Tuesday, August 13, 2013

e-Builder and Estate Planning

The Miami Herald's Business Monday of yesterday features e-Builder, based in Plantation [Broward County, just north of Miami-Dade], a firm that

has developed cloud-based software for construction program management that makes it simpler for builders and developers to efficiently manage the enormous complexity of major construction projects, and helps reduce costs.

The company’s Web-based system allows its clients — mostly builders and developers of multiple projects — to see and manage every detail of a project. It also permits other players, such as subcontractors and engineers, to view their particular section of a project and immediately communicate with each other via desktop computers, tablets or smartphones.

Its a great story in so many ways.  Two brothers, Jon and Ron Antevy, from "a family of construction contractors", working together (such a potent sort of partnership) to create a business that serves builders of complex construction projects as far away as California.  Their business bio shows fine educations,  hard work, creative minds.  They wed all that with enterprise software, which, to me, is ideation applied to the marketplace, one reality linked to another in such a productive way.  Plato and Aristotle, together at last.

The software is collaborative, involving people at all levels of the management of a complex construction project.

It fascinates me because where the Antevy brothers live is, on a much larger scale, where I live as an estate planning lawyer, dealing with ideas of what the future should look like, preparing a grand document that expresses that idea and marshaling a client's assets so that, when the contingency, no, the certainty, arises, those assets track the idea efficiently and effectively.  Where the horizon of e-Builder is relatively near and relatively certain, I have to deal with a horizon that is certainly there, death, but just when it will arise is usually of great uncertainty.  Meanwhile, however, we have developed with our client a plan for what should happen when the certainty arises.  And we have assets in the here-and-now that must be linked the plan, and there's the rub: making that link and then, once we make those links, tending those idea-asset links into that future, as circumstances will always change over the balance of the client's life.

I collaborate as well, with the client of course, and sometimes with members of his family, with business partners of that client sometimes, with bankers, accountants, financial advisers, insurance agents, people who also serve the client and ought to be involved with the estate plan build.

I have often thought of using enterprise software on the micro-scale of estate planning.  There are many, many variables in such planning, not only in terms of the potential collaborators, but crucially at the asset level.  It is too expensive for lawyers to do the work at that level. Staff can do that work, however, as long as they are well trained and well-directed.  The well-direction, it seems to me, can largely come from the right enterprise software, it seems to me.  What lives in my head, after 40+ years as a lawyer, ought to be transferable in significant part.  Just as the education and experience of the Antevy brothers, the owners of e-Builder, were transferred to their software, why not something like that being transferred to the loss-leader of all loss-leaders in the trusts and estates world, estate planning.  There is huge market for estate planning, that is, there is a huge need for estate planning, if we could only get the price right.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Little Boy Humor and a Remarkable Mind

Eight-year old grandson is visiting us with his family: a mom, a dad, and little(r) sister.

Last night, at the supper table no less, but at least after we finished eating and were just talking, the children  wandered into the dangerous topic of putting things up one's nose.  It was all just cracking the kids up. 

Finally mother had to warn the small people that if they put something up their nose and it wouldn't come out, then we would have to go to the emergency room, where they would put instruments up one's nostrils to extract the object.

More laughter!

"And what would instrument that be?!!," Grandson chortled, "A viola or a violin??!!"

Friday, August 09, 2013

The American Middle Class: Seeking Like Gentiles

When we turned the American dream into a dream about materialism, we disheartened our young, who now are forced to achieve what we've defined as success in a straitened economy.

-Peggy Noonan in "How Obama Wooed the Middle Class" in today's WSJ.

24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

-Jesus in Matthew 6: 24-34 (NKJV).

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Well, I think it's weird.

I'm not sure I could have survived to adulthood had not my dad, granddad, uncles, and various other grown-up men (and a few women) encouraged me to finish my supper with "Eat it!  It will put hair on your chest!"  The subtext was always this:  The amount of hair on one's chest and (by extension) everywhere else on one's body it might grow, has a direct relationship to the amount of manhood.  And being a man, by the way, was always a good thing.

Now this:  All along, Gillette tells us, women have wanted hairless men.  That's what they really want.

Just another reason, I suppose, why people should keep their clothes on until after they marry.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Got Fruit Juice? Got Diabetes?

The fruit juice industry has essentially taken the 'apple-a-day' mentality and used it to sell fruit juices as healthy," said Barry Popkin, a professor in the department of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Gillings School of Public Health.

Popkin and other experts would rather see people eating whole fruit. Because most juicing methods remove the produce's fiber, drinking juice omits one of the key benefits of eating fruit, while delivering huge amounts of sugar and calories.

"Every one of the long-term studies of the health effects of fruit juices shows that you increase your risk of diabetes and weight gain" with regular juice consumption, Popkin said.

One 2010 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology followed more than 43,000 adults in Singapore for five years and found that those who consumed two or more servings of fruit juice per week had a 29 percent higher risk of developing diabetes than those who didn't drink juice regularly — not far behind the 42 percent increased risk for weekly soda drinkers.

-from "Fruit Smoothies Dangerous for Your Health?" by Abby Olena of the Chicago Tribune.  (In the Miami Herald home delivery edition today.)

The abstract for the study to which the article refers is here.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

About that Old Hard Drive

Today, the WSJ reports that a federal jury found GoldmanSachs trader Fabrici Tourre "liable for misleading investors in a mortgage-linked deal that collapsed during the financial crisis, delivering a historic win for a U.S. regulator [the SEC] eager to prove its mettle inside the courtroom."

According to the WSJ article, smoking guns included emails Tourre sent to his girl friend:

Several emails from Mr. Tourre to his girlfriend, Marine Serres, a Goldman saleswoman at the firm's London office, revealed that Mr. Tourre shared some pessimism about the market.

At his trial, Mr. Tourre translated what he wrote, partly in French, to Ms. Serres: "The entire building is at risk of collapse at any moment. Only potential survivor, the fabulous Fab (as Mitch would kindly call me, even though there is nothing fabulous about me…) standing in the middle of all these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades he created without necessarily understanding all the implications of these monstrosities."

Mr. Tourre called the note a "silly romantic email to my girlfriend, sent as I was very stressed that day," and said it was referencing a newspaper article he had forwarded to Ms. Serres.

How the government got those emails and others are the subject of this post by Bianca Boscar of the Huffington Post:

Fabrice Tourre (a.k.a. the "Fabulous Fab"), the Goldman Sachs mortgage trader who has become synonymous with Wall Street shenanigans, has now become synonymous with something else: the worst possible way to dispose of an old computer.

Among the more titillating passages in a front-page New York Times expose about Tourre's private correspondence with his lawyers is a disclaimer that the newspaper obtained his e-mails via a computer someone found "discarded in a garbage area in a downtown apartment building."

The computer was then passed on to someone else, who noticed that it continued to pull down fresh e-mails -- messages sent to someone with Tourre's name, a name suddenly in the news. The e-mails, correspondence between the trader and his lawyers, discussed how to handle accusations that he and his employer, Goldman Sachs, had played a key role in engineering a near-financial apocalypse.

Dishonest. Dumb.  Great combination.

The Orange Blossom Special Train Wreck

Florida insurance regulators unveiled for the first time Wednesday the prices proposed by private insurers for individual health plans to be sold on the state’s federally-run exchange, which is scheduled to launch Oct. 1.

But the proposed health plans and prices — and the state’s analysis that federal healthcare reform would cause premiums to rise — were hardly definitive of the actual costs that Floridians are likely to pay for health insurance next year.

That’s because the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has yet to approve the proposed health plans for Florida’s exchange, and those plans, including the prices, may change as they have in other states.

And while Florida insurance regulators said this week that the Affordable Care Act will cause the price of individual health plans sold in 2014 to rise 30 to 40 percent higher than similar plans sold today, and small group plan premiums could rise by 15 to 20 percent, they also conceded that those projections were based on a “hypothetical” health plan that does not exist anywhere in the state.

What’s more, the price projections released by the state do not factor in substantial government subsidies that will be available to many consumers based on household income, which will offset their actual out-of-pocket

-from the front page of today's Miami Herald.

Read carefully the "What's more" paragraph - an editorial gloss by your friendly journalists, who otherwise orchestrate the tone of this article into a "surely it won't be so bad" key.  Those "substantial government subsidies" come from the taxpayers and from those insureds paying the increased premiums, persons to whom those subsidies will not be available "based on household income."

But we shall see, won't we?  Sometime after the mid-term Congressional elections, of course.  One only hopes that the writers of this article (and their editors) will someday bear the full "out-of-pocket" impact of the AFA.