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Why Investors Might Think Twice About Chasing the Biggest Stocks

September 23, 2020

Filed under: Estate Planning — Raymund Rasco @ 4:31 pm

Average Annualized Outperformance of Companies Before and After The First Year They Became One Of The 10 Largest In The US
Compared to Fama/French Total US Market Research Index ,1927–2019

As companies grow to become some of the largest firms trading on
the US stock market, the returns that push them there can be impressive.
But not long after joining the Top 10 largest by market cap, these
stocks, on average, lagged the market.

• From 1927 to 2019, the average annualized return for these
stocks over the three years prior to joining the Top 10 was nearly
25% higher than the market. In the three years after, the edge was
less than 1%.

• Five years after joining the Top 10, these stocks were, on average,
underperforming the market—a stark turnaround from their earlier
advantage. The gap was even wider 10 years out.

• Intel is an illustrative example. The technology giant posted average
annualized excess returns of 29% in the 10 years before the year
it ascended to the Top 10 but, in the next decade, underperformed
the broad market by nearly 6% per year. Similarly, the annualized
excess return of Google five years before it hit the Top 10 droppedby about half in the five years after it joined the list.

Expectations about a firm’s prospects are reflected in its
current stock price. Positive news might lead to additional
price appreciation, but those unexpected changes are
not predictable.

Sources: Dimensional Fund Advisors LP is an investment advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Get an Attorney to Review Your POA Document

September 21, 2020

Filed under: Power of Attorney — Laura Pennington @ 4:44 pm

Has someone you know asked you to execute a power of attorney that names you as their agent? Never sign a power of attorney document without having your own estate planning lawyer view it first.

There are many different mistakes that could be made in a power of attorney document and all of them can be avoided by consulting with a trusted estate planning lawyer in your area.

Making a mistake in your POA document could be very expensive and problematic, particularly if you unintentionally give authority over you or your assets to someone who can’t be trusted. Many of the most common POA mistakes can be avoided but having a relationship with an estate planning attorney who can help spot these errors in your existing POA document or can advise you about the proper language to include in a new one.

Some of the most common POA mistakes include:

  • Using a general POA when a limited power of attorney would have been more appropriate.
  • Naming a person that you can’t truly trust as your agent.
  • Giving an agent who cannot be trusted with too much power.
  • Executing a power of attorney to someone who cannot serve in that role, such as a treating physician.

For more advice on how to minimize the possibility of a poorly executed POA or a POA that exerts unintended authority on untrustworthy people, set aside a time to consult with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer about the documents.

Can a Person Still Sign a Power of Attorney If They are Legally Incompetent?

September 17, 2020

Filed under: Estate Planning — Laura Pennington @ 4:45 pm

A person cannot sign any legal document including one that would appoint a power of attorney if they are incapacitated. This is one of the most common misconceptions about the power of attorney document. Only a mentally competent individual is able to appoint a power of attorney for themselves.

Once a person lacks legal capacity such as that they have experienced significant cognitive decline as a result of dementia or another circumstance, they are no longer eligible to execute a power of attorney document that would be classified as legally valid. These documents need to be created well in advance of a person being classified as incompetent.

It can be helpful for someone who is of older age and wishes to prevent problems surrounding their POA document to schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney to walk through the process of creating a POA and deciding whether it should be general or specific in nature. It is also helpful for a person who is currently legally competent and wishes to document this to have a physician prepared to write a letter about the person’s state of mind at the time that the power of attorney is executed.

This can be very helpful in the event that another person is challenging the legality of the power of attorney or any other challenges arise in the agent’s attempt to carry out their duties. Schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney in your area to learn more.   Since you need to sign a POA before you’re incapacitated, now is the right to make this decision to install the right person in this all-important role.    

What Happens When a House That Is Split Multiple Ways Is Rented, Passed or Sold at Death?

September 16, 2020

Filed under: Estate Planning — Laura Pennington @ 12:42 pm

If you have a loved one who is elderly and owns a house that no longer has a mortgage on it, it is important to look carefully at the deed to determine who has the rights to this home.

If, for example, an elderly loved one took money to pay taxes on the home from somebody else and added those parties to the deed, the proceeds should be divided equally among the parties who contributed towards the taxes as well as the homeowner. A key question is whether or not the people who have been added to the deed are tenants in common or own the property as joint tenants.

Upon the loved one’s death, the deceased individual’s interest will automatically disappear if the property was owned as joint tenants. If it was owned as tenants in common, the one-third interest for the primary owner will pass to the estate and will be distributed according to the will.

