WELCOME TO CHATEAU DU MER BEACH RESORT

If this is your first time in my site, welcome! Chateau Du Mer is a beach resort with a beach house and conference Hall. The beach house could now accommodate 10 guests, six in the main floor and four in the first floor( air conditioned room). In addition, you can now reserve your vacation dates ahead and pay the rental fees via PayPal. I hope to see you soon in Marinduque- Home of the Morions and Heart of the Philippines. The photo above was taken during our first Garden Wedding ceremony at The Chateau Du Mer Gardens. You can now read the national and international news in this blog at the right side bar. I have also posted my favorite Filipino and American dishes and recipes in this site. Some of the photos and videos on this site, I do not own, but I have no intention on the infringement of your copyrights!

Marinduque Mainland from Tres Reyes Islands

Marinduque Mainland from Tres Reyes Islands
View of Marinduque Mainland from Tres Reyes Islands-Click on photo to link to Marinduque Awaits You

Thursday, June 30, 2011

An Unexpected and Treasured Check from My Google Adsense Account


I started blogging about two years ago with no intention of making a single dollar. I was blogging just for the fun of writing and also to advertise my small beach resort in the Philippines. After a year, I felt I run dry with topics and ideas and I almost quit blogging. However, one of my readers suggested I write on subjects closed to my heart, perhaps based on my life experiences both here in US and in the Philippines. Another reader suggested, I signed up for the Google Adsense Program.

Today, I received $128.88 from Googles. This amount covered a period of 24 months. That means I averaged about $5.37 per month. Not enough to pay just for one day of my Internet subscription, but more than enough money to inspire and keep me writing for quite some time.

Another incentive, that inspired me to continue writing in spite of some physical limitations( back and neck pains from sitting too much in front of the PC) are the positive comments from several of my readers. Here are five comments that had inspired me to write almost everyday for the last 15 months:

1. " I have been reading your various blogspots and websites for about one week now. They are all well written and great reading. What I have been reading and following intently in your blog is your life story, very interesting indeed. Please keep on writing and thanks for opening yourself up in your blogs."

2. A second reader also commented:

"I have been following your blog for quite sometime.I learned a lot about Marinduque and the Philippines. I specially enjoyed reading your childhood experiences during the Japanese-American War. Your contribution as an FDA employee to the burnt victims of the bombing in New York and the Pentagon is indeed commendable and worthy of an award. Keep writing !

3. Response to my question, why I am only earning about $5 per month from my blogs.

" There is nothing wrong with your articles, they are all great. If you are expecting to generate money from your blogs through advertising revenues, you are in the wrong business. You could sell and advertise your business in your blogs and make more money selling your own products. If you are into blogging for the love of writing and getting fabulous reader feed backs, you should continue to focus writing on topics that interest you. You can never be everything to everyone. If you try to please everyone, you will be writing articles half heartedly on topics beyond your interests. If you want to broaden the readership of your blogs, there are ways of advertising without shelling out your own money. You could get in touch with your local American, Filipino-American or Filipino newspapers and ask them to post some of your articles and plug in your blogsites. They in turn can benefit by advertising their papers in your sites. There are many other ways to get more readers, but I hate to bother you with more details".

4. A Reader Response to my Post on Delightfully Named Places in the US:

"Your posts can be very amusing, you just made my day. If you haven't heard there is a town named French Lick, Indiana, which is less thought-provoking. Have a nice day".

5. A reader comment after reading my article "Why We Love Marinduque."

WOW!! I didn't know that Marinduque is such a nice paradise on earth. Hope to visit that place someday.

So my dears readers, please continue your suggestions/comments about my blogs. I really welcome your feedback either positive or negative. Lastly if you want to help add a few dollars to my Adsense Account, feel free to click on my ADS. Cheers to All!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Indiscriminate Sale of Geicos or Tuku in the Philippines



We have a couple of Tuko residing happily at the Chateau Du Mer Beach House in Boac, Marinduque as well as in our main house. The sounds they make is very reassuring that they are alive and healthy. Sometimes, I would count the number of times, the geico say "Tuku". It varies from 7 to 10 times. The first tuku sound is very loud. It decreases in decibels so that the last one you could barely hear. Have you ever hear this Tuku sound? Speaking of tuku, we have a guest from Maryland recently. He is 35 years old, but very scared of the tuku. Evidently, when he was growing up in the Philippines, the locals informed him that once the tuku landed in your body, you will never be able to get rid of him. Until now, he still believe in this folk tale. Thus, when his dad and him stayed at the beach house, he made it sure that the tuku is never near him. When he told me of this incident, I started laughing, but I know he was serious. Before they check out, I told him finally that I believe his story about the tuku.

I do not want any poachers coming to the resort offering me a lot of money for a live Geico. A couple of my friends in FaceBook are now soliciting live Gieco's for sale offering a lot of money depending on the weight of the geico. Shame, Shame to all of you, Poachers and Sellers! The following news item attracted my attention today.

Here's the latest news on this subject. Indiscriminate sale of ‘Tuko’ by Charlie V. Manalo, Daily Tribune published on 06/27/2011

"The gecko-hunting frenzy that is now sweeping many of the country’s rural communities has called the attention of several congressmen who now want the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to look into the massive and indiscriminate trading of geckos, a specie of lizards belonging to the family Gekkonidae, found in warm climates throughout the world and known locally in the Philippines as “tuko.”

Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento warned that this fad might push the extinction of this particular animal which is known to feed on insects such as mosquitoes and flies and cause irreversible effects on the environment.

According to Sarmiento, the Internet and even some of the country’s top buy-and-sell magazines are flooded with classified ads on gecko trading, some of which even claim to be agents of the World Health Organization (WHO).

They claim that geckos have potent medicinal properties and are being bought by pharmaceutical companies that are developing medicines for cancer and even the dreaded Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

Sarmiento said some of these ads looking for geckos offer to pay as much as P3 million for a single live gecko that weighs 400 grams and up. Because of this, gecko-hunting have become a nationwide fad although there is not a single proof showing that one had become a millionaire for selling geckos.

“Whether or not these ads are authentic or not, this indiscriminate poaching of geckos have very serious and long-term implications on our ecosystem. Our tukos are a key element in balancing our ecosystem,” Sarmiento said.

Ang Kasangga Rep. Teodorico Haresco said geckos are nature’s most effective weapon against insect overpopulation, and their extinction would certainly offset the country’s biodiversity.

“There is a need for the DENR to look into this gecko-hunting frenzy and possibly get into the bottom of these claims on the alleged medicinal properties of this lizard. The DENR should now move to save the tuko from total annihilation,” Haresco stressed.

The solon also noted that not a single pharmaceutical firm or any certified scientific and medical research organization which has confirmed the medicinal values of the geckos.

Haresco said while the Philippine gecko is not included in the list of endangered animal species, the DENR can classify them as part of the “Other Threatened Species” because of the recent gecko-hunting frenzy.

He said he would file a measure that would seek to re-classify gecko as endangered to protect the lizard from total extinction.

According to Haresco, Paragraph E and F, Chapter IV of Republic Act 9147 spelled out that trading of wildlife and collection, hunting or possessing wildlife, their by-products and derivatives are considered illegal acts.

For illegal acts under paragraph E (trading), penalties/fines can be imprisonment of 10 days to one month, or a fine of not less than P200 or not more than P20,000, if inflicted or undertaken against other wildlife species.

For illegal acts under paragraph F (collection, hunting or possession), imprisonment of one month and one day to six months and a fine of not less than P5,000 to P50,000 will be imposed if inflicted or undertaken against species as other threatened species".

What do you know about tuko's( geicos)in the Philippines? Let me hear from you! Cheers!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Plain English Explanation of Revocable Living Trust


Last week, I wrote about last will and testament and revocable living trust (RLT). I received a few inquiries and questions about RLT from friends and relatives. Since I am not an expert on the subject, I promise I do some Internet search and post it here in my blog. Here's an excellent article by Newland & Associates titled Plain English Explanation of Revocable Living Trusts and Pour-over Wills. Enjoy!

"It has been humorously noted that an oral contract is not worth the paper it is written on. An oral Trust, though possible, would not be worth very much either, since it would be nearly impossible for your Successor Trustees (the ones who succeed you) to implement the Trust at some future date based on oral guidance. Trusts also need to be in writing because they are designed to cover many contingencies (such as incapacity and death) in both the near and distant future. In order to provide for these contingencies and assure an orderly succession of Trustees (among other things), there is a lot of verbiage in the typical Trust which some find unduly lengthy or technical. This Plain-English explanation is intended to outline, in a simplified fashion, what these legal documents are intended to do.

There are three essential players in every Trust:the Grantor (Creator)
the "do-er" (the Trustee who has duties to perform); and
the Beneficiary (the one who receives benefits from the Trust).
Of course, there can be more than one trustee or beneficiary in any Trust.

At the beginning of most Revocable Living Trusts, the Grantor (who creates the Trust) usually plays all three roles -- Grantor, Trustee, and Beneficiary. When the Grantor becomes incapacitated or dies, the Successor Trustees take over for the Grantor and, of course, the initial Beneficiary (the Grantor) must change if the Grantor is deceased.

It Isn't Chiseled in Stone
A Revocable Living Trust is referred to as "revocable" because, as the name implies, it can be revoked in whole or in part during the creator's ("Grantor's") life. Of course, the beneficiaries can be changed during the Grantor's life, although few Grantors make such changes. The term "living" means the Trust was created during the life of the Grantor, as opposed to "at death," as happens with Trust provisions in a Will, which is called a Testamentary Trust. While the Trust does become irrevocable (unchangeable) at the death of the Grantor, there are usually broad grants of power given to the Successor Trustees (the ones who take over after the Grantor's death) to make discretionary distributions to family members for a variety of purposes.

Most Revocable Living Trusts provide estate tax relief for married couples and keep the family wealth in a form (the Trust) that allows adult children (as Trustees) or a Trust company to provide assistance for the surviving spouse. One of the key features of these Trusts is the ability to obtain estate tax savings for married couples while, at the same time, keeping the financial benefits of all of the family wealth available to the surviving spouse (and children) for health, support, maintenance, and education. This can be done without having everything taxed again when the second spouse dies. To use an over-repeated phrase, the use of Trusts in this manner is like "having your cake and eating it too."

Lack of Maturity
While many of us wonder if we have truly obtained maturity, we readily agree that often our children and grandchildren are suspect when it comes to handling large sums of money. Many Trusts contain built-in flexibility that allows the Trust to continue until children or grandchildren reach a designated age, say 25, when they may be more mature than an 18-year-old.

Income tax
During the Grantor's life, this Trust does not reduce income tax (as opposed to estate tax). The income from assets placed in the Trust is reported on your income tax return in the same manner as before you placed the assets in the Trust.

The following sections refer to, and give brief explanations of the purpose and function of, the major parts of the Trust.

Article I: Successor TrusteesThe purpose of this section is to provide for someone ("the Successor Trustees") to take over in the event of the death or incapacity of the Grantor. The Grantor, of course, has the right to remove the Successor Trustees, and the Trustees have the right to resign. Should a Trustee resign without a replacement being designated by the Trust, there is a mechanism for picking a successor Trustees.

Article I concludes with directions about the responsibilities of the Successor Trustees. This Article says that the successors are responsible for what they get from the Trust when they take over and that they are required to submit annual reports between the time of the death of the Grantor and the termination of the Trust.

Article II: Transfer of Property and BeneficiariesThe purpose of Article II is to describe how assets may be transferred to the Trust and listed on Schedule A. Assets such as land, stock, saving certificates, securities, and items of that nature are evidenced by "documents of title" (e.g. deeds), and you need to have new "documents of title" prepared so the Trust is recorded as the owner of such assets so as to avoid probate of them at your death. Schedule A is intended to serve both as a convenient mechanism for keeping track of what has been transferred to the Trust and as a way of establishing the Trust's ownership of properties that do not have "documents of title."

Thus, property, such as land, even if it is not shown on Schedule A, can still be part of the Trust if a new deed reflecting the Trust as owner has been completed. Similarly, for items that do not have "documents of title," such as jewelry collections, coin collections, antiques, etc., the only evidence of ownership by the Trust may be listing them on Schedule A. The Grantor can, of course, take assets out of the Trust and add assets. Assets not included in the Trust may be subject to probate if not jointly owned with a spouse or others.

In Trusts prepared by Newland & Associates, there will usually be a list of beneficiaries. The purpose of the list of beneficiaries is to show the immediate family the beneficiaries and their ages so that the Successor Trustee(s), particularly if it is a bank or trust company, will be aware of their existence. If one of the immediate beneficiaries, such as a son or daughter, should predecease one or both spouses, it is possible in many Trusts for grandchildren or other contingent beneficiaries to become beneficiaries of Trust property.

Article III: Rights Reserved by Grantor (Creator)Because this is a "Revocable" Trust, the Grantor has the right to change or alter the Trust, terminate it, and withdraw all of the assets.

Article IV: Insurance ProvisionsThe purpose of Article IV is to allow insurance proceeds to be paid to the Trust in order that the Trust objectives can actually be paid. Usually, the life insurance premiums are paid by the Grantor, and the ownership of the policy stays with the Grantor.

This Article includes wording concerning "pledging policies," in case there is need to borrow against a policy. On such an occasion, an insurance company will ask that the Successor Trustees also be obligated to repay the loan.

At the conclusion of Article IV, there is a section entitled "Collecting Policy Proceeds." While it may be seldom used, this provision allows the Successor Trustees to institute a legal action against an insurance company if it refuses to pay the policy proceeds to the Trust.

Article V: Lifetime DistributionsSince this is a "Revocable" Trust, all of the income earned by the Trust is reported on the Grantor's individual (or joint) income tax return, Form 1040, while he or she is alive. There is no need to file a separate tax return for Trust income until after the death of the Grantor. Article V provides for the distribution of all income and principal to the Grantor during life.

Incapacity
Upon the incapacity of the Grantor, the Successor Trustees will take over and distribute income to the Grantor (and those dependent upon the Grantor) consistent with their style of living and the assets of the Trust.

Life Support Systems (Health-Care Directive)

In the event the Grantor becomes terminally ill or irreversibly comatose and is receiving life-prolonging medical treatment, the health-care provider (physician or hospital staff members) shall consult with the Successor Trustees to determine if such measures should be continued. This wording is not designed to be a "living will" ( a better title is "Health-Care Directive") but rather to serve as supplemental guidance, expressing the intent of the Grantor to the Successor Trustees and those providing medical assistance.

Article VI: Distributions at Death of Grantor
What happens when the Grantor dies? Article VI addresses that situation. In some Trusts, there may be cash gifts or bequests at the death of the Grantor. Such cash gifts are usually mentioned in the beginning of Article VI. After the cash bequests, if any, the Trust is usually divided into two parts referred to as the "Marital Trust" and the "Family Trust," if there is likely to be a surviving spouse.

Even though the Trust assets are not subject to probate, they are subject to estate taxes. The purpose of the "Marital Trust" is to claim as a "marital deduction" against estate taxes exactly the amount which will reduce the estate tax on the Trust to zero. Hence, the term "Reduce to Zero Formula." In essence, the "Marital Trust" will be exempt from estate tax at the Grantor's death, but the "Family Trust" will be subject to estate taxes. Since, however, the size of the "Family Trust" will equal the amount of the available estate tax exemption, there will be no tax due on the Family Trust at the death of the Grantor. The Marital Trust will be subject to estate tax when the surviving spouse dies.

For example, in 1997, in estates which would have exceeded the lifetime exempt amount of $600,000, the amount of marital deduction claimed would have been the amount needed to reduce the size Family Trust to $600,000. Thus, in 1997, if the value of the assets in the estate were $800,000, then the marital deduction would have been $200,000, leaving $600,000 in the Family Trust.

Marital Trust
The "Reduced to Zero Formula" appears near the beginning of the Marital Trust portion. While the operation of the formula is difficult for some to understand, the objective of it is rather simple -- to eliminate estate tax at the death of the first spouse. You may notice that no dollar amount is mentioned in the Trust, nor is the estate tax credit itself mentioned. The reason for this is that Congress is changing the size of the lifetime exemption.

For a number of years prior to 1997, it was $600,000. For estates beginning after 1997, the amount of the lifetime exemption or exclusion will be different almost every year. Under tax legislation enacted in 1997, beginning in 1998 and running through 2007, the amount of the exemption will rise in a number of steps from $625,000 to $1,000,000. After 2007, the amount of the lifetime exclusion will be adjusted every year for inflation. In other words, it is impossible to predict what the exact exemption amount will be when this provision of the Trust comes into effect. Even though the specific value of the lifetime exemption will change, the formula will automatically adjust the size of the Family Trust to match the lifetime exemption amount then in effect. It will usually not be necessary to amend the Trust. Trusts written over 15 years ago are still quite workable today using this word formula despite changes in the lifetime exemption during that period.

Jointly owned Property -- If property is jointly held and is not titled to the Trust (as sometimes happens when property is purchased after the Trust is adopted), this jointly held property needs to be factored into the "reduce to zero formula."

There can be complications with regard to which types of assets may be allocated to the Marital Trust, for example whether such assets are subject to foreign tax, etc. This section of the Trust contains technical language that is mind-numbingly complex for most people but is required because of the Internal Revenue Code, Regulations, and case law.

In order to avoid estate tax at the first death, the provisions of the Marital Trust must satisfy a number of requirements. One of these is that all of the income from the assets allocated to the Marital Trust must be distributed to the surviving spouse at least quarterly. It is possible to restrict the distribution of principal (as opposed to income) from the Marital Trust. However, in many Trusts created by Newland & Associates, the surviving spouse has the right to withdraw principal amounts from the Marital Trust for any purpose which he or she deems necessary.

At the conclusion of the Marital Trust is wording relating to the Will of the surviving spouse. The Will of the surviving spouse may dispose of the assets in the Marital Trust. If the surviving spouse has no Will or the Will has been revoked, the surviving spouse's marital portion would eventually "pour-over" to the Family Trust.

While simultaneous deaths are very rare, many Trusts and Wills have wording in them to provide that should there be a simultaneous death, a certain spouse is deemed to have "survived." While all of this sounds hyper-technical, in some cases it is important that the order of death be specified in order to obtain certain beneficial estate tax results.

Family Trust
In smaller estates, the Family Trust usually does not exceed the amount that one person can transfer without incurring estate tax. In 1997 that amount, the so-called lifetime exemption, was $600,000. In accordance with 1997 legislation, the lifetime exemption increases over the years. The assets in the Family Trust, of course, can be less than the amount of the lifetime exemption, if at the time of death that is all the Grantor has contributed to the Trust and no more is received after probate (if any) of the Grantor's estate.

One of the nice things about the Family Trust, in particular, is that it allows for a "sprinkling" (some use the term "spraying") of income and principal to those family members who need it most. Of course, it is up to the Grantor to decide whether or not to select "sprinkling" provisions. Most do. Alternatively, it is permissible for all of the income and principal to go to the surviving spouse or one particular person, such as a child. However, it is probably better to allow for the "sprinkling" of income and principal.

The surviving spouse generally has access (directly or indirectly) to all of the assets, subject to the restriction that the distribution of principal from the Family Trust must be limited by four magic words -- "health," support," "maintenance," and "education." These four magic words have been interpreted by IRS Regulations and case law as an "ascertainable standard" and permit discretionary distributions without causing these amounts to be subject to estate tax at the death of the surviving spouse. As mentioned earlier, it seems appropriate to describe the sprinkling of income and principal between the spouse and children (if there are any) as "having your cake and eating it too."

Death of Surviving Spouse
In most Trusts, at the death of the surviving spouse, there is a need to make final distributions to children and terminate the Trust. For this purpose, there is usually terminology about division of the Trust assets into shares. This system often provides for one share for each child of the Grantor or one share for each child who may have died before the surviving spouse but has issue (grandchildren) still alive. "Issue" of a child means grandchildren of the Grantor, real or adopted. If a child dies before the second spouse dies and leaves no issue (grandchildren), then no share is allocated to that child's family, and the share of that deceased child goes "back in the pot" and is distributed to others.

The provisions relating to distributions to children and grandchildren have to be somewhat lengthy because there are many contingencies to consider. The Trust has to be designed to cover both the immediate death of the Grantor, the subsequent death of the surviving spouse, distribution to the remaining beneficiaries, and the possible continuation of the Trust until minor children or grandchildren have attained a designated age.

If your Trust has provisions for a Sub-trust for grandchildren, then those assets will be kept in the Trust (controlled by the Successor Trustees) until the youngest grandchild of a family reaches a certain age. The objective here is to keep that Sub-trust available for the grandchildren of the family until the youngest grandchild has obtained the designated age of maturity.

During the time the Trust remains in existence, asset distributions are subject to the "guidelines" described for Family Trust use. These guidelines permit distributions for schooling, business development, acquisition of a home, financial emergencies, or any other purpose that the Successor Trustees deem appropriate. Usually expenditures for schooling and medical needs do not reduce the Beneficiary's ultimate proportionate share. Other expenditures for the purchase of a home or business will reduce the share that is eventually distributed to a Beneficiary.

Article VII: Administrative ProvisionsMinors

These provisions permit distributions to the guardians of minor children or grandchildren. For example, the surviving spouse of a deceased child may receive distributions for the benefit of grandchildren without the need for court supervision.

The Rule against Perpetuities
This provision is inserted for technical reasons. There is an old English legal concept, now embodied in statutes in most states, that limit how long trusts can last. This rule generally holds that Trusts cannot last for longer than "life or lives in being plus twenty-one years." To be on the safe side, this provision is added to avoid the remote chance that the rule against perpetuities would be violated, thus possibly invalidating or prematurely terminating the Trust.

Spendthrift ProvisionsThis provision is designed to thwart the unlikely possibility of a Beneficiary's selling his or her inheritance. While technically an heir could sell still an inheritance, under this provision the purchaser would not be able to collect anything from the Trustees.

Adopted Children
This Trust provision states that adopted children are to be treated the same as naturally born children. Usually, the Grantor would not want to disinherit a child inadvertently simply because the child was adopted. Sometimes, however, the Grantor may specifically wish to do so.

Small Trust Termination
If the value of the Trust, or some part of it (a Sub-Trust), falls below $30,000, the Trust can be terminated. The reason for such a provision is that there is no need to keep the Trust in existence if the amount is small and the cost of administration becomes unreasonable.

Taxes
This provision is inserted in the Trust in order that the Trustees can make distributions to the estate of the decedent or pay the estate taxes, if any. Technically, the Trust is not subject to estate tax, but the estate is. If the estate is large enough to incur an estate tax and there are no other assets in the probate estate, it may be necessary to distribute money to the estate for the payment of taxes.

Article VIII: Trustee's Powers
As mentioned earlier, Trusts have to be designed to last for a long time. They also have to be designed to allow for the possibility that corporate Trustees (banks or trust companies) may replace family members who may decline to serve as Successor Trustees. Or, more unfortunately, a Successor Trustees designated in the Trust may be incapacitated or deceased. Therefore, it is necessary to have a rather extensive recitation of Trustees' powers. Rather than describe each paragraph and specific power of the Trustees here, it probably would be easier to state that the objective of these provisions is to allow the Trustee and the Successor Trustees, whoever they may be, to do anything that the Grantor could have done.

At the very end of the "Trustee's Powers," are provisions concerning which state laws will apply. In most Trusts prepared in Virginia, of course, it would be Virginia law.

Signatures
Finally, there is a signature page. The Grantor signs twice, once as Grantor, once as Trustee. This follows because, as indicated earlier, during the life of the Grantor, the Grantor plays all three roles -- Grantor, Trustee, and Beneficiary.

Finally, there is the notarization, Schedule A, and Schedule B. Schedule A is a list of some of the assets contributed to the Trust and Schedule B is a list of life insurance policies, if any.

It is hoped that this Plain English explanation of your Trust has made its purposes and terminology easier to understand.

Pour-over Will
The following sections refer to, and give brief explanations of the purpose and function of, the major parts of a so-called "Pour-over Will."

The term "Pour-over Will" is not used anywhere in the Will document but, nonetheless, this is a "Pour-over Will." This means that any asset not put into the Trust during the Grantor's life "pours-over" (goes) into the Trust at the death of the Grantor as part of the "Residue" of the Grantor's estate. This short Pour-over type of Will is designed to take care of the distribution of personal property, primarily.

There are several reasons why a Will is necessary, even if you have a Trust. The principal one is that sometimes, though not often, people will buy assets such as a condominium in Florida and forget to title it in the name of the Trust. In that case, the wording of the Deed controls. In most cases, if there is a husband and wife, the property will be owned in some form of joint tenancy so that it automatically passes to the surviving spouse outside of the Trust and, of course, not subject to the Will. When the second spouse dies, the real estate will get into the Trust through the Pour-over provisions of the surviving spouse's Will.

Personal Representative
Personal Representatives are often the same as the Trustees of your Trust, although they do not have to be. Their obligation is to administer (collect and distribute) the assets of the estate of the decedent and to begin and terminate the probate proceeding, if probate is required. Note that in some situations where there is a Pour-over Will and all (or most) of the assets have been contributed to the Trust during the life of the Grantor, it is not necessary to have any Probate or the Probate might be limited to only those assets which have not been put in the Trust.

Payment of the Last Debts
The purpose of this Section, as the title indicates, is simply to state that all the debts of the decedent are to be paid.

Personal Representative's Powers
These powers are a stripped-down version of the Trustees' powers in the Trust. The idea here is to allow the Personal Representatives to take care of anything which could have been handled by the decedent.

Guardians
Guardians are the people who take physical control of, and handle the financial affairs of, any minor children. If you have no minor children, then there will be no provisions for Guardians in your Will. For those who have minor children, there will be provisions designating who should be the Guardian of the minor children. Remember that grandparents cannot designate Guardians for grandchildren. That is up to the grandchildren's parents.

