Make It Last – Ep 124 – Making Things Easier For Your Family & Retirement Tools Are Not Enough To Help You

This week, Victor & Mark begin the show talking about how important estate planning is, if you want to make things easier for your loved ones who you leave behind. Then, there are a lot of retirement tools out there like 401ks and Roth IRAs – are they enough for your future? Finally, the pair discuss the different types of financial advisors out there, & the 3 Worlds of Money.

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Bonus: Victor ends the show talking a little more in depth about his family at home!

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If you’re interested in a complimentary consultation, reach out to us at 856-506-8300.

Make It Last with Victor Medina is hosted by Victor J. Medina, an estate planning and Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Certified Financial Planner professional (CFP). Through his law firm and independent registered investment advisory company, Victor provides 360º Wealth Protection Strategies for individuals in or nearing retirement.

For more information, visit Medina Law Group or Palante Wealth Advisors.

Full Transcript Below

Mark Elliot: Welcome to "Make It Last" with Victor Medina, I'm Mark Elliot. Now, Victor has two companies, Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth. The teams focus on traditional estate planning, asset protection, retirement distribution, and proactive income tax planning. Now, Victor's been featured on "National Television," "The Wall Street Journal," "The Huffington Post" and "US News & World Report."

If you have any questions about anything you hear on the show today, give the team a call at 856-506-8300. We'll give you that number throughout the program. There's no cost, there's no obligation, there's no pressure, hey, there's no judgment. We've all made mistakes. Victor, you've probably never made a mistake though, have you?

Victor Medina: No, you just have to ask my wife, Mark. Because [laughs] she's got a whole list of them going in there and thankfully she's never judged me this entire time.

Mark: Absolutely, if you hear something today you're like "Wow, I didn't know that about retirement and I didn't know that about estate planning," whatever the question is that you're like, "I'd like to learn more," call the team. They're here to help. They just don't know if they can help you until they get a feel for your situation. Again, the number 856-506-8300.

Victor, this is exciting because we're going to talk about a lot of different topics that pertain to retirement. We're going to talk about how in the world does somebody start two companies, a law group and a wealth group, because they're two different functions but all tied around retirement.

Let's talk about you. How did you get into the financial world? How long have you been in it? What made you decide to be a financial advisor?

Victor: It's a really interesting journey, isn't it, Mark? Most people would not marry the two things together. Somebody a lawyer and doing legal planning, and then adds to that retirement planning, but it was very natural extension for me as I was developing how I was going to serve clients.

The journey begins in how we establish the estate planning component of it, which is I had a family member who passed away and had an estate plan that didn't work. There's no plainer way of saying it. After he died, the family was a mess. It was not what they expected. He had paid a boatload of money, Mark, to have an estate plan. They expected that it was going to work.

The first thing that we did in helping them...I suppose I should count myself lucky that I wasn't the only physician in the family, because I'd be asked all kinds of questions about medical issues. As the only lawyer in the family, I was asked to help out. We got our hands dirty on what was going in there, just pulling it all apart.

What I realized was that the expectation from both the lawyer's perspective as well as the client's perspective is that the work was done when the plan was signed and the paper was put in place. It just occurred to me that that was not what anybody wanted. I can't really imagine that the lawyer wanted the plan to fail or really didn't care about it, they just never thought through how to have that relationship.

When we started the estate planning business, we turned everything on its head. For example, charging flat fees in a world where people charge hourly for what they're doing, or creating a client maintenance or client care program where we set up a plan.

We regularly meet with the family to make sure that whatever we put in place was still effective, and was still going to work as the laws changed as their personal and financial circumstances change, things like that. It's a completely different experience on the estate planning side.

As a natural extension, as you might imagine, these clients, we grew to love them, they grew to love us, and we became that source of answers for them. You always have that trusted person, when you need something. I've developed a little bit into that in my family, for technology and for computers.

I'm this guy that owns two companies, but to my mom and dad, I'm the iPad person, if there's something that needs to be fixed, there's always that place that you go to, because you know you're going to end up getting great advice or get pointed in the right direction, and so clients would come back to us and say, "We appreciate all of this estate plan that you have done for us."

"You remember those statements that we gave you that you use to figure out what kind of plan we needed? You know anything about what's inside of those statements? Can you help us with that?"

There's a long period of time where I kept responding, "No, it's not something that we can do." I just ask a very simple question, which is, "Why am I saying no to these people who are seeking my help? What if the answer became yes, what would it take?" It took for me a number of different things in the way that we created the firm and the way that we're servicing.

For example, we had to make sure, because I was the lawyer who put my client's interests best first, which was what all lawyers do, I had to make sure that in the financial realm, I did exactly the same thing. I had to put their interests ahead of my own.

That meant that I became a fiduciary in the financial world, which in and of itself is a distinctive relationship. Most relationships that happened in the financial world are of salespeople to customers. That's not what we wanted to do.

We wanted to turn that all around and say, "No." We care about these people so much that we want to have the structure that whole relationships say, "We have to think about you as the most important person in the room, even if it's not the best thing for us as the advisor."

We have created as a fiduciary. The other thing that we needed to be able to do and how we structured is we needed to look at everything at once. I'm sure we're going to talk about in the course of this show, not just today, but just in the show's life. As we talk about planning what needs to be done, we focused everything in and around a plan as opposed to products.

In the same way that I wasn't focusing on the paper for the estate planning and we were focusing on the plan, we do exactly the same thing on the financial side. More importantly, we do it across the entire spectrum from soup to nuts. When somebody comes in, we look at you, the way that you are, and figure out what is the best plan that we can put in place.

Many times, it includes both helping and adjusting what was your legal plan and making the adjustments that we need to make in the financial plan.

In the whole creation of this and the whole journey into what is now a very mature practice that handles both of those areas where we're doing investments, and tax planning, and legal planning, we've arrived in that destination where I am comfortably...

I say that from my perspective, like thinking about how I want to show up for my clients. I'm comfortably in that position where I am that first call when there's something that they need. There isn't something that we can't handle for them. We were serving them so completely now.

First of all, it fills my heart with much joy, Mark, because there is nothing more satisfying than to take somebody who needs your help and watching them become successful with the help that you're giving them. That's incredibly rewarding.

