at the time of your death is applied and the solution necessary then to avoid or pay the lowest estate tax then, is properly applied and used.

It is not work for simple trust writers or simple thinkers. But, it is obtainable if you find a smart lawyer or estate document service with extreme knowledge and experience in these matters. With intelligent thinking and design, your outdated trust provisions can be fixed and corrected to allow the best chance to win the estate planning game.

Lastly, there are some opportunities in the new law, such as the ability to use your lifetime credits (gift and estate) to just give away a major portion of your estate direct to your kids or your other heirs. In other words, if you have $5,000,000 each, just liquidate and write out checks over the next two years to your beneficiaries. This way, you can be completely entertained in watching them spend your hard-earned money while you are still alive!

Seriously, bypass trusts protect heirs from themselves, bad marriages, lawsuits, and that Uncle you have and don’t trust… I think his name is SamNow is the time to look at the playbook again, and dig out your documents for a review. If you need some help here in Arizona, please give me a call, or send me an e-mail, if you want the proper wording in your amended (or new) revocable living trust. 

Lucy (Washington) still holds the estate tax football that will be used for your final game in life. Be aware and plan accordingly, for a sudden “pull” of the ball, at the last minute. It’s almost a sure fact! Smart moves can be made now, to anticipate Lucy and any future “bad” law coming next. The whistle is blowing….Let’s Play ball!

M.D. Anderson, AZCLDP 

Read More About It: Planning For A Disappearing Estate Tax Break by Deborah L. Jacobs / Forbes. com

Now, enjoy Lucy tricking Charlie Brown one more time…


There are basically three types of people. Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who don’t know what is happening. Don’t let a financial “Checkmate” take away what you work so hard to accumulate or save.

It’s Time to Avoid Financial Checkmate!

Simply, if the politicians in Washington would turn off the “stupid” sign on their foreheads for just a few days they could actually think about the right way to turn around the debt problem of the country.

They could first think about killing the health care bill before this mammoth train wreck hits grand central station. And all the other stupid spending bills passed lately that pretty well guarantee the country will go broke.

Just like a reset of your computer where you actually roll back the programs and commands in your startup files so you can find a “good” start up software routine that works prior to the virus or malware that hit the computer (if you’re lucky), what’s wrong with a roll back?

I won’t say how many years we have to go back to, but isn’t it pretty clear that just a few weeks ago, the country was on a spending spree like a drunken sailor who just got paid and was put on leave? And now, suddenly after the little incident off the coast of California, we have a very sober President who just froze federal wages and actually seems genuinely interested in a solution?

O.K., I don’t expect you to understand that the government most likely lied about what that trail was coming out of the coastal waters in November, but there are plenty of high qualified military people telling us on the internet it wasn’t an airplane. The biggest bet is it was a warning shot, a Chinese missile (from analysis of the trail) fired from a sub, all at the same time our leader was over there schmoozing the Chinese President – to calm him down about our countries spending. The satire skits on Saturday night Live, may be more realistic then you might think.

What’s at stake? Everything!

If we default on our obligations, if even the Chinese no longer want to buy our bonds, the “full faith and credit” of the United States government is at stake. And that means your FDIC insurance may, for the first time in history, become at least — a partial problem to collect on. Perhaps temporarily, but if a run on a major bank takes place as is predicted from Wikileaks “leaks” of what is coming, it might be wise to find out which banks are in the most trouble. Of course, the usual suspects can not be ignored from past troubles…

So, by now, you must be wondering – What does this political rant have to do with the title? The answer again, is everything!

The people that make things happen are trying to bring this country back. They are the movers and the shakers opening up new stores, employing new workers, and trusting their own wisdom and business sense that the best days are still ahead — not lost behind in a dream memory sequence that will never return. Yes, they are the ones with the most faith in capital markets and structures, especially as we see the other side of the coin fail miserably in Europe and elsewhere. They are the ones still balancing their checkbooks and teaching their children to do the same. They are still teaching their offspring that hard work and faith will pay off and lying around expecting handouts for free is a more of a curse, not a benefit or a blessing.

So then, we have the middle type of people. There are many more citizens in the middle and they are just fine and thankful for being right where they are. They feel secure for the most part, because they watch others “move and shake” while they passively and carefully continue to play it safe. They are not overly aggressive, but by no means, are they lazy. They just don’t take risks very often. “Watching” is their expertise. They have great second hand experience. Therefore, “doing” and “making things happen” with these folks – is a rare event for the most part.

Lastly, we come to the bottom of the list of three types of people. And economically, the majority resides in this group. They are the poorest. Not their choice, but because of circumstances, bad decisions, heritage, or just bad luck. Most reside in this group against their will. But, they are too busy surviving in life to know how to move up the ladder. These folks can’t make things happen like the first group, because if they could, they would move up! And, because “life” consumes their time and energy fully, they don’t have time or the ability to even “watch” what is happening for the most part. Survival is paramount. Knowledge and information doesn’t have much use to them.