Real estate is one of the most challenging kinds of assets to move through probate. It’s imperative that you discuss your options directly with an attorney who is familiar with how to include these in your estate plan so that you know your next steps.

There are many complex issues involved in determining whether or not someone has an interest and a proper plan for what happens to their real estate property after they pass away. Schedule a consultation with a trusted estate planning lawyer to learn more. Our NJ estate planning law office can help with your real estate planning for probate and beyond.

 

What’s Included in an Elder Law Agreement?

September 15, 2020

Filed under: Estate Planning — Laura Pennington @ 2:03 pm

It is very common to sign an agreement or a contract with an attorney that you intend to work with and an elder law attorney is no different. Based on your initial consultation with this elder law attorney you will have a better sense of the services that would be provided and the process with which you expect to work with this person.

Each law firm’s engagement agreement is different and it’s a good idea to read through the specifics of your elder law agreement so that you understand the exact terms of the working arrangement. This includes planning options discussed and the next steps for moving forward.

This can also involve a fee quote for implementing the plan and the terms of payment arrangement, such as asking for half of the fee at the time this person is hired and the balance when the client returns. It can be very difficult to determine the scope of work for all elder law work agreements. This means that your elder law attorney might instead choose to charge by the hour and request a retainer. This can be different in litigation and probate matters as well, so you’ll want to be clear about the exact type of services for which you intend to retain an experienced attorney.

A knowledgeable lawyer will be able to use the information gleaned in the initial consultation to draft up a work agreement. You also have the right to read through this entire agreement and determine whether or not to sign it. Make sure that you ask all of your questions upfront before signing the agreement because it will be assumed that you have read this document and have made your decision to move forward based on it.

Market Returns Through a Century of Recessions

September 10, 2020

Filed under: Estate Planning — Raymund Rasco @ 4:50 pm

What does a century of economic cycles teach investors about investing? Our interactive exhibit examines how stocks have behaved during US economic downturns. Markets around the world have often rewarded investors even when economic activity has slowed. This is an important lesson on the forward-looking nature of markets, highlighting how current market prices reflect market participants’ collective expectations for the future.

1926—1927
A few years before the Depression, the US experienced a mild, yearlong recession accompanied by a minor bout of deflation. The stock market slipped 2.9% in the first month of the downturn.

Great Depression
The Depression decimated the US economy—unemployment climbed to 25.2%, and industrial production plunged 48.6%. Before the collapse ended, stocks collectively lost 83.6% in a 33-month market downturn.

1937—1938
A sharp, 13-month recession—marked by high unemployment and a big dip in industrial production—occurred in the midst of the nation’s recovery from the Depression. Stock market investors suffered a 49.2% loss.

World War II Recession
Industrial production plunged 26% during the eight-month recession near the end of World War II. But the stock market dipped only 3.9% early in the recession before rebounding.

1948—1949
A modest stock market slide (—11.0%) began five months before this relatively small economic

1953—1954
The Korean Armistice was signed in the summer of 1953. A stock market slump that had begun in March was over by August, but the recession continued until early 1954.

1957—1958
A huge drop in industrial production (–11.3%) and a contraction in GDP (–3%) interrupted the 1950s boom. Stocks retrenched 14.9% in the midst of a decade-long climb.

1960—1961
This four-month pause followed the previous decade’s bull market. In the election year of 1960, unemployment rose to 6.6%, and the stock market dropped 7.9%.

1969—1970
High inflation and a big jump in unemployment punctuated the 11-month recession that began in December 1969. A volatile

Oil Crisis
Inflation hit double digits during the 1973–75 recession. The stock market lost nearly half its value in the first 11 months of the 16-month economic downturn.

1980
A 12% stock market decline occurred early in 1980’s six-month recession, during which unemployment hit 7.6%. But the market finished the year with an impressive gain of 33.4%.

1981–1982
Historically high interest rates preceded a harsh recession that dragged on for 16 months and saw unemployment peak at 10.4%. The stock market experienced a 15.9% slide before beginning a long rally.

Gulf War
Stocks reacted negatively to the onset of the Gulf War in August 1990, dropping 17% over five months as the price of oil doubled. When the market regained its footing, stocks were set to start a nine-year bull market that peaked in the dot-com era.

Tech Boom and Bust
Many investors may not realize that the stock market had started a deep decline before the relatively mild

Global Financial Crisis
During the Global Financial Crisis, the worst of the 50.4% stock market dive happened in the latter half of an 18-month recession that saw unemployment hit 9.4% and industrial production tumble 17%. But after falling for 16 months, the market started a nearly 11-year bull run.