We also see these lives transform. We see these people who come in who are lost. Maybe it's that they've got a parent that has recently gone into assisted-living facility, and they just don't know whether or not they're going to run out money. They need some plan to get through.

Or they're entering retirement, and they're trying to make a decision. Can they make it all the way through? Do they have enough? How are they going to generate that paycheck in retirement? Is it going to be something that they can sleep well at night and have some peace of mind?

We can give them answers around that. You see that joy come over their face, that sense of calm and understanding that it's going to be all right. That's the reason why we married these two things together, so that we can serve this client base and serve them completely, be that one place that they turn to for all of their trusted advice.

Mark: Yeah. Well said. We're glad you're with us today for Make it Last with Victor Medina. I'm Mark Elliot.

All right. Let's go. Medina Law Group, since that was first, the practicing estate planning, the Certified Elder Law Attorney branch of the company. What year did Medina Law Group start?

Victor: Oh, geez. I have to go back and start doing the subtraction. I need a calculator. We formed in 2006. It's been the bulk of my career because I graduated law school in 2002.

Mark: Where was that?

Victor: I was up in Northeastern University, off of Boston. My heart is up in that Boston area. I know we're in the Central Jersey. It's funny because I spent so much time making fun of Yankees fans. Then I take my kids, and I move them here. They're Red Sox fans. Of course, they get made fun of back at home.

Up in Northeastern, started my career clerking for a federal judge, working for a large law firm before we launched Medina Law Group, really focusing in on this estate planning in 2006.

Mark: How about Palante Wealth then? That is obviously the holistic planning side of the company for retirees.

Victor: Yeah. It was something that we developed in 2014. We've been around for about seven or eight years now. It's an interesting mark to put a year on it because I feel like there were probably a few years before that. While it didn't formally exist, we were counseling on those issues. I was thinking about it. I was starting to examine it deeper.

You can imagine, as an estate planning attorney, when somebody came in and they have a different financial advisor -- clearly not one as good as what Palante Wealth could be -- is when they came in and they had these different things, I would see the whole spectrum of what a client's journey might look like with different kinds of financial advisors.

Somebody who's just a broker, somebody who's just an insurance agent sold them everything that had to do with insurance, or somebody that had their advice from the banker because that was the person that was in the small room. He sat there on Tuesdays and Fridays. That's who you went to for advice.

I would say the whole spectrum of that. We developed some opinions about what the right things to do for people who are based on being able to see so many of the wrong things that were going on. The firm itself, 2014, so about seven years now.

Mark: Yeah. Here's the deal, if you have questions about estate planning...One of the ways I look at that is this, Victor. What I was going to say is you can always go to the website for the Medina Law Group. It's really easy, M-E-D-I-N-A,

For the holistic planning side, for your retirement strategies, "I need an income plan. I need investment strategies, tax-efficient strategies. What about health care? What about legacy?" all those kinds of things that are in there, that is a holistic planning side for retirement. Palante Wealth, easy,

You have, M-E-D-I-N-A. You got Palante Wealth, P-A-L-A-N-T-E, You can go to both. You can go to one that you have more interest in because they're both really important. I do like the idea that you've tied them together.

What I was going to say about estate planning, because I think a lot of people think when it comes to estate planning, "I need to be rich."

It's the super-rich people that need an actual plan when it comes to the end of their lives. Basically, that's not the case. We all need some planning in that area, whether it's just a will, or do we need a trust and powers of attorneys for health care and finances, and all those kind of things. My theory is this. If you hate your family, Victor, do not do any planning.

Most of us, I'm hoping, love our family and don't want to leave them a big headache. That's what happens if you don't have an estate plan, isn't it?

Victor: Yeah, it really is. It's interesting, because we do get those sort of biases that come in where it's like, "You know, I'm not a trust fund baby. Why do I need a trust?"

We're not talking about that kind of money. Whenever we talk about these concepts, we're talking about, do you want to make it easier for the people that you leave behind? You want to make sure that you haven't left for them a mess. You don't want people to argue.

Those have no dollar signs associated with them. There's nothing about that that is all of a sudden like, "You need a certain amount of assets, or it's invested. Do you have real property?" There are wrinkles to the planning that are going to be specific to the client that comes in. If you've got more, you're going to need something different than somebody who has less.

If you've got property in different states, you've got something you use as a shore home. Then you can also have a place in the Poconos. Whatever that looks like, you're going to need a different kind of plan. The most crucial decision that you need to make, the distinction for somebody that needs an estate plan or wants an estate plan, is that they care about the people around them.

They want to make life easier not just for themselves, in case they get sick, but for the ones that they love. Those are going to be the people stuck holding the bag. You don't have a power of attorney, they're going to be the ones dealing with the financial institutions that don't want to talk to them, and tie up money and make life difficult.

You don't have a proper estate plan, now we're stuck in courts for a period of time. Now we've got people arguing. The same thing with health care. It is so wrapped together in this idea that I care more about making life easier for the people that I leave behind than I do about the work that I need to do right now to get it done.

Every estate plan means we've got to change some stuff. It's not just one piece of paper that you sign. You take a look at things. You say, "OK, I've got to put this over there. I've got to put this one over here. I've got to rearrange my stuff to make sure that it works when I need it to. I've got to get my legal ducks in a row just to make sure I can knock them down when the time comes."

That work is worthwhile because what it means for the people that I leave behind is they have fewer problems. They got less heartache. They have all that other stuff that they are looking for.

The stuff that you would imagine, that kind of utopia of, "Something happened to me and it all went smooth," that takes planning. That doesn't happen by magic. It happens regardless of how much money you have.

In fact, sometimes the less money you have, the more problems you can have, especially if you don't have the stuff coordinated across the different accounts that you've got as part of one cohesive plan.

Mark: Right. It's more important in some situations, even if you have less, to have more planning done to make sure everything is in the right place. You can't afford to spend more of the money in taxes for those beneficiaries and heirs.

Here's the deal. There's a lot of moving parts with Victor's companies, the estate-planning side, the holistic retirement planning side,,

The Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth, though, serve the Pennington, the greater Mercer County areas, as well as Bucks County. Clients for Medina Law Group, Palante Wealth, they are in New Jersey. They are also in Pennsylvania. The team is here to help you.

Again, they don't know if they can help you until they hear your situation, but they're certainly going to give you that opportunity. There's no cost, there's no obligation to give the team a call. They're here for you, 856-506-8300. There's no cost.

You have some questions. Why wouldn't you call and get some answers? 856-506-8300. We're talking about Medina Law Group, about the Palante Wealth, companies that Victor Medina has created for you under the fiduciary standard. What in the world does that mean?

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Mark: What about being independent? How does a law group work with a holistic retirement planning company? That's what we're talking about today on the program. Stay with us. We've got a lot more with Victor right after this. This is Make It Last.


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Mark: Welcome back to Make It Last with Victor Medina. Victor has two companies, the Medina Law Group. You can find out more about the estate planning and certified elder law attorney side of the business at, M-E-D-I-N-A, Of course, the other company, Palante Wealth, that is the holistic planning side for retirement.

That means if you're 5 to 10 years out from retirement, most of us have tools, 401(k)s, IRAs, real estate, might have some life insurance annuities. We've got stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, all that kind of stuff, stock-paying dividends. There's a lot of tools you can throw into your retirement tool belt. You go, "OK, that's my plan."

We're going to talk about what is an actual plan for retirement. You need tools, but tools are not a plan. You want to find out more about the holistic planning side, that is, P-A-L-A-N-T-E,

Let's start with that, because a lot of people have 401(k)s, IRAs, got some real estate, got some life insurance, have some annuities, whatever. They've got a lot of tools, but they're not really sure how that's going to create the income they need for retirement. Will their money last as long as they do?

There's a lot of moving parts in here. Do people come in and say, "Hey, Victor, here's my plan." They show you their 401(k) and IRA balance. You go, "That's pretty good, but don't forget Uncle Sam's a part of that [laughs] retirement plan you've got there." How does that work out, the actual plan? You need tools, but the tools aren't the plan, right?

Victor: No, not at all. It's getting funny, whether we're talking about this idea that we've collected these tools in there or what I like to call the junk drawer that has accumulated over time, no better representation of that than my first clients, which of course, were my parents.

They're the ones that are willing to take a flyer on somebody who had just got their licensing and say, "Hey, let me handle your finances for you." My parents came together. I was talking with my dad. I said, "Look, we're doing this financial stuff now. We can help you with retirement."

He's a school teacher. He and my mom are school teachers. I said, "What is it that you have that I can work with?" He said, "I think I've got a little something. Let me go check it out and come back to you."

He called me about 20 minutes later and said, "Good news. I've got my $50,000 that I have in this tax-sheltered annuity." I said, "That's great. We'd love to be able to work with that. I'll do what I can with that planning." We moved off from there.

Remember, these are school teachers. They've got pensions going in. He's not thinking about these accounts. It's money that just arrives there every month.

He calls me about 20 minutes after that and says, "Hey, good news. I found another $50,000." I said, "Where's that one?" He said, "There's this 403(b) that your mom and I started when we were working. That has some money in it." I said, "Good. That's about $100,000. We can work with that. Why don't you give me the statements, and we'll start working on all that?"

It happened two more times. 20 minutes later, he'd find another $50,000. I finally said to him, "I'll be here all night." I'll be here every 20 minutes. If you're going to find $50,000 every 20 minutes, we're going to come and get to it.

What did it represent for him? It represented this idea that all he had was this collection of stuff that he had accumulated over the years but had nothing to do with any kind of a plan.

When we sat down with him, and I said, "What is this for?" "Look, we got strong income. We know what's going on there. The state delivers to us checks every month. We've set things up so that when one of us dies, then the money keeps going."

I said, "OK, you got a really good income plan. What are we doing with the investments here? What are you doing to manage taxes and legacy?" Of course, I didn't use the word legacy with my parents. Where do you want this stuff to go when you're gone? What is this for? What is the purpose of this?

We were able to do it. This became the basis for the planning that we do for all of our clients. We looked at these four pillars that we investigated for them. Say, OK, we want to take care of income. We want to look at your investments. We want to look at taxes. We want to take a look at your estate planning. We want to make sure all of these things are working together. When we're able to do that, we can come up with a plan.

By the way, the plan isn't a tombstone etched in granite where nothing changes. The plan actually takes into consideration that things are going to change. The whole idea about the plan is to say, it's not one direction. It's not a map. You just take these four turns and you're going to be done.

There's a destination that we have to go. We've got these things in mind that if the weather changes between here and there, we got to make some form of a course of correction. We know how to do that. We know how to react to change and circumstances.

One of the things that we worked on with my dad was to make sure that we took into consideration the tax problems that were going to come up because we talked. I said, "If something happens when one of you dies, which is that the IRS treats you differently.

You start filing single and they're going to start taxing more of your money. We ought to do something now while both of you are still alive. We've got some tax planning in our favor."

That's the kind of planning that we're talking about. You're not just taking life the way it comes at you, but being able to be proactive. Say, we're going to control our fate. We know the way the rules work. We know how to do this planning but we're going to arrive at a destination. We're going to be better for having done all of that.

That's common for a lot of the clients that come in. They'll come in with this sort of junk drawer that they've accumulated for the year. They might have one advice, but the advice was just somebody who picked investments for them and gave them statements that said, "You're investments are doing great."

When they make that transition to retirement, when they make that shift and say, "We now have to create our own paycheck because we're no longer working. It's not one that gets delivered to us every two weeks, how do we do that?"

They actually need to take the collection of stuff that they've got accumulated over the years, whatever the balance of that looks like, and start to make it work together, make it work as one cohesive plan, because we could have 25 or 30 years that we need to plan for creating paychecks.

We got to figure out how to integrate social security, how much is our Medicare going to cost. We have to integrate all these parts together so that we can have the smoothest journey, and people can have happy, peaceful retirements ones that they're enjoying.

Not ones that they're worrying about, every time there's a blip on the market, or this thing happened on the news, or there's going to be a different tax law change.

They can stress back and be like, "No, we thought about all of this stuff. We did some planning around it. We have the way of getting from here to there and navigating any of the changes, because we went through the planning process. We just didn't pick up products and keep those going, because those were the decisions we're making." The plan is the thing that we're relying on.

Mark: I would imagine that a lot of us out here that are listening right now are probably a lot like Victor's dad. If we're lucky enough to be a teacher or work for a company that has a pitch and congratulations, you're ahead of the game.

We're thinking about Social Security. Those are our income. Where else is our income going to come from when we think about investments? Do you think about taxes moving forward? Do you think about estate planning as well? A lot of moving parts.

If you'd like sit down with Victor and the team at Palante Wealth and talk about your retirement plan, it's not the tools, it's a written plan for income, for investments, it strategies moving forward, not just today, but what about 10 or 15, 20 years down the line?

856-506-8300 is the number. Again, there's no cost. There's no obligation for this. There's no pressure, 856-506-8300. It's one of these things, the best time to call would have been yesterday. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next best time would be right now.

Same thing here. Let's get started. If you're 5 to 10 years out, what a great time to start a week out, Victor and the team can help but they can certainly do a lot more for you, if you gave them more time to ramp up and prepare and make sure things are in the right place. When it's time to pull the plug on your working years and right off into retirement bliss.

Remember, as Victor said, things aren't just going to be paved. The roads are paved with gold when you retire. There are still challenges along the way. That's why the planning is so important. 856-506-8300 is the number. I'm Mark Elliott, glad you're with us today for Make It Last with Victor Medina, of the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth.

Income and investments, I would think a lot of people think about those two areas, but I'm not sure a lot of people think about taxes or think about estate planning until they get older and older and go, "You know what, Victor? I'm now 85. I probably got to think about estate planning."

Victor: "If I think about dying, it's happening, right?"


Mark: All these four different plans go right when somebody comes in to sit down with you. Maybe at 55, they're going to retire at 62 is their hope, or they come in at 60, they're going to retire at 65. These things all get in place at that point, and then you adjust and move as needed going forward.

Victor: You were right. We started the show, letting people know that there would be no judgment of where people come in. That's even the case if they're already in retirement, because we see a lot of people that have made some decisions.

The worst thing that I would want them to think is that it's too late, or that they just have to sleep in the bed that they've made and that's it, that there's no other changes in there.

Often, we're able to make course corrections where you can improve upon it even if they've made one decision, or feel like they've set. Not to set things up like a plan, but they feel like they were already into retirement, maybe it's too late for them. No, never.

There are always opportunities that we can enhance that because it started...As soon as we start thinking about proactive planning, we start thinking about how to deal with changes as they come up. We're not focused on the things that happened in the past. We take where we are for what it is, and then develop a plan out of it.

That's a really easy way to think about the income tax and the estate planning component of it. While there's a lot of people that are manufacturing their income from withdrawing money out of their accounts, and their investments may have been what they were owning when they were working.

They didn't change them too much, or they read something about the rule of 100 and they wanted to do something around that when they think about their income tax and estate planning. It's only when they start to recognize that they have a silent partner in retirement.

It's Uncle Sam, and Uncle Sam gets to ask from them every year from their profits, and demanded a certain percentage. In that percentage, sometimes you can control about how much you're going to give them from the money that you're generating, because you've got things in different tax brackets.

Massage how much you're taking out from each of the ones and what the taxation is going to be, or when you pass away.

How much of that is going to the state or estate. Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey still have inheritance taxes, so depending on who you're leaving things to, the government's going to come back in and have another conversation with you about how much you're taking from your estate now that you're dead. That's the ultimate partnership dissolution at that point in time.

You think about those things, and understand what they are able to do. You say, "OK. Well, look it. I want to control that a little bit better. I want to keep more money in my pocket. I want to do the things that I can see the turn coming.

"I wanted to account for it, and I want to be able to manage that, sort of like navigating through a land minefield, where they already give you all the landmines are." Hey, listen. This is what's going to come up just a walk straight. Let's walk around this, and make sure we don't step on something that becomes a problem later.

You're right, Mark, that most people will solve the first to have income and assets. They may not do it as artfully as we would do with a plan, or they might think about with as sophisticated tools with the much independent, because they're relying on people that have a limited menu they can choose from if they're working with other people.

They'll solve that, because they have to solve it. They got to buy groceries. They have to solve it. They will do that, but they'll pick up the taxes and the estate. They'll sit there passively, and haven't happened to them.

We try to educate them as like, "No, that doesn't have to happen. You can actually control this a lot more than you think. We just have to kind of plan for it, and not have it be something that we're doing. You can do tax planning it from January to April before you file."

That's not the way we do tax planning. You do tax planning from the January through December in the year before you file, and you think about the stuff that's coming down like tax changes in the future and tax changes, what happens going to when you die. You see that coming up ahead. That's the time. Now's the time to do planning for that event, not after it's occurred. It doesn't have to be a passive activity.

Mark: Yeah, don't you think that most Americans, I think it's common is that we think about taxes when we're filing our taxes. We're looking at the CPA. The CPAs do great jobs, but they're looking back. They're historians.

How did you do last year? Did you win? Did you have to pay? We're look at taxes in that vein. The CPA doesn't know everything that you have, which Victor and the team at Palante Wealth need to understand all about your financial situation. How to put it all together, take that junk drawer, and have it make sense for you.

That's why it's so important to sit down with somebody that works in the retirement world. We're going to come back. We're going to talk about the different types of financial advisors.

There are stockbrokers. There are insurance agents. There are bankers. That's the three worlds of money. The banking world, the insurance world, and the investment world. The Wall Street world. Do we put all of our money in one of those three? Do we split it up evenly? How do we figure out where to put our money? There's a lot of moving parts.

Palante Wealth and the team, Victor and the team, can certainly help you figure that out for your situation, but the next people that come in right after you leave the Palante Wealth office, the next person is going to be a totally different situation.

Because at the end of the day, you're the CEO of your retirement. The Palante Wealth team, the Medina Law Group team, they are the CFO, if you will. The chief financial officer, they understand that they work in this world day in and day out, they can help you not make costly mistakes.

If you want to go back to work after retire, great, but if you've you're forced to go back to work, after you're retired, that's not a good situation. Victor and the team are here to help you create your own retirement plan and cover all these bases that they need income, investments, taxes, estate planning, it's all in there.

If you'd like to call and get this whole thing started, there's no cost for this, there's no obligation, I don't know why you wouldn't, it's a great opportunity for you to find out more about your specific situation, 856-506-8300. 856-506-8300.

We're going to get a quick break, and we're going to come back with more with Victor and Make It Last program and we're going to talk a little bit about taxes a little bit more. We're going to talk about estate planning.

We're also going to find out more about Victor and his family, married, three sons. We're going to talk about that as well. This is Mark Elliot with Victor Medina, we're back in one minute.


Mark: Remember that first paycheck when you started working? All those years ago, you looked at the net amount and thought, "Whoa, what happened here?" It could be this way with your retirement accounts. You know how much you've saved, but if you haven't planned for Uncle Sam, you could come up short in retirement. With tax laws constantly changing, there's a lot you need to know to make sure you're not paying more than your fair share.

The Palante Wealth Advisors team can help. They'll help you create a retirement plan that shows you how taxes could affect you now and in the future. Set up a visit with the Palante Wealth Advisors team today, call 856-506-8300 that's, 856-506-8300.

Make sure you know how these changes could affect you so you can avoid those whoa moments in retirement. Call 856-506-8300. Firm offers insurance services and may not give tax advice. Investment advisory services offered through Palante Wealth Advisors, LLC, a New Jersey and Pennsylvania Registered Investment Advisor.


Mark: Glad you're with us today for Make It Last with Victor Medina of the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth, you can find out more about the estate planning Certified Elder Law side of retirement planning,, the holistic planning side for retirement.

"Where's my income going to come from when I retire? Will it last as long as I do? What about my investments? should I invest at 60 like I did at 30?" Probably not, but maybe so, everybody's situation is different, and then taxes.

Those are big parts of the holistic planning for your retirement that Palante Wealth can help you with and their website palante, P-A-L-A-N-T-E, Glad you're with us I'm Mark Elliott, and we're talking about the two companies, Medina Law Group, Palante Wealth, and how they tie things together.

You've got the estate planning side, which is essential when it comes to retirement planning, and the holistic planning for retirement side. Taxes are one of those things that you mentioned it in the last segment, Victor. Taxes to me are one of those things that most of us just think about when we do our taxes, we file our taxes.

We don't think about tax planning down the road, because we're like, "We can't control the tax brackets, we can't control the tax rates, we can't control this, we can't control that." Joe Biden and the team, right now in the White House have said, "Hey, we're going to adjust taxes a little bit."

Trump came in and knocked down all the tax brackets change corporate tax from 35 percent, down to 21. Biden said, he's going to move that up to 28 percent, and we're not really going to change the tax bracket.

We're going to mess with those and make over 400,000 or not, but we always know there's trickle down effects, taxes and tax planning, doing your taxes, tax preparation is much different than tax planning at Palante Wealth, isn't it?

Victor: Thank you very much. It's very interesting, because I had one of my best tax planning teachers in one of my clients. I had a client come in and said, "I'm paying more in taxes this year than I was last year." I said, "Well, I can't imagine why that would be and they haven't changed the tax rates".

She's going to slap me upside the head metaphorically and said "You dummy, I'm filing single now my husband died, I'm paying more in taxes." That was my first tax planning mentor, and one of my clients thinking about things ahead of time, I said, "Why did we do any planning about this earlier?" This was before I was a financial advisor.

Before I was helping people in retirement, I was just doing their legal planning. It opened my eyes to this idea that tax planning is something that you do before you have to file those taxes. I had another client of mine come in and said, "I visited with my CPA." He said to me, good news.

"I could take out another $10,000 tax free." I said, "What would you do with it?" "I took out $10,000." I said, "You mean and this year?" He said, "Yeah." I said, "Let me make a prediction."

When you go back into see him next year, he's going to tell you could have taken out another $10,000, because obviously, the tax preparation component of it wasn't really stepping into the shoes of the tax planning, which is thinking things ahead of time.

They're completely separate activities when they are related in the sense that you expect your tax preparation to be the result of the tax planning that you did. Most people don't do that tax planning ahead of time. We were talking about different administrations and what they were putting in place.

For as much as we saw changes in corporate tax structure under the tax laws for Trump, one of the things that wasn't often talked about is in order to get that through reconciliation with 51 votes, they had to limit the amount of debt that they were creating over 10 years. The way that they did that was, they bumped those brackets back up in the year 2025.

We're going to go back, and we're going to see higher tax brackets. There's a bracket in there for the 25 percent bracket that is higher than the two brackets right below it that are at 22 and 24 right now. You have people that are going to run right into higher tax bills in a few years.

We have this opportunity, Mark, right now, before we get to that point in time to use that knowledge to our advantage.

When working with clients, you say, OK, look, this is a window of opportunity, whether we're talking about our conversion from your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, we're talking about realizing some capital gains and making sure that we lock that in in case the new administration removes the ability to get a step up and basis.

Whatever that looks like, let's take that window of opportunity, and let's not waste it. Here's the thing, is that whether you're in the beginning of the year, or the end of the year, you have time in the tax year that you're in. You do it in March, you can get it done before December, you do in December, you get a dumbbell for the next year.

The idea is you do it in that year, so you can take advantage of those rules and work with them. It's so important. One of the biggest distinguishing features of the way that we do planning is that, it's not about an investment selection, or not just about generating an income check for where people are retirement, but understanding that that biggest partner of ours.

That person might take 20 to 25 percent of our retirement money, maybe even more if we leave it behind inefficiently to our kids is the IRS and the more that we can buy them out at low rates more we can negotiate with them, and understand with their rules, how to pay the least amount of taxes, the better you're going to be overall, the more money going to keep in your pocket.

Super important to think about tax planning as a proactive step and an essential part of planning that you do not just once but every year, because every year the rules change just a little bit, the numbers change a little bit, the deductions, their Medicare premiums, they all adjust.

That's where you get the value of an advisor is not just in that one step plan that is something that is passive and you never looked at again, but it's about the ongoing advice and have a guide.

When we talk about this idea, Mark, that the client is the hero of the story. They are Luke Skywalker, they're Catan is they're out there, accomplishing great things and really winning in the story of their life. We're just the guy. We're just to be the person that helps them along and make sure that they have all of the knowledge that they need to be super successful.

Mark: If you'd like to learn more, you're like, "Boy, I've never thought about taxes as far as planning down the road. What if tax brackets change? What if the step up and basis has gone away with by this administration?" There's a lot of things on the table right now. The Trump tax law, it was the job and tax cuts law of 2017, went into play January of 2018.

As Victor said, that ends December 31 of 2025. If nothing happens right now with the taxes, they are set to go right back to where they were in 2017, on January 1 of 2026. That window of opportunity is closing every day. If you'd like to get yourself in maybe a better position, you get to that age of 72 where you have to do required minimum distributions.

You got IRAs, 401(k)s. They're not been taxed yet. Well, they're going to. Your Uncle Sam wants his money by the time you hit 72. If you're 62, that gives you 10 years to maybe do some things, but you only got 4 before we're at the end of 2025. It's a moving target. But the quicker you jump into this, not everybody, you don't take if you had a million dollars. You're not going to take a million dollars and roll it into the rough world in one year.

I believe that would cause some tax issues for you.


Mark: There's a way to do this. If you'd like to learn more about your tax situation, you've never really thought about this. "Hey, there is a window of opportunity. Taxes are on sale right now." I want to call the team and find out more 856-506-8300, 856-506-8300. Again, no cost, just think about it.

We're going to talk about your family in the next segment. Your wife, Jennifer is a school psychologist. My guess is, with three boys, when there were sales, for clothes to go to school, your wife would be excited. "Hey, I've got to go shopping there are sales here I need to get the boys some new clothes for school."

Sales were important because it saves you a little bit of money. Right now, taxes are on sale. I don't know if people think of taxes in that same way that we do. "Hey, the clothes are on sale. We better take advantage." I'm not sure if people think of taxes are on sale, I should take advantage.

Victor: In the same way Mark, she wouldn't be buying for the future. She would take sales now for clothes that they weren't going to wear for six months or a year because he was taking advantage of the idea that it was going to be much lower cost.

She understood the benefit of doing this on a proactive basis not a reactive. She didn't buy shoes when she needed them. She needed bought the shoes when they were on sale and they would grow into because she knew that that future time was coming.

Just in the same way that people that are entering your time understand that they're still going to need income checks in the future. They're still going to need money to leave behind for their beneficiaries and their kids and what they're going to gain.

That time is coming no matter what. We might as well take advantage of the sales that are in front of us to make sure that we have the best opportunity to make that dollar stretch. Leave the most amount. Keep the most in our pocket, however you want to think about it, focusing on the advantages of doing this as a proactive step rather than a reactive step.

Mark: Absolutely. It's the same thing when you're talking about your client that lost their spouse and said, "Well, my taxes have really jumped up, and you weren't in the retirement planning at all that time, you're just doing the estate planning side of it. You'd never thought about that.

Now, you take all of that into account, but things change, and our plans have to move and adjust with them. It's interesting how many people if I said, "OK, you had 100 clients come in, in a month's time." How many of them would come in and say, "Hey, Victor, I've got $500,000 in this IRA."

Somebody else would say, "Hey, I've got a million dollars over here in this IRA and my 401(k), is you put them all together, I've got a million." One says, "I've got 500,000." The other says, "I have a million." How many of those things that they actually have that and they forget about Uncle Sam?

Victor: Yeah, they only remember the portion of it that they might owe Uncle Sam, and when they take it out, they'll certainly be woken up to that once they hit that 72 age where they take required minimum distributions, and they see the 1099 that comes at the end of the year and see the tax bill that comes with it.

It's not just the idea that they fail to see it as the balance that they have, but they imagine that that's what they're leaving behind to their beneficiaries too, because they think about and say, "There's $800,000 in there, and I probably will leave it alone in the IRA won't need much of that, except the required minimum distributions.

I'm going to leave that all to my kids, I got two kids each going to get $400,000. There's not a chance, or they got to get that much, because the same taxes that you had to pay as income, they're going to have to pay except they got one disadvantage is they're going to have to pay them faster.

New rules say that they've got to get that money out of there in 10 years, and you might have had the rest of your life to take that out could have been 25 or 30 years and take it out slowly.

They're going to take it out in 10, which means they may even pay higher taxes, probably will, since if they're your kids, and they're not retired yet, they already have some income taxes that they're paying, because they're making some money, this just gets tacked on on top of it. You're right, I would say the vast majority of clients that we see are just blind to it.

It's just not something that they're thinking about ahead of time, you'll see it when it comes out at the end of the year when they take money out. Knowing that it's there, you're opening our eyes to this idea that there is this embedded liability, there's embedded tax that's in there, that's not all our money, will now start to loosen up any of the chains moving it around.

We understand that the taxes are always in there, let's just pay him at the lowest rate by the government out at rates that we prefer, and that we're steering as opposed to being dictated to us because the tax laws might change in 2025, assuming nothing else changes.

What if something does, what if they change the rates around? What if they changed the Medicare premiums where they did nothing with the rates, but the money that's in your pocket is smaller because you're withholding more of it from your social security to pay your Medicare Part B premiums.

All of those things get factored together and how we navigate things as a plan that we're doing on our terms as opposed to one that's being dealt to us, and we're just being reactive towards.

Mark: Let's finish this segment with this because you brought it up, and I think it's very interesting. Palante Wealth, you started that company on the books in 2014. Now you started Medina Law Group in '06, so actually Palante Wealth was in the works before 2014, but officially, it was 2014.

Let's say somebody came in in 2014 and you said, "Hey, great way to pass money down as a stretch IRA. Your kids are going to inherit. In their 30s, they've got a 40- to 50-year life expectancy. They can take that million dollars [indecipherable 41:33] , because it's easy to say. They've got now 40 to 50 years to pull that money out to pay the taxes."

Well, in the Secure Act of 2020, they did away with stretch IRAs. They said, "Now you leave that million dollars, your heirs have a 10-year window to pay all the taxes that they owe." You could pull out 100,000, I guess, each year. You could do it all in one lump sum, but that would have changed your strategy in 2014 if you knew that that was going to happen.

You didn't, so you had one plan in place. I would imagine you've had to adjust some of those stretch IRAs because that was a great way to leave money to generation after generation, but tax laws change. We've got to change with it.

Victor: What do they say, they move the cheese on us, right? They completely changed the foundation of what we're doing on our planet. Here's the best part of it, the whole journey around the fact that they changed with a smile.

We have these great relationships with our clients. What we did in reaction to that is not only do we know about them but we already knew about their family, and their kids, and what was going on there. We could actually help quantify, get an answer to the dollar amount about how much this change.

We knew the tax brackets that their kids were in. We knew the tax brackets that they were in. We could answer the question definitively. What is the impact of this new law, and what should we do in response? There we see the value of an ongoing adviser, somebody that's a trusted role that can help guide you along the way.

We take new information. Then we could get the right answer from that and then continue on our path. We can't always control what's going to happen to us. We just control how we respond to it. What we try to do is keep as many doors open and with the best advice to going forward.

Those meetings that we had, as soon as that law changes. By the way -- I'm sure you remember, Mark -- it happened like a midnight session around Christmas, all of a sudden snapped over. It was right before Christmas where it passed in there.

All of a sudden, come that January, were you to die. January 2nd, you have a new set of rules. You barely had 10 days put anything in place if you wanted to change it. For the clients that we were meeting, after they went in place, they were very comfortable meetings for us to re-engineer our planner.

We tool what we were doing because we knew so much about their families. We had such a good relationship with them, holistically soup to nuts, really understanding everything that made them and their families tick. To change our strategy to just shift it and pivot towards the direction that we needed to go is a very smooth step for us.

Then we were able to take that and go into the new direction. It highlights the need to think about financial advice and a financial advisor in your life or counselor. Have you want to think about it as someone that serves a vital role not just once but on an ongoing basis.

That is probably one of the most rewarding activities that I get to engage in with my clients, is to see the impact of changes and to know that we continue to guide. It's the same thing in the legal side where somebody's health changes. We've got to do some different planning on that as well.

I know that we're coming up on a break, but it is a rewarding activity to be there with people's lives to be able to help them as things change, whether it's a tax law change or something else that's going in there, knowing that we are that trust counselor, we deliver such great results for them by thinking about them, caring for them like family and guiding them along the way.

Mark: If you have questions like, "Hey, when can I retire, Victor? Do I have enough? Will my money last as long as I do? Will my loved ones be OK if something happens to me?" Those are the big questions we have heading into retirement. At the end of the day, we just want to know, "Are we going to be OK if I pull the plug on working?"

I don't really know. I'm not sure. How much income do I need? What about my investment strategy? Should I change? What about taxes going forward? Do I have a plan in place? What about estate planning? Do I have all of that? Do I have all the beneficiaries in the right place? Do I know where everything is going?

If I've worked it all out, it can get really complicated. Why not have a team help you do that? The Medina Law Group, Palante Wealth, they're here to help you. They don't know if they can though until you pick up their phone.

There's no cost for this. 856-506-8300 is the number, 856-506-8300. Remember, the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth serve the Pennington, Greater Mercer County area as well as Bucks County. Clients in New Jersey and in Pennsylvania, Victor and the team is here to help. 856-506-8300.

[background music]

Mark: We're headed to our final segment right after this. This is Make It Last with Victor Medina.


[commercial break]


Mark: Glad you're with us today for Make It Last with Victor Medina. I'm Mark Elliot. Of course, we're looking forward. I can't believe you got rid of that Amazon stock back when 2008 happened. You should have kept it. No, I'm holding on to Blockbuster stock. It's going to come back, Victor. I know it will.

Victor: [laughs]

Mark: That's the challenge. We can't time the market. If we were timers, we'd have to be right twice on the way out and the way back in. That's not how it works. We're talking about your two companies, Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth.

Nobody is successful in life if their home life is a struggle. You've got a great wife, Jennifer. She's a school psychologist, so she can help you when you have a bad mental health day. That's important. You have three sons. Aiden is 17. Lucas is 14. Dylan is 8. Tell us a little bit about your family. How did you and your wife meet? Hey, it's a cool thing.

Victor: My wife and I met through my mom, which is probably the best way you can open that answer up. My wife is a school psychologist. So is my mother. When my wife was in the midst of her graduate school studies, she was on her doctoral program.

She got most of the way through. We took a break to make some money, took a job. When she went to go interview in the district...My wife is bilingual. We're both in Puerto Rican descent. She speaks Spanish.

The person who ran the department where she wanted the job is not bilingual. Anytime they had available candidates, they would send my mom out to conduct the lunch in Spanish just to make sure that that candidate did speak the language and was fluent in both and could test in both.

During the course of the lunch, my mom said, "You know, listen, I know you don't know anybody in this town, but I have a son. He's home from college. He can show you around."

At the end of that lunch, she said, "Well, listen, I have to go because I have to take my son to the dermatologist." My mom was talking about my younger brother. He's about eight years younger than me.

At that time, was about maybe 14 or 15 years old and needed to go to the dermatologist. In my wife's mind, it was like, "I want no part of this pimply-faced mama's boy." [laughs] "He can't figure out how to get himself to the doctor."

Now, I'm home from college. She didn't quite take my mom up on, and so my mom finally forced her to come over to the house. The rest, as they say, is history because we did start dating the next day after that and haven't looked back since we've been together for 25 glorious years, celebrating our 20th anniversary of marriage.

She is the light that continues to shine in my life and has given me three wonderful boys, each of them unique and make me proud in so many ways. Aiden is one of these children that has been blessed with the ability to see things differently. He's a photographer. He has this visual acuity. He has the sensitivity of being able to perceive in a way.

It's very foreign to me. There's nothing more heartening to watch your children demonstrate things that you can't do and to do it so much better than you ever thought was possible. To watch him and be able to observe the way that he observes the world and the skill that he does that is fantastic.

Junior looking at colleges, so you want to talk about financial planning in our lives, very important to make sure that we can figure out how to get him where he needs to be. Looking at schools, and he is a swimmer by the thing that makes him happy and when he's in the water.

My middle son Lucas is extraordinarily bright and is into soccer. One of the things that makes him unique is he has the ability to take up any hobby or activity and master it in two or three weeks.

He has jumped from Chinese yo-yo to playing the piano to playing the bass guitar to figure out the Rubik's cube. It just goes from one to the other and to the incredible acumen to go figure out how these things work and to become master at it very quickly. He's incredibly impressive in that area.

One thing that makes me happy and sad at the same time is I'm probably 5'7" and nothing, and he's already over 6 feet. You know what it would be like, Mark, to point upwards as you're chastising your 14-year-old about what he's doing and telling him not to do it again. He's now looking down at my bald spot and [laughs] commenting, "Yes, sure, old man, whatever you think."

My youngest, Dylan, is eight years old. If you're doing the math in there, my wife and I are not shy about saying, "He wasn't the planned one," but we couldn't imagine our life without him. He came into the world absolutely screaming and demanding to be heard.

Even the other two -- imagine that, if all three of them are going to work for our companies when they get older, if this is going to be theirs to inherit -- the older two believe that they'll be working for the youngest one.

I like to say that the youngest one is my tyrant. His hobby is being in charge. He likes to demonstrate that in every situation that he gets into. They're all fantastic. They make me proud every single day.

Mark: That's fantastic. A lot of times when people think about whether they have a CPA in their life, an insurance agent, a stockbroker, because there's so many different financial advisors out there.

Retirement planning is about you, as you mentioned earlier, getting to know a family, getting to know their children as well. When it comes to the estate planning side, we've got to understand the children that are inheriting.

Those children might be 30, 40, 50 when they inherit. We need to understand their tax situation as well to make sure that all of this goes as seamless as possible. It really is about family. The clients that you have at the Medina Law Group and Palante Wealth, they become a family. Is that fair to say?

Victor: Not only do they become a family, but when the most rewarding thing that occurs is when we go out and we ask them about their experience. It is almost universal that they respond back that they felt like they were treated like family all the way through.

That's so important for me because I want them to feel that I gave them a plan, the service and experience that they are within here, that I cared for them as much as I would care for my own family, my parents. The plan that I put in place, the same one that I would give my mom or my dad, anybody that's related to me that I care about, that we welcome them that in that way.

By the way, that extends not just to their experience with me but more importantly, the experience that they have with the entire team. We do have a team that's behind us here that helps us become successful in all the things that we're doing.

It doesn't fall on my shoulders as the only brilliant one that's walking around there. I say sarcastically, but it's about this team that comes together and rallies around each of our clients in what they need and delivers that at the ultimate level of experience going through.

So much so that anytime when we asked people for comments about what they thought, what their experience is like...We have to get testimonials for our legal work, which is something we're allowed to do.

What they'll say back is they'll say, "Look, I felt like I was treated like family all the way through. I felt like they cared about me. They took the time to explain everything."

That, to me, is as much of a measure of success as the hard numbers of whether or not everything shook out the way that we wanted to, that their experiences I was cared for, and that I felt like I was the most important person in their lives in the time that we were doing it. Our clients come back and say that. That to me is a home run all the way through.

Mark: Absolutely. You think about on the law side of things, Medina Law Group, where you have to do what is in the client's best interest. You also wanted to make sure that was the situation on the Palante Wealth side, the holistic planning for retirement side.

You operate in the Wall Street world, the investment world under the fiduciary standard, which means ethically, morally, and legally, you must put the client first ahead of Victor Medina, ahead of Palante Wealth. It is about the clients first.

There's no question. It gives you a great feeling when somebody comes up to you and says, "Hey, I really appreciate it. I should have sat down with you five years ago, but I'm glad I finally did it. I wish I would have done it earlier." I do think it's interesting when it comes to retirement that you do have clients. I'm sure some are spenders. Some are savers.

Sometimes, in the same household, one is a spender. One is a saver. Sometimes, you have people to go, "I don't think I'm ever going to be able to retire. 2008 really rocked my 401(k)."

You go, "You could have retired five years ago. You've won the game." Then you have others that come in, and you're like, "Maybe, you do need to work another year or two." There's no set ending until you sit down with the clients and learn their story, I'm thinking.

Victor: One of the things that I found interesting is no matter where they show up as having gotten printed their advice before they come and see us. There's always these biases that fall into who that person happens to be working for. If they're working for a bank or stock broker or an insurance agent.

They're always sort of predisposed to be pushing whatever their people are telling them to push because that's who signs their checks and when we created this we had this opportunity to either affiliate with something like that, or we can create something completely independent and that's really what we chose to do is because what I found is.

If I'm not really beholden to anybody, if I can choose from anything that's out there to what works for my clients, I can often create craft much better solutions for them and ones that give them answers that they may not have gotten someplace else because the information was just a little bit tainted, just a little bit colored by the people that were paying those other individuals.

Right here, when we're in this form of independence, we can choose from anything that's out there and we have this fiduciary standard.

We now can go to select from a menu of different strategies that are available only to people that work in an independent status like this. Then, we're able to craft solutions and give answers that they may not have gotten someplace else specifically answers to questions "can you retire?" Many times, the reason why they say, "You have to keep working to retire," is they might have everything in the Wall Street world.

If you keep everything there, and you have to ride the roller coaster that might come, the answer is that you probably can't. If he starts to think about it a little bit differently, and it's not just the Wall Street world that you can pull from, but you also have the bank world, the insurance world, and you can combine that as a strategy, you often get a different answer, all of a sudden.

You were able to pick from better solutions or a more complete set of solutions. A lot of clients that walk in our doors are pleased to learn the information that we're sharing with them in this plan where we're saying, "This is the answer that we've got." By the way, it's not just something we're sharing with them as an opinion.

We're actually backing all of that up, we're quantifying it with all of the calculations and research that is necessary to make this all work together. When you layer the legal component on that, I'm often fond of saying, "We're going to create a castle for you with your legal plan, and then we're going to make sure that what you put in that castle is worth protecting in the first place."

When we marry those two things together, you have clients that are so materially better than when they came in, because they were able to see everything that went through, and being able to capture everything. They didn't have to focus myopically on one area or another area. They took it all into consideration. Everyone's better when you can do all of that under one roof.

We try and do that with one phone call.

Mark: Absolutely. The estate planning, certified elder law side of things at Medina Law Group, The holistic planning for your retirement, Easiest might be to call and say, "I'd like to learn more," whether it's the estate planning side, it's actually having a retirement plan, income, investment, taxes.

How do we look at all of this? I heard some things today I'd never thought of. Give the team a call. They're here to help. There's no cost. There's no obligation. It's 856-506-8300, 856-506-8300. Great opportunity for you to find out more about your specific situation. 856-506-8300. Hey, Victor, had a blast. Have a great week. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. We'll do it again next week.

Thanks for making Make It Last a pleasurable time.


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