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Do Your Financial Risks Change Over Time?

By
Jeff Motske, CFP®
April 17, 2019
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“Don’t invest and forget.” This is a common sentiment that advisors try to communicate to their clients. We understand the importance of having a solid financial plan, but the plan doesn’t serve you if you set it and then don’t check in with it for years. A financial plan is a living and breathing document. As your life changes, so should your plan because those life changes can cause changes in your goals and your risks.

As you start your adult life, risks are generally low, and timeframes are typically long. You may be single, you may be renting. Should you hit some rough times, not that much may be rocked. This also applies to your investments. If there is a market shake-up, you have plenty of time to wait for the market to correct itself. Therefore, this is the time to be aggressive on your way to financial independence.

However, as your life changes, so does your risk. Perhaps you get married and start a family. Perhaps you buy a house or maybe you start a business. Suddenly, there is more at stake, there is more to lose. Additionally, while there is more at stake, there is less time. There is less time to save, less time to recoup any losses. These changes undoubtedly influence our decisions and our behavior in the market.

This change in risk isn’t done with the flip of a switch. Everyone’s life is different, hitting different life milestones at different times, starting to work towards financial independence at different places and having different goals to work towards. Therefore, computing risk, can be a gradual and complicated process. Working with a financial advisor can help you know when and how to change your risk so that you can steadily work towards the future and protect what you have today.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

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By
Mike Loo, MBA
October 11, 2018

How much time have you spent thinking about your future death? If you’re like most people, probably not much. Thinking about your death or that of a loved one can bring up plenty of unpleasant emotions, but having a plan to take care of the details can ease some of the stress in a time of grieving. So if you’ve lost someone close to you or just want to create a plan for the future, follow this checklist to help you deal with the financial side of an unexpected death.

Organize Documents

In the aftermath of a loved one’s passing, his or her will is not the only document you will need. In order to do things like request benefits or change the name on car titles, you will also need copies of the following:

Birth certificate

Death certificate

Marriage certificate

Social Security card

Automobile titles

Property Deeds

Insurance policies

Bank, investments, and retirement account statements

If you want to plan ahead, ask yourself: Do you have an organized filing system, or are all your important documents strewn about in different places? As you organize your family’s documents, make sure the appropriate people have access to the information they will need in the event of an unexpected death.

Notify The Appropriate Contacts

There are a few people you will need to contact who will be able to help you through the process of taking care of the deceased’s finances. As soon as you are able, reach out to their financial advisor, insurance agent, attorney, and accountant. These professionals are trained to know how to handle an unexpected death, and they will be able to direct you to the right sources of information and help you make the best decisions possible.

Take Care Of Immediate Financial Needs

When someone close to you dies, there are many time-sensitive tasks that need to be taken care of. These tasks often have a financial element involved. For example, when making funeral arrangements and covering burial expenses, be sure to review life insurance policies and look for any pre-arrangement details or last wishes the deceased may have left. Some expenses may be covered, which will save you a financial headache. Speak to the deceased’s financial advisor to see if there are any easily accessible funds set aside for bills or debt payments that cannot be deferred.

Review Benefits

Surviving family members may be entitled to certain benefits, such as Social Security benefits and perhaps pension benefits, life insurance, and annuities. Contact the human resources department of the deceased’s employer, who can explain and document the following benefits that may be available to you, including:

Life insurance

Healthcare, or extended healthcare coverage through COBRA

Compensation due, such as stick options or unused vacation pay

401(k) or pension

Depending on your relationship to the deceased, you may need to apply for Social Security survivor benefits, update insurance beneficiaries, and apply for settlement.

Manage Their Estate

Finances can get messy when someone dies. Our financial lives can be complicated, so use this list as a starting point for closing accounts, updating information, and taking care of the countless details. Look into whether the deceased had any of the following accounts and contact the institution:

Checking Account

Savings Account

Brokerage Account

IRA

401(k)

403(b)

Health Savings Account

Flexible Spending Account

College Funds

Don’t forget about debts. Debts don’t disappear when someone passes away. Investigate the following and make sure those who are now responsible for these debts are aware of the creditor’s name, outstanding balance, name on the debt, loan terms, and the amount, timing, and method of payments.

Mortgage

Home Equity Line of Credit

Automobile Loans

Personal Loans

Student Loans

Credit Cards

Make sure you don’t forget about recurring household expenses, such as utilities, and how and when to pay them: .

Property Taxes

Electricity

Sewer

Water

Natural Gas

Garbage

Telephone

Cable TV

Internet Service

Landscaping

House Cleaning

Homeowners Association Dues

Other organization membership dues

Work With A Trusted Advisor

Handling the details after the death of a loved one can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. Financial professionals are experienced with these situations and can guide you through the steps that apply to your unique circumstances. They will not only help you take care of pressing problems and concerns, but can also help you feel more secure in a time of financial change. A financial advisor can make sure your affairs are in order, update your financial plan, and implement appropriate strategies to help you stay on track financially.

By
Mark Nicolet, CFP®, MBA, ABFP™
May 21, 2018

Your first thought, spend it! But how? Is it the house project you and your spouse have been discussing for the last several months? Should you pay down your credit card balance? Go on a trip? Wait, you’re excited about the refund, but in retrospect you should have adjusted your allowances so that you didn’t give the government an interest free loan over the course of the last twelve months. With that said, should you fire your accountant? Well, it’s too late now. Take a moment, and think through the best use of this money? What are your short-term priorities? How do those priorities align or even conflict with other priorities that are further down the road? Should the refund have just one focus?

Let’s first sort through what we need to consider. Is this refund enough to actually complete the house project or will you actually have to put the remaining balance of the project on a credit card? Do you have your three to six months of savings in your emergency fund? What are the interest rates of your current credit cards? What is the current state of the market? Are you comfortable with market risk if you were to invest your refund? How secure is your current career? How variable is your current income? These are significant questions and require more diligence than, quickly hiring the contractor to install heated floors in that master bathroom. Give some intentional thought to this prior to your refund arriving in your bank account. Meet with a Certified Financial Planner to not only consult about what to do with your tax refund, but also your current planning situation and existing investment accounts and risk management plan.

Prior to the receipt of your tax refund, create a pie chart, sort through your most important priorities and time frames, then allocate accordingly, without heavily weighting one priority over the next. Make your refund go further. Start with savings, then, make a larger credit card payment than the monthly minimum if a balance exists, assuming the interest is in the teens. Tuck a portion into the stock market. If you anticipate needing or wanting the money prior to retirement, establish or contribute a portion of the refund to a non-retirement investment account. Only after taking these steps should you allocate funds to a home project. Why? You have now considered long-term planning first, then addressed short term priorities. Life happens, homes need upgrades, and travel is always an option. These plans will ALWAYS be available and present. Retirement and long-term planning will not happen, if you don’t plan now. Meet with a Certified Financial Planner to sort through what to do with your tax refund. Finally, discuss this with your CPA in preparation for next year’s taxes to sort through how you can limit the refund and have more cash available over the course of the year.

Get Started on Your Financial Life Plan Today