Inheritance: What to do?


S

Sgt. Sausage

Situation:

Me: 34
She: 31

We're both employed full time, and plan on staying such until
I reach the ripe old age of <grin> 45. That's a bit over 10
years from now.

We're pretty well off, making roughly 165K a year between
the both of us, and we live in rural Ohio -- this equates to a
king's ransome where we live. As such, we've been socking
away money for about 10 years and plan on retiring in 10
more.

Now, for the kicker: We've just had a death in the family
that will result in an additional 800K infusion (after the "death tax"
(and other estate settlement charges)) into our nest egg.

Effectively, by the end of this year, we can retire completely
at 34 and 31. The combination of our current nest egg, plus
our recent windfall inheritance will allow us to live without
working.

Because we're both basically workaholics, and wouldn't
know what to do with ourselves, we've decided to ignore
the inheritance and keep working for the next 10 years under
our original plan (more on this later) .

Now for the questions: Here's what we've got going:

Me: (self-employed)
SIMPLE IRA -- maxed out
Traditional IRA -- maxed out (and non-deductible)
because of the SIMPLE at work

She: (employee)
401K -- not currently maxed out -- she's
only contributing enough to max
the company match.

Both:
Normal (taxable) investment accounts (multiple)

-- Currently, her entire paycheck (less the 401K
contributions) is being invested in these taxable
accounts.

-- Rental properties (multiple)

Here's what we're going to do:

-- Bump her 401K to the maximum contribution

-- Open a traditional IRA for her and max it out, again,
this one will be non-deductible because of her 401K

-- Create an LLC to manage the rental properties, to
attempt to shelter the personal assets (inheritance
and nest egg) from a possibly litigation-happy
tennant (and other such liabilities)

NOTE: We're ineligible for Roth due to high income.

The idea being, get as much as possible into tax deferred
accounts now, to let the tax advantaged growth continue
for as long as possible.

QUESTION: Where to go from here?

With the inheritance, we are paying off the mortgage so
we will no longer have that expense.

That, being our biggest expense, will allow us to live the
lifestyle we're accustomed to for a bit less than 30K
a year. Cost of living where we live is VeryVeryLow(tm)
and we have no debt. With the house paid off, we can live
extremely well on 30K a year (apologies to those of you
in NY, LA, etc. who can't even pay your property taxes
on 30K a year <grin> -- last time I checked, median
household income (family of 4.2) in my county was about
24K a year (two or three years ago) -- with no kids, my
wife and I can get along just fine on 30K)

We've got 165K a year coming in, leaving a bit over
100K per year after taxes. Subtract out the 30K a year
for our living expenses and we've now got roughly 70K
a year for 10 years in free cash that we need to stash
someplace, at least for 10 years -- more than likely
for 20 to 25 years before we'll actually need it.

QUESTION: Where to put it to minimize tax implications?

I really don't know what to do here ...

Also, some analysis of the below plan, if you care to
answer:

There's no way (that I know of) to shelter the
inheritance. Once we receive it, I can't simply
put it in our IRA/SIMPLE/401K accounts. The
gains on this money will be fully taxable. We'll
need it at 45 and don't want to take the
pre-59-and-a-half-hit if it's sitting in a retirement
account (which it won't be, because it can't be).

As such, after our planned 10 years of continued
work, we'll hit this money first, and allow the retirement
accounts to grow for another 15 years of tax sheltered
gains -- until we're 60. I suppose we'll have to figure out
what to do then, depending on how much remains in the
non sheltered accounts. Sooner or later, we'll have to
draw the retirement accounts down, but I'm only
34 and that appears, from my perspective, to be
a full lifetime away from now. I'll worry about it in
15 or 20 years.

QUESTION: We've got several rental properties that we've
been renting for the last few years. We're setting up an LLC to
shelter the personal assets from the liabilities of renting the
properties. Can we set ourselves up as employees of the
LLC and setup another plan (probably SEP (?) ) and
contribute to that in addition to our current employer
sponsored plans?

I'm looking for any generic advice on the above, as well
as any additions/changes you might recommend.

Also, for any of you out there who retired early -- What
the hell do you do with yourself? We're pretty hard-core
workaholics. An eight hour work day is laughable to both
of us, and a weekend without working at least one day on
the weekend is pretty rare. This is by choice -- we usually
get bored around the house, and don't want to go out and
spend a bunch-o-money on entertainment, so we do some
work and make more money to sock away. Maybe we need
to speak with a shrink on this <grin> but our lives, for the
last 10 years or so, have been defined by the work we do.

