In This Issue
Message from the Partners
Five Facts You Should Know About Planning to Protect Your Children
Five Documents That an Attorney Should Always Review
To Roth or Not to Roth
Staff Update
Quick Links
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Samuel Sayward & Baler 
 858 Washington Street, Suite 202
Dedham, MA 02026
Phone: (781) 708-0115
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Fax: (781) 461-0916
News from
Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC

July 2010

Attorneys Suzanne Sayward, Maria Baler, and Steven Joshua Samuel 
group attorney photo
Message from the Partners
Dear Clients and Friends,
We hope you are having an enjoyable summer!
As many of you know, our founding partner Attorney Steven Joshua Samuel is also the founder and owner of the financial advisory firm Samuel Financial, Inc.  In this issue, Steve puts on his financial hat to advise about "Five Common Retirement Planning Mistakes and How to Avoid Them," which was recently published in The Dedham Times. This article points out common assumptions and mistakes that can disrupt your best intentions when planning for retirement. He also offers tips on how to increase your effectiveness in developing a financial portfolio that will help ensure you have adequate resources down the road.
Attorney Suzanne Sayward has provided an abridged version of the column she wrote for The Dedham Times a few months ago titled "Five Documents That Should Always be Reviewed by an Attorney." Too often, well-meaning and/or unsuspecting families find themselves in unfortunate situations because they assume a boilerplate document or contract is sufficient legal protection. Unfortunately this is not the case. Attorney Sayward explains why you should consult with your attorney when it comes to these and other important documents.  
Also in this issue, Attorney Maria Baler provides an update on the federal estate tax situation, which is still in flux with no congressional direction in sight. This issue is now becoming more political as we move toward the November elections. We are following this issue closely and will keep you updated on a regular basis.
Finally, we would like to welcome back paralegal Janine Cronin from maternity leave and welcome administrative assistant Jennifer Harlow to the firm full time. Both Janine and Jennifer have exceptional interpersonal and professional skills which ensure the firm's responsiveness to clients' needs and questions.
We are pleased our newsletter has received so much positive feedback.  We welcome your comments on how we could make improvements or provide additional information on topics of interest to you in future issues. We also welcome new subscribers so please feel free to send us email addresses or forward this newsletter to a friend.
Best wishes for a safe and pleasant rest of the summer and early fall, 
Steven Joshua Samuel
Suzanne Sayward
Maria Baler 
Five Common Retirement Planning Mistakes and How to Avoid Them 
By Steven Joshua Samuel JD MBA, AIF®

With the economy still struggling to gain momentum, the stock market often fluctuating dramatically day to day, and people leading increasingly complex lives, it's more important than ever to plan carefully for retirement.


Over the past several years it's become challenging for many families to set aside enough money to live comfortably later on in life; however, there are planning mistakes you can avoid to help increase the long-term effectiveness of your retirement savings.


Here are five of the most common avoidable mistakes when planning for your future: 


1. Underestimating the amount you will need during your retirement years


Estimating how much money is needed for a decent retirement lifestyle can seem so daunting that many people don't even try. Start with a few basic steps by creating a rough estimate of your current expenses by dividing them into two broad categories:


Necessities: Home payment, utilities, taxes, health, auto and home insurance, food, clothing and medical basics and auto related


Discretionary: Gifts, dining out, travel, recreation, hobbies and luxury items


After you have created these lists, adjust your estimate for retirement lifestyle changes based on what expenses you know will significantly increase or decrease over the next several years. Otherwise, adjust only for some inflation over a likely 20 to 30 years of retirement. Life expectancy for American men aged 65 is now about 82, and for women it's age 85, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Next, read on to review your retirement resources for whether they can sustain the expenses you need.


2. Taking Social Security too early or too late


Social Security benefits are at least a part of most people's retirement resources. There is no mandatory time to take benefits, and many people are uncertain about whether to start receiving Social Security benefits at early retirement (age 62) or waiting until full retirement (ages 65-67 or later). While there is no single choice that fits everyone, you can make the best decision based on your life expectancy, health, retirement needs, and other retirement savings.


 A key factor in determining when to start Social Security benefits is how much of annual retirement expenses can be met by withdrawals from other retirement resources - pensions and 401(k) or other savings. For example, a widely used financial industry estimate is 4 to 6 percent per year of total retirement resources that can be withdrawn, so $500,000 could allow for $20-$30,000 per year toward retirement expenses before considering Social Security.


Consult a trusted financial advisor to help determine when to begin Social Security benefits and how and when to make withdrawals from other retirement accounts.


3. Making poor choices about which accounts or assets to draw from, when and in what order


Deciding which assets to sell and when to sell them is both an art and a science. The science is in considering current tax consequences, investment yields and cash flow; and the art is in projecting these issues into future years. For example, withdrawing money first from traditional, taxable IRA accounts has advantages for some people, but taking first from non-taxable Roth IRA accounts may have advantages for others.


For some protection against having to sell investments when prices are low, cash flow projection helps. Cash flow projection of expenses at its simplest is a rough estimate of how much money may be necessary to meet your monthly needs and what is needed for one-time expenses likely to occur during the next five years. It's best to seek qualified professional advice on planning the timing of withdrawals and related issues.


4. Mistaking diversification for asset allocation


While there is no sure way to protect against market fluctuations or the damage of inflation to purchasing power, asset allocation has proven to be a useful tool. Asset allocation is not simply owning a large number of investments, but rather investing in different asset classes, which tend to react differently to market events - such as large, medium and small companies, US and international, growth and value companies, bonds of various maturities and risk, real estate, cash, and others. Allocations require monitoring from time to time and here again, professional advice is warranted. Investors should note that diversification does not assure against market loss and that there is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will outperform a non-diversified portfolio.


5. Being too influenced by news events


Good and bad news, as delivered and often sensationalized by the media, tends to influence high and low swings in financial markets. The inevitable ups and downs in investment markets often compel some investors to make rash decisions. Investing and managing withdrawals to meet the needs of a 20-30 year retirement strategy requires discipline, even during market turmoil, which seems all the more frequent in the past several years. Advice from competent, independent advisors - not biased by how they are paid - will help keep an investor focused on the steps most likely to achieve financial security.


Steven Joshua Samuel JD MBA, AIF® is the founder of the Dedham law firm Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC and the financial services firm Samuel Financial, Inc. He offers securities and advisory services as an Investment Adviser Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network, member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. For more information, visit

Five Documents That an Attorney Should Always Review

In February of this year, Attorney Suzanne Sayward's column on "Five Documents That Should Always be Reviewed by an Attorney" appeared in The Dedham Times.


Below is an excerpt of that article - to read the full article visit our website at


While the advice to "never sign anything without your lawyer" is common, the notion of having everything reviewed by an attorney is a bit extreme for most people. However, there are certain documents for which this is always highly recommended. Here are five documents you should never sign without the advice of counsel.


1.    Your Child's Apartment Lease.  It is very common for landlords to ask for a co-signer on a rental agreement when the tenants are college students or young adults leasing their first apartment.  Beware! 


2.    Purchase & Sale Agreement.  A Purchase & Sale Agreement is the formal contract signed by buyers and sellers regarding a real estate transaction.   Although the title of this contract may be "Standard Form Purchase & Sale Agreement," there is no standard agreement that is suitable for every buyer and seller.   


3.    Fiduciary Bond.  Although being asked to sign a fiduciary bond is not nearly as common as the other documents discussed in this article, it is a trap for the uninformed and can result in a whole lot of trouble. 


4.    Estate Plan Documents.  You can find free legal forms for everything these days, including Wills, Powers of Attorney and even Trusts.  However, when you're planning for your family's future, there is a lot at stake. 


5.    Loan Guaranty.  There is a popular idiom that defines a guarantor as "an idiot with a pen." While it might seem obvious that if you sign as a guarantor on a loan for someone you might actually have to pay back that loan, many people seem to sign with the assumption they will not have to do so.   

Federal Estate Tax Update

By: Attorney Maria Baler
We are now more than halfway through 2010 and Congress has not yet done what we expected them to do by the end of 2009 - bring some certainty to the federal estate tax situation.  To recap this situation, under current law there is no federal estate tax on estates of people who die in 2010.  In 2009, the federal estate tax was imposed on estates of over $3.5 million in value.  On January 1, 2011, the federal estate tax will be imposed on all estates over $1 million in value.   There has been speculation that Congress will act to extend the 2009 law (continuing the $3.5 million exemption) or enact an even higher exemption amount ($5 million).  To date, Congress has done neither.   However, our legislators have not been idle - they have introduced no less than 39 bills in the House and Senate since January 1, 2009 in an attempt to address this issue.  None of these bills has come close to being enacted. 
Looking forward, experts seem to think the further we get into 2010, the less likely we will see any Congressional activity on the estate tax.  At the very least, nothing is likely to happen before the November elections.  Politically, there are many significant issues up for discussion in the critical, upcoming mid-term elections.  Neither political party appears to want to take action on the politically charged and complex estate tax issue, only to have that action used as ammunition in the November elections.  Instead, Repub­licans and Democrats will both attempt to use the estate tax issue to their advantage in the election by blaming the other party for not acting to resolve this uncertainty.
For those of us who would like resolution, we can only hope the loss of federal estate tax revenue in 2010 will provide Congress with some incentive.  Since January 1, according to Forbes magazine, four billionaires have died in the United States, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner being the most recent.   It is estimated these four deaths alone have cost the federal government $6.5 billion in federal estate tax revenue.
As one commentator recently stated: "It is becoming increasingly probable that Congress will do nothing in 2010... Or Congress might surprise many of us and adopt a permanent or temporary carryover of the 2009 rules. Or it could adopt a lower estate exemption - perhaps $2.0 million. Any changes in 2010 might or might not be retroactive. Or the 2010 changes might allow clients to elect to be under the 2009 rules or the 2010 rules.  If estate taxes are made retroactive, changes will be challenged all the way to the US Supreme Court...No wonder our clients are getting headaches when talking to us."
Stay tuned.  We will continue to keep you posted on any action (or continued inaction) on the federal estate tax issue.

Staff Update   
Jennifer Harlow Gradutes from College
Administrative assistant Jennifer Harlow recently joined the firm full time after graduating from Framingham State College in May with a BA in geography and a concentration in environmental studies. Jennifer previously worked for the firm part time while attending college. Congratulations to Jennifer on her graduation! She can be reached at 781-461-1020, ext. 200 or at
It's a Girl!
We are pleased to welcome back paralegal Janine Cronin from her maternity leave. Janine has been with the firm for seven years and, among her many responsibilities, is the primary contact for scheduling client appointments for Attorneys Baler and Sayward. She can be reached at 781-461-1020, ext. 217 or at
To learn more about Estate Taxes, Estate Planning and related topics visit our website at