Autumn Spring

The Lamorinda Film & Entertainment Foundation Presents
An Exclusive East Bay Premier Film Screening

Autumn Spring Movie PosterOn the surface, the storyline of Autumn Spring seems simple enough—two older men, having some fun, being a bit naughty. A couple of pranksters with no intent to malign, they’re not quite careful enough as their high jinks sometime backfire, creating problems they hadn’t planned on. I couldn’t help but thinking this would turn out to be a toned-down, lighthearted, European-flavored mix of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” and the “Bucket List,” but this movie impressed me far more than either one—and I liked both of those movies.

The film opens with Fanda (Vlastimil Brodsky) and his close friend Eda (Stanislav Zindulka), touring a palatial estate with a realtor. On this day, Fanda is a wealthy “Maestro,” the retired conductor of the Metropolitan Opera. With a dismissive air he notes a few “shabby” characteristics of the mansion, informing the realtor that he might purchase the property—if the owner considers lowering its multi-million dollar price.
As we discover, it’s all an act of course. These guys are having just some fun—harmless fun, but expensive fun—as in; the realtor has shelled out money for a limo, lunch, wine and a suite at the Hilton for this esteemed, potential buyer.

Fanda trips up, accidentally revealing his true identity as nothing more than a retired pensioner. The realtor is not amused and demands repayment for his expenses. It is a considerable amount of money, so Fanda and Eda begin anew their shenanigans in an attempt to raise the cash. Of course, they are unsuccessful.

Enter Fanda’s wife of 44 years, Emilie (Stella Zazvorkova). Disciplined, pragmatic and realistic to a fault, Emilie is Fanda’s antithesis. They are well along in years after all, so Emilie is taking great pains to plan for the couple’s eventual and certainly approaching demise. You could say she is obsessed with death, as she daily counts and divides their pennies, the major portion going into their “funeral account jar.”

You can see where this is going, as Fanda “borrows” some of the funeral money to pay his debt. Ultimately however, Fanda is just too kind hearted to carry his deceptions to complete success and his “innocent” lies eventually catch up to him. The breaking point is reached and hell hath no fury like a “by the book” wife of 44 years. Emilie’s had enough of Fanda’s irresponsible ways and with the blessing of their conniving son, Jara (Ondrej Vetchy) who would like to send papa to the old folks home so that he can have their apartment, Emilie files for divorce. Fanda vows to change his ways, is forgiven, and this time keeps his word. Finally satisfied, Emilie’s life is in order, just as she wanted it. She is happy, as they can now look forward to death together.

The story turns gently and subtly, eventually blossoming into a rich and poignant look at what it means to live and to love. Was Fanda’s behavior due to an immature, irresponsible attitude, or perhaps merely a case of longing for some long-lost, youthful exuberance? We learn the truth as Emilie’s eyes eventually open to see the man she has loved for so many years, as she understands that Fanda has had it right it right all along. He’s been on a mission—to live life in the moment, quietly enjoying the experience, all the time wearing an “inner smile.”

Autumn Spring’s screenplay, by Jiri Hubac, is clever and engaging and the acting is superb throughout. This is a touching and meaningful film, well worth seeing.

Autumn Spring plays in an exclusive East Bay premier engagement at the Orinda Theatre, for one week only, beginning September 16th. The film was selected for this screening by the Lamorinda Film and Entertainment Foundation, whose mission, in part, is to bring “dynamic programming of popular and diverse films” to our region. For tickets, go to www.lfef.org, or www.orindatheatre.com. You can view a trailer of Autumn Spring on our website at www.aliveeastbay.com.

Stamps in My Passport – Norway

Deer
Bird
Many of you are aware of the fact that I try to collect a hat from each country that I visit. It has produced a huge collection of country-specific hats that I use quite a bit in my travel talks to various groups. It always surprises me, when I get these hats out, how unique each head covering is to an exact area.

Now, head covering is one thing, but certainly language is another. Each country, or at least each locale of the world, focuses on one specific manner of expression. There may be a slight difference between adjoining areas because sometimes one dialect will cause a bit of confusion between tribes.