Sources: Dimensional Fund Advisors LP is an investment advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

How to Make Assets Easier to Find for Your Executor?

September 8, 2020

Filed under: Executor — Laura Pennington @ 6:39 pm

The executor or the person appointed to administer your estate will have many different responsibilities in closing out your estate, such as paying taxes, notifying creditors and informing beneficiaries about any remaining assets that must be distributed. In order to start all of these processes, however, it is essential for your executor to be able to identify all of the assets that you currently own as well as any liabilities under your name.

This can be one of the most time consuming parts of the process for an executor and it is well worth your effort to do everything you can to make it easier for them to find all of your tangible property as well as other online accounts.

By creating a personal property inventory and storing it in a location in which it will be easy for the executor to  find or receive immediately after you pass away, you can make this process much easier for the executor and also ensure that all of your assets are properly tallied up in your estate inventory to be distributed among your beneficiaries.

Although you might have a mental calculation of all of these different assets, it’s important to have this written notice because no one other than you or potentially a spouse would be able to easily locate all of these property items and account access details.

You will greatly speed up the time for which probate is required in your case by leaving behind such an inventory of assets or even directions for your probate administrator to organize and inventory all of these. Schedule a consultation today with an estate planning lawyer to learn more.

 

 

Ins and Outs of Emerging Markets Investing: Market Behavior and Evolution

September 7, 2020

Filed under: Estate Planning — Raymund Rasco @ 4:21 pm

Emerging markets are an important part of a well-diversified global equity portfolio. However, recent history reminds us that they can be volatile and can perform differently than developed markets. In this article, we provide a longer historical perspective on the performance of emerging markets and the countries that constitute them. We also describe the emerging markets opportunity set and how it has evolved in recent years.

RECENT PERFORMANCE IN PERSPECTIVE

In recent years, the returns of emerging markets have lagged behind those of developed markets. As shown in Exhibit 1, over the past 10 years (2010–2019) the MSCI Emerging Markets Index (net div.) had an annualized compound return of 3.7%, compared to 5.3% for the MSCI World ex USA Index (net div.) and 13.6% for the S&P 500 Index. While recent returns have been disappointing, it is not uncommon to see extended periods when emerging markets perform differently than developed markets. For example, just looking back to the prior decade (2000–2009), emerging markets strongly outperformed developed markets, with the MSCI Emerging Markets Index (net div.) posting an annualized compound return of 9.8%, compared to 1.6% for the MSCI World ex USA Index and –0.95% for the S&P 500 Index.

The magnitude of the return differences from year to year can be large. For example, relative to the US, the biggest underperformance in the past 10 years was in 2013, when emerging markets underperformed by over 34 percentage points. Exhibit 2 helps to put this difference into historical context: between 1988 and 2019, emerging markets outperformed US stocks by 34 percentage points or more per year four times (1993, 1999, 2007, and 2009) and underperformed US stocks by that same magnitude four times (1995, 1997, 1998, and 2013).

Over the entire period from 1988 to 2019, investors with a consistent allocation to emerging markets were rewarded. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index (gross div.) had an
annualized return of 10.7% over this period. That exceeded the 5.9% annualized return for the MSCI World ex USA Index (gross div.) and was similar to the 10.8% average annualized return for the S&P 500, even when including the recent decade of strong performance of the US equity market. However, emerging markets returns were also more volatile. Looking at the same indices, the annualized standard deviation was higher for emerging markets: 22.4% vs. 14.1% for the US and 16.4% for developed markets outside the US. This higher volatility, as well as the potentially sizable performance deviation from developed markets, underscores the importance of patience, discipline, and an appropriate allocation that investors can stick with when considering investing in emerging markets.

A CLOSER LOOK AT EMERGING MARKETS COUNTRY PERFORMANCE

Diversification across emerging markets countries can improve the reliability of investment outcomes, as dispersion among country returns can be wide. Exhibit 3 displays individual emerging markets country returns by calendar year for the past two decades. Each country is represented by a different color, and countries are ranked each year from the highest to lowest performer. In the 20 years ended December 2019, no country had the worst-performing market for more than two consecutive years, and no country had the best-performing market in consecutive years. The illustration shows that country performance is volatile and that countries that rank low in one year may rank among the highest performers in the next year.

