Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Where Were Their Advisors?

Great Read from InsuranceNewsNet

Estate Planning Failures of the Rich and Famous

Sometimes you just can't write a better piece than the one you just read. That's the case with Steven A. Morelli's fascinating and funny article, "Estate Planning Failures of the Rich and Famous."

The article was featured in the May issue of InsuranceNewsNet Magazine, where the author is editor-in-chief. The publication might not sound sexy, but Morelli provides witty anecdotes and insights on estate planning fiascos one might not expect from some very smart people who surely had the means to hire competent advisors.

Bottom line: Even when you think you've crossed all your 't's and dotted all your 'i's, things can go wrong after you've passed on.

The late Sherman Helmsley


Sherman Helmsley (George Jefferson from "The Jeffersons") passed away in 2012 from lung cancer. After he died, his half-brother, Richard Thornton, came out of the woodwork demanding Helmsley's entire estate ($50,000). No one Helmsley was close with had heard of Thornton but tests proved he was a blood relative. Because Helmsley didn't explicitly mention anything about Thornton in his will and because he signed it six weeks before he died, Thornton had ground to stand on.

Morelli notes: "In Helmsley's case, a judge said his half-brother could contest the will but followed Helmsley's wishes to be buried in El Paso."

The late Whitney Houston


We all remember the untimely death of Whitney Houston back in 2012.

When Houston's daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown was born, Houston never drew up a new will. She simply added a clause that said Bobbi would gain 10% of the estate when she turns 21, 20% when she turns 25, and the rest at age 30. Houston's mother is saying that Houston would have preferred that her daughter receive a lifetime stream of money instead of the lump sum.

What was Houston's intention? There's no way to tell, so it's left up to a judge to decide. A good way to remedy this is to clearly state intentions, which can be done with a video will.

Do What You Do Best, and Let Benay Do the Rest!

There are some good lessons to take away from these stories. One, even best laid plans goes awry. Two and more importantly, expert planning is everything.

Having the proper advisors for personal and business estate planning coverage is important, and one of our jobs here at Benay is to ensure that our clients have all their bases covered, estate planning included. We make sure that each client, through trusted advisors in all fields of business, has the proper estate planning for their specific needs.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The DO Book Company

I just found a really curious and noteworthy new independent publishing house out of the UK, The DO Book Company. They’ve only started with five titles and the books run only about 100 pages.  They’re mini-inspirational primers on subjects that people want an immediate insight into, like “Do Grow – Start with 10 simple vegetables.” 

At close to $6 a pop for the eBook, who wouldn’t want to gobble them up like M&M’s, reading “Do Disrupt – Change the status quo or become it” in between corporate meetings? Check them out and support independent publishing.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tin House Author Approached by Dexter's Matthew C. Hall with Plans for Showtime Script

Of course we at Benay know all too well the breadth of talent our clients publish, but the verity of this realization came to fruition when Benay client Tin House Book's author, Matthew Specktor, was approach by none other than Michael C. Hall, who had a very particular proposal for him. Hall, who many of you may know better as the murderous television vigilante, Dexter, had read Specktor’s most recent novel, American Dream Machine, released from Tin House Books in April, and seen huge cinematic potential. He wanted the story to come to life on screen as a new Showtime television series, and he wanted Specktor to be the one to write it to life. Specktor agreed to the project; a decision that he would have had trouble making years ago.

Tin House author, Matthew Specktor

“I didn’t know very many happy screenwriters,” he writes in a recent column for Salon Media Group. “I didn’t know any, in fact: even the most successful among them… were miserable, touched with a kind of self-loathing unique to the breed.”

And yet Specktor is still giving it a go. The American Dream Machine project is still in its infancy at the Showtime studios, according to The Hollywood Reporter, but the prospects do seem hopeful. With the Dexter saga at a close, Hall is ramped up for a fresh new project, and Specktor seems to be in a rather healthy place these days in his relationship with screenwriting.

Tin House Books joked about the news on their Facebook page, last Monday, asking their followers who they think should play Beau, the father of the novel’s main character who rises out of nothingness to become one of Hollywood’s top agents. Answers proved cheeky, ranging from Patton Oswalt to Fred Melamed.

Screenshot of Michael C. Hall from an
episode of the Showtime series, Dexter.
On a more serious note, it does seem only fitting that an actor like Hall would pick up a book like American Dream Machine and bring it to Showtime. After all, their fast-paced racy series like Dexter, Weeds, and Californication, mirror the tone found in a large amount of Tin House’s titles. Alongside American Dream Machine’s gritty reality sits novels like Me and Mr. Booker, a tale of a small town sixteen-year-old who finds salvation from boredom in a charming Brit who shows her the ways of the world through style, adventure, whiskey, cigarettes and sex, and Misfit, a novel that outlines the last week of Marilyn Monroe’s life, and her long hard fall from the top of stardom.

Tin House’s books having a modern cinematic feel is unmistakable. They are highly conducive to the modern medium of film and television; a fact solidified by Showtime’s recent interest in American Dream Machine, and a quality that will prove to be invaluable, given the way that the story is favored so immensely by motion picture in this age. It is just another way that we at Benay are right in saying that our clients are, indeed, on top.


If you’d like to learn more about Matthew Specktor and his novel, American Dream Machine, please visit the Tin House website by clicking here. You can find excerpts from the novel, information on Specktor’s other works, other Tin House authors, and more.

- Colleen McClintock

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Out(of sight)sourcing Payroll Shouldn't Mean Out of Mind!

According to the National Small Business Association,  40% of small businesses use outside payroll companies to process their payrolls.

And why not? Tax regulations and rates seem to change without warning. Tracking, maintaining and reporting payroll, benefits and health deductions cost hours and money that don't bring in profits. 

Warning: Although it makes sense to outsource these functions, payroll companies need to be monitored.

Payroll companies do not need special government licensing; nor are "professional employee organizations" required to report tax payments to their clients. 

ADP, Paychex, and Intuit are household names in the payroll business, but many businesses use small, unregulated firms to handle their payroll taxes. So what's the problem? If a payroll processing company doesn't pay your taxes (on time or at all), YOU are ultimately the responsible party.


Here are 4 tips for making sure your payroll service is paying your taxes:
  1. Ask for copies of quarterly payroll reports showing all payments made on your behalf to local, state, and federal agencies, including Forms 940, 941, and 945.
  2. Make sure that your payroll provider guarantees in writing that they will be responsible for fines incurred due to their negligence.
  3. Ask for references and actually speak with them.
  4. Ask your accountant at year end to contact state and federal agencies (secretary of state's offices and the IRS) to confirm that you are up-to-date on your taxes.

For the benefit of both your company and your employees, remember that when you outsource a business function you still need to oversee the process.

Do What You Do Best, and Let Benay Do All the Rest!

Let's face it: most business owners dislike the hassle, expense and seemingly unproductive time on payroll, benefits, etc.

For over 27 years, Benay has been taking care of financial tasks for our clients. We monitor payroll processors carefully, so you can focus on growing your business.  If you'd like an evaluation of your payroll processing system, give us a call at 203-744-6010.