Tuesday, March 20, 2012

In Which Our Accountant Breaks My heart

Fellow Greed heads may remember that I was gloating about turning a $500 paycheck into a new computer, printer and writing all of it off! Yes!!

Alack a day (yesterday.) We motored stately up to Beverly Hills and our CPA's offices. After the greetings and seatings, I asked Les how long I'd been a client and we worked it out to about 46 years -- but I started with his Dad, Sherman, when I was about 26. Richie and I married and Sherman got a new client. We were shocked when arriving for an appointment with Sherman to be greeted by Les with the sad news that his father had died the summer before.

I couldn't wait to tell Les about my windfall and plans for it. He leaned back in his chair behind the massive desk and ... laughed. "The cut-off is $600 and you have to make it from the same person or company. At $601, you can report it; otherwise, just stick it in your pocket and forget about it. The government doesn't want to know." I believe the subsequent sulk lasted for nearly 10 minutes...

Les has something of a sardonic sense of humor (always a good thing in my opinion.) He said a lawyer told him that the best way to avoid family fights over a will and to avoid probate is to write a hot check and die. No assets, no probate and no family wars. There's nothing to inherit!" (triumphantly.)

Warming to this theme, Les went on to say that our generation (and he was being generous; he probably isn't even 50 yet) was taught NEVER to touch the principle, but to live off of the interest." He continued, "Kids today don't do that, they just spend, spend, spend so here's what to do. Add up your assets, divide that sum by the number of years you expect to live and -- that's your yearly allowance!"

The catch to this, of course, is that no one knows how long they will live. You can guesstimate all you want, but the fact remains -- no one knows.

But, I wondered, could not averages come into play? Example: My father's parents died ages 64 (him) and 101 (her.) That's a total of 165 years. Divide by two for the average and my Dad shoud have died age 82.5. Unfortunately he was only 81 when he died. My mother's parents died age 86 (her) and 96 (him) for a total of 182, divided by two, she should have died at age 91. She died at 87, four years short of that goal. (But she also had Parkinson's disese, beginning age 81.)

Now, my parents' number is 168, divided by two, gives me only until age 84 and I'm about to be 72, so I have 12 years left to spend half of all of our money.

Who wants to go to Paris? But, of course, 1st class! We're not going to live forever, you know.

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