Focusing on the countries at the top and bottom of the columns for each year reveals substantial differences in returns between the best-performing and worst-performing market. Exhibit 4 shows that, over the past two decades, the annual return difference between the best- and worst-performing emerging markets has ranged from 39 percentage points in 2013 to 159 percentage points in 2005. On average, that difference has been approximately 80 percentage points per year. Perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, the extreme performers were not necessarily dominated by a handful of countries or by the smaller countries. In fact, 13 different countries were the worst annual performers, and similarly, 13 different countries were the best annual performers. These data illustrate the extreme outcomes that investors may be exposed to by concentrating in a few countries. There is no compelling evidence that investors can reliably add value through dynamic country allocation.1 By holding a broadly diversified portfolio, investors are instead well positioned to capture returns wherever they occur.

THE EVOLVING EMERGING MARKETS OPPORTUNITY SET

As a group, emerging markets represent a meaningful opportunity set for investors. The size and composition of the investible universe of emerging markets have steadily evolved since the late 1980s, when most comprehensive data sets and benchmarks for emerging markets begin. Over the years, major geopolitical, economic, and demographic changes have contributed to shifting weights for individual countries and companies within emerging markets, but in aggregate they have continued to grow. As of the end of 2019, the total free-float adjusted market capitalization of Dimensional’s emerging markets universe was $7.8 trillion and included 24 countries and over 7,000 securities. As shown in Panel A of Exhibit 5, emerging markets represented 12.5% of global markets’ free-float adjusted market capitalization. Measured by gross domestic product (GDP), emerging markets’ share increases to 38.0% (Panel B), reflecting the fact that emerging markets typically have smaller market capitalizations compared to GDP than most developed markets. Regardless of the metric, emerging markets represent a significant component of global markets.

Panel A of Exhibit 6 examines the country composition of Dimensional’s emerging markets universe. The top five countries in terms of market capitalization—Brazil, China, India, Korea, and Taiwan—represented 73.2% at the end of 2019, slightly higher than at the beginning of the decade, when these same five countries represented 68.8% of the universe. A more significant development over the past decade has been the rise in the weight of China, from 17.2% of the universe at the end of 2009 to 31.4% at the end of 2019. This increase has been driven primarily by new equity issuance and new avenues for foreign investors to gain exposure to Chinese companies, including securities listed on the local Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges through Hong Kong stock connect programs.

In addition to changes in size and country composition, emerging markets have undergone important improvements in their market mechanisms and microstructures over the past decade. Generally, emerging markets have become more open to foreign investors with fewer constraints on capital mobility. Evidence of these developments includes fewer instances of market closings, capital lockups, and trading suspensions of individual stocks in many markets. Finally, emerging markets have broadly adopted international accounting and reporting practices over the last decade. Our analysis suggests more than 90% of the firms in most emerging markets now report their annual financial statements according to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) or US Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP). In countries like China, India, and
Taiwan, the national standards have substantially converged with IFRS. This has helped improve the reliability and transparency of financial data in emerging markets.

SUMMARY

In sum, emerging markets represent a meaningful opportunity set within global markets. They continue to evolve in their structures, market mechanisms, and accessibility.
Investors in emerging markets can benefit from a long-term perspective, expertise and flexibility in navigating these changing markets, and an approach that emphasizes diversification and discipline.

Sources: Dimensional Fund Advisors LP is an investment advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

When Something Just “Doesn’t Feel Right?”

September 3, 2020

Filed under: Estate Planning — Raymund Rasco @ 3:26 pm

“I don’t know…something just doesn’t feel right,” you mumble through your mask to your primary care doctor while sitting on the examination table under a flickering fluorescent light in a room decorated with anatomical charts and hand-sanitizer dispensers. After listening to your heart and your lungs, the doctor diagnoses your feelings of worry as a mild condition that is easily treatable but could become serious if a proper treatment regimen isn’t followed. The doctor gives two treatment plans: one coming from the New England Journal of Medicine and the other from a health magazine that can be purchased at your local convenience store. Which plan do you choose?

The health magazines are filled with tips and tricks, such as how to burn body fat, jump start the body’s metabolic rate and build immune system strength. And they might even work sometimes. If you want to choose the treatment plan with the highest odds of success, it might give you more confidence to know that the medical journal, and its recommendations, are based on decades of data collected from research studies performed by medical experts and peer-reviewed by the medical community.

We face the same decision when it comes to investing. Numerous publications tout the latest investment trends and implore their readers to jump on the bandwagon or miss out on the impending financial windfall. And to their credit—sometimes they work. But just like our physical health, we can place more confidence in an evidence-based approach to support our long-term investment plans and ultimately our financial well-being.

