A few weeks into January, life is kind of back to normal after being in December suspension, which I find both blissful and bizarre. What I love about this time of year is that we're all still exchanging good wishes and thinking about the bigger picture. Lets keep it up!
Spoiler alert: I'm going to wax on philosophically for a few paragraphs, but there is some business-ier type informationbelow (including the announcement of my new Panic-Free Planning Workshop schedule!), so scroll down if you want to cut to the chase. However, I do recommend - here and in general - slowing down and enjoying the ride.
I'm not one for New Year’s resolutions, but I do completely believe in the powers of setting intentions and of creative visualization. In particular, with the beginning of a calendar year, I end up thinking about what the new year offers by way of opportunity, and what I want to give to it by way of energy and work.
As I've been contemplating this coming year, a few themes have been swirling around in my brain. Some of these, it now is clear, deserve their own writing. And I certainly intend to be doing a lot more writing in 2011.
The thing that is biggest on my mind, and that is erupting around me it seems, is the importance of honesty. The lesson learned and relearned is that being honest - with yourself as well as with others, in your thoughts, speech and action - leads to a simpler and easier life.
I myself really do not have the time or resources to mess around with this one anymore. I have too much good work to do, and too little time in which to do it. For my path to be free of unnecessary obstacles - physical, psychological, emotional - I believe I must begin by telling it like it is, saying how I mean it, and accepting things and people for what they are.
Incidentally, I don't think our country or our planet has the time or resources to waste, either. It is time to get real. We are where we are, people, and we have to deal with it.
Of course we'll have differing opinions of how to accomplish goals and tackle these huge and hugely complicated problems facing our country and our world and our relationships. But we must begin with an honest recognition of what is, on all levels.
I put the call to honesty to all of us, but in a big way to politicians, the media, and advertisers who base their lives and careers upon telling people what they want to hear, or at least what they think people want to hear.
Almost more importantly, I also put that same call to us all to demand - and then listen to - an honest message, to not get lost in expectations of more, and to not let anyone get away with less. This is where I think we must work and put our energy this year. Lets go.
OK, on to the business:
The estate and gift tax madness continues with new legislation that raises exemption amounts and decreases tax rates, although the law that passed is only good for two years, maintaining the uncertainty that has existed for the past year. For those of you involved with administering the estate of someone who died in 2010, we'll certainly be talking about this - you have the choice of electing to be subject to the estate tax or not (though that is not as simple or as exclusively positive as it sounds). For those of you contemplating gifts to children or other loved ones, you now have more opportunity to make gifts without realizing any immediate tax consequences. If you are interested in any aspect of the new (and currently short-term) tax laws, call or email. I am happy to discuss your questions or send you toward resources if you want to read up on this.
Also, my Panic-free Planning Workshop schedule for the Winter/Spring is posted and ready for your registration. These Workshops continue to be a source of so much goodness, and I am continuously happy to see how they enable people to get something in place who otherwise might not tackle this difficult and existential project we call estate planning.
Lastly, I want to formally announce that the fabulous Deidra De Pree has joined my practice as my assistant/office manager/jack-of-all-random tasks. Some of you have experienced Deidra’s sunny smile and calming presence as you've come through my office. Deidra has been invaluable in helping me get my work done better, more efficiently, and with fewer distractions. She's an interesting and cool person, to boot, spending her time not in the office growing food on her friend's small suburban farm and constantly experimenting in cooking and life. Welcome Deidra! And thank you!
Above all, I continue to be grateful for the opportunity to do work I love, and to be honored and humbled by your trust and confidences. Thank you.