CGTC Blog

What You Need to Know!

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

Important Financial and Estate Planning Considerations amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

There is still time to get critical financial documents in place   With the demands of work, family and daily responsibilities, many of us often prolong, or cast aside, organizing and documenting important legal and financial decisions. Then, when a game changing life event occurs, such as the current Coronavirus pandemic, we wish we had acted sooner.    While we are in unprecedented times, rest assured that there is still time to get critical financial documents in place; but you need to act quickly.    Here are some tips on what you can do now to get your financial and estate plan in order:   Review the current status of your financial and estate plan.  This is especially critical for older individuals and those who have impaired health.     Ensure that you have sufficient cash available to provide for your needs over the next six months.    Review your asset...
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How to avoid a Category 5 financial crisis when a storm hits

As seen in The Miami Herald - How to avoid a Category 5 financial crisis when a storm hits    “While many of us know to stock up on the typical hurricane supplies, ensuring our finances are well-organized and protected is not always top of mind during this hectic time.”   Hurricane Dorian spared South Florida this time; however, the threat of a potential hit had many stocking up on supplies such as food, water, batteries, gas and other hurricane-preparation items. Unfortunately, our neighbors in the Bahamas were not so lucky; the overwhelming devastation to the Islands has left many of us rethinking our disaster preparedness plans.   Ensuring our finances are well-organized and protected is not always top of mind during this hectic time: Do you have an emergency fund? Do you have adequate insurance on your home and businesses? Are your documents protected? The following tips are critical to...
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Are You on the Fast Track to Early Retirement?

Are You on the Fast Track to Early Retirement?
Are You on the Fast Track to Early Retirement?  Have you dreamed about retiring in your 50s or before you receive your AARP card? Are you ready to call the shots and choose how you will spend your days? Take this opportunity to envision what “retirement” means to you, what kind of lifestyle you would like in retirement and at what age would you like to achieve this dream. Retiring ahead of your peers depends on your dedication, financial situation, lifestyle, and early implementation of our comprehensive road map. We can chart the path together and, with the stewardship of a seasoned fiduciary team, we can quickly steer clear of potential roadblocks to keep you on track to realizing your goals and dreams. According to recent U.S Census Bureau data, the average retirement age in the United States is about 63 years old. Early retirement in terms of Social Security and...
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If you’re Gen Z or Millennial and Want to be Rich Someday, Here’s What You Need to Do

If you’re Gen Z or Millennial and Want to be Rich Someday, Here’s What You Need to Do
Here you are — 20-something, just graduated and accepted your first “real” job. Your employer mentions the company’s competitive 401(k) plan and you already mentally write it off. With credit card bills, student loan debt, rising rents and low starting salaries, it seems obvious that saving or investing is the last thing on your mind. Multiple studies have shown that millennials/Gen Zs are “dramatically worse off financially” than older generations were at their age. According to a recent study released by Deloitte, comparing 2007 to 2017, millennials are spending 16 percent more on housing, 26 percent more on food costs, 21 percent more on healthcare costs, and 65 percent more on education. The struggle is real, but does that mean financial independence is unobtainable for our generation? Although the statistics may be true, millennials need to understand that what they have is TIME on their side. Investing is not just for...
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Adding a fur member to the family? Here are three commonly overlooked concerns.

Adding a fur member to the family?  Here are three commonly overlooked concerns.
First, can we financially afford adding a pet to our family?  The simplest way is to start with a budget.  It is always best to slightly overstate the potential costs that will be incurred.  As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional, I enjoy comprehensive research and running various scenarios to determine the best solution.       Let me save you time on gathering details for your pet’s budget. Initial costs vary greatly depending on if you are adopting from the Humane Society or opting for a designer pet from a breeder.  When it comes to adopting from a shelter, adoption fees range from $100 to $300, depending on age and breed.  A perk of this cost is that it typically includes spaying/neutering, microchipping, and vaccination. When purchasing a pet from a breeder, expect to pay from $1,000 to more than $2,000, depending on the breed. Additional beginning expenses will include: an initial...
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What might surprise you about your will.

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 cases, when you purchase the asset or sign a life insurance contract, you’re asked to designate a beneficiary, and sometimes a contingent beneficiary. One of the biggest estate-planning mistakes people make is not reviewing these other financial instruments and aligning the beneficiaries they have designated with their total financial plan, or...
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2019 is the year to focus on your financial plan (and not the stock market)

2019 is the year to focus on your financial plan (and not the stock market)
This past December was one for the books — and not in a good way. On Christmas Eve, the S&P 500 index fell by 2.71 percent, making history as the biggest plunge to ever occur on the last trading day before Christmas. Did Santa Claus skip town? Now, talks of volatility in the stock market, federal interest rate hikes, U.S.-China trade negotiations and the U.S. government partial shutdown mark every headline. With all this noise, how is it possible to stay calm and carry on? If you are a long-term investor, the solution is exactly that: stay calm and stay the course. Market swings, or “corrections,” are normal and to be expected. If you don’t need to utilize the investment funds you have set aside for an immediate short-term goal, then experts agree that you should still invest in the stock market and avoid trying to “time” the market. Instead of...
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Building stronger client/advisor relationships on a personal level.

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 proceed carefully, of course, and the recommendations you give must be at arm’s length, and solid advice. Some advisors just talk, talk, talk, and go through the numbers with the client. But if you instead listen, you can learn so much more. Listen with empathy and be an active listener....
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Want to leave money to a charitable organization? Here’s how to do it wisely.

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 — after taxes. So, when deciding how to structure your will or revocable trust, you want to always assess the tax consequences to your heirs of any and all classes of assets.   In the mix of investments most retired people have, there is almost always an IRA or 401K, for which...
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The importance of financial planning update one.

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, painless and orderly way. Yet the prospect of taking one’s financial affairs in hand can be daunting. According to the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, in 2012, 56 percent of U.S. households lacked a budget, 40 percent of adults had no savings other than retirement funds, and 50 percent of...
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Leave your mark, in goals-oriented investing or traditional estate planning.

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, legacy planning talks about more than where the money goes, but also what you want to accomplish during your life and what you want to accomplish when you’re gone.   Your goal might be to preserve family wealth or to establish a blueprint so that a family business can continue to...
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Choose carefully when diversifying your portfolio.

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 are some things to consider. The international space has been hard over the past three or four years. We in the U.S. got our act together quickly after the 2008 financial crisis. We jumped into recovery mode right away, whereas the international markets were not as swift to respond. There is...
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Consumers should prefer traditional wealth managers to robo-advisors. Here’s why.

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 such arrangements, and that the number will only increase to 2 percent by 2022. We at Coral Gables Trust Company know there are many good reasons for that.   Let’s be clear: there are situations in which robo-advisors , or plug-and-play programs, can be very useful. For the young investor just...
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Be prepared! The importance of financial planning for hurricane season.

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 top of mind. Do you have an emergency fund in place?  Do you have adequate insurance on your home and businesses? Are your documents protected? The following tips are critical to avoiding a category five financial crisis in the event of an emergency such as a hurricane. Establish an emergency fund:...
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Are you planning for your family's wealth transfer?

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 consequences. While the new law did not repeal the estate tax as originally expected, it temporarily doubled the estate tax exemption for single filers to $11.2 million from $5.6 million, indexed for inflation. For a married couple, this means a $22.4 million exemption for the next eight years. Keep in...
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Yes! Florida continues to be a robust State for jobs.

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 rate of 3.8% matching the national average of 3.8%. Yes! Florida is and will continue to be job strong.  When we look at the South Florida/Miami-Dade metro area key indicators, the unemployment rate of 3.9% is also in-line with the state and national average.  And further north, the Broward metro region...
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Do you know your Trustee?

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 is who would you select as the Trustee of your Trust. A Trustee is, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, simply a natural or legal person to whom property is legally committed to be administered for the benefit of a beneficiary (such as a person or a charitable organization), or one (such as...
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Want to move to Florida?

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 tax act is coming into effect, your personal tax rates and income brackets will be lowered, yet they will also expire (or sunset) at the end of 2025. What does this mean? Specifically, this means that the top rate will fall from 39.6% to 37%, the 35% bracket will...
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