Evidence-based investing and evidence-based planning, the foundation of your financial life plan and our philosophy, is an approach guided by thoroughly vetted, peer-reviewed research and carried out by industry thought-leaders, academicians, and practitioners that is tested against decades of empirical data. We used this research to design your portfolio so that you can focus on today and know that your portfolio will be there to support your lifestyle in the future, regardless of what the pundits claim are the latest investment trends in the markets today.

The next time you find yourself questioning your financial well-being or if your portfolio “just doesn’t feel right,” look at what the evidence says. Are you giving yourself the best odds of long-term success?

When you have any questions about your investments, need to inform us of family or work-related changes, or want to discuss your financial planning needs, please reach out. We are ready to help.

How to Get Your Will Done Quickly

September 2, 2020

Filed under: Wills — Laura Pennington @ 12:00 pm

The pandemic has opened many people’s eyes to how unexpected health circumstances can change the scope of the foreseeable future for you and your family members. If you’ve been putting off creating a will, here are a couple of tips to finally get that important document done. First of all, think about who you are doing it for.

Yes, your will is your document determining you will pass on assets but it’s really your beneficiaries or your heirs who will ultimately benefit from the work you do in creating it. You are potentially saving your beneficiaries from expensive costs and delays of hiring a lawyer after the fact to try to sort out your estate. Even many people who have procrastinated on their estate planning can see the positive benefits of thinking about how it could serve your loved ones better in the future. If you’re finding yourself demotivated to approach it on your own, think about helping your family. Another way to jump into the act of creating your will is to visualize what might happen without it.

Thinking about worst-case scenarios can spur some people into action. Without an estate plan your family could wind up in court determining who takes care of your minor children. Furthermore, state law will determine who inherits your belongings and the distribution might not be the way that you intended for it to look. Avoiding these common challenges are big reasons why it is beneficial to schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney.

Creating a will doesn’t have to be difficult or take a long time. Make sure that you have a list of all of your assets to the best of your knowledge before sitting down with your estate planning lawyer to talk through some of the aspects of creating your will.

An easy way to hold yourself accountable is to just set up a meeting with a lawyer. This step alone gives you a chance to get it on your calendar and off of a revolving to do list.

What Are the Downsides of Challenging a Will?

September 1, 2020

Filed under: Wills — Laura Pennington @ 12:52 pm

It might seem like an initial gut reaction to challenge a will that you don’t believe is in line with what a parent or other relative had told you prior to passing away. It is important to realize that there are circumstances in which you are legally eligible to challenge a will but this is not necessarily the same thing as knowing when it is appropriate to challenge a will. You could risk spending a lot of time and money for the result of being completely disinherited depending on the terms inside that will.

You may be eligible to challenge the will of a deceased person but the outcome of this case could be very uncertain. First of all, you must have a basis for the challenge.

You must show that there was something wrong about the conditions under which the will was made or something wrong with the will itself. For example, you might argue that the will doesn’t meet formal requirements, that the will maker created it under suspicious conditions or that the will maker didn’t have the legal capacity to create a will. You could argue undue influence, fraud or mistake, lack of capacity or a flaw in document requirements.

Challenges are handled in probate and each state has unique laws about the procedures for a will challenge and these can even vary from one county to another. If you challenge a will that contains a section known as a no contest clause, you could risk losing any inheritance that would have otherwise been available to you through the will.

Plenty of wills contain such a no contest clause which means that anyone who attempts to file a will challenge could be completely disinherited. Schedule a consultation with an estate planning lawyer if you are curious about adding a no-contest clause to your own will.

 

What Do You Need to Know About Estate Planning Options with Potential Biden Tax Increases?

August 28, 2020

Filed under: Taxes — Laura Pennington @ 10:06 am

As we get closer to an election, it’s important to think about how your estate plan might need to be updated or changed altogether in light of who is elected. Some of the most common issues that have been popping up with Biden’s proposed tax plans have to do with accelerated capital gains and bonuses, deferring deductions and more.

Some important steps you’ll need to take before the end of the year depending on who is elected will rely on the insight and experience of your trusted estate planning attorney. There are several important things you need to have top of mind as a result of published proposals from Joe Biden or possible results from a legislative committee looking at revenue. These include:

  • Taxing of capital gains at ordinary income rates and similar treatment for dividends.
  • Potential eliminations of the step ups that exempt unrealized capital gains at death.
  • Acceleration of the Trump tax cuts that would start on January 1st, 2021 rather than January 1st, 2026.
  • Limiting deduction value to 28% even in cases in which the taxpayer’s income bracket is higher than that.
  • Imposition of a 12.4% social security tax.
  • Elimination of local and state income tax ceiling of $10,000.