But what about animals? Is their “language” as distinctive as that of humans, depending on which country they are from? Do German goats make a sound which is different from New Zealand goats? Does a horse speak a different language in Africa than in China?

Well, let me share a little story with you about this most complex question.

Our tale begins in late May in Norway. We were traveling with a small tour and had spent an enjoyable few days in Stalheim, and we were on our way to Lillehammer, the city where the 1994 Winter Olympics were held. The ski run, the skating stadium, and various support structures were still there, but that has to be another story.

The bus we were traveling in had its heat on full blast, and believe me, we needed it. At this latitude in the month of May it is still cold, and there were even snowflakes a flying. To add to our entertainment, a herd of wild reindeer crossed the road ahead – forcing us to pause a bit. And, this is what started the conversation about animal sounds.

Our faithful leader turned to our young female Norwegian guide and asked her what sounds a reindeer makes. The response was a “hrummm” which brought forth a chuckle from most of us. Her response was

“It is the same sound a horse makes.”

A horse? We said,

“No, a horse goes neigh, neigh”

She gave us an uncomprehending stare. And, so it moved on from there.

She said a cow goes “mua.”

We said “moo, moo.” Close, but a bit off.

We gave a pig sound “oink, oink.”

She responded with a “nof, nof.” Must be an entirely different breed, we thought.

When a bird “talks” it sounds to us like “tweet, tweet.”

She said we were way off – that birds go “pip, pip” to one another.

Think cats sound alike? Try “meow” to “miav.” English dogs seem to say “woof, woof,” but Norwegian canines go “vov, vov.”

The most perplexing sound was a rooster who woke them up with a “kylykin” instead of a “cock-a-doodle-doo.”

But my personal favorite was the frog. In Norway frogs make a sound something like “kvaek.” But in our country, most frogs say “ribbit.” Definitely a different species – wonder if an American frog can actually talk to a Norwegian one?

Man, I wish I could give you all a CD with the sounds actually on it. These phonetic letters I’m writing just don’t tell the true tale of how different the sounds really are. This silly interchange lasted over an hour and entertained the twenty-some passengers through the Arctic tundra.

Next time you get a chance, on one of your trips to a far-off, exotic land, ask some locals to tell you what sounds their animals make. I can’t believe that animals “talk” differently in the various countries of the world. But it certainly seems as if we make their sounds “country-specific.”

2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet – A Convertible Crossover!

Nissan Murano

Life is more interesting when we can blend the better of two worlds. The automotive industry strives to create niche vehicles that take the characteristics of one segment and morph it with another. So, with a show of hands, who would love a vehicle that explores the off-road, showers you with the freedom of an open breeze blowing through your hair while the sun paints you with a new shade of tan? And did I mention, along with all of this attention, you are treated to the soft comforts of a car verses the rough making of an SUV?

Keep your hands up, I’m still counting. Well, for all of us who have passionately replied “yes,” under the direction of Nissan’s President, Carlos Ghosn, they have created a multi-climate combination with the all-new 2011 Murano CrossCabriolet convertible crossover. All-wheel drive is standard on the Murano CrossCabriolet.

The 2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet AWD is packaged as a fully-loaded one model trim with the only option being camel-colored leather. Standard equipment includes leather seating, dual-zone climate control, navigation system with XM traffic, 9.3 GB MusicBox hard drive, Bose 8-speaker audio system, rearview camera, heated seats and steering wheel, remote entry, bi-xenon projector beam headlamps, heated seats and mirrors, and 20-inch alloy wheels.

With every trip I took in the Murano CrossCabriolet, the vehicle attracted on-lookers and inquiries. My son, Chase, and I, while cruising garage sales with the top down and wearing cool shades, at every stop we entertained questions about the car and accepted compliments. Chase, three years old, asked me “Dad, why does everyone want to talk to us about this car?” My reply was, “Because they have never seen such a unique-looking vehicle!” My little unscientific survey produced big thumbs-up accolades and smiles from both sexes. It seems Nissan got it right.

