By Mark Hallum
A new book by former state Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza outlines an approach to personal finance for readers looking to not only save, but keep more of the money they earn.
“Love & Money: Protecting Yourself from Angry Exes, Wacky Relatives, Con Artists, and Inner Demons” is loaded with narrative examples of Carrozza’s experiences practicing law, sorting through the unexpected entanglements of clients, and how these situations can be prevented or resolved.
“These are the stories of the intersections and explosions between loved ones and finances,” Carrozza said in an interview.
Residents of Bayside will remember Carrozza for her time representing their district in the assembly. Carrozza announced in 2009 she would not run for re-election and in 2010, Edward Braunstein succeeded her. Carrozza is not only the author of “Love & Money,” but a legal contributor on the “Dr. Phil Show.” The TV host penned a forward for Carrozza’s book.
“The book is a compilation of legal protections, which I think is the next frontier in personal finance,” Carrozza said. “What does it matter how hard we work, how much we save or how great our investment rate of return is if we have a 45 percent chance of losing everything in a divorce, an unanticipated long-term illness, or by children fighting over my will with my surviving second husband? So the book is about all the legal protections we need to deal with now in society. We know we are a very litigious society, but it comes as a great shock to people that we are more likely to be sued by a former loved one than by a stranger.”
Something Carrozza has in common with her successor in the assembly is her long background in elder law and asset protection. Carrozza has spent 20 years practicing in this field of law and has a firm on 40th Avenue in Bayside, with additional offices in Port Jefferson and Glen Cove, L.I.
“Being on television talking about these things reflects a greater societal awareness of these issues. Twenty years ago, when we talked about legal planning, the average person had a basic will. ‘I’m leaving everything to my three children equally.’ Well, what if, between now and passing away, I lost it all to a con artist, a failed relationship, or an unanticipated long-term care bill. This goes beyond the old simplistic way of dealing with our legal affairs.”
Carrozza said the most important piece of legal advice she can give is less obvious but can avoid major problems for seniors down the road.
“The thing I’ve seen most often in my 20 years of practice is when parents turn the house over to the kids, and people do this because they want the kids to avoid probate. They think getting the house out of their name protects them from a future possible nursing home stay. But when you put the house completely into the children’s names, you lose your property tax exemptions. You’re giving your kids a capital gains problem, and if the kids get divorced, now part of your house is going to your former daughter-in law,” Carrozza said. “Instead you would want to transfer to a trust.”
Other recent TV appearances Carrozza has made have been on “Today”and “Good Day New York.” Carrozza’s book was released May 16 from Allworth Press.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall