Q: Using everyday language, tell me if I should be using this new Roth IRA.
A: Ah, to Roth or not to Roth, that is the question. (Sorry Shakespeare admirers - I could not resist.) As you know, it is hard for lawyers to use everyday language but try thinking along these lines. If you have earned income, and if you plan to invest anyway, and if you do not want to pay tax on your investment gain or trust withdrawals, and if you do not like mandatory age withdrawals, and finally if you either do not need or want current income tax deductions available with other retirement devices, then by all means "Hamlet", use the Roth.
Like any retirement account, there are limits on early withdrawals - not before age 59½ or before 5 years after the contribution, whichever is later. Also, be aware, that as with any government program, Congress can always change the Roth IRA and do it in such a way as to be very harmful to the taxpayer. But unless or until that happens, Roth on!
Q: I went to one of those living trust seminars and had the "begeebies" scared out of me. I was told my tax will was worthless because it was not a living trust and for a percentage of my estate, the speaker would set up a living trust for me. I would like a third opinion (my lawyer's, his, and now yours).
A: I would agree with the seminar giver that there are some technical problems with your tax wills but nothing that a $50 codicil (amendment) would not cure. However, in Colorado you can do your tax planning either through a tax will or a tax living trust. Many attorneys prefer using a tax will while others still opt for living trusts. Each has advantages and disadvantages, so hopefully the seminar giver pointed out the many disadvantages of a tax living trust before making his recommendation, as I am sure your attorney did before recommending your current tax wills. You have a choice in Colorado. There is no one right way of doing the tax planning. If you feel comfortable with your current tax wills, then stay with them.
However, quoting a percentage is another matter. Whether it is planning an estate or settling an estate, if someone proposes a percentage, you might consider holding tightly on to your wallet and asking other competent professionals what they would charge to do the work. Don't let the seminar setting or a "great performance" by the speaker cloud your judgment or suppress a healthy degree of skepticism. It might turn out that the percentage approach is the best in the long run. But find out first.