I think it's going to be a tough transition for both of us.

Also, looking at it objectively, I'm a bit worried about the
next 10 years. We'll both be working, but we won't *have*
to. Looking at this from my perspective, I see it affecting
my work life in the following manner:

(a) Increased risk: I'm not worried about where my
retirement money is coming from now. This means
I have a fallback, should a bad decision at work
adversely affect the finances. I know who I am and
the type of person I am. With the inheritance, the
monthly income does not mean what it once did.
I'm worried about moving to an attitude where I
take on more (possibly unnecessary) risk -- "F*ck it,
I don't need the money, if it doesn't work out to my
advantage it's not going to hurt ..."

(b) Decreased motivation: along the same lines, I'm
worried about the lack of motivation -- again,
"F*ck it, I don't need this job anyway ... "

I'm self employed, with 1 partner and 4 employees.
I'm concerned the above will put my partner and
employees at greater risk -- they don't have an
inheritance to fall back on.

Am I being to analytical about this?

Anybody out there keep working after you no longer
had to? How did you deal with (a) and (b) above?

This is certainly a life-changing event. I'm sure I can handle
it, but I'm looking at any advice anyone might have.

I'm looking for personal thoughts on this. I don't need the
canned "see a professional" answer. We'll be doing that
after the estate is settled. I'm doing my pre-ProfessionalGuy
research at the moment.

Thanks for your input.
 
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R

Ron Peterson

Sgt. Sausage said:
The idea being, get as much as possible into tax deferred
accounts now, to let the tax advantaged growth continue
for as long as possible.
I think a better goal is to get as much from your investments after
taxes that you can.
Also, for any of you out there who retired early -- What
the hell do you do with yourself?
My sister and her husband retired early, and promptly made me an uncle
after much trying before they retired. My brother-in-law explores other
investment opportunities as a side-line. They also spent a considerable
amount of time and effort remodeling their house.
I'm self employed, with 1 partner and 4 employees.
I'm concerned the above will put my partner and
employees at greater risk -- they don't have an
inheritance to fall back on.
Can you expand that business?
I'm looking for personal thoughts on this. I don't need the
canned "see a professional" answer. We'll be doing that
after the estate is settled. I'm doing my pre-ProfessionalGuy
research at the moment.
If you want to be able to retire in style, you're going to need a lot of
investment income. Travel can be expensive when you go first class.
When your investment income is greater than your working income, then
start thinking about retiring.
 
S

Sandra Loosemore

Sgt. Sausage said:
Situation:

Me: 34
She: 31

We're both employed full time, and plan on staying such until
I reach the ripe old age of <grin> 45. That's a bit over 10
years from now.

We're pretty well off, making roughly 165K a year between
the both of us, and we live in rural Ohio -- this equates to a
king's ransome where we live. As such, we've been socking
away money for about 10 years and plan on retiring in 10
more.

Now, for the kicker: We've just had a death in the family
that will result in an additional 800K infusion (after the "death tax"
(and other estate settlement charges)) into our nest egg.

[much snippage]
Wow. Lucky you. Without trying to address any of your specific
questions, here are a couple of suggestions.

There's no need to rush into any particular investment strategy for
your windfall. There's nothing wrong with leaving it in a money-market
account for a year or two while you consider what to do with it, and
even if you decide to put most of it into the stock market, you'd
probably be better off DCA'ing the money in over a period of years than
investing it all at once.

If you both have more money than you can spend on yourselves and a
desire not to pay so much taxes, have you thought about philanthropy --
donating money to support the arts or a community organization or
whatever your favorite cause is? Without going into too many details,
I came into some money myself a few years ago, and while I wanted to
reserve my capital for funding my retirement, I was able to donate
enough money out of my salary to feel that I was really making a
difference to something that was important to me, and the idea of being
able to continue to do that is one of the things that motivates me to
continue working.

-Sandra
 
R

Richard Cline

In article <[email protected]>, "Sgt. Sausage"

You are focusing on how to accumulate money -- an item that you seem to
have mastered. You need to learn how to spend money. Find things that
add joy in life. Travel a bit and learn to understand other cultures.
Get a nice new sports car. It is great to keep working because that can
be rewarding in many ways. But don't allow yourself to think that
accumulation of assets is an end in itself.

Dick
 
S

Sgt. Sausage

If you both have more money than you can spend on yourselves and a
desire not to pay so much taxes, have you thought about philanthropy --
donating money to support the arts or a community organization or
whatever your favorite cause is?
Good suggestion! But ... that won't be happening in any significant
amounts for quite a few years.

I don't want to wake up in 25 years at age 60 or so and find out
that I've got to go back to work because I gave too much away
in the early years. For now, the philanthropy will be minimal. If
at 60 it looks like the money's gonna last, then I'll kick it up a
notch or two.
 
S

Sgt. Sausage

My sister and her husband retired early, and promptly made me an uncle
after much trying before they retired.
That might be an option. We've been concentrating on the career
thing for the last 10 years. It might be a good transition to lighten
up on the workload and start a family. I've never thought much
about it until now ... (I'll be sure to discuss it with SWMBO
first said:
Can you expand that business?
Do I want to? Yes I can, but I'm comfortable for the
moment. I have more work than I need, and am making
a good income -- more than we need. Expansion will
bring an entire set of new challenges (possible headaches)
that I may not want. I'll think about it.
If you want to be able to retire in style, you're going to need a lot of
investment income.
I'm not looking to "retire in style". I'm looking to maintain the
current standard of living that we've enjoyed for the last 10 years
or so. That will take 30K a year (plus inflation). We can do that
now on investment income, even without the inheritance.

That number will definitely increase if we start having kids though.
Travel can be expensive when you go first class.
We travel a lot, but not "first class". Think backpacker trips
to Europe, trains and hostels and such. More like "last class", but
very enjoyable nonetheless. I don't plan on changing this.
When your investment income is greater than your working income, then
start thinking about retiring.
Most of our "working income" is excess/discretionary. We don't
need it and have been accumulating it for 10 years to build our
pre-inheritance nest egg. The way I see it, the above statement
is meaningless in my situation. It should be: When your investment
income is greater than your expenses, then start thinking about
retirement. We're already there.

I'll give some serious thought to the family thing though. Raising
children full time just might be a suitable replacement for the hours
I'm currently logging in the office.

Thanks for your input.
 
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J

jake johnson

Sgt. Sausage said:
We're pretty well off, making roughly 165K a year between
the both of us, and we live in rural Ohio -- this equates to a
king's ransome where we live. As such, we've been socking
away money for about 10 years and plan on retiring in 10
more.
Congrats, you've accomplished a lot in a short period of time and
should be proud. You've definitely raised some good questions, but I
think that some more information is needed if anyone is to provide any
helpful tips. I can infer from the general numbers you've mentioned
that you have over $500K socked away outside of the tax-advantaged
assets, but this number isn't mentioned. This number would
definitely be higher than your 401ks and IRAs, correct? Where do you
have this money invested? Perhaps this is invested in the Rental R/E?

You didn't say much about your business or much about its form of
organization (a partnership?). How variable is its income stream?
(You've made 'roughly 165K' since you were 24?) I thought that Ohio
had been through a rough spot economically, but perhaps your business
is not sensitive to these shifts. You were concerned about liability
regarding the rental r/e, but not for the business?

My guess is that you're involved in the family business of your father
perhaps and there may be some tax strategies to be employed there
(family limited partnership?). Generally, I'd think that you'd want
to ensure that any future inheritance coming your way has been
streamlined for taxes.

Thus far, its hard to say at 34 that you don't need to work anymore.
 
S

Sgt. Sausage

[snip]
Congrats, you've accomplished a lot in a short period of time and
should be proud. You've definitely raised some good questions, but I
think that some more information is needed if anyone is to provide any
helpful tips. I can infer from the general numbers you've mentioned
that you have over $500K socked away outside of the tax-advantaged
assets, but this number isn't mentioned. This number would
definitely be higher than your 401ks and IRAs, correct?
Correct on both.
Where do you
have this money invested? Perhaps this is invested in the Rental R/E?
All over.

Real estate:

4 properties:
Primary residence
Rentals:
Office building
We own 2 residential townhouse condos for rental income.

The money tied up in the real estate is about 20% of
our current (pre-inheritance) nest egg.

The remainder is in accounts with multiple
brokers with about an 60/40 split between
equities/bonds. Bonds are about half high
risk/high yeild corporate, half treasury. Equities
are about 30%: tech, 30%: domestic smokestack,
20%: foreign, 20%: I don't know (my wife manages
these)
You didn't say much about your business or much about its form of
organization (a partnership?).
Structurally, we're setup as an LLC in Ohio. We're essentially
a partnership.
How variable is its income stream?
Not very. It's been within 5% - 10% of the 165K since 1998.

Keep in mind, the 165K is *combined* income -- myself and
wife. She's employed full time and not involved in my business.
(You've made 'roughly 165K' since you were 24?)
Since I was 29, wife was 27.

Prior to that it was steady at around 90K combined. The big
jump from 90K to 165K was made when I jumped ship from
being an employee to starting my own business.
I thought that Ohio
had been through a rough spot economically, but perhaps your business
is not sensitive to these shifts.
Yes, it's been rough for most in my area (knock on wood!) and
No, we *are* sensitive to economic shifts. I like to think it's been
You were concerned about liability
regarding the rental r/e, but not for the business?
The business has been an LLC for 6 years. On top of the
protection of the LLC (minimal) we have appropriate liability,
E & O (Errors and Omissions), as well a a large umbrella
policy.

For the moment, no, I'm not concerned with it. We've
(a) Setup the business appropriately
(b) Purchased appropriate coverage.

On the personal side, the rentals are simply my wife and
I. There's no business structure wrapped around it. We're
exposed and I'm concerned.
My guess is that you're involved in the family business of your father
Bad guess.

Close though -- we're in the same industry: Insurance.

He (father) owns and operates an independent claims adjusting firm
(property and casualty), I maintain claims processing systems
for medical insurance carriers.
perhaps and there may be some tax strategies to be employed there
(family limited partnership?). Generally, I'd think that you'd want
to ensure that any future inheritance coming your way has been
streamlined for taxes.

Thus far, its hard to say at 34 that you don't need to work anymore.
Essentially, after the inheritance, we'll be sitting on just shy
of $1.4 million. We'll need 30K a year to maintain our
current lifestyle. Barring a total collapse of the economy,
we're done.

I'm still on my 10 year plan though, 'cause without work I'd
be bored silly -- plus it's a hedge against the unknown. We
can add an additional $700K to the nest egg if we continue
to work (and a lot of other big "ifs" too!). If we continue to
work, we won't need to touch the existing money (inheritance
included), thereby allowing it to grow for another 10 years.
We're definitely done by 45. Very pessimistic and worst-case
scenarios lead me to a number of close to $3 million in the
nest egg by 45. We'll be living on (adjusting for (assumed)
inflation), about 1.5% of that. I'd say that 1.5% is considered
a "safe withdrawal rate" by even the most conservative
financial planner.

I've filled you in on your requested information. Can you help
me out with any of my questions/concerns in my original post?

Thanks.
 
E

Elizabeth Richardson

Sgt. Sausage said:
I've filled you in on your requested information. Can you help
me out with any of my questions/concerns in my original post?
I think if I were in your shoes I would spend some time examining tax free
bonds with idea of investing (probably) most of the inherited funds. It
looks to me as if any income from the inheritance will up your tax
liability. Then I would spend time over the next 10 years looking at how
time should be filled after "retirement." Somehow I doubt you'll really,
truly, retire. Instead, I'll bet you find another way to fill your time with
a smaller (or non-existent) income stream. This isn't a bad thing by the
way. You just may find some cause that needs your time and effort, whether
it's woodworking in your garage or working with kids after school.

Elizabeth Richardson
 
P

Paul Michael Brown

As I read it, the orginal poster (and his wife) are maxed out on the usual
tax-deferred savings vehicles and they are looking for new tax-advantaged
investments for the rather significant sum they have inherited. Their time
horizon is 10 years. And because they live in a low cost of living area
and they have modest tastes, they aren't looking for big growth. Rather,
it seems they're looking to leave the work force in their mid 40s and then
to live off their investments.

In my view that means they're looking for a low beta investment that has
some tax advantages. So I would recommend they investigate muncipal bonds.
With a ten year time horizon they could probably obtain a yield of four
percent or slightly better at today's rates. It sounds like they've got
enough money to put together a fairly well diversified portfolio of bonds
that are laddered to reduce the interest rate risk. If that doesn't appeal
they might consider one of the Nuveen unit investment trusts, which permit
fine tuning the duration of the investment according to their views re the
direction of rates in the future. The same could be accomplished by
spreading out the money among several Vanguard munibond funds that have
different durations. Finally, they might want to look for bonds issued by
Ohio issuers (or a fund that does the same). That way all of the income
would be double tax exempt.
 
