India House-SOS Hold Third “Life After” Series on Demystifying Estate Planning

Sharing the podium at the “Life After: Demystifying Estate Planning” seminar were AJ John, who served as the emcee; estate planning and probate lawyers Russell Hall and Steven Mendel, SOS founder Biki Mohindra, and Anasuya Kabad, a certified financial planner with JayKay Wealth Advisors, who managed the Q&A session.

Sharing the podium at the “Life After: Demystifying Estate Planning” seminar were AJ John, who served as the emcee; estate planning and probate lawyers Russell Hall and Steven Mendel, SOS founder Biki Mohindra, and Anasuya Kabad, a certified financial planner with JayKay Wealth Advisors, who managed the Q&A session.

By Pramod Kulkarni

HOUSTON: After emigrating to the United States, many of us are so focused on getting a graduate education and building a career that we  often lose sight of what comes after retirement and life after the loss of a spouse.

To address these concerns, SOS (Share Our Secrets) Outreach, in a strategic partnership with India House, have collaborated to present a series of seminars grouped under the theme, “Life After”. Behind the scenes, the SOS Outreach Team consists of Mani Subramanian and Atma Ram with Amit Patil as the volunteer coordinator..

Two seminars were presented on the how to handle the emotional, physical and financial impacts after the loss of a spouse. During these previous seminars, the attendees had identified Estate Planning as a topic that has vexed the seniors. Acting upon this suggestion, the third “Life After” seminar was presented on Sunday, October 7 afternoon at India House. The seminar covered estate planning, wills, trusts, and probate.

Eager to learn about such complex financial instruments, seniors attended in record numbers (over 300) to hear presentations on the subject of estate planning and probate from two expert lawyers, followed by a talk on the challenges of retirement and the legacy aspects of selling properties outside the US, particularly in India. The presentations were followed by a panel discussion and a Q&A session.

The attendees enjoyed hot tea and samosas in the hallway and settled in to hear India House Executive Director Col. (retired) Vipin Kumar describe the extensive range of community services available at India House from charity clinics to yoga classes, after-school care and free food distribution to needy families (to learn more, visit).

Estate Planning lawyer Russell Hall speaking before a record audience of more than 300 people at India House.

Estate Planning lawyer Russell Hall speaking before a record audience of more than
300 people at India House.

Insurance Executive A.J. John, Principal, Wheatstone, served as the emcee for the seminar. John thanked India House and introduced the speakers. The first expert speaker was Russell Hall, who is the principal partner of Russell W. Hall & Associates PC, from Bellaire, Texas. Hall presented a checklist of “what estate planning should look like from your perspective.”

“Estate planning is not a form,” Hall explained. “I look at my assets, fiduciaries, etc. every year and update the information as needed. It is also important to discuss these matters with your children. Know your capabilities and listen to your CPA and financial planner. Make a will and then, can you find it and can your family find it? Medical directives and medical power of attorney are also important before disability occurs. When my wife opens up the safe deposit box after me, she will find a balance sheet, a cash flow statement, and all of my passwords.”
The second expert was Stephen Mendel, principal of The Mendel Law Firm LP, based in west Houston. Mr. Mendel discussed probate planning. “Are you going to be a champ or chump?” asked Mendel. “Champs plan. For chumps of the world, the state of Texas has a probate plan, but you won’t like it.”

“A quality estate plan is easy to probate,” Mendel continued. “The court needs the original will with an application to designate the heirs, followed by a hearing, to admit the will for probate and appoint the executor. We then work with the executor to pay off the listed liabilities, including taxes, and distribute net assets according to your will. It’s your responsibility to do it right and take care of your family now and beyond.”
SOS Founder Biki Mohindra discussed the major challenges faced by retirees and described the topics for future seminars. He discussed the intricacies of sale of an asset in India and the legal requirements due to reciprocal tax treaty between India and the U.S. He also elaborated on how this can be leveraged to get tax refund in the U.S. when selling inherited real estate property in India.  

The expert presentations were followed by a Q&A session that was managed by JayKay Wealth Advisors’ Anasuya Kabad. Anasuya did  an admirable job of organizing the many questions from the audience succinctly for the three panelists.

The seminar concluded with small group huddle sessions with the panelist and Mr. A. J. John that allowed the attendees to ask specific questions..

For further information, please contact SOS at sosoutreachteam@gmail.com. For additional information on India House programs, visit www.indiahouseinc.org/programs-services.

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