The designers at Nissan took the existing four-door all-wheel-drive Murano crossover and carved out a convertible version. They eliminated the two rear doors, extended the front doors by nearly 8-inches to allow easier access to the rear seat, and incorporated a power convertible cloth top that neatly folds into the trunk and hides under a hard shell cover. The CrossCabriolet is a four-seater compared to the Murano’s five-person capacity.

The convertible top is a quality cloth with a fabric liner and is available in either beige or black. The CrossCabriolet converts from coupe to convertible in about 25 seconds. A thin skylight sits slightly above the rear window. The overall package generates a sporty profile with the top up or down.

The leather seats are extremely comfortable. The loss of the third rear passenger provides for two large seats. Rear legroom is snugger on the CrossCabriolet verses the four-door hardtop Murano, due to the space needed to store the convertible top. Your trunk space is also impacted when the top is stored away.

The dash is full of contours and dressed in all black or tan with many soft touch points. The center dash adds character. It functions as the main control area starting with a seven-inch screen for viewing the navigation system, radio, climate settings and backup camera. Below the monitor sits all of the knobs and buttons to operate all of those items as well as an additional storage area. The center console is trimmed in wood and includes two cup holders. The center arm-rest doubles as a dual layer storage area. The lockable glove box is quite roomy; being able to fit a laptop.

The power behind the Murano is Nissan’s 3.5-liter DOHV V6-engine generating 265 horsepower. Teamed with a second generation CVT transmission, it has good logic control and a low gear. The V6 had plenty of power and effortlessly got me into the flow of freeway traffic, while the handling around tight corners was only fair. There’s no manual shift mode with the CVT, which was fine with me. The second gen CVT uses what Nissan calls Adaptive Shift Control to deliver a sporty experience, which worked out great.

Room for improvement:

  • A slight rattle emerged from somewhere in the cloth top, but was easily drowned out by the Bose audio system.

Cool Features:

  • Power Convertible Top
  • Unique styling
  •  Start Ignition Button

The Murano CrossCabriolet safety equipment includes dual-stage frontal airbags, side-impact airbags in front, door-mounted airbag curtains with rollover sensor, pop-up roll bars for rear passengers, active headrests in front, anti-lock brakes, Vehicle Dynamic Control with traction control, tire pressure monitor, and all-wheel drive.

In Summary – The 2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet is priced at $46,390. What that price gives you is a vehicle that scores high for originality and provides the versatility to handle your driving SUV needs truly in a different fashion than anything else on the market. With a comfortable interior, good power, stylish exterior and all-wheel drive; the 2011 Murano CrossCabriolet is ready to handle your every driving need. So jump in, put the top down, sport the shades, toss the hair spray out the window, and watch your “cool- meter” climb!

Specifications
2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet AWD

Base price: $46,390 as driven: $47,335 (including destination)
Engine: 3.5-liter V6-cylinder
Horsepower: 265 @ 6000
Torque: 248 foot pounds @ 4400
Transmission: CVT Automatic
Drive: All Wheel-Drive
Seating: 4-passenger
Turning circle: 39.3 feet
Cargo space: 12.3 cubic feet
Curb weight: 4,438 pounds
Fuel capacity: 21.7 gallons
EPA mileage: City 17 / Highway 22
Wheel Base: 111.2 inches
Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper

Financial Planning Week™ 2011

What to do now? Does the challenging economy and volatile markets have you searching for answers? Now more than ever, consumers should take the time to improve their financial knowledge in order to make better financial decisions. That is what Financial Planning Week™ is all about. The Financial Planning Association (FPA®) is excited to be celebrating the tenth annual Financial Planning Week™, October 3-9. During this week, the FPA® strives to build public awareness of the financial planning process, enabling individuals to make prudent financial decisions to achieve their life goals and dreams.

The FPA® is a non-profit member organization that believes that everyone is entitled to objective advice from a competent, ethical financial planner to make smart financial decisions. We have one of the strongest chapters in the nation right here in our own backyard. Our local chapter, The FPA® of the East Bay, has a membership of over 400 local financial professionals representing some of top financial planning minds in the Bay Area. Our members demonstrate a professional commitment to education and a client-centered financial planning process.

