Tag Archives: Financial planning

2017-money-matters-feature-generic-for-articles

Money Matters | Are You Prepared to Handle a Personal Financial Crisis?

michelle-head-shot
Michelle Floyd, CFP,
Financial Consultant

Are You Prepared to Handle a Personal Financial Crisis?

Individuals who are married or in a committed relationship face the possibility they’ll end up managing finances alone at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, the first time many experience handling complicated financial matters alone is during a personal crisis following the death or divorce of a spouse or partner.

We’ve prepared a list of thought-provoking questions pertaining to financial fitness and crisis preparedness. You can use these as a starting point to check how prepared you are to handle a personal financial crisis in your life. Begin by reviewing the questions, determine what you’ve already done, and check those items off the list. For the questions you need to address or take action on, seek the advice of professional advisors and trusted family members.

Asset management

• Do I have a clear picture of where my assets are located?
• Will my retirement assets provide a comfortable retirement for my life expectancy?
• Do I have a well-diversified portfolio?
• Are my investments appropriate in today’s economy?
• Are my assets titled properly?
• Do I have an emergency fund?
• Am I taking advantage of techniques to reduce my taxes?

Estate planning

• Do I have a will?
• Is my will current?
• Have I determined what my family may owe in estate taxes?
• Have I funded my estate-tax liability?
• Have I explored and taken advantage of wealth-transfer techniques?
• Do I wish to provide for charitable giving?
• Are my power of attorney and my living will up to date?

Debt management

• Do I know my credit rating?
• Could I get a loan if I applied?

Insurance

• Do I have enough insurance coverage to cover medical expenses?
• To provide for disability/long-term care?
• To provide for family members’ security?
• To fund estate-tax liability?

In addition …

• Have I coordinated my advisors’ (attorney, CPA, banker) activities?
• What changes in my life are likely to occur within the next three years?
• Do I know the status of my parents’/children’s financial situation and the implications for my financial well-being?
• Would I be prepared for a family emergency if it happened tomorrow?

Our firm does not provide legal or tax advice. Be sure to consult with your own tax and legal advisors before taking any action that could have tax consequences. Any estate plan should be reviewed by an attorney who specializes in estate planning and is licensed to practice law in your state
This article was written by/for Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Michelle Konkle, CFP®, Financial Consultant with Axiom Financial Strategies Group in New Albany, IN at 812-948-8475.
Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE
Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

© 2017 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. All rights reserved. CAR 0217-04864

2017-money-matters-feature-generic-for-articles

Money Matters | What to Expect as an Executor or Trustee

Todd Harrett, Financial Advisor with Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, Ind.

Todd Harrett, Financial Advisor with Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, Ind.

What to Expect as an Executor or Trustee

Being asked to serve as an executor or a trustee for an estate is certainly an honor, but it’s also a considerable responsibility. And knowing and understanding those responsibilities can help you be prepared.

Many people don’t realize what they are taking on and all the duties required, says Lisa Montano, an Estate Planning Strategist for Wells Fargo Advisors. “Depending on the estate’s level of complexity and the assets in the estate that need to be administered, it can be very time-consuming,” she says.

Here are five things you need to know now:

It’s not an easy job. Serving as executor or trustee typically requires a significant amount of time, patience, and organization. It can take up to a year, maybe longer, to completely wrap up someone’s financial affairs, Montano says.

You need to know what the assets are and how to find them. Ask where the will or trust is located and how you will be able to access those documents when the time comes. Also, consider
asking for a detailed list of assets and where they can be found.

You can seek professional help. You can hire a lawyer to help you manage the most complicated duties or to oversee the whole process. You can also engage a CPA to help with tax issues. “Even if the estate is simple, consulting with an attorney is a good idea. There are responsibilities and deadlines you have to meet that are laid out by state law. You also need to follow the instructions as laid out in the will or trust. Sometimes people do things on their own and it gets them in trouble. The court may remove them as executor or trustee, or they may be held personally liable for actions they have taken,” Montano says.

