My life changed with a diagnosis.
February 2005 was the year my Dad was diagnosed with cancer in the pancreas and liver. As with most families, this was not something we were prepared to hear and the doctor let us know that my Dad had less than 3 months to live. With an immediate concern for the well-being of my family, and the awareness that the clock was ticking in a way none of us were ready for…
My dad looked at me and asked me what I want to do about the finances.
My Dad had accumulated some IRA money and non-IRA money throughout his working career. The beneficiaries of my Dad’s IRA were me and my brother – my brother suffers from mental illness. I told my Dad to divide his IRA account into 2 equal shares, putting myself as 100% beneficiary on one of the IRA accounts, and my brother as 100% beneficiary on the other account. The one that I am a 100% beneficiary of, I had my dad convert to a Roth IRA which created a tax for my father. He was in a low tax bracket because he stopped working that February, when he found out about his cancer. I didn’t want to convert the entire IRA account because my brother will always be in a low tax bracket.
When my dad passed away in April of 2005, I inherited his Roth IRA. That Roth IRA is tax-free for the rest of my life and my beneficiaries. I also recommended that my Dad set up a living trust and he made me the successor trustee for my brother - to take care of him financially for the rest of his life. I am giving him money every month, enough for him to live comfortably and responsibly.
If a wealth, tax or estate professional communicates their recommendations to the client…it is the client’s responsibility to communicate and translate it to the other professionals. Unfortunately things get lost in translation. Financial planners have information that the attorneys and tax professionals will find very useful in making recommendations. Unfortunately, in some cases, financial planners don’t share that information.
I wanted to create a seamless line of communication between all three professions. In a way that benefits the clients. Professionals need to explain the pros and cons of a decision from different points of view, so the client can make the best decision for himself and the family.
"Chatterton and Associates is the place where you truly feel understood, where your hopes and dreams can become a reality."
Robert D. Chatterton, Jr.
Founder & President of Chatterton & Associates