The FPA® offers some excellent resources to consumers. Please visit www.fpaforfinancialplanning.org and explore some of the free resources available that include: Find a Planner – The FPA offers consumers an easy way to search for a CFP® professional in their area. Ask a Planner – Use the Ask a CFP® professional hotline to ask a general personal finance question by email. Free Literature – The FPA offers a number of free brochures on a variety of personal finance topics. Career Center – The FPA provides a wealth of information for those interested in a career in financial planning.

20 Ways to Celebrate Financial Planning Week

  •  Balance your checkbook
  •   Make a monetary contribution to your favorite charity
  •   Start a savings account for a child, vacation or a gift for yourself
  •   Help teach your children how to save and spend wisely
  •   Get your estate in order: Create or revise your will and other estate-planning documents
  •   Call your financial planner and share your appreciation for their service
  •  Pay off a credit card
  • Get a head start on college — investigate college planning options
  • Establish an emergency fund
  • Evaluate your employee benefits and begin planning for open enrollment
  • Develop your holiday spending budget
  •  Plan for year-end tax strategies
  • Purchase a session with a financial planner for a relative, friend or colleague
  • Give a relative, friend or colleague a subscription to a personal finance magazine
  • Invite a financial planner to speak at your workplace
  • Review your insurance coverage
  • Write down your financial goals and revisit them periodically
  • Start using personal finance software to help you better understand your money
  • Look up three financial terms that have baffled you and resolve to understand them
  • Talk to a relative about their plans for long-term care

Financial Planning Week™ is an excellent time to asses your own personal finances and to discover the value of financial planning. I strongly urge you to do one of the things on the list above and visit the site to take advantage of the free, objective content made available by the Financial Planning Association™. Happy Financial Planning Week™!

Damien helps individuals invest and manage risk. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and a principal of Walnut Creek Wealth Management. These are the views of Damien Couture, CFP® and should not be construed as investment advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Not all recommendations are suitable for all investors. Each investor must consider their own goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. Your comments are welcome. Damien can be reached at 925-280-1800 x101 or Damien@WalnutCreekWealth.com.

The Dirt Gardener – Pruning Apricot Trees

Apricot Tree
Q. Can I prune a six-inch diameter branch off my apricot tree? I’m making room for a garden shed, but I could wait if it would harm the tree.

A. It’s perfectly okay at this time to remove a limb(s) and or branches off an apricot tree. Actually, you could do your dormant season pruning now. Traditionally, January and February have been the customary months to prune deciduous fruit trees; however, this is changing particularly with apricots. There is a lot of discussion supporting the summer and fall pruning of fruit trees. This also includes cherries, plums, peaches and nectarines. The exception would be those varieties with a crop still maturing such as apples, pears and persimmons.

September and October are excellent months to prune as the trees are in the beginning stages of dormancy, even though the leaves haven’t turn color and started to fall. Leaf drop is still four to six weeks off. By definition, plants, including evergreens, are dormant when they have stopped actively growing. This is certainly the case with fruit trees as we haven’t seen any new growth on deciduous varieties for sometime nor do we expect to see any until next spring. One of the biggest disadvantages of pruning now is that the foliage gets in the way. It’s more difficult to identify what needs to be prune and or kept. The trade off is that during the winter months, conditions can be cold, damp, muddy or all of the above. Hence pruning in the fall is gaining in popularity.

Pruning apricot trees during the winter months can be problematical during wet damp periods. Apricots are susceptible to an air-borne disease called Eutypa that enters through the fresh pruning wound(s). The disease causes a sudden die back of the limbs and branches in the canopy during late spring or summer. Unfortunately, this disease has no chemical treatments. Once the wound(s) have callus over, it’s no longer a threat. The callusing takes a couple of days to occur. You’ll need a five-day period of dry weather to prune and mother nature doesn’t always co-operate. You avoid the problem altogether by pruning in the late summer or fall. Eutypa is often confused with root rot, as the symptoms are very similar, dieback in the canopy. Fortunately, the two diseases occur at different times of the year. With root rot, twigs, stems, and branches in varying sizes fail to break dormancy or leaf out. The problem could be spread out throughout the canopy or in one section. In addition, it isn’t uncommon the entire tree to leaf out and then have an area(s) where the foliage collapses, wilts and then dies with the first warm spell. These are all indicators of root rot. A major contributor to root rot is over watering during the summer and fall. A mature apricot should be watered once every fourteen to twenty-one days after the rainy season end and discontinue watering altogether after Labor Day. And finally, planting under the canopy of apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums and cherries is discouraged.