You may be entitled to compensation. Trustees and executors are typically entitled to collect a
reasonable fee, Montano says. The amount may be regulated by state law or specified in the will or trust. You may choose to waive the fee, but you might still want to be reimbursed for travel and other expenses.

You can decline to serve. It’s okay to say you are not comfortable serving, Montano says. If you do, then someone else or a corporate trustee or a third-party executor such as a bank, trust company, or a professional who has experience dealing with estates will need to be chosen.

Our firm does not provide tax or legal advice.

Trust services available through banking and trust affiliates in addition to non-affiliated companies of Wells Fargo Advisors. Any estate plan should be reviewed by an attorney who specializes in estate planning and is licensed to practice law in your state.

This article was written by/for Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Todd Harrett, Financial Advisor with Axiom Financial Strategies Group in New Albany, IN at 812-948-8475.
Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE
Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

© 2018 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. All rights reserved. 0218-01932

2017-money-matters-feature-generic-for-articles

Money Matters | Debt Management Solutions

michelle-head-shot
Michelle Floyd, CFP,
Financial Consultant

Debt Management Solutions

Balancing debt repayment with investing goals takes some strategy and planning. Some consider investing as a first line of defense while paying down debt as a second.

The debt dilemma

The process for eliminating debt is anything but an easy-to-solve financial equation. Many people wonder if they should pay off their debt as quickly as possible or invest their money, letting debt payments run their course.

The answer depends on whom you ask. Theories about balancing investing with debt vary widely. Some financial experts say freedom from debt is the most important goal. Others say it’s more about the math: Your money should go toward investing if your investments earn a higher rate of return than your debts cost you. Still others focus on the emotional aspect: How comfortable are you with a certain level of debt?

Neither one nor the other

Better yet, perhaps, is a balanced approach to wealth management. If you’re like most people, you’ll need to manage finances for both present and future needs. That means paying off some debt today while simultaneously investing with an eye on the future.

Although your decisions should take into account your own needs and circumstances, consider the following guidelines for handling debt in light of investing goals:

Save for a rainy day. Before paying down debt (beyond required payments) or settling on an investment strategy, make it your first priority to put funds aside for an emergency reserve. We recommend six months or more of living expenses; an absolute minimum is three months’ worth. These funds should be in traditional savings or very short-term, highly liquid, low-volatility investments.

Put your future first. As a general rule, your long-term investment plan should take priority over applying extra amounts toward debt. Be careful as well not to let “lifestyle creep,” a tendency toward more expensive tastes and luxury consumption, impede your investment outlook.

By contributing to a long-term investment plan as early as possible, you may set yourself up for a brighter future. If paying down debt is also a priority, you’ll want to examine your personal budget to decide how much to direct each month toward investing and how much toward debt repayment. Just remember, there are no magic numbers. In general, the best advice is to make sure your investment strategy fits your financial expectations for the future.

Prioritize your debts. With an emergency fund in place and your investment strategy up and running, putting any extra money toward your debts is also a smart way to go. But how do you decide which debts to pay down first?

One approach is to start with the smallest debts first to eliminate at least some of your debt burden and interest payments in a timely manner. It also makes sense to pay off high-interest debts like private student loans and credit card debt more quickly.

Federal student loans and mortgages might be lower priorities, because their rates are often lower and their terms are longer. Vehicle loans might fall somewhere in the middle. Tax considerations might also come into play.

It’s personal. As you divide and conquer debt, don’t forget to consider the emotional side of your strategy. If paying off a certain debt will help you feel more secure, you might want to go with your gut feeling.You’ll enjoy a growing sense of financial freedom as you stay on course and get your debt under control. As it shrinks over time, you may find you have more funds available for enjoying the present and focusing on the future.

This article was written by/for Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Michelle Konkle, CFP®, Financial Consultant with Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, IN at 812-948-8475.
Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE
Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

© 2017 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. All rights reserved. CAR 0717-05089

2017-money-matters-feature-generic-for-articles

Money Matters | Elder Financial Abuse: The Silent Crime

 

Michelle Floyd, CFP, Financial Consultant

Michelle Floyd, CFP, Financial Consultant

Elder financial abuse has the potential to impact all of us on some level. Whether you are protecting a loved one from becoming a victim or actively taking precautions to protect your personal estate, fraud and exploitation is a risk that grows as people age.