All of these important and complicated issues should be discussed directly with your trusted estate planning lawyer. Make sure to schedule a consultation as soon as possible after the election if there are significant tax changes on the table.

Election Year Politics and Stock Market Forecasts

August 26, 2020

Filed under: Estate Planning — Raymund Rasco @ 4:19 pm

A recent New York Times article discussed the stock market impact of Joe Biden winning the 2020 presidential election. The article quoted Lori Calvasina, head of US equity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, who said “The market is starting to worry that Trump will not be re-elected. Trump is consistently viewed as a positive for the stock market.” Before you make changes to your portfolio as a result of these predictions, consider the following three points:

1. Markets have already priced in the possibility of a Biden presidency.
2. Two-step forecasting is difficult.
3. Your political beliefs can lead to investing mistakes.

Markets Have Already Priced in the Possibility of a Biden Presidency

Right now, if you look at the odds on betting markets, the consensus estimate is that Biden has about a 55% chance of winning the election, while Trump has about a 40% chance. The remaining 5% is allocated to various candidates and non-candidates. What will wind up moving financial markets is if conditions change such that the odds of Biden becoming president significantly increase or decrease. President Trump was a heavy underdog in 2016; betting markets gave him just a 20% chance of winning the day before the election. And yet, even after the surprise outcome, market moves were relatively muted the day after the election (the S&P 500 was up 1.1% that day). It should be noted that some forecasters were predicting a sharp decline if Trump won. Dallas Mavericks owner and TV personality
Mark Cuban said “there is a really good chance we could see a huge, huge correction” in the event of a Trump victory.

Two-Step Forecasting is Difficult

Two-step forecasting is when someone says, “I forecast X, and as a result Y will happen.” Let’s say you’re 60% sure Biden is going to win (which is roughly in line with the consensus estimate). Let’s also assume that you’re 60% sure a Biden victory means stocks will decline in value. Then assume that if you’re wrong and Trump wins (a 40%chance) there’s another 30% possibility that stocks will decline for other reasons.

Keep in mind that going back to 1926, the S&P 500 has had negative returns in 27% of calendar years, so these assumptions are essentially saying that a Biden presidency is more than twice as likely to cause a stock market decline as has happened historically, while a Trump presidency means that the chances are roughly the same as history.

Using the above assumptions, the math works out on this so that there is a 36% probability (60% x 60%) that you’re right about Biden winning and then also right about the market declining as a result, plus another 12% probability (40% x 30%) that you’re wrong about Biden winning but accidentally right about the market decline anyway. This totals out to a 48% chance of getting your two-step forecast correct, or essentially a coin-flip.

Of course, so far I haven’t even mentioned how difficult it is to get the first prediction correct, much less getting both predictions right. Philip Tetlock, who teaches psychology, business and political science at the University of California, Berkeley is the author of “Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is it? How Can We Know?” The book, which was published in 2006, discusses the findings of his 20-year study, the first scientific study on the ability of experts from various fields to predict the future. Tetlock found that so-called experts who make predictions their business are no better than random luck. RBC head of US equity strategy Lori Calvasina should have learned this lesson in October 2019, when a Bloomberg Businessweek article shared her analysis of the Democratic presidential primary: “If politicians were stocks, she would advise shorting Joe Biden. Elizabeth Warren, on the other hand, looks like a buy.”

Your Political Views Can Lead to Investing Mistakes

There’s actually evidence that election results have the power to affect how investors handle their portfolios. The 2010 study “Political Climate, Optimism, and Investment Decisions” examined the link between investors political affiliations and their investment choices. Simply put, when your political party is in power, you feel much more confident about the economy and markets, and vice versa. Being aware of your biases can help you make better investment decisions. Trying to time the market due to concerns about the upcoming election is not likely to be a winning strategy. The reason is that you have to be right not once, but twice. In order for market timing to work, you need to know when to get out and when to get back in. Suppose you get out now. Do you get back in if Trump wins? Or if, Biden wins, do you stay out of the market for four full years waiting for the 2024 election? The bottom line is that you shouldn’t let the latest economic or political news cause you to abandon your well-developed plan.

Sources: © 2020 Buckingham Wealth Partners. Buckingham Strategic Wealth, LLC, & Buckingham Strategic Partners, LLC (Collectively, Buckingham Wealth Partners) IRN-20-748

Do You Really Need a Financial Plan?

