Broker Check

December 24, 1998

Farewell Al

          Our monthly newsletter is about money, how to invest it, taxes that pertain to it and how to handle it. But this paragraph will depart slightly from the agenda. In elections, especially most carried out today, you hear so much negative campaigning and you find out why you should vote against a person instead of for the other candidate. And I will say it here, there is always a reason to vote against someone. Sometimes, however, there are good reasons to vote for someone, especially when that person makes a historical difference.

          In the case of the Holocaust, all aspects were generally known except the extent of Swiss complicity in the financing of the German war machine. Included in the financing was the purchase by Switzerland of gold stolen from the mouths of Jewish corpses. Included also was the fencing of the billions of dollars of assets stolen from six million Jews and their businesses which consisted of buildings, artwork, jewelry and assorted items. But the most horrendous act was the fact that Switzerland created the anonymous numbered account so that Jews could hide their assets from prying German eyes and try to leave it to children who might survive the Nazi death machine.

          After the war, the survivors tried to claim the assets in the numbered bank accounts but the Swiss refused to give out the funds alleging that an official death certificate would be needed (of people who were gassed in the death camps, or who died in the concentration camps, or who were stripped naked then shot and allowed to fall into a pit only to be covered in lime and possibly then be buried alive). Additionally, the Swiss refused, for fifty years, to even acknowledge that most of the bank accounts existed.

          The United States Government ignored this issue, allegedly due to the cold war and did nothing for these fifty years to press the Swiss to own up to their misconduct. Even after the World Jewish Congress led by Edgar Bronfman started to press the Swiss for the truth and to compensate the survivors for their loss, the United States Government did nothing. This was until the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Al D`Amato got involved. The Senator put pressure on Swiss banks and got the Swiss government to agree to pay to the Worldwide Jewish community $1,250,000,000. Yes, I`ll admit that this was probably part of a brazen attempt to get the Jewish vote in his re-election bid. But, so many other individuals who could have done something, including Representative Chuck Schumer who is on the House Banking Committee, remained silent. Those others could have stood up, could have tried to get the Jewish vote and or dollars for their campaigns, but chose to be silent. The Senator deserves to be remembered for this historic act.

          Thank you, Al.

Don` t Blame Us!

          The latest warning that there might be a rocky tax filing season ahead came from Commissioner Charles Rossotti who, during a meeting with the Board of the National Association of Enrolled Agents said, "the IRS is working at a "fever pace" to bring its computers into year 2000 compliance by the opening gun of the 1999 filing season." He cautioned those in attendance not to expect an error free performance from the IRS in the next year. The Commissioner delivered a similar warning to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants` Tax Division Meeting. Among the specific glitches the IRS is dreading over the months ahead:  
                                 - a flurry of erroneous taxpayer notices

Living Together Is Not All Fun

          It is not uncommon today for a woman and a man, each of whom has been previously married, to be living together. I am not referring to a second marriage, but merely a living arrangement between a couple.

          While many people have heard of the importance, particularly where a second marriage is contemplated, of a premarital agreement spelling out the rights of the parties in the event of a later divorce or the death of one of them, not so widely appreciated is the desirability of a similar type of agreement covering many of the same issues where only a common living arrangement is involved. These may be referred to as co-habitation or partnership living arrangements. Whatever the name, the purpose is to deal with situations that may arise in the future (the parties no longer wish to live together), or will definitely occur (the death of one of the parties before the other).

          Consider a case where a widow and widower have a close relationship but do not desire to marry. They do wish to live together. Perhaps one of them contemplates selling his residence and moving into the home of the other, or, the parties may decide to sell both of their homes and pool their funds in order to purchase a new residence.

          In either case, there are issues that must be considered. The questions may differ if the parties are living in the home of one of them rather than in a home which they both own.

          In any event, think about the following:

  • Who will be the owner of the furniture and the fixtures? How about the items that are purchased by both of them once they moved in together?
  • Who will be responsible for payment of real estate taxes, utilities, insurance, repairs, etc.? Suppose, for example, the heating system needs replacement. Who will pay for it? What about everyday expenses for food, entertainment, cleaning services and similar items?
  • What will happen if the relationship sours in the future? Who will be entitled to continued residence in the home? Will the person who leaves be paid some share of the value of the property?
  • What happens upon the death of one of the parties, or if someone must move because long-term care in a nursing home becomes necessary? If the other party is permitted to remain on the premises, but the person who is no longer living there is the owner, what limitations should be placed upon the continued occupancy of the home? Should there be a time limit after which the person remaining must move?

          The agreement might also include provisions whereby each party waives the right to "palimony" or similar claims against the other. If applicable in your jusisdiction.

          If the parties desire an agreement, it is wise for each to be represented by a separate attorney. They can then be reasonably assured that a lawyer does not have a conflict of interest that could arise when he or she represents both of them. In the last analysis, the cost involved in the preparation of the agreement will be minimal compared to the protection it will afford.

          If you think you need legal help and do not know an attorney experienced in these affairs, please call me and I will refer one to you.

          If you have any questions about these or any other financial matters, please call me.