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[This article was originally published on February 21, 2006. The links were updated on July 23, 2018.]
Steve Weisman. A Guide to Elder Planning: Everything You Need to Know to Protect Yourself Legally and Financially. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2004. 272 pages.
Available on Amazon.com (click on book to order)
This book offers a rare combination of entertainment and practical, no-nonsense strategies for personal and financial planning. While author and elder law attorney Steve Weisman knows his stuff, he keeps you reading thanks to a breezy style and penchant for puns (a few of them quite bad) and general light-hearted wisecracking.
For example, while citing an "old adage" Weisman muses about the scarcity of new adages. When mentioning that many people are under the false impression that life insurance proceeds are not subject to estate taxes, he can't resist a digression about the similarly false belief that that Boston Cream Pie is actually a pie. (He's from Massachusetts, so he should know that it's a cake.) Along the way we also learn that he and his wife keep a cat, horse and llama as pets.
But in between the bits of comic relief is a great deal of substance and value delivered clearly and compellingly. Weisman, who is co-host of the nationally syndicated radio show "A Touch of Grey," engagingly covers the standard elder law subjects of estate planning, trusts, durable powers of attorney, Social Security, Medicare and planning for long-term care, including Medicaid and long-term care insurance. But the book also features lengthy discussions of other areas of vital interest to those planning for later life, such as investments (including a section on "How to Pick a Stock"), IRAs (including how to convert from a regular IRA to a Roth IRA), prenuptial agreements, credit for the elderly, income taxes, and how to recognize scams that target seniors.
The text is liberally sprinkled with boxes titled "Loophole," offering little-known ways to make laws and financial opportunities work for your benefit. Then there are the other boxes, many of which are whimsical. In one, Weisman discourses on the origin of the term "rule of thumb." In another, we learn that long-term care insurers will not pay your claims if you become disabled while committing a felony. That is certainly good to know.