i was eating some chinese dumplings for lunch while my father was trying to go over the details of some estate planning questions he had for the lawyer that was calling us at 1pm. i did some research on my own, learned more than i ever wanted to know about estate taxes. apparently there's a federal estate tax, which for 2020 has an exemption limit of $11.58 million per person (double that if you're a couple). that means for any amount over that limit, taxes must be paid before the deceased's assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries.

unfortunately a dozen states have state estate taxes, with massachusetts being one of them. not only that, but massachusetts has the lowest exemption limit of any states, set at just $1 million. also the exemption is not portable, which means spouses can't combine their exemption, which is still only $1 million. to make matters worse, massachusetts tax the entire estate, not just the amount over the exemption.

anyway, my father was trying to see if there was some way to get avoid paying the estate tax, or somehow lower it. one way is to convert the revocable trust to an irrevocable one. unfortunately their lawyer said this was a complicated matter, one that he doesn't handle, and referred us to a few other firms that specialize in irrevocable trusts. he also said they were expensive, since people who are looking into irrevocable trusts normally have the money to afford expensive lawyers.

another reason why people might get an irrevocable trust (especially seniors) is to liquidate their assets so should they need long term health care, their assets won't disqualify them from subsidized health insurance. the lawyer on the phone said an irrevocable trust is a not a guarantee for long term care, as the companies will often check beyond the 5 year statute of limit, and if they see the patients might have hidden assets, will disqualify them from signing up for subsidized care. the lawyer answered my father's questions and he'll figure out some other way to lower their assets and avoid taxes.

while my godmother stopped by to go on a walk with my mother, my father and i were out in the front yard pruning our bushes. even after we were done there was still too much hedges; come spring we plan on chopping them down even lower. i was also telling my father about how the front tire of my motorcycle felt flat. he checked it out and sure enough it was spongey. the manual tire gauge wouldn't even work it was so flat. we pumped it up to 29 psi using the compressor, now the bike handles much better, doesn't feel sluggish like before. my father also pulled the tomato that was growing in front of the house; its roots were just as tall as the plant, growing in very loamy nutrient rich soil.

afterwards we went to home depot to return the 1/2" gate valve (used for pipe plumbing) and get a brasscraft chrome straight multi-turn valve instead (used for bathrooms). i wanted to go to the cafe and do the plumbing repairs today (since the cafe was closed which meant we could turn off the water main without affecting business) but my father opted to do it tomorrow instead.

we tried the cactus pears: even though they hard to deal with (tiny thorns), they tasted pretty sweet, despite the hard seeds (which i just swallowed). like dragon fruits, they're sweet but with a nondescript flavor, almost tasteless in a pleasant sweetness. my father also make another smoothie using various leftover fruits and vegetable ingredients: beets, apples, pineapple, strawberries, honey, and celery. the vitamix blends the ingredients so well, the smoothie has a puffy airy qualify, almost like slow-churned ice cream.

the past few days have been bad for my hands. i get blisters on the edges of my index fingers from "flossing" the old lithium ion battery out of my macbook pro. i then my my fingers caught in the garage door. finally, while swapping out the thermostat at my grand uncle's upstairs apartment, i accidentally sliced my forearm with electric drill. and let's not forget when i was nearly electrocuted over the weekend i set fire to a hanging wire that fell into a daisy chain socket on top of the grow light.

for dinner we pieced together some leftovers from yesterday as well as the duck and special adzuki beans dessert my godmother dropped off earlier. i returned home afterwards, the motorcycle feeling unfamiliar as it was too maneuverable.

at 62°F, it was cold back at the house, but not as cold as yesterday. my tub was slow draining again, i dropped a stick of green gobbler bio-flow drain strip into the drain after i was done showering. i got it at home depot earlier, saw it last week when i was buying toilet repair parts, wanted to try it out. don't know how well it's going to work, i may have to resort to good old liquid plumbr to clear away the blockage, which i think is further down in the pipes.