J

jake johnson

Sgt. Sausage said:
I've filled you in on your requested information. Can you help
me out with any of my questions/concerns in my original post?

Thanks.
I'd say you're mostly in need of tax and investment advice, not
necessarily financial-planning advice because your situation is far
too fluid right now. It has to be assumed that you'll be having
children in a few years and that it will cut back on your involvement
in the business to some degree and possibly lower its income stream.
Should you want to free yourself from the business, you'll want to
ensure that your buy-out or dissolution is done with tax
considerations in mind. You'll probably need to work for the next
five years to be safe, even with your inheritance invested
successfully.

Definitely some tax-free bonds could be helpful here, but you might
also want to take a second look at those r/e investments and whether
it might be time to sell. Real estate agents will always tell you its
a good time to sell, so don't go by their advice necessarily. (If you
feel you have tenants who could cause you lawsuit headaches, I don't
think its worth the hassle.) How has your investment management been
to date? I'm sure you can find some very competent investment
advisors looking to take on accounts of your size. Its tempting to go
without, but it really helps to have a dispassionate assessment of
things as long as you feel they have your best interests at heart.

Overall, I think you can safely meet your goals of leaving the working
world by your early 40's but I wouldn't be more ambitious than that.
 
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M

Michael Sullivan

Sgt. Sausage said:
Situation:
Me: 34
She: 31
[very successful, made way more than they spent for the last 10 years,
and just received a large inheritance to boot, now financially
independent if they play their cards right.]
QUESTION: Where to go from here?
With the inheritance, we are paying off the mortgage so
we will no longer have that expense.
That's a reasonable plan.
That, being our biggest expense, will allow us to live the
lifestyle we're accustomed to for a bit less than 30K
a year. Cost of living where we live is VeryVeryLow(tm)
and we have no debt. With the house paid off, we can live
extremely well on 30K a year (apologies to those of you
in NY, LA, etc. who can't even pay your property taxes
on 30K a year <grin> -- last time I checked, median
household income (family of 4.2) in my county was about
24K a year (two or three years ago) -- with no kids, my
wife and I can get along just fine on 30K)
We've got 165K a year coming in, leaving a bit over
100K per year after taxes. Subtract out the 30K a year
for our living expenses and we've now got roughly 70K
a year for 10 years in free cash that we need to stash
someplace, at least for 10 years -- more than likely
for 20 to 25 years before we'll actually need it.
QUESTION: Where to put it to minimize tax implications?
I really don't know what to do here ...
Sometimes it's best to just pay your taxes. You will get a certain
amount of tax deferral simply by putting money in low turnover
equity-based assets. The appreciation won't get taxed until you sell.
You're already doing that with your rental property, and you've probably
taken advantage of the tax-free exchanges if you have sold any property
(where you transfer your basis to a new higher-priced property that you
buy within a certain time of selling another property).

Saving on taxes isn't the primary goal. Maximizing your after tax gains
is the primary goal. Sometimes minimizing your taxes serves that goal,
but sometimes it puts more money in somebody else's pocket than you
would have put in the government's.

Since you're in the insurance business, you probably realize that you
don't have much need for it right now. That makes one possible place to
stash tax-advantaged money less lucrative for you (cash-value life
insurance).

If I were in your shoes, I'd take the portion that is "nest egg" and be
splitting the money up between stock index funds and short to medium
term bonds with a sizable chunk in money markets (maybe 10-15%), and a
decent chunk of both stocks and bonds in something international (so you
aren't as dependent on the ups and downs of the US market). I say index
funds because I believe the market is effecient enough that paying extra
expenses to play "which fund manager is better" is pointless, and they
usually are lower turnover which defers some of your taxes.

The details will obviously be hashed out with your professional.

Keeping the money in cash (i.e. money markets) for a few months or a
year while you make your decisions is not going to be a big problem,
since at this point, appreciation is not your biggest concern.

Again, if you've maxed out the basic tax-advantaged opportunities
(401(k), IRA, etc.), it gets to be more and more work to avoid taxes,
and less and less lucrative.


