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No. of Recommendations: 58
I think I've decided what I hate the most in this business.

It's not the long hours or the cranky clients or the software that won't do what you want or making stupid mistakes that the client catches or dealing with the IRS. Nope. None of that stuff.

It's watching long-time clients as they decline.

Just had one in on Saturday. I've been doing his returns for 10 years or so. The first few, he was sharp as a tack. Had all of his numbers in order and knew where each one went on the tax return.

About 5 years ago I noticed that he was making mistakes. Didn't add up the right things, got confused easily. The next year his wife came to the tax appointment with him. For the first time.

Since then, she's slowly taken things over, although she (and I) know enough to make sure he is still involved in the process. If he asks a question, I'll answer it. If he gives me some info, I'll take it and make sure it gets on the return appropriately (with a wink and a nod to her as needed).

This year he was pretty much silent.

I fear by next year the silence will be permanent.

--Peter
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I think I've decided what I hate the most in this business.

It's not the long hours or the cranky clients or the software that won't do what you want or making stupid mistakes that the client catches or dealing with the IRS. Nope. None of that stuff.

It's watching long-time clients as they decline.


Isn't that the truth!

Ira
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No. of Recommendations: 32
It's watching long-time clients as they decline.

We've been watching our dad go through this, until he passed away in December. It can be a fiscally dangerous situation. He started off with a great plan, legally advised, which over the years he had been sabotaging in an effort to take control back over his decaying abilities. Knee jerk reactions to one of us kids trying to set him back on path had him editing legal documents himself, thereby nullifying them. It was a royal scramble to get his will and trust back to legal status before his death. Had he passed quickly, he would have been left intestate, even with all his previous careful preparation.

He and Mom allowed themselves to be wooed by an annuity salesman, who played to Dad's ego by socializing with him and Mom. Yeah, a couple in their young 30's are going to want to socialize with a couple in their late 70's, particularly one compromised significantly by stroke. This salesman put them in high commission high risk annuities tied to the market, which Dad abandoned when he was told he had to put another $70,000 into it when the market crashed. Without telling us, he cancelled his long term health care insurance, after having already paid close to $80,000 in premiums. My once well researched Dad who planned carefully was now aggressively making knee jerk decisions with finances.

And we couldn't protect him from himself. We consulted a lawyer about doing so and he told us to forget about it. It was almost a blessing that the last 18 months of his life he was too incompetent to do much more harm to himself, not that he would allow any of us to help him. Fortunately he didn't run out of money, but the decline in his funds the last few years had him absolutely panicked. Knowing how hard he had worked, how frugal he had been, it was cruel to watch him lose control like that.

I'm not really afraid of dying...not that I'm looking to do so prematurely...but I do fear living too long.

IP
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(Peter:) I think I've decided what I hate the most in this business.

It's not the long hours or the cranky clients or the software that won't do what you want or making stupid mistakes that the client catches or dealing with the IRS. Nope. None of that stuff.

It's watching long-time clients as they decline.
=======================
Isn't that the truth!

Ira

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AMEN!

(But the other things are pretty aggravating, too.)

Bill
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Without telling us, he cancelled his long term health care insurance, after having already paid close to $80,000 in premiums.

This seems to be a common problem. There seems to be some denial that they would ever need a long term care policy and cancelling is a short term answer to budget problems.

The other way that long term care insurance companies "win" is that elderly just forget to pay the premium.

My father was going to cancel his medical insurance because he didn't want any further care. There was a cheap Medicare supplement that he did accept and it required autopay. The autopay is probably the only reason insurance was in place when he was hospitalized.
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Without telling us, he cancelled his long term health care insurance, after having already paid close to $80,000 in premiums.

What we call health care is increasing at a greater rate than our incomes. It gets to the point where articles like this appear:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/13/health-care-costs-a...

I have not checked the facts in the article; I am not even sure how to check all of them. But if they are to be believed, it is easy to understand why people would not be seeking more insurance. I cancelled my life insurance over 10 years ago since I really had no need for it. It did save money. I have no dependents, so why have it?

I was going to get a supplemental policy to fill in the gaps of my Medicare. But the (AARP) application form asked one question that made me unable to get it. "Have you been admitted to a hospital in the last 12 months?" But actually reading the policy and the costs, it is just about break-even. The premiums are about equal to the benefits. So it would save me the nuisance of making co-pays, etc. But it would not actually save me any money. And finding doctors who accept payment at Medicare rates is continually getting more difficult.

I do not have a long term care policy at all. Apparently people tend to need less than 2 years of it anyway, since they die then. Of course, that is on a statistical basis. But would I be better off to self-insure and save the premiums? Ponderable question. It seems to me that if I do not die soon enough, medical costs will be so high that having insurance will not help all that much. Something will have to be done, and it is not the government policy of subsidizing the medical insurance companies that will be doing it.
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No. of Recommendations: 4
I do not have a long term care policy at all. Apparently people tend to need less than 2 years of it anyway, since they die then. Of course, that is on a statistical basis. But would I be better off to self-insure and save the premiums?

