Wall Street Journal Cites Tips from McManus for Avoiding and Properly Handling Sweetheart Scams

wsj logoWall Street Journal Columnist Veronica Dagher penned a new article this week, “How to Avoid, Detect and Respond to Romance Scams.” The piece provides steps that readers can take to protect themselves (and their parents) from these fraudulent attacks, as well as things to do if the swindling has, unfortunately, already taken place.

As revealed by Dagher, so-called sweetheart scams cost victims nearly $120 million in the first half of 2016, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. How are these criminals finding success? “The fraudsters are ‘very adept at playing on the vulnerability of human emotions’…With some senior citizens, they are also playing on a lack of tech savvy.”

Dagher buckets the steps to avoid and address these scams, as follows:

1)      Check the Connection

2)      Check In With Your Parents

3)      Check the Pressure

4)      Report It

McManus & Associates Founding Principal John O. McManus is cited and quoted in the “Check In With Your Parents” and “Report It” sections. From the article:

“Stay in touch and call your parents often so that they don’t become vulnerable to scammers,” says John McManus, an attorney in New Providence, N.J., who has helped several senior citizens who were victims of fraud…If your parents do fall victim to a scam, show compassion, says Mr. McManus. Help them keep their dignity and understand that anyone can be wrongly manipulated at any age, he says.

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WSJ’s MarketWatch Features Advice from McManus on “How women can make estate planning easier”

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Andrea Coombes

Andrea Coombes

Andrea Coombes writes the “Ways and Means” column for MarketWatch, a media property of the Wall Street Journal that has nearly 9.5 million unique visitors per month. McManus & Associates Founding Principal and top AV-rated Attorney John McManus recently spoke with Coombes about special considerations for women when it comes to estate planning.

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Wall Street Journal Taps McManus for Advice: “Separate Assets, Joint Problems”

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Andrea Coombes, reporter for the Wall Street Journal, recently spoke with McManus & Associates founding Principal John O. McManus for a story looking at married couples who keep their investment accounts separate and sometimes even their house, too, with only one spouse on the title. For these duos, their tax-deferred retirement accounts are typically owned singly, as well. A top AV-rated attorney, McManus helped Coombes examine some of the potential problems that can arise when a couple keeps assets separate, in addition to solutions to those problems.

On Sunday, Coombes’ story, “Separate Assets, Joint Problems,” was published and problems that can arise for couples who don’t merge their accounts revealed. Here are the top four problems identified in the article:

1. Those assets aren’t necessarily separate under the law.

2. Separate accounts may foster a failure to communicate.

3. Separately owned property may be at greater risk in a bankruptcy or lawsuit.

4. Separate accounts can lead to administrative difficulties.

For the third item, Coombes points out that “joint ownership can protect your nonfinancial assets if you file for bankruptcy or a lawsuit is filed against you, because creditors and plaintiffs tend to steer clear of property in which they’ll end up owning a half interest.” Property owned separately, however, isn’t automatically protected in that way, but Coombes cites advice from McManus on how to shield individually owned assets in such situations. From the article:

Joint ownership is a “very good way to serve as a deterrent for people going after some of your primary assets,” like a house, says John McManus, founder of law firm McManus & Associates in New Providence, N.J. “They don’t want that asset in a plaintiff’s action against me because they cannot easily force my wife to sell,” he says. “And now they’re stuck with a one-half interest in this property.”

However, for estate-planning reasons, Mr. McManus prefers that his clients hold assets in separate names so they can be placed in individual trusts, which can make it easier to direct where those assets end up after you’re gone. (Separate may mean each spouse owns various assets outright, or that they share ownership through a “tenants in common” designation—a form of co-ownership where each owns his or her share independently.)

For example, he says, a trust could be set up this way: “If my wife dies, she leaves me as trustee. I can spend it, I can use it as I need to, but when I die, the only place that that’s going is to our children and not to my new spouse.”

Meanwhile, the assets are protected against creditors or litigants. Mr. McManus uses his house as an example: “I’ll put my half interest in trust today,” he says, so his interest goes to his wife when he dies. “And if I’m sued, I’ve already surrendered my interest in the house, so I’m protected.”

What McManus is referring to is a completed gift of a 50% interest in the residence to an irrevocable trust. A creditor could attack the interest in a revocable trust, but a properly drafted irrevocable trust agreement with spendthrift provisions is generally not accessible to a creditor.

To get details on the other three items on Coombes’ list, check out the full story here.

McManus & Associates can help you determine whether it’s best for you and your spouse to keep assets separate (and, if so, which ones). Give us a call at 908.898.0100 to discuss.

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Motley Fool Turns to McManus to Answer, “Who Should Be Executor?”

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Michele Lerner, a contributing writer to The Motley Fool, this week turned to McManus & Associates Founding Principal John O. McManus to answer the question, “Who Should You Ask to Be Executor of Your Estate?” From the article:

“A common adage in the industry is to name your enemy as your executor as a means of revenge,” says John O. McManus, an estate attorney and founding principal of McManus & Associates in New York City. “It’s a thankless job. If you appoint someone you love as executor, get your house in order. Otherwise, appoint someone you do not.”

Lerner points out that many people choose their closest relatives, but “before you decide, think hard about what you’re asking this person to do.”

She goes on to share that she talked to McManus about “what it means to be an executor and how to go about choosing one.” Below are the questions for which she shares answers from McManus & Associates:

Q: What are the responsibilities of an executor?
Q: Do you need to have a financial or legal background?
Q: How much time does it take to be an executor?
Q: Should you have more than one executor or is it best to have only one?
Q: Is it best to ask someone before you name them in your will as executor?
Q: Can someone turn down the job of executor?
Q: Can you get compensated for the time you put in as an executor?
Q: Can you be sued as an executor?
Q: Is there anything an executor can do to reduce family fights over personal property?

To find all of our answers to Lerner’s questions, check out the Daily Finance article here.

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