And this is where the average blogger would expect the question – Which are you? Well, you can ask that question of yourself if you want. You can, but that isn’t my point. You see, we all run up and down the grid of three types of people. At times, we don’t care about being active so we go passive. And sometimes, we let ourselves fall down into that last comfortable position to where we don’t really know what is happening… and we don’t really care. Yet, once there, we find a trapdoor locked and can no longer find the key to get out!

Maybe this blog article is your wake up call. It is time to rise up and be all you can be, if you can move. Can you read and study and learn to move up? Libraries are still free are they not? Can you run for office? Who says you can’t? Are you fulfilling your life plan or goals? If not, why not? Did some person or circumstance beat you down? If so, who won? You or them?

It’s time we all shoot our best shot. Rise up and balance our checkbooks. Get out of debt. Create opportunity for ourselves and others. Be all we can be. And let’s not forget that others could use a hand to pull them up too. Let’s give our time and our money to help others. And lend a hand. In return, it is universally known that the “return” will be more than what you expended.

As the holiday season comes upon us, this also not ignore or forget about the one who holds the world in his hand and is concerned about each of us and who also directs us to help our fellow man. (and women and children) Do you have something you don’t need? Why not have a special garage sale this month and mark the price down to “free”? When word gets around, you most likely will have a clean garage quickly!

Or maybe you reach out and agree to donate your time or money to a new event or program that needs your help. Whether for a day or a whole year, make one new commitment for the New Year to do something completely new for another person or organization that could use your help.

A year from now, if we all reach out to be “better” individually, it could make a difference for the trouble the country is now in financially. And, it may catch on. Let’s not wait for another 9/11 event to be nice to each other. If the citizens can do more and be more in the New Year, maybe Congress can get the memo too. Being better is a good thing and the reward could be in a way you won’t imagine. Volunteer time or money and don’t expect a thing back. But, if rewards in any way or fashion come back to you, don’t be surprised either!

Lastly, the checkmate. If we don’t get smarter, more agressive, nicer, better…. we face Checkmate and it isn’t going to be pretty. Just tune in to TV news in Europe to see America’s future. Before the year ends, let’s make some moves to protect ourselves from financial ruin. If you need some help to do that, just ask for it.

Happy Hanukkah & Merry Christmas!

Enjoy a Video…


Superman living in Chandler, Arizona?

O.K., I’m not really Superman. But, there are enough clients here in Arizona, as well as around the country who do business with me (many clients have never personally met me), who might think I have some kind of special talent they find lacking with their “former” financial advisor(s).

Practicing in four distinct finanical occupations helps me remain sharp and smart. And reading daily and all those continued education classes takes about 25% of my time each day!  But, that is why I may be your NEXT financial advisor/consultant. My expertise and experience level is hard to find locally.

There is a saying in Arizona. Dead men tell no tales. So, being a long term Arizona business owner and financial consultant, it’s time to start blogging! Yes, it’s time to start telling some “tales” about how to remain smart in what lately has become, a very dumb world. I don’t think I need to prove my premise. Countries are going broke.

And in the U.S., all the guardians of your money — the banks and brokerage houses – endorsed some greasy little mortgage investments put together to purchase by equally greazy little people who’s main goal was to separate good dollars for bad investments by selling these mortgage investments to a bunch of dumb people who thought poor people could afford big houses with big mortgage payments.

And that’s why the entire world is going broke? It’s downright shameful! But, if you are survivor (bruised as we all are lately financially), and want to try to make the best of living and being smart on money in an ever increasing dumb world, you came to the right blog spot.

Will I try to sell you something? Probably. Better you do business with someone you can still trust then get snookered by some fly by night firm or person pretending to be a guro but in fact, being just another greazy, sleazy person who wants to steal your money or provide you with inferior and substandard products or services.

So, welcome to a new breath of fresh air for the financial community. There is hope. And not everyone out there is a dope. This financial blog will help you separate the real advisors from the fakers. (that are often only takers as well)

Don’t be shy — tell me what you think. If I don’t like it, I will just delete it. It is my blog and I am looking for people who share my vision. Rise out of the ashes. Be a PHOENIX! Experience greatness with your financial decisions.

Getting knocked down leaves much more room to get back up. In other words, never give up. Not until you are dead. I can’t help you then. Well, actually I can if you live in Arizona. You can hire me to do your estate planning legal documents!

Regardless, welcome! And come back often and bring some friends with you too!

Now, it’s time to enjoy the Superman Theme: