Cla march 2010


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“CLA USA, Inc. is a financial services company with a safe and conservative approach to asset preservation philosophy. From IRA’s to surviving spouse needs...CLA USA focuses on the areas that concern you the most.”

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Cla march 2010

  1. 1. Surprising Places Where Germs Hide Bacteria and Viruses Often Lurk in "Hot Spots" Youd Never Expect With the H1N1 flu now being reported throughout the US, everyone knows that the virus that causes this illness is easilytransmitted person to person. As a protective measure, even hand shaking and "cheek kissing" have been temporarily banned insome churches, schools and other public places. But the H1N1 and seasonal flu viruses can often be found in places that many people would never suspect. This is also trueof other harmful microbes, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria, and bacteria, including Es-cherichia coli and salmonella, that cause foodborne illness. What you may not know: It’s been estimated that about one in three Americans are carriers (and transmitters) of staph bacte-ria—usually in amounts so small that no infection occurs in the carrier. Since it’s impossible to completely avoid dangerous microbes, one of the best ways to stay healthy is to be aware of germ"hot spots"—including ones that often are overlooked, such as... Telephone receivers (and cell phones), TV remote controls, computer keyboards and copying machines. Most of usknow to wash our hands after touching public doorknobs or handrails, but we may not consider the microbes on telephone re-ceivers (and cell phones), TV remote controls and computer keyboards in public places, at work or even in our own homes. Other areas to be wary of include the control buttons on office copying machines, handles of communal coffeepots, elevatorbuttons and shared books or tools. It’s best to assume that any inanimate surface—such as Formica, stainless steel or even paper—that could have been touchedby another person may be infected with viruses or bacteria. If you touch your mouth, nose and/or eyes (the body’s main entrypoints for infectious organisms) after touching the infected surface, you will be exposed to the germ. Cold viruses and many bacterial infections are primarily transmitted by such surface contact. Flu viruses—including theH1N1 and seasonal flu—tend to be transmittedthrough the air (via coughs and sneezes) but alsocan be passed through surface contact. What you may not know: Since bacteria andcold and flu viruses can survive for up to severaldays on inanimate surfaces, you can be exposed togerms long after the infected person has contami-nated the area. Scientists have estimated that 80%of all human infections are transmitted via hand-to-hand or surface contact. Self-defense: After touching inanimate sur-faces (such as those described earlier) in a publicplace—or at home, if someone in your householdis sick—wash your hands thoroughly with plainsoap for 20 seconds under running water. Thendry them thoroughly with a paper towel or airdryer. Or apply hand-sanitizing gel containing atleast 62% alcohol, such as Purell Instant HandSanitizer or Germ-X, as soon as possible aftertouching such surfaces. If someone in your home or office is sick:Each day, clean surfaces that are touched by others with a cleansing wipe or other product (such as those made by Lysol or Clo-rox) that is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—check the product label for an EPA registration num-ber. This means the product can be used as a disinfectant. Or simply squirt alcohol-based hand sanitizer on a paper towel andwipe the surface. Important: Use wipes and gels that kill bacteria and viruses. These broader-spectrum cleansers are sometimes labeled"antimicrobial"—not "antibacterial." CLA does not give legal, investment or tax advice. Only an attorney can provide legal advice. You should consult with your own attorney to discuss your specific estate planning needs. You should always consult with your tax professional on issues related to taxes.
  2. 2. Paper money. A 2008 Swiss study found that some strains of flu virus can survive on papermoney for up to three days—and for up to 17 days when mixed with mucus. In addition, a University of California researcher cultured 68 $1 bills and found that all but fourhad colonies of dangerous bacteria, including the variety that cause staph infections and pneumo-nia. Coins tend to have lower levels of bacteria and viruses—perhaps because they contain tracemetals that help inhibit such microbes. Self-defense: To reduce your exposure to germs, use credit or debit cards in place of paper cur-rency as often as possible during daily transactions, and wash your hands with soap or use a handsanitizer after touching paper money. Doctors’ waiting rooms. Studies have found that germs are transmitted at a particularly high rate in the waiting areas ofdoctors’ offices—especially by touching countertops, pens and even magazines. Self-defense: As much as possible, avoid touching shared surfaces (such as those described above), and wash your handsimmediately after your doctor visit. If hand-washing is inconvenient, keep hand sanitizer in your pocket or purse and carry your own pen to sign papers at doc-tors’ offices and stores. Pets. An increasing body of evidence shows that dogs—and cats, especially—carry MRSA bacte- ria. It’s believed that these animals are exposed to the germs by human carriers and that the bacteria contaminate the animals’ coats, skin and saliva, where it can then be transmitted to other animals and people. MRSA bacteria can, of course, infect humans, but it also can make cats and dogs sick. Important new finding: A recent random study conducted at the University of Guelph in Canada found that 2% to 3% of dogs carry MRSA bacteria. Meanwhile, in a study of 35 homes, researchers at Simmons College in Boston found that people who have cats in their homes are eight times more likely to have MRSA bacteria on household surfaces than those without household cats. Self-defense: Wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer after touching your pet... make sure any cuts or abrasions you may have are covered with a bandage before touching an animal... do not let pets lick your face... wash pets’ food and water bowls in a sink separate from the one used to prepare your own food... and wear gloves whenever touching an animal that has an open wound. Microwave ovens, countertops and salt and pepper shakers. Most of us know that we need to clean kitchen faucet han-dles and sinks, sponges and cutting boards to avoid exposure to foodborne microbes. However, some surfaces tend to be over-looked, such as microwave oven controls—which are touched frequently, often while users are handling raw food—and counter-tops, which are high-contact areas for raw food. Research shows that salt and pepper shakers also are likely to be contaminated. Self-defense: Immediately after preparing any raw food—including fruit and vegetables as well as meat, fish or poultry—wipe down any surfaces you may touch (such as microwave controls, countertops and salt and pepper shakers) with antimicro-bial cleanser, or use a mixture of one part household bleach diluted in 10 parts water. Apply the cleanser with paper towels ordisposable rags. If you use sponges, put them in the dishwasher each time you run it—or rinse,then microwave them for one minute at high power several times a week. Do not place spongesthat contain metal fibers in the microwave. Bathroom sink handles. In one survey of the homes of 30 adults with colds, bathroom sinkhandles were identified as the place most likely to harbor traces of cold virus. Self-defense: If anyone in your family has a cold or flu—or any other respiratory, skin or gas-trointestinal infection—clean bathroom sink handles (as well as other potentially contaminatedobjects, such as doorknobs and light switches) at least once daily with antimicrobial cleanser.Bottom Line/Health interviewed Elizabeth Scott, PhD, assistant professor of biology and codirector of the Center for Hygiene &Health in Home & Community at Simmons College in Boston. A member of the scientificadvisory board of the International Forum on Home Hygiene, she is coauthor of How to Prevent Food Poisoning: A PracticalGuide to Safe Cooking, Eating and Food Handling (Wiley).Reprinted with the permission of:Bottom Line Publications, Boardroom Inc.281 Tresser Blvd., 8th floorStamford, CT
  3. 3. The Great Estate Tax Mess of 2010 How One Mistake Can Cost You Millions Congress has created great confusion for people seeking to minimize the possible tax burden on their heirs for 2010 and be-yond. As this year began, the federal estate tax simply vanished—no matter how big the estate—while a new capital gains tax oninherited stocks, property, businesses and collectibles suddenly applied to thousands of additional estates. And the rules are set tochange drastically again in 2011. That’s all the result of legislation enacted in 2001 that Congress was expected to revise last year but failed to do so.All that could change if Congress passes new legislation this year, which Democrats vowedwould happen in early 2010 and take effect retroactive to January 1, 2010. You can do intelligent estate planning even amid such uncertainty and flux. Here’s how... WHAT TO EXPECT Here’s what I expect to happen (although you can’t tell for sure, given the heated politicalatmosphere) and how it could affect your planning... The federal estate tax won’t really disappear. The government is running a huge budget defi-cit, and it’s doubtful that Congress will let a 94-year-old tax that provides about $25 billion inannual revenue skip a year. However, Democrats would have to fight Republicans who call it a“death tax” and would love to see it disappear permanently. If any law enacted this year is retroactive to January 1, some heirs are likely to try to takeadvantage of the current “no-estate-tax gap” by challenging the retroactive law in court on consti-tutional and/or other grounds. A new law enacted in 2010 would probably exempt up to $3.5 million in assets from estatetax. Above that amount, assets might be taxed at a rate as high as 45%. Those were the rules thatin late 2009 the House (but not the Senate) voted to extend. New rules that are currently set to go into effect in 2011 will not go into effect. Under thoserules, $1 million would be exempt from estate tax and amounts above that would be taxed at55%. Republicans likely will not allow the estate tax to become so costly to taxpayers, and Democrats likely would use the pos-sibility that it could happen as a negotiating tool to try to resurrect some level of estate tax for 2010. Rules currently imposing a capital gains tax on inherited assets in 2010 will likely not remain in effect. Under those rules, atax of between 15% and 28% is imposed on inherited assets that have gained in value by a total of more than $1.3 million (or asmuch as $4.3 million if the heir is a spouse who is a US citizen). That gain is measured from the time that the person who diesacquired the assets until the time of his/her death, but the tax is paid after the heir sells the assets, on top of any additional tax ongains since the person died. Such measures have proved difficult to comply with and to monitor, and they would affect tens ofthousands of estates this year. Instead, expect the old rule, which is due to return in 2011, to be restored for 2010 as well. Under that old rule, the “cost ba-sis” of inherited assets is “stepped up,” or reset, to its value at the time of death. That usually reduces the amount of tax an heirhas to pay when selling those assets. WHAT TO DO If you expect your estate to be worth less than $3.5 million, your estate probably will not owe federal estate tax under thelegislation that Congress is likely to pass this year. Nevertheless, you should document the value of any estate assets regardlessof the size of the estate. That means that you should record the values of stocks on the date that the person dies and get appraisalsfor assets such as a home soon after the person dies. Caution: Some states have estate tax exemptions that are different from federal exemptions, while others follow federal es-tate tax rules. Examples: New York’s exemption is $1 million, and New Jersey’s is $675,000. In response to this year’s and nextyear’s changes, some states may adjust their rules. Check with your tax professional. In case the estate tax is resurrected, here are wise steps to take if your estate would exceed $3.5 million in 2010... Make gifts. In 2010, you and your spouse (if you have one) each can give away up to $13,000 worth of assets as gifts to anynumber of recipients without incurring any gift tax consequences. Example: William Adams gives $13,000 to his son, $13,000 to his daughter, $13,000 apiece to the son’s spouse and thedaughter’s spouse, and $13,000 to each of his four grandchildren. Thus, William can reduce his taxable estate by as much as$104,000 (eight times $13,000) this year, free of gift tax. If William is married, his wife can do the same amount of gifting, dou-bling the couple’s total to $208,000. In addition, you can directly pay tuition and medical expenses. Divide your assets. Assuming that the exemption is $3.5 million, a shrewd married couple may be able to double that exemp-tion and eventually pass on up to $7 million to heirs, free of estate tax. However, that requires a tricky strategy.
  4. 4. Example: Bob Simmons owns $5 million in assets, and his wife,Edna, owns $2 million worth. For each spouse, that includes half ofshared properties, such as a house. Because bequests from onespouse to another aren’t taxed (if the inheriting spouse is a US citi-zen), even if Bob dies first and leaves all of his $5 million to Ednathrough the estate, there will be no estate tax at that time. However, that would leave Edna with a $7 million estate. If shedies with that much and the federal estate tax exemption is $3.5 mil-lion at that time, Edna’s estate would be $3.5 million over the ceil-ing and would owe $1.575 million in tax when she dies if the 45%rate is still in effect. Instead, if their marriage is strong, Bob couldgive $1.5 million to Edna outright before he dies and not leave herany additional assets when he dies. Then each spouse could pass$3.5 million to other heirs without generating estate tax. Revisit your will. Many wills call for an amount equal to theestate tax exemption to go to heirs other than the spouse or to a trustfor those beneficiaries. However, that procedure may leave thespouse short of what the spouse needs to live on, especially if thevalue of stocks and real estate has dropped sharply. For instance, ifyou die with, say, $4 million, and $3.5 million (the exemptionamount) of that goes to your kids, the $500,000 may not be enoughfor your spouse to live on. Instead, make sure that your will is drafted so that your spousereceives an adequate amount to live on, outright or in trust. This isespecially important if your state has an estate tax exemption that islower than whatever the federal exemption ends up being. Youmight want to reduce the amount that you leave to a nonspouse tono more than the state exemption level or lower. If Congress Doesn’t Act In case the rules don’t get revised this year... Make sure that your will does not leave assets to anyone based on a formula that refers to whatever amount does not triggerthe federal estate tax. If you do use that language and the estate tax is zero, courts may interpret that language to mean that you areleaving an unlimited amount to an heir other than your spouse. Amend your will to specify how much of the $1.3 million capital gains tax break should be granted to each of your heirs if youhave more than one heir other than your spouse. Otherwise, your executor will have to decide how to apportion that tax break. Estate Tax Rules Unless Congress changes the law as it stood on January 1, 2010, the estate tax will swing wildly over the next few years. 2009 RULES... Estates are taxed at 45% on amounts greater than $3.5 million. The value of assets is reset at the time of death. That new value serves as the cost basis for figuring capital gains when heirs eventually sell the assets and pay taxes on those gains. 2010 RULES... Estates are not taxed. The value of assets is based on prices at which they were acquired by the person who dies. That value then serves as the cost basis for figuring capital gains when heirs sell the assets and pay taxes (with an exclusion of $1.3 million or up to $4.3 million if the heir is a spouse who is a US citizen). 2011 RULES... Estates are taxed at rates ranging from 41% on amounts greater than $1 million to 55% on amounts greater than $3 million. 2009 rules on capital gains return.Bottom Line/Personal interviewed Martin Shenkman, CPA, an attorney who specializes in trusts and estates, Paramus, New Jer-sey. Mr. Shenkman is author of several books on estate planning, including The Complete Book of Trusts (Wiley).www.ShenkmanLaw.comReprinted with the permission of:Bottom Line Publications, Boardroom Inc.281 Tresser Blvd., 8th floorStamford, CT
  5. 5. The Secret to Spending Less and Living Just as Well Living through a recession doesn’t require that you become a full-time cheapskate—but you do have to budget smarter andspend purposefully rather than by accident and habit. Bonus: By plugging the leaks of wasteful spending, you can redirect that money to things that are very important to you. MEDICAL Medication costs. The prices of drugs not covered by insurance can vary widely among pharmacies, so youcan save hundreds of dollars by comparison shopping. Start online at Destination Rx (, whichsearches for the cheapest prescription prices from pharmacies and other retailers in your area and also makes sug-gestions that you can discuss with your doctor about cheaper generic options. My favorite deals come from dis-count retailers Wal-Mart, Target and Sam’s Club, which have expanded their discounted prescription-drug pro-grams to offer 90-day supplies of more than 1,000 generics (350 for Sam’s Club) for $10 or less. Eyeglasses. Pay as little as $8 for prescription eyeglasses, shipping included, from Zenni Optical( The site lets you choose from hundreds of different frames. While they aren’t as wellconstructed as designer frames, they’re ideal as a backup pair or to expand your eyeglass ward-robe. Another eyeglass site,, has glasses for $7.95 and lets you upload aphoto of yourself and "virtually" try on glasses by superimposing frames on your photo. Important: To order, you’ll need to provide your prescription (get it from your ophthalmolo-gist or optometrist). You’ll also need to know your pupillary distance (the distance between thecenters of your pupils) to ensure a proper optical fit. Your optometrist should be able to give youthat number, but most online retailers also provide instructions for measuring it yourself. TELECOMMUNICATION Cable "triple-plays." Many telecommunications companies aggressively push their "triple-play" packages. If you agree to buycable-TV, phone and high-speed Internet services from the same provider, you get a discount. But this isn’t always the best deal. You can often save more buying à la carte from different providers. Example: As part of my $99 bundled service, I was paying $13 a month for unlimited long- distance phone service. That sounds good—except that I was only making one hour’s worth of long-distance calls, which worked out to 22 cents a minute. I could have gotten an à la carte plan that charged $86 for cable, local TV and high-speed Internet plus long-distance for five cents a minute. Annual savings: $120. Best: Analyze your usage pattern, then compare rates from competing cable and telephone service providers in your area. Premium TV. Subscribe to premium channels for only part of the year. This way, you can best suit your viewing habits. Example: I like certain HBO series that run for only six months each year. I also watch more movies in thesummer while network shows are in repeats. I subscribe to the appropriate premium channels only duringthose time periods. Since I’m not required to choose an annual package, I can add or subtract services at will. Isave about $100 a year. Cell-phone service. Consider a prepaid, pay-as-you-go wireless phone plan instead of a long-term con-tract. The price for prepaid phones, and minutes to load on to them, has dropped. If you are using your cellphone for less than 400 minutes a month, you can save money with a prepaid phone. How it works: You can buy a prepaid cell phone at discount retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Target, for$15 to $140, depending on the features you want. The phones come with plans offered by providers such asTracFone ( Net 10 ( T-Mobile ( Virgin Mobile( I switched my two cell phones last year and saved $565. To compare the best prepaid cell-phone plans, go to Consumer-Search ( HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS Books. Get discounted books when you travel. Buy a book in a Paradies Shop airport bookstore, and return it within six months to another airport bookstore for a 50% refund on your purchase. For more on the Read & Return program, visit For audiobooks, a three-month subscrip- tion to saves you up to 75% off CD audiobook retail prices. How it works: You pay $158.40 a year to purchase and download a dozen books. You can choose from more than 60,000 titles, including the latest best sellers.
  6. 6. Razor blades. High-quality razor-blade refills have become shockingly expensive—up to $3.50 perblade—and most people replace them at least every couple of weeks. You could buy cheap disposable razors,but the more expensive razors and blades really are superior. I quadruple the life of my blade by drying itcarefully after each use. Blade dullness is caused by rusting more than by contact with whiskers. Clothing. With so much merchandise backing up due to slower sales, department stores are markingdown items as soon as five weeks after putting them on the sales floor. Note: Shop late in the day on Thursday because that’s when stores begin markdowns for the weekend. Other strategies: Haggle. Retailers want to make sales, so you can negotiate in most situations. If a shirt ismissing a button, ask the floor manager for a discount—he/she usually has the discretion to give you up to15% off. For shoe deals, go to the DSW site (, which offers thousands of discounted designerbrands for men and women, free shipping on orders of $35 or more, and allows you to make returns directly toDSW retail stores to avoid return-postage fees. FOOD Eating out. Even many upscale restaurants are offering bargains and using technology to advertise deals. Good resource: You search for restaurants in your area and buy $25 gift certificates for $10 with your credit card, thus saving $15. Supermarkets. Sales run on a roughly 12-week cycle. That means you can save lots of money by buying enough of any sales item to last for three months. Coupons. Instead of spending time searching through the Sunday newspaper for products, save the inserts in their entirety. Write the date on the corner of the front page. When ready to shop, go to and search its free grocery coupon database. The site tells you the date of the insert where the coupon appears.Bottom Line/Retirement interviewed consumer expert Gregory Karp, whose syndicated newspaper column, "Spending Smart,"reaches more than six million readers around the country. He is author of The 1-2-3 Money Plan: The Three Most Important Stepsto Saving and Spending Smart (FT). He lives in Yardley, Pennsylvania. with the permission of:Bottom Line Publications Moving? Be sure to contact our offices at 1-888-404-6848 andBoardroom Inc. update your address & phone number so we may continue to281 Tresser Blvd., 8th floorStamford, CT 06901 provide you the excellent service you have come to QUOTES Learning is about more than acquiring new knowledge. It is also crucial to unlearn old knowledge that has outlived its relevance. Forgetting can be as important as learning. ~Gary Ryan Blair Progress involves taking risks. You cant steal second base and keep your foot on first. ~Frederick Wilcox Ask yourself: "How am I going to live today in order to create the tomorrow Im committed to?" ~Tony Robbins