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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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The SECURE Act and How it Affects Your Retirement

The SECURE Act and How it Affects Your Retirement
While the holidays were unfolding, Congress was busy signing into law the SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) which has made several important changes concerning defined contribution and defined benefit plans, IRAs and 529 plans.  Most provisions in the law became effective on January 1st, 2020.  Below are some general topics and answers on the main highlights of the new law:   Inherited IRAs Any inherited IRAs that were received prior to 1/1/2020, no changes are required to the current distribution schedules in place.  Going forward, however, fewer beneficiaries will be able to extend distributions over their lifetime (a.k.a “the Stretch IRA”).  In most situations there will now be a requirement that all assets must be withdrawn from the inherited IRA within 10 years.  Some of the exceptions to this rule include surviving spouses, minor child, a disabled or chronically ill individual and beneficiaries who are no more...
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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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Elders and Finances: How Can We Protect Them from Themselves?

Elders and Finances: How Can We Protect Them from Themselves?
People are living longer today, thanks to medical advances and more health-conscious lifestyles, but that has created a situation that previous generations didn’t often confront. Helping take care of your aging parents or other relatives, especially when it comes to managing and protecting their finances, has become a concern for this generation.   Cases of elder abuse are very common; however, many go unreported. Unfortunately, some elders suffer in silence because they are too ashamed to say anything.   Common forms of abuse:   (1) One of predators’ favorite targets is the elderly, and sophisticated scammers will call the victim and tell them that they owe a debt and will be legally prosecuted if they don’t pay. When the victim sends them funds, now the scammer may have access to their accounts. making it worse for the victim.   (2) Caregivers who are taking care of the victim may have easy...
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Special Needs Trusts preserve government benefits while providing for a loved one.

Special Needs Trusts preserve government benefits while providing for a loved one.
Careful estate planning is necessary when planning for children or relatives with disabilities. The term “special needs” it is commonly used where there is someone in the family who is unable to make necessary legal, financial and overall life decisions for him or herself. The biggest fear is often “Who will take care of my loved ones and how will they be provided for after I am gone?” A Special Needs or Supplemental Needs Trust is a trust that preserves your loved one’s ability to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid benefits and can help you establish your wishes for how your loved one is provided for after your death. Owning a house, a car, furnishings, and some other personal items does not affect eligibility for SSI or Medicaid. But other assets, including having too much cash in the bank, will in fact disqualify your loved one from benefits. Leaving...
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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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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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