We have opted to self insure, even after seeing how expensive it is to pay for care. We also saw how little long term care insurance paid when that care was needed. None the less, it is hard to justify paying the premiums for the insurance for all those years, just to cancel the insurance when you are most likely to need it. Not logical. A small amount of thought would have reached that conclusion.

We are our own worst enemy as we age.

IP
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No. of Recommendations: 7
What I love the most...


...about ptheland is that you have a heart :-).

Wendy (rare for taxes and hearts to go together)
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(But the other things are pretty aggravating, too.)

Oh, they're right up there.

Right now the IRS is in second place. Client gets a CP2000 last summer. They want to tax some dependent care benefits. The ones I forgot to put on the return. (OOPS!!! See, there's number 3 on the list, making mistakes that I don't catch.) But they also want to deny his education credit because the 1098T only shows an amount in box 2, not in box 1. (Box 2 is amount billed and box 1 is amount paid for those of you who don't look at a 1098T every day.)

We write letters. We send documentation. They deny, deny, deny, and then send a 90 day letter. So the client (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) files a Tax Court petition. The matter is sent to appeals, as is normal.

I talked to the appeals officer a few days ago. Finally got someone at the IRS with a brain. A whole, entire, working brain! I mention the two issues and that we concede one of them. He says the 1098T is good enough for him, and we spend more time discussing the procedural matters that need to follow than anything else. I'm off the phone in less than 5 minutes.

Had someone with only half a brain looked at this 6 months ago, we could have put this to bed in the same 5 minutes.

At least I got some good vibes with the client for fighting this one out and winning. I'd better, as the initial mistake (and the vast majority of the tax bill on the CP2000) was my fault. I'm doing all of this crazy work at no charge. In fact, I'll have to mail the client a check for the penalties on the dependent care benefits. This whole mess is COSTING me money, not making me money.

--Peter
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I'm right there with you. I had a chat with the son of one of my long term clients last year without providing any confidential information to let him know that when Dad passes, that there were some things that would need to be addressed on his final return. I'm reasonably sure that it will happen that way, but I suspect the other sone will want to skip the expense of coming to me and do it himself and miss the long term gain carryover that's we've been using up for years.
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but I suspect the other sone will want to skip the expense of coming to me and do it himself and miss the long term gain carryover that's we've been using up for years.

I suspect you meant the $3k long term LOSS carryover right?

I know its in the heat of the tax season rosewine ;)

Rich
Arizona
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No. of Recommendations: 7
A very late follow up to this post.

My timing was off. This particular client hung in there until last summer. Met with his wife a few weeks ago and got the news.

I had 4 clients die in the last year. All men. All leaving widows who now have to take care of the finances. A couple of them will be just fine with that new role. But one in particular I worry about.

She never really got involved when we did their taxes. He and I conversed, she sat and did some knitting (literally, knitting!) or some other such hand work. I hope she was listening. We had to reschedule their initial appointment due to his health, and he passed a few days later. So when I did finally meet with her, her loss was still fresh and she was not entirely together. That's completely understandable. We did have a good laugh when we found the payment voucher for their April property tax payment tucked into the mailing envelope, stamp applied, and a post it note on the outside with the due date (including a little white lie that it was due a week or so earlier than the actual due date) and amount to pay. He was taking care of her right until the end - and a bit past it. But that was exactly who he was.

Anyway - ladies, pay attention to the finances. Have some idea of what's going on. The odds are that you will need to take over at some point. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but so be it.

--Peter
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No. of Recommendations: 6
Anyway - ladies, pay attention to the finances.

You do know that some of the women here are doing all the finances and it's their husbands that are "knitting".

PSU
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Anyway - ladies, pay attention to the finances.

This applies to ALL spouses.

My husband (as a result of emotional abuse from his father) isn't involved in our finances. I am working on consolidating accounts and creating an overview document for our accounts. There are a couple of old drip accounts that are still in my name that need to be moved to our trust. He has access to my password safe which has online access to most of our accounts.

He was wise to chose a spouse who if financial responsible :)
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You do know that some of the women here are doing all the finances and it's their husbands that are "knitting".

Absolutely. Yes. Definitely. They are some of the sharpest people on these boards.

I'm really speaking to those still in the "traditional" family roles - husband takes care of working and the finances, wife takes care of family and cooking and cleaning and such. Perhaps the parents of the people reading these boards.

--Peter
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No. of Recommendations: 6
You do know that some of the women here are doing all the finances and it's their husbands that are "knitting".

Vouch!

Although it's more playing with electronic toys than knitting, but whatever.

I try to slide in little tidbits of wisdom here and there and hope he's listening. He has agreed to at least consult with our estate lawyer and accountant before remarrying. I've got a trust in place if we go together. I do the taxes, he shows up to sign the forms. We keep track with Quicken, though, we both know where all the booty is buried.

My mother was actually the financial whiz when I was growing up. She flipped old houses before anyone knew that was a "thing", then got her real estate license to save on commissions, then moved on to broker to stop splitting those commissions in half. Also raised 4 kids and canned her own beans... but I know she wasn't typical of her generation.

Thanks, mom!

SG
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