It is important for individuals to understand the magnitude of this crime, identify ways to both actively prevent and stop abuse, as well as understand how to escalate if it is suspected.

Understand. Seniors lose an estimated $36.5 billion every year to the crime of elder financial abuse.i In fact, according to the 2010 Investor Protection Trust (IPT) Elder Fraud Survey, more than seven million older Americans — one out of every five over the age of 65 — have fallen victim to a financial swindle. [i]i As Baby Boomers turn 65 at a rate of 10,000 a day, the threat of potential abuse heightens.

It is imperative we take preventative measures to confront this epidemic, including educating ourselves on the potential warning signs and using the resources and tools available to stop fraud and abuse from occurring.

Identify. Spotting exploitation can be difficult as the perpetrators of these crimes tend to be close friends or relatives. Studies project that approximately 70 percent of elder financial abuse is committed by family members, friends, trusted persons or others known to the individual being exploited.[ii]i This increasingly blurred line of those who have one’s best interest at heart and those who don’t makes spotting these scams a challenge.

Here are a few warning signs:

  • Sudden reluctance to discuss financial matters
  • Sudden, atypical, or unexplained withdrawals or wire transfers from their accounts, or other changes in their financial situations
  • New best friends and “sweethearts”
  • Behavioral changes, such as fear or submissiveness, social isolation, withdrawn behavior, disheveled appearance, and forgetfulness
  • Changes in the will, especially when they might not fully understand the implications
  • Large, frequent “gifts” to a caregiver
  • Missing personal belongings

Report. Reporting is single-handedly the most important step to escalating suspected elder financial abuse. Studies show that as few as one in 44 cases of elder financial abuse are reported.iv Victims tend to keep details secret for a number of reasons – fear of being victimized again, reluctance to incriminate a family member or friend, or admitting vulnerability are among them. To properly report suspected elder financial abuse, contact a state agency or the National Center on Elder Abuse.

Remember, elder financial exploitation is not exclusive. Consider the below to help protect yourself from potential abuse:

  • Organize your estate. No matter how old you are, it’s a good idea to update and organize all your financial documentation, including your will, financial powers of attorney, real estate deeds, insurance policies, pension and trust documents, birth and marriage certificates, and Social Security paperwork. Maintaining an organized file, and helping others (such as a parent, uncle or close friend) do the same, can make it easier to spot the inconsistencies and red flags that could signal financial abuse.
  • Make a list of financial contacts. Bankers, insurance agents, attorneys, accountants, stockbrokers, and other professionals should be on it. Share your list with these professionals and with family members you trust. In addition, ensure you have a trusted contact on file. This is an individual who the advisor could contact in the event of an emergency or suspected abuse.

i True Link Financial. “True Link Report on Elder Financial Abuse,” 2015.

ii Investor Protection Trust (IPT). “IPT Elder Fraud Survey,” 2010.

iii Jewish Council for the Aging, National Center for Elder Abuse. Paley Rothman article, “Who Commits Elder Financial Abuse and Why Isn’t It Reported?” 2016.

iv National Adult Protective Services Association. “Policy and Advocacy.” www.napsa-now.org. 2017.

 

This article was written by Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Michelle Floyd, CFP®, Financial Consultant with Axiom Financial Strategies Group in New Albany, IN 47150 at 812-948-8475.

Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

© 2017 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. All rights reserved. 0617-01508

2017-money-matters-feature-generic-for-articles

Money Matters | Is Divorce on the Horizon?

Todd Harrett, Financial Advisor with Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, Ind.

Todd Harrett, Financial Advisor with Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, Ind.

A divorce is obviously an emotionally charged time for you and your family. You’re juggling a lot of arrangements and financial details. Most divorce attorneys suggest thinking about how to divide your financial responsibilities as early as possible ‒ particularly if you have shared debt.

Look at shared debt. With the help of a mediator and/or your financial advisor, you may be able to decide which of you will take which debts. You may consider paying off or closing any credit accounts before you divorce. Most states allow you to settle debt issues between you. If you can’t come to an agreement and the court has to decide for you, the divorce can get very complex and expensive.

Another reason to be proactive about your shared debt: It can help you both maintain good credit ratings after your split and, perhaps most important, prevent uncomfortable conversations about unresolved debts with your ex-spouse in the future.

Get help as soon as you consider a separation. Meet with your financial advisor at the first hint of impending separation. A good financial advisor will be compassionate and willing to remain neutral if he or she serves both you and your soon-to-be-ex. Your advisor can revisit your investment portfolio and do a cash-flow analysis to illustrate what you might draw as future income. He or she can also offer advice about which shared debts might be best for you to take on (or avoid), given the amount of risk with which you are comfortable.

Start with your credit report. A smart way to begin reviewing your debts is to request a copy of your credit report so you can verify which liabilities are in your name. If your spouse is willing to share his or her credit report, that can help you get a full breakdown of all shared debts. Your obligations might include assets such as a primary home, vacation home, vehicles, credit cards and lines of credit, family business–related debt, and possibly student loan debt.

Once you have a full picture of your debts and assets, you can discuss dividing them.

What about the house? Research confirms most divorcing women want to keep the matrimonial home whenever possible, especially when children are still living there. The spouse who keeps each home should also take responsibility for its loan, refinancing it in their name if at all possible.

Information is important to handling debt well during a divorce. One situation where you might have to continue working together with your ex-spouse on a shared debt is if you have an unresolved tax obligation. You should talk to the IRS about setting up separate payments on that joint debt.

You may not agree on how to split contentious debts, such as secret credit card debt created by your spouse. In that case, your state’s laws will come into play. For instance, in most states, ownership of debts is decided by “equitable distribution.” A judge or mediator assigns debts to spouses according to factors such as who signed for it, got greatest value from it, or has the larger income.

Overall, information is the most important key to handling debt well during a divorce. Collect tax returns, credit reports, and bank and brokerage statements as early as possible. The more you know about your marital finances, the easier it should be for you to negotiate over outstanding debts at the settlement table.

 

This article was written by/for Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Todd Harrett, Financial Advisor with Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, IN at 812-948-8475.

Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

© 2017 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. All rights reserved.  CAR 0217-04883

eric-b-image

Money Matters by Eric Ballenger | Five Money Tips for Your College-Aged Child

When his daughter was looking at colleges, Dan Prebish, Director of Life Event Services at Wells Fargo Advisors, approached things a little differently than many parents. He raised the issue of college finances while on college tours, asking tour guides questions such as, “How much do you budget for meals outside of the dorm?” and “Where is the nearest ATM?”

Prebish found that sprinkling in financial questions provided an opportunity to get his daughter thinking about more than just the school’s curriculum, sporting events, and Greek life. Dinner conversations about schools she was applying to often featured discussions of scholarships. It was a strategy designed to help sensitize his daughter, Lydia, now 19 and a college freshman, to managing money.

Tracy Green, Tax and Financial Planning specialist at Wells Fargo Advisors, says money management is the most important lesson you can teach your children, because “they’ll need that in their college years and beyond.” Green, along with Prebish and his wife, Anne, share some tips for parents to help prepare their children for the challenges that lie ahead when they’re living independently as college students.

Tip 1: Discuss tuition and responsibility

Green says that before even applying to college, parents need to talk with their child about what type of school is within the parents’ budget and what portion, if any, the child will be responsible for covering. “Everyone needs to know up front what they’re going to be responsible for by the spring or summer before college,” she says.

Lydia Prebish, for example, pays for her own entertainment expenses, such as movies or meals at a restaurant with friends. She saved money from a summer job and also works on campus. “I think it’s always valuable for kids to have work skills, whether you need the money or not,” Dan says. The independent source of income helps provide students a sense of satisfaction and self worth, he adds. Because Lydia works two four-hour shifts a week, it’s manageable for her. But Dan says working, especially during the first semester as a student adjusts to college, may not be ideal for every student. Those who want to participate in many extracurricular activities or have a demanding curriculum may find it more difficult.