Simultaneous Death
As with the similar provision in the Trust, there are provisions in the Will handling simultaneous death of both spouses, for example, as a result of an airplane or car accident. If there is a simultaneous death, then this provisions states which spouse is presumed to have survived.

Tangible Personal PropertyIn many estate-planning situations with a Trust, the tangible personal property distribution is the primary function of the Pour-over Will. Usually, tangible personal property such as jewelry, clothing, and household furniture are not put into a Revocable Living Trust. The Will usually provides that personal items will be distributed pursuant to two common mechanisms. The most common method is to state that the surviving spouse, if there is one, gets all personal property. If there is no surviving spouse, the personal property is divided equally among surviving children. The other (second) mechanism is to make distributions according to written instructions left by the decedent or a spouse.

Residue of Estate
The residue of the estate is, in effect, the "Pour-over" provision. As noted earlier, the term "Pour-over" is not used in the Will, but that is the effect of the residue provision. After probate, any assets which are not tangible personal property will pour-over into the Revocable Living Trust as a result of the "Pour-over" provision.

Self-proving PageAfter the signature, there is a separate page called the "Self-Proving Page." The reason for the self-proving page is to avoid the necessity for the witnesses having to appear in Court to verify the signature of the Creator of the Will, after the Creator's death.

Conclusion
Please remember that this Plain English version of the Revocable Living Trust and Will is designed to provide an explanation which is easy for you to understand. It is not a legal document and does not replace the technical language of the Trust and Will. If, after reading the plain English version and the more technical documents, you still have questions, please contact me.

Published by the law firm of Newland & Associates, P.L.C. For a full range of business law and tax-related services, call (703) 330-0000. You may also e-mail us at info@tax-business.com, or visit our web site at http://www.tax-business.com."

I hope you find the above posting informative.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Anti-Aging Foods-Rich in Anti-Oxidants


Do you want to stay young and healthy? A healthy diet and regular exercise is the key to longer life. Here are the eight anti-aging foods, I found in the Web.

1•Berries: Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and grapes all contain high antioxidant levels which help to protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals can lead to the development of cancer and cause premature wrinkling of the skin. Berries purposely at the top of the list.

2•Whole Grain: Whole grains are a good source of vitamin B, E, magnesium, iron and fiber. They are also a valuable source of antioxidants that are not found in fruits and vegetables. Some common types of whole grains are brown rice, whole wheat pastas and breads and oatmeal. Whole grains should be a part of everyone's daily diet.

3•Fish: Omega 3 fatty acids, found in oily fish such as salmon, have been known to aid the immune system and lower the risk of heart disease. Researchers also speculate that omega 3 fatty acid may help inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
4•Water: Drink plenty of water every day - most doctors recommend 7 to 10 glasses a day. Water flushes out toxins, keeping your body and skin clean. Also your skin will look clearer and plumper if it is not dry.

5•Chlorella: Chlorella is a small green algae which is loaded with, proteins, carbohydrates, all of the B vitamins, vitamins C and E, amino and enzymes. Chlorella can also aid the body in breaking down persistent hydrocarbon and metallic toxins such as mercury, cadmium and lead while strengthening the immune system.

6•Garlic: Garlic is said to have a number of benefits whether cooked or in raw form. Studies have found that it aids in prevention of acne, assists in managing high cholesterol levels and also protects the body against heart disease and cancer.


7•Ginger: Known mostly for its digestive benefits, ginger helps in the digestion of fatty foods and the breakdown of protein. Ginger also reduces pain associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

8•Soy: Soy is known to stabilize blood sugars, decrease menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women and prevent osteoporosis.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Reverse Mortgages: Get the Facts before Cashing in your Home's Equity


For the last six months I have been thinking about reverse mortgages to supplement my income as a retiree. We purchased our home about 10 years ago and have 5 more years to go (15-year conventional loan). However, since the investment market(our source of income plus SS payments) has been flat the last two years, reverse mortgages is very tempting to supplement our income. The following article was published by the Federal Trade Commission and updated on March, 2011. I found the article very informative.

"If you’re 62 or older – and looking for money to finance a home improvement, pay off your current mortgage, supplement your retirement income, or pay for health care expenses – you may be considering a reverse mortgage. It’s a product that allows you to convert part of the equity in your home into cash without having to sell your home or pay additional monthly bills.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you to understand how reverse mortgages work, the types of reverse mortgages available, and how to get the best deal.

In a “regular” mortgage, you make monthly payments to the lender. In a “reverse” mortgage, you receive money from the lender, and generally don’t have to pay it back for as long as you live in your home. The loan is repaid when you die, sell your home, or when your home is no longer your primary residence. The proceeds of a reverse mortgage generally are tax-free, and many reverse mortgages have no income restrictions.

Types of Reverse Mortgages
There are three types of reverse mortgages:

1. Single-purpose reverse mortgages, offered by some state and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations
2. Federally-insured reverse mortgages, known as Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) and backed by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
3. Proprietary reverse mortgages, private loans that are backed by the companies that develop them

Single-purpose reverse mortgages are the least expensive option. They are not available everywhere and can be used for only one purpose, which is specified by the government or nonprofit lender. For example, the lender might say the loan may be used only to pay for home repairs, improvements, or property taxes. Most homeowners with low or moderate income can qualify for these loans.

HECMs and proprietary reverse mortgages may be more expensive than traditional home loans, and the upfront costs can be high. That’s important to consider, especially if you plan to stay in your home for just a short time or borrow a small amount. HECM loans are widely available, have no income or medical requirements, and can be used for any purpose.

Before applying for a HECM, you must meet with a counselor from an independent government-approved housing counseling agency. Some lenders offering proprietary reverse mortgages also require counseling. The counselor is required to explain the loan’s costs and financial implications, and possible alternatives to a HECM, like government and nonprofit programs or a single-purpose or proprietary reverse mortgage. The counselor also should be able to help you compare the costs of different types of reverse mortgages and tell you how different payment options, fees, and other costs affect the total cost of the loan over time. To find a counselor, visit www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hecm/hecmlist.cfm or call 1-800-569-4287. Most counseling agencies charge around $125 for their services. The fee can be paid from the loan proceeds, but you cannot be turned away if you can’t afford the fee.

How much you can borrow with a HECM or proprietary reverse mortgage depends on several factors, including your age, the type of reverse mortgage you select, the appraised value of your home, and current interest rates. In general, the older you are, the more equity you have in your home, and the less you owe on it, the more money you can get.

The HECM lets you choose among several payment options. You can select:

a “term” option – fixed monthly cash advances for a specific time.
a “tenure” option – fixed monthly cash advances for as long as you live in your home.
a line of credit that lets you draw down the loan proceeds at any time in amounts you choose until you have used up the line of credit.
a combination of monthly payments and a line of credit.
You can change your payment option any time for about $20.

HECMs generally provide bigger loan advances at a lower total cost compared with proprietary loans. But if you own a higher-valued home, you may get a bigger loan advance from a proprietary reverse mortgage. So if your home has a higher appraised value and you have a small mortgage, you may qualify for more funds.

Loan Features
Reverse mortgage loan advances are not taxable, and generally don’t affect your Social Security or Medicare benefits. You retain the title to your home, and you don’t have to make monthly repayments. The loan must be repaid when the last surviving borrower dies, sells the home, or no longer lives in the home as a principal residence.

In the HECM program, a borrower can live in a nursing home or other medical facility for up to 12 consecutive months before the loan must be repaid.

If you’re considering a reverse mortgage, be aware that:
Lenders generally charge an origination fee, a mortgage insurance premium (for federally-insured HECMs), and other closing costs for a reverse mortgage. Lenders also may charge servicing fees during the term of the mortgage. The lender sometimes sets these fees and costs, although origination fees for HECM reverse mortgages currently are dictated by law. Your upfront costs can be lowered if you borrow a smaller amount through a reverse mortgage product called a "HECM Saver."
The amount you owe on a reverse mortgage grows over time. Interest is charged on the outstanding balance and added to the amount you owe each month. That means your total debt increases as the loan funds are advanced to you and interest on the loan accrues.
Although some reverse mortgages have fixed rates, most have variable rates that are tied to a financial index: they are likely to change with market conditions.
Reverse mortgages can use up all or some of the equity in your home, and leave fewer assets for you and your heirs. Most reverse mortgages have a “nonrecourse” clause, which prevents you or your estate from owing more than the value of your home when the loan becomes due and the home is sold. However, if you or your heirs want to retain ownership of the home, you usually must repay the loan in full – even if the loan balance is greater than the value of the home.
Because you retain title to your home, you are responsible for property taxes, insurance, utilities, fuel, maintenance, and other expenses. If you don’t pay property taxes, carry homeowner’s insurance, or maintain the condition of your home, your loan may become due and payable.
Interest on reverse mortgages is not deductible on income tax returns until the loan is paid off in part or whole.


Getting a Good Deal

If you’re considering a reverse mortgage, shop around. Compare your options and the terms various lenders offer. Learn as much as you can about reverse mortgages before you talk to a counselor or lender. That can help inform the questions you ask that could lead to a better deal.

If you want to make a home repair or improvement – or you need help paying your property taxes – find out if you qualify for any low-cost single-purpose loans in your area. Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) generally know about these programs. To find the nearest agency, visit www.eldercare.gov or call 1-800-677-1116. Ask about “loan or grant programs for home repairs or improvements,” or “property tax deferral” or “property tax postponement” programs, and how to apply.
All HECM lenders must follow HUD rules. And while the mortgage insurance premium is the same from lender to lender, most loan costs, including the origination fee, interest rate, closing costs, and servicing fees vary among lenders.
If you live in a higher-valued home, you may be able to borrow more with a proprietary reverse mortgage, but the more you borrow, the higher your costs. The best way to see key differences between a HECM and a proprietary loan is to do a side-by-side comparison of costs and benefits. Many HECM counselors and lenders can give you this important information.
No matter what type of reverse mortgage you’re considering, understand all the conditions that could make the loan due and payable. Ask a counselor or lender to explain the Total Annual Loan Cost (TALC) rates: they show the projected annual average cost of a reverse mortgage, including all the itemized costs.
Be Wary of Sales Pitches
Some sellers may offer you goods or services, like home improvement services, and then suggest that a reverse mortgage would be an easy way to pay for them. If you decide you need what’s being offered, shop around before deciding on any particular seller. Keep in mind that the total cost of the product or service is the price the seller quotes plus the costs – and fees – tied to getting the reverse mortgage.

Some who offer reverse mortgages may pressure you to buy other financial products, like an annuity or long term care insurance. Resist that pressure. You don’t have to buy any products or services to get a reverse mortgage (except to maintain the adequate homeowners or hazard insurance that HUD and other lenders require). In fact, in some situations, it’s illegal to require you to buy other products to get a reverse mortgage.

The bottom line: If you don’t understand the cost or features of a reverse mortgage or any other product offered to you – or if there is pressure or urgency to complete the deal – walk away and take your business elsewhere. Consider seeking the advice of a family member, friend, or someone else you trust.

Your Right to Cancel
With most reverse mortgages, you have at least three business days after closing to cancel the deal for any reason, without penalty. To cancel, you must notify the lender in writing. Send your letter by certified mail, and ask for a return receipt. That will allow you to document what the lender received and when. Keep copies of your correspondence and any enclosures. After you cancel, the lender has 20 days to return any money you’ve paid up to then for the financing.

Reporting Possible Fraud
If you suspect that someone involved in the transaction may be violating the law, let the counselor, lender, or loan servicer know. Then, file a complaint with:

the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can do that online at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or by phone at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
your state Attorney General’s office or state banking regulatory agency.
Whether a reverse mortgage is right for you is a big question. Consider all your options. You may qualify for less costly alternatives. The following organizations have more information:

Reverse Mortgage Education Project
AARP Foundation
601 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20049
www.aarp.org/revmort
1-800-209-8085

U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
451 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20410
www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hecm/rmtopten.cfm
1-800-CALL-FHA (1-800-225-5342)

Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
www.ftc.gov/bcp/menus/consumer/credit.shtm — Click on “Mortgages & Your Home”
1-877-FTC-HELP (?1-877-382-4357)

The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. Watch a video, How to File a Complaint, at ftc.gov/video to learn more. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad".

I hope you find the above article informative. Any comments?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lady Gaga Beats Them All-My Blog Stats as of Yesterday


I started blogging in May of 2009 just for the fun of writing and to promote my Beach Resort and Conference Center in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines. Currently, I have nine blogs. Two are personal blogs, three are about Marinduque-my island paradise, two are about retiring and traveling to the Philippines, one is about life in US and in the Philippines and the last one is the most popular which is about unusual, amazing, funny and sexy images, stories, and other topics from the Web.

Here's the list of my nine blogs, its ranking and total number of page views as of June 24, 2011. This changes every day, since I average about 300 to 350 viewers daily.

1. Unusual Images from the Web- 158,465
2. Marinduque Awaits You- 60,616
3. Life in US 1960-Present- 47,699
4. Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort- 46,869
5. Marinduque,My Island Paradise- 44,980
6. The Intellectual Migrant-(Autobiography)- 32,093
7. Marinduque On My Mind- 17,455
8. Why Retire in the Philippines- 15,471
9. Planning to Visit the Philippines- 10,052

TOTAL PAGE VIEWS- 433,700

The top thirteen most popular topics based on the number views (date posted) are as
follows:

1. Lady Gaga, Alejandro Video 24,719 (6/11/10)
2. Lady Gaga Has a Penis 14,988 (6/20/10)
3. The U. of Philippines Oblation Run 10,507 (5/1/10)
4. My College Years, 1951-1955 10,316 (5/09/09)
5. Have You Eaten a Durian 10,266 (9/12/10)
6. Awkward Boner Pictures and Videos 10,174 (9/25/10)
7. Death Valley National Park 9,853 (12/1/10)
8. Everglades National Park 6,398 (1/11/11)
9. Philippine Bench Underwear Fashion Show 6,168 (7/3/10)
10.I Love Sunsets! How About You? 4,696 (9/16/09)
11.Fruit Trees in the Gardens of CDM 3,849 (6/27/10)
12.Hundred Islands Marine National Park 3,278 (9/10/09)
13.Lagen Island Resort, El Nido, Palawan 3,091 (1/11/11)

The top two postings are about Lady Gaga. Numbers 6 and 9 have sexual connotation. Numbers 3 and 4 have some naughty pictures. Numbers 7 and 8 are about nature and national parks. Numbers 5 and 11 are about gardening and fruit trees. Numbers 12 and 13 are tourists places in the Philippines. Number 10 has some stunning photography. Now, I know exactly what my readers want. If you are one of my readers, I will appreciate some feed back and comments. What do you want to read and see from my blogs? Any suggestion to improve my blogs will be appreciated.

Please note that I have numerous positive comments on my blogs. However, one reader wrote me that my blog stinks. I wrote back why does he waste his time reading it, if he dislikes it. He did not respond! Cheers to All!

Friday, June 24, 2011

I Eat A Healthy Breakfast Today: It Helps me Loss Weight


Yesterday, my next door neighbor gave me about a pint of fresh raspberries from her backyard. I thought immediately, that the next morning, I will put it in my oat meal for breakfast with low fat milk.

So my breakfast this morning was oatmeal with fresh raspberries and low fat milk. Before the oat meal, I had a cup of freshly brewed Barraco coffee from the Philippines that I enjoyed while reading my e-mail and updating my blogs.

An after-thought after breakfast came into my mind and I ask myself a question. Am I really eating a healthy breakfast? Here's the answer to my own question.( From "The Importance of Eating a Healthy Breakfast", by Jennifer R. Scott, About.com, Health Guide, dated February 26, 2009).

"Eating a healthy breakfast gets your day and your weight loss efforts off to a great start. Eating a healthy breakfast is important for many reasons. Not only does breakfast help you perform better at school or at work by improving your concentration level and the rate at which you complete tasks, it can also help you keep the extra pounds at bay. Eating a healthy breakfast gives you energy and helps to keep blood sugar stabilized which can play a part in keeping your appetite controlled until lunch time. Plus, going too long without eating makes your metabolism slow down. The key to eating a healthy breakfast is eating complex carbohydrates, protein and, if possible, also including a healthy fat.

Consider these healthy breakfast-builders:

Complex Carbohydrates

•oatmeal
•bran cereal
•whole wheat bread
•high-fiber cereal
•fruits ( berries, bananas etc..)

Protein

•lean protein
•eggs
•chicken or turkey
•low-fat dairy

Healthy Fat

•nuts
•nut butter
•extra virgin olive oil
•avocados

Some examples of healthy breakfasts include:

•whole-grain cereal with skim milk, berries and chopped walnuts
•low-fat cottage cheese, fruit, ground flax seeds, and a whole wheat English muffin
•whole-grain waffle with blueberries and a scrambled egg
•whole wheat English muffin with one tablespoon almond butter, sliced bananas and skim milk

Did you have any breakfast this morning? Don't tell me,I do not have the time to have one. I hope you eat a healthy breakfast this morning. Good Day!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Are You Suffering from FaceBook Addiction Disorder (FAD)?


Three Hundred Fifty (350) million people are suffering from Facebook Addiction Disorder [FAD] according to a report posted on sickfacebook.com dated January 28, 2010. Another survey showed that 1 out of 4 person in US use facebook and the people getting addicted to Facebook are increasing day by day. I feel I am mildly addicted to FB. Here are the six steps to cure FAD addiction from sickfacebook.com.

01 – Admit you have a problem – This sounds like the first step to any other addiction. you ask yourself “What did I just accomplish by checking Facebook?” Ha! If only I had that much self-control over my Facebook addiction. Well, at least I admit to it!

02 – Define your goals on Facebook – Hmm … I never really had any goals with Facebook. Although maybe my goal should be to reach 5,000 friends. That surely would get me to login more frequently. Just logging in to check on friends’ birthdays, keep track of old friends, etc. Once you catch yourself going off track, log off. If only it was that easy!

03 – Make a Facebook Schedule – Seriously? If you find yourself scheduling Facebook into your daily schedule, this should be a serious warning sign. I suggests that “after each Facebook goal, write down how much time and at what frequency you’ll need to be on Facebook to achieve that goal.” Are they serious? Based on the calculations they suggested, you end up using Facebook for 6 hours and 20 minutes a week. I think this is still a relatively significant amount of time, although I spend much more time on the site.

04 – Think of other things you could be doing – Duh! This is a no brainer. I could be at the gym, socializing in the real world or a million other things but there is a reason I logged on in the first place. I’m starting to think that these suggestions are totally useless!

05 – Leave Facebook – This should have been number one! If you are spending way too much time on Facebook, quit cold turkey. It’s like having your cell phone turned off for 24 hours. Once you do it, you will realize how dependent you have become and think twice about your usage.

06 – Find a substitute – This one is good. Facebook taking up too much time? Find another site that isn’t as good! Someone says “if you find you’re at a computer during critical relapse time, find another website to log onto and read instead of Facebook.” Facebook relapse? This is a little crazy.

I have done steps 1 to 4, but I have a hard time doing #5. For number #6, I am doing the other Internet activities ( except TAD, BAD and MAD) listed below.

The are other Internet addiction besides FAD as follows:

YouTube Addiction Disorder (YAD)
Google Search Addiction Disorder (GSAD)
Widget Addiction Disorder (WAD)
Twitter Addiction Disorder (TAD)
Blackberry Addiction Disorder (BAD)
The Mac Addiction Disorder (MAD)

I found this interesting video on Facebook Addiction on YouTube.


Seeing the above video confirmed that my addiction is very very mild indeed, since I spend only about 30 to 60 minutes per day on FB.


Seriously though, if you are one of the 35 million suffering from FAD or other forms of addiction (alcohol,nicotine, sex or porn) its time to reevaluate your life and get some help.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Mind is Clear (Young) but My Body is Weak(Old)

Miko and Me at the West Terrace of our Retirement Home in Boac, Marinduque last Month
Yesterday, after 40 minutes of working in my yard, trimming bushes, raking leaves and a little weeding, my back started to ache, I had a hard time standing up. It ached so much that I have to take a pain killer. This tells me I should do only gardening by mouth( that is let someone do the work). But the above activity is a good exercise and I really enjoy doing it.

Regarding my mind, I still have a good memory. I could still remember the unit prices of all building materials, such as cement, tiles, hinges, hollow blocks etc.., that I purchased last year in the construction of the additional room in our beach house in Marinduque.

I STILL play bridge ( party and duplicate)and remember almost all the 52 cards based on the bidding. For those of you who do not play bridge, you only see 26 cards. The other half is hidden, but based on the bidding, and of your memory of how the bidding went as well as the cards already played, you actually can guess about 95% accuracy the location of all the 52 cards. I am proud to say, my memory is still good when it comes to bridge.

But I noticed that my memory now is not as good as when I was in high school. In high school, my teacher in world history wanted to give me 100%, since all my tests were all 100, but the highest grade he could legally gave me was only 95%. I had a photographic memory then. But today, that photographic memory is gone, gone, gone.

So my dear readers, can you tell me where to find the fountain of youth? Do you have a formula or a lifestyle that slow down the aging process? Please share and Good Day to you All

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Power of Nicotine Addiction


My wife is a retired public health and visiting nurse. She has practiced her profession for more than 20 years here in US and knows the health hazard of cigarettes. In her nursing career as a public health nurse, she had visited patients in their homes who are dying of lung cancer due to smoking. But she would not quit smoking or may be just can not stop the habit. I had tried every incentive to help her quit smoking. I even enrolled her to a smoking cessation clinic offered by my employer in the mid 1990's. She quit for six weeks after the clinic, but went back to smoking again. She has tried quitting twice, but the power of nicotine addiction is just too hard to break. I tried to bribe her, a vacation to Aruba and to Cancun, but she is still smoking today. I tried to nag her, but it does not work and so I finally give up. As a result of smoking, she acts much much older than her chronological age. She is only 75 but is physically weaker than her 87 year old aunt in the Philippines. So based on statistics, I will be lucky, if she survives until she reached 80 years old. I just pray to God that both of us reached our mid 80's to see and attend our youngest grand daughter high school graduation. May be if we are lucky, we could both attend her college graduation. I do not smoke, but have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and adult unset diabetes. Thanks God, these three diseases are under control by medication. I still drive, garden a little bit and could still squat and walk really fast if I want to. Macrine needs a wheel chair when we travel to the Philippines annually during our snow bird sojourn. But I guess she is happy when she smokes, so I stopped nagging her to quit. After all its her body she is poisoning and not mine. I just made it sure, I do not breath second hand smoke, by not allowing her to smoke inside the house or near me. She started smoking in the mid 1980's while she was in nursing school. I believe she consumes half a pack per day( not sure of this). If you are a teenager reading this, please do not start smoking. Once you are hooked, it is addiction that is very hard to break!

Related News: FDA Unveils New Cigarette Warnings Today

Monday, June 20, 2011

Last Will and Testament-Taboo Subject in the Philippines


The subject of dying is taboo in Philippine culture. So if you are still alive, you do not discuss about Last Will and Testament to relatives or friends. A classic example is my wife's aunt. She is a widow with no children. While her husband was still living, one of her nephews stayed with them. They sent him to medical school but there was no formal adoption. Just after the death of her husband( about 10 years ago) a niece from her husband side of the family claimed that all the antique furniture in the ancestral home is hers since she is the only niece of her late husband. Macrine's aunt was so mad she threatened to sue her and she stopped claiming. Macrine then advised her aunt with my urging that she should write a will so when she dies there will be peace among all the nephews and nieces. Macrine's aunt has several real estate properties besides the ancestral home and it valuable contents. Macrine's aunt has several coconut plantations, a beach resort, a ranch and several other rental properties. When Macrine mentioned about the will, her aunt gave us a dirty look and change the subject. We have never mentioned the subject of wills to her since then. Macrine's aunt is 87 years old.

Here in US this subject is commonly discussed, just like taxes, or politics. About 7 years ago, Macrine and I consulted a local attorney and set up our Last will and Testament and Trust-called Revocable Living Trust (LWTT). The main purpose is to insure that when we die our heirs know exactly what we want and also for tax purposes. Here are details of Last Will and Testament and Living Trust from the Web. I hope you find it informative.

"A will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his/her estate and provides for the transfer of his/her property at death. For the devolution of property not disposed of by will, see inheritance and intestacy.

In the strictest sense, a "will" has historically been limited to real property while "testament" applies only to dispositions of personal property (thus giving rise to the popular title of the document as "Last Will and Testament"), though this distinction is seldom observed today. A will may also create a testamentary trust that is effective only after the death of the testator.


Common purposes for trusts include:

Privacy.

Trusts may be created purely for privacy. The terms of a will are public and the terms of a trust are not. In some families this alone makes use of trusts ideal.

Spendthrift Protection.

Trusts may be used to protect beneficiaries (for example, one's children) against their own inability to handle money. It is not unusual for an individual to create an inter vivos trust with a corporate trustee who may then disburse funds only for causes articulated in the trust document. These are especially attractive for spendthrifts. In many cases a family member or friend has prevailed upon the spendthrift/settlor to enter into such a relationship. However, over time, courts were asked to determine the efficacy of spendthrift clauses as against the trust beneficiaries seeking to engage in such assignments, and the creditors of those beneficiaries seeking to reach trust assets. A case law doctrine developed whereby courts may generally recognize the efficacy of spendthrift clauses as against trust beneficiaries and their creditors, but not against creditors of a settlor.

Wills and Estate Planning.