August 25, 2020

Filed under: Finances — Laura Pennington @ 12:32 pm

You’ve heard about an estate plan and you might have even referenced an elder care plan, but do you know how your financial plan fits in with the rest of these documents and strategies? Your financial plan is somewhat distinct, although it is definitely linked to your overall estate plan. Your financial plan is a document that takes a comprehensive look at your financial picture and helps you to determine how you’ll achieve specific financial goals.

You’ll need to think about your wishes, wants and needs and also understand your overall comfort level with risk when creating your own financial plan. More often than not a person who is confronting their financial plan for the very first time will use financial planning software, such as an analysis showing the impacts of taking money out of your different retirement accounts and how to invest aggressively to save for retirement.

A detailed cash flow analysis or net worth statement can also help you to get a 30,000 ft view of some aspects of your financial life that you should remain focused on immediately. As part of your overall financial plan, this helps you see when you need to make changes to existing strategies and how to adapt when challenges or unexpected windfalls like inheritances come your way.

You’ll also need to document all investible assets that could be used to achieve your individual goals as well as your current and anticipated spending and your detailed liabilities. Once you know where you stand financially, you’ll be able to craft a plan that is in line with your unique goals and priorities.

 

Navigating Divorce? Now Is a Good Time to Talk to Your Financial Advisor and Estate Planner

August 24, 2020

Filed under: Divorce — Laura Pennington @ 1:14 pm

Each person in a couple needs a team to help them navigate the tricky waters of divorce. The financial breakup and dissolution of your marriage has important implications for everything from retirement to the beneficiary designation forms you filed with your life insurance company.

And there’s no doubt that you are likely overwhelmed with all of the emotional, financial and physical aspects of parting ways to begin with so it can be hard to keep track of all of these details and ensure they are dealt with properly. Advising clients through major life changes is a core component of an estate planning attorney’s job.

A good rule to follow is to remain impartial and open when discussing estate planning matters with your attorney. Some of the most common things you might wish to bring up with your financial professionals and estate planning lawyer include:

  • An inventory of all the assets that are owned individually or jointly by the couple.
  • A listing of expenses including how those expenses might be adjusted for each spouse after the divorce.
  • Information about any long term care life or disability policies currently in place.
  • Reviews of any prenuptial agreement and how this could impact the division of assets in the divorce.

Your estate planning attorney can help you to look at the different documents that may need to be updated after you have gone through the divorce process. Knowing that you have another party to guide you through this difficult situation can help to make this complicated aspect of your life somewhat easier.

Need support from a NJ estate planning attorney? Divorce calls upon you to update your documents and ensure that everything is aligned with your new plans.

 

Estate Planning is Important Personal Finance for Young Adults

August 19, 2020

Filed under: Asset Protection — Laura Pennington @ 2:17 pm

If you are currently in your 20s or 30s, it’s easy to brush off the idea of estate planning as something that is years down the road. But if the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that you have to be prepared for the unexpected and that certainly is true for young adults and estate planning.  personal-finance-estate

You don’t have to be only rich or old to have an estate plan in place. Even with modest assets and good health at a young age, you can benefit from putting a plan in place now with the support of an attorney. This is because estate planning goes so much farther than just determining how you want to distribute your money when you pass away. It also includes protecting yourself and taking care of yourself and the people that you love. 

There are many major life events and financial decisions that happen after you graduate from college, start a family, get married or buy a house. These important steps, however, can make your life more complicated, meaning that it is even more complicated to have a comprehensive estate plan addressing these unique issues. 

As your estate plan and list of assets becomes more complicated, you want to ensure you’ve thought through all the details and have the right planning aspects in place. Waiting too long could expose your family members to unnecessary challenges in the future. 

Schedule a consultation with a trusted estate planning lawyer. Whether your estate planning documents grow or change in the future, you want to know that you’ve done what you can to protect yourself right now. 

 

What to Keep in Mind If You’re Getting Divorced During the Pandemic

August 18, 2020

Filed under: Divorce — Laura Pennington @ 2:21 pm

Plenty of people have rethought their life choices including the partners, their homes and even their careers as a result of the pandemic. If you are one of the people who is thinking about getting a divorce, you are not alone since this prolonged period of being at home could lead some people to make the decision that it’s time for a change.

If you’re ready for the next chapter in your life, you need to be prepared for several different things that you can and should not do. First of all, if you begin to file for divorce you cannot change beneficiary designations of retirement accounts and life insurance policies or retitle assets. 

The vast majority of states will block you from being allowed to transfer ownership of assets or changing your beneficiary designations until assets have been divided as part of the divorce court process. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t update anything. You are eligible to update your trust and your will so that you can identify a new guardian for your children or name a new trustee or executor. 