QUESTION: We've got several rental properties that we've
been renting for the last few years. We're setting up an LLC to
shelter the personal assets from the liabilities of renting the
properties. Can we set ourselves up as employees of the
LLC and setup another plan (probably SEP (?) ) and
contribute to that in addition to our current employer
sponsored plans?
I believe you can, but of course you'll be limited to whatever
percentage the plan provides of the money you declare as income from
that business.

Be careful about the sheltering. Piercing the corporate veil is not
that difficult with a lot of closely held companies. If you don't have
regular board meetings with minutes and other appropriate documentation,
the liability protection of an LLC is not unassailable. Business
liability insurance is probably a good investment if you are concerned
here. Incorporating may not be worth it, unless there are tax
advantages.

If most of the money you make on your rental properties is from
appreciation, you may not get much tax advantage from treating
yourselves as employees.
I'm looking for any generic advice on the above, as well
as any additions/changes you might recommend.
Also, for any of you out there who retired early -- What
the hell do you do with yourself? We're pretty hard-core
workaholics. An eight hour work day is laughable to both
of us, and a weekend without working at least one day on
the weekend is pretty rare. This is by choice -- we usually
get bored around the house, and don't want to go out and
spend a bunch-o-money on entertainment, so we do some
work and make more money to sock away. Maybe we need
to speak with a shrink on this <grin> but our lives, for the
last 10 years or so, have been defined by the work we do.
I have some friends who were in the right places at the right time and
made a lot of crazy money in tech in the 90s, and I can tell you how
they thought about this. Once they had enough to retire, what it meant
was that they could do the work they wanted, when and how they wanted
(i.e. plenty of vacations, flexible hours, etc.). If that meant taking
a step down in pay or prestige, so be it - they didn't need the money
anymore. If it meant a total career change, going back to school to do
something else -- they could afford it.

If you are doing exactly what you want to do in life, the same thing you
would have done if you had been born with a 5 million dollar trust fund,
then there's no reason to change now.

It's a feature of the way we work that we tend to be most successful
when we are doing the things that we would tend to do even if we weren't
being paid for them. If you've already been living that truth to the
extent that you can't figure out what you'd do instead of the work
you're doing now -- congratulations! That's a more important component
of success than the money you've accumulated, and there's no reason you
should give it up just because you don't need the money that work pays
you anymore.

Surely you can find productive ways to use your excess capital -- find
some bright people who want to start an interesting business and become
a silent partner. Give something to a charitable organization, church,
school, community, arts, etc. -- whatever you'd like to see more of in
your community.


I think it's going to be a tough transition for both of us.
I think you'd be stupid to walk out on what you are currently doing next
week just because you can, unless you really dislike it, or know exactly
what you want to be doing instead.
Also, looking at it objectively, I'm a bit worried about the
next 10 years. We'll both be working, but we won't *have*
to. Looking at this from my perspective, I see it affecting
my work life in the following manner:
(a) Increased risk: I'm not worried about where my
retirement money is coming from now. This means
I have a fallback, should a bad decision at work
adversely affect the finances. I know who I am and
the type of person I am. With the inheritance, the
monthly income does not mean what it once did.
I'm worried about moving to an attitude where I
take on more (possibly unnecessary) risk -- "F*ck it,
I don't need the money, if it doesn't work out to my
advantage it's not going to hurt ..."
That's bad only to the extent that the increased risk isn't compensated
by increased reward, or to the extent that it affects other people
(partners/employees) who don't share your risk profile.

It would also be bad if you didn't have a base nest egg insulated from
those considerations.
(b) Decreased motivation: along the same lines, I'm
worried about the lack of motivation -- again,
"F*ck it, I don't need this job anyway ... "
That's obviously bad. But the key here is that if you don't enjoy the
job for the sake of the job, take some time to figure out what kind of
job you would. You don't need the money, so whether it pays big money
or you can only do it as a volunteer doesn't matter. If you'd need to
go back to school for a masters or PhD., doesn't matter. You don't need
the money, therefore you can do what you want. At the end of this, you
should end up in a job where you don't have motivation problems. Even
if that means you have to switch careers every 5-10 years to keep from
getting bored. Since you are financially independent, there's no reason
you can't do this.
I'm self employed, with 1 partner and 4 employees.
I'm concerned the above will put my partner and
employees at greater risk -- they don't have an
inheritance to fall back on.
That's certainly possible, and IMO, your only real concern of the above.
But they should be able to handle the business without you eventually,
if that's the best result for all concerned. If you stay, I think you
just need to be cognizent of their concerns in your decision making.



Michael
 
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T

Tad Borek

Sgt. Sausage said:
That, being our biggest expense, will allow us to live the
lifestyle we're accustomed to for a bit less than 30K
a year. Cost of living where we live is VeryVeryLow(tm)
and we have no debt.

We've got 165K a year coming in, leaving a bit over
100K per year after taxes. Subtract out the 30K a year
for our living expenses and we've now got roughly 70K
a year for 10 years in free cash that we need to stash
someplace, at least for 10 years -- more than likely
for 20 to 25 years before we'll actually need it.

QUESTION: Where to put it to minimize tax implications?
SgtS,
As you know that's a much broader question than could be addressed on
MIFP. General observation though on taxes - you're probably realizing
that there is an enormous tax disincentive to working, in the sense of
having earned income. All that marginal income it getting smacked with
federal, state?, FICA. Worker's comp? You may be better rewarded putting
your time into activities that aren't as saddled with tax, which is to
say more along the lines of real estate (get familiar w/1031 exchanges)
and investments that generate long-term capital gains. And perhaps
positioning your claims-processing business for a sale while drawing
lower salary. Wealth builds more quickly and income needs drop when 1/2
of it isn't going to federal + state + FICA. Yet small businesses are
often much more profitable investments than the alternatives.
There's no way (that I know of) to shelter the
inheritance. Once we receive it, I can't simply
put it in our IRA/SIMPLE/401K accounts. The
gains on this money will be fully taxable. We'll
need it at 45 and don't want to take the
pre-59-and-a-half-hit if it's sitting in a retirement
account (which it won't be, because it can't be).
Plus you'd just turn capital gains into ordinary income, perhaps
doubling your tax bill. And when those assets are inherited they don't
get a step-up in basis. Those are better as wealth-accumulation vehicles
than wealth-perpetuation vehicles and I think you can comfortably begin
to shift focus. Focus on tax-efficient investments that generate little
taxable income each year, that in the end can put you way ahead of many
of the "shelter" schemes.
QUESTION: We've got several rental properties that we've
been renting for the last few years. We're setting up an LLC to
shelter the personal assets from the liabilities of renting the
properties. Can we set ourselves up as employees of the
LLC and setup another plan (probably SEP (?) ) and
contribute to that in addition to our current employer
sponsored plans?
See a lawyer! And accountant. You know that. But keep in mind that
theme...you don't necessarily want to generate much earned income from
those activities (and don't feel like a bum for not drawing a paycheck,
track the bottom line on your personal balance sheet instead). You might
not need the income, and you'll just incur taxes if you draw it. If it
goes into a SEP you just set yourself up for minimum distributions
during retirement that you might not want or need. It might be better to
run the entity at low or zero profit and spool the cash flow into other
properties/activities, perhaps even beyond real estate. You're already
stating that you have excess salary cash flow, why not reduce that income?

RE: your claims business - you might want to spend some time (few years)
positioning it for a sale, making that your goal. Again, salary isn't as
important along the way and an accountant can help you structure it in
the most tax-efficient way. You might grow the business a bit, reduce
your activities to processes that can be easily passed on, add employees
(who might become the buyers), buy another business first to make it big
enough, etc etc. Divert cash flow into funding a buy-out perhaps? Take
your salary dollars and add 2-3 employees that make the business that
much more valuable? It just sounds like you don't want or need the
earned income and there's now plenty sitting outside in investments. And
if you wanted out in 10 years anyway, one of your biggest assets sounds
like that business generating all that cash flow every year - you need a
way to liquidate that.
Also, for any of you out there who retired early -- What
the hell do you do with yourself? We're pretty hard-core
workaholics. An eight hour work day is laughable to both
of us, and a weekend without working at least one day on
the weekend is pretty rare. This is by choice -- we usually
get bored around the house, and don't want to go out and
spend a bunch-o-money on entertainment, so we do some
work and make more money to sock away. Maybe we need
to speak with a shrink on this <grin> but our lives, for the
last 10 years or so, have been defined by the work we do.
A shrink, or a travel agent!

I'm baffled by that question really. I wouldn't say I could retire (not
here in SF anyway) but I'm a big believer in work/fun balance and gladly
trade income for recreation time. Like, I just got back from a cycling
training camp; if I'd worked those four days, I'd have more money, but
I'd have permanently lost the chance to do that training camp. The money
couldn't buy me those screaming mountain descents, yaknow? So I've
structured my life & work so I can do both, and have full control over
those kinds of choices.

I also know people who have mounds of money and don't know what to do
with themselves. They were too focused on the goal, without considering
what they'd do once they achieved it. I think that's sad when it happens
late (what was that Jack Nicholson movie about the retired insurance guy?).

You're catching it early though! One thing that sticks out is that
you're 30/34. If you wait 10 years it'll be that much harder to step
out. Your income will be higher, sounds like you may have kids (with
well funded college savings plans!), and you'd have gone another 10
years without developing at least one really good hobby. It'll be easy
to rationalize "when we hit $4 million, THEN we'll figure out what to do
with the money." What's the old saying "life sucks, then you die?" It
doesn't need to be that way.

Look, if working at an office that does medical insurance paperwork
processing looks like your best activity alternative on a weekend (or
any time!), it's time for a change of venue. No, seriously. Chances are
your day to day activities - if you stepped back - aren't exactly the
most interesting or enlightening things to do with your time. They may
in fact be mind-numbingly boring.

You're too close to it though, and human beings are remarkably
adaptable. But there's an entire world out there. Not just in the sense
of travel but also in the sense of what to do with your time. You now
have the freedom to explore that.

I think the key is that you need to balance work and pleasure every step
of the way. Retiring cold-turkey is intimidating but hey nobody says you
need to do that, and for many people, it wouldn't be the best thing.
Maybe you and your wife work forever, in some capacity, but you
gradually step back from it and fill your time with other things, and
perhaps improve your environment so you don't find yourself on a weekend
with nothing to do but process Medicare claim forms.

What things? That's totally personal of course. I gravitated to San
Francisco because there's a zillion things to do within a three hour
drive, it's a great city, and it's a good base for travel. Most places
have plenty of things to do, it just takes finding out your interests.
What's that book, "Piano Lessons" where the guy spends a year learning
piano? And as you mentioned, there's having kids & devoting the time to
that.

Of course there are some places where I'd be so bored I'd be cooking
crank in the basement - piano lessons or not.

Work gets pointless at a certain point. It's a means to an end, not an
end in itself. Some people never accumulate enough cash to break out of
it, but you're not one of those people. Don't squander it!

Also, looking at it objectively, I'm a bit worried about the
next 10 years. We'll both be working, but we won't *have*
to. Looking at this from my perspective, I see it affecting
my work life in the following manner:

(a) Increased risk: I'm not worried about where my
retirement money is coming from now. This means
I have a fallback, should a bad decision at work
adversely affect the finances.

(b) Decreased motivation: along the same lines, I'm
worried about the lack of motivation -- again,
"F*ck it, I don't need this job anyway ... "
Those aren't really problems are they? Or at least they're great
problems to have. Maybe travel would help w/perspective on this. a)
restated is "I could mess up anything at work and I'll still have more
stuff than 99% of people on the planet, so maybe I'll be more inclined
to mess up." b) restated is "I can sit around all day and do nothing and
I'll still have more stuff than 99% of people on the planet." Everyone
should have these problems. They're liberating, you can do whatever you
want at this point.

How about just channeling that motivation into other things? Work isn't
the only outlet. Many other activities take a lot more motivation than
pushing paper (a lot of mine goes into bike racing & climbing). And even
within paper-pushing there's always the alternative of working somewhere
that your pay is low, but you're doing something charitable. You have
the luxury of doing that while still leading an enjoyable lifestyle.
I'm self employed, with 1 partner and 4 employees.
I'm concerned the above will put my partner and
employees at greater risk -- they don't have an
inheritance to fall back on.
Sell them the business?
I'm looking for personal thoughts on this. I don't need the
canned "see a professional" answer. We'll be doing that
after the estate is settled. I'm doing my pre-ProfessionalGuy
research at the moment.
I gotta say a step back from the business - maybe some travel to
completely new & different places - would be a great idea. Not to step
out for good, but to just get perspective & come up with a more
realistic road map that integrates all of these things. It's like you've
arrived at the destination & now you're figuring out why you went there.
That takes a bunch of time to figure out.

Last point I want to mention...you might give serious consideration to
devoting a substantial portion of your time to simply managing your
investments - of all types. I think you mentioned $1.4 and there's an
argument for spending some time getting good at growing that. Could even
grow into a business of its own...

-Tad
 

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