Trusts frequently appear in wills (indeed, technically, the administration of every deceased estate is a form of trust). A fairly conventional will, even for a comparatively poor person, often leaves assets to the deceased spouse (if any), and then to the children equally. If the children are under 18, or under some other age mentioned in the will (21 and 25 are common), a trust must come into existence until the contingency age is reached. The executor of the will is (usually) the trustee, and the children are the beneficiaries. The trustee will have powers to assist the beneficiaries during their minority.

Pension Plans.

Pension plans are typically set up as a trust, with the employer as settlor, and the employees and their dependents as beneficiaries.

Asset Protection.

The principle of "asset protection" is for a person to divorce himself or herself personally from the assets he or she would otherwise own, with the intention that future creditors will not be able to attack that money, even though they may be able to bankrupt him or her personally. One method of asset protection is the creation of a discretionary trust, of which the settlor may be the protector and a beneficiary, but not the trustee and not the sole beneficiary. In such an arrangement the settlor may be in a position to benefit from the trust assets, without owning them, and therefore without them being available to his creditors. Such a trust will usually preserve anonymity with a completely unconnected name (e.g. "The Teddy Bear Trust"). The above is a considerable simplification of the scope of asset protection. It is a subject which straddles ethical boundaries. Some asset protection is legal and (arguably) moral, while some asset protection is illegal and/or (arguably) immoral.

Tax Planning.

The tax consequences of doing anything using a trust are usually different from the tax consequences of achieving the same effect by another route (if, indeed, it would be possible to do so). In many cases the tax consequences of using the trust are better than the alternative, and trusts are therefore frequently used for legal tax avoidance. For an example see the "nil-band discretionary trust", explained at Inheritance Tax.

Co-ownership.

Ownership of property by more than one person is facilitated by a trust. In particular, ownership of a matrimonial home is commonly effected by a trust with both partners as beneficiaries and one, or both, owning the legal title as trustee".

I suggest that if you are over 40 and owned a home to have a LWTT. You could do it yourself, but if you are not comfortable of the "Do it Yourself LWTT", consult a lawyer/financial adviser for a reasonable fee. Trust is recommended if you have resources/assets exceeding $200,000 or more, I believe. It is never too early to have a LWTT.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

We Love Thunder Valley Casino-Let's Go!



Casino gambling is a reasonable entertainment for seniors if you have a budget and strictly adheres to it. After my wife and I retired in Northern California, our entertainment budget was reduced, thus we could barely afford attending Broadway shows, movies or expensive restaurants. Lucky for us, Thunder Valley(TV) Casino is only about 20 minutes drive. The Casino offers discount for seniors in several of the restaurants as well as enjoyed the latest high-tech slot machines that Macrine and I enjoy so much. There is another Casino, Red Hawk,(RH),that is about 8 miles farther. However, Macrine and I feel that the slots machines in TV are programmed so that the odds of the players winning is more favorable than the slots in RH( or in Casino Filipino in Paranaque, Philippines).

Casino gambling may be addictive. But if you have a reasonable budget, it is one of the most affordable entertainment for senior citizens, like us.

We do not have to drive to Lake Tahoe or Reno, or fly to Las Vegas, Nevada to enjoy a world class casino and its amenities that fits our entertainment budget.

New Construction was completed last year that included the following:

42,500 square feet of expanded gaming space designed to accommodate additional slot machines, table games and a poker room (in addition to the current 102,000 square feet of gaming space;
A 17-story, 297-room hotel;
A 35,000-square-foot pool area , with pool bar, restrooms and cabanas;
A 10,100-square-foot spa;
A new center bar, service bars and gift shop;
A 10,000-square-foot entertainment hall;
A complete remodel of the existing casino and restaurants;
A seven story parking garage with approximately 3750 spaces.

Come on, enjoy life, let us go to the Casino! Be sure you have a budget and know how to stop when your money runs out. Do not expect to win a lot of money in the casinos. If you do, you will be disappointed.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Fathers Day-Bluebirds in My Backyard-Start of the Summer Season


It is already Father's Day in the Philippines. Here in Northern California Fathers Day will be tomorrow and the next day will be the official first day of summer. However, since mid-May this year six Blue Jays have been frolicking with abandon in my backyard. Two are the parent birds and four are the babies. I have been feeding them with bread crumbs and rice morsels, and faithfully replacing their bird bath and water every day.

Now for a short history on the Blue Birds in My Back yard!-Posted last year about the middle of July.

"For the last four years from Spring To Fall I have bluebirds residing in my back yard here in Northern California. They nest and play in the Holly and Pyracantha Shrubs planted as screens for the small swimming pool in my backyard.

Are blue jays common in my neighborhood ? I know my yard is the only one with four or more residents of blue jays that enjoys the water and food that I give them every day. Sometimes, I forget to give them bread crumbs or rice. They will remind me by their loud chirping, jumping and coming closer to the patio. They are getting so tame, that they stay only a few feet from their feeding station when I go out to give their daily bread crumbs or rice morsel. As soon as I put the food in the feeder, they would happily consume the food and bring some to their nests for their babies. If I gave them too much food, the leftover is welcome by a couple of residents squirrels in the yard.

My neighborhood is a subdivision of older homes from 30 to 40 years old. But I do not see too many birds in the neighborhood. Our house is still very close to the mall, shops and and schools which are populated with a lot of people during the day. However, my yard is the only one with two big maples trees and one oak tree that give a lot of shade during summer.

This week has been perfect weather wise. The temperature from 12 Noon to around 6:00 PM is in the low 80's. However, as soon as the sun sets, the temperature goes down to a comfortable low 70's. By early morning, when you wake up, it is cool with temperature in the mid 60's. The temperature slowly rises, so by 12:00 noon it will be in the 80's. Today the “High” was only 83 degrees F. This morning “Low” was 65 degrees with a gentle wind, which feels very comfortable. This temperature pattern will last the whole summer, except that there will a week of three digit temperatures later in mid July or early August. When Fall comes in September, the normal Low and High in this area will be around 55 degrees and around 78 degrees respectively. By late October, my blue birds will be gone. I will not see them until the middle of April next year. I am not sure where they spend their winter months, probably in Southern California or Mexico(definitely not in the Philippines, as Macrine and I do).


The blue jays are also a favorite of my grand daughter,Carenna. When she visits us, the first thing she would ask is if she could feed the birds. I consider these birds my pets. We have pets in the Philippines, one dog, two cats and several chickens. But here in Northern California, our only pets are these blue jays that reside in my back yard during spring, summer and fall in this beautiful Northern California neighborhood every year. Do you have pets in your back yard?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sunsets from Different Angles

A Picture is worth more than a Thousand Words!





I found these unusual photos of sunsets from www.hongkiat.com. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Teaching Fil-Am Teens Philippine Folk Dances in the US


The following video reminded me when our children were still in their elementary school days ( mid 1970's). My wife taught them a few Filipino folk dances including the world famous TINIKLING ( bamboo dance), The Pandanggo Sa Ilaw ( Dance of Lights) and other popular Folk dances of the Philippines. Unfortunately, not one of our six grand children had learned or are interested of this wonderful tradition from the Philippines.














Do not forget to view also the related videos in this set. Enjoy and Cheers!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Family-Based Immigrant Visa to US: Who Qualifies?


The following article is a reprint from Visapro.com I found this article very informative, thus I am reprinting it for your reading pleasure.

Family-Based Immigrant Visa: Who Qualifies? by VisaPro.com You and several of your friends, all of whom are foreign nationals, living and working in the US get together for dinner one night. Being from all over the world the conversation naturally turns to home and family. Jose, who is in the US on an H-1B visa, wants to bring his little sister to the US to take care of his children. Benjamin, a green card holder from Israel, talks fondly of his fiancé and wants to have her come to the US so they can get married. Puna, who just filed for naturalization, talks of bringing his aging mother and his sister to the US to live with him. Albert, from England who is in the US as a permanent resident wants to bring his wife over. And Kenji, who was naturalized just last week, talks of bringing his parents and cousins from Japan to the US.

The big question of course is which of these family members will qualify for a family-based immigrant visa. Each of you have heard so many stories of who you can and can't bring to the US, but none of you is sure what the law really is. Just about that time the doorbell rings and Dan, another friend, arrives. As you fill him in on the conversation you find out that his brother-in-law is an attorney who specializes in immigration law and that he can get some answers for you. Let's see what he found out. We present here a short overview of the law as it pertains to family-based immigration.

The US Congress, by conferring permanent residence eligibility upon certain family-based groups, has properly recognized the importance of family unification in American immigration law. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for immigrant visas for certain foreign nationals based upon their relationship to a U.S. citizen or legal Permanent Resident. Family-based Immigration falls under two basic categories: Unlimited (Immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens) and Limited (the "preference" categories). Approximately 500,000 family-based immigrant visas are available each year.

