More Financial and Estate Planning Professionals See Desire from Younger People

All generations can benefit from estate planning, but that doesn’t mean that all people seek out the support of estate planning lawyers and financial advisors as they should. Younger people are, however, seeing the benefit to planning ahead as they watch their parents and grandparents in retirement. 
The importance of the financial and estate plan has retained its place as a crucial aspect of planning for the future. A financial plan could even be more important than ever because of rising demand from young professionals about financial and estate planning guidance.
Plenty of financial advisors as well as estate planning attorneys are passionate about the overall importance of the financial plan. In fact, advisors say that when interacting with new clients, one of the first steps that they take is to write a comprehensive financial plan.
An estate planning attorney can be a valuable asset to turn to in answering many of the most common questions brought about by younger professionals who are looking to protect themselves now as well as to manage their wealth into the future.
Planning is a great way to ensure that all of the various professionals involved in your process, such as a financial advisor, an investment specialist, and an estate planning attorney are all on the same page in terms of understanding the current resources for your clients and how to most appropriately maximize resources to get specific long term and short-term goals.
Any prospects who do not have enough assets to consider becoming an investment client or protecting their wealth using asset protection plan or estate planning techniques can still benefit from some of the most basic tools available with regard to estate planning.
The establishment of a will can be important for passing on assets into the future but a plan for incapacitation, including a power of attorney and other similar documents, can help to address many common questions and concerns that can emerge in the event that someone were to become suddenly disabled and unable to take care of themselves.
In all of these situations, the support of an estate planning lawyer is instrumental in assisting with a holistic approach to the estate planning and individual asset protection planning process. Younger professionals today are working to amass more wealth than previous generations, which means that more of them are turning to estate planning advisors and investment professionals to get support.
 
 

The Importance of Vetting Your Financial Advisor

Any time you work with a professional, including a financial advisor, it’s well worth doing the research to verify that he or she is the right fit for you. You will want to interview a few different options before choosing a financial advisor and look specifically into their backgrounds before selecting someone.
A few advisors should always be discussed before you settle on one. Having individual conversations with each advisor can help you figure out how your personality matches up with them.
Asking questions and looking through their disciplinary history and credentials can help you narrow down your list. In the initial interview, there are a few key questions you would want to ask. First of all, you would want to determine whether or not they have served as a fiduciary before, what specifics services they are offering, and their individual certifications. Furthermore, it is beneficial to understand their overall philosophy about financial planning and investing. Knowing how many years this person has been in practice can also help you. In some situations, it is important to realize that financial advisors have a minimum investable asset requirement.
You may not meet this minimum requirement so it is a good idea to rule these people out before you set up an initial conversation. The consultation with a financial advisor should help you to clarify what is truly in your best interests and scheduling a consultation with one sooner rather than later will help you figure out your next steps.
Your estate planning lawyer and your financial advisor are important people for your future; choose them carefully.
 

You're Close to Retirement. What Financial Planning Options Do You Have?

Retirement today is one of the most complicated subjects and also one of the most important, with a growing baby boomer population.
To help determine what type of financial advice is most applicable for you, it depends on where you are on the retirement spectrum. If getting closer to retirement, it is important to engage with a financial advisor and an estate planning attorney to verify what is in your best interests.
There are many different issues that a financial advisor can address, including when to file for social security, the most cost-effective methods for paying for health care including long term care, how to stay ahead of inflation without being exposed to too much risk and how to invest their nest egg appropriately.
A robotic advisor, which is becoming increasingly common in the marketplace today, may not be the right fit because there are many different needs that near-retirees face, and they’ll want to get personalized responses from an experienced professional. An overall picture must be reviewed in conjunction with your financial plan, because your estate plan and your financial plan often intersect and have important influences on one another.
 
 

Coalition Wants Better Rules Governing Financial Advisors

A number of public interest groups have formed a coalition whose purpose is to protect the interests of retirees.

These organizations want the “U.S. Department of Labor to revise rules requiring financial advisers to act in their clients’ best interests when offering retirement investment advice,” according to a recent story by Carole Fleck on the website of the American Association of Retired Persons.
“SaveOurRetirement.com, a website created by the coalition, is urging the Labor Department to update the so-called fiduciary rule,” Fleck continued. “Without that safeguard, advisers to retirement plans could sell financial products that pay large commissions yet hurt their clients with unnecessary fees, poor returns or excessive risks, the coalition said.
“Right now, some advisers are required to put their customers’ interests first, while others are not, and it is often extremely difficult for workers and retirees to know which type of adviser they are dealing with,” the story quoted a statement from the coalition.
The groups that came together to form SaveOurRetirement.com AARP, the Consumer Federation of America, the Pension Rights Center, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations, Americans for Financial Reform and Better Markets.
“If the Department gets the rule right, you won’t have to try to figure out whether your financial ‘adviser’ is really a salesman looking out for his or her own interests or a true adviser looking out for yours,” Fleck wrote. “A good rule will ensure that all financial professionals who offer retirement advice must make recommendations designed to serve your best interests by keeping your costs low, recommending sound investments, and protecting your retirement nest egg from unnecessary risks.”

Financial Planning Needs Of Women Differ From Those Of Men

Men and women are different.
That’s not exactly earth-shattering news to most people, although many may not realize this also applies when it comes to financial planning, as pointed out in a recent article in Forbes magazine.

“Are women different when it comes to financial planning?” author Eve Kaplan asked. “The unequivocal answer is: Yes.
“Here are a few reasons why: Women tend to live longer than men, earn less, save less for retirement and they have different insurance needs. Women also tend to approach financial planning advice differently. The biggest single financial challenge Americans face is lack of retirement preparedness. These issues are especially acute for women.”
While women live an average of five years longer than men, they earn 23 percent less. The earnings gap is trimmed to 5 percent for men and women holding identical jobs, Kaplan wrote.
“As a result, they have less retirement assets and a higher risk of outliving them,” according to the article. “The difference is startling: women typically have one third less money set aside for retirement than men. To counteract this, women need to stay in the labor force longer, if possible, save more and keep their employment skills up-to-date if they exit the labor market.
Women have less for retirement for other reasons, too. Studies show women have lower 401(k) participation rates than men. Less than half of wage-earning women in the U.S. participate in retirement plans. Women, more often than men, interrupt their careers to care for children, aging parents and grandchildren. Being a caregiver can save money, but comes at a huge cost if care-giving displaces a stream of income a woman gave up.”
Kaplan also points out that even though their needs are different, too many women tend to defer all financial planning matters to the man in their life.
“When women absent themselves from financial decision-making, they suffer even more if their husbands predecease them. I often see women who don’t know where key financial accounts are held, or what kind of planning their husbands had in mind,” the article stated. “Newly widowed women are especially vulnerable to ‘advisors’ who live on commissions, and who don’t necessarily disclose a conflict of interest when giving advice.
“Women are more receptive to advice because they worry more. Since women are more insecure about financial matters, they tend to be more receptive to professional advice. It’s not surprise that women often worry more about financial issues because they are often are charged with the well being of their families, or themselves if they live alone. In the coming decades, experts say women will control more than 50% of the wealth in the US. By contract, only 25 percent of Certified Financial Planner Practitioners are female. This may produce a potential mismatch between the rising number of female clients and the number of female financial planners who personally understand the sometimes more intuitive approach women clients take.
“Regardless of gender, clients need a space to discuss emotional issues that revolve around money. Studies show that clients who are emotionally invested in a financial plan always have a higher success rate in terms of implementing their plan and realizing their goals. If you are female, and work with a financial advisor, make sure your voice is heard and your input is considered in your financial planning and investment process.”

Changing will provisions at the end can be problematic

John Grisham’s latest bestselling novel revolves around a wealthy man crafting a handwritten will that completely cuts out his family and leaves the fortune to his housekeeper.

Last Will And Testament

(Photo credit: Ken_Mayer)

The reason the man did this just prior to taking his own life, other than that his two adult children are fairly odious people, is the crux of “Sycamore Row,” but the novel also points to some pertinent legal issues relating to last-minute decisions regarding estates.
While an individual may have valid reasons for revoking an existing will as death appears to be imminent, such decisions must be handled carefully to avoid potentially significant problems.
“When death grows near, the issue of a legacy can come into much sharper focus,” Arden Dole wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal article. “People with money and property sometimes choose that moment to change their wills or estate plans. Done right, deathbed revisions may save their families income and estate taxes and prevent misunderstandings and administrative hassles.
“If not handled carefully, though, it can leave a will open to legal challenges that can drag on for many years, particularly if the late changes are sweeping or appear out of character.”
Ideally, an estate plan is considered carefully when it’s created and is regularly reviewed, so it won’t need major deathbed changes.
Financial advisers are often asked to tweak elements when a client nears death, even though the best estate plan is one that’s been carefully considered and subjected to frequent reviews, according to Dale.
“Sometimes, clients can’t come to a decision until faced with their own mortality,” Atlanta-based adviser Scott Beaudin was quoted as saying. “But based on that poignant moment in time, it’s possible to do things that optimize your planning.”
“When the prospect of death becomes real, it also may change a person’s views on how, and how much, to give to various individuals, or to charity,” the story stated.
However, if a member of the dying person’s family becomes involved in making late changes, it is critical that they have a power of attorney or similar document, to ward off legal challenges.
“Normally, it’s the relative of a client who calls and says, ‘My father just had a stroke, can you help me?’ ” Barry Kaplan, a wealth manager at Atlanta-based Cambridge Wealth Counsel, told the WSJ.
“Issues like taxes and the cost basis of an investment are complicated enough in normal times, and many people don’t think about them when dealing with a death in the family,” Dale wrote. “Still, last-minute changes require special caution.
“To avoid a challenge to such changes, a medical or mental competency examination can prove invaluable, notes Michael Puzo, a partner in the Boston office of law firm Hemenway and Barnes LLP. Still, he cautions against too many substantive changes at the eleventh hour.”
“Typically, it’s a bad time to change a will,” Puzo stated.

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The ‘prenup talk’ is well worth having

In the heat of passion, many people are lukewarm to the very notion of a prenuptial agreement.
Attorneys and financial advisors face an uphill battle, more often than not, in convincing clients that when it comes to legal protection, they should say, “I will,” prior to saying, “I do.”
“Getting couples to warm to marriage contracts can be tricky because the idea things might not work out seems ridiculous; they’re in love,” according to a recent article on the website advisor.ca. “But advisors should discuss marriage contracts as part of every client’s financial plan, says Zena Amundsen, an advisor at Tyler and Associates in Regina, Saskatoon.”
Far from putting some kind of hex on a marriage, prenuptial agreements can bring couples closer together by sharing a deeper understanding of what each partner is bringing to the relationship.
“When you think ‘prenup,’ you’re probably thinking of celebrity couples and millionaires, but the truth is signing a prenuptial agreement … might be better for your marriage in the long run,” according to an article on the website of Rhode Island television station WPRI. “As a happy couple prepares for their big day, the last thing they want to think about is what will happen to their assets if things don’t work out. But financial experts say it’s important for couples to have the prenup talk.”
“If they have personal insurance or group benefits, they may have never spoken about that,” attorney Amundsen said. “So they’ve forgotten they need to change their beneficiaries in a new marriage.”
“And when openly taking inventory of expenses and assets, she says, clients often learn new tidbits that help them realize protecting wealth is important. For instance, one client never knew her fiancé had a boat and an RV in storage. Once they’ve agreed to negotiate and sign a contract, explain they must each have independent legal advice and there must be complete disclosure of income and assets, says Jennifer Jolly, a lawyer at BLG.”
“If they aren’t disclosing a material asset, then the contract won’t be worth what it’s written on,” she says.

Choosing financial advisor doesn’t have to be a headache

Some people put more thought into choosing an outfit for the day than they do in selecting a financial advisor.
They almost assuredly know that the one is far more important than the other, but feel there is no way of making a sensible choice.
However, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, on its website, offers a five-step approach for both simplifying the seemingly complicated process and providing some comfort along the way.
Those five steps at http://www.napfa.org/HowtoFindAnAdvisor.asp are:

  1. Have the conversation
  2. Select several advisors
  3. Do your homework
  4. Meet them
  5. Review

The conversation simply means sitting down with loved ones and determining a goal for seeking financial advice before even embarking on the search.
“Are you looking to simply invest or are you planning for one of life’s milestones like funding college of buying a home?” the site asks. “Know your goals will help as you look for an advisor.”
While the object of a search is to settle on a single source for financial advice, the association recommends initially gathering the names of several, from not only family and friends but also the organization’s website, NAPFA.org and GarrettPlanning.com.
Homework can be as simple as looking closely at the websites of financial professionals or being as thorough as examining issues of compensation, services and disciplinary history at the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Contact each advisor and request a face-to-face meeting to discuss your goals and get to know the advisor,” step four suggests. “Use the meeting to ask questions and determine your comfort level.”
The review is used to look further down the road in what will probably be a long-term relationship, rather than focusing just on immediate investment performance.
The Wall Street Journal had this to say about the wisdom of choosing a financial advisor in the first place:
“You can certainly go it alone when it comes to managing your money,” the paper stated. “But you could also try to do it yourself when it comes to auto repair. In both areas, doing it yourself is a brilliant idea for some, and a flawed plan for many, many others. Mastering personal finance requires many hours of research and learning. For most, it’s not worth the time and ongoing effort.”