Real Estate Snap Shot

Q. Is the local real estate market getting stronger or weaker?
Stronger in terms of activity but weaker in terms of average price in many communities; Danville’s home prices have decreased 5.9% in the last year. However, some neighborhoods have actually increased in value. It’s really a market of contradictions. Consult an expert.

Q. Tom, would you buy a home in today’s market?
Unequivocally YES—if I was planning on living in it for a minimum of five years. The combination of significantly lower prices and incredibly low interest rates, plus substantially increasing rents equals a great buying opportunity. Think about it—just about everything costs more these days; groceries, gas, medical care, college tuition, home/apartment rents. Homes and interest rates are actually “on-sale.”

Q. Are mortgage interest rates really all that attractive?

Emphatically YES! Fixed rate 30-year money is at or under 4.5%. Fixed rate 15-year money is at about 3.75%. It is harder to become “loan-approved,” but well worth it.

Q. Tom, cut through all the fluff. What really makes a home sell in today’s market?
The right combination of four components will determine if a home sells: condition, location, price and marketing exposure. If any one of those is below par, chances are the home will not attract offers. Price remains critically important. There you go—no fluff!

Q. Why should I hire an experienced Realtor? There is so much information available to me now on the internet, I wonder if I can save some big money doing it myself.
Think of it this way; it’s not what you know, it’s what you don’t know that may cause big problems in any purchase or sale transaction. The most experienced Realtors share real estate contract wisdom, negotiating savvy and proactive problem solving skills from hundreds of successfully closed transactions all to your benefit. Hard to put a price tag on that.

Q. Is owning a home still the ‘American dream’?
I firmly believe that home ownership definitely remains part of the American dream and a solid component of both financial stability and long-term wealth building. Here’s both my personal and professional recommendation in a nut shell: get the best advice, buy smart regarding community and lot location, finance wisely, methodically pay down the mortgage, take advantage of the tax advantages, maintain and improve your property over time and remember that real estate is meant to be a long-term investment. And enjoy your home—that’s the best part!

To My Readers: Starting in October I’ll take a sabbatical from writing this monthly real estate column; I have enjoyed every minute of keeping you informed on local real estate matters and trust you have found the information valuable. Special thanks to Eric Johnson and his wonderful ALIVE Magazine staff for the opportunity to contribute to a fine publication that will certainly continue to count me as an eager reader and raving fan!
See you out in the real estate marketplace – Tom Hart

Trivial Matters

Wracking our brain is no way to beat the heat, but let’s do it anyway.

  1. Who played Johnny Cash’s father in “I Walk the Line”?
  2. Who hit the first walk-off homerun in World Series history?
  3. What musical instrument did Chico Marx play?
  4. Which US President made the first radio broadcast by a President?
  5. What lodge did “Amos and Andy” of radio fame belong to?
  6. What famous WWI air ace spent a week on a life raft in the Pacific Ocean during WWII?

August Answers

  1. Jerome Cowan
  2. Mike Andrews
  3. Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg
  4. Cesar Romero
  5. James Stewart
  6. Elian Gonzales

WIN LUNCH ON BEN!
The first person to email or mail, no calls please, the correct answers to all of the above questions will win a $25 gift certificate at The Uptown Cafe in downtown Danville, compliments of Ben Fernandez!
Entries must be received by September 20, 2011. In the event of a tie, the winner will be drawn at random. Please email your answers to info@aliveeastbay.com, or mail to ALIVE East Bay, 199 East Linda Mesa Avenue, Suite 10, Danville, CA 94526. Employees and family members of employees of ALIVE East Bay are not eligible.
Restaurant may be changed without notice.

