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“Start saving at a young age” with Jason Hartman & David A. Silverstone

Start saving and investing at a young age. Make it a habit to save and invest at least 10% of all income. Make use of index funds, which have low or no fees, and will grow over the long run. Don’t buy whole life insurance, because the premiums are much higher than term life, and […]

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Start saving and investing at a young age. Make it a habit to save and invest at least 10% of all income. Make use of index funds, which have low or no fees, and will grow over the long run. Don’t buy whole life insurance, because the premiums are much higher than term life, and you may not have the discipline to set this amount aside each month. Pay off credit card balances at the end of each month. Limit eating out to once or twice a week.

As a part of my series about the The 5 Essentials of Smart Investing, I had the pleasure of interviewing Attorney David A. Silverstone. Silverstone has been practicing law in the state of Florida since 1990. He specializes in probate administration & litigation, and estate planning — guiding families through one of the best financial decisions they’ll ever make. He also has experience in real estate law, family law, and enjoys traveling, cooking, and playing guitar in his spare time.


Thank you for doing this with us! Our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance industry?

In my many years as a lawyer, doing a variety of practice areas, I have realized that most law firms which handled the succession and estates of deceased people (inheritance law), handled their cases like a factory, with little of the human touch.

I also realized that clients who are seeking an attorney to handle the estates of deceased loved ones require not only knowledge and experience, but also a large amount of compassion.

I have always been a “people person”, and I realized that I could bring my empathy and caring toward people in this type of a law practice. This is often when they are grieving and at the same time fighting over an inheritance.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occured to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

The most interesting estate case occurred when a person died in Florida. He had no will, and everything was going to his brothers. Until women started coming out of the woodwork, claiming that he promised them a part of his estate when he died. A woman in China had what was allegedly a handwritten will, and a woman in Brazil claimed she was his common-law wife! His ex wife also had a handwritten will allegedly leaving his house to her. Until the end, I was worried that more women may turn up! The take away from that story is that the one predictable thing about dealing with people is that people are unpredictable!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I am working on a case involving a trust where someone took out a few pages, and replaced the pages with different provisions, and we are litigating as to which version of the trust is the correct one.

The trust has an arbitration provision, which means we cannot handle this case through the judicial system, but must go to a private arbitrator. It is rare for a trust to have an arbitration provision. This will help people though… if anyone ever needs a will or trust case to go to arbitration, I will be the go-to attorney!

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. According to this report in Fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers?

In my opinion, public schools are not doing their job. They should teach finance from a very young age. They teach abstract concepts in math, algebra, etc… but what about having them do a “fantasy” stock market, where they can invest play money, and follow their investments? Why not teach personal finance, where they have a fictional bank account, which they must balance, and make fictional payments? They can learn about compounding of interest, and maybe they will realize the value of saving and investing. These are real-world skills that may actually interest a lot of kids.

If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?

I would make it part of the curriculum in public schools. I would have the government get involved in creating tax incentives for taking finance courses. I would have the government create special interest rates for savings accounts of people under a certain age, and who are under a certain income level.

Ok, thank you! Now to the main question of our interview: You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive essentials for smart investing what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each.

Start saving and investing at a young age. Make it a habit to save and invest at least 10% of all income. Make use of index funds, which have low or no fees, and will grow over the long run. Don’t buy whole life insurance, because the premiums are much higher than term life, and you may not have the discipline to set this amount aside each month. Pay off credit card balances at the end of each month. Limit eating out to once or twice a week.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I thank my mother. I was a liberal arts major, and could not get a good paying job. My mother allowed me to live with her, at age 30 while I went to law school. Her support of me allowed my to focus entirely on my legal studies, and pave the way for a successful career.

My mother wanted me to go into accounting. I talked to some friends and they said they thought I would be a much better lawyer than an accountant. Besides, I was never very good at math! So I went to law school and never looked back!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite life lesson quote, well known to my wife, is “Stick with Plan “A” That means basically, that if you have an idea of a direction to go, and you meet some resistance or failure, the urge is to try a different course. But in my experience, I’ve found that a first choice is usually intuitively the right course. You just have to keep on moving ahead.

I remember in law school, I had a trial advocacy class, where I put in such a poor performance in a mock trial, that the Professor said that I wasn’t cut out to be a courtroom lawyer. But I entered trial competitions, and moot court. I worked really hard for some other professors, who actually saw something more in me. In my first legal job I was in court every day, and regularly went to trial. Today, I am quite at home in a courtroom. I stuck with “Plan A” and I did not change course just because I got some negative feedback initially.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, I would probably inspire a movement for worldwide acts of kindness, where those who are blessed with plenty would gladly help out those who have less than them.

I would inspire a movement where people of all nations saw the good in others, and embraced world peace. Go big or go home, right?

Thank you for the interview. We wish you continued success!

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