What You Need to Know!

A blog about keeping you up-to-date with the latest Financial Planning and Wealth Management news.

The most successful investor sometimes needs expert advice.

We’ve all heard of the “millionaire next door,” the investor who quietly amasses a fortune by living within his or her means, buying the right securities, and faithfully staying the course through various stock- and bond-market cycles. Perhaps we even know a few such people.   This sort of person typically eschews the services of a financial planner, reasoning that his or her own strategy has worked so far, and that the financial planner’s fee is an unnecessary expense. But financial planning by an objective professional — one who has no proprietary products to sell —is an investment that will...
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What might surprise you about your will.

Most people have a general understanding of what a will is: a way to designate who will get which of your assets when you die. Many think the will is the principal governing document in your estate plan, but that’s not entirely true. Many assets don’t fall under a will or probate, and without considering those things, even the best will can be almost meaningless. Most people have accumulated real estate, have life insurance, have mutual funds (as part of or separate from a 401k or IRA), bank accounts, real estate, and other assets. In most or all of these...
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Building stronger client/advisor relationships on a personal level.

Within the financial services industry, opinion is mixed on whether wealth management professionals should give clients advice on personal matters, on issues that do not relate to the client’s economic picture. Some practitioners give this practice a wide berth, reasoning that giving personal counsel could lead to trouble or damage the advisor-client relationship, especially if the client disagrees with the advice or the recommendation works out badly. But here’s another way of looking at it: judiciously handled, extending guidance to a client on non-financial matters can strengthen the relationship and provide benefits for both client and financial professional. You have to...
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Want to leave money to a charitable organization? Here’s how to do it wisely.

When planning their estates, many people want to remember a charity, cause, or organization with a monetary gift, an honorable impulse. But the vehicle you use to make the charitable bequest can have a great impact not only on your heirs, but also the organization you’re trying to support.   It’s a very common mistake to include all of your assets in a will or revocable trust, which can have unintended tax consequences. Fortunately, there are easy remedies.   Keep in mind that what your heirs will actually inherit after your demise are the assets you earmarked for them —...
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Fee-free, passive funds are attractive, but it’s about more than beating an index.

Last summer, Fidelity Investments became the first financial company to offer no-fee index mutual funds, and quickly attracted about $1 billion into two portfolios. This has several implications for wealth management companies, and for investors.   The funds the company is offering — one each focusing on U.S. and international stocks — are passive funds; they are built to mirror a market index. Active strategies, on the other hand, comprise stocks chosen by an advisor and their team of analysts.   Passive funds are a lot cheaper than active funds, and over the past five years, they’ve had a stronger...
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Retired? Rewards vs. risks should still guide your investment decisions.

Advice on amassing sufficient assets and investing them well to build a healthy retirement is easy to find. Books, online resources, lectures, magazine articles, a talk with your financial advisor — even blogs like this — can be invaluable tools for the investor just starting out and those who want to proactively manage their financial futures.   But what about that day, six months after your 70th birthday, when you’re facing the prospect of taking annual required minimum distributions from your IRA or 401(k)? The Internal Revenue Service demands that you withdraw a percentage of your tax-sheltered funds — the...
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The importance of financial planning update one.

It seems as if the importance of personal finance management has always been a cultural touchstone. “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Ben Franklin declared in America’s colonial days. In 19th century England, Charles Dickens has Mr. Micawber recite his own recipe: “Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 19 [pounds] 19 [shillings] and 6 [pence], result: happiness. Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 20 pounds ought and 6, result: misery.” Ideally, individuals and families should set realistic, achievable goals and then prioritize those goals according to their values. Ideally, this should all evolve in a logical,...
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Leave your mark, in goals-oriented investing or traditional estate planning.

Recent changes to the tax code have raised the threshold for inheritance and gift tax to $11.2 million per person — a threshold most working people will not reach or exceed — and that’s caused some to speculate that estate planning is dead. But to paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of its demise have been greatly exaggerated.   Instead, we’ve seen the emergence of legacy planning, which differs from traditional estate planning in several ways.   While estate planning in the past has been all about passing on as much of your assets as possible to your heirs and avoiding taxes,...
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Choose carefully when diversifying your portfolio.

A constant dilemma in the world of wealth management is whether it’s wise to stick with the security of U.S. stocks or venture into the international marketplace in search of potential opportunities. This seems especially relevant now, when tough talk on tariffs threatens to roil the seas of international trade and usher in unintended consequences. We at Coral Gables Trust Company have always preached that diversifying one’s portfolio — both geographically, between companies, and across investment vehicles — is the wisest move and the surest path to achieving your goals. But when, how much, and where to diversify? The following...
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Consumers should prefer traditional wealth managers to robo-advisors. Here’s why.

Today, online transactions are so prevalent that it’s hard to imagine a financial life without them. How would we buy an airline ticket, transfer money between accounts, book a vacation, pay bills, or keep track of expenses without internet connectivity?   But there’s one area in which consumers seem to prefer a human encounter to computer clicks. The acceptance of robo-advisors — online software that allows clients to manage investments — once ballyhooed as the next major trend, has been slow to catch fire. Some observers say that only one-half of 1 percent of assets under management are enrolled in...
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Be prepared! The importance of financial planning for hurricane season.

This week we’ve invited Eileen Santana, our Sr. VP and Sr. Relationship Manager, at Coral Gables Trust Company to advise us on how to avoid a category five financial crisis when a storm hits. With hurricane season upon us and the aftermath of Hurricane Irma still fresh in our minds, now is the time to start your disaster preparedness. Forecasters are predicting another busy season this year and as South Floridians, most of us know to stock up on food, water, batteries, gas and other hurricane preparation items. But ensuring that our finances are well-organized and protected is not always...
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Yes! Florida continues to be a robust State for jobs.

This week we've invited Mason Williams, our Chief Investment Officer, at Coral Gables Trust Company to give us a quick insight and share his predictions on the latest local and national job report numbers for South Florida. Yes! Florida continues to be a robust State for jobs. I was recently asked at a conference would South Florida continue to show job growth in Q4 of 2018 and into 2019? Yes! I responded. Because of its strong and steady annual job growth rate of 2.4% compared to the national rate of 1.9% over the past year, and because of the state unemployment...
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Are you planning for your family's wealth transfer?

As I previously blogged back in April, President Trump signed into law the first significant reform of the US Tax Code since Ronald Reagan. Today, I would like to further explore the additional implications this law will have on your finances. Clearly, the new tax act will affect how we make decisions on our estate, buying a home, health insurance, setting up a business, and even porce agreements. But what about family wealth transfer precisely? Planning for family wealth transfer is an important step in assuring assets are passed down to your loved ones with the least amount of tax...
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Do you know your Trustee?

This week we've invited Gerardo Rodriguez, VP and Investment Officer at Coral Gables Trust Company to challenge us with the question: Do you know your Trustee well? What to think about when selecting a Trustee? Estate Planning can be a daunting task. You have to find an attorney that can help you organize yourself and your assets that will create your Estate when you pass and leave your bequest to your heirs. You have to draft a will, select a Health Care Surrogate, and create a Trust to place your assets in to avoid Probate.  One of the biggest questions...
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Want to move to Florida?

I'm John Harris, Managing Director at Coral Gables Trust Company and welcome to our What You Need to Know blog! On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law the first significant reform of the U.S. Tax Code since Ronald Reagan was in office. Here is Part 1 of how it will affect your finances. The new tax act will affect how you make decisions on estate planning, buying a home, or setting up a business. In this first blog, I will highlight major parts of the law to keep in mind, starting with individual income taxes.  Now that the new...
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