Unlimited Family-Based Immigrant Visas or the Immediate Relatives of United States Citizens:

The first category of the Family-Based Immigrant Visa is for Immediate Relatives of the US Citizens. Within this group are spouses of US citizens, unmarried children under the age of 21 of a US citizen, and the parents of a US citizen who is over 21 years old.

a. Spouses: The spouse of a US citizen will qualify as an immediate relative. However it is very important that the marriage is legal in the country where the marriage took place, and it is not in contravention of US laws.

The actual ceremony, in the jurisdiction where it was performed, must be legally recognized. And all legal requirements, including registration of the marriage, must be met.

For example, a "common law" marriage must meet the legal requirement and be recognized in the country where the couple lives to qualify for immigration purposes. The simple fact that two people have been living together (no matter how long they have lived together) does not constitute a legal marriage.

If either the husband or wife has been previously married, a legally valid divorce must have taken place. This can be a problem in countries that do not recognize divorce.

b. Children: To qualify as a child for immediate relative status the child of a US citizen must be unmarried, and under the age of 21 years. Within the context of US immigration law "child" is very specifically defined. This definition includes children born both in and out of wedlock, but for those born out of wedlock the qualifications for immigration differ depending on which parent is sponsoring the child. For children born in wedlock, the relationship to either the father or the mother will be sufficient to qualify the child for an immigrant visa.

For children born out of wedlock, the relationship through the mother will always qualify because it can be easily proved. However, the relationship through the father will qualify in only two circumstances. The father must show that (1) evidence exists, such as the father financially supporting or living with the child, which clearly demonstrates a parent/child relationship, or (2) the father, while in legal custody of the child and before the child's 18th birthday, has "legitimized" the child in the manner prescribed by law in the country where the father and child were living.

Stepchildren, adopted children, and "eligible orphans" are also included in the definition of "child." Stepchildren are treated like a child of the petitioner as long as the stepchild relationship was created before the child’s eighteenth birthday. Adopted children are considered children for immigration purposes as long as they were legally adopted before the age of sixteen, and they have been in the legal custody and have physically resided with the adopting parent for 2 years. Eligible orphans must meet the very specific definition of "orphan" to qualify.

c. Parents: The parents of a US citizen are eligible for a Family-based immigrant visa, provided that the US citizen child who is filing the petition for his/her parent is at least 21 years of age. Additionally, the US citizen must be the "child" of the parent seeking permanent residence, as defined by US immigration law and described above.


Advantages of Family-Based Immigrant Visa for Immediate Relatives (IR) of a US Citizen: Seeking permanent residence as an immediate relative of a US citizen has substantial advantages. The main advantage of the immediate relative status is that the number of visas issued each year is not subject to any numerical limits. The greatest disadvantage is that there is no derivative status for dependents of immediate relatives; every family member has to independently qualify as an immediate relative of the US Citizen to be issued a Family-based Immigrant Visa.

Qualified immediate relative applicants are never forced to spend time on a waiting list, and if the immediate relatives are legally in the U.S. and are otherwise qualified, they can always file for Adjustment of Status. However, spouses of US citizens, who have been married for less than 2 years at the time they get their green cards, are subject to a 2 year period of "conditional" residence. Because of this some of these individuals may elect an employment-based path to permanent residence.

Limited Family-Based Immigrant Visa, or Preference Categories for Family Members of Citizens or Residents:
The second group of Family-based Immigrant Visas is for certain family members of US citizens and Legal Permanent Residents. While the US Congress has found that these relationships provide important family ties, they do not raise to the level of the immediate relatives. Unlike the visa category for the Immediate Relatives of US citizens, the number of immigrant visas available to the preference categories is subject to annual numeric limits. These family members have been separated into preferences based on the closeness of the relationship of the beneficiary to the petitioner. Because of the numerical limitations on each of the categories there is generally a waiting period before a beneficiary (the sponsored relative) can get a visa and come to the US. The wait times are listed in the State Department Visa Bulletin and range from 4 ½ years for the spouse of a permanent resident to 22 years for the brother or sister of US citizen originally from the Philippines.

Within the preference categories are unmarried children of US citizens, spouses and unmarried children of Permanent Residents, married children of US Citizens, and brothers and sisters of US Citizens. These categories, in order of preference, are as follows:

a. Family First Preference (F1) – Unmarried Sons and Daughters of US Citizens: The reason these individuals are not qualified under the immediate relative category is because they are over the age of 21 years. In order to be an immediate relative, each son or daughter must have met the legal definition of "child." i.e., he or she must be under the age of 21. When an individual reaches the age of 21 Congress determined that they were no longer dependent on their parents and could wait for a visa. This preference category is given 23,400 visas each year, plus any that are unused by the fourth preference.

b. Family Second Preference (F2) – Spouses, Unmarried Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents: This preference category is subdivided into two subgroups - the immediate family members (spouses and children) of permanent residents, and unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents. The entire category is given 114,200 visas annually, plus any unused visas from the first preference category, with the vast majority going to the immediate family member subgroup. As with immediate relatives, the spouse of a permanent resident is granted permanent residence status on a "conditional" basis (for 2 years) if they have been married for less than 2 years at the time permanent residence is granted. But because of the wait times required it is rare that an F2 spouse will be given the conditional status. Also, as with the immediate relative spouse, if after two years the marriage ends or is found to have been a "sham," the residence will be terminated.

c. Family Third Preference (F3) – Married Sons and Daughters of US Citizens: Married children of the US Citizen do not qualify as immediate relatives for immigration purposes solely because they are married. Again, Congress determined that if they have married they are not dependent upon their parents and can wait for a visa. This group receives 23,400 visas each year, plus any visas unused by the first two preference categories. As always, each son or daughter must have, at some earlier point, met the definition of "child" for immigration law purposes.

d. Family Fourth Preference (F4) – Brothers and Sisters of US Citizens: The brothers and sisters of a US citizen qualify for immigration, but only if the petitioning citizen is 21 years of age or older. To qualify under this category, the sponsoring US citizen and his or her sibling must both meet (or have met) the definition of "child" in relation to the same parent.

e. Derivative Status: The immediate family members (i.e., unmarried children under the age of 21) of immigrants qualifying under each of these four preference categories are permitted to concurrently immigrate as well.

Documentation Required:
The documentation needed for a family-based petition for Permanent Residence is the same for Immediate Relatives and family preference applicants.

The following documents are required:

• INS Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative);

• Supporting Documentation that shows that the petitioner is a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, and a qualifying relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary (the intending immigrant) exists;

• Form G-325A (Biographic Information Form) and two color photographs for both spouses, if the qualifying relationship is marital under either the immediate relative or second family preference category,

• The INS filing fee of $355.00; and

• Form G-28 (Notice of Appearance for the Attorney or Representative) if represented by counsel.

The I-130 package is filed with the USCIS National Benefits Center. The processing time for the I-130 will depend on which family based category the beneficiary falls into. If they are immediate relatives the processing time is currently 8-11 months. For the preference categories the processing times are 2 ½ to 7 ½ years depending on which preference category is involved.

Conclusion:

Family based immigration has many benefits for US citizens or permanent residents that want to be reunited with family, be it a spouse and children, a newly adopted child, or brothers and sisters. The closeness of the relationship will determine if the foreign national can be sponsored under the family based categories, and if they can how long it will take for them to get the immigrant visa.

Now let's go back to our dinner party and see who will be able to bring their relatives to the US, and how long it may take them.

Jose: Jose is here on an H-1B visa so he will not be able to sponsor any relatives for permanent residence. He cannot bring his little sister to the US to help care for his children.

Benjamin: Benjamin is a permanent resident so he is not able to sponsor his fiancé until they get married. Once they marry she will be the spouse of a permanent resident and will fall into the second preference category. According to the State Department Visa Bulletin it will take approximately 4 ½ years. Once Benjamin becomes a naturalized citizen his fiancé/wife would become an immediate relative and would not have to wait for a visa number.

Puna: Puna is still a permanent resident so cannot sponsor either his mother or his sister. However, once he is naturalized (remember he just filed his naturalization application) his mother will be an immediate relative (no wait) and his sister will be in the fourth preference category. Based on this month's visa bulletin Puna's sister will have about an eleven year wait.

Albert: Albert's situation is similar to Benjamin's, except that Albert is already married. He can file a Form I-130 for his wife right now. Like Benjamin, once the petition is filed Albert is looking at about 4 ½ years before his wife can join him.

Kenji: Kenji is a naturalized US citizen so his parents are immediate relatives and can come to the US relatively quickly, taking only the normal processing time. However, there is no category that his cousins would fit into so he is not able to sponsor them.

I hope you find the above article informative. If you have additional questions, I recommend that you see a lawyer who specializes in Immigration Law.
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