Tip 2: Focus on budget fundamentals

Anne Prebish says your children should learn the core concept of money: understand how much money they have and know not to spend more than that. “We have to be careful not to assume our kids know these things,” she says. Both she and her husband say it makes sense for kids to have a job the summer before college so they can accumulate savings. But managing that money during the course of a six-month semester can be a challenge. They suggest sitting down with your child and dividing the total amount of money available by the months at school to determine a monthly budget. “The first semester is about learning and keeping track of how you’re spending your money,” Anne says.

Tip 3: Think about debit and credit cards

The Prebishes and Green agree that a debit card is a key way to help students manage money. Dan says it’s an easy way to pay for items such as books, while Green adds it has oversight value — parents can limit spending on the card to the checking account balance. She also suggests that parents get their child a secured credit card, where the parent fronts the cash deposit but the child is financially responsible for making on-time payments, as this is a way of helping the child establish a credit history without giving him or her free rein over a traditional credit card.

Tip 4: Don’t forget their health

Dan recommends verifying in advance what your insurance covers while your children are at college, specifically whether they’ll be covered for visits to a clinic on campus or whether the school requires that you purchase their health insurance. Make sure to schedule routine medical or dental appointments during summer or school breaks so that they don’t go by the wayside. And he says it’s essential for a child to have his or her own durable power of attorney authorizing a parent to make financial or legal decisions if the child is incapacitated. A durable power of attorney for health care is also recommended, since professionals aren’t authorized to share medical information with parents without explicit permission if the child is 18 or over. He suggests scanning those documents onto the child’s phone and keeping a copy for yourself, so the documents are readily accessible. Green adds that doctor’s phone numbers and medical and insurance information should also be kept on the child’s phone.

Tip 5: Empower your children to ask for help

One suggestion Anne considers critical is to send the message to your college-aged children that just because they are adults living on their own, asking for a parent’s advice isn’t a sign of weakness. “Part of being an adult is realizing other people are there to help you,” she says. And parents shouldn’t think they’re hovering if they assist.

“We have consistently been there giving our daughter our two cents and also letting her make choices,” Anne says. Those discussions on college survival skills have helped their daughter transition well to her new environment. “She was prepared for anything we could prepare her for,” she adds.

This article was written by/for Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Eric Ballenger, Senior Vice President – Investment Officer of a Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, IN.  He can be reached at 812.948.8475.  Visit our website at www.AxiomFSG.com.

Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

© 2016 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. All rights reserved.   0316-01366 (100170-v1BDC)

 

money-matters-feature1

Money Matters: the Podcast | Episode 2: The Year End

A Money Matter’s Trio, Vaughan Scott, MBA, CPWA® Managing Director, Eric Ballenger, Senior Vice President – Investments and Michael Grau, CFP®, RICP®, Vice President – Investment, comes to the table and discusses the end of 2016, what the new President may or may not cause, along with a local look-in.
Money Matters: The Podcast is sponsored by Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors.  This quarterly podcast is in addition to a monthly article titled, “Money Matters,” that is posted online at www.ExtolMag.com and www.axiomfsg.com.

**************************************************************************************************************************

At Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors we sincerely appreciate our clients making opportunities like this possible. Without their support of our business, we would not be able to support programs like this.

Michelle Floyd, CFP®  | Financial Consultant

Axiom Financial Strategies Group
of Wells Fargo Advisors
101 W Spring Street, Fifth Floor
New Albany, IN  47150

P 812.542.6475 | F 812.948.8732 | Michelle.Floyd@wellsfargoadvisors.comwww.axiomfsg.com

At Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, our team caters to a select group of family-owned businesses, entrepreneurs, individuals, institutions, and foundations, helping them build, manage, preserve, and transition wealth. We accomplish this while providing top-notch service through a team approach that puts our clients’ needs, goals, and interests first. To learn more visit our website at www.axiomfsg.com. Wells Fargo Advisors. Member SIPC.

The information provided is general in nature and may not apply to your personal investment situation. Individuals should consult with their chosen financial professional before making any decisions.

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. CAR 1216-02739