You’ll also want to have a sit down conversation with your divorce attorney and potentially your estate planning attorney about some of the other issues that often come up around divorce. You might be interested in updating your materials as soon as possible to disinherit your spouse but there is the possibility that your spouse could still have a claim against your estate if you pass away during the divorce. 

Before the divorce is final, you’ll need to be clear about the ability for these documents to remain active and active in terms of allowing your spouse to inherit something. If you attempt to disinherit your spouse entirely while the divorce is still pending and you pass away, your spouse could actually sue your estate for the assets they would be entitled to under state law. For a conversation about these complicated issues, contact your dedicated estate planning attorney to discuss your options.        

 

Tracking Your Digital Assets with Your Estate Plan

August 17, 2020

Filed under: Estate Planning — Laura Pennington @ 4:09 pm

Most of the material you probably own that is an asset inside your estate plan is tracked in the form of paper. You might have kept it in a bookcase, in a filing cabinet or a safety deposit box. But what happens when more and more of your assets are digital? Increasingly, our most important things are actually on the cloud or on websites owned by other people.

It’s very difficult to avoid accumulating digital assets and sitting down and trying to list them all might open your eyes to some of the issues associated with this that could make it hard for you to do so. You’ll begin to see the scope of the challenge if you could complete that exercise of trying to list your different digital accounts.

Right now, your electronic communications and digital assets are entrusted to custodians in the form of those companies that store all of these assets like your photos on their servers. These are not governed by property law which means that the terms of service agreement established by the company is the underlying thing you will want to look at to determine what happens if the original owner is no longer able to access these details.

You’ll need to discuss the specifics with your estate planning lawyer if you have concerns about the process and how best to proceed. Scheduling a consultation with a trusted estate planning lawyer can open your eyes and help you put in place the necessary structures, tactics, and strategies to protect your interests.       

So You Own Cryptocurrency? You Definitely Need an Estate Plan

August 13, 2020

Filed under: Estate Planning For Business Owners — Laura Pennington @ 1:55 pm

Has it been 10 or 20 years since you last updated your will or know that you created a trust at some point that was revocable but aren’t exactly clear on its terms? The emergence of bitcoin and cryptocurrency as well as plenty of digital assets that might be a part of your current estate means that you need to take a look at these older documents and discuss your options with an estate planning lawyer.

An estate planning lawyer can help you to craft a customized plan. Right now, Congress is holding hearings on the digitization of the dollar, which means that as a financial tool, cryptocurrency is front and center in becoming more and more important. To avoid making your heirs question whether or not you owned any cryptocurrency or worse, digging through the trash or looking at every computer you own to try to find this information, make sure that you preserve the benefits of cryptocurrency and have an established plan in place to ensure that your intended heirs are able to receive it.

Cryptocurrency is much like cash and that it is not traceable. There is no paper trail or electronic trail connecting it together to make it easy for your estate administrator to find out you were involved in a transaction involving cryptocurrency. In order to maintain that privacy as part of your estate plan, you’ll need to ensure that other transaction documentations do not reveal identities. With the right seed phrase or private key any person can access the cryptocurrency so make sure that you log this information but maintain it as carefully as possible.

 

Think of Your Estate Planning as a Lifetime Gift

August 12, 2020

Filed under: Beneficiaries — Laura Pennington @ 1:54 pm

Did you know that you can leave behind a lifetime gift to your loved ones by doing the necessary work for your estate planning? End of life planning is not necessarily easy but it is so important and a great way to give peace of mind to your loved ones. If you don’t create an end of life plan, your state’s laws will determine who gets everything that you owned. lifetime-gift-estate-planning

Furthermore, a physician that you have never met might be responsible for making final decisions on your behalf and your family members could be stuck trying to sort through messy probate.

The good thing is that most of these situations are completely avoidable. Some of the most common ways to ensure that your estate plan minimizes challenges for your loved ones include:

  • Name an executor.
  • Complete a comprehensive inventory of everything you own.
  • Think about relevant health care decisions.
  • Fill out your living will.
  • Name a medical proxy appointed to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so.
  • Sit down with an estate planning attorney.

Even if you don’t have a big estate, there’s still plenty to be gained from the estate planning process. Leaving the gift of careful planning for your loved ones makes things so much easier for them during a difficult time.

Knowing what to do and when to do it can give you a great deal of peace of mind and confidence about the estate planning process. Schedule a consultation with an attorney you trust when you are concerned about crafting an end of life plan in conjunction with any asset protection planning, business succession planning or estate planning.

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