Is the Yankee Icon on Career Watch as Performance Starts to Fade?

It was like old times on May 8 as Derek Jeter powered the Yankees past the Texas Rangers. The 36-year-old shortstop went 4-6, hit two homeruns, drove in three runs and stole a base for what was easily his most complete and productive game in more than a year.

Better yet was the game on July 9 when the Yankee captain recorded his long awaited 3,000th hit. That day he went 5-5, and the milestone hit was a homerun.

The homeruns on May 8 were Jeter’s first in 259 at bats, going back to last August. His weekend performance in Detroit raised his average 34 points to .276. Teammates are testifying to the media that the ball is now jumping of his bat during batting practice, and Jeter himself was saying that he now feels comfortable at the plate, which he says means the hits are sure to follow.

Instead, from May 8 to July 8, Jeter’s average fell about twenty points to .257, and he had no homeruns. His big day on July 9 got him back to .270, an average he essentially maintained through the end of July, but a number that is well below his career mark of .312.

At age 37, Jeter plays the most demanding every day position on the field other than catcher. The other great young shortstops of the late 1990s; Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra, and Omar Vizquel, have moved to other positions, the bench, or entirely out of the big leagues. The second half of the 2010 season was a disaster for Jeter. He hit just two homeruns after July 1, and delivered only 16 other extra base hits in three months. His batting average dropped to .270 despite a .330 start in April. He got to fewer balls in the field for the third straight year, and according to the advanced metrics on baseball-reference.com he performed as a below average fielder as measured by runs prevented at his position.

The Yankees have noticed that their shortstop’s career is in decline. Jeter’s contract was up after the 2010 season. That contract paid him $189 million over ten seasons, including $22.6 million for 2010. Sources say that Jeter first asked for a new seven year deal at roughly the same rate. This lead to a protracted, public negotiation during which Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman suggested that if Jeter thought he was worth that much then he was free to test the market with other teams.

Cashman knew that was an empty threat, as Jeter’s prestige and tradition had more value to the Yankees than any other team. No other team would or could pay him anything approaching what the Yankees might pay, even if it was less than Jeter wanted. The parties eventually agreed to a three year contract that will pay Jeter about $16 million each season, with a player option for the fourth year at $8 million plus possible increases for awards and performance that could bump his salary to $17 million for that final year. And while that is still a tremendous amount of money, it is always embarrassing for it to become well known that one’s employer feels that one’s worth is declining.

By any rational measure, Jeter’s skills as a baseball player are on the wane. He is still capable of great games and maybe even the odd excellent month, but the sustained excellence he has shown since winning Rookie of the Year in 1996 is no longer there. The Yankees are profiting from his march to milestones like the 3,000th career hit. That Jeter still commands respect in the Yankee clubhouse is evident by seeing how excited his teammates were with his superb game on Mother’s Day and how they rallied around him when he reached 3,000 hits. As captain and primary team spokesman he takes pressure off his teammates, which they clearly appreciate.

With just performance as a measure, Jeter is merely an overpaid former superstar, and there is no shame in that. He has not yet reached the point where he is hurting the Yankees, in part because they do not have a shortstop ready to step in and give them a better performance than what Jeter can still deliver.

The danger will come in a year or two when the Yankees may pass on a free agent shortstop or a trade for another team’s shortstop in deference to Jeter. Jeter has said he is not interested in changing positions, and the Yankees may not want to pay him $16 million to sit on the bench.

Jeter’s career has been marked by class, dignity, and grace under pressure. His final contribution as a Yankee icon may be to retire in 2013 or 2014, leaving millions on the table, so the Yankees can move forward with someone better able to meet the demands of everyday shortstop. The last chapter of Jeter’s career will be a fascinating process to watch.

Living Trust

When you set up a Living Trust, it is critical that the followup work of moving the assets into the Trust is tackled and completed accurately.

Most people’s largest asset is their residence. To put the residence into the Trust, you must execute a valid Deed, which must be recorded at the County Recorder’s office where the property is located. This also applies to any rental property that you may own. It is also a good idea to contact your liability (homeowners) insurance agent to request that the Trust be added as an endorsee on the policy.

Next on the list are cash and investment accounts. Such items as checking accounts, savings accounts, CDs, brokerage accounts, mutual fund accounts, DRIP (stock) accounts require a change in ownership to the Trust. You will need to contact the financial institution holding the account and find out the procedures for making the change into your Trust. Be careful. Some institutions have a policy of closing the old account and opening a new Trust account. This can cause you a problem if you have a checking account you want to change, but you have automatic deposit or bill payment from that account. If you choose to leave the account out of Trust, you can request the institution to designate a beneficiary for the account. These are often called “POD” (Pay on Death) or “TOD” (Transfer on Death).

Transferring accounts into your Trust does not include such items as IRAs, 401(k)s, Annuities, and other retirement or tax deferred accounts that may hold stocks or mutual funds. These types of accounts pass according the beneficiary designation form that you have filed with the company. Life insurance is also handled by beneficiary form. It is a good idea to review the forms periodically to be sure that they are correct, but the account name will never change to the name of the Trust.

Your Trust is designed to keep your assets out of Probate Court, saving your Estate time and money. For maximum effect, you need to ensure that your assets are in your Trust.

Soul Surfer – Alive at the Movies

Soul-Surfer-Movie

Jaws meets Jesus. That’s the way I see Soul Surfer. Even if you don’t enjoy faith based films, you will more than likely love this movie. The Hamilton family seems to be living the life that we’ve all dreamed of from time to time. Every time I vacation in Hawaii I have the passing thought…I could just not go back home. I wouldn’t need a fancy car (well, maybe a beach buggy). I wouldn’t even need fancy clothes; just live in my bathing suit. I could fish the surf for fresh fish to eat and send for the grandkids! Then reality sets in.

Soul Surfer is about a real family. The Hamilton’s live on the beach on Kauai. It’s not a beachfront mansion; it’s a bungalow where everyone parks by the front door. They are a surfing family. Thirteen year old, Bethany (AnnaSophia Robb) has been surfing since she was a child.  Her two brothers surf, as do her parents, Tom (Dennis Quaid) and Cheri (Helen Hunt). She surfs competitively and has dreams of turning professional. On Halloween Day, while out on the waves with her best friend, she is attacked by a 14 foot Tiger Shark which rips her arm off. Bethany is rushed to the hospital by Holt (Kevin Sorbo) her best friend’s father. Returning from the brink of death with the help of local surgeon Dr. Rovinsky (Craig T. Nelson), Bethany faces a challenging new life. She looks to her church youth pastor, Sarah (Carrie Underwood)for guidance.

Based on Hamilton’s book (co-written with Sheryl Berk and Rick Bundschuh), the film never strays far from the theme that God has a plan for your life. Prayer and trust in Him are constants. Bethany is never lacking for good role models in life or in the movie. She has loving parents, great friends and even her arch rival, eventually comes around. I think the important thing to “get” is that life throws us all curve balls; it’s what we do with them that makes us who we are.  The shark attack leaves this amazing 13 year old questioning her faith, her capacity for happiness, and her dream of going pro. Determined to return to the water, Bethany slowly begins to surf again, struggling to figure out a comfort zone for an athlete with one arm, challenging herself through competitions, struggling to stay ahead of her self-doubt.

The aquatic cinematography is dramatically and artfully handled by John R. Leonetti. As for the shark attack, it’s not a sensationalized moment cheapened by an extended effort of suspense. It’s the only reason for the PG rating but it is done by Director, Sean McNamara, quickly with as little gore as possible. I have to admit I was ready to look away but didn’t feel the need. McNamara hits the scene quickly, reinforcing the shock of the violence by blocking it quickly, making the horrific event bold and real, and underscoring the tragedy.

Soul Surfer, the story of a young girl’s courage should be on your list to view. (It is not appropriate for the very young.)  As always I welcome your